No. 39: Staying young, best storyteller wins, and craft > tools
Look around - it's not the best idea that wins. The best story wins.
First, some numbers:
415:1 - is the national student-to-school counselor ratio in 2020-21
640,000 - Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD) with 640,000 enrolled students was the target of a ransomware attack
30% - In 1960, 95% of children in working class families lived with their biological parents. In 2005, that number dropped to 30%.
Signal hunting: Who are the young people with interesting ideas around you?
As a parent with two kids 18 years apart, I get a unique window to observe young people tackling the challenges of the world they are experiencing.
I hope my kids can see that they’re my fountain of youth.
There is a famous quote from Angela Bassett that I often think of:
“It's important to surround yourself with good people, interesting people, young people, young ideas. Go places, learn new stuff. Look at the world with wonder - don't be tired about it.”
Interesting people. Young people. Young ideas. This simple concept is a surefire way to preserve the plasticity of your brain. As we all get older, we tend to get set in our ways. We confuse experience for knowledge. We start to see the world as a static environment, rather than the dynamic, ever-changing reality that we all live in.
Read Interesting People. Young People. Young Ideas on The Pomp Letter
Aligning incentives with storytelling is your enduring superpower
There’s too much information and too many blind spots for people to calculate exactly how the world works.
Stories are the only realistic solution, simplifying complex problems into a few simple sentences.
And the best story always wins – not the best idea or the right idea, but just whatever sounds the best and gets people nodding their head the most.
Ben Franklin once wrote, “If you are to persuade, appeal to interest and not to reason.”
Incentives fuel stories that justify people’s actions and beliefs, offering comfort even when they’re doing things they know are wrong and believe things they know aren’t true.
Read Incentives: The Most Powerful Force In The World by Morgan Housel
Don't put the tool before the craft
With all the conversation around AI-generated art, let’s understand the distinction between the tool and the artist.
I am deeply envious of chefs with great knife skills.
The precision, the speed, the consistency. The twinge of fear in your fingertips as their blade glides in front of their nails. The satisfaction of a neat pile of green onions at the end of the cutting board. It’s delicious.
I asked Myles Snider if he could teach me or knew where I could learn. But I was shocked when he said “Honestly man, don’t bother.”
Don’t BOTHER? How could a chef tell me not to bother learning advanced knife skills? Surprised, and a little miffed, I asked him to explain.
“Chefs have to learn these crazy knife skills while they’re staging because they might spend hours cutting vegetables every day. You spend, what, ten to twenty minutes a week cutting things? Basic knife skills are gonna be fine for you.”
Hm, fair point. I could spend weeks practicing knife skills and it would only save me a few minutes every week. There were other benefits of course, like showing off at dinner parties, but it wouldn’t help me with what I really wanted: to get better at cooking.
Myles helped me avoid an easy error:
Putting the tool before the craft.
Continue reading on Nat Eliason’s Infinite Play
Till next time…
The first step to thinking clearly is to question what we think we know about the past.
-Peter Thiel & Blake Masters, Zero to One