• CBS Sunday Morning: What’s luck got to do with it?

    09/27 2016

    I was really happy to be an on-air expert recently on CBS Sunday Morning! My blabbering ways begin about a minute in. Also, if anyone wants to pay for me to get braces, have at it.

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  • Everybody’s Invited!

    03/27 2014

    One of my very favorite people, the event planner extraordinaire Hannah Kane, who runs Everybody’s Invited, was kind enough to interview me about increasing luck, and posted it here. My new goal for 2014 is to mention Benedict Cumberbatch and kale in every interview.

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  • How to Read More

    07/02 2013

    How can you read more? This is something I deal with all the time. I haven’t been reading tons of books lately–I’ve been reading articles from academic journals, chapters from academic books, and articles. But still, when reading is important to you, whether it’s important to you because it’s part of your job, or you’re just aware of how enriching and fulfilling the process of reading is, you always feel like you could be reading more than you currently read. That hour at night before you go to bed just doesn’t cut it.

    I am absolutely in love with this post by Ryan Holiday, How To Read More. Of Time, Money, and Purpose, I think the main barrier most people face is time. Here’s what he has to say:

    The key to reading lots of book begins with stop thinking of it as some activity that you do. Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It’s not something you do because you feel like it, but because it’s a reflex, a default.

    Carry a book with you at all times. Every time you get a second, crack it open. Don’t install games on your phone–that’s time you could be reading. When you’re eating, read. When you’re on the train, in the waiting room, at the office–read. It’s work, really important work. Don’t let anyone ever let you feel like it’s not.

    Do you know how much time you waste during the day? Conference calls, meetings, TV shows that you don’t really like but watch anyway. Well, if you can make time for that you can make time for reading. (Or better, just swap those activities for books)

    I think that the more you read, the more important it becomes to you. The sense of purpose that reading provides builds upon itself. In this way, it’s like exercise, eating well, engaging in non-work-related hobbies, or making time for the people in your life. It may not seem incredibly important to you at first, but as you become more sane and self-disciplined, it’s really hard to go back.

    When I was reviewing books full-time seven years ago, I read two books a week. This was my strategy to the T–I brought books with me everywhere and read all the time instead of playing with my phone. It makes me cringe whenever someone says “but you’re only going to have time to read a page right now, why bother?” True, you do end up breaking your reading into multiple little chunks, but it’s really surprising how far you go towards your goals when you add up all of those smaller segments of time.

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  • Lordy lordy, look who’s becoming an author

    03/08 2013

    I have a book deal!! Yes, I’ve already posted it elsewhere, but you’re allowed to repeat yourself when it’s a dream you’ve worked really hard to achieve.


    My editor at Portfolio/Penguin is Maria Gagliano, who was also the editor of fellow Portlander/personal hero Chris Guillebeau’s first book The Art of Non-Conformity. Because Portfolio is a business imprint and my book is a work of popular psychology, I’ve been analyzing books by Dan Pink and the Heath brothers just to see how they perfect that mix of readability and prescription. Because of all of my analyzing, I’m confident that I have the ability to write a perfectly good knock-off.

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  • The Science of Luck: now on Psychology Today

    01/12 2013

    I’m so proud that Psychology Today magazine has asked me to join their roster of bloggers! Starting today, The Science of Luck will be on the Psychology Today blog network. I’ll repost some of those entries here, and will use this space to discuss other topics.

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  • How to read more in 2013: Less Flow, More Stock

    01/03 2013

    I was half-expecting Jeff Ryan’s recent article in Slate on how he read a book a day in 2012 to be somewhat self-congratulatory. Fortunately, it wasn’t. It actually made me feel like even I might be capable of pulling off such a feat. Here’s the money quote:

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  • Why do child prodigies fail to live up to expectations?

    01/02 2013

    Last week at a dinner party, everyone realized they had one thing in common: when we were young, people had predicted great things for us. And then… we’d petered out, only to become normal, disappointing adults. Why?

    We can pick up a few clues from How Children Succeed by Paul Tough:

    • Being praised for effort rather than intelligence leads to long-term success. As Carol Dweck shows in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, being complimented for your effort is much better than being complimented on your intelligence. When children are complimented for their intelligence, they learn that failure = stupidity. They learn to not venture outside of their comfort zone, and not to push themselves, because they believe that intelligence is not only a fixed attribute, but a crucial part of their identity. On the other hand, being complimented on your effort teaches you a mutable mindset. Failing doesn’t mean that you’re stupid, it just means that you have to try harder.If you’re a child prodigy, you’re probably hearing about how smart you are, not about how hard you’ve tried. While it may be true that prodigies don’t have to try as hard as other children, this reinforces the dangerous idea that failure means that you’re dumb. It’s not. It just means that you failed. What counts is whether or not you get back up, learn from your mistakes, and try again.

     

    • There’s a mismatch between the role that social intelligence plays in the lives of children and adults. Are you easy to work with? Let’s look at the way that children and adults are commended for their achievements. Children’s accomplishments are judged by teachers, coaches, parents, and other older authority figures looking at the merit of your grades/science project/clarinet solo/prize heifer. In the adult world, your peers do the choosing. Your boss is more likely to give a raise to someone he/she likes  rather than someone he finds competent but doesn’t get along with. Politicians are elected based on likability. These aren’t anonymous authority figures, but people who take into consideration the way that you interact with your peers.

    Child prodigies live in a curious bubble: their intelligence, not their effort is lauded, and they don’t have to get along with their peers to get these accolades. Since effort, grit, character and social intelligence are some of the most important keys to success, it’s no wonder why so many promising 99th percentile children don’t live up to the expectations and pressure. What we should question is why we don’t emphasize those real factors for success in the first place.

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  • How to Get Great Recommendations

    12/31 2012

    Almost six years ago, I was a staff writer for Seattle Weekly, in charge of a books column, features and music reviews. The amount of music we received, the number of shows we could cover, and the amount of great music out there was (and still is) absolutely overwhelming. How on earth could you possibly know where to start?

    To figure it all out, I wrote an article for Seattle Weekly about music recommendations; the center of the piece was a startup, iLike, that recommended music for you based on playlists you created in iTunes. How did iLike work? How did the similar service Last.fm work? Where did Pitchfork and the media come into play?

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  • Predictions and one piece of advice for 2013

    12/28 2012

    Inspired by Dan Pink’s predictions for 2012, I’ve decided to make a few predictions for the coming year.

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  • How Jonah Lehrer Should Have Blogged

    12/13 2012

    Back when we thought that Jonah Lehrer’s transgressions only went as far as self-plagiarism (not actual plagiarism, among others), Felix Salmon, editor at Reuter’s, wrote a helpful essay on Jonah Lehrer.

    Firstly, think of it as reading, rather than writing. Lehrer is a wide-ranging polymath: he is sent, and stumbles across, all manner of interesting things every day. Right now, I suspect, he files those things away somewhere and wonders whether one day he might be able to use them for another Big Idea piece. Make the blog the place where you file them away.

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