Sunday Ross Beef 🥩 #3 15.08.21
Welcome to Sunday Ross Beef
Every Sunday I share three ideas, thoughts or provocations which have intrigued me over the course of the last week with a curated group of business leaders, creators and entrepreneurs. It’s not about the news, rather more timeless ideas which reflect the range of my interests.
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1) The Meaning of Life
I'm reading 'The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness' compiled by Eric Jorgenson, with illustrations by Jack Butcher - hear my interview with Jack here - and introduction by Tim Ferriss.
Naval is considered a Silicon Valley legend - an entrepreneur (he founded Angel List amongst other), investor and philosopher. He's best known for a tweetstorm of 2018 titled 'How to get rich (without getting lucky)' which is a series of epithets on wealth, status, knowledge and career leverage.
The Almanack is full of pearls of wisdom and I'll share four of my favourites here; ones which challenge me hardest and which I continue to work on daily. I hope they make you think. They are far easier said than done.
It’s much more important today to be able to become an expert in a brand-new field in nine to twelve months than to have studied the “right” thing a long time ago.
Whether it’s business, exercise, romance, friendship, whatever, I think the meaning of life is to do things for their own sake. Ironically, when you do things for their own sake, you create your best work.
If you don’t have a day or two every week in your calendar where you’re not always in meetings, and you’re not always busy, then you’re not going to be able to think.
Happiness is the state when nothing is missing. When nothing is missing, your mind shuts down and stops running into the past or future to regret something or to plan something. To me, happiness is not about positive thoughts. It’s not about negative thoughts. It’s about the absence of desire, especially the absence of desire for external things. Happiness, love, and passion…aren’t things you find—they’re choices you make. You’ll notice when I say happiness, I mean peace. When a lot of people say happiness, they mean joy or bliss, but I’ll take peace.
2) Click, Run
I'm reading the updated version of Robert Cialdini's seminal book 'Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion'. The book discusses eight principles of influence which successful 'compliance professionals' can wield: reciprocation, liking, social proof, authority, scarcity, commitment and consistency and unity.
Fundamental to the book’s thesis is our tendency to respond automatically and mechanically to one piece of information in a particular situation - click, run.
The cheep-cheep sound of turkey chicks triggers an automatic mothering response from mother turkeys, even when it emanates from a stuffed polecat.
In our busy lives, time is short, issues become complicated and distractions are intrusive. As Cialdini says, ‘the emotional arousal [is] so strong, or the mental fatigue so deep that we are in no cognitive condition to operate mindfully.'
Most of us know very little about our automatic behaviour patterns. Perhaps that is so precisely because of the mechanistic, unthinking manner in which they occur. They make us terribly vulnerable to anyone who does know how they work.
Compliments and flattery is one such area. Apparently we have such an automatically favourable reaction that we can fall victim to someone who uses them in an obvious attempt to win our favour. Click, run.
As both a salesperson and consumer, I am suddenly far more self-conscious about the triggers I provoke and those I automatically respond to - buying a car, choosing from a food menu, grabbing last minute holiday sunglasses. Am I making optimal, rational decisions? I’m not convinced so. Do you have examples to share?
3) The Opportunity of Online Writing
As an online writer myself, I enjoyed David Perell's thoughts on the subject, and on modern careers.
He says: 'In our Internet World, online writers are speeding in the carpool lane. They’re breezing past people who insist on waiting for permission and working their way up the corporate hierarchy. Successful online writers don’t have to pay the typical tolls or deal with all that annoying congestion. While everybody else is stuck in the traffic of credentialism and bureaucracy, online writers get to hit the gas and speed ahead.'
If even a smidgeon of this thought shakes you up, David outlines three problems you might be suffering from: (1) playing the old game, (2) only using a fraction of your intelligence and (3) watching from the side-lines. Get more of the gist by tuning into this talk on 18.08.21 and let me know if you've been thinking about putting pen to paper. More broadly, I recommend David's Friday Finds newsletter.
Have a great week!
You may be familiar with my Paths Less Trodden interview series where I chew the fat with fascinating folk like Jack Butcher, Rory Sutherland, Tshepo Mohlala and George Calhoun among others. You can subscribe to that here if you haven’t already: