Start and Ignite

No matter what we say, starting is essential. Without the start, nothing will get finish. Look at all great works around you, they most likely comes from a small first step. That little step is most often the most difficult. We have ideas. A lot of them. But, fear and resistance keep us from going forward. I’ve had the fear of the start for a very long time. I was always waiting for the perfect moment. Their will never be a perfect moment. I couldn’t handle the idea failing. In Poke the Box, Seth Godin explains that pattern:

Today, not starting is far, far worse than being wrong. If you start, you’ve got a shot at evolving and adjusting to turn your wrong into a right. But if you don’t start, you never get a chance.

Did you know that the game Minecraft was started as a sideline? I can bet that Markus Persson didn’t know that one day he would sell it for 2.5 billions dollars. Without starting, the game would have never happened. Nobody has a clue of what they start will be a success or failure beforehand. We can’t predict the future. One thing we can be sure about, starting will increase your chance of success. On the other hand, waiting will decrease them.

You must repeat to process of starting and failing on and on. Worst case scenario? You will fail. Nothing dramatic about it. We are feed with stories of success, but we rarely see the thousands of attempts that lead to success. There is no magic formula. A dynamite will never explode if you don’t commit to start and ignite it.

Randomness #6: Steve Jobs, World War II, a Millionaire Living in a Van and More.

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Life & Culture

[*] The Man in The Van (ESPN) – The no.1 Jays’ prospect, Daniel Norris, lives in a fucking van. Yes you’ve read well. A millionaire living in a VW Camper. You can consider it his own way to escape to stress of the major league. He doesn’t want to change who he is because of the money or because of what society think is normal. Amazing article.

[*] The Scene of the Crime (The New Yorker) – The My Lai massacre of 1968 was a pivotal moment of the Vietnam war. Take a look at this event as reporter Seymour M. Hersh goes back after 47 years. He was the one who broke the massacre story in 1969.

[*] Undeveloped World War II Film Discovered (10 minutes @ Vimeo) – This is a video about The Rescued Film Project. They discovered and processed 31 rolls of film shot by an American World War II soldier over 70 years ago.


Growth

[*] The Library of Ernest Hemingway (Art of Manliness) – I’m always curious to hear about great people reading list. Ernest Hemingway was a huge reader. He spent many hours a day reading. He had the habits of reading 4 books at the same time. Books by Tolstoy, Dumas, Thomas Mann and Marcel Proust were among his bookshelf.

[*] 10 Things I Learn From Richard Branson (James Altucher) – We can learn a lot from people who has achieved great success. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, is one of them. Altucher take 10 quotes from Richard Branson and tell us how we can learn from these.

[*] 17 of our favorite Steve Jobs quotes from the new book about his life (Business Insider) – All these great quotes are from the new book Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. The book will be release this week.


Health/Fitness

[*] You’ll Never Guess What’s Actually in Your Supplements (Exo Journal) – Interesting article about how some supplements could be misleading. Imagine buying a St-John wort bottle and that in fact is just rice. An other example? Finding plant species not listed on the label. The University of Guelph study was only about herbal products. It would be interesting to take a look at sports supplements.

[*] The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide (1hr40 @ Tim Ferriss Show) – Interview with James Fadiman (Ph.D. from Stanford) the author of the book The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide. Fadiman is seen as “America’s wisest and most respected authority on psychedelics and their use”. Jim Fadiman has been involved with psychedelic research since the 60s.

[*] How Tea Works (55 minutes @ Stuff You Should Know) – An interesting podcast on the origin of tea and how it works. Tea is the second most popular drink on the planet after water. They explain the different categories of tea and the process for each of them.


Motivation

[*] THE HIMALAYAS FROM 20 000 FEET  (3 minutes @ Vimeo) Short video filmed from a helicopter with a crew flying from Kathmandu at 4,600 ft. up to 24,000 ft. on supplemental oxygen. The images are simply breathtaking. I highly suggest you watch it.

[*] Kron Gracie Highlight Reel (6 minutes @ YouTube) – Kron Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and a member of the famous Gracie family. He is the youngest son of Rickson Gracie. If you remember, I’ve talked about the Gracie in Against the Grain. It’s a short video of his best highlights.

[*] MMA: When Taunting Goes Wrong (4 minutes @ YouTube) – I hate people who are taunting and disrespecting the opponent. It’s always a satisfaction when taunting goes wrong. Including Anderson Silva getting knockout by Chris Weidman.


Entertainment

[*] Birdman (movie) – It is the winner of the 2015 Academy Awards for the best motion picture. Mikael Keaton is in the role of a washed-up actor, who once played an iconic superhero. We follow him in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play. The movie his filmed in one long sequence.

[*] The Imitation Game (movie) – What a great movie! This is the story of Alan Turing, who helped break Germany’s Enigma code during World War II. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Great performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.

[*] Tracing the History of Pinball from Illegal Gambling Game to American Obsession (14 minutes @ Vice) – Did you know that between 1940 and 1970, pinball was banned in some of US biggest cities? Learn about the game past and future in that interesting video from Vice.

[*] The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (Book) – A little book I’ve started few days ago. It’s a classic business book by Al Ries and Jack Trout that was published more than 20 years ago. Marketing has its laws just like nature. We should violate them at our own risks.

[*] The Making of NHL 94 (Blake J. Harris) – A great article by the author of Console Wars. NHL 94 is classic game from my childhood. It’s interesting to see the history behind that game.  I had a great laugh when I read about the confrontation between the producer Michael Brook and the hockey player Ken Baumgartner.


The Wasteland

[*] Bourbon cocktail: Wild Child (Daily Shot) – Here is a good idea for a cocktail with Bourbon. You’ll need lemon juice, maple syrup and Aperol. Enjoy your drink!

[*] 12 IMAGES THAT SHOW THE GRIT AND BEAUTY OF MYANMAR (Matador Network) – Last month I’ve talked about wanting to go to east Asia. Take a look at these pictures of Myanmar. You’ll want to buy your plane ticket in the next hour.

[*] THE WORLD’S BEST WHISKIES 2015 (Cool Material) – The best single malt of the world in 2015 is from…Taiwan. Get ready to hear about whiskies you didn’t know at all.

You are Now Less Dumb: Conquer Mob Mentality, Buy Happiness, and Outsmart Yourself (Book #6)

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What is it about.

We are dumb and stupid. Our brains has much more limits than we think. This book explore those psychological limits that are also called “self delusions”. One of them being the narrative bias. It means that we all tell ourselves stories to stay sane. Everything we do and see in life must have a cause and effect. We often try to find meanings in sequences. We are champion of doing that when we study history. The author educate us about a sixteen other ways we fool ourselves. Get ready to read about the sunk cost fallacy, the Benjamin Franklin effect, the pluralistic ignorance and the backfire effect.


Why you should read it.

Knowing that your own brain has limits and changing the way you think  can give you huge benefits in your daily activities. Everything in You Are Now Less Dumb can be applied in real life. I think that’s big plus about that book. You will learn about willpower, the importance of clothing, how to be happier, about the paradox of choice and how to take good decisions. Everything in the book is backed by psychological research.


The Bottom line.

Avoid the book if you are already a psychology junkie. It is a pop psychology book, not a PhD thesis. Otherwise, you’ll learn a lot of interesting stuff like I did. It’s easy and fun to read. The stories and the examples are originals. The author mention a good number of interesting sources. You’ll have further reading for a while. 

Overall: 7.5/10
Fun Factor: 8/10


David McRaney is also the author of You Are Not So Smart. He has an interesting blog and podcast of the same name.

We Are Blind: Our Non-Stop Ignorance

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“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.” – George Bernard Shaw

I’ve talked recently about the idea that a little knowledge can be dangerous. Knowledge is a fragile thing. We can be 100% certain about something, but in truth being totally wrong. Take a look in the past and you’ll see many obvious examples of what I’m saying.

We thought that the earth was flat and we were wrong. Medical history has a great record of how many stupid beliefs we had. Bloodletting was used as a treatment for almost 3000 years. Why did it persist for so long? Because of the social, economic and intellectual pressures.

The medical field isn’t the exception. We most likely believe in the wrong for many aspects of life. It’s hard to make society change an idea. In the 1980s, saturated fat was seen as bad for the health. The idea is still around today even if we have evidence of the opposite.

The problem isn’t just about what we know and don’t change. It is also about what we totally ignore. We might be doing things that could lead to irreversible damage by our ignorance. You should be aware of that blindness and remember that a Sword of Damocles might be above your head as you read those lines.

Against the Grain: How the UFC Used a Bad Image to Achieve Triumph

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So long as men praise you, you can only be sure that you are not yet on your own true path but on someone else’s.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

I don’t have to make an introduction about the UFC. Most people nowadays know about that brand. Today, the UFC would be worth around 3.5 billion $ (or more) making it among the most lucrative sport franchise in the world. They host fights all around the world including Japan, China, Australia, Brazil and United Kingdom. They have major TV deals around the world, most importantly a deal with Fox in the United States. UFC is now mainstream. Whatever we can say about the actual star power problem and the performance drug crisis, UFC is getting bigger year after year. They own the majority of the “mix martial art” market around the world.

It all began with Ultimate Fighting Championship 1 in 1993. It was the idea of Rorion Gracie (a jiu jitsu expert from Brazil) and Arthur Davie. It was launched with the backing of SEG. They thought about making a tournament where experts from different martial arts disciplines would face each other. A discipline would be crown the best at the end of the event. The tournament featured experts in kickboxing, karate, wrestling, boxing, sumo and jiu-jitsu. The first event was a success. People were asking for a second tournament. It was a surprise. It was supposed to be a one shot thing. They didn’t even know they were about to create a sport.

It was different from today. There were no weight classes (not before UFC 12). Fighters could wear clothing traditional to their discipline. No time limit. No judges. No gloves. Almost no rules. The referee was only present to stop the fight after a knockout or a submission. The UFC had to choose states that didn’t have athletic commissions to avoid regulation. Their was an aura of clandestinity to those fights. SEG used that to its advantage. They promoted the fight as brutal and “no holds barred”. Using the shocking aspect of violence helped being talked about. Talk good, talk bad, but talk about it. You can guess what happened next.

Critics started to emerge from everywhere to attack the UFC. One of them was United States Senator John McCain. He claimed that the UFC was a kind of “human cockfighting”. He asked states governors and cities to forbid UFC to held fights. It worked and UFC started to have a lot of opposition. It was banned in 36 states. It was harder and harder to organize events. Cable companies started to refuse the broadcasting of the pay-per-views.  At that point, UFC needed to get into an adaptation mode. They milk the cow as much as they could. They surf on the popularity of the brutality aspect. But changes were necessary to reach a broader audience. In 2001, UFC was bought by a group led by Frank and Lorenzo Ferttita (which will become Zuffa). Lorenzo Ferttita said later that he knew UFC wasn’t worth that much in itself, but he was after the image.

“What you don’t understand is I’m getting the most valuable thing that I could possibly have, which is those three letters: UFC. That is what’s going to make this thing work. Everybody knows that brand, whether they like it or they don’t like it, they react to it.” – Lorenzo Ferttita

From that point, the sport evolved to what it is today. A deal was done with the Nevada Athletic Commission, which gives the UFC the chance to held fight in Las Vegas. It crossed the line to become mainstream. Today, it’s still a brutal sport, but the changes of rules make it much more legitimate. As you can see, UFC own a big part of its success because they didn’t follow the trends. They didn’t care that people would talk bad about it. You can see examples of brands that go against the grain today, one of them being Tesla. We can see that Elon Musk is trying to make shift in the automobile industry. Uber is another brand that is making a lot of noise recently. They want to change the current model of personal transportation service. It’s a total war with the cab business. Like the UFC, they both want to bring something new to the table. By wanting to bring changes, they fuel the army of dissidents. On the other side, the more they talk about them, the bigger the become. Being the bad guy isn’t always a bad thing in itself.

Learning From Losers: Why They Matter As Much as Winners

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I went to a seminar a while ago on the invitation of a friend. A guy was speaking about winning in life (and other bullshit self-help stuff). He said that he never lost at anything, that he was first everywhere he went. Okay good, a seminar by a narcissist, things could be worse. At one point that charlatan said that we should never read about losers, that they don’t matter. That was too much, I felt anger rising in me. I had to calm down. I completely disagree and here is why.

It’s like saying that we shouldn’t learn about Napoleon I because he lost in a crushing defeat at Waterloo. Same goes for the Tsar Nicolas II in Russia that was the victim of the October Revolution. Anyone remember Spartacus? The gladiator started a civil war before being defeated by Crassus and his Roman legion.

What about people who learn from defeat. I’ve talked about GSP bouncing from his worst defeat into victory. We can think of Donald Trump who has filed for corporate bankruptcy four times and went back on his feet each time. I could go on and give you 100 more examples.

I think we should never look down at people who have tried, who have risk it all. We should avoid the tendency to see things in black or white. Reality is more complex than that. Don’t look down at the defeated. They could give your most valuable life teaching.

Steal Like an Artist (Book #5)

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What is it about.

In Steal Like an Artist, you will learn that it’s okay to steal ideas. Nobody in history were original. All great musicians, writers, inventors has taken influences from someone else. Shakespeare inspired a great deal of modern authors. He himself took most of his influence from the Greek historian and essayist Plutarch. Do you know where Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin took his influence for the Red Wedding in A Storm of Swords? From Middle Age Scottish history (The Black Dinner). You don’t have to be a genius to create something. You just have to be yourself and be inspired by the world around you.


Why you should read it.

Most people don’t believe they can be creative. They think they have to be 100% original. Once you will read this book, you will understand a bunch of things about the creative process that you didn’t know before. It’s a game changer. It opened my eyes and it might open yours. The book is filled with great quotes from Kurt Vonnegut to Steve Jobs. You will surely be inspired by what you’ll find in it.


The Bottom line.

It’s a great book. The design is beautiful. It’s a fast and easy read. You could get through it in one evening. You will find a bunch of ideas and tools to apply for your inner creativity. I think it’s a great investment for your mind. On top of that, it’s a cheap book. Stay away from it if your name is Leonard Cohen or Irvine Welsh. In other word, if you are already creating a lot of stuff in your life, you won’t get much from that book.

Overall: 8.5/10
Fun Factor: 8/10


Austin Kleon is also the author of Show Your Work and Newspaper Blackout. If you want to know more about him, I suggest you listen to the interview he gave at Unmistakable Creative.