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Mavens, “the chess diet”, & sonic booms

By: Michael Blankenship |

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
~Marcus Aurelius

Greetings from LA and Hawaii.

This week we learned about the importance of “Mavens” and “Connectors” for starting social epidemics, how chess grandmasters burn 6,000 calories per day, and that sonic booms can be caught on camera. We also recommend two books, one with daily meditations on stoicism and one with creative advice from Seth Godin. Our challenge is for you to track your daily water intake.

Mavens & Connectors

At the same time that Paul Revere began his infamous north-and-west horseback ride to Lexington, covering thirteen miles in two hours and warning every town along the way that “the British are coming”, resulting in an organized resistance which the British hadn’t expected, a tanner named William Dawes rode toward Lexington through the towns west of Boston with the same message. Dawes’ cries for help, though, fell on deaf ears (which is why you’ve probably never heard of him) and historians still wonder why so few men from the towns that Dawes alerted took part in the revolution.

Why was Revere’s message so much more powerful than Dawes’?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point (a book that we highly recommend reading), he discusses the answer: “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts. Revere’s news tipped and Dawes’ didn’t because of the differences between the two men.”

Gladwell goes on to explain the importance of what he calls “Mavens” and “Connectors” for word-of-mouth virality:

“A Connector might tell ten friends where to stay in Los Angeles, and half of them might take his advice. A Maven might tell five people where to stay in Los Angeles but make the case for the hotel so emphatically that all of them would take his advice. These are different personalities at work, acting for different reasons. But they both have the power to spark word-of-mouth epidemics.”

The question, then, when trying to spread an idea (grow a business, promote a blog, sell a book, etc) is not how do you get a lot of people to believe in the idea (or what you’re trying to sell), but how do you get the right people to become die-hard followers?

Losing Weight With Chess

It sounds crazy, but according to Robert Sapolsky, American Researcher and professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories on tournament day — three times more than a normal person on an average day. Evidently, it has to do with breathing rates, blood pressure, and muscle contractions.

Daily Doses Of Stoicism

We’ve recently been enjoying some daily musings out of The Daily Stoic, which contains “366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living.”

To give you a sample of the meditations, here’s the one for March 30th:

“Hurry to your own ruling reason, to the reason of the Whole, and to your neighbor’s. To your own mind to make it just; to the mind of the Whole to remember your place in it; and to your neighbor’s mind to learn whether it’s ignorant or of sound knowledge — while recognizing it’s like yours.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 9.22

If our lives are not ruled by reason, what are they ruled by? Impulse? Whim? Mimicry? Unthinking habit? As we examine our past behavior, it’s sad how often we find this to be the case — that we were not acting consciously or deliberately but instead by forces we did not bother to evaluate. It also happens that these are the instances that we’re most likely to regret.

The Creative Process

In The Practice, Seth Godin explains how to consistently ship creative work. This book is one part creative inspiration and one part creative advice — we recommend picking it up if you’re trying to turn your creativity into a discipline.

Here’s one of our favorites excerpts:

“The first thing is making exactly what you want, for you.

And the second thing is making something for those you seek to connect and change.

Pursuing either is fine. Pursuing both is a recipe for unhappiness, because what you’re actually doing is insisting that other people want what you want and see what you see.

Most of us would like that — we might even desire it after all the work we invest — but that doesn’t mean it’s likely to happen.”

Sonic Booms Caught On Camera

We learned that you can actually see (with a really good camera) the sound barrier being broken. And it looks awesome. Read more about it over here.

Extra Stuff

Here’s some other stuff we found interesting this week.

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds by James Clear

Want to Raise Emotionally Healthy Kids? A Classic Study Shows Children Need More ‘Grandparent Time’ by Inc.

10 awesome science discoveries you may have missed in 2020 by National Geographic

The 11-Minute Workout You Can Do at Work So You Don’t Have to Go to the Gym by Inc.

The Weekly Challenge

Most health experts recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. And according to one study, an estimated 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration because they’re not drinking enough. This week start building a habit of drinking more water — you can use a simple app like Daily Water Tracker Reminder (Apple and Android) to track your intake.

Until next week!

Mike & Alec

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