Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you.
Thinking about the Wahhabi strategy made my head spin,” Mortenson says. “This wasn’t just a few Arab sheikhs getting off Gulf Air with bags of cash. They were bringing the brightest madrassa students back to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for a decade of indoctrination, then encouraging them to take four wives when they come home and breed like rabbits.
Prior to the trip, I had quit my job with all its health benefits and started working at charity: water with zero anything. So, I went to Africa, had an amazing trip, got back, and found out that I had malaria. I went to the hospital, stayed there for three days, got treated, and was sent home with a bill for $40,000. Scott was in debt and I owed two months on rent—we were just freaking out.
The amazing story that happened was I called my old job’s HR department, which was in Seattle, and spoke with a woman about my situation. I told her I quit work last month and now have a giant hospital bill. I asked about COBRA and she put me on hold to look at my file. She came back and told me, “I don’t know how this happened, but someone here forgot to cancel your health insurance, so you’re completely covered. I’m just going to pay this all off for you and then cancel your insurance.” Scott and I were in tears.
For a few years, I loved it. I got to see what the inside of an ad agency was really like behind the scenes of all the commercials I had watched on TV. About two years into it, the allure wore off. I started to see how much thought actually went into manipulating people to buy products they didn’t really need, which probably put them in debt and didn’t make them happy anyway.
“What this business is about isn’t about selling stuff. This business is about creating strong provocative relationships between good companies and their customers. Those relationships will feed the business.”
The solution suggested by this research, as well as my own, is as simple as it is startling: Do less. But do what you do with complete and hard focus. Then when you’re done be done, and go enjoy the rest of the day.
During dinner the subject of work/family balance often came up. And it wasn’t pretty. Divorce was common. Missing kid’s events or games was the norm. Men who prided themselves on their ability to move mountains got sheepish describing the fissures and faults in their home lives.
This is the story of a child I once knew, who grew up to be a man I couldn’t recognize, and by telling his story I may get to know him a little bit better.
Do you believe in “writer’s block”? If so, how do you avoid it?
This is a fancy term for fear. I avoid it by not getting it. Because I write like I talk and I don’t get talker’s block.
The most amazing thing, when you work in tech, is that from 6am to 9am NOTHING HAPPENS. Of course there is news, but there are few emails or phone calls that you’re expect to handle during that time. None of your employees or coworkers are awake. You’re completely free to do whatever you want, for a solid 2-3 hours.