DAY1 Write for Yourself

​Tyler Cowen starts every podcast with a message to his audience: “This is the conversation I want to have, not the one you want to have.” If they’re disappointed, so be it. Tyler wants to have wild and wacky conversations that reflect his interests, even if they repel the average listener. But by ignoring the wisdom of crowds, he’s attracted an ocean of like-minded super fans.

When I swim, I either like diving into a freshwater lake, boogie boarding on violent surf, or floating in an ultra-salty area like The Dead Sea. Like water, writing comes alive at the extremes. Avoid brackish prose that tries to be everything to everybody, even though it means that most people will be indifferent to what you publish.

Depending on the article, you can either write for yourself or one other person. Thinking about thousands of people at once will drive you crazy because you won’t know what to focus on. Don’t let a stadium of perspectives paralyze you. Pick one obsessive person to write for, and let them be a proxy for the kind of reader you want to attract.

When I write for myself, I think about what I would’ve wanted to know six months ago. I focus on ideas that would’ve surprised me or saved me time. Since I’m an obsessive who appreciates depth, I include more detail than conventional wisdom would advise. But guess what? I don’t care. My writing is a protest against the superficial babble that passes for intellectual discourse and gives us all BuzzFeed Brain.

When I write for others, I start the essay with their name at the top of the page. Then, I describe them in detail: “Kevin will swallow information faster than a lion can eat its prey, but only if you keep him entertained. He’s a well-read startup founder whose appetite for rigorous thinking is balanced by an impatience for hollow ideas. So get to the damn point. Don’t let him drown in the deep end of background knowledge, even if it means he has to look something up on Wikipedia.”

The more you write for somebody with peculiar interests, the less you compete for their attention. I write for practitioners because they’re allergic to cliches and philosophers because their BS filters are more sensitive than an electric fence. Meeting the kinds of people you’d never meet in real life is the whole point of writing online, so escape the lukewarm middle and write for one obsessive person.


泰勒-考恩在每次播客开头都会对听众说 "这是我想要的对话 而不是你们想要的" 如果他们失望了,那就失望吧。泰勒想要进行狂野而古怪的对话,以反映他的兴趣,即使这些对话会让普通听众反感。但是,由于忽视了群众的智慧,他吸引了一大批志同道合的超级粉丝。



当我为自己写作时,我会思考六个月前我想知道的事情。我关注那些会让我大吃一惊或节省我时间的想法。因为我是一个欣赏深度的强迫症患者,所以我会写得比传统智慧所建议的更详细。但你猜怎么着?我不在乎。我的写作是对肤浅的胡言乱语的抗议,这些胡言乱语充当了知识分子的话语,给我们带来了 BuzzFeed Brain。

当我为他人写作时,我会在文章开头写上他们的名字。然后,我会详细描述他们: "凯文吞信息的速度比狮子吃猎物还快,但前提是你得让他乐在其中。他是一位饱读诗书的初创企业创始人,对严谨思维的追求与对空洞想法的不耐烦形成了平衡。因此,请直奔主题。不要让他淹没在背景知识的深渊中,即使这意味着他必须在维基百科上查找一些东西"。

你越是为有特殊兴趣的人写作,就越不需要争夺他们的注意力。我为从业者写作,因为他们对陈词滥调过敏;我为哲学家写作,因为他们的 "废话过滤器 "比电网还敏感。结识那些你在现实生活中永远不会遇到的人是网络写作的全部意义所在,因此,摆脱冷淡的中庸之道,为一个痴迷的人写作吧。

DAY2 Why You Should Write

Words are the atomic unit of the internet.

With the stroke of a pen, you can build your network, improve your thinking, and create opportunities for yourself.

Until now, the internet has connected us with people in our past. But writing online connects you with the people in your future. As Derek Sivers once wrote: “The coolest people I meet are the ones who find me through something I’ve written.”

​Writing online is a guaranteed way to shrink the world. A well-written article can change your life because the internet rewards people who think well. Each post is an advertisement for the kinds of people and opportunities you want to attract, and if you have a voice, you can build a platform.

In any field, the most successful people double as writers. Chefs write recipes, comedians write jokes, and entrepreneurs write business plans. The examples are endless.

​Writing is like weightlifting for the brain. Just as you'll improve your food diet if you start cooking, you'll improve your information diet if you start writing. Testing the limits of your ideas is the fastest way to improve them and raise your intelligence. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Jeff Bezos:

“People who write a lot, also listen a lot. They also change their mind a lot. Not necessarily with new data, but sometimes re-analyzing the same data. They also work hard to disconfirm fundamental biases.”

An empty white page is a mirror into your mind. When the ideas in your mind are clouded, so are the words on the page in front of you. Re-writing is re-thinking. It’s the best single best way to sharpen your ideas. And once your ideas are as clear as a Neiman Marcus mirror, you’ll be able to teach them to others.


The internet is the library we always dreamed of. It’s a place to learn, network, and connect with experts.

You no longer need to depend on an institution for a platform. You can build your own following now. Two decades ago, online publishing was limited to authors, journalists, and media moguls. Today, anybody can have more reach than the kings you read about in history books.

Writers engage with reality like it’s a full-contact sport. It’s a collision between your mind and the world. Writers are professional observers.

When you know you’re going to write, you change the way you live. You can no longer sleepwalk through life. The most powerful insights come from everyday experiences that people ignore.

As Sherlock Holmes said: “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes."

The best way to learn faster is to have a stake in the outcome. Risk awakens our learning muscles like a splash of cold water. If you want to learn to cook invite friends over for dinner; if you want to learn about stocks, invest in the stock market; and if you want to learn about an idea, publish an article about it.

Instead of ignoring the mundane, writers welcome it. From the annoyance of a DMV line to the wrath of a torrential downpour, many of my best ideas arrive in moments of extreme inconvenience. Recently, during a cancelled flight in Washington D.C., I realized that airports are lawless places. You can sleep on the floor, put your feet on chairs, have dessert for breakfast, brush your teeth in public, or chug a Heineken at 7am.

There are no rules.

Like my delay at the airport, since each moment is a potential future sentence, writers live with more curiosity. From the beauty of morning light to the heat of the afternoon sun, they soak up the world with passionate intensity.

Writing initiates the ultimate positive feedback loop. Online writers are rewarded with instant feedback, and fast feedback loops are the best way to accelerate your learning. Better yet, writing regularly will inspire you to live an interesting life. As your writing improves, so will the opportunities available to you.


Most writing advice is simple.

Use stories to illuminate what you’re trying to say. Write in short sentences. Make one point per sentence. Communicate with a smooth and natural tone, as if you’re talking to a friend at a bar. If you have writer’s block, you don’t have enough notes, so rather than starting with a blank page, start with an abundance of notes. There you go. That’s just about all you need to start writing well.

Don’t just write for yourself. Share your ideas by publishing them online. Writing in public is like inviting guests to your house for dinner. You have to clean and double check everything. Just like when you cook a meal for your guests, you try harder when others are watching and your reputation is at stake.

As James Clear says:

"If you wish you would take something more seriously, do it publicly… Social pressure forces you to up your game.”

Demand for quality writing far exceeds the supply of it. Since people who don’t write in public are blind to the benefits, there’s relatively little competition for those who take the craft seriously. Good writing is rare. There may be more writing than ever, but most of it is shallow. People are bombarded with worthless ideas and the distractions of the news. They're tired of clickbait articles, exaggerated political dramas, and attention-burning articles. People are starving for creators who speak with depth and nuance. That’s why everybody reads Wait But Why and Joe Rogan stole the culture.

If you want to grow an audience, treat your readers like they’re as important as the Pope. Every paragraph, every sentence, and every word matters. Readers who feel respected will return to your website and tell their friends about your writing. Once you build the writing habit, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to reach people.

People dream of the advantages you take for granted. Writing is free. You already have everything you need: an internet connection and easy access to a computer. You pay in time, not money. The only thing standing between you and your writing goals is discipline.

Learn to write.








空白的白纸是一面镜子,照出你的思想。当你头脑中的想法被蒙蔽时,你面前纸页上的文字也会被蒙蔽。重写就是重新思考。这是使你的想法更加清晰的最佳方法。一旦你的想法像尼曼-马库斯(Neiman Marcus)的镜子一样清晰,你就能将它们传授给他人。






正如福尔摩斯所说 "世界上有很多显而易见的事情 却没有人偶然发现"


作家们不会忽视平凡,而是欢迎平凡。从车管所排队的烦恼到暴雨的愤怒,我的许多最佳创意都是在极度不便的时刻产生的。最近,在华盛顿特区的一次航班取消中,我意识到机场是一个无法无天的地方。你可以睡在地板上,把脚放在椅子上,早餐吃甜点,当众刷牙,或者在早上 7 点喝喜力啤酒。








正如 James Clear 所说


高质量写作供不应求。由于不公开写作的人对写作的好处视而不见,因此认真对待写作的人竞争相对较少。好的写作很少见。写作可能比以往任何时候都多,但大多数都很肤浅。人们被毫无价值的观点和新闻所困扰。他们已经厌倦了点击率高的文章、夸大其词的政治戏剧和吸引眼球的文章。人们渴望有深度、有细微差别的创作者。这就是为什么每个人都在读《Wait But Why》,乔-罗根偷走了文化。




DAY3 The Serendipity of Note-Taking

I always write a shopping list before I go to the grocery store: eggs, salmon, steak, pasta, greek yogurt. You know, the usual. But somehow, I always buy something I didn’t expect. Last time, it was NutZo almost butter. The time before that, fresh figs.

My grocery experience falls into two categories: remembering the specifics and following serendipity. I see the same buckets whenever I use my note-taking system to write an essay.

Your note-taking system shouldn’t just help you save ideas. It should help you generate new ones too. Let’s pretend I’m writing about NASA’s Apollo 8 mission. I’ll start the research process by looking up notes from my favorite book about it: Rocket Men. Within 30 seconds, I find specific details: the Saturn V rocket reached speeds of 24,208 miles per hour and the moon is 238,900 miles away from Earth, roughly 58 times the distance Columbus sailed when he discovered the Western world. But just as the best part of going to the grocery store is finding things you never expected to buy, note-taking comes alive when you transcend the limits of memory and step into a galaxy of surprising ideas.

Good note-taking systems help you discover ideas like grocery stores do with food. When they do, your writing can travel in a new, more productive direction. But too many people try to make their note-taking systems too orderly, which reduces the serendipity that makes note-taking so useful in the first place. Order is a tradeoff. Even though it helps you find what you’re looking for, it reduces creativity-inspiring randomness.

Returning to the Apollo 8 example, a tour through my notes reveals a mind-bending statistic about the New Horizons spacecraft which took 9.5 years to travel 3 billion miles and reach Pluto within 1 minute of the time NASA predicted when it launched. Then, it reminds me of two stories: the time I visited Cape Canaveral with my father or the time I saw the Apollo command module at the National Air and Space Museum. Within two minutes, I’ve fallen into a black hole of stories I’d forgotten. Rather than being disappointed by my ever-decaying memory, I am propelled by the compounding advantages of a notes collection which numbers in the thousands.

It turns out, I’m not the only person who buys things impulsively. One University of Pennsylvania study found that 1/5th of in-store purchases are unplanned, which is why American consumers spend $5,400 per year on impulse purchases. Just as a retail store is as profitable as its ability to generate unplanned purchases, your note-taking system is as useful as its ability to generate serendipity.


在去杂货店之前,我总会写一张购物清单:鸡蛋、三文鱼、牛排、意大利面、希腊酸奶。你知道,都是些平常的东西。但不知怎的,我总会买到一些我意想不到的东西。上次买的是 NutZo 几乎黄油。前一次是新鲜无花果。


你的笔记系统不应该仅仅帮助你保存想法。它还应该帮助你产生新的想法。假设我在写 NASA 的阿波罗 8 号任务。我会从我最喜欢的一本书开始研究: 火箭人》。不到 30 秒,我就找到了具体细节:土星五号火箭的时速达到 24208 英里,月球距离地球 238900 英里,大约是哥伦布发现西方世界时航行距离的 58 倍。但是,就像去杂货店购物的最大乐趣在于发现你从未想过要买的东西一样,当你超越记忆的局限,步入一个充满惊人想法的星系时,记笔记也会变得生动起来。


回到 "阿波罗 8 号 "的例子,在我的笔记中发现了一个令人震惊的统计数据:"新视野 "号宇宙飞船用了 9.5 年的时间飞行了 30 亿英里,并在美国宇航局发射时预测的 1 分钟内到达冥王星。然后,它让我想起了两个故事:我和父亲一起参观卡纳维拉尔角,或者在国家航空航天博物馆看到阿波罗指令舱。不到两分钟,我就掉进了一个被我遗忘的故事黑洞。我并没有对自己不断衰退的记忆力感到失望,而是被成千上万的笔记收藏所带来的复合优势所推动。

事实证明,我并不是唯一一个冲动购物的人。宾夕法尼亚大学的一项研究发现,1/5 的店内购物是无计划的,这就是为什么美国消费者每年在冲动购物上花费 5400 美元。正如一家零售店的盈利能力取决于其产生计划外购物的能力一样,你的笔记系统的实用性也取决于其产生偶然性的能力。

DAY4 Writing is More than Typing

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is my favorite documentary.

It tells the story of an 85-year-old sushi master who runs a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Tokyo. President Obama said it was the best sushi he’s ever had. The most surprising part of the documentary is seeing how little running a restaurant has to do with cooking. For example, my favorite scene occurs at the Tsukiji fish market, where his team sources fresh fish every day.

No matter the restaurant, preparation begins a long time before fire lines the stove. In the culinary tradition, chefs follow a French system called mise-en-place which translates to “everything in its place.” At fancy restaurants, it begins many hours before the first guests arrive.

When I was living in New York, I often worked out of a high-end Manhattan restaurant called Aldea which doubled as a co-working space on weekdays. Kitchen setup began at 10:30am — seven hours before the first guests arrived. During preparation, they deboned their meats, separated vegetables into small bowls, and segmented the soups into marked boxes. Their daily preparation lasted longer than the restaurant’s opening hours.

Just as cookbooks won’t train somebody to run a restaurant, traditional writing books won’t train people to write online. Spelling, grammar, and sentence structure are only a fraction of what writers think about. The online writing experience extends to sourcing ideas, taking notes, having conversations, managing emotional turmoil, putting words on the page, distributing your essays, and building an audience. Every exceptional writer I know has their own version of sourcing fish from the market or mise-en-place.

The language of high-end dining demonstrates how a chef’s responsibilities go beyond the act of cooking. The English word for chef translates to “chief of the kitchen” in French. That chef de cuisine is responsible for creating menus, preparing the food, plate design, managing kitchen staff, ordering equipment, and controlling the ambiance. All those activities fall under the bucket of cooking. Only after they’re all complete does food preparation begin. Just as cooking is only part of what it means to be a chef, typing is only a fraction of what it means to be a writer.



它讲述了一位 85 岁的寿司大师在东京经营一家米其林三星餐厅的故事。奥巴马总统说这是他吃过的最好吃的寿司。这部纪录片最令人惊讶的地方在于,经营餐厅与烹饪的关系是如此之少。例如,我最喜欢的一幕发生在筑地鱼市,他的团队每天都在那里采购新鲜的鱼。

无论哪家餐厅,准备工作都要在炉灶生火前很久就开始了。在烹饪传统中,厨师们遵循法式的 "mise-en-place "系统,意为 "各就各位"。在高级餐厅,准备工作要在第一批客人到来前好几个小时就开始了。

我在纽约生活时,经常在曼哈顿一家名为 Aldea 的高档餐厅工作,这家餐厅平日里兼作联合办公空间。厨房的准备工作从上午 10:30 开始--比第一批客人到达的时间早七个小时。在准备过程中,他们将肉去骨,将蔬菜分装到小碗里,将汤分装到有标记的盒子里。他们每天的准备时间比餐厅的营业时间还长。


高端餐饮业的语言表明,厨师的职责不仅仅是烹饪。厨师的英语单词在法语中翻译为 "厨房主管"。厨师长负责制定菜单、准备食物、设计餐盘、管理厨房员工、订购设备和控制氛围。所有这些活动都属于烹饪的范畴。只有在这些工作都完成后,才开始准备食物。正如烹饪只是厨师的一部分,打字也只是作家的一小部分。


Writing Makes You a Better Speaker

Neil deGrasse Tyson once told me that he’s already written down practically everything he says in public. At the time, I thought it was BS. Now I know it’s true. By writing frequently he’s honed his ability to speak rhythmically and become America’s most eloquent scientist.

He sees pop culture as a scaffold to support explanations about the universe: “I found myself with a foot in pop culture and a foot in my field... Think of it as a communication scaffold. Now you have information in your field that you then attach to that scaffold, and the person just receives it without hesitation and without jumping over hurdles.”

It’s not enough to write. You have to write publicly. As the author of more than 10 books, he has a well of already-written stories and statistics to draw upon. Only then can you anticipate counter-arguments and understand how subtle tweaks in your diction influence the potency of your ideas.

In addition to style, writing sharpens the substance of his ideas. Unlike speech, words on the page can be reworked and rewritten until they’re clear and concise. By the time he sits down for an interview, the hard work of thinking is complete and he turns into a carrier for ideas he’s already penned. If you want to become a better speaker, start by writing every day.

尼尔-德格拉斯-泰森(Neil deGrasse Tyson)曾告诉我,他在公开场合说的话几乎都写下来了。当时,我认为这是胡说八道。现在我知道这是真的。通过经常写作,他磨练了自己有节奏地说话的能力,成为美国最有口才的科学家。

他认为流行文化是解释宇宙的支架: "我发现自己一脚踩在流行文化上,一脚踩在自己的领域里...... 把它想象成一个交流的支架。现在,你有了自己领域的信息,然后把这些信息附加到脚手架上,人们就能毫不犹豫地接受这些信息,而无需跨越障碍"。

仅仅写作是不够的。你必须公开写作。作为 10 多本书的作者,他有大量已经写好的故事和统计数据可供借鉴。只有这样,你才能预见反驳意见,了解措辞上的细微调整如何影响你的观点的效力。



Note-Taking is Time Travel

Have you ever looked at photos from an old trip? Doing so brings back all kinds of forgotten memories. Find a photo of the dinner you had in Prague, and you’ll remember the delicious fish you ate, which will remind you of the charming Airbnb you rented, which will remind you of the graffiti on the John Lennon Wall, which will remind you of the friends you walked with on the Charles Bridge.

You get the point. Memories unlock memories. Photos don’t just remind you of what you captured. They elicit memories of the other places you visited, the people you were with, and the emotions you felt while traveling.

​Note-taking works the same way. It’s not just about saving quotes and shopping lists. It’s about having conversations with your past and future self so you can develop ideas over time. The Grammy Award-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar once explained how note-taking is the closest thing we have to time travel:

“I have to make notes because a lot of my inspiration comes from meeting people or going outside the country, or going around the corner of my old neighborhood and talking to a five-year-old little boy. And I have to remember these things. I have to write them down and then five or three months later, I have to find that same emotion that I felt when I was inspired by it, so I have to dig deep to see what triggered the idea… It comes back because I have key little words that make me realize the exact emotion which drew the inspiration.”

Kendrick doesn’t write down all his ideas. That’d take too long. Instead, he captures just enough to return to his emotional state when he wrote those notes. Like a journey through old photos, those snippets trigger a memory cascade and a torrent of buried emotions. Without those notes, his observations would evaporate faster than he can rap about them. But words on the page have infinite patience. By taking notes, Kendrick travels through time and rebels against the entropy of memory.


你看过以前旅行的照片吗?这样做会唤起各种被遗忘的记忆。找到一张您在布拉格吃晚餐时的照片,您就会想起您吃过的美味鱼,会想起您租住的迷人的 Airbnb,会想起约翰-列侬墙上的涂鸦,会想起和您一起在查理大桥上散步的朋友。


记笔记也是如此。这不仅仅是为了保存报价和购物清单。它是与过去的自己和未来的自己进行对话,以便随着时间的推移形成自己的想法。格莱美奖得主说唱歌手肯德里克-拉马尔(Kendrick Lamar)曾解释说,记笔记是我们最接近时间旅行的方式:




Learn to Write Fast

School may have taught you to write, but it probably didn’t teach you to write fast and once you start working, you routinely write under deadlines.

I learned this at my first job when the average writing assignment was due “by the end of the day.” Unlike school, time to research wasn’t built into the calendar so I was always pressed for time.

Writing against the clock is much easier when you have a note-taking system. As author David Allen once said: "Minute-to-minute and day-to-day you don’t have time to think. You need to have already thought.” Building a Second Brain is the best way to leverage the thinking you’ve already done. Instead of writing from scratch, you can create an outline by collecting your most relevant ideas from books you’ve already read, conversations you’ve already had, and evergreen notes you’ve already written. Like alchemy, the article’s structure comes together organically once you’ve compiled enough ideas. This is when most people start writing, but talking about your ideas is a faster way to concretize your structure.

Talking forces you to structure your ideas because it happens at the speed of thought. Set a three minute timer, pretend like you’re talking to a friend, and explain what you want to write. As you do, transcribe your words with Otter. Often, it helps to repeat the exercise because doing so refines your thesis. If you’re feeling ambitious, take time off the clock every time you re-explain your ideas. By the time you’re done recording yourself, you'll have your structure organized and the ideas externalized. Only then should you start typing.

I’m not saying you should always write fast. Some essays demand contemplation. In my own writing practice, all my long-form essays take more than 100 hours to write. But just as drills can build an athlete’s skill set, every writer should practice writing fast.

At most, writing fast will vastly increase your earnings power because writing well is thinking well, and people who write fast, think fast. At the very least, by forcing you to build a note-taking system and structure your ideas by talking, tight deadlines will make your process more efficient. And if you’re wondering, I wrote this article in 94 minutes.



我在第一份工作中学到了这一点,当时一般的写作任务都是 "在一天结束前 "交稿。与学校不同的是,研究时间并没有列入日程表,所以我的时间总是很紧张。

如果你有一套笔记系统,争分夺秒地写作就会容易得多。作家戴维-艾伦曾经说过 "分分秒秒,日复一日,你没有时间思考。你需要已经思考过了"。建立 "第二大脑 "是利用你已经完成的思考的最佳方式。与其从头开始写作,你可以从已经读过的书、已经进行过的对话和已经写过的常青笔记中收集最相关的想法,从而创建一个提纲。就像炼金术一样,一旦你收集了足够多的想法,文章的结构就会有机地组合起来。大多数人都是在这个时候开始写作的,但谈论自己的想法是使文章结构具体化的更快方法。

谈论迫使你构思,因为它是以思维的速度进行的。设定一个三分钟的计时器,假装你在和朋友聊天,然后说明你想写什么。一边说,一边用 Otter 抄写你的文字。重复练习通常会有帮助,因为这样做可以完善你的论点。如果你有雄心壮志,那么每次重新解释你的想法时,都可以暂停计时。当你完成自我记录时,你的结构已经有条理,想法也已经外化。只有这样,你才能开始打字。

我并不是说你应该总是快速写作。有些文章需要沉思。在我的写作实践中,我所有的长篇文章都要花 100 多个小时来写。但是,正如练习可以提高运动员的技能一样,每个作家都应该练习快速写作。

快速写作最多只能大大提高你的收益能力,因为写得好就是想得好,而写得快的人思维也快。最起码,通过强迫你建立一个笔记系统,并通过说话来组织你的想法,紧迫的最后期限会让你的写作过程更有效率。如果你想知道,我是在 94 分钟内写完这篇文章的。


Writing Can Save You Time

People don’t write because it “takes too long.” Typing and editing is too much work, so they don’t put their best ideas on paper. This strategy saves time in the short term, but over the long term, it hurts them.

Writing can save you time. Publishing ideas on paper is how you create intellectual capital because writing is how you make your ideas permanent. Words on paper are the closest thing we have to time travel. Once you write something down, you can remix and reuse the ideas for the rest of your life.

Writing is research and development for your brain. The words you publish now are the seeds of your future projects. Every time you write down an idea, you add a Lego block to your intellectual arsenal. The more Legos you have, the more things you can build. Writing is the same. The more you write now, the more you can create in the future. As the number of artifacts you create increase linearly, the number of connections you make between them increase exponentially.

Starting a project when you’re a prolific writer is like running a marathon and starting at the 24-mile marker. You’ve already done most of the work. You don’t need to research, think of a new framework, or scavenge your memory for that great idea you once had but can’t remember anymore.

I’ve gotten to the point where I only say yes to projects I’m 80% done with. I only say yes to projects I can mostly tackle with Lego blocks I’ve already created. That intellectual capital took a long time to build, but since I can reuse the ideas forever, all those Lego blocks will save me thousands of hours over the course of my career.


人们不写作是因为 "时间太长"。打字和编辑工作太繁重,所以他们不把最好的想法写在纸上。这种策略在短期内节省了时间,但从长远来看,却伤害了他们。



当你是一个多产作家时,开始一个项目就像跑马拉松,从 24 英里标记处开始。你已经完成了大部分工作。你不需要研究,不需要想新的框架,也不需要在记忆中寻找曾经有过但现在想不起来的好点子。

我已经到了只对已经完成 80% 的项目说 "好 "的地步。我只对我能用我已经制作好的乐高积木完成的项目说 "好"。这些智力资本是花了很长时间才建立起来的,但因为我可以永远重复使用这些想法,所有这些乐高积木将在我的职业生涯中为我节省成千上万个小时。


Learn Like an Athlete

LeBron James didn’t always have thick calves, a raging six-pack, and arms like the Incredible Hulk.

Ask LeBron about his off-season training regimen, and he’ll share a detailed run-down of his workout plan and on-the-court practice routine. When he entered the NBA, LeBron wasn’t a strong shooter. I’d bet the house that early in his career, LeBron built his off-season training regimen around his weak jump shot and disappointing 42% field goal percentage during his rookie season. As his Instagram posts reveal, LeBron worked for his strength, agility, impeccable history of injury avoidance, and an outstanding 54% field goal percentage during his 14th NBA season.

Athletes train. Musicians train. Performers train. But knowledge workers don’t.

Knowledge workers should train like LeBron, and implement strict “learning plans.” To be sure, intellectual life is different from basketball. Success is harder to measure and the metrics for improvement aren’t quite as clear. Even then, there’s a lot to learn from the way top athletes train. They are clear in their objectives and deliberate in their pursuit of improvement.

Knowledge workers should imitate them.


Similar to how LeBron structures his training to win NBA championships, knowledge workers should train to build skills, complete projects, and increase their productive power. Armed with an effective system, we’ll learn faster and have more fun doing it.

My friend Nick Maggiulli is a case study in building a learning plan.

In 2015, he decided to learn a programming language called R. Two years later, he was a data science expert. That new skill propelled Nick into his next long-term endeavor, a personal blog. Nick started writing a blog post every Tuesday, starting on January 1st, 2017. Fast forward to today, and he’s now published a post every week for the past 131 weeks. Despite his success, his pursuit of knowledge is relentless. Last time I visited his apartment, I saw an 850-page book about tax law on his living room table. He plans to devote the next year to study the American tax code, so he can know as much about tax law as anybody at his company.

Nick should serve as a role model for all of us.

Even among the most ambitious individuals, learning plans are rare. Most people are reactive. They don’t plan. Like surfers in a violent ocean, they surrender to their environment. They direct their attention towards the never-ending shouts of email newsletters, friend recommendations, and social media feeds.

We can do better.


Learn in three-month sprints and commit to a new learning project every quarter.

Even the longest projects are simply a collection of short term tasks. Knowing that, you should break down the project into daily increments, and create a series of daily and weekly goals to learn the skills required to complete the project on time.

The end goal should be clear. Start by writing down a positive vision for your future. Focus on the end goal, not the skill itself. For example, rather than saying “I want to learn how to draw,” I focused on the end goal: “moving forward, all the charts, graphs, and images on my website will be hand-drawn.”

I like Daniel Gross’ framework for learning. When I interviewed him, he told me to build a video game for myself. Like a video game, productive projects have multiple levels. They follow the Goldilocks Principle: not too easy, not too hard. The learning project needs to be challenging enough to demand focus, but easy enough to make consistent progress. That way, you can enter the optimal state of learning.

If you get stuck, the “video game” is too hard. When this happens, you should stop. Work on a smaller step or retreat to a manageable challenge. Otherwise, you will lose your motivation to continue learning. Conversely, if you’re bored, the video game isn’t difficult enough, so you should attempt a tougher challenge that you haven’t seen before.

Everybody loves novelty. Even if your learning plan is bounded by a strict goal, the details should be flexible. The activities should be cohesive enough to keep on track, but diverse enough to stay interesting. For example, if you want to learn about the Space Race between America and the Soviet Union, you can read books, watch documentaries, listen to podcasts with astronauts, and explore newspaper articles from the time-period. Choose what excites you, as long as it serves the end goal.

I encourage you to share your learnings. Publish an essay, a book review, an art project, or open source your code. Sharing your ideas will help you digest them, and if your posts are interesting, you may attract experts in your field of curiosity.

If you can publish your findings along the way, even better. Sharing your work is the best way to speed up your feedback loops, which will help you learn faster and improve your plan based on the feedback you receive. For example, I’m learning to draw, and that’s why I’ve included drawings in this article.

If you want to learn to code, post your software on Github; if you want to learn guitar, share your music on Instagram; and if you want to improve your writing, start a blog. Sharing your work is like inviting friends to your home. It forces you to be clean and double check everything, which accelerates the learning process.


The more you learn, the easier it is to learn. Pick the right projects, and you’ll develop a personal network effect, where each new skill increases the value of skills you already have.

You’ll improve your process every time you complete a learning challenge. By pushing through the cycle of start to finish, you’ll discover quirks about yourself, accelerate your learning process, and ultimately, learn like an athlete.


勒布朗-詹姆斯并不总是拥有粗壮的小腿、六块腹肌和像 “绿巨人 ”一样的臂膀。

如果向勒布朗询问他的休赛期训练计划,他会详细介绍他的锻炼计划和场上训练的方式。刚进入 NBA 时,勒布朗的投篮能力并不强。我敢打赌,在勒布朗职业生涯的早期,他的休赛期训练计划就是围绕着他那微弱的跳投能力和新秀赛季令人失望的 42% 命中率而制定的。正如勒布朗在 Instagram 上发布的帖子所显示的那样,在他的第 14 个 NBA 赛季中,勒布朗为自己的力量、敏捷性、无可挑剔的避免受伤历史以及 54% 的出色投篮命中率付出了努力。


知识工作者应该像勒布朗一样训练,并执行严格的 “学习计划”。可以肯定的是,知识生活不同于篮球。成功更难衡量,改进的标准也不那么明确。即便如此,顶级运动员的训练方式也有很多值得学习的地方。他们目标明确,刻意追求进步。



与勒布朗为赢得 NBA 总冠军而安排训练的方式类似,知识工作者也应通过训练来培养技能、完成项目并提高生产力。有了一个有效的系统,我们会学得更快,学得更有趣。

我的朋友尼克-马焦利(Nick Maggiulli)就是一个制定学习计划的案例。

2015 年,他决定学习一门名为 R 的编程语言。两年后,他成为了一名数据科学专家。这项新技能推动尼克开始了他的下一个长期努力--个人博客。从 2017 年 1 月 1 日起,尼克开始每周二写一篇博文。时至今日,在过去的 131 周里,他每周都会发表一篇博文。尽管他取得了成功,但他对知识的追求是不懈的。上次我去他的公寓时,在他客厅的桌子上看到了一本 850 页的税法书籍。他计划明年专门研究美国税法,这样他就能和公司里的任何人一样了解税法。







最终目标要明确。首先要写下对未来的积极憧憬。把重点放在最终目标上,而不是技能本身。例如,我没有说 “我想学习绘画”,而是把重点放在了最终目标上:“今后,我网站上的所有图表、图形和图片都将是手绘的”。

我喜欢丹尼尔-格罗斯的学习框架。我采访他时,他让我为自己制作一个视频游戏。像电子游戏一样,富有成效的项目有多个层次。它们遵循 “金发姑娘原则”:不要太容易,也不要太难。学习项目既要有足够的挑战性,让人集中精力,又要足够简单,让人不断取得进步。这样,你才能进入最佳学习状态。

如果你卡住了,说明 “视频游戏 ”太难了。出现这种情况时,你应该停下来。从一个较小的步骤开始努力,或者退回到一个可以应付的挑战。否则,你就会失去继续学习的动力。反之,如果你感到无聊,说明 “视频游戏 ”还不够难,所以你应该尝试以前从未见过的更艰巨的挑战。




如果你想学习编程,就在 Github 上发布你的软件;如果你想学习吉他,就在 Instagram 上分享你的音乐;如果你想提高写作水平,就开一个博客。分享自己的作品就像邀请朋友到家里做客。它迫使你保持清洁,仔细检查一切,从而加快学习进程。




The Three B's of Creativity

Creativity is serendipitous, but that doesn’t make it magic.

“Thinking harder” is not a recipe for creativity. More effort won’t necessarily lead to better ideas. Instead, creativity tends to arise in states of relaxation which are preceded by a long period of focused thinking. Although you can’t will yourself into creativity, you can create the conditions for it by following the Three B’s of Creativity: bed, bath, and bus.

Bed represents sleep. It’s a chance to put your subconscious mind in control of your thoughts. Closing your eyes is like restarting an overloaded computer. By the time you wake up, you’ve synthesized the ideas you’ve been thinking about and cleaned the windows of your mind. The artist Salvador Dali used to fall asleep after long spurts of work with a ball in his hand, hoping that it’d fall and wake him up just as he was entering a dream state. By falling asleep, his mind left the logical realm and entered an imaginative one.

Bath represents leisure. My roommate is a mathematician and whenever he’s stuck on a problem, he cracks open a beer and watches a TV show. The context switch calms his mind and within 30 minutes, he’s usually writing down solutions he wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Baths are one of the few places in the world where people aren’t absorbed by the drama of entertainment or the pings of technology, and only once those disappear can they hear themselves think.

Bus represents movement. It’s why Jack Kerouac spent so much time driving between American coasts that it looked like he was playing ping pong with his car. It’s why, when I was living in New York, I insisted on working from a new neighborhood every day. Bus is also why so many people write while they walk. As Morgan Housel said in my interview with him: “I walk a lot. Several times a day, just around my block. My neighbors probably think I’m crazy. But I think so much clearer when I’m walking. It’s where I ‘write’ most of my stuff.”

Together, the trinity of bed, bath, and bus reveals that creativity favors the unfocused and unconcentrated mind. When you follow them, creativity goes from being a mystical talent to a conscious way of being.

​创意的三个 B


“努力思考 ”不是创造力的秘诀。更多的努力并不一定会带来更好的创意。相反,创造力往往产生于放松的状态,而在放松之前则是长时间的专注思考。虽然你无法让自己产生创造力,但你可以通过 “创造力的三个B ”来为创造力创造条件:睡觉、洗澡和乘车。


洗澡代表休闲。我的室友是一位数学家,每当他被一道难题难住时,他就会打开一瓶啤酒,然后看一部电视剧。情境的转换能让他的头脑冷静下来,通常在 30 分钟内,他就能写下他本来不会看到的解决方案。浴室是世界上为数不多的不被娱乐节目和技术干扰的地方,只有当这些干扰消失后,人们才能听到自己的思考。

巴士代表着运动。这就是为什么杰克-凯鲁亚克(Jack Kerouac)花了那么多时间在美国海岸之间开车,以至于他看起来就像在用车打乒乓球。这也是为什么我在纽约生活时,坚持每天在新的街区工作。公交车也是很多人边走边写的原因。正如摩根-豪塞尔在接受我的采访时所说:"我经常走路: “我经常走路。一天好几次,就在我家附近。我的邻居可能觉得我疯了。但我走路的时候思路会更清晰。我的大部分东西都是在那里'写'出来的”。



You Already Have a Voice

Your “voice” is just your personality on the page. In life, you are born with certain behavioral patterns. Within a few years, your parents can already see the outlines of who you’ll become. As you get older, you feel the itch to leave the house because you know that lived experiences will help you grow into yourself. You fall, get hurt, get back up, and keep going. Just as you don’t wait to leave home until you’ve found your personality, you shouldn’t wait to start writing until you’ve found your voice.

Maybe you don’t write because you don’t feel talented enough. Maybe, you got a C in high school English class and think that just because you can’t write like Joan Didion, you shouldn’t write at all. But that’s like going to the driving range, hitting a bad shot, and never golfing again just because you can’t play like Tiger Woods.

Or maybe, you don’t feel unique enough. You say: “All my interesting ideas have already been written about.” I’ve heard that line from some of the most creative and idiosyncratic people I know, and it’s nonsense. In person, they know they’re unique. They’re even proud of their differences. But once it’s time to write, they develop an existential fear of not being original enough and compensate by writing like a try-to-impress-everybody consultant with the personality of a doorknob.

Your voice won’t reveal itself until you drop the consultant-speak and listen to the whispers of your intuition. Somehow, it already knows who you want to become. As economist Tyler Cowen said:

"It’s the weird that’s truly normal. It’s how people actually are—what they really care about. In a sense, you’re getting them out of the weird. The weird is the stage presence we put on—all the ‘puffery’ and unwillingness to say what you really think."

I have yet to meet somebody who isn’t exceptionally weird once I’ve gotten to know them. Sure, some people are weirder than others but everybody is strange and one-of-a-kind. The difference between them is that some lean into their quirks, while others run away from them. Once your compass points in the “I want to be less like other people” direction, you’re on your way to finding your voice.

Everybody has a voice, just like everybody has a personality. Both are a collection of all the ways you’re different, but they’re invisible until you socialize. Your best readers will be drawn to your voice, so nurture it with unique experiences and a cocktail of obscure influences. But your voice won’t reveal itself if you just sit back and think. You have to write and publish frequently. When you do, pay attention to the articles people resonate with and the compliments they give you. When they align with the voice you already have and the one you want to develop, double down on what worked.


你的 “声音 ”只是你在纸上的个性。在生活中,你与生俱来就有特定的行为模式。几年之内,你的父母就能看出你将成为什么样的人。随着年龄的增长,你会感到离开家的痒痒,因为你知道,生活经历会帮助你成长为自己。你跌倒了,受伤了,爬起来,继续前进。就像你在找到自己的个性之前不会等着离开家一样,你在找到自己的声音之前也不应该等着开始写作。

也许你不写作是因为你觉得自己不够有才华。也许,你在高中英语课上得了 C,认为自己写不出琼-迪迪恩那样的作品,就不应该写作。但这就好比你去练习场,打了一杆坏球,就再也不打高尔夫了,就因为你打得不像泰格-伍兹(Tiger Woods)。

又或者,你觉得自己不够独特。你说 “我所有有趣的想法都已经被写过了” 我听过我认识的一些最有创意、最特立独行的人说过这句话,这简直是无稽之谈。他们知道自己是独一无二的。他们甚至为自己的与众不同而自豪。但一旦到了写作的时候,他们就会产生一种存在恐惧,害怕自己不够新颖,于是就像一个试图讨好所有人的顾问一样,用门把手一样的个性来弥补自己的不足。



我还没有遇到过一个人,一旦我了解了他,就会觉得他特别怪异。当然,有些人比其他人更古怪,但每个人都很奇怪,都是独一无二的。他们之间的区别在于,有些人喜欢自己的怪癖,而有些人则逃避怪癖。一旦你的指南针指向 “我想不那么像其他人 ”的方向,你就找到了自己的声音。



Look for Things that Don't Make Sense

When the billionaire investor Sam Zell reads the newspaper every morning, he looks for things that don’t make sense.

One time, he saw that a Starbucks had opened in Mongolia. He thought to himself: “Mongolia? I thought they drink tea. What’s with that?” He was so curious about the story that he flew to Mongolia to investigate the situation. When he arrived, he saw that Starbucks locations had opened next to mines, which hinted at China’s construction boom. By the time he left, Zell had prescient information about the future of the Chinese economy.

Most people run away from complexity. When the world doesn’t make sense, they dismiss their ignorance and think about something else. But Zell does the opposite, which partially explains his success as an investor.

In similar fashion, hedge fund advisor Adam Robinson once said: "One of the key things to investing is to be aware when you hear a voice in your head that says it doesn’t make sense. That’s where the gold mine is — things that don’t make sense.”

When the world does the opposite of what you think it’s going to do, it’s not the world that’s wrong. It’s you. Things that don’t make sense are your best learning opportunities. The factor causing the world to behave differently than you think is more influential than all the elements you’re thinking about. Your confusion is an invitation to recalibrate your model of the world so it better aligns with reality. So when a TV pundit says it doesn’t make sense why a stock is falling, it’s because of an X-factor they haven’t considered. As Robinson says: “The world always makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is his model.”

If you’re eager for writing ideas, look for things that don’t make sense. Behind them, you’ll find hidden chambers of knowledge that most people aren’t privy to. As a writer, you will derive the most meaning from essays where your final draft contradicts what you thought before you started writing. Since knowledge is social, the things that surprise you will likely surprise your readers.

Unlike Zell, you don’t need to get on an airplane to learn about things that don’t make sense. You just need to open the Internet, browse your notes, and start writing.



有一次,他看到蒙古开了一家星巴克。他心想 “蒙古?他们不是喝茶吗?这是怎么回事?” 他对这个故事非常好奇,于是飞往蒙古调查情况。到达蒙古后,他看到星巴克的分店都开在矿山旁边,这暗示着中国的建设热潮。离开时,泽尔已经对中国经济的未来有了先见之明。


对冲基金顾问亚当-罗宾逊(Adam Robinson)也曾说过类似的话: “投资的关键之一是,当你听到脑中有声音说这不合理时,你要意识到。这就是金矿所在--不合理的事情。





Lateral Thinking with Withered Ideas

Nintendo uses a product-development philosophy called “Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology.”

It led to the 20th century’s most successful game console: the Game Boy. One day, a gaming engineer named Gunpei Yokoi was commuting home on the train when he saw a man playing with an LCD calculator next to him. Unfortunately, Nintendo didn’t have the budget to push the technological frontier at the time, so they used old technology to innovate. So long as the gameplay was engaging, Yokoi believed that players didn’t care about technical details like colors or screen resolutions. Compared to its contemporaries, the Game Boy was durable and affordable, which removed barriers to entry for users and developers. People would play for hours because it used AA batteries that were cheap and easy to find. Today, the Game Boy has sold more than 118 million units.

That same engineer also created three other popular products: Super Mario, the Nintendo Game and Watch, and the D-Pad — the four-way directional controller that has become so ubiquitous in the video game world. All three of them, along with The Game Boy, show how you can have cutting edge innovation without cutting edge technology. While its competitors tried to out-spend each other with fancy displays and advanced computing power, Nintendo combined readily available technology in new ways.

The history of innovation is full of lateral thinking examples. The Dyson vacuum design was inspired by the way sawmills use cyclone force to eject sawdust. Henry Ford borrowed from two industries to design the assembly line: studying the watch industry led to interchangeable parts and the canning industry-inspired continuous flow manufacturing. Even Bitcoin, which some predict will become the most important technology of the 21st century, combined cryptography advancements made in the 1970s, with digital cash research from the 1980s, with cypherpunk philosophy from the 1990s, with digital cash experiments from the 2000s, which Satoshi Nakomoto cited in the Bitcoin white paper.​

While writing, you can follow Nintendo’s methodology. While the rest of the Internet is talking about the latest Netflix show or the new book at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, you can pull from old and under-valued ideas instead. Find classic movies through the Criterion Collection, classic speeches on YouTube, and classics that are free to read because they’re so old that they no longer have a copyright. Then, write about the intellectual phase transitions that emerge. I call this “Lateral Thinking with Withered Ideas.”


任天堂采用的产品开发理念被称为 “凋零技术的横向思维”。

它造就了 20 世纪最成功的游戏机:Game Boy。一天,一位名叫横井群平(Gunpei Yokoi)的游戏工程师坐火车回家时,看到旁边有一个人在玩液晶计算器。不幸的是,任天堂当时没有足够的预算来推动技术前沿,因此他们使用旧技术进行创新。横井认为,只要游戏能吸引人,玩家并不在乎色彩或屏幕分辨率等技术细节。与同时代的游戏机相比,Game Boy 不仅耐用,而且价格低廉,这就消除了用户和开发商的准入门槛。由于它使用的 AA 电池既便宜又容易找到,因此人们可以一玩就是几个小时。如今,Game Boy 的销量已超过 1.18 亿台。

同一位工程师还创造了另外三款广受欢迎的产品: 超级马里奥》、《任天堂游戏和手表》以及 D-Pad - 在视频游戏世界中无处不在的四向方向控制器。所有这三款产品以及游戏男孩都表明,没有尖端技术,也可以有尖端创新。当竞争对手试图用花哨的显示屏和先进的计算能力来超越对方时,任天堂却以新的方式将现成的技术结合在一起。

在创新史上,横向思维的例子比比皆是。戴森真空吸尘器的设计灵感来自锯木厂利用气旋力喷出锯屑的方式。亨利-福特借鉴了两个行业的经验来设计流水线:学习钟表业后,他设计出了可互换零件;学习罐头业后,他设计出了连续流制造。即使是有人预测将成为 21 世纪最重要技术的比特币,也结合了 20 世纪 70 年代的密码学进步、20 世纪 80 年代的数字现金研究、20 世纪 90 年代的密码朋克哲学以及中本聪在比特币白皮书中引用的 2000 年代的数字现金实验。

在写作时,你可以遵循任天堂的方法论。当互联网上的其他人都在谈论 Netflix 的最新剧集或《纽约时报》畅销书榜首的新书时,你可以从那些价值不高的旧思想中汲取灵感。通过 Criterion Collection 寻找经典电影,在 YouTube 上寻找经典演讲,以及那些因为年代久远、不再拥有版权而可以免费阅读的经典作品。然后,写下出现的思想阶段性转变。我称之为 “枯萎思想的横向思维”。


The Go-For-It-Window

Technology advances faster than social norms.

Large gaps between accelerating technologies and stagnating social norms create lucrative opportunities. But these opportunities are only available for a limited time. In that moment, people can capitalize on the difference between the real and perceived state of the world. I call this sliver of opportunity the “Go-For-It-Window.”

You know you’ve found the Go-For-It Window when you’re simultaneously woke and confused; when you’re shocked your idea doesn’t already exist; when you know something nobody else does; and when it feels like others see the world in black and white, while you see the world with vibrant, technicolor glasses.

Opportunity and popularity are inversely correlated. Sometimes, the paths that look safe are the riskiest, and vice versa. If you’re looking for an under-exploited opportunity, you’ll have to go against the herd. Thus, I frame the Go-For-It Window with a quote from investor Jim Grant: “Successful investing is about having people agree with you… later.”

As a general rule, people are blind to opportunities in the Go-For-It Window. But in retrospect, they seem blindingly obvious. To remove the blinders, you have to escape the myopia of social norms. As Alex Danco said in my interview with him: “Investors arbitrage the state of the world today — before they get started — with the state of the world after they’re done disrupting it.”

Good news. You don’t need any secret knowledge to discover ideas in the Go-For-It Window. But you will need a blend of James Bond confidence and a willingness to ignore the taunts of the crowd. Otherwise, you’ll drown in the sweat of criticism.

To illustrate how the Go-For-It window shows up in real life, I’ll draw on four examples: two from the past, two from the present. I’ll take each in turn.

Past Examples of the Go-For-It-Window:

Airbnb: When I first started using Airbnb, half of my friends thought I was insane. Renting a stranger’s home was reserved for hippie couch surfers who were running away from their childhood. Airbnb didn’t just extend the frontier of technology. It pioneered a new social norm. By matching latent demand with under-utilized supply, Airbnb’s founders commoditized trust, changed the way we travel, and capitalized on the Go-For-It-Window.
NBA Three-Pointer: The NBA introduced the three-pointer in the 1979-80 season. Social norms, not math, halted adoption. At first, people thought the three-point shot was a cheesy gimmick. In the first season after it was introduced, making 21 three-pointers in a season was strong enough to rank in the top 20. But in 2016, Stephen Curry made 13 three-pointers in a single game. The three-pointer was introduced almost four decades ago. And yet, the truth still defies intuition. Since most NBA teams still don’t shoot as many three-pointers as they mathematically should, the Go-for-It Window is still open.

Current Examples of the Go-For-It-Window:

Skip the graduate degree: Too many kids go to graduate school. But graduate school isn’t as necessary as it once was. People can build their own credentials now. They can start a project, write online, or record YouTube videos. This year, thousands of MBA graduates will enter the workforce with more than $100,000 in student debt. Graduate school isn’t just expensive. It’s time-consuming too. If you want to demonstrate value to a future employer, there are cheaper and faster alternatives to graduate school. For example, starting a successful blog is a simple way to build your credentials. Employers know that a strong personal blog signals intelligence and curiosity, so when they find a writer they admire, they sometimes try to hire them. Kids know this. Parents don’t. Thus, the-Go-For-It-Window is open for people who want to start writing online.
Here Come Home Schools: In the next decade, somebody will build a billion-dollar business for home schooling. The Go-For-It Window is wider than the Grand Canyon. People can teach themselves now. The bottleneck to learning is curiosity, not access to information. As the famous line in Good Will Hunting goes: “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.” Most public schools are suboptimal. And private schools are walk-right-out-the-door-expensive. A study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 20 percent of college graduates didn’t have basic quantitative math skills. Only one-third of college graduates could read a complex book and comprehend what they were reading. Homeschooling startups will match students with parents and teachers. Together, communities of parents will hire teachers and pool resources for toys, books, and computers. As it stands, the logistics are easy compared to the societal challenges. People don’t like taking risks with their children. Will society look down upon children who are homeschooled? Will homeschooling harm college acceptance rates? Or will the university landscape change as well?

The Go-For-It-Window is the hanging curve ball in the middle of the plate. It’s the right opportunity at the right time.

Opportunities in the Go-For-It-Window close fast. They’re fleeting. When you sense an opportunity, act on it. Research the idea, speak with industry experts and outline a solution.

No matter who you are, where you work, or what you’re interested in, there are hidden opportunities in front of you. If you’re blinded by outdated social norms, you’ll miss opportunities in the Go-For-It Window.



加速发展的技术与停滞不前的社会规范之间的巨大差距创造了有利可图的机会。但这些机会只能在有限的时间内出现。在这一时刻,人们可以利用世界的真实状况与认知状况之间的差异。我把这一小部分机会称为 “为我而战的窗口”。

当你同时感到清醒和困惑时,当你震惊于自己的想法并不存在时,当你知道一些别人不知道的事情时,当你感觉别人眼中的世界是黑白的,而你却戴着色彩斑斓的眼镜看世界时,你就知道自己找到了 “Go-For-It-Window”。

机遇与知名度成反比。有时,看似安全的道路其实风险最大,反之亦然。如果你想寻找一个未被充分开发的机会,你就必须逆流而上。因此,我引用投资家吉姆-格兰特(Jim Grant)的一句话作为 “Go-For-It Window ”的框架: “成功的投资就是让别人同意你......以后”。

一般来说,人们对 “成功之窗 ”中的机会视而不见。但回过头来看,它们似乎又是显而易见的。要摘掉眼罩,就必须摆脱社会规范的束缚。正如亚历克斯-丹科在接受我采访时所说的那样 “投资者在开始之前,将当今的世界状况与他们完成颠覆之后的世界状况进行套利。

好消息。你不需要任何秘密知识来发现 “成功之窗 ”中的创意。但你需要有詹姆斯-邦德式的自信,并愿意无视众人的嘲讽。否则,你将淹没在批评的汗水中。
为了说明 “Go-For-It 之窗 ”在现实生活中的应用,我将举出四个例子:两个来自过去,两个来自现在。我将依次举例说明。

过去的 “为了我 ”窗口实例:

Airbnb:我刚开始使用 Airbnb 时,一半的朋友都觉得我疯了。租住陌生人的房子是那些逃离童年的嬉皮士的专利。Airbnb 不仅拓展了技术前沿。它开创了一种新的社会规范。通过将潜在需求与未充分利用的供给相匹配,Airbnb 的创始人将信任商品化,改变了我们的旅行方式,并利用了 “为我而去 ”的窗口期。

NBA 三分球: NBA 在 1979-80 赛季引入了三分球。社会规范,而不是数学,阻止了它的应用。起初,人们认为三分球是一种低俗的噱头。在三分球引入后的第一个赛季,一个赛季投进 21 个三分球足以排进前 20 名。但在2016年,斯蒂芬-库里单场投进了13个三分球。三分球问世已近四十年。然而,事实仍有违直觉。由于大多数 NBA 球队的三分球命中率仍未达到他们在数学上应该达到的水平,因此 “Go-for-It Window ”仍未关闭。

Go-For-It-Window 的当前示例:

放弃研究生学位: 太多孩子去读研究生了。但是,读研究生并不像以前那么必要了。人们现在可以建立自己的证书。他们可以启动一个项目、在线写作或录制 YouTube 视频。今年,成千上万的 MBA 毕业生将带着超过 10 万美元的学生债务进入职场。读研究生不仅费用高昂,而且非常耗时。它还很耗时。如果你想向未来的雇主展示自己的价值,除了读研究生,还有其他更便宜、更快捷的方法。例如,开设一个成功的博客就是建立自己资历的简单方法。雇主们知道,一个强大的个人博客代表着智慧和好奇心,所以当他们发现自己欣赏的作家时,有时就会想方设法聘用他们。孩子们知道这一点。家长却不知道。因此,Go-For-It-Window 为想要开始在线写作的人敞开了大门。

家庭学校来了 未来十年,有人将为家庭学校教育创造价值十亿美元的业务。Go-For-It Window 比大峡谷还要宽广。人们现在就可以自学。学习的瓶颈在于好奇心,而不是获取信息的途径。正如《心灵捕手》中的名句: “你浪费了 15 万美元来接受教育” “你本可以花 1. 5 美元在公共图书馆交滞纳金” 大多数公立学校都不尽如人意。而私立学校则是一进门就昂贵。国家教育统计中心的一项研究发现,20%的大学毕业生不具备基本的定量数学技能。只有三分之一的大学毕业生能够阅读复杂的书籍并理解其中的内容。家庭教育初创企业将为学生与家长和教师牵线搭桥。家长社区将共同聘请教师,并汇集玩具、书籍和电脑等资源。从目前的情况来看,与社会挑战相比,后勤工作易如反掌。人们不喜欢为孩子承担风险。社会会看不起在家上学的孩子吗?


Find Your Shiny Dime

Building model airports was my favorite childhood hobby. I had a collection of plastic airplanes and used a pencil and paper to draw the gates and runways.

Each airport began with the control tower because everything in an airport revolves around it. But rather than modeling an actual control tower, I represented it with a shiny dime. Once I placed it on the floor, the entire airport came to life. Although I always started with a general vision for what I wanted my airports to look like before I started building, that vision always changed once the construction began.

Now that I’m a writer, I start every article with the metaphor of a shiny dime. Like the control tower, it’s the centerpiece of my articles. It represents a tiny but detailed idea that’s easy to visualize. Psychologically, shiny dimes are a coping mechanism for writers who try to explain their entire worldview in a single article. They’ll talk about every company they’ve ever worked for, every book they’ve ever read, and every experience they’ve ever had until they end up with gigantic topics like “Everything You Need to Know About the Stock Market” or “Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age.” Though it’s tempting to write a magnum opus, the lack of constraints causes the article to spiral out of control.

This instinct to write about enormous topics is rooted in anxiety. Almost every writer is pressed for time and feels like they haven’t written enough. They feel like every article needs to be comprehensive because their friends and co-workers will judge them otherwise. But writing is like fitness. Consistency breeds success. Showing up every day, even in small doses, will lead to more progress than scattered, all-day workouts ever will.

Like fitness, you won’t write if you’re overwhelmed by the size of your topic. A shiny dime is the smallest viable idea you can write about. As a rule, yours isn’t small enough until you can summarize it with a one-liner. For example, my article about “The New American Dream” orbited around a quote from Tyler Tringas: "The New American Dream is to build a profitable, sustainable, remote software business that can be run from anywhere, scales nicely, and prints money.” I found freedom in the constraints of that shiny dime. Instead of pursuing an expansive topic like “entrepreneurship in the 21st century,” I rejected every idea that didn’t relate to the quote.

Writing unlocks a kingdom of epiphanies you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Paul Graham once said: “Expect 80% of the ideas in an essay to happen after you start writing it.” Every topic is bigger than it seems at first. So instead of writing panoramic thought pieces, focus only on your shiny dime.




现在我是一名作家,每篇文章的开头我都会用闪闪发光的一角硬币做比喻。就像控制塔一样,它是我文章的核心。它代表了一个微小但详细的想法,很容易想象出来。从心理学角度讲,闪亮的一角硬币是那些试图在一篇文章中解释自己整个世界观的作者的一种应对机制。他们会谈论自己曾经工作过的每一家公司、读过的每一本书以及有过的每一段经历,直到最后写出 “关于股市你需要知道的一切 ”或 “数字时代的人工智能 ”这样的巨大主题。虽然写一部巨著很有诱惑力,但缺乏约束会导致文章失控。


就像健身一样,如果你被题目的大小压得喘不过气来,你就不会写作。一个闪亮的硬币是你能写的最小的可行想法。一般来说,在你能用一句话概括之前,你的想法还不够小。例如,我关于 “新美国梦 ”的文章围绕着泰勒-特林加斯的一句话展开: “新美国梦就是建立一个盈利的、可持续的、远程的软件企业,可以在任何地方运行,可以很好地扩展,还可以印钞票”。我在那闪闪发光的一角硬币的束缚中找到了自由。我不再追求像 “21 世纪的创业精神 ”这样宽泛的主题,而是摒弃了所有与这句话无关的想法。

写作为你打开了一个顿悟的王国,否则你不会发现。保罗-格雷厄姆曾经说过 “期待文章中80%的想法 在你开始写作之后出现” 每个话题都比一开始看起来要大。因此,与其写全景式的思想文章,不如只关注你闪亮的一角钱。


POP Writing

You can evaluate every piece of writing with three variables: personal, observational, and playful.

The pillars of my POP Writing methodology contrast traditional business writing education. In the office, people think they should use a heap of buzzwords and machine-gun fire of statistics, and dress it all up in an academic tone to make them “sound smart.” But these tricks are hollow. They won’t lead to readers who want to engage with your ideas or share them with friends.

Find the balance of personal, observational, and playful writing instead. The proper weighting depends on what you’re trying to accomplish in your article. It’s like kitchen utensils where even though every home should have a spoon, you shouldn’t use it to cut a steak. In writing, what you need to graduate from Harvard Business School will be different from what you need to tell a funny story about your first startup.

Personal writing builds upon stories and emotions. It orbits around experiences you’ve seen with your own eyes or ones your readers have seen with theirs. Through shared feelings, it establishes an emotional connection between you and your readers. But too much personal writing can be intellectual junk food. It’s entertainment without wisdom just like tabloids and beach read fiction. Or, it can be like an unedited personal diary where the reader has to ask “Why should I care?”

Observational writing happens when you notice patterns other people miss. It leads to the “Aha” moments that only come when you read something you’ve always known, but have never been able to explain. In practice, sharp observations are born out of the Three B’s of Creativity and looking for things that don’t make sense. Adam Smith mastered the art of observational writing when he wrote about the “Invisible Hand” in 1776, which is made memorable by anecdotes and playful metaphors. But observational writing is dry without personalization or playfulness. Like Darwin’s field notes, even though it’s profound, it can be a slog to read.

Playful writing adds a shot of fun and enjoyment. It can come from analogies, thought experiments, or pop culture. Depending on the article, if you really want to be playful, you can use silly words like “slurp” or dad jokes like “Immanuel doesn’t pun—he Kant.” But too much playfulness will turn you into a clown. Richard Feynmann mastered the delicate balance in his physics lectures, where he lit up his students’ imaginations with concrete metaphors and examples that engaged all five senses. The playfulness of stick-figure drawings and goofy jokes is also why Tim Urban can make readers laugh while explaining artificial intelligence or the Fermi Paradox.​

Unlike most writing frameworks, you don’t need to run to the keyboard to implement it. Instead, I suggest that you read your favorite writers through the POP Writing lens. Identify the balance of personalization, playfulness, and observation. Then keep the triad in the back of your mind whenever you write.



我的POP写作方法的支柱与传统的商业写作教育形成鲜明对比。在办公室里,人们认为自己应该使用一大堆拗口的词汇和机关枪式的统计数据,并用学术的口吻加以修饰,让自己 “听起来很聪明”。但这些技巧都是空洞的。它们不会让读者愿意接受你的观点或与朋友分享。


个人写作以故事和情感为基础。它围绕着你亲眼所见或读者亲眼所见的经历展开。通过共同的感受,它可以在你和读者之间建立情感联系。但是,过多的个人写作可能会成为智力垃圾食品。它就像小报和海滩读物小说一样,是没有智慧的娱乐。或者,它就像一本未经编辑的个人日记,读者不得不问 “我为什么要关心它?”

当你注意到别人忽略的模式时,观察性写作就出现了。只有当你读到一些你一直知道但却无法解释的东西时,才会产生 “啊哈 ”时刻。在实践中,敏锐的观察力源于 “创造力的三个B ”和寻找不合理之处。亚当-斯密在 1776 年写下 “看不见的手 ”一文时,掌握了观察性写作的艺术,他的文章通过轶事和俏皮的比喻让人过目难忘。但是,观察性写作如果缺乏个性化或趣味性,就会显得枯燥乏味。就像达尔文的田野笔记一样,即使内容深刻,读起来也会让人觉得枯燥乏味。

寓教于乐的写作能给人带来乐趣和享受。它可以来自类比、思想实验或流行文化。根据文章的内容,如果你真的想寓教于乐,可以使用 “啧啧 ”这样的傻话,或者 “伊曼纽尔不双关康德 ”这样的老爸笑话。但过于俏皮会让你变成小丑。理查德-费曼(Richard Feynmann)在他的物理学讲座中掌握了微妙的平衡,他用具体的比喻和例子点燃了学生的想象力,调动了他们的五感。蒂姆-乌尔班(Tim Urban)在讲解人工智能或费米悖论时,也能让读者捧腹大笑。

与大多数写作框架不同,你不需要跑到键盘前去实现它。相反,我建议你通过 “持久性有机污染物写作 ”的视角来阅读你喜欢的作家。找出个性化、游戏性和观察力之间的平衡点。然后,无论何时写作,你都要牢记这三点。


Write While You Read

Make your reading more productive by taking notes while you read.

For writers, reading is as much about sparking ideas as it is about consuming information. Descartes once said: “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” If you’re reading good books, you’ll have your best ideas while you read. But most of those ideas disappear if you don’t capture them in the moment, while the idea is still fresh. But if you take notes, you don’t have to do the same thinking twice so you can build upon ideas you’ve already had.

Your notes should be lightweight enough to write them consistently, but evergreen enough to stay relevant. Your teacher was right when she told you to take notes on what you read and put the ideas into your own words. Digital note-taking makes your reading time more productive by making your thoughts searchable. Unfortunately, apps like Kindle, Pocket, and Instapaper make highlighting too easy and don’t encourage people to write about what they’re consuming. Too many readers end up with a long list of highlights they never actually return to.

Raise the difficulty of saving ideas and the productivity of reading by writing a short note about everything you highlight. Be selective about what you keep. Don’t just write a summary. Write about why each idea resonated with you and how it relates to what you’re working on. To make things easy for yourself, keep the notes lightweight and evergreen. Don’t spend more than three minutes on any individual note. Since they are the first draft of your thinking, they don’t need to be perfect. The optimal length depends on what you’re reading. Too short and you won’t have enough context. Too long and you’re not being selective enough about what to save, which makes it hard to read and difficult to browse your notes.

Once you find the right length, make sure your notes are evergreen because you’ll be able to search them for the rest of your life. To make things easy for your future self, focus on timeless ideas instead of current events.

This will help ensure you never have to sit down to a blank page.



对于作家来说,阅读既是为了获取信息,也是为了激发灵感。笛卡尔曾经说过 “阅读所有的好书 就像是与过去几个世纪中最优秀的思想对话”。如果你读的是好书,你就会在阅读时产生最好的想法。但是,如果你不在想法还新鲜的时候及时捕捉它们,这些想法大多会消失。但如果你做笔记,就不必重复同样的思考,这样你就可以在已有想法的基础上更进一步。

你的笔记应该足够轻便,以便持续书写,但又要足够长青,以保持相关性。你的老师告诉你要做读书笔记,并把想法用自己的话表达出来,她是对的。数字笔记可以搜索你的想法,让你的阅读时间更有成效。遗憾的是,像 Kindle、Pocket 和 Instapaper 这样的应用程序让高亮显示变得太容易了,而且不鼓励人们写下他们正在阅读的内容。太多的读者最终只留下了一长串的重点内容,却从未真正翻阅过。





Write While You Walk

Mary Oliver wrote most of her poems while walking.

She rejected the assumption that you need to sit down at your computer to write. Every morning, she picked up her notebook and wandered through the nature beside her home where she captured what she observed.

More writers would write like Oliver if they knew it was an option. Others know it’s an option but insist on struggling at their computer because “that’s what writers do.” English teachers tell us to write at our computers because most of them aren’t writers themselves, so they’ve never faced the I’ll-do-anything-to-fix-it desperation of writer’s block. They’ve never felt the agony of a mind that buzzes with ideas but shuts off when you sit at the computer.

Writing while walking is the solution. As Morgan Housel, author of the Psychology of Money, said in my interview with him: “If I ever get some sort of writer's block, or I'm just trying to think an article through, I go for walks. I go for two or three walks per day, and that's where all of the writing happens, and I usually take notes when I walk."

Walking creates space for big-picture writing. It’s a time to generate ideas and organize the flow of your articles. I come up with my favorite sentences when I walk too, usually inspired by the podcast I’m listening to when I’m on the move. Whenever I write while walking, I have one rule: write down every epiphany immediately. Writing the idea down encourages me to think deeper about a topic if I have more to say about it or move onto something else if I don’t have much to add. My neighbors probably think I’m crazy. At the very least, they think I’m a smartphone addict who can’t move 100 yards without typing into his phone.

Next time you’re struggling to write, close your computer and go for a walk instead. Depending on what your brain needs, you can listen to the sounds of nature or blast music into your eardrums. Get outside and wander. Like a good meditation, put your intuition in charge and don’t steer your thoughts. If you walk frequently enough and capture your best ideas when you do, you’ll shatter the chains of writer's block.




如果有更多的作家知道有奥利弗这样的选择,他们就会像奥利弗一样写作。还有一些人知道这是一种选择,但坚持在电脑前苦苦挣扎,因为 “这就是作家的工作”。英语老师告诉我们要在电脑前写作,因为他们中的大多数人自己并不是作家,所以他们从未面对过 “我愿意做任何事情来解决 ”的写作障碍的绝望。他们从未感受过,当你坐在电脑前时,头脑中嗡嗡作响的想法却被关闭的痛苦。

边走边写就是解决之道。正如《金钱心理学》的作者摩根-豪泽尔在接受我采访时所说的那样 “如果我有写作障碍,或者我只是想把一篇文章写通顺,我就会去散步。我每天都要散步两三次,所有的写作都是在那里进行的,我通常在散步的时候做笔记”。




Create a Physical Structure

When I was in 6th grade, I won a competition with friends by memorizing 17 digits of Pi. I was proud of myself until I learned that World Memory champion Gary Shang once memorized the first 65,536 digits. How did he do it?

He created a memory palace, where he associated numbers with familiar places such as his childhood home. Instead of seeing abstract numbers, he saw concrete objects. By doing so, he proved that the strength of memory is malleable. With the right strategies, you can effectively raise your intelligence.

Spiders use memory tricks too. Instead of creating a memory palace, they offload cognitive tasks to their webs which double as a second brain. Scientists still debate if spider webs are an extension of the sensory apparatus of their entire cognitive system, but agree that spider webs can process and simplify information like a computer.

Like spiders and memory champions, writers can increase their cognition by externalizing their ideas. Doing so increases working memory. The term comes from computers, which use two kinds of memory: RAM (random-access memory) and ROM (read-only memory). RAM is like short-term memory that allows computers to store information about whatever they’re processing in the moment, while ROM acts like long-term memory that remembers things after the computer turns off. Externalizing the structure of your essay increases your effective intelligence by offloading your working memory to paper. Or, as Albert Einstein once said: “My pencil and I are smarter than I am.”

I organize my long-form essays with Post-It Notes. I write one idea per Post-It Note, then hang them on the wall in my room. Doing so gives me the freedom to focus on one section whenever I write because I no longer need to remember the overall structure. How many Post-It Notes should you write? As many as you can process with a single glance, where each one represents one day’s worth of writing. Too many notes and it will take too long to process the structure; too few and you won’t offload enough working memory. For long-form essays, Post-It notes are better than linear outlines on a single piece of paper because they’re so malleable. You can change the structure of your essay by moving notes around instead of creating a new outline from scratch.

Hanging notes on the wall makes your memory spatial. That’s why math teachers encourage you to use scratch paper. One study found that using pencil and paper to externalize ideas instead of only the brain reduced the time it takes people to multiply numbers by a factor of five. As Devon Zuegel wrote: “Mental multiplication is not itself difficult. What is difficult is holding the partial results in memory until they can be used. The visual representation, by holding partial results outside the mind, extends a person’s working memory.”

Post-It notes help the most for books and long-form essays. Hang them on a wall you walk by frequently. That way, your subconscious can stew on the ideas while you’re away from the computer. Then focus on one Post-It Note at a time whenever you sit down to write.


在我六年级的时候,我在一次与朋友的比赛中记住了 17 位圆周率数字,从而赢得了比赛。我为自己感到骄傲,直到我得知世界记忆冠军加里-尚(Gary Shang)曾经记住了前 65,536 位数字。他是怎么做到的呢?



与蜘蛛和记忆冠军一样,作家也可以通过外化自己的想法来提高认知能力。这样做可以增加工作记忆。这个词来源于计算机,计算机使用两种内存: RAM(随机存取存储器)和 ROM(只读存储器)。RAM 就像短时记忆,允许计算机存储当下正在处理的信息,而 ROM 就像长期记忆,在计算机关机后仍能记忆。通过将工作记忆转移到纸上,将文章结构外部化,可以提高你的有效智能。阿尔伯特-爱因斯坦曾说过 “我和我的铅笔比我更聪明”


把笔记挂在墙上能使你的记忆空间化。这就是数学老师鼓励你使用草稿纸的原因。一项研究发现,用笔和纸将想法外化,而不是只用大脑,可以将人们计算数字乘法的时间缩短五倍。正如德文-祖格尔(Devon Zuegel)写道:"心算乘法本身并不困难。困难的是将部分结果保存在记忆中,直到可以使用为止。视觉表征将部分结果保存在头脑之外,从而扩展了人的工作记忆”。



Talking Can Cure Writer's Block

I used to suffer from terrible writer’s block.

Ideas buzzed through my mind whenever I spoke with friends or walked around New York City. But my brain turned off once I started typing. To be creative, I had to be on the move or in dynamic conversation. But at the computer, my mind stopped working.

Desperate for a solution, I generated ideas by talking. I outlined my first popular long-form essay What the Hell is Going On by recording myself talk about the thesis for 15 minutes. I used an app called Otter to instantly transcribe my ideas, which I transferred to my computer and used to outline my essay.

Talking to myself can be generative, but most of my new ideas come from conversations with friends. I’ve written numerous articles with Nik Sharma and whenever we see each other, we record our conversations. Pressing the record button is like a challenge to come up with new ideas. With instant transcription, our comments become the raw material for articles. When we’re done talking, we copy-and-paste the transcript into a Word Document, think of a thesis, and rearrange the ideas until we have an outline.

If transcribing your voice doesn’t feel like pure writing, remember that Winston Churchill did most of his writing by dictating his thoughts to a secretary who typed his ideas for him. Then, once his ideas were on the page, he revised them. If it wasn’t above Churchill, it isn’t above you.

If sitting at a computer kills your creativity, talk to your phone and transcribe what you say until you have enough ideas to write.



我急切地想找到解决办法,于是就通过交谈来产生创意。我通过录制自己谈论论文的 15 分钟,勾勒出我第一篇受欢迎的长篇论文《这到底是怎么回事》的轮廓。我使用一款名为 Otter 的应用程序即时记录我的想法,并将其传输到我的电脑上,用来勾勒我的论文大纲。

自言自语可以产生灵感,但我的大部分新想法都来自与朋友的交谈。我和尼-夏尔马(Nik Sharma)一起写过很多文章,每当我们见面时,我们都会把对话录下来。按下录音键,就像是对新创意的挑战。有了即时转录功能,我们的评论就成了文章的原材料。谈话结束后,我们把录音复制粘贴到 Word 文档中,想好论题,重新整理观点,直到有了一个大纲。




Assume You're Not Original

My favorite Derek Sivers article is called “Assume You’re Below Average.”

Most people think they’re better than others, so he cites statistics like "Ninety-six percent of cancer patients claim to be in better health than the average cancer patient” and "Ninety-four percent of professors say they are better-than-average teachers.” But Sivers does the opposite. Assuming he’s below average encourages him to ask questions and listen more. Here’s how he justifies the mindset shift: "To assume you’re below average is to admit you’re still learning. You focus on what you need to improve, not your past accomplishments.”

There’s a parallel for online writing: Assume you’re not original. Assume you’re a rampant copycat with no capacity for independent thought. You’re a robot who mirrors your inputs. You produce what you consume, and no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to generate new ideas. Here’s the “evidence” you need to realize you’re a copying machine: In Shakespeare’s time, the word “ape” meant both “primate” and “to imitate.” The philosopher Rene Girard argued that humans are giant imitation machines and Harvard anthropologist Joseph Henrich even argues that our imitative capacities are the “secret of our success.” The urge to copy is in our DNA.

But how can you have unique ideas if you’re not capable of being original?

Use the Internet to curate your intellectual environment so you can copy the sliver of people who don’t copy people. As Tyler Cowen said: “What we’re trying to do with the web is we’re trying to mimic the cognitive strengths of autistic people.” Usually, those influences will be neuro-diverse with disabilities like ADHD and autism. While most of the world (especially the educational establishment) sees these traits as flaws to be cured, you should see them as talents to be nurtured.

Autistics, for example, are natural cosmopolitans who are less likely to think in narratives or be fooled by endowment effects. They have gifts for pattern recognition, information collecting, and noticing small details, so they classify the world in unusual ways. They’re especially good at seeing details other people miss.

As autistic writer Naoise Dolan once wrote: “As a novelist, I find my autism is often an enormous strength. Many aspiring writers get caught up in what other people think of them… Autism makes it much easier to disregard all that.”

My favorite example of neurodiversity as a strength is Stephen Wiltshire, an artist who was diagnosed with autism at age three and is now famous for reproducing detailed scenes from memory. It’s a gift as much as a disability.

Other examples of geniuses who showed signs of autism include Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and Nikola Tesla.

Society has traditionally rewarded people who fit in, but the Internet rewards people who stand out with vivid Personal Monopolies. Rather than trying to find original ideas on your own, surround yourself with people who are missing the imitation gene and have a genetic disposition for originality. Then, build upon their best ideas.


我最喜欢的德里克-西弗斯的文章叫做 “假设你低于平均水平”。

大多数人都认为自己比别人强,所以他引用了一些统计数据,比如 “96%的癌症患者声称自己比普通癌症患者健康状况更好”,“94%的教授说自己是比平均水平更好的老师”。但西弗斯却反其道而行之。假设自己低于平均水平会鼓励他多问多听。他是这样解释这种心态转变的: “假设自己低于平均水平,就是承认自己仍在学习。你要关注的是你需要改进的地方,而不是你过去的成就”。

网络写作也是如此: 假设你不是原创者。假设你是一个没有独立思考能力的抄袭者。你是一个照搬输入内容的机器人。你消费什么,就生产什么,无论你如何努力,都无法产生新的想法。以下是你认识到自己是一台复制机器所需的 “证据”: 在莎士比亚时代,“猿 ”这个词既有 “灵长类 ”的意思,也有 “模仿 ”的意思。哲学家 Rene Girard 认为人类是巨大的模仿机器,哈佛大学人类学家 Joseph Henrich 甚至认为我们的模仿能力是 “我们成功的秘密”。模仿是我们的基因。


利用互联网来优化你的知识环境,这样你就能模仿那些不模仿别人的人。正如泰勒-考恩所说 “我们试图通过网络来模仿自闭症患者的认知能力” 通常情况下,这些受影响的人都是患有多动症和自闭症等残疾的神经多样性患者。虽然世界上大多数人(尤其是教育机构)将这些特征视为需要治愈的缺陷,但你应该将它们视为需要培养的才能。


自闭症作家诺伊斯-多兰(Naoise Dolan)曾写道:"作为一名小说家,我发现自己的自闭症往往是一种巨大的力量。许多有抱负的作家会陷入别人对他们的看法中......自闭症让他们更容易忽略这一切。

斯蒂芬-威尔希尔(Stephen Wiltshire)是我最喜欢的将神经多样性作为一种优势的例子,他是一位艺术家,三岁时被诊断出患有自闭症,现在他因凭记忆再现细节场景而出名。这是一种天赋,也是一种残疾。


社会传统上奖励的是合群的人,但互联网奖励的是以生动的 “个人垄断 ”脱颖而出的人。与其自己去寻找独创性的想法,不如与那些缺少模仿基因、具有独创性基因的人为伍。然后,在他们的最佳创意基础上再接再厉。


Write About Earned Secrets

The intellectual world is like a map. Whenever you share an idea, you improve the map of knowledge either by clarifying ideas that have already been mapped or by expanding the map with new information. If you want to create new knowledge, you need an earned secret.

Earned secrets are ideas that only you can write about. They’re valuable because they can only be acquired via circumstance or hard work. The world is filled with secrets waiting to be found, but by definition, I don’t know what they are. As Peter Thiel wrote in Zero to One: “The big secret is that there are many secrets left to uncover. There are still many large white spaces on the map of human knowledge. You can go discover them. So do it. Get out there and fill in the blank spaces. Every single moment is a possibility to go to these new places and explore them.”

Earned secrets come in two flavors: access and revelation. Access helps you find ideas that other people couldn’t have discovered, while revelation opens your eyes to the secrets hidden in plain sight.

Access comes from a unique perspective. They’re valuable because they’re rare. Often, they’re also confidential which makes them off-limits to write about. It happens when you have exclusive information that yields never-before-shared ideas that nobody’s ever written before. One example is the OKCupid blog which used proprietary data to explain the biology of online dating. In one article, they shared the three questions that best determine long-term compatibility between two romantic partners: "Do you like horror movies?" "Have you ever traveled around another country alone?" and "Wouldn't it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?” The more similar people’s responses, the more compatible they were likely to be as partners. OkCupid was the only company with access to the information they published, so all the articles contain statistics I’ve never seen before.

Revelation happens when you synthesize public information in new ways, either because of obsessive research or a unique eye. Obsessive research works best when you write about ideas outside the spotlight. The media only covers a fraction of what happens in the world, so you can find new ideas by venturing beyond its narrow gaze and into the expansive realm of forgotten stories. Usually, the information will be public but scattered. That’s what happened with my Peter Thiel essay. Only after reading every word he’s ever published did I have an intellectual phase transition. Though all the information in the essay was public, nobody had read between the lines and written at-length about his Christian worldview.

A unique eye is usually a byproduct of expertise. Perhaps, you’ve had the experience of reading about a subject you don’t understand, where you can only understand 10-20% of what’s being communicated. Experts have the opposite experience though. They pick up on more than 100% of the text because years of experience help them make connections beyond the words themselves. My favorite example is Stratechery’s Ben Thompson. In reading about technology for the past three decades, he’s developed a series of frameworks that help him interpret technology-related news. With a unique eye, he communicates what even the other experts miss about industry happenings.

The secrets of access and revelation may be hidden, but they exist in abundance. As a writer, it’s your job to find them. You may even be unaware of the earned secrets you already have. If so, talking about your ideas will help you find them.

知识世界就像一张地图。每当你分享一个想法时,你就会改善知识地图,要么澄清已经绘制好的想法,要么用新信息扩展地图。如果你想创造新知识,你就需要 “赚来的秘密”。



获取来自于独特的视角。它们之所以珍贵,是因为它们是稀有的。通常情况下,它们也是保密的,这使得它们成为写作的禁区。当你拥有独家信息时,就会产生从未分享过的想法,而这些想法以前从未有人写过。其中一个例子是 OKCupid 博客,它利用专有数据解释了在线约会的生物学原理。在一篇文章中,他们分享了三个问题,这三个问题最能决定两个浪漫伴侣之间的长期兼容性: “你喜欢恐怖电影吗?” “你曾独自环游过其他国家吗?”以及 “抛弃一切去帆船上生活不是很有趣吗?” 人们的回答越相似,他们就越有可能成为伴侣。OkCupid 是唯一一家可以获取他们发布的信息的公司,因此所有文章中的统计数据都是我以前从未见过的。


独到的眼光通常是专业知识的副产品。也许,你曾有过这样的经历,在阅读一个你不了解的主题时,你只能理解其中的 10%-20%。但专家们的经历恰恰相反。因为多年的经验帮助他们建立起文字本身之外的联系。我最喜欢的例子是 Stratechery 的 Ben Thompson。在过去三十年的技术阅读中,他建立了一系列框架,帮助他解读与技术相关的新闻。他以独特的眼光,传达出其他专家也会忽略的行业动态。


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