Weekly Review #80: Hacks for free press, the science of vulnerability, and Brazilian prostitute apps

Tech:

Lots of ways to get press this week: The Letterman Formula entails striking up a rivalry with someone famous and getting them to acknowledge you. Traction List is 50 easy places to promote your startup, while Dmitry of Criminally Prolific breaks down the 6 steps to get free press for your startup in one of the best teardowns I’v ever read.

Reid Hoffman says the employee/employer relationship is based on a lie – that it’s for life. Both need to help to other move forward in life.

Andrew Chen walks us through what free ad supported Uber rides could look like – it’ll be a lot better than those taxi advertisements.

Lessons learned from sending 1,000 cold emails has some great takeaways – make it personal, and it’s all in the subject line. Meanwhile Lessons learned from analyzing 1,000 Linkedin articles is another good one – anybody can get big views there with a clickbaity title and catchy photo.

Big ole post on collecting customer feedback that’s actually useful preaches great facts that are easy to forget.

Lifehacks

How to Generate More Good Ideas, is a real method backed by science – it’s all about connecting things, not creating new ones.

Andrew WK beautifully redefines what success is to a newspaper askee:

“To truly succeed at something is to devote yourself to what you love, and to allow that devotion to bring out the best and most admirable qualities inside of you, so that in the end, you ultimately succeed at the only effort that really matters: becoming a better person than you were.

Furthermore, success is not power over others, but discipline over oneself. Success is not doing whatever one wants, but doing what one is truly meant to do. Success is not fulfilling one’s most immediate desires, but fulfilling one’s true purpose — and fulfilling it despite obstacles, inconvenience, or how much it differs from what one otherwise feels like doing.”

Taylor Pearson has a kickass daily routine - check it out here

Life is a Picture, But You Live in a Pixel from Wait But Why is a startling reminder that the Now is not all there is.

 

Brene Brown on the science of vulnerability is one of the most watched TED talks, and for good reason. Some choice quotes:

  • “Religion and politics have gone from beliefs to certainties. I’m right, you’re wrong. Shut up. No discourse, just blame.”
  • “When we numb bad emotions, we numb the good ones too.”
  • “Shame is fear of disconnection; is there something about me that if known, will make me unworthy of connection?”
  • “Stories are just data with a soul”

Fun

Eliot Rosenberg made an app to teach English to Brazilian prostitutes, not without difficulty. What a badass.

Guide to The Secret SF Public Parks is a nifty way to find a nice place to have lunch in downtown SF.

Consultingrandomworkgenerator.com is hilarious and a good way to make fun of your consultant friends.

Pictures from the construction of the Golden Gate bridge are gorgeous and awesome.

And some more quotes to leave you with:

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. Not a thing to be waited for; but a thing to be achieved.” —William Jennings Bryan

“The cure to boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” —Dorothy Parker

Three Relationship Truths Learned From One Night Stands

Originally published (with more typos and clickbait) at Thought Catalog

I’ve never had a ‘real’ one-night-stand. Have I? I’ve had whirlwind sexual encounters with new women that lasted less than 24 hours and left us out of contact, but I’ve never met and bedded someone in the same night, never to speak again. That sounds incredibly unsatisfying. What made these encounters rewarding wasn’t sex – it was the brief snapshot of life I shared intimately with a total stranger.

They were rewarding in the way that real relationships are rewarding – shared experiences, emotions laid bare, and the insight of a perspective other than your own – a person to share all the ups and downs of life with. The only difference was that these relationships were compressed into the period of one night (okay, sometimes well into the next afternoon). These relationships burned brightly and then exploded, leaving powerful memories that color my perspective to this day. These women taught me invaluable truths about the nature of real relationships, no matter what you call whatever it is we had.

Here are three such truths, and how to use them in ‘real’ relationships.

Truth 1. The Power Of Shared Novelty

There’s not much to commiserate over in an alcohol-soaked nightclub evening, unless it’s the mutual distaste for creeps who can’t take a hint. Maybe that’s why one-night-stands born in such environments don’t last long, neither temporally nor in the emotions they leave behind. But when a one-night-stand becomes a shared adventures, filled with new and exciting experiences for both parties, it can strengthen even the most tenuous of connections into something more powerful.

I think back to the night spent exploring the colorful and otherworldly grounds of a desert music festival with a new female friend, and the experiences we shared. Dancing on stage, clambering on top of neon sculptures, and the beauty of a desert sunrise are all wondrous things on their own, but they gain new significance when viewed alongside a pair of attractive new eyes. Now I’ll remember the girl as vividly as the spectacle – they’ve merged together as one happy memory unit.

Just like your favorite shared song becomes bittersweet every time you hear it after the breakup, the memory of a new experience becomes stamped with the person you shared it with. Take the excitement of novelty, mix it with a special person, and stretch it out over a day of adventure, and you’ve just turned a lucky night into an exceptional one.

Learning: Never Stop Dating Your Spouse

There’s no reason why you can’t do the same with someone you see more often. As the saying goes “never stop dating your spouse”. Continue doing new things together, whether that’s trying out a new restaurant together or making time to go explore the world at large. It’s easy for a significant other to become an excuse to stay home and cuddle over movies. Comfortable and easy, yes, but also staid and expected, which means you’ll start to associate them with such feelings, or worse, take them for granted.

I hope I’ll remember magical nights like the above when I finally find a person I want to share the rest of my life with. It’ll be the spark needed to galvanize us to action after a long day of work. There won’t always be desert festivals to explore, but there will always be evening walks to roads not taken, exotic restaurants, or at the bare minimum an award-winning Netflix documentary. I can’t wait to associate novel memories with someone who can reminisce about them with me for years to come.

Truth 2. The Importance Of Clear Intentions

Most of my one-night-stands happened on the road, which means there’s an impending airline reservation looming over the interaction. Instead of being a buzzkill, I find this synthetic expiration date reinvigorates things. Both parties know that they don’t have to discuss the far future together, which lets them relax and let loose in the moment. It’s liberating.

When you meet someone new at home, questions are quickly raised. A first date has a lot more social pressure and expectations involved than a chance encounter. As my father says, “There’s always three questions at the end of a first date – Did we have a spark, Will we see each other again, and Who will follow up first?”

With a classic one-night-stand, such questions never get asked, likely because alcohol smothers the need to worry about the future. But with whatever I’ve had, all three are self evident: Of course there’s a spark, since we haven’t left each other’s company since the moment we met; Maybe, but only if we’re ever in the same town again; and Whoever swings by the other’s hometown first. Now that future worries are taken care of, the couple is free to focus on the present.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve have some of the best times of my life under these circumstances, regardless of what happened between the sheets. I felt real, strong, emotional connections to these women in the scant hours we had together, and I still harbor them good will. I hesitate to say it, but I might even regard them better than my ex-girlfriends, since we shared one short Up together rather than a roller coaster of Ups and Downs complete with a negotiated breakup. If my night partner had personality traits I didn’t like, it didn’t matter, because I knew there wasn’t anything serious coming soon.We knew where things stood.

Learning: Discussing Expectations Is Sexy

There’s no reason why you have to rely on impending flights to know where things stand with your partner. That’s something relationship counselors encourage all the time – to discuss and set clear expectations with your partners, balanced by mutual feedback. Sitting down to talk about deal breakers might fracture a casual relationship, but doing so with someone you care about is a clear indicator to them that you intend to keep this relationship healthy and intact. Sounds sexy to me!

Promise to get out of the way when she has friends over, or ask her to respect your Sunday basketball games with the bros, or whatever other annoyances you see as  trivial but are actually important to them. En masse, such frivolities can kill a relationship if they are not addressed, but once discussed aloud, they are easily navigable and harmless. They tame the terror of a unknown shared future, warts and all, to a known future, where at least you can be sure they’ll be there to pick you up from the airport when you need it. One-night-stands do it by rendering the shared future moot, but you can do it through talking.

Truth 3. The Joy Of Sharing A Lifestyle

One of my favorite things about any relationship, platonic or otherwise, is the sneak peek into the life of another. My own perspective is great, but since it’s all I’ve ever known, it can become mundane. I hold the same morning routine every day, maintain my stances on theoretical issues, and generally reside comfortably in my own cozy niche of reality. It’s nice here – I know how things work.

Turns out everyone else alive has carved our their own reality niches as well, and they’re completely distinct from mine. Other people have their own routines, world outlooks, perspectives, and life experiences. All shaped from a life lived entirely outside the bounds of my own. I can get a taste of this alternate reality –  by spending time with them!

I spend time with others every day – with best friends, acquaintances, and people from work or social events. But these people share commonalities with me by definition. We choose friends off shared interests, our work friends have the same job we do, and even social event people are at most a few degrees removed from our existing circles. Plus, it’s tough to dig deep into who they are and what they stand for when you’re caught up in the idle chit chat of where they work and where they’re from.

Compare that to an entire night and day spent with a complete stranger, lived in the closest of intimacies while learning everything about them in the process. Surely that is the cleanest window into another life as it possible! I hardly ever spend 12 hours uninterrupted with my closest friends. To do that with someone entirely new, whose only life commonality was attending the same bar I did on a certain night? There’s so much to learn.

I’ll never forget the mundane things these women did that set them irrevocably apart from my reality. One charming Mexicana kept a tiny bottle of hot sauce in her purse that she’d daintily sprinkle on every meal we ate, whether it was sandwich or chips. Another saucy New Yorker took me on a narrated journey through her Instagram feed in the morning, introducing me to East Coast cultural mainstays like ‘@thefatjewish’, and Queen of The Night dinner theater, which were things I may never have encountered in my San Francisco bubble.

Ever since, hot sauce and @thefatjewish bring back fleeting memories to happy nights spent in Mexico and NYC. But unlike the shared novelty, these mementos mean nothing to them –  it’s a part of their daily life. That’s what makes them doubly tantalizing – now it’s more than our little shared memory – it’s all mine. Mine, and mine alone, but everything to do with her.

Any seasoned traveller eventually realizes that the endless parade of landmarks and exotic dishes isn’t the fun part. It’s the snatches of foreign lifestyle that you glimpse through cultural norms, eating traditions, and slang terms. Take that foreign lifestyle and make it intimate. Now you get a taste of the personal stuff nobody sees but them; where they live, how their bedroom is decorated, and the ways they start their days. It is the glimpses of this alternate lifestyle, completely alien from my own yet fulfilling the same daily goals, that endures for me far beyond the transitory pleasure of night in bed.

Learning: Keep The Honeymoon Alive

Newly minted couples’ excitement at a shared life is so well known that it has its own term. The ‘honeymoon period’ at the beginning of a marriage is when everything they wear, do, and think is new and fascinating. What starts as new and different quickly becomes normal and mundane, which leads people to seek out novelty in mid-life crises in the form of an affair, sports car, or exotic hobby.

David Sedaris hilariously relates the difficulty of this in his New Yorker essay Old Faithful.

(My partner and I are) “two people so familiar with one another they could scream. Sometimes, when I find it hard to sleep, I’ll think of when we first met, of the newness of each other’s body, and my impatience to know everything about this person. Looking back, I should have taken it more slowly, measured him out over the course of fifty years rather than cramming him in so quickly. By the end of our first month together, he’d been so thoroughly interrogated that all I had left was breaking news—what little had happened in the few hours since I’d last seen him. Were he a cop or an emergency-room doctor, there might have been a lot to catch up on, but, like me, Hugh works alone, so there was never much to report. “I ate some potato chips,” he might say, to which I’d reply, “What kind?” or “That’s funny, so did I!” More often than not we’d just breathe into our separate receivers.”

I’m not saying you should ration information about yourself to your partner as Dave wishes he did. But hopefully, you still have something exciting to show them. Maybe a hidden hobby, or a skill learned in childhood but since forgotten. It takes years to truly get to know someone, and even then, there must be corners of their mind you haven’t yet encountered.

For couples before marriage, offer up thoughts to your date. Muse aloud. Get them inside of your head. If they’re really somebody you want to spend time with, shouldn’t you bare your mind as well as your body? You never know which boring aspect of your reality they’ll find enchanting. What’s their ‘bottle of hot sauce’, destined to become a token of you in their memory?

What Makes A One-Night-Stand Exciting Is What Makes a Relationship Exciting

Do new things together, be clear about your intentions, and share your lifestyles freely. These look like great recipes for any healthy relationship, not just romantic ones. I bet we do all this with our friends without thinking twice. Funny how it takes unorthodox relationships like one-night-stands (or whatever it is I had) to make us notice the successful ingredients.

Weekly Review #79: CEO gaffs on Quora, Modern Commandments, and not having kids

Tech

Intro Bars let you personalize website messages super easily.

Add 205 subscribers to your email list from scratch in 48 hours is a good experiment – somehow he did it!

Facebook wants you to use Messenger for everything you currently use email for. Somehow I trust Google more….

How Apple chooses featured apps in the App Store is a handy read for anyone trying to do so.

Fortune tells us all why big tech companies acquire rather than compete - it’s hard to replicate a great team, scalable codebase, great product, and big userbase all at once.

Quora user asks whether he should join Zenefits or Uber. Zenefits CEO answers and says, ‘not Zenefits, job offer rescinded’. Bad move.

Lifehacks

Quora question on productivity tips from various professions is full of daily habit jewels – check out Asana cofounder Justin Rosenstein’s meticulously lifelogged days!

How Leo Babauta from Zen Habits conducts his business reminds us of the obvious – place readers first! Always! Likewise, his identification of solitude as The No1 Habit of Highly Creative People is also helpful.

Atheist Mind Humanist Heart is rewriting the 10 commandments for the 21st Century – preach!

Brain Pickings on writers’ choosing not to have children is a provoking deconstruction of a decision many people don’t decide so much as accept – why have kids?

This Essay on White Privilege and Guilt got me thinking – there’s also the ‘poverty mindset’ which sometimes you can’t break out of.

A friend of mine converted to vegetarianism recently and broke down why in a great post that shoots down many excuses. I feel guilty now.

James Altucher expounds on the ‘eat what you kill’ life maxim - don’t depend on others for sustenance, work, knowledge, or luck. Shape yourself into a killing machine and go find them yourself.

Fun

It’s not quite ‘fun’, but North Korea just executed its Defense Minister…. using antiaircraft guns. Jeez, a firing squad isn’t enough?

Mad Max: Fury Road is the best movie I’ve seen in ages. 3/4 of the entire movie is a road chase! Somehow it manages to be feminist! I laughed out loud a dozen times at the sheer insanity of what was happening! Go see it.

Recipe for a Bestie: What makes for a best friend?

From Steve Baker on flickr

In college, I spent a lot of time with the same people who weren’t my friends. There was no hate, but little love – at best we shared comfortable companionship. Why, then, did we spend so much time together?

We all loved rugby. And that was enough. We joked around on the pitch together, partied hard together, and hit other teams hard together. I will always have fond memories of my rugby teammates. That said, since then I have fallen out of touch with all of them, and I doubt any will be at my wedding, nor vice versa. We spent time together for the sake of rugby, not for the sake of each other. We were blatantly using each other, but it was fun!

Why were we all okay with this? Any relationship predicated on using someone else sounds destined for disaster. Think of using a friend for sex, for money, or their network. These are widely regarded as unhealthy or inauthentic relationships. But my rugby mates all used each other, and we enjoyed it. What’s the difference, and what makes a relationship healthy?

Friends Don’t Use Each Other

Maybe it’s meeting mutual desires. In a relationship, emotion has to go both ways. If I use you to get something and you end up worse off, you won’t like me. If I use you and you end up no different, you don’t care. But if I use you and you end up better off, it would imply that you used me to get something as well. So if both parties want the same thing, then it could still work out.

Think about drinking partners, friends with benefits, or a gold digger trophy wife married to a rich businessman. Everyone is using each other (for someone to drink with, screw with, or spend money with), but both parties are aware of the state of affairs. The relationship is sound, if not healthy.

You probably uphold relationships like this. The people you spend time with in actuality don’t line up perfectly with the people you want to spend time with. You tolerate them at work to get a salary, at home to split the rent, or on the subway because you’re both going the same direction. But you’re not spending your weekends with your fellow commuters. You choose to spend time with other people who satisfy you emotionally, not just the ones that share your needs. (though hopefully some of your coworkers, et al, satisfy that – otherwise that’s a dull life indeed.)

Friends Are People You Want To Spend Time With

What, then, constitutes a true friend? It’s such mundane word that we hardly stop to think about what it really means. Google saysa person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations“, but I’ll shorten that to “a person whom one enjoys spending time with, regardless of sex or family“, since that’s what you do with people you know and like – spend time together.

Thus the question becomes: how does one know whose company they will enjoy? Why spend time with a specific person over another, or instead of being alone? Why do we like the people we like? As the above examples illustrate, there are good and bad reasons to like a person. Any relationship founded on using the other for some purpose, even shared,  is less than ideal.

A true friendship, then, is one where each party enjoys the other for who they are, not what they do. A friend is someone you can be yourself around, without worry. You don’t have to exaggerate or diminish your personality in order to accommodate their personality. Both are already in harmony.

It reminds me of a quote I come across while job hunting: “A good job is one that doesn’t require you to leave your personality at home.“ A good job, like a good relationship, lets you be who you already are – just with others! Your personality doesn’t have to change.

Friends Do Things You Like

However, what is a personality if not a reflection of all the things that person likes to do? The people on my rugby team who I enjoyed the most were the ones I shared interests with beyond rugby. Looking at my all time best friends, we all have shared interests in the same pastimes. That’s what make a good friend – one who enjoys doing your favorite activities with you. Even getting together over drinks and talking is an activity. You like them, you like what they do, and you like being with them doing what you both like. But a friendship is more than a critical mass of mutually enjoyable pastimes. Let’s dig deeper.

There are people whose company I used to enjoy, and have since grown apart. But I still like spending time with them, reliving shared histories and past glories. People from previous parts of your life tend to fall in this category: high school friends, college friends, or friends from abroad all share powerful histories with you, but chances are you are a different person than you were then.

In small doses, you’re still happy to see them. My couch is always open to visiting friends from the past, but I hardly ever see those of them who live nearby, Meanwhile I make regular efforts to see the people who I still enjoy – those are my current friends, as opposed to past friends.

Friends Believe What You Believe

So we’ve covered past friends and present friends. What about a future friend? It cannot be someone that I plan to enjoy activities with, because I have no way of know who such people are. How do I know if they will jive with my personality? You have to trust that their personality is one that you would get along with.

What is a personality, if not the sum of all personal convictions held, both consciously and unconsciously? Such convictions, in the form of principles, values, or mannerisms, determine how one chooses to spend one’s time. And how one spends one’s time is how they spend their life. (Sometimes actions don’t line up with the theory, as with hypocrites, but that lack of integrity reflects a principle in itself.)

A future friend, then, is someone who you trust, because their principles align with your own. Their principles determine what they will do in a given situation, and how much they overlap with your own determines how likely you are to enjoy that potential time with them. Future friendships might be composed mostly of talking together, waxing together about mutual theories or dreams.

You might enjoy someone who doesn’t believe what you believe, because if you respect their underlying principles, the smaller parts don’t matter as much. Such a person can keep you honest, and living according to your own principles. It is only when one’s principles are in direct conflict with someone else’s that a friendship cannot occur – because you disagree about how to spend your time. There’s not reason to befriend a person you don’t like, who doesn’t like what you like.

Recipe For a Bestie – Find Shared Values!

These are the people you should fill your life with, the ones with the potential for healthy, emotionally satisfying friendships:

  • People who have done stuff you’ve done. (history alignment)
  • People who do stuff you do. (activity alignment)
  • People who want to do the stuff you want to. (value alignment)

In my experience this holds up – the strongest relationships I’ve had are people who line up well on one of these aspects. My best friends fit all three, since we keep spending time together doing things we like, which satisfies the present and past aspects. Therefore the recipe for a bestie is to look for shared values

Here’s how to find such people:  think about the activities you enjoy, and think about how you want to spend your time in the future. Do those things socially, and you will find others who share your interests. The more abstract the activity, the more likely you share values with that person rather than a transient interest in the activity at hand.

For example, most people join urban intramural dodgeball teams in order to meet other young professionals, not out of an innate love for dodgeball. But people join Toastmasters because they want to get better at public speaking, and if they make friends along the way, all the better. There’s a difference, and Toastmasters aligns more with future values than the current need for an urban friend, which leads to better quality friends, assuming you value public communication. If you prefer sports to talking, by all means, your friends will be at the dodgeball league.

And you can always do an activity just to meet people in the now- there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re just less likely to meet friends who will fully satisfy you emotionally. No amount of friends of convenience, past flames, or sports-only friends will fill your relationship quotient. You need real, good, close friends for that – friends you can trust and be yourself with.  And that comes from shared values.

Weekly Review #78: Disrupt NYC, Modern Maslow, and The Right To Be Lazy

I spent the first half of this week at Techcrunch Disrupt NY, which was a solid use of time. Lots of fun startups, interesting speakers, and smart attendees. Here’s some nuggets that stood out for me:

  • 3 unorthodox beauty companies: Tristan Walker’s Walker and Co for minority skin/hair types, Emily Weiss’s Glossier, celebrating real beauty instead of covering it up, and Leandra Medine’s ManRepeller, celebrating her love for styles men hate.
  • Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWork, grew up in an Israeli kibbutz, a ‘failed social experiment’ in his words. Interesting how that community driven upbringing shaped his desire to create the WeWork community.
  • And create he did – they measure community manager success there for the connections they facilitate, and nothing else.
  • Carly Fiorina was a much more engaging speaker than I’d expected – turns out we agree on the financial side of things. She says ‘regulation magnifies the difference between the powerful and powerless’, ‘governments are good at platform innovation, but not commercializing’ (look at Silicon Valley starting out of DARPA), and deriding the concept of a career politician, noting that it rewards people who are good at gaming the system rather than executing. (obviously touting her non-political background)
  • Some great Startup Battlefield companies: Peruse.io lets you search ugly Excel docs using real English, DigitalGenius automates the customer service process with a dumb AI, Nucleus Scientific makes batteries last 6x longer, and charge 6x faster (!), and PageButt lets you copy and edit anyone’s web page super easily.

I asked a Quora question I’ve been wondering lately – if all big startups solve a fundamental human need, and we have a decent understanding of fundamental human needs by now, What billion dollar startup hasn’t been founded yet? Would love to hear your opinion.

StartupsSumry makes super pretty resumes super easy. Qapital is a promising ,actionable daily savings app.

Paul Graham’s classic essay on why Hiring is Obsolete is old but still good. Easy to forget that companies pay employees off of the value they provide to customers – why not sidestep that and just provide value to customers yourself?

Lifehacks

Tom Rath argues meaning, not happiness is what you should strive for, while outlining the difference.

Isaiah Hankel points out that habits are the opposite of decisions because you don’t think. Thinking depletes willpower. Habits don’t.

An Expanded Maslow Hierarchy of Needs from the 1990s adds Cognitive, Aesthetic, and Transcendence needs to the top of the pyramid. Interesting – makes sense that there would be more here.

Fun

Ask Roulette looks cool – you go onstage with a stranger and ask them questions, and get some in response.

Paul Lafarge’s Right to be Lazy from 1883 is baroquely worded, but it cuts at something important – work isn’t as good as the Christians would have us believe. Tim Kreider has a more modern take on this – you may have seen it as The Busy Trap in NYT. It all reminds me of two other pieces noting how ridiculous most modern jobs are: On Bullshit Jobs and Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed. Yikes.