Archive for the 'Nifty people' Category

Ferrazzi podcast.

31 March 2006

Folks, I've endorsed Keith Ferrazzi and his approach to building relationships before.  For a great, pithy introduction to the ideas laid out in his book, Never Eat Alone, check out this podcast he did with


“Secrets of Greatness: How I Work”

9 March 2006

No, not me, but a dozen of the most accomplished people you’d hope to find, from Wynton Marsalis to Hank Paulson. This FORTUNE magazine spread presents the first-person thoughts of notables from various fields, who describe how they do their daily work. Some spend all day on the phone (Paulson often leaves 200 voicemails in a day, but has never used e-mail), others on the computer (Judge Richard Posner spends little time on the phone, but uses e-mail constantly, plus he blogs). The details differ from one person to another, but all have found ways to achieve great success in their work.

Secrets of Greatness: How I Work

Some highlights follow . . .

Bill Gross, the king of the bond industry: “You have to cut the information flow to a minimum level.”

Wynton Marsalis: “To find a groove means practice, practice, and more practice.”

Carlos Ghosn, who runs both Nissan and Renault: “I do not bring my work home. I play with my four children and spend time with my family on weekends.”

A. G. Lafley of Procter & Gamble: “A key to staying calm is minimizing the information onslaught.”

All of it is well worth reading.

Kathy Sierra kicks ass.

4 March 2006

Yesterday I caught up on some blog reading, so I was going to link to Kathy’s excellent posts on the theme “Dignity is Deadly.”

But I didn’t get to it yesterday, and by the time I got there today I see this compelling new post on “How to be an expert.”

Given that I’ve linked to her stuff beforerepeatedly–and that a couple of my friends and I have had long talks about what she’s written, I figured it was time to add her to the sidebar here and give her a particular plug.

Do yourself a favor and make a habit of reading Creating Passionate Users.

Great read: Simmons and Gladwell.

2 March 2006

Bill Simmons is one of the smartest sportswriters working today–and surely the funniest. He’s a master of writing long, entertaining columns that bring together sports, books, and popular culture. He’s also prolific enough to keep several types of series going at once. One of them, “Curious Guy,” features edited e-mail conversations between Simmons and other interesting people. His current “Curious Guy” column is the first installment of his conversation with New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, one of the best writers anywhere.

“Curious Guy: Malcolm Gladwell”

Particularly if you’re a sports fan, it’s great to sit in on the conversation of two guys who are
so smart, so verbal, and so obviously enjoying riffing off of each other’s ideas. (Don’t wait too long; older stories on ESPN are for subscribers only.) You get snippets like this one from Gladwell:

“. . . it’s really risky to work hard, because then if you fail you can no longer say that you failed because you didn’t work hard. It’s a form of self-protection.”

While I’m at it: Gladwell now has a blog. Man, he’s good.

Very much worth your time: William Germano

24 February 2006

Yesterday I had the good fortune to attend a seminar given by William Germano, the author of Getting It Published and From Dissertation to Book. Germano has been editing scholarly books for more than 25 years, and has much to say about the business, the philosophy, and the psychology of academic publishing. His presentation was low-tech but highly personal and humane.

Germano was speaking to an audience of Ph.D. students drawn from across the disciplines. He took great pains to spell out for us the differences between doctoral dissertations and publishable book manuscripts–two beasts very often confused for one another by writers of the former. Many dissertations, Germano said, are actually “big book reports,” written for an audience of five (the dissertation committee) and afflicted with the “aphonia”–the “willed voicelessness”–of the academy. Books, meanwhile, must be narratives with a voice that tell a story around a particular “through-line”–a central thread that ties together all the parts into a whole.

In the past I’ve read Getting It Published and enjoyed Germano’s essays for the Chronicle of Higher Education. It was a pleasure to find out that he is so thoughtful, funny, and engaging in person. If you’re in the business of writing for scholars, do yourself a favor by reading Germano’s books, and by all means take the opportunity to hear him speak if you can.

Jon Stewart’s got skillz.

23 February 2006

Jon Stewart is hosting this year’s Academy Awards. This interesting article from the L.A. Times looks back over some of the highs and lows of former emcees.

Stewart should be up to it. If he can give pause in debate to Christopher Hitchens (second entry on page), he can handle the Oscars.

Creator: Patricia Madson Ryan

16 February 2006

I liked this interview with drama coach and author Patricia Madson Ryan. She has interesting things to say about the creative process, and especially about how to give full attention in the current, creative moment. It’s worth a read.

Two things I especially liked:
1. Ryan’s opposition to multitasking. Multitasking is a vice of mine, but I find that I’m happier–and I get more done–when I stick with one thing until it’s finished.
2. The advice to “Be average.” What you are is good enough. You have a lifetime of preparation behind you: now step up and let ‘er rip.

Ethan Casey: The World at Large

12 February 2006

I’ve long taken it as an axiom that one thing the world needs more of is Ethan Casey’s journalism. Ethan’s an old friend and colleague; I was for several years a proud participant in his brainchild, Blue Ear, which helped me develop my writing chops as much as anything in my life. The good news is that Ethan’s now online with a blog that’s more than just a blog. It bears the hallmarks of his international experience and, above all, his thought. The man actually thinks. Even if he weren’t such a mensch, even it he hadn’t been such a good friend and mentor to me personally, that quality alone would make him worth reading. So, gentle reader, do yourself a favor and add Ethan to your regular reading list.

Ethan Casey: The World at Large

Creator: Michael Chabon

11 February 2006

Lately I’ve been on a jag of Michael Chabon reading. To me, he’s as good as any novelist working today, plus his essays are consistently engaging. I just finished reading McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, which Chabon edited and to which he contributed both the introduction and the final story.

He posted a copy of his introduction on his Web site. This piece alone is well worth reading by anyone who cares about the current state of American fiction. (His site is filled with other tasty morsels as well.)

I also heartily recommend The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Final Solution.

Creator: Christopher Lloyd (“Hurrah for vulgarity!”)

8 February 2006

If I could read only one thing out of The Economist each week, it would be the obituary. The best news magazine in English has long held up the model of what an obituary can be. Like the writing of English cricket commentators, Economist obituaries remind us why the the British have been so indispensable in the history of journalism.

A-a-anyway, this week’s obituary (which you should read soon, if you want to avoid looking at an advertisement in order to see it) discusses the life of the recently departed Christopher Lloyd, the dean of English gardeners. Lloyd found his One Thing–gardening–early in life, and he wrote about it eloquently. He was so popular in no small part because he was so shocking. But he was shocking in the service of deriving pleasure from the garden, which is as it should be.

Some of the rules for your own One Thing are there for good reasons; others aren’t. Find out which are which, and flout the meaningless ones with abandon. Share your joy in your One Thing with the rest of the world. Amen.