Photo (of me): taken by a friend, in Ghana

1: Welcome to The Knowledge

Newsletter 🗞 Jan 26, 2020

I'm starting a newsletter to share things I learn, ideas I steal, and as a communal well of received wisdom. Contributions welcome!

Hey friend,

Thanks for allowing me to invade your inbox. You may or may not be pleased to hear that this is the first of many planned invasions, likely weekly, subject to fatigue and sudden catastrophe. Hopefully, we’ll soon reach an understanding that I will provide stimulating thoughts and valuable resources in exchange for a little time and a few kilobytes of data.

In typical British fashion, many of these treasures will be stolen. However, I hope my brief but regular updates here will serve as a delta to tributaries of knowledge and useful information elsewhere, thus saving you the trouble of “discovering” them yourself.

I needed somewhere I could share everything I was learning, reading, musing and discussing as I try to navigate the world around me, and a place others could come to do the same. But this is also a place to be radically honest and vulnerable in a way social platforms don’t always allow. I can trust you, right?

If you reach the bottom of this email and find your intrigue unsatiated, you can always unsubscribe. If you think it’s bloody brilliant please do share it with fellow nerds and knowledge-seekers. There was a Harry Potter reference in the previous sentence. If you missed it, that’s possibly a litmus test of how enjoyable you will find these emails over time.

Please do feel free to leave follow-on thoughts in the comments below, respond via email for those subscribed (subscribe pls!), or otherwise throw ideas and feedback my way on Twitter. It’s an open discussion, not a lecture!


Personal update

January is moving fast and I’m still trying to figure out if I’m beating the year or if the year is beating me. I finally had my first real personal retreat/holiday in a while and returned to my birthplace and homeland for #DettyDecember. I’ll point out that those aren’t references to the same place. Despite being Nigerian and growing up there, I was actually born in Accra, Ghana. Shocking, I know.

Unfortunately, that revelation won’t sway my feelings in the Jollof wars because I know a good thing when I see it and Naija “party jollof” remains King. That said, it was an amazing experience being in Ghana for the #Yearofthereturn and I lived my best life at Afronation and Afrochella with the global diaspora. Ghana will see me again soon!

Anyway, I’m now back with some fresh resolve, a little fear and a lot of clarity over everything I want to build and achieve in the next year. I’m excited to see where life will take me as I step further out of my comfort zone and embrace the nexus of things I love x things that serve me. Productive deployment of mental and emotional resources will be a major personal theme in 2020.

Photo of me taken by a friend, in Ghana
Photo: taken by a friend, in Ghana
Three bits of advice I’m stealing from pro skateboarder turned entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek are:(1) for everything you seek to achieve, build a believable plan, (2) be compelled by passion - external fuel can run out but internal drive won’t, and; (3) love people and have fun.

Why I have no resolutions this year

Following my trend of last year, I have once again skipped the tradition of setting new years resolutions. Recently I’ve found that the mix of being a natural overachiever and a keen opportunist means that while I may not hit half the goals on an arbitrary list, I’ll likely still achieve far more than I’d originally contemplated in other areas.

The things I’m most proud of in the last few years were nowhere on January’s horizon. I know I’m in an accelerated growth and development phase of my life and keep that in mind with the tasks and opportunities I choose to undertake. I set soft personal goals (minimums rather than ideals) on current projects because hard targets can often feel like a ceiling on my aspiration. Instead, I’ve simply pinned my “Goals for 2018” note to the top of my notes app and I read over it every year as a reminder of the principles I want to be led by. They’re targets of character rather than achievement. The David of 2017 was ahead of his time.

I’ll save the rest of my thoughts on planning for the future for another week, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear how others approach the start of a new year. Are you big on goal/resolution setting, habit tracking and the like? I’m eager to know what your objective-setting process is, how practical/successful your resolutions usually are, and the steps you take in achieving them. Comments, emails and tweets welcome!


This week you should keep an eye out for:

  1. Cashmere, one of my favourite fintech apps, which is currently crowdfunding on Seedrs.
  2. The amazing team from the BYP Network are also hosting their official app launch on Jan 30th! If you’re reading this you can also get 10% off the cost of a ticket by using the code ‘DAVID10’ at checkout!
Below you’ll find a few tools and resources that I’ll update weekly, as well as a reading list of interesting new books I’ve come across / impulsively bought. Over time some links may be sponsored or help to support this platform, but they will always be things I have every confidence in recommending.

Reading list

Books I’ve read/seen/will impulsively buy and add to my “to read” shelf on Goodreads:

  1. Home Truths by Tina Seskis - impulsively bought.
  2. The Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous - wishlisted. A friend (Claud) recommend this on Twitter.
  3. Eat the Document: A Novel by Dana Spiotta - wishlisted. Sounds like an intriguing read. Discovered while deep in a Goodreads rabbit-hole.

Things I’m loving

Things recommended to me and the things I recommend (updated weekly):

Films and shows:

  • The Messiah (Netflix) raised interesting questions about how today’s society would react to the coming of a supposed Messiah - with or without magic tricks.
  • A Guardian review convinced me that for ballet virgins, Le Corsaire is a great place to start. And so I went, accompanied by my usual theatre buddies. I personally loved it. Lynette has decided it’s not her scene. Michelle had no idea what was going on until we discussed it at the end. I also noted that one of the characters, a slave trader, looks suspiciously like Ben Stiller in Dodgeball. Send more recommendations if you have them!

Apps:

  • Woven is a promising new calendar app I’ve been trying. I’m bouncing between that and Calendly for meeting scheduling needs but it works well and could become my main organiser.
  • I’m still shamelessly saving money eating out and occasionally eating for free with Ritual. Probably one of my top 5 apps in the last few years. Use this link to grab a free lunch.
  • Despite what I said about resolutions I’ve finally bought a Kinde Paperwhite and am determined to finally crush my goal of reading more books this year with a combination of Audible (audiobooks) and Kindle Unlimited (unlimited ebook subscription). Use those links for 30-day trials!

After trying Kapten briefly I’ve decided Bolt (taxi app), is still my go-to for when I’m running late and the wind won’t carry me. I’ve had good experiences in the UK as well as in Ghana and Nigeria. Try this link for a free ride.

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Resources

I’ll occasionally leave resources I’ve found, been referred to, or ones I’ve made myself. Let me know if you have any feedback/suggestions to add:

  • Daily inventory / Mental health tracker - keep a daily inventory of how well you’re sleeping, eating, exercising, working and more, so you’ll know in advance when you’re heading towards a rut. You’ll get scores and charts based on your responses, and there’s now a daily journalling function as well!
  • Readwise sounds like something I’m going to be using for a long long time. It can sync with your highlights from Kindle, Pocket and more, and dig up random insights from past reading. It also uses AI to suggest excerpts it thinks you’ll like from other books based on your existing bookmarks. That’s the coolest feature I’ve seen. It’s a great way to keep things fresh, revisit insights, and discover new ones. The 60-day trial is awesome but you can get an extra 30 days free with this link.
  • Romance sucks generally but V-day is on the horizon, so if you’re into that kinda thing be inspired by this list of 6 romantic restaurants penned by my good friend Esme. She generally writes at the intersection of life, love, and sustainable fashion. Find more here.

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