David Elikwu speaks with David Kadavy an Author, Podcaster and President of Kadavy, Inc.
Author of Mind Management not Time Management, The Heart to Start and, Design for Hackers.
Host of Love Your Work podcast, where he interviewed Seth Godin, Steve Case, & many more creative entrepreneurs.
We talked a lot about productivity, we talked about writing, we talked about content creation about how David is able to consistently come up with new ideas. We barely even got to touch on was the fact that he designed an app with behavioral psychologist, Dan Ariely which was eventually acquired by Google.
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📹 Watch on Youtube
👤 Connect with David Kadavy:
Book: Mind Management, not Time Management, The Heart to Start, Design for Hackers
📄 Show notes:
3:54 | Discovering his design talent
8:12 | Starting a blog
13:36 | What I learned on the internet
15:26 | The process of writing that book
20:34 | Getting on Haker News
24:43| How to focus your writing
27:59 | Twitter started off as a micro-blogging website
29:59 | First experience on Twitter
36:05 | Getting 500k RTs on Twitter
39:39 | The means of production
40:13 | The future of books
47:50 | Michelangelo’s dirty secret
53:03 | How to get through creative blocks
59:28 | The velocity of ideas
1:03:07 | Holding yourself to the right standard
1:08:14 | The curiosity to start and the consistency to finish
1:10:56 | How to be successful as a creator
1:15:56 | The secret of Walt Disney’s mindset
1:18:37 | What to optimise for as a creator.
1:21:35 | How to use your crumb time.
1:23:05 | Following your curiosity
1:25:01 | Three levels of curiosity
1:34:40 | Grippy and Slippy tools
🗣 Mentioned in the show:
Design for Hackers | https://designforhackers.com/
Doug Bowman | https://twitter.com/stop
Jason Santa Maria | https://twitter.com/jasonsantamaria
Merlin Mann | https://twitter.com/hotdogsladies
43 Folders | https://www.43folders.com/
Chris Webb | https://www.chriswebbspeaks.com/
Claude Monet | https://www.britannica.com/biography/Claude-Monet
Tim Ferriss | https://tim.blog/
Nassim Nicholas Taleb | https://twitter.com/nntaleb?ref_src=twsrc^google|twcamp^serp|twgr^author
David Perell | https://perell.com/
Mark Manson | https://markmanson.net/
Tim Urban | https://waitbutwhy.com/
Wait But Why | https://waitbutwhy.com/
Thomas Paine | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine
In Defense of Papyrus | https://designforhackers.com/blog/papyrus-font/
kdp.amazon.com | http://kdp.amazon.com/
The Iliad / The Odyssey | https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1375.The_Iliad_The_Odyssey
David Galenson | https://www.davidgalenson.com/
Picasso | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Picasso
Leonardo da Vinci | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci
Mason Currey | https://www.masoncurrey.com/
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work | https://www.masoncurrey.com/daily-rituals
Walt Disney | https://www.disney.com/
Jeff Bezos | https://hoo.be/jeffbezos
Elon Musk | https://twitter.com/elonmusk
Marie Curie | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Curie
Kirsten Oliphant | https://kirstenoliphant.com/about-me/
Encyclopedia Brown | https://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Brown-Complete-Books-books/dp/B01M9FSC4Y
Zettelkasten | https://zettelkasten.de/posts/overview/
👨🏾💻 About David Elikwu:
David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.
- Twitter: @Delikwu / @itstheknowledge
- Newsletter: https://theknowledge.io
- Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com,
- Podcast: http://plnk.to/theknowledge
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On The Knowledge Podcast you’ll hear from the best and brightest minds in business, entrepreneurship, and beyond. Hosted by writer and entrepreneur David Elikwu, each episode features in-depth interviews with makers, thinkers, and innovators from a variety of backgrounds.
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Kadavy, David: [00:00:00] If you want to be guaranteed success, go to HVAC school and they'll tell you exactly how to repair HVAC and you'll have a secure job. And it's great and I thank goodness for HVAC people or plumbers or whatever, where they know how this is done. What you're trying to do is impossible. What you're trying to do has no guarantees to it and so you can't necessarily dismiss an idea or a way of doing things based upon the fact that some people are going to do it and not succeed.
David Elikwu: Hey, I'm David Elikwu. And this is The Knowledge. A podcast for anyone looking to think deeper and work smarter. In every episode I speak with makers, thinkers, and innovators to help you get more out of life.
This week I'm speaking with David Kadavy. He is a serial author. He's written more books than I have time to list in this short introduction. But I think some of the headliners are his most [00:01:00] recent book, Mind management, not time management. And he also wrote the Heart to start and Design for hackers. So David is incredibly prolific as a writer. I think I first came across him on Twitter and I'd highly recommend you follow him, just because you can tell he put so much intentionality and original thought into all the content that he puts out and that's really everything that I tried to do in the content that I create. So we were really kindred spirits in that way.
But we also talked a lot about productivity, we talked about writing, we talked about content creation about how David is able to consistently come up with new ideas. I think this was a really, really good podcast. And I probably learned just as much as anyone who would listening to this, I think. This is probably one of my favorite conversations with someone who is actively in the field, creating things on an incredibly consistent basis.
So if you have it in mind to be prolific at anything at some point in your life, at some point in your career, whether it's writing or cooking or whatever it is that you want to do. I think David [00:02:00] is the person you should listen to.
You can find David on Twitter @Kadavy and you can get the full show notes and transcript at theknowledge.io. and while you're there, you should definitely subscribe to my newsletter.
Every week I share some of the best insights and ideas that I come across from psychology, philosophy, business, and productivity. so if you wanna read the best that I have to share, you can go to newsletter.theknowledge.io and subscribe.
So I know you're gonna love this episode. And if you do, please, don't forget to share it with a friend. And also don't forget to leave a review because it helps us tremendously to reach other people. Just like you.
So one of my core theses with this podcast and just in general is that I think, when I wrote about this a while ago on my newsletter is this idea that in retrospect, it's really easy to draw a very clear narrative of exactly the way all of the, the right things struck.
And this is the point at which I had this revelation and this is where everything came together because you already know how the story ends. And so it's easy [00:03:00] to draw the narrative backwards, but I think very often what we miss in that is a lot of the color along the way, and the times where you didn't necessarily have that certainty of exactly how things would turn out and exactly where things would go.
So I very often like to maybe go back in time and ask, like, what was some of the earliest? So I know that you worked in design originally, and that's what you studied at university, but I wonder is that something that you always wanted to do and where did that original desire come from as well?
Kadavy, David: Sometime when I was a young child, I really started to enjoy drawing. If I go to that narrative fallacy thing, I can certainly say that there were signs. Maybe I had some sort of natural talent with that. My mother was very good at it. I recall there was a time when I was in kindergarten and we had all painted elephants and we were standing in line to go out to recess and a bunch of [00:04:00] kids keep up pointing at one of the elephants and that was on the wall and saying, oh, that's mine. That's no, another was said, no, that's mine. And I was standing back and I'm like, oh, that's actually mine. So, but I also recall not thinking that I was very good at drawing so I worked at it and became very good at drawing and I really enjoyed it to draw, I enjoyed the art.
And so when it came time to go to college, I grew up in a pretty fiscally conservative family, where there was a value of, oh, you should get a job. You should get a secure job. And fortunately they, you know, supported my decision to study whatever I wanted in college. But with the caveat, like, well, if you study art or even graphic design,
like you're not going to ever make more than like $30,000 a year. And there was this thing called I think it was, it was called commercial arts or visual communication is I think it was called Commercial art is what it was called [00:05:00] at the college that I first went to in the middle of Nebraska. And I thought, well, okay, that's where I get to draw things and get paid for, which literally that's illustration, but I wasn't very smart. And so that's what I did. And I just sort of, kind of stuck with that through line, which essentially was graphic design. And I came to love it. I came to really get fascinated with type biography and the sort of art and science of letters and of communicating something through the sizing and spacing and placement of things, communicating visually in that way.
And observing I did a lot of drawing and to do that digree, realizing if you look at objects in the world, they don't have outlines on them. And most of us, we draw something, we draw the outlines, but if you want to draw something that looks like something, you have to figure out how to not draw the outlines. And so I think,[00:06:00] again, narrative fallacy, I think I learned a lot of power of observation through that. And then I ended up working as a designer and I was pretty successful at that. There was there's a magazine called communication arts that in college, all any of us wanted to do was sometime in our careers, getting the communication arts magazine and through a series of kind of lucky breaks.
I on my first big project, as a professional, got into that magazine. And it was a strange experience because I had thought that that was all that I ever wanted to accomplish, but once I had accomplished it, I realized it was quite meaningless to win a design award. And I grew to not really enjoy, I guess the whole idea of you have a client you're trying to speak about this objective thing, and it's not [00:07:00] always easy to explain why it is, you're doing what you're doing. I kind of had my way of doing things, my own mental models for how I designed. And so when I got the opportunity to write my first book designed for hackers, I sort of thought to myself, oh, this is great. I could just say the way that I think that design works And then I don't have to design anymore.
Everybody else can just do it themselves. And that's kind of what I did. And then I have gotten interested in other things along the way. And I don't think about design a lot of these days.
David Elikwu: Yeah, I find that's a really interesting shift. And I want to ask you about that in a second, but to go back a step, I'm really interested to know you even. Okay. So you've got this book deal, and I think I know that you are doing some blogging already before that. So what was the intention behind starting that blogging and how did those two things start to come together.
Kadavy, David: I started my blog on May [00:08:00] 31st, 2004. I was living and working in Omaha, Nebraska, which was the town that I had grown up in that I thought was kind of a boring solace place that I didn't want to be. And I had turbulently returned there after college, after trying to find work around the country, he just wanted to go to any big city, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, and none of them would have me in being a graphic design graduate. Wasn't a hot commodity in 2002. And so I had, you know, chatting with the tech guy at the architecture firm that I worked that. We would talk about blogs and there were certain blogs that we were reading Douglas Bowman or Jason Santa Maria's blog, or a 43 [00:09:00] folders, a productivity blog by Merlin Mann, all about GTD. We talked about all those things and I had, I felt very intimidated by these blogs that I saw because they were all very sophisticated looking.
And I wanted a little bit of a playground to work a little bit more on web design. I had dabbled in it, wasn't a concentration in my degree in school, but I had, you know, probably done my first HTML coding in like 1996. just kind of looking under the hood of the AOL web builder thing that I had and what an a place to have a playground to, to work on that.
And I had previously had academy.net had previously been a flash toy box. Flash became this sort of animation, a thing that I don't think anybody even uses now, but I would make these different toys and write a action script as it [00:10:00] was to just play around with different things. And that was my playground for flash, but now I wanted a playground for like HTML and CSS. And I think the tech guy had started a blog maybe, and he had maybe used blogger and I found blogger and I thought, oh, well this is cool. Like everything, it looks, all these blogs look so intimidating. It's sophisticated. But all I have to do is just create one and it'll do all this for me. I was surprised to they didn't, they didn't, all build that calendar widget that used to be on all the blogs on the sidebar or or whatever. They didn't build that from scratch. There was like a thing that they could just take on the box to do that. Cause I mean, even when I had studied abroad and wanted to share my photos online in 2001, I had to like use some tool to create static HTML pages with my photos on them. So I could like share them with my parents. So this [00:11:00] idea that there was this, you could make something that looked like that with the heart of the Annie work was incredible to me. And so I sort of sat down and wrote this little paragraph, basically saying everything I was feeling you could still find it if you search for my first blog on Kadavy.net and I'm basically saying, you know, I don't want to get into a perfection product paralysis here. I do have a tendency to want to know all the details about something before I jump into it, I'm just going to barf this out and clean it up later. And that's what I did I turned that I created my own blogger templates, looking at their code, and then I switched eventually what was it?
Movable type, I think. And then later to Word Press and now I've been on Word Press for a long time and I've done a few different redesigns. The last one I did, I think was like, might've been 2000, might've been 2013 and I don't plan to redesign [00:12:00] really ever. Not that my blood doesn't need a redesign, but I am far more interested in the words now. And I almost kind of like the fact I'm not, I don't personally think that it looks super dated. The homepage currently could probably use some work, but I almost like anti signaling.
David Elikwu: Sure.
Kadavy, David: Of not having this blog. That's like got a big splash image of me that I had a professional photographer take where I'm like acting all candid or something.
And it's just words, like, there's just words there. And you either like the words or you don't like the words and I try to do everything I can in the design to get out of the way. So you don't have to use like the reading mode on your browser to actually read the words that are on the website, which is really just about and so that's how academy.net became to life that was 18 years ago.
David Elikwu: Wow. [00:13:00] That's really cool. I find it really interesting that you've always been at this intersection of maybe curiosity and creativity. I think actually, funnily enough, a lot of what you were saying sounded very similar to my background as well. So it really rang true for me because I think my first year being on the internet, probably one of the first things I learned was design.
And that is pretty much what started my whole career and has led to everything else that has my curiosity has taken me. I learned design, then you start maybe designing some websites and being on blogger. A lot of those tols back in the early two thousands as well. And that was like Dreamweaver, I think maybe slightly later on in the mid two thousands or So,
so, you know. Yeah.
So, I mean, funnily enough, even just as you were talking, I was just thinking about how. Crazy. It is like how the technology exploded literally between I'm thinking you, you mentioned 2001, not being able to have like photo sharing websites and I'm pretty sure by maybe [00:14:00] 2004, 2005, then there were like quite a few tools.
Yeah. And there was quite a few things that suddenly you could do a lot of that stuff.
Kadavy, David: I was at the flicker turns to birthday party in San Francisco shortly after moving to California and in to, I think that I moved to California in 2005. And this was shortly after that. So it must've been 2005. It was the flicker turns to birthday party at, there's probably a lot of people who use the internet a lot who don't even know what flicker is. I wouldn't be surprised.
David Elikwu: Yeah. Especially at this point, I think there's so many like antecedents of platforms that we have now, even tumblers starting to become something that people aren't fully cognizant of. So that's really interesting, but I'd love to know maybe. So you started writing this blog and I know that even part of when you were writing your book, you already partly in this productivity space where you're thinking about getting things done, things like that.
And that was maybe a factor in, [00:15:00] as you were writing that book, some of the things that you struggled with. So I'd love to maybe hear more about the process of writing that book and then how that led to you getting a lot more interested in the writing side of thing rather than the design.
Kadavy, David: Yeah. So I'm realizing that the last question you asked me, you might've even ask me to tell you about how I got my first book deal. I'm not sure, but we are talking about the first book still? Because I haven't even gotten to that yet, I guess. Maybe there was two questions in one on that one but I do go on tangents. So I wish I would have been more regular at writing on my blog, from the beginning, I certainly was somebody who didn't believe in this idea of having a writing habit of making sure that I was constantly shipping, writing. I kind of just waited to be inspired or had to have an idea that I would write. And sometimes that would come in spurts where I was writing a couple in a week and sometimes [00:16:00] months would go by and I wouldn't write anything. And then when I did finally get out of Nebraska and move to Silicon valley, I felt quite fulfilled in the work that I was doing for time there. And so didn't hardly write on my blog. But then I left Silicon valley quite deliberately. The job offers nipping at my tail, move to Chicago, wanted space to think and explore my own ideas, just to see what would come from that. And there came a period where I was applying to speak at south by Southwest. And I applied, I had wanted to speak at that conference since I had heard about it, you know, back in Nebraska and Mike Gray cubicle in 2003, I think it was probably the first time I had heard of it. I thought, wow, that'd be so cool to go to that conference. It'd be even cooler to speak at it and I submitted one panel idea one year thinking, well, I probably [00:17:00] won't get it. Cause I can tell as I'm writing this proposal that I'm not quite qualified, but I'm at least learning the process. And that's exactly what happens. I don't even remember what that idea was that year.
But then the following year, I pitched a friend of mine. I had this idea of, well, maybe I will, I'll set up a panel of a few of my friends. I started to have some friends who were getting pretty successful online and thought, well, I'm not a big success, but if I can get these people together that would at least get me on stage. So I wrote a proposal with one of my friends to sort of send him a little pitch email within like 30 seconds. He writes back and says, sorry, I don't think this is for me. You know, I think it's good to have friends who were honest with you in that way. And I, but I felt, awful. It felt like, oh, I just got, I've got nothing. What are we gonna do? And I think the next day I went to the cafe near my house and sat out on the porch and sat at the [00:18:00] picnic table and sort of thought, okay, well let's we need to cope with something. And there was this talk I had done at bar camp. I feel at bar camp is like this unconference thing.
I had done a talk called design for the coders of mind where I'd done a short talk. Basically here's some basic design principles. I thought, huh? That's that's something and I was thinking, well, I think the way that I would get a panel at south by Southwest would be, I'd find a channel where I would get some web traffic for an article related to the topic that my panel or my talk would be about. Now. I had gotten decent at that period of time at getting on the front page of hacker news. Fairway started with maybe like WordPress optimization or,
David Elikwu: Was that slightly, was that still difficult back then as it is now? I mean now it's incredibly difficult. Okay.
Kadavy, David: No, I have no idea how to do it now. But I also think it's a lot[00:19:00] geekier now. And I also think, I don't know if it's just because I'm older, but I felt like that I felt like it was, there was a little, the people there were a little smarter back then, like, it was a smaller group of much smarter people, I think, than it is now. I mean, if you've ever looked at like, shit H N says, twitter, and you just like, see the stuff that people say in the comments and how dumbs.
David Elikwu: I think people were actually, the people that were writing were actually also working in technology and building things and doing things. Whereas now I think there's a lot more spacious commentary in general, where people are not also having to think about doing stuff.
Kadavy, David: Yeah, and I mean, I wasn't doing things. I had left Silicon valley. I had at least work there, but I had left. I was literally just getting up every morning and going to my second bedroom, that was an office and just like trying to come up with different stuff. And I had [00:20:00] rented an office and I did a little bit of freelance work just to get by, but I was actively trying to cope with some sort of idea that would be something. And, so I thought to myself, well, I'm pretty good at getting hacked on hacker news lately. So if this was designed for the coders mine, and I thought, well, this isn't something how it doesn't have quite the right ring to it. And I thought, well, we'll wait, designed for hackers. Hacker news is where I'm, I'll write an article and get on the front page and get some votes and I'll call it Design for Hackers. I thought, this is too good to be true. I look up on GoDaddy or whatever, and then like designed for hackers.com is available? How? Has this not happened yet? Like, I might be able to do this. And so I started writing the proposal, and then I just pour everything I've got into this one blog post called Why you don't use Garamond on the web. And it was all about how garamond is this great font? It's quite incompatible with [00:21:00] pixels on screens, which we don't, we didn't have the retina technology that we do today, but the pixels on screen. Aren't necessarily that compatible with the subtle curves of a typeface, like garamond. So I just poured everything I had into that and got on the front page of hacker news. And then at the bottom of the, maybe at the top and the bottom of the page, I had, Hey, you know, if you liked this content vote for my panel at south by Southwest. And I got an email from Chris Webb at Wiley and he said, oh, I like this idea of design for hackers, reverse engineering beauty. Have you thought about writing a book about this? I'd like to talk to you about that. Like, oh wait. Yes, I have thought about right. I knew I wanted to write a book, but I didn't know about what I had, like come up with different ideas, but. That this was what I was kind of waiting for. And then, but I kept banging that drum.
So I wrote a different another post, [00:22:00] Why Monet never use the color black and all that you could learn about, color theory from the way that Monet use color and how you could use that in web design. And that got the front page of hacker news. And then I got an email from another publisher. I'm not going to name them, anyway, I talked to these two publishers and Wiley seemed to have, seemed like the better option for me. And talked to, a couple agents. One of the agents I talked to is a Tim Ferriss's agent Brian Henselman. He was very kind. He spent an hour speaking to me. He wasn't taking new clients. I'm sure he would have been, but he wasn't interested in being my agent. But it was very nice to that. It was very nicely talk to me.
I remember him saying like, wow, this is happening really fast. Cause it was weird to me cause it was just seemed like, oh, this is easy. Right? I didn't get the south by Southwest But I got a book deal. And then once I had the book deal and had written most of the book, [00:23:00] I got to speak at south by Southwest for the book based on the idea, based on the speaking slot that I did not get.
So it's funny how, you know, you try to do one thing and another thing happens and it causes the regional thing to happen sometimes.
David Elikwu: Yeah. And I think you've talked about this before and it links very much even in my mind just as you say it to, Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about Asymmetry and looking for asymmetric opportunities. And I think this is exactly that kind of opportunity where you could easily have just been trying to write normal blog posts, and you can write hundreds of blog posts.
I've written loads of blog posts. None of mine have been on hacker news as far as I'm aware, but you can just write lots of blog posts. But I think because you were trying to optimize for this particular stage, trying to get this panel at South by Southwest, maybe that changed in some ways like how you wrote it and how you approach that entire process, which then led to this, other opportunity as well.
Kadavy, David: Yeah, I just didn't necessarily know it at the [00:24:00] time. And I wasn't familiar with Nassim Taleb's work at the time, but it was, it was a positive black Swan as he would describe it. As I was basically putting something out there into a place where there would be a lot of exposure and there'd be a lot of the things that would happen.
And I was very intentional about how I was going to try to accomplish this thing that I wanted to accomplish, but then this other thing happened, right. And, but, and that intentionality helped me focus what it was that I was writing about, how I was going to do it and all of that. I do, I will say, I mean, it is it, I feel like it's way harder now. I don't know how to get on the front page of hacker news. I don't, I don't know how to even get 30,000 views on a post. I don't know how to get 30,000 views on a tweet, but I can sell 20,000 books. So tell me that, how that works that I put a tweet out it's free. I can't get [00:25:00] 20,000 people to look at it. But I can put out a book and say, oh, this is $10 and I can get 20,000 people to buy it. How does that, how does that work?
I actually was just talking about this for my podcast, who was speaking with David Perell a couple of weeks ago. And I was talking about how Mark Manson, the last time I spoke to mark Manson had him on my podcast after we were done.
I was like, Hey man, if you got a second like, do you have any advice? Like how can I take my blogging and stuff to the next level? He's like, Ugh, you know, it's just, blogs are kind of done, man. it's just nobody's read. All the traffic's down, you know Tim Urban Wait But Why his traffic's down, my traffic's down, you know, it's just, I mean, you're doing a podcast that's probably, that's a good category to be in right now, this was seven years ago. I just gotta be in like a growth category or something. And David Perell's like, I've heard Tim urban say the same thing also that while he was fortunate that Facebook was really pushing blogs into people's feeds [00:26:00] about in 2013 when he popped.
And that's about the time that Mark Manson really popped as well, was that Facebook was all, they wanted to get people on their platform and they didn't mind sending people to blogs at the time. And I've heard Tim urban say that he felt lucky that had happened at the time that he was doing it. But David Perell's stance, when I spoke to him, it was like, well, I dunno, there's always some category, which I think maybe this is Mark Manson was trying to say. There's always some category that's like on the way up and right now that's Twitter threads. Maybe these guys are just kind of confused by it because the web has changed since when they were coming up and they're not as hungry as they once were. So they don't necessarily have the drive to like figure this out. Which is something I think I certainly had at the time when I just wanted to stop freelancing, I wanted to start making some money of something that was mine that I had created. And I was just felt desperate to make that happen. [00:27:00] And that was very motivating. And so, as I say this today, as I make a comfortable living doing what I do, I don't have that same desperation to like, try to figure it out.
David Elikwu: Yeah, I'm interested to know your thoughts on the whole, the hype around on Twitter threads and popping off on Twitter, because I definitely have very mixed thoughts because on one hand I genuinely feel and I completely get what David Perell is saying. I think, okay, let me flip what I was going to say. So on one hand, the part that I completely understand is Twitter started off as a micro-blogging website. So it does make sense that this is part of the, maybe it didn't start originally as that, but you know, that was part of the history where you know, that is kind of carrying on the legacy of blogging in some ways that it's meant to be micro-blogging. It was to be 140 characters. And that is in many ways, part of the lineage where that part might not have caught off, but it certainly is now where a lot of people are now [00:28:00] calling themselves writers and, and being able to think of themselves as writers because they write threads on Twitter.
So I think there's that part of it which makes me think this is perfectly valid, but then there's the other part of it where I see a lot of these threads. They all look exactly the same because a lot of people are just using these growth hacks to write just very formulaic tweets. And it is distressing to me just because it feels like a lot of these people, not everyone, but there is certainly a very clear subset of people that do not care about like writing craft. And it's more about writing for attention, which is fine and valid because ultimately attention brings money and all the other things that you want. But I think it is a very clear split or dichotomy. And I think we had the same thing in blogging where, you had a lot of people that wrote, for example, like technology blogs, or just blog, whether, whether it was a personal blog or a blog about some domain of interest.
And then there was a whole ton of people which may be [00:29:00] became the majority in terms of the popular blogs that were writing SEO, optimized blogs, and people that were just writing, whatever was going to get the most clicks on Google, whether it makes sense or not. Whether, you know, it's read by humans or by AI, it's just whatever is going to get the most attention.
So I think that is the balance there. So I'm interested to know what you think about that.
Kadavy, David: Yeah. it's a it's puzzling to me. It's very puzzling to me. I cannot figure out Twitter. I've been on it for what was it 15 years now since 2007 and when I started using Twitter, it was basically an alternative to Dodge ball. Which was the predecessor to Foursquare, which was just you would send a text message to this one number saying that you were at this bar or whatever, and then it would text anybody who was your friends to let them know that you were there. So they could just stop by. Really cool surface where there's enough people around who are using it. And so when Twitter came out I was like, oh this is dodgeball. So [00:30:00] like, oh, I'm at this bar, etcetera. And I think it was really just a couple of years started to realize, that realize, okay, I'm an old man. I've been on the internet for a long time and I'm not so insanely successful that I have nothing left to learn. Maybe, maybe I need to rethink this. And that was where I came to realize, okay, I need to be intentional about how I use Twitter. I used to get sort of offended that people would make a distinction between IRL in real life and online. And I don't anymore because the internet is not real life. It is a media environment that shapes a conception of reality that unfortunately, most people buy into. But it is not real life. And what you choose to portray on whatever medium it is, whether that's Twitter or Tiktok or whatever maybe representative of your real life. But it's your curating. You You have to, you should choose wisely and [00:31:00] there is a way to play that game, I think is the realization that I came to. And so I've started looking very, very closely at every tweet. Like how many impressions is this getting? What's the engagement rate? What's the relationship between the engagement rate and the number of impressions I've got? How many likes have I gotten out of the number of impressions that I've got? And it is a mystery. It especially became a mystery like a year ago. They made a really hard change. I think that they are trying to make conversations happen. I swear, put a question, mark, even put a statement and put a question mark at the end of your tweet and it will get more impressions. And it's annoying because I find myself saying, well, I'm in Twitter jail right now. I'm I've got 23,000 followers and everything I tweet has is getting 500 impressions. I'm just going to ask for book recommendations. You ask for book recommendations, you'll get five thousands. You'll get 5,000 impressions Just because Twitter is [00:32:00] pushing it through the graph because other people have interrupted with it and they have this conversations bias. I don't know whether that's a good idea or a bad idea. Maybe everything that can be done with 280 characters has been done bad banana killed it on 140 characters. He wrote the funniest tweets. I don't know how you could top what he did and you can't, I can't really necessarily do the same thing so maybe it's not a good idea what, what they're doing. But I do not have it down at all.
Now threads, I don't have down either. I've spent hours on threads and you put it out there and like nobody cares. But it's, I feel like there's either you have to be really homed in on a topic. Or you have to talk about something that's going to appeal to everybody, perhaps. Because I did have one day where I said to myself, is this thing on, is this even working? And so I just tweeted, I'll give a hundred dollars to one random [00:33:00] person who retweets this within the next hour. And I'll just Venmo you a hundred dollars. It's just like, I'll invest a hundred dollars in finding out whether this thing is on. And it's on. It works. If you give away a hundred dollars, if you promise to give away a hundred dollars, you will get a tons and
tons of people telling you how generous you are. And you know, you'll get a ton of impressions and, you will see that Twitter can work and you'll also get a bunch of DMS from people. It's actually quite a depressing experience because there's a lot of people who really could use a hundred dollars. but you can take it by word for it that would you, if you give away a hundred dollars, like it works. Okay. So it's possible to say something that is going to spread throughout the graph, but it has to be something that's so appealing that it's as universally appealing as something that costs as $300.
And on the other hand, I have a another Twitter account that's all about golf. I've got a little golf writing project that I'm doing. I've [00:34:00] got maybe 700 followers on that golf account. I only tweet about golf. Anytime. Anything shows that my timeline that isn't about golf. I tell Twitter, I'm not interested in this. Don't show me this crap. And it is just very clear to the algorithm that this account is about golf. Don't show it anything else and anything this account says, show to anybody who is interested in golf. That's a nobody account. My personal account is verified. It's got the blue check mark that everybody thinks is so powerful, but this golf account often gets more impressions than my account with 23,000 followers. And so that tells you like, it can either be so widely appealing as a hundred dollars, or it can be very narrow as it could be about golf and it'll be about a particular topic and, you will kill it on about a particular topic. but that's not what I want from Twitter. I want to be able to have conversations about a wide variety of things. I want to be able to. Let me be realistic. I, like conversations, but it doesn't come, that's not the first thing that comes to mind when I want to tweet something. I want to [00:35:00] tweet a statement or a thought that I've had and just sort of say it and put it out there.
I should probably have more of a conversations bias on it. But I still learn things from Twitter, but I've had to sort of change what is my bar for success? Whether an idea I shared out there is successful or not, but the algorithm does not like a lot what I want to talk about, but I'm trying always.
David Elikwu: Yeah it's quite validating to hear you say that. I I've had a experience with Twitter. I've probably been on Twitter for something like actually. No, probably yeah. 10 years or so. And funnily enough, so the heyday of my twitter days were the days where my name was not on it. It was completely anonymous. I used to work in corporate law and I literally just use Twitter to vent and to, and to, you know, just manage things. And it was not a professional account. It was not anywhere I was expecting people to find me or anything like that. And I was just saying [00:36:00] random things. And a lot of those might have been funny things. and so I would have tweets going viral quite regularly. So I've had tweets, I think probably the most popular maybe had, I want to say 500,000, like retweets or something like that. So I've had months, and this is the crazy thing now because I speak, I see.
Kadavy, David: I don't think I've ever had that.
David Elikwu: No, I don't think a lot of people have. And I'm saying that in a very fair way, because I was speaking to someone that has over a hundred thousand followers on Twitter and he has all the viral tweets, all the viral threads, and he's doing great on there, but I think he just had his best ever month and he had 31 million impressions and I've had more than that, but that was a long time ago. That was a long time ago and it's really interesting how the time at which I've probably had my the tweets with most impressions well when I had under 2000 followers and I did not have, I mean, even now it's like, I don't know, 11, 12,000, but the point is that [00:37:00] was most of my tweets then were geared towards entertainment and not intentionally, I wasn't like looking for an audience. I was just tweeting funny things or random things. Whereas now that I actually feel like I have something to say, well, I'm actually intentionally trying to share things, but I definitely noticed as soon as I started pivoting to trying to tweet more like informational stuff, it cut. Pretty much in half, I even tweeted about it. It was like, I think.
Kadavy, David: I would have.
David Elikwu: Yeah. So prior to that, I was averaging maybe about 7 million impressions a month or something, and it went half down to like 3 million. And then now even to get 1 million a month is a struggle, which is crazy because yeah, it's a very, it's the complete opposite of the trajectory of maybe your
Kadavy, David: Sound like you had something.
David Elikwu: I should go back to being a potato account, but I think I, I actually think Twitter is a different place now. And I think, the things just work a lot differently, but I [00:38:00] even within that space, what I find interesting is, so there's a combination of, I don't know if you've come across like Shaan Puri for example, who writes you know, often threads that might be informational but they are through a lens of entertainment. And he writes things in very entertaining ways. So even though it's informational, it's like entertaining and that goes rattle. But the other subset that I see a lot is very much in the theology of you know, you have like marketers that write stuff on marketers. And they have this huge following because everyone wants to be person that is saying this stuff. And so I see a lot of people that are tweets about writing viral tweets. And so if everyone that is following them or engaging with this stuff is our people that also want to have that exact same fame. But it's almost, I don't want to say a pyramid scheme, but like, what is the outcome outside of that?
Like, if you're not just writing about how to do this exact same thing, where is [00:39:00] the objective outside of that? Because I assume all of the people that are following those people to tweet about other things other than how to get people to read your tweets.
Kadavy, David: Yeah. It's self, self referential. I don't know if it makes it, I mean, that's just, I think that's just the nature of electronic media is that the means of production are in the hands of everybody, the more that everybody's trying to be successful with the means of production. So then to talk about how to be successful with the means of production becomes appealing to a wide number of people who happen to also be better than yet than the average person at the means of production. And so in a way, it's a way to attach to a number of different hubs that have lots of spokes coming out of them. And so it's a decent way to build an audience I think.
David Elikwu: Yeah I wonder where do you think books are going? Because, I mean, this is going to segue into talking more about your books and your writing, but I know you just mentioned mark Manson and what he was saying about blogging, and what's been happening with [00:40:00] blogging where a lot of people's viewerships are down had some success with books. But I think we're going through a really interesting paradigm with the book selling industry, where you have a lot of people that have previously written books that were traditionally published are now publishing themselves and not just publishing themselves. but then also going through this huge transition of, instead of maybe largely looking to sell paperback books, a lot of people are selling digitally and selling things online. And it's more so moving towards eBooks, even though I think the cache of being a, an author and having written a book is still in the paperback books. And it might not carry over to someone that has never sold a paperback book. If you've only sold might not count in the same way or carry the same weight.
But I do think from what I'm seeing, it's like the majority of books that are being sold are not physical anymore.
Kadavy, David: Yeah, and I think that for the wide sort of the vast number, or I think [00:41:00] for most people, a book is a book. Even if you put like a 30 page Kindle up there, a lot of people are like, oh, you wrote a book. Which is, I mean, I, and you did. What we've decided books were in the past has, has come along with certain parameters that you know, I guess if we go back to the used to be scribed, so it had to be worth somebody years. He had to have the resources for somebody to write this by hand on like a bunch of sheeps skinned. Maybe some Papyrus I brought it up from Egypt to Europe where a lot of this was happening and then, Gutenberg developed the press. And then, I mean, you still needed quite a bit of money and resources for something to get publish then Certain institutions had more money and resources than others and that was happening. And so [00:42:00] up until recently, we've had traditional publishers and if you're gonna publish a book well might as well. It's gonna cost this much to even begin to publish it. And so it's gotta be about, you have able to solve for about this price and people kind of want it to be a certain length.
And so it's 200 some pages. So now you've had a whole bunch of oh, this should have been a blog post, but it's a 250 page book. I think rather than it should have been a blog post. It should have been a 30 page book. Pamphlets, used to be really important. They spurred a lot of different revolutions, people sharing ideas, Thomas Paine's Common sense being you know the probably a best-selling pamphlet ever. And they were often funded by their authors and they would be sold on a newsstand for a few pennies and they would, get ideas out there and they were short and I think blogs were supposed to be sort of the replacement for the pamphlet. But then we ran into this issue with the [00:43:00] economics of a blog.
It turns out it's not free and it's not necessarily super easy to maintain a blog or a website. You've got to deal with a lot of different things like spam and keeping paying for your hosting fees and all that stuff. And so if you're putting free content out there, how are you getting, how are you making that worth your while?
Some people put ads all over the blogs and that's obviously sucks cause you can't read most websites unless it's in reader mode. And then other people say, well, I'm just gonna put a pop over to collect emails. and I have some $1200 course that I'll just try to funnel some small percentage of my people into, but those economics lend themselves to certain types of things.
If you're going to buy a $1200 course, it better be pretty specific and help you do a specific thing that somebody knows how to do that is going [00:44:00] to hopefully in turn that make use of money. So it's not really a good place, I think for like sharing an idea or saying here's how I think about this thing. I've spent years thinking about this one little obscure topic and here's my new way of thinking about it. It's not, that economics always don't really support that but I think that, a book or a pamphlet is a pretty honest exchange. I mean, obviously I'm not perfectly honest exchange. People generally want to read books that, that don't challenge their beliefs and that perhaps reinforce their beliefs. There's all sorts of things like that but generally it's, okay. Here's this idea that I've packaged up and you're gonna to pay some money for it. And I'm gonna to get a little bit of that money. And so I feel like that is a lot better relationship for trying to figure out,[00:45:00] what is, Really worth being said or we're worth hearing. And so I'm a big advocate of write 30 page books, 50 page books. I've got several of them. Some of them have been total flops. I wrote a book entirely about the font Papyrus and why despite everybody hating it, maybe they shouldn't be so concerned about it. And that I've spent a lot of time on and hasn't done too well.
I've write another book, a 75 page one on Digital Zettlekatsen which is this note taking system that has this cult following, which is incredibly powerful. And it's been this surprise hit when I'm making all these foreign rights deals and getting checks for thousands of dollars for this book that took me a couple months to write. And at the same time I write my Magnum OPI, like things like Mind management, not time management, which were can the like, years and years maybe a decade in in the making and thinking about the [00:46:00] ideas that go in them and then finally writing them into some, some kind of form. So I think that the flood gates of are open, but people haven't necessarily noticed yet that you could write an idea in 500 words right now, and go to kdp.amazon.com and make a cover with the cover generator and upload a book today. And it would have the exact same screen real estate as war and peace.
Whether there's a paper version of it or not think about that in a bookstore on the bookshelf war and peace stands out because it's really thick and a pamphlet. You can even print the title on the side of it or on the spine of it. So I think that's exciting. I would encourage people to write short books, experiment with it and maybe while they're at it, right. Some of the longer books too.
David Elikwu: I think the, connecting threads between the last two topics we [00:47:00] just talked about is actually something that you and I had a short discussion about on Twitter, or I was asking you about, which is about Michelangelo and I would love to hear you share some of this story because I found it so interesting, this idea that he kind of created the perception by which we know him by was very intentionally curated, much in the same way that people curate their personas online
Kadavy, David: Ah, so the sort of personal branding aspects of Michelangelo. So Michelangelo was known as the divine one in his life time. Which is, pretty good a branding when most of your clients are Pope's. It's a good idea to brand yourself that way. And he there's evidence that he sort of curated that image. He certainly let his clients know that he worked very hard. That's what he would say when he wanted to get payment. But he also had this mystic about him where he would want it to look like it was very easy. You know, he [00:48:00] worked in secrecy on the David and then just had this unveiling and everybody was just so stunned by it and, you know, became a hot issue in Florence about where are we going to put this statue? There were protesters, like people throwing rocks and stuff over about where are we going to put this amazing statue? And he also before he died as he was on his death bed, the last couple of weeks of his life, he had all this process work burned, has his assistants burn his process work. Why would he do that?
Well, maybe because he didn't want people to know what the process looked like, how hard it actually was to make that work happen. And also there's that famous quote where people say, oh when, when Michael and people asked Michaelangelo, how did you carve the David? And he said, well, you know, I I just there's no, as we got two David's talking here.
I just removed all the parts of the marble that weren't David. And I've never been able to find anywhere that was proof that he said that, but [00:49:00] it does buy into this idea of effortlessness, this mystic that he created. So those are a little bit, The thoughts on the branding of Michelangelo.
David Elikwu: Yeah sure, I mean we can get to but I think even that then maybe connects to it in terms of, okay, he's burning his stuff and hiding a lot of the hard work. I think that is pretty much how you got to your second book, right? Where you were revealing, maybe some of the hard work that went into writing your first book and being able to manage your time and being able to cultivate that process. I know that writing books obviously sounds hard and is hard, but even in general, I think that's something that a lot of people struggle with. And that's probably why productivity as an industry is so popular at the moment. And probably while you are settle custom book is, is taking off. A lot of people are getting into personal knowledge management tools like notion. I've been getting everyone into notion. My sister, everyone, everyone that knows me. I'm getting the multiuse it, so I'd love to know maybe how, how [00:50:00] that process was. And then we can get into some of the things you talk about in time management.
Kadavy, David: Yeah, I think that if this more participatory electronic media environment that like I was talking about, I mean, isn't it interesting. We can, you can go on a podcast, you can listen to comedians, talk about how they come up with their jokes or their sets where you couldn't do that before. It was just, okay, like here's Eddie Murphy, like, and he would just watch the thing. And you never know. I have no idea how it ever, how it came to be. It just like, look like he was just really funny and that was how it happened, but It's all photoshoped is what I've been saying lately. It's all Photoshoped. We hear people talk about maybe an Instagram model or something. Oh, it's photoshop. Like she is really look like that real life and then they share the picture of, you know, the non Photoshop photo or whatever. First of all is a photo a an objective representation of reality. It's not, it never is. And it's a [00:51:00] photograph, but, we get to see that process, but we don't get to see that or we're starting to get to see that for some other things that amazing comedy hour that we saw like that was hundreds of open mic bombs that before that person finally arrived at that and that this book that you're reading word after word in a way that flows. That wasn't necessarily the way that it was, that was written. And that was something that I had to learn in writing my first book where I thought, well, maybe I could just take the number of words that the book needs to be a divided by the number of days I have to write the book and just write 300 words a day. And next thing you know, I'd have a book like that can sometimes work.
I think it works better with certain ideas than it does with others, but when you're trying to, trying to search for a new idea it doesn't really work that way. And that's what I talked about in Mind management, not time management, which was that struggle of [00:52:00] trying to write my first book and, spending those 12 hours a day, bang my head against the wall thinking, well, how, why can't I get a good sentence out here? And it, it took me so long to realize. That, no, it's not about getting this good sentence out here. It's about getting a whole bunch of really terrible sentences out. And then going back over it later, to make them look like good sentences.
David Elikwu: Yeah, I completely get that. And I think. This applies to, obviously I write as well. And one of the things I do want to ask you about is your writing process. I think you write daily and Vassar that a practice I've tried to cultivate, but I think for a lot of people do struggle with creativity or creative output. Regardless of whether it's they're trying to write a book or they're just trying to put something out there. And I think a lot of people have huge blockers to that. I think I was hearing you talk about oh, that you use like a typewriter and you use some offline tools to write, and I think I have a similar practice and I find it so [00:53:00] strange that the biggest unlock. So probably the, if I want to write something and it absolutely has to go out, I have this really ugly, just really bad and crappy notebook that has the worst paper in the world. And I've had it for years and years. It's actually, I think less than half of the original notebook, because at one point it fell apart.
So this is just what is left, what I've managed to keep and recover over the years. And it's so bad that it makes it so easy to write. And it's weird because part of, okay, cultivating my habit of writing regularly was writing in a notebook and I got these really nice Leuchtturm notebooks. And I write in them regularly and I do use those. And that is great for getting ideas out of my mind. And I find that writing actually helps things to flow because writing forces you to slow down because when you're typing, it's very easy to type almost as fast as you can think and you start typing all kinds of random stuff. But when you write, it does force you to slow down. You have to be a lot more considerate with what you put down, [00:54:00] but then going down, even a level from there. I find that very often when I'm writing in my nice notebook, there's a almost a mental barrier that what I write has to be good, cause now it's going to be, semi-permanent like it's written down and I'm not going to tear pages out of this.
Whereas when I write in my really just shoddy notebook, I don't care. And I am going to throw this away. No one's ever going to see it. I'm never going to care. No one's ever going to care. It doesn't matter what my writing looks like. It doesn't matter what my thoughts look like. Things can be jumbled about, but it helps me get things out. And I wonder how that lands with you and maybe some of your other thoughts on being able to get things out creatively as well.
Kadavy, David: Yeah, I think with notebooks, there's two strategies. The one is, Hey, get yourself a really nice expensive notebook with really nice paper and a really nice pen. And that will. Help you learn that your ideas are really [00:55:00] valuable but also get a notebook. That's just the crappiest paper with the cheapest pen possible.
And that will remind you that ideas are a dime, a dozen and that relieving of pressure is I think a lot behind a lot of the tools that I use for writing. I've got a typewriter over my shoulder. I don't know if people can see it or not. 1953 Smith corona super. I absolutely love it. I really do write on it very, very often. And the thing that I love about is that as I'm writing it, there's no fooling myself. This is a draft. There is nothing I can do that will turn this into something that I can just press publish on. I even tried the OCR technology on a iPhone, and thankfully it does not work which is kind of strange because the typewriter is a mechanically reproduced letters. You would think it would be able to be pretty [00:56:00] consistent. You'd think it would be able to do that. So the typewriter, I've got another, another thing called an Alpha smart, which is a portable word processor that I write on and often delete things. I've got these little whiteboards that I keep write things on and then I erase them.
Because really it's not about the thing that you're the product that you're producing a lot of the times. It's about the thought processes that are happening. And I really like to work on something, iterate on it over and over and over again, where I just, and writing it. I'm writing the first draft and then the next day or a week later, I sit down and I write about the same thing without even looking at the first draft. And it's just what, what's the, what's the best way to say this thing that feels most natural to me right now. I love the ideas of you know, Homer's work of like [00:57:00] The Iliad or The Odyssey, these things that came from oral traditions, where there were storytellers who were traveling around and they were telling stories by just speaking them and maybe they would change the story based upon the place that they were at. But I think over time that probably like made the stories that much more interesting because when you try to recall something from nothing then you just end up with whatever's the most interesting and the most engaging.
And so that's what I try to do with writing is just put a lot of crap out there. Publishing out there sometimes. But get it down on paper, let it incubate in my mind and then and then get back to it. It's a far more I think that's a far more efficient process to getting that crisp writing that you're looking for. And that's what I found in writing my first book and that's why I talk about In mind management, not time management is this passive genius, this [00:58:00] incubation that takes place in our minds. We know as a culture because we have expressions such as, oh, sleep on it, that our mind has a way of working on our problems when we're not actively working on it.
But how often do we actually do that in our actual projects, you'd be amazed what can happen if as you're waiting to get into the dentist's chair, you just take a minute to open up a notes app on your phone and brainstorm a couple of points about some blog posts that you want to write, for example, and then, you know, maybe the next day, maybe later that afternoon, maybe a week later, you sit down and write it and hah it just comes out a little bit better, a little bit more crisp than it would have. Had you not taken that couple of minutes to write about that. Well, because your brain was working on it when you were actively working on it,
David Elikwu: Yeah, I love that, that fits in perfectly with something that I do as well, even just as you were saying it. So taking notes regularly and [00:59:00] writing things down all the time, even when you're not intentionally playing to write something right now. And I think that's probably been the biggest unlock for me with my writing and people have asked, oh, how do you think of all these things to write regularly? And it's, I mean, I kind of don't or as I'm reading things and as I'm collecting information, I'm thinking, okay, how could I maybe write this? Or what are my thoughts on this? And I'm connecting the dots with other things that I write. And I can talk a bit more about that in a second, but in terms of how I make notes.
So I, in my notion dashboard, I just have this concept of velocity and it's like the velocity of an idea. And it's imagine you start off with some, a rock on a hill of snow and as it rolls down, it collects more and more slow. And the slow ball grows bigger and it gains more velocity as it goes down. And by the time it gets to the bottom, it's this huge thing.
And that is what you eventually published. and so It kind of mirrors that where I [01:00:00] have ratings, it's rated between one and five, but I only really use one, three and five. So I don't read anything a two and I don't read anything four. And what that forces me to do is, so what I call a one of velocity of one is just bullet points. Like just an idea that came to me. It could be one line, it could be three lines, but it's literally just bullet points and it doesn't meaning mean anything. And then a three is like a few sentences, at least. So now maybe I've got a structure of what I want to write about, and this could also then go into like a few paragraphs, but it's There is something there. And I kind of have an idea of exactly what this is and what the structure would look like. And then, a five is like a few paragraphs. So now I actually have some meat on the bones and usually, so then when I actually want to come and write something to publish.
So for example it could be a Sunday afternoon and I need to send a newsletter out on Monday. And I have no idea what I'm going to write. I can just go and start with the fives. And those are things I already have a few paragraphs [01:01:00] in them. I haven't done anything more than that, I haven't thought about anything more than that, but because I've set that as the baseline of what that's going to be, then I can just look at those things or sometimes I don't like any of those ideas and I can just go to the threes. And those are all things that at least there's a few sentences. And so I think because also the intentionality and skipping two and four is that it forces me to go up to the limit of the next level. So if I've only got one word or one line, I have to get it up to a few sentences to change it from a one to or three. Otherwise it's still a one. So if I then get a framework of what I would write, then it can be a three. And that's only going to go from a three to a five if it's now like at least two or three paragraphs.
Kadavy, David: Yeah, you could, you can filter by. It's almost like you can filter by what your energy level is in a moment. How much time, attention, focus do I have in this moment to develop an [01:02:00] idea? I can developed the ideas that are further develope or maybe I'm feeling a little bit more scatterbrained and it's a good time to like, think a little bit more about the ideas that need some more development is that kinda how that works?
David Elikwu: Yeah, it gives me some freedom to know that if I only have an idea. Then at least it's something. And I know that that can ladder up to something else, but there's no expectation that I need to sit down and write several paragraphs. I could sit down and write just a sentence on this thing. And that's fine because I know the next time I can pick that up and progress that a little bit more.
Kadavy, David: Yeah. the book that I'm working on right now or the one of the Magnum OPI I'm working on right now is a book about finishing and about follow through. And I've come to realize that we often hold ourselves to the wrong standards of follow-through and our ability to finish something and I think it has a lot to do with what problems it is that we're trying to solve. David Galenson is this economist from U Chicago who found these [01:03:00] two different patterns of creators, the experimental creators, and the conceptual creators and the experimental creators are the ones who are always experimenting, always searching for this new idea. And they might spend their
entire lives doing it. Whereas the conceptual creators are the ones who have an idea and they just want to execute that idea. And as it turns out, the conceptual creators do the more influential work of their career when they're very young. Whereas the experimental creators get more and more influential as, as time goes on. So the archetype full example is Picasso was conceptual. He, did some really influential work, did his most influential work when he was 26, lived to be in his nineties and didn't do a lot. That was super significant for most of his late life. And then Cézanne is [01:04:00] the classic experimental creator who did his most influential work in his very last year when he was 67 years old, because he was constantly experimenting constantly trying to figure out how can I represent on the canvas the thing that I'm seing as I look at a landscape and then I look at the canvas, how do I represent that? And the two very different approaches that you can find in a lot of things where Cézanne saw the work that he did as a part of the process, he would like abandoned his paintings and fields because, well, he already learned what he wanted from doing that painting. And Picasso would hold on to all his work and kind of say, well, you know the history will decide whether this is a influential work or not. And I think about like Leonardo da Vinci, who is the probably the, the most famous procrastinator of all time who finished maybe less than fewer than a dozen paintings in his life, never even finished. The Mona [01:05:00] Lisa was just crippled by his inability to follow through on projects. But when you look at what he was doing, when you look at the questions, he was asking the problems he was trying to solve. What he was trying to develop. Of course he didn't finish it, finish these things because what he was trying to do was impossible. He wasn't even trying for photo realism, photographs didn't exist. He was trying to understand how did people perceive, he studied optics, he studied anatomy, did dissections and tell his stomach was turning and you know, was trying to represent the world very realistically and made a lot of advances in things like perspective.
Michelangelo to some extent. But Michelangelo sort of brute force his way into being able to finish things. He left a lot of things unfinished, but here's what happens though, is that these conceptual creators people like Picasso. Took a lot from what Cezanne had blazed the [01:06:00] trail with. And then Rafael was the great master of the high Renaissance who basically went and looked at what Leonardo and Michelangelo did and said, oh, Hey, I can do that. And just was able to stand on their shoulders and execute very, very well. And he was very suave, he was a great networker, very gregarious and was able to execute.
So I think it's useful sometimes to ask yourself. What are the problems that I'm trying to solve in this work that I'm trying to turn into something, because sometimes it's just such an open-ended question that yeah, of course, it's going to be hard. Of course, it's going to take time for you to figure this thing out. And I like to play with both modes where I've got books I'm writing, where I'm trying to discover something. I have no idea what I'm going to find exactly. I've got just some the basic theory and then maybe some shorter things where like, I know exactly how this process works.
I'm just going to [01:07:00] top down explain it, you know, inductive versus deductive. I also like to call it the angel or the experts where the angel is. I've just been through this, I'm going to show you what I have fresh on the tip of my brain because I just learned it. And then the expert, which is, I've got a lot of experience on this. I'm going to tell you exactly how it's done. And I think some of us are experimental creators and it behooves us to recognize that and we can certainly design our workflow in ways that are a lot more friendly to our particular styles of approaching ideas.
David Elikwu: Where do you think success comes from as a creator? So what you were just saying. It made me think of, I mean, I guess there's two sides of the concept. It's the curiosity to start and the consistency to finish. And a lot of the examples you were sharing made me think of another artist that you [01:08:00] didn't mention, which is a Van Gogh or van Gogh.
And what I find really interesting about him is that he was like really bad. He was not good at painting to start. And even when he died, he was also not a famous painter. At that time. He only got a lot of the fame that he had long after he was, he was gone. And, but during his time, I mean, I think he originally started as he tried to become a pastor and he got fired from that because he wasn't very good. Then he tried to become a teacher when he got fired from that, because it wasn't very good. And then he started painting or drawing. Actually, I think he came across a book that was teaching you how to draw. And he also, wasn't very good at that, but no one can fire from no one can fire you from just playing with pencils.
So he continued and people mocked him I think at first, because again, his drawings are not that good, but he kept going. And by the time that he died, I think people don't even fully conceptualize how young and how short the time span of everything that he created was. Because he died in his [01:09:00] thirties and he didn't start until he was 27. So it was a really short, condensed timeframe. And I think by the time that he died, he'd created about 900 paintings and drawings and then lots of other sketches as well. And what I love about that example is just that his greatness and everything that he learned just came from being super consistent over time and just continuing to create and continuing to pump things out and check things out.
But on the flip side, some of the people that you've just mentioned, I think it was DaVinci as an example that were incredibly meticulous and had all of this thought going into everything that they created to the extent that they didn't really finish a ton of things. But there is still greatness that is still success there in what they were able to create despite that.
And so I'm really interested to know how you think of that balance in creativity and output and success, where on one hand, maybe it could just be forcing things and [01:10:00] just by being prolific, you can end up being good. Or you could take the approach that by being incredibly intentional, and this maybe goes to what I think it's Malcolm Gladwell refers to is deliberate practice, where it's not just about the number of hours that you do something for, but also the way that you use that time and having that process of deliberate practice and intentionality about exactly how you work and exactly how you create the output is what really matters.
Kadavy, David: Yeah. So how can create or be successful? is I think that there's no answer to the question. I think that there's a way to go about it that might improve a person's odds. I do think that there's a lot of randomness to it. I do think that people will often times though hide behind this idea of survivorship bias.
They maybe hear some advice that somebody gives and they say, well, you didn't hear from all the people who try that same thing [01:11:00] and didn't succeed. Like yeah, of course idiot because this isn't something that you're guaranteed success in, no matter what you do. Like that's the whole idea. If you want to be guaranteed success, go to HVAC school and they'll tell you exactly how to repair HVAC and you'll have a secure job. And it's great and I thank goodness for HVAC people or plumbers or whatever, where they know how this is done. This is what you're trying to do is impossible. What you're trying to do has no guarantees to it and so you can't necessarily dismiss an idea or a way of go of doing things based upon the fact that some people are going to do it and not succeed.
But the way that I try to think of things is the barbell strategy. I try to think about myself as like a capital allocator. I only have so many resources, only have so much time, and only have so much energy. Where am I at right now? And where do I need to get to be able to continue to experiment? And what can I do [01:12:00] to protect my downside so that I have some level of security. And then what are the different ideas I can try that will maybe not take a ton of effort or but that will give me an opportunity for something to happen. And I think that we live in a great world for that, because it's so interconnected, you know, you can like, you could just go like, blah, blah, blah, and put it out on a Tiktok and you'll have like 30 million views.
Now. is that going to be lasting success? Are you guaranteed? It certainly not. It's very unlikely that's going to happen. And would you have lasting success if that happens? Probably, probably. Probably not. We certainly seem like a lot of people who've just sort of randomly gotten famous for something and they've like tried to milk it somehow and it just doesn't really work out so well, it's gotta be based upon something.
But I try to look at it has you know, what's interesting to me. What sort of little projects can I continue to put out there and ship where I'm at least like getting a chance for something to [01:13:00] happen. And every time I have a winner I just try to put that into keeping myself secure so I can continue to, explore as Walt Disney said, We don't make movies to make money. We make money so we can make more movies.
I think there's a lot of these practical concerns for a lot of us who you know, it's like when you read like the, the Daily rituals book by Mason Currey, great book. but Yeah, they're all like, oh yeah, so-and-so's servant would you know, give him coffee in the morning. And that way know they would do everything like this basically all this landed Gentry in Aristocratic England or something who didn't have to do anything. It didn't have to worry about whether they were successful enough to make enough money to keep doing what they're doing. So I think that's like a very real consideration for a lot of people.
It's like, what's going to make money, but at the same time, what is interesting to me. And sometimes those things can be at odds in a way, because the thing that [01:14:00] will that seems most guaranteed to get you that little bit of security is going to be the thing that has the least likelihood of getting you any sort of stratospheric success. So I like to just try to catch myself anytime I have like a wacky idea that I think that's not going to work. I don't have the time to do that. And I try to make space for more of those things and try to do few of the things that are the sure bets but that's been like, I've had to kind of earn that over time, you know, early on it was okay, I need freelance work. Okay, I need passive income. Okay, now I need to sell this course and need to sell this book and now I'm starting to get that snowball going a little bit where I can experiment. But then that becomes difficult to do because if you have one thing that you can do that you're pretty sure is going to succeed because you've built up the snowball. Well, you're gonna stop doing the behavior that got you to where you were in the first [01:15:00] place. And so I think that it is trying to find what works, but then when you find what works doing just enough of it, to be able to find what works again and not clinging on to the thing that worked in the past.
If it matters to you that you get to continue to be curious and to continue to explore if it does not, then by all means, you know, juice it for all it's worth.
David Elikwu: Yeah. Well, you were saying, just reminded me of, I loved the quote that you shared about was it Walt Disney, Walt Disney that said, we don't make movies to make money. We make money to make movies. And it reminds me of, I was just looking at Jeff Bezos and it's funny, a lot of people hate on him now about wanting to go to space and he's entering this space race. And loads of people are like, oh my gosh, this is just a clear sign of hubris that, you know, you're this billionaire and all you care about is, you know, escaping this planet and going to space. But people don't [01:16:00] even realize this guy when he was in college was the captain of his space society. And this is clearly something he has loved and cared almost solely about his entire life. And if you go back you can early interviews of him specifically saying that you know, he wants to go and build colonies, colonies in space, etcetera And he needs to become really wealthy in order to do that. And so you look now and obviously he's a billionaire, he's one of the richest people in the world. And it's very clear that obviously I'm sure he didn't have a meticulous plan of exactly how it was going to work out. He was clearly optimizing very his original. He was clearly optimizing for his original goal of doing this one thing. And he's found a way to be able to, to bring that to bear.
Kadavy, David: Yeah, you sort of stumble your way towards it. Yeah, I used to agree with those people about Mars, but I've since changed my mind about that. I could see the point going now, but yeah, it is, it's like, what was that?
David Elikwu: I was saying what changed your mind?
Kadavy, David: I read a [01:17:00] Tim Urban's whole Elon Musk blog series. Which is available on Kindle. I can't read blogs hardly. I like, the time I read a blog is like, if I save it to like EPUB.press and I sent it to my Kindle and I actually get a chance to like, sit down and read it. So I like bought on Kindle his blog post series on Elon Musk. And I used to be of the opinion like, ah, fuck mars. Like, we got a lot of problems going on in the United States. It's just going to create another divide between like the have and have not. And now I understand like, no matter how we as humans comport ourselves at some point there will be an extinction event and humanity will be wiped out if we're not backed up to another planet.
Now I'm not a hundred percent sold on that is an imperative that, you know, I think it would suck if humanity was wiped out. But I think that I'm a human like, well, you know, so we would certainly lose a lot of progress but I can see the perspective.
David Elikwu: Yeah. So I [01:18:00] want to take a step back and go back to something else that you mentioned just previously as well. Just maybe as one of the last things, which I think can give you sort of trance to get more into the mind management aspect. I'm really interested to know what you're optimizing for.
Let's say between consistency and asymmetry, which are two of the things that we've talked about previously. Consistency being you know, writing regularly. I think you still have never missed an issue of your Monday newsletter that you sent out. I don't know if you've missed one recently, but I know that you'd been sending that out really consistently over time.
But then on the other side, some of your biggest wins and opportunities have come from completely asymmetric moments and finding a moment where you're able to write a book and another book and being able to have these not lucky strikes, but being able to bet intentionally on a single thing, and having that drive some [01:19:00] outside success compared to everything else that you were doing.
Kadavy, David: Yeah. I think of it as a the asymmetry maybe is, comes, I think probably consistency first. Because I like to, I guess I trust that if I continue to, write every day. Write Even when I don't feel like it. Write even the ideas that I think are dumb, which I don't always do. And I wish I was better at. Over time I hopefully gain the courage to start to see more of these asymmetric wacky ideas. You know, I've got a file it's just like weird ideas and there's stuff on there that, you know, I kind of want to do but, it feels like it's never gonna work, but I just think that over time, I'll I hopefully will get better at that and I'll hopefully get better at writing and I have been thinking a little bit about though that as I get consistent, maybe today's work is too much like yesterday's work sometimes. I mean, it's funny. I had a friend recently say, Hey, you know, I really like your writing. I really like, there's two [01:20:00] pieces that I always share with people and one was a blog post called permission to suck. And then another one is a blog post about what I call mini lives or just like going and living in a place for a couple of months or a month or whatever. And I was like, okay, be nice if the things that you liked best were anything from the last eight years since I've, you know, like really doubled down on writing like six years ago. So it sort of made me think, Hmm, maybe I shouldn't be consistent, maybe I should be a little bit more wacky and wait for inspiration like I used to. But right now that's, that's my general things. Is just, keep shipping. Don't be afraid of the ideas that you don't think are gonna work at least get them out there and give them a chance and rinse and repeat. And if I'm lucky I've got another 20, 30, 40 years for things to come from that
David Elikwu: Yeah. And how do you cultivate [01:21:00] your curiosity that goes into the output? Because I know that you talk about Crumb time and some of the ways that you manage your time in those ways, I'd love to know more about that.
Kadavy, David: Ah, Crumb time. Yes. I'd love to talk about Crumb time, that's sort of my new pet theory. Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about Crumb time these, these little bits of time of uncertain or undefine size and shape that sort of pop up throughout our days waiting for a friend at a restaurant, you're waiting to get into a dentist appointments, you're waiting in line at the airport. And what do we usually do? We open up our phones, we look on Instagram, we look on tiktok, we look on Twitter. And so I've lately been trying to make it a lot better use of my Crumb time. And, you know, I deleted those apps. I blocked those websites on my phone and now my phone is just like, it's sort of dead. You know, there's like, there's nothing I can really do on it that's you know, going to be this fun waste of time thing or playing wordle. [01:22:00] Playing Wordle is like, that's actually like quite a bit of, I tried it out. It's like actually quite a bit of cognitive effort to play wordle like the amount of time and effort that it takes to play Wordle, you could totally write a book. Like, there's a Kirsten Oliphant she wrote an entire book. Like in two weeks on the treadmill, like on her phone, like wrote an entire book. It was just like a mother, very busy. He was trying to like get back into the rhythm of things. Just wrote a whole book on her phone.
I try to think of how to how to make good use of this crumb time. And one of these ways that I do is through something I call a system of curiosity management. Because I'm one of these people, I don't know what's wrong with me, but like ever since I was little, like I loved Encyclopedia brown, I loved the books, I loved the show was Fred Savage in it. I loved this idea of just like being super smart and knowing a lot of things. And I don't know if that's necessarily like a healthy thing to aspire to, but it's [01:23:00] somehow important to me in some way. And so I'm somebody who always feels like I should be writing something. I always feel like I should be reading something. If I'm going to watch a movie, it should be like a historical movie. It's going to teach me something about history or if we're going to watch a documentary, I better learn something. And if the document or better have substance, otherwise I'm just going to read the Wikipedia page. And I've came to come to realize I've started ask myself, like, where's this urge coming from? And when I search myself very deeply I came to realize, well, some of this urge to continue consuming content is a feeling that I just haven't gotten enough, and it's not, it's very much like when you feel very busy and you feel like you're not being productive enough. And it's really just a result of anxiety about the things that you have not feeling like you're on top of everything, you know, you, you do getting things done and you suddenly feel on top of everything and you suddenly feel light and free and you feel in [01:24:00] control of things. And then suddenly you're all right with maybe lying in a hammick for a little while now what's up. How does that come to your, your, your intellectual life? The things that you're curious about, do you ever feel like, oh, you know, I know enough about this. I know enough about all the things. No, you don't really, and I came to realize, well, maybe if I had a system for managing this curiosity, I wouldn't have that sort of feeling of not enoughness. And so I've started to do that keeping a what I call at my Crumb time list of things that I'm curious about.
And there's three levels of curiosity, there's cursory curiosity, which is that you're just kind of want to scratch the surface about it. Maybe, you know, you're wondering, you know, I don't know very much about Marie Curie. I want to know something about Marie Curie and that's cursory curiosity. There is compulsory curiosity, which is, you know, everybody [01:25:00] keeps talking about tiktok. Like I just want, to know something about tiktok what is the big deal? And, so there's compulsory. You sort of feel like you should know something about this. And then there's a compulsive curiosity, which is like, oh, I want to know everything there is about how to make soap. Like, it's just so fascinating to me the chemistry of it. And I just want to know everything there is about how to make soap. And so, if you actually start to categorize these things and start to make a list of the things that are either cursory or compulsory curiosity, instead of thinking, Hmm, I'd like to know something about Marie Curie and going straight to Amazon and buying a book about Marie Curie, which is what I used to do.
I'll put, you know, read about Marie Curie on my Crumb time lists. And then when I've got a few minutes and I can't go to Twitter and I can't go to Instagram and I can't go to tiktok. I go to my Crumb time list and I look up the Wikipedia page on Marie [01:26:00] Curie and I read a few things and I think, oh, okay, now I know something about this person. Do I want to go read a whole book about her right now? Not I'm not at that point. It's possible. Maybe I will arrive at that point, but now I can move it down to the second level list where maybe I want to drill deeper later or something, but I've got that list of things that I have that moment where I'm curious about it. And I would normally just like go all in and then not only, get tired of the subjects, but then also feel like, oh, there's all these other things I'm not getting to, now I actually have a way to manage that. And I do that through curiosity management, my crumb time list, and I make good use of my crumb time. One of the ways I make good use of my Crumb time.
David Elikwu: That's awesome. I find it really interesting, even just thinking about that and thinking that over time, for example, like historically as screen time has gone up, our attention spans have gone down. And if you look at, I think now [01:27:00] people can barely concentrate for more than 15 minutes, but simultaneously we're watching and consuming more than we ever have.
So we're consuming much smaller chunks of lots more stuff. And people just bounce around between different forms of dopamine and different forms of content. And we can never get enough of it, but we never actually stop or have some intention about what we curate and how, and it was funny. I was looking at a study the other day, about the fact that humans, now we can, we can't even sit alone with our thoughts and we can barely have time to ourselves. And I think during this study, basically you give people the option of sit alone with your thoughts or give yourself a mild electric shock. They're going to put the electric shock and they want to get out of that situation because no one want to have to sit there.
Kadavy, David: Well, yeah, and it doesn't really add up to anything. And this is one of the reasons why I like this idea of crumb time is that we think of crumbs is insignificant, but they actually do add up [01:28:00] to something. Bakers, talk about something called a crumb structure, that's the crumb structure of like air and pastry that makes up a cake or in agriculture, there's the crumb structure. A soil has achieved a crumb structure when it beads into kind of crumbs. And that is a good environment for holding the right amount of moisture. The right amount of nutrients is a good a environment for, for the different micro organisms that need to be present in the soil for plants to thrive for roots to grow and to be fed. And I find that you can do that. If you are intentional about how you use your crumb time. I've talked about how I use curiosity management during my crumb time, but I also go use my Zettelkasten during my crumb time. And it's really better than Twitter or Tiktok or Instagram. My favorite crumb time activity for my Zettelkasten is basically I read all my books on Kindle. One of the things that had to happen when I moved to Columbia is I've got [01:29:00] to read electronic books, but turns out to be really great, actually read all my books on Kindle. I use read wise and I export the highlights when I'm done with a book to a markdown. So I just have a text file just of all the highlights.
So I've got a text file of all the most interesting things. Of a book that I've read. And so if I've got a few minutes and I'm like waiting at a restaurant, I could just open up that text file and go through it and read those highlights and then highlight or bold even the most interesting of the most interesting.
And then when I get interrupted, I just marked my place. And I literally, I can, I can do something productive if I have five seconds or five minutes or 15 minutes. And that's what crumb time is sometimes. You don't always know how much time you actually have, which is part of why we surrender it. We give it up to social media companies that we give up all that extra time and [01:30:00] attention and it could build up. And it's something like you literally through reading highlights in that way through maybe, you know, writing a drafts of tweets that you laters schedule. You could literally build into writing an entire book with the same time and energy that people spend playing Wordle everyday.
David Elikwu: Yeah, I love that. I'm actually gonna, I'm definitely gonna steal the idea though because I, so I usually don't highlight, I just write notes. So, I will open up a doc near the beginning of the book. That's how I know it's going to be a good book is where I get that prompt very early on that I need to open up just a notion page on my phone. And so as I'm listening, usually to audio books whilst I'm reading, then I'll just be making notes as I'm going along, but I haven't develop, the main prompt for me to review my notes is writing. And I think that's where the positive aspect comes in for me. Is that okay? Now what I want to write something, I can go and look at these different notes pages and combine them into something that I want to talk about, [01:31:00] but I'm not maybe using my Crumb time in the most effective way.
And part of that is just because I have all of these apps that I probably should also get rid of, but there's the persistent worry that you're going to miss everything and asteroids will fall out of the sky and you're not going to see it because everyone's going to tweet about it and you, and you don't have Twitter.
So there's that part that I need to get out of the way. But I think, yeah, this intentionality of being able to review notes, being able to review highlights or and I think you have also mentioned this is Not consuming things at the time at which you originally want to consume them. And I do that with articles. So I would just like save things and come back and read them later. But I think that's also like a really crucial point of intentionality is that there's going to be stuff you could read all the time. There's going to be things you could consume all the time, but instead of reading them and just mindlessly scrolling, you could say, okay, this is interesting. I'm going save it for later and not read it now. And then later when you have the time [01:32:00] you can make time for it, then you can go back through those things.
Kadavy, David: Yeah. When I find something that I want to read, I just save it. Unfortunately, I'm somebody who I can't stand to say, read on my computer or read things on the web in general. And I don't, I don't use a read later app in part because it just makes it too easy to save things that I want to read. Like that's not the problem, the problem isn't capturing, the things that you want to read. The problem is actually finding the time and mental energy to read the things. So I just use a text file often, like I said, like crumb time list or I just will save things into bookmarks folder and then I'll send them to eat pub press on my Kindle and, you know, get to it eventually, usually, which I, maybe I would miss out on some web stuff in that way.
But I think that you know, it, and like a diet, sometimes you have a cheat day sometime, or you got a cheat block where maybe you give yourself 15 minutes after, after lunch to just browse [01:33:00] Reddit, or you give yourself an entire Friday afternoon to just do whatever the heck you want. But then the rest of the week, you're a lot more deliberate about that. That's why Im with Twitter now. I've got a rule. I won't tweet anything. Everything I tweet has to be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. And I give myself like a couple opportunities to go to Twitter each day. And then on Friday afternoons, I can kind of do whatever I want. So finding ways to be intentional about I've been sort of harnessing your curiosity, like a wild horse in a where taming it like a, like a wild horse. Like it's, it's got all this power to it and it can take you places, but you're not going to get to go into go a particular direction if you don't gain a harmonious relationship with it.
David Elikwu: Yeah, I was going to ask you for like one more tip or hack or idea, but what I'm finding really interesting is there seems like all of your ideas and maybe this is where the mind management [01:34:00] aspect comes in, but they seem to be centered around making things harder rather than easier in that. So, for example, earlier on, you mentioned with the writing, so writing on a typewriter or on a different device and then copying it across later, and then the same with the crumb time. It's your not reading things immediately, but you're going through this whole process of putting them out of whatever device you originally encountered it on to have some intentionality with how you consume it later. And so I'm interested to know, is that part of a wider philosophy or how you think about that.
Kadavy, David: Yeah, I think so. I think it talks about Grippy and Slippy tools in mind management, not time management, this idea that there are, there are tools that are very powerful. A computer is a sleepy tool. You can very quickly do whatever you want. You can be in the middle of writing and suddenly think, ah, oh, I wonder what's going on in the news. And then like with a couple of flicks of your finger, you can be checking that stuff out. Whereas with the typewriter, it's a very grippy tool. I can only write with it. I'm not going to like look up [01:35:00] some stuff. I can't get distracted really by the device itself. I think of it like. You know, if you were Superman or superwoman and so we had x-ray vision.
You would't want x-ray vision all the time. Okay, that would be really distracting. And at times it would be disgusting because you would see everybody naked or maybe you would just see their bones, which would be, probably be gross too. And so why, why does your smartphone need to do everything? Why does your laptop need to do everything? And I've got certain devices, which only do certain things, you know, I've got there's certain activities. I just don't you know, there's no Twitter, it happens on my phone. Yeah, it can do Twitter every once in a while. Like when I need to use the app or something, I'll download it, I'll do the thing and they'll delete it. I'll do that with Instagram, I've got a campaign going on or something like that, but then my phone is not for those things. And yeah, my iPad, I mostly use that for writing, maybe a little bit of web [01:36:00] surfing and then every once in a while, and I use it for some of my Zettelkasten tasks, and then every once in a while I'm on my laptop, but I've gotta be like really intentional about what have I come to this device for? What am I trying to do? And how can I use that power towards doing the thing that I want to do? Because there's, it's way too easy to do something other than the thing that I want to do.
David Elikwu: Ah, that's such a, such a great idea. And I love that we got to that and it's funny what you say as grippy and slippy tools. I mean, well done because I'm now going to have to refer to you a lot for that, because that is super, that is such a simpler way of referring to something that I have been referring to. But as um, complimentary competitive artifacts and competitive artifact. And even just saying that you can tell that is a, it's a mouthful. And I write about lot. So grippy and slippy tools is much better, but genuinely I was thinking [01:37:00] about it earlier today.
The phone is a real competitive cognitive artifacts and almost everything that it does. It makes it easier to do things that you did before. But so the I'm not sure if you've come across the term before, but the idea of cognitive artifacts in general is that there are things that you can use that help your brain in some way, but the differences is that complimentary cognitive artifacts are things that By using them make you better, even when you don't have them. So for example, walking or writing, writing, particularly by hand. So as an example of writing particularly if you're writing in cursive, it helps parts of the brain as you're writing, but then also connects to like spacial parts of the brain, because you're also having to think about how far apart you space, the words and things like that. Walking is another one where you're not just having the respiratory activities, but you're helping increase your awareness as you're looking around and you're building a lot of other things there as well. The Abacus is another [01:38:00] one where you can become so good at the Abacus that it, it helps you to do maths, even when you don't have the Abacus. Like you become so much faster because people that have mastered the Abacus can visualize so they're building this entire area of their brain, which is visually spatial. And so they learn to visualize the Abacus and that helps them do math faster, even when they don't have the tool. So the point is, there's a lot of things that we can use that actually make us better, whether or not we have them, but there's a different set of things. A phone is one of them, a car is one of them where the more you use those things to do the same activities, it's not necessarily the worst you become, but if you don't have that thing, you can't do it anymore
Kadavy, David: That is very interesting. It reminds me of a, I've heard somebody say that the reason that they read paper books is because they can remember what part of the page, a certain piece of information was on.
David Elikwu: So what made me think actually our previous conversation. So we were talking about I think you were talking about listening to [01:39:00] audio books on, on fast speed and how that can be useless. And I think for me, the benefit is when I'm making notes. I was thinking about why that works, right? Because it doesn't work with reading fiction. And the connection that I made is that they're both complimentary cognitive artifacts. So when I'm listening to fiction, I'm walking, it's the act of walking that helps me to remember everything that I've read. And I can think back in my mind right now, and I can tell you exactly where I was, where I read particular books and the moment there something great that was in the book, that the image of where I was, and what I was looking at is ingrained in my mind. So those two things are connected.
Kadavy, David: I think there was a study about that for like, for studying in a certain classroom or, and then taking a test in this classroom or something like that.
David Elikwu: Yeah exactly and then in the same way, on the flip side, by making notes, as I'm reading non-fiction books, I'm also building that connection as well, between the act of writing and the act of putting something down and what I'm listening to. And [01:40:00] so again, I'm making a mental connection there, whereas I think when you're not doing those things, and you're just whether it's like scrolling on your phone or doing something that is, is competitive in some way, then that becomes a hindrance and that reduces your ability to retain and enjoy what you're, reading.
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