Cal Newport: Lifestyle Design, Slow Productivity and Contrarian Writing

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00:00 Intro
02:01 How do you approach the word productivity?
05:24 What does a week in your life look like?
13:43 Creator businesses vs academia
27:17 The social status and complexities of careers
33:43 The creatorpreneur lifestyle
43:05 How to design your lifestyle and career
47:18 Book writing
55:59 Contrarian writing
01:07:27 Do you get criticism about Deep Work?
01:11:59 What’s your take on toxic productivity?
01:17:09 Personal productivity in corporate jobs doesn’t work
01:21:58 What is slow productivity?
01:37:12 What’s your note taking method?

Season 5 Episode 1

If you were to imagine the lifestyle you want and reverse engineer your career from that start point, what would your life look like? How much control do you have over your schedule? What’s your work life balance? What are you known for? This week I sat down for a conversation with one of the most highly requested guests yet, Cal Newport. Cal is a computer science professor at Georgetown University and New York Times bestselling author of seven books including Digital Minimalism and Deep Work where he writes about the intersection of digital technology and culture. In the episode we discuss how to design a career that’s fulfilling to you, the creator business model and how to take control of your productivity in a world where you’re confronted by forces trying to throw you off track. Enjoy!

(00:00) Intro
(02:01) How do you approach the word productivity?
(05:24) What does a week in your life look like?
(13:43) Creator businesses vs academia
(27:17) The social status and complexities of careers
(33:43) The creatorpreneur lifestyle
(43:05) How to design your lifestyle and career
(47:18) Book writing
(55:59) Contrarian writing
(01:07:27) Do you get criticism about Deep Work?
(01:11:59) What’s your take on toxic productivity?
(01:17:09) Personal productivity in corporate jobs doesn’t work
(01:21:58) What is slow productivity?
(01:37:12) What’s your note taking method?


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Ali’s video about So Good They Can’t Ignore You –
Ali’s video about Deep Work –
Deep Work by Cal Newport –
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport –
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport –
Ryan Holiday @RyanHolidayOfficial
The Most Important Piece of Career Advice You Probably Never Heard –


Visit the website for the transcript and highlights from the conversation –


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When I first started writings it was Like a side thing but then I made this Shift after deep work came out and Suddenly it became I'm a technologist What you're about to hear is an Interview between me and Cal Newport who Is a computer science professor and also The author of a bunch of books including Deep work which has become ridiculously Popular in the productivity Niche and Also this fantastic book so good they Can't ignore you which I made a video About recently that's done very well now Cal is one of those interesting people Because he straddles the world of like a Traditional Academia as a computer Science professor at Georgetown University and he also straddles the World of like online creatory type People he's been blogging on the Internet since way before it was cool And so in the conversation we talk about Cal's career and what it's like to Balance these worlds of like the old World Prestige of Academia and the new World Vibes of content creation I think When people ask me what do you do if I Actually answered I'm a writer I think It's actually probably higher prestige In that situation than if I say I'm a Professor like people respect professors But they often change it the teachings Like oh you teach yeah I was thinking About teaching it drives academic

Professors crazy because it's this like Blood sport intellectual competition Petition to publish incredibly hard Stuff and really competitive venues we Talk about how to reverse engineer a Career based on the lifestyle you want And we talk about the concept of slow Productivity a lot of my work become a Computer scientist it's productivity but Productivity seen through the lens of What's happening to our ability to Produce things it's a broad topic and Where I come at it is this technosocial Cultural convergence of trying to figure Out how to take control of what you're Doing in a world in which there's all These other forces that are trying to Prevent you from exactly having that Control At the moment according to the YouTube Analytics 81 of you who are watching This on YouTube have not yet hit the Subscribe button and so if you're for Example in the now 81 of people who are Watching this on YouTube but who are not Subscribed to the channel I would love It if you could do so and would be Awesome to get that number down to 50 And it would be cool to get like 50 50 Sub non-sub ratio just just for fun Right so Cal thank you so much for Coming on the podcast um this feels Particularly surreal for me because I've Been following your stuff for just I

Can't remember I I feel like I was Reading your blog way back in like 2010 Or 2011 when you were uh posting about Um how to figure out what to do with Your career and some of the slow Productivity stuff and stuff around like Treating your studies as if they're a Bit more of an adventure Um and that was when I would have been In high school just before going to University so it had an enormous impact On on my life so firstly thank you so Much for for that Yeah well that and that goes way back There's like three phases of that blog Newsletter the early phase was all Student stuff this was after I first Post my first two books on on student uh Advice and you joined that period 2011-2010 there was this big for me Fraught transition where I said I have To move on from just doing student Advice and career advice was the thing And I did a strict 50 50 alternation for A while and then it evolved from there Into what it is today but that's great So you're an old timer you're an old Timer on my blogging newsletter yeah It's great absolutely yeah and I think Kind of my Online Career had a similar Thing where when I started making YouTube videos in 2017 I was in my sort Of final year of med school and so I Knew that like oh hang on I need to

Break out of this student Market pretty Soon and started airing towards like Tech and then somehow stumbled into the General genre of productivity and now I'm this productivity YouTuber Um which feels like a strange place to Be because it's never where I set out to Be but I guess you're like particularly Famous in the productivity world as well For in particular for deep work Um I wonder like how how do you approach The word productivity these days Yeah well first of all let me say There's there's a interesting congruence Between us right because think about we Both were trained you're a doctor right I mean you were on this very traditional Path that's highly trained and I'm sure You had very similar sideways glances And Whisper conversations I was like What's he doing what's going on on YouTube and you know I'm a professor so A very similar sort of thing being Trained and trained to do something very Specific but also was writing and Thinking about all these other issues That orbited my job and and other types Of issues and so yeah productivity I am Associated with that a lot and and To some extent I think that's true I I Think a lot about producing good work Producing meaningful work but on the Other hand I don't really come at it Exclusively from the angle of just how

Do you maximize what gets done a lot of My work because I'm a computer scientist Is entangled in techno criticism so it's It's productivity but productivity seen Through the lens of what's happening to Our ability to produce things because of Email because of social media because of Smartphones because of Zoom invites that Are flying back and forth faster than we Can handle it so it's it's a broad topic And where I come at it is this Technosocial cultural convergence of Trying to figure out how to Take control of what you're doing in a World in which there's all these other Forces that are trying to prevent you From exactly having that control Yeah yeah no that's that's a that's an Interesting lens lens to approach it With I guess kind of basically all of Deep work was essentially about that and Then obviously a word without email was Specifically and explicitly about that Um I I have to get a bit of a bit of an Understand understanding like what does A what is a normal week in your life Look like these days and the reason I Ask is because often when I think of Like what do I want my life to look like In the future and think about vague Long-term plan stuff I often think of You as being like yeah I think I think I'd quite like to have a career kind of Like Cal Newport does where it's like

You're a professor of computer science You're teaching people it seems but on The side you do you do the blog you do The books you do the podcast recently You go on other people's podcasts you Seem to be straddling the the life of Like a traditional academic along with The sort of being an internet influencer In like a a weird kind of way so I'd Love to know what that looks like for You these days Well it's very seasonal which I think is Actually important because that's a Model I think should be more broadly Adopted but only some professions have It so my typical week right now we're Recording this in the summer as a Professor is going to look a lot Different than let's say next spring When I'm when I'm teaching uh two Classes but I'll just talk about both Like right now it's the summer time I'm on my own dime so so the way Professorships work at research Academies is you you are paid for 10 Months some places it's nine but but at Georgetown University where I almost 10 Months and then you have two months of Summer now what a lot of professors do Is uh in your research grants part of The funding you ask for is summer salary And that's actually where your salary Comes in July and August I don't do that Because I have income as a writer so I

Literally in July and August am not on Georgetown's dime so there's essentially No work happening other than obviously My my doctoral students I'm still talk To work with my students but I I do very Little research and I do nothing on Campus I don't do meetings so a typical Day in the summer like today uh get up Breakfast for the kids I write I go to My study I have a custom built Library Table that I had built from a company in Maine that produces Library tables for Universities that's like a big part of What their work is so it's not a desk It's actually the dimensions of a live Library table which is which is Different and I and I sit there and I Write today I wrote until 11AM so it was Like eight eight thirty a.m to about 11 A.M tonight I came to prepare this Midday I do things like this uh I'm Doing an interview with you I owe some Stuff to uh web designer a little bit of Business some email and then I'll shut That down by four And work is done so my summer schedule Uh is my ideal schedule and the other Layer I put on top of that by the way is I try when possible to have two days a Week usually Mondays and one other days Where I schedule nothing So it's writing in the morning and then Those afternoons is for walking and Thinking so really priming the pump on

The the ideas I'm working out in my Riding the ideas I'm trying to work out In my more academic thinking that summer Schedule I love it uh if we jump forward In the fall I'm on teaching leaves it'll Be somewhere in between sort of like That but more meetings in the afternoons And going to campus once a week go to The spring and then it becomes much more Bifurcated uh I teach two days a week Those days it's like for you would have Been the days you're on call I'm on Campus all day I tend to load meetings With students administrative work Zoom With administrators all into those days And they're just let's just get after it And be exhausted and then let the other Three days be more open like the Schedule so it's very seasonal it really Depends on the seasons you get some Intellectual challenge in the summer but Relaxation for administration and in Other parts of the years maybe it's more Administrative but uh less of the Intellectual challenges so it's a it's a Mix That sounds pretty pretty fun are you do You like this kind of variety that you Have I you know I think it's I think it's Pretty good yeah I mean honestly the Main issue professors have is Administrative work service wound Obligations that go beyond just doing

The academic work so that's the You know it's here's what people who Know me know when I'm in the middle of The busiest parts of the Year from an Academic perspective so for me last Spring I was co-chairing a University-wide three position search Which was a very time consuming Administrative thing I'm walking around man I should just Write full time what am I doing here Like I just just go have a cabin and Write this is crazy what a waste of my Time but you talk to me now in the Summer when I have no responsibilities For the University I'm man I love Academia there's all these cool people I Work with you know all these ideas I'm Constantly being challenged so I I'm a Little bit Jekyll and Hyde in how I feel About that it really depends on my Workload Interesting so um I was working with This um executive coach a couple of Years ago um this was when I just taken A break from medicine and I hadn't Decided am I going to leave completely Or am I going to do it as like a Part-time gig because I kind of liked The idea and again I was thinking of Like what is your what does your life Look like I like the idea of maybe uh Practicing medicine like two days a week Maybe one day a week something like that

And then I could spend the rest of the Time doing the thing that I think I'm Actually passionate about which is Writing and reading and learning and Teaching and making videos on the Internet and stuff Um and I was thinking about the idea of Hey you know it would be cool to be like A teacher at a university maybe I could Teach at a medical school or something Like that and my coach challenged me on That he was like why why do you need to Be affiliated with an academic Institution could you not just do the Teaching if you if you you know you say You enjoy teaching in real life why not Just run your own lectures and just do It without being attached to University And I was like oh that that's a good It's a good suggestion it seems like you Get all the benefits of the contact with Students and teaching and stuff without Any of the nightmare admin associated With being a act actually being involved With the university Um what's your what's your take on that Like why not just go in your cabin in The woods and then run seminars on the Weekend which loads of people would Attend probably because you're famous And good at teaching Um to avoid having all those obligations Well it you know it's a complicated Question I've been surveying a lot of

People I know in various different Relationships to me in various different Professional situations to get their Take on this question and it's it's very Split right so so for example I had a Conversation a couple years back with Jim Collins who wrote good to Great sort Of famous business writer he was a Business professor at Stanford in his Late 30s so kind of around the same age I was quit just to write books full-time And Jim's argument was uh you get just As much credit For having done the thing that you get For still doing a thing in other words He says I get the credit for having been A Stanford Business School Professor Like okay that's the credentialing Whatever that gives you is the same as He was a Stanford Business School Professor Uh and now is no longer because hey it's If if you were if you were an Olympic Athlete we trust you know about Fitness And Nutrition even if you're no longer Uh on on the team other people however When I ask him this exact same question We'll say no no no like the if you're Not a professor it's not it's just if You're not actively a professor it's not The same you don't have the same Authority you'll lose your uh Advantage Within the space who are writing uh so That you know that comes up as well so I

Have both of these things both of these Things going on I had one person tell me And I don't think this is a good cake I Had one person tell me uh no one will Buy your productivity discussions if They don't see that that you have this Really demanding life Uh being a professor doing these other Things and managing the juggle to which I was thinking all of my writing on this For the last multiple years has all have Been about not doing that about Simplifying and slowing down like don't You think it's actually worse uh I'm Writing a book right now called slow Productivity don't you think it's Actually worse if I have more going on In my life in some sense it seems like Uh you're not embracing your own ideas So it I don't I'm curious how you made That final decision like for for you How did you deal with here's one of my Questions so so part of like internet Influence right now but even just book Writing forget internet like like I do It all feels uh a little bit ephemeral Like the technology could change in two Years and it could go away you have two Books that don't hit and the publisher Is not interested like that to me that's This interesting fear the the stability Uh how did you deal with that thinking About I gotta trust that this is a thing

That's also going to be a thing 15 years From now Yeah honestly this is this is the thing That keeps me up at night still to this Day and those sort of three different Perspectives that you shared were Basically spot on exactly the three Perspective I I had in my mind where I Was like you know some people were Saying oh once you've been a doctor the Fact that you now practice clinically One or two days like no one actually Cares beyond that point once you've got The doctor on the title on the other Hand people are saying no the fact that You're doing the thing and you're Actually doing the thing is like a Really really important part of it Um and then other people and I I think This was the story that I was telling Myself a lot was that when I was a Working full-time and making YouTube Videos on the side and running a Business on the side my schedule was Sufficiently demanding to Warrant my Productivity advice and it made my Productivity advice seem more legit Because I was doing the thing but now if I'm becoming a a YouTuber and a writer Writing about productivity but like the Examples I'm using are from my life as a Person who writes about productivity now We're in this weird like circular uh Thing where what's what's going to

Happen there Um I I haven't haven't yet figured this Out um yeah I'd have to get your take on It but the way I'm I'm thinking of it is Kind of like And I don't know if this is legit but I Ask myself you know if I If I had 100 million in the bank how Would I choose to spend my time if like We completely removed money from the Equation how would I choose to spend my Time Um and I think the answer to that is Actually broadly the the routine you've Just described of like hey I'd wanna Have breakfast with the family right in The morning for a few hours until like Midday kind of like the Ryan holiday Lifestyle and then in the afternoon I've Got I can do a podcast I can do video I Can like hang out have lunch with some Friends or just like roam around in Nature And I think Does any of that does my ideal week in This world where I don't care about Money does any of it involve actually Practicing medicine I think well maybe Some of it involves teaching medical Students because that's fun or teaching People but I don't think any of it Involves practicing medicine and then I Was thinking well if if that's the case Then does the fact that I'm entertaining

The decision to continue practicing Clinical medicine is it really only for The credential and only for the fact That I can then Flex it on my YouTube Channel in my books and be like oh this Guy's a doctor Um I felt like that was probably not the Right reason to do it but yeah what's What's well what's your take on this the Interesting thing is when I'm looking at Your case even though it's very similar To mine I can have so much more Confidence because it's not me So I'm like that makes complete I like That that makes complete sense I mean People don't realize I think people Don't realize the the overhead of these Really highly skilled credential uh Positions there's there's a lot of Overhead time overhead emotional Psychological overhead uh there's a lot Of frustrations in it I mean they're They're complicated jobs I'm sure Working for uh National Health Service Has the same weird bureaucratic Complications it's working for for a Large a large University Um so I think that see see for you I Think it makes complete sense because It's not like Your clinical practice is closely Related in any way to what you're doing Otherwise whereas I have this

Complication of I've been shifting my Work more towards basically just an Academic take on similar stuff I work on Working on Tech and culture Techno-social anthropology so there's This argument to be made that there's These great thinkers about the impact of Various things on cultures these great Social critics who were in an in Academia where they were surrounded by And being challenged by all these Complicated theoretical Frameworks so This is what I think your decision is Maybe cleaner is that there is Such a difference between day-to-day Clinical practice and the writing and Videos that you produce whereas there's A play for me where they could be more Integrated so which is just a Complication I think it would almost be Easier if I was a biochemist And you're like look this is I just and By the way this is the way that people And it's a shift that happened and not To get to Insider baseball but but for When I first started writing it was that Strict separation I was a grad student Well I started as an undergrad writing And then as a grad student was writing Student advice books I was studying Computer science it was like a side Thing like oh you write these advice Books it's how I help pay the bills as a You know on a doctoral student stipend

So they really were unrelated but then I Made this shift after deep work came out So deep work came out I'm uh you know Professor I got tenure around that time I'm like well you know that's really a Book about technology it's about how Technology changed the workplace and why We have to be worried about those Changes and then then the next two books I wrote were also about the impacts of Technology on either our personal or Professional lives and suddenly it Became I'm a technologist Who also writes about the impact of Technology on various aspects of our Lives and once and then suddenly there Was a congruence which was very useful I Think once my writing fit into my Academic career it really opened up Let's say the sort of mainstream or Elite press I could get I was sort of Accepted by the the the the New York Times of the world the New Yorkers of The world Um the the finance over on your side the Financial times the times of London uh The guardian these have all been sort of Big supporters of my work so it it they Mesh together and so now I'm a little Bit intertwined uh in a way that I Wasn't before Yeah that's so interesting so like I I feel like hmm

Yeah I appreciate that that's probably Very complicated because from where I'm Sitting it feels like hey once you've Been a professor at Georgetown it's like You've you've been a computer science Professor uh and therefore you all I would I would agree with your friend Who said that oh with Jim Collins that's Surprisingly uh he said that that Credential is Uh the the the currentness of that Credential is not particularly Particularly relevant but I guess this Is the thing that I've often worried About as well it's like now that I've Left medicine will I actually Have any chance at like mainstream Mainstream Elite uh institution like Legitimacy New York Times guardian and Stuff will they actually care about some Kid who used to be a doctor and now is a Sort of self-help book author for a Living or a self-help influencer for a Living compared to if I was still doing The thing it's it's that like credential Credentialism and then part of me is Like why why do I care part of me is Like I know I shouldn't care about Trying to hit the New York Times list I Know I shouldn't care about trying to do This kind of stuff but another part of Me is like yeah but I kind of do and I Guess you're in that position it's like How do you dissociate things that you

Personally care about from the uh uh Accolades and recognition you get from Early institutions well I mean first Your concern is absolutely right like I Have seen this again and again there's There's um the credentialing required to Be covered by the sort of elite Mainstream Publications it's a very real Thing I mean think about we we mentioned Brian earlier right Ryan holiday very Influential author very successful Writer uh can't get the time of day From mainstream Publications the New York Times did a profile of him a few Years ago but it was snarky it was like Yeah look at this guy trying to Repackage uh you know I I was a few Years ago Mark Manson you know Mark Match the subtle art uh was out here Giving a talk near where I live so we Were kind of killing some time here and And he was telling a similar Tale one of The best-selling non-fiction writers of His generation I mean the number of Copies of books that guy sold very few Non-fiction writers have come near that I think it's it's up to 20 million Copies now it's hard to underscore just How successful his books are he can't Get the time of day He can't get covered no no one's writing About these books and and I definitely Noticed when I leaned into My academic credentials when presenting

Myself in the publicity of my book it Made a big difference I mean I'm on into States I do I'm on NPR all the time You know I do a lot of stuff I used to Do a lot of my last for digital Minimalism the book I wrote In The New York Times all the time right so that That is The concern there is true but I think Your follow-up question is also true how Much do you care about that You know because it has very little to Do with with the with Book Sales Especially for you you have a huge Audience that you that that knows you And that you're speaking to and you have Channels for reaching this audience They're gonna be way more effective You're only dependent on being covered In the financial times if you're a CEO Writing a business book that no one will No one can know about it unless they Actually read about it in a paper so That's the question of how much do you How much do you uh how much you care About that and I think that's that's Probably the the critical question you Could make a play you could have made a Play of Leaning into your doctor like uh You know nah NHS Doc is uh you know Rethinking the system of how we how we Manage our time and is like speaking out Against the the the uh the the grind of The sort of knowledge work machinery and

And you could have pulled these things Together and written guardian op-eds and Made yourself into like a fixture like I Am a fixture of sort of like the Standard uh you know be on BBC five all The time Etc but I don't think you'd Have a bigger audience you know it'd be It'd be its own type of thing and it's a Little precarious because then you'd be Thinking what if I have the wrong cake On something you know and because like You're much more susceptible to that Like uh being in favor and not in favor So we're speaking the same language and I think the problem you pointed out is Like a real problem like it does matter Like it is What gets you covered is narrow but I Think that question of do you care That's it that's the whole ball game All right we're just going to take a Quick break from the podcast to Introduce our sponsor which is huel now This is very exciting because I've Actually been a pain customer of huel Since 2017. I started eating Hill in my Fifth year of medical school and I've Been using heal regularly ever since Because you know I like to be productive I you know my calendar is full with a Lot of things and often I don't have the Time or don't make the time to have a Particularly healthy breakfast or a Particularly healthy lunch and heal is

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Um where you know I still have this Conversation with my mum sometimes where You know she's a doctor as well and you Know that generation is very much about Um you know her whole thing was like why Why would you leave medicine it's like Such a prestigious profession and like You respect it in society Um And I I fully appreciate from her Perspective the decision to leave Medicine to become a YouTuber is just Really freaking weird Um and and so there's still this part of Me that's like sort of Wanting to try and hold on to the the Glory badge of honor of having been at Cambridge University student and sort of Like oh but that was like four years ago And I need a new Badge of prestige and The New York Times list seems like one Of those or becoming a Harvard MBA Student seems like one of those and it's Like I I find myself pulled in this in This direction where it's like I could totally make a play for that and I actually started an application to uh Stanford and Harvard Business course Like about a year ago uh until loads of People talked me out of it they were Like look what are you doing like this Really looks like you're chasing a Credential for like literally no reason But I guess it's so hard to get out that

Sort of status seeking mindset Um yeah what does that Vibe with you at All oh it's so hard yeah I mean that is Really hard like the status stuff Yeah it's interesting because people Talk about it not mattering or people Say like ah look like you're Accomplished man your credential status Or have you done this like yo you're Excited for a moment but then you're Just back and frustrated with uh your Toast burning the next morning it Doesn't really matter just what but but What what's true about it is like no There is like a background A background hum of satisfaction or of Like a little bit of a trickle of Pride Like you know I graduate from Cambridge Like I'm and I kind of have that and Kind of feel good or like I'm a you know I'm a doctor like it is a real thing I Mean I think we we try to underplay it But I I think we should face it because I I find it really hard now the Interesting thing is If you can say you're a writer I have The sense that that like in these days Is uh Sort of in a Bohemian way really high Status as well like actually because I've been thinking about this recently Uh I think when people ask me what do You do If I actually answered I'm a writer

I think it's actually probably higher Prestige in that situation than if I say I'm a professor like people respect Professors but they often change it to Teaching like oh you teach yeah I was Thinking about teaching and it drives it Drives you know academic professors Crazy because it's this like blood sport Intellectual competition to publish Incredibly hard stuff and really Competitive venues oh and you do teach Some courses so when people say oh you Teach I was thinking about teaching You're like oh you don't understand like All my time at MIT was figured out how To solve math problems other people Couldn't it but if you say oh I'm a Writer like actually there's some like Interesting prestige in that like well Wait you can do that as you're living Like you must be doing something Interesting you must be artistic you Must be interesting uh and so maybe That's what I think about that's how I've been thinking about it recently is Finding you know hacking that system of My brain so think about these decisions Is there if I change my situation could I have a way of describing it that uh And and so I don't know what it would be I mean you're writing a book I don't Know how's that going by the way I don't Know if you're liking that process or Not yeah yeah so yeah on this on this

Writer Point um this was uh Probably about two years into my YouTube Career when things started going really Well so that was you know I've been Doing been doing a for five years Now so about two years in Um I was still working as a doctor I was Sort of YouTube channel was on like a Quarter of a million subscribers the Revenue was starting to sort of 3x what I was making as a doctor and I was like Oh my God there's really something here But then that thing in my mind was the Question that you that you mentioned Earlier was what does this look like 10 Years from now 15 years from now and my Solution to this was writer because and Again I was thinking of people like you People like Ryan people like Tim Ferriss Even uh who like the it it feels like Being a writer is something you can do When you're like 50 years old uh but I Think of when I'm 50 years old I'm Unlikely to be looking at a camera and Being like what's up guys welcome back To my YouTube channel or whatever that Or whatever that looks like yeah um so I'd kind of had this vague plan of okay I think the evolution of the internet Thought leader is to get the book the Book if it can hit a bestseller list Cool whatevs Um that unlocks speaking opportunities Which unlocks the next book and that

Felt to me like it could be a game that I could play you know the infinite game Um I'd be quite content living that Lifestyle of just like hey I get to Write books every every few years and as Long as the system around it of like Selling stuff or doing a podcast getting Sponsorships or or if I kept my expenses Low enough that would be able to sustain A full-time life style so here's I'm Going to make another suggestion for you Like if I'm thinking about describing You well first of all I would I think to Say YouTuber is super narrow like to me I see uh media entrepreneur Media model like this is what Ryan Holliday is this is what Tim Ferriss is Right this is it's what Bill Simmons did Building out the ringer right so I'm Looking around at people that have let's Say a presence online how many actually Have teams that you meet you know like You do in an office to like go over your Sketch or whatever it's a new media Entrepreneur New Media Mogul media Entrepreneur that what you're really Building is a new type of media company Where there's uh video content there's Audio content there's interactive Digital content books might be a part of That but that's something interesting Your your you you have your finger on The pulse of an emerging new segments of The media Market that I think are going

To be massive you have a head start You're in the top one half of one Percent of people working on this so I'm Wondering if that's the answer to the Question it's like yeah I was a doctor And I left to do a media startup I'm a Media entrepreneur because I think There's all of this disruption happening And you know we have this big audiences And all this Innovation and we're Figuring things out yeah you know I Think that's a good Insight um I've not Quite thought of it in that way Um but one word I have been sort of you Know me and my team have been floating It around is like instead of media Entrepreneur like Creator entrepreneur Or like Creator preneur which is a bit Of a weird Mash of mesh of those things Where I think increasingly the world is Moving more towards uh Individuals well you know the Creator Economy I would say that you're a you Know would be fair to describe you as a Creator as well because books and Podcasts and blogs and articles and and All that kind of stuff and there's this Sort of new wave of Creator Entrepreneurs the sort of creators who Who then build a team around them and Create like either a lifestyle Business Like Mine broadly or a very performance Heavy business like someone like Mr Beast with a team of like 100 people and

This whole like Empire Um that feels like something kind of Interesting but it it feels like we're Sort of at the start of that where the Creator economy has been around for Several years now but there's very few People doing it with this whole like Building a business around around the Thing Yeah well I think a lot of innovation is Happening I mean something I'm thinking About right now or actually I'm doing Right now is sort of spinning off you Know a lot of my writing recently has Been about various aspects of what I Summarized with the phrase the Deep life So my recent books my recent articles The things I'm writing now a lot of it Not all of it but a lot of is really About ways to to take back control of Your life and how you spend your time And work but also in your life outside Of work and and defeating distractions And being more intentional and billions More meaningful interesting whatever Work in professional lives is uh I'm Building a a home for this That is distinct from just me as Cal Newport the writer because I also do Other things I I publish academic papers I write about other topics I do more More hardcore techno criticism and so This is something I'm trying to figure Out right now is that we this portal the is you know a month or two Away but it's going to be the online Home for that movement and it's now Suddenly I can the various stuff content I'm creating around that can have a home But also other people can help provide Content for that and it can be its own Stand-alone entity in some sort and what I'm realizing is none there's no Playbook for any of this You know it's all all this is up in the Air so that's why I keep coming back to You you're running a successful media Business Which which I think is really Interesting Um because obviously something really Interesting is happening now this this When you distribute I've been trying to Work through this theories but when you When you distribute the means of Production for media so now many more People have access to means of Production for a certain type of media It generates a lot of innovation it Happened with text first with the web Now suddenly almost anyone could produce Text it could be universally consumed That happened next for audio because the Tech hurdle there I think was was easier So now we see uh the the business model Around podcasting blowing up because but The combination of iPhones uh wireless Internet plus uh podcast technology like

This is comparable to radio so now Suddenly you could have broad Competition in the radio space and then Now it's happening with with video uh YouTube helped enable that better Cameras better better production and now That's just starting to figure out how To what happens when we distribute the Means of production for uh video media Which is going to be the biggest of all Because that's the in traditional media That's the most successful medium of all Is is Visual and we have no idea where Where that's going to unfold other than There's going to be a lot of innovation The pi of available revenue is going to Grow and be more widely distributed and No one really knows where where that's Going to end up I mean I have to assume The YouTube aesthetic what's emerged Right now is just step one five or ten Years from now I'm not quite sure what This this world of distributed uh videos Can look like but I think it's going to Consolidate in the the sort of these Small to medium-sized firms I think the Sort of 100 million dollars 40 person Creation network is going to be the key Unit of the future of content production This sort of this sort of these these Minor production houses I don't know if That's all gonna be true all I know is There's a lot of churna innovation Happening right now yeah

Yeah no definitely um yeah this is Something I do I do think about a lot um Anytime we're doing kind of quarterly Planning or anything for the business And and for the team people keep on Asking me hey where are we going what's The vision and stuff and I'm like partly I have no idea we're just making it up As we go along but then I do think huh What does what would it look like Um you know a few a few months ago I was Thinking okay we you know we've got a Team of like 20-ish people you'll be Good to get our revenues up to like 10 Million and then expand out into like a Space where we can rent out Studios to Other creators in London and we can form This little London creators Hub and then Maybe we'll go up to 40 people and And then I don't know I found that I mean I I probably did this wrong but I Found my calendar just being Chock-a-block with management related Stuff rather than uh creation and Reading and writing which is the thing That I actually care about Um and then we kind of did a little bit Of downsizing moved to some Freelancers And now when I think of that model of Like a team of 40 people and like a big Company or big-ish company I feel oh That sounds like pretty bad I'd actually Quite like the life where I've just got

Maybe 10 people on the team or like 12 People on the team and we're all remote And I get to travel around the world and Do my writing for four hours a day or Whatever whatever that looks like so I Feel like there's a little bit of this Um this tension between I kind of want to live a sort of Ryan Holiday-esque Lifestyle on a farm versus I know that the world is moving towards Building these media companies and I'm Kind of resisting The Lure of oh just Yeah yeah all right so that's Interesting so here's the other yes Let's put that data point on the other End of the spectrum sure though Ryan's Busier than all of us so we won't let's Not use CMOS he has the farm but he also Has the bookstore in like 90 other Things yeah but I think the right Examples is uh Ferris and Rogan it's Like Ferris and Rogan's model is this One thing I'm doing is very successful Let's do it at a really high level it Generates a lot of money and so let's Just be and build a really interesting Lifestyle about it like think about like Tim has really stop the other types of Things he stopped the book writing you Know I interviewed him about this uh and You can he played the interview that I Did of him on his feet so if you want to Find that you find out his feed not mine And he was really talking about how

Books burnt him out because he was he Was writing door stops he was writing 500 pages so yeah and the podcast and Investing was burning him out he was Doing a lot of Angel Investing uh Siege Fates and he just stopped all of that And said I'm just going to do the Podcast as like an escape because it was Just one thing it was more focused it Was more more immediate Um and then they kill it with it because They get these massive cpms and have a Really big audience and then Rogan I Guess is the classic example of that is He's like this thing is doing well I'm Just going to do this Like I and he's not interested in all The rest of his time is as far as I can Tell just by second hand right it's just Very intentionally allocated to things That are optional optional activities That he enjoys Um that have no so maybe we should put a I like this we're kind of we're working On an ontology here so we have Bill Simmons On one side of this build the ringer Sell it for 200 million dollars like That's where the that's where the Capital is Flowing on the other side you Have Ferris you have Rogan which is uh Figure out the thing you do well uh Taking advantage of new media Opportunities to be able to build an

Empire in a place where you wouldn't Have been able to 15 years ago get it Get it down to a science really enjoy What you're doing have you know do that Really well but also generate copious Autonomy because you know hey you're I Don't know if you're doing 4 million a Year on a podcast And that's the only thing you're doing I Guess there's a there's an affluence Argument here like are you less happy Than Bill Simmons with the his the 70 Million cut he got from the sale of the Ringer but who is now the head of Content At You Know audio content at Spotify and overseen and all these Things and documentaries I think so That's actually like a really fair Question and maybe the answer is it Depends who you are like Bill Simmons is Probably happy doing that but Tim would Be miserable and Simmons would be Miserable if he was Tim so I guess maybe That's the question is where do we fall On that Spectrum no exactly yeah I think Um there's a there's a there's a blog Post you wrote uh I can't remember the Times that one I probably like 2010 or Something and you said something like uh The the advice that you give to students When they're trying to figure out what To do with their careers is to begin With the lifestyle in mind and reverse Engineer the career from that rather

Than hey I did an economics degree Therefore uh private Equity hedge funds Or Investment Banking are my three Options and you end up going down one of These one of these routes Um and that that post really Vibe with Me because I think it helped it made me Think Hmm If I were to begin with a lifestyle in Mind does that in fact actually look Like the big Media Company Um the answer is probably not but then Another part of me was like am I just Feeling Uh Am I just bullshitting myself and just Like setting my ambitions lower because I am afraid of the work that it would Take to build said Media company and try And try and go big and I'm just content To wallow in my own mediocrity of like Oh just write four hours a day and then I'm happy with life I don't need to make That much money and you do you get what I'm getting at yeah I don't think you're Dilute so first of all I love that post So yeah Lifestyle Center Career planning I think is such a critical idea Um especially for young people trying to Figure out in college I wrote that while At a graduation ceremony for my sister So I was thinking about graduate Graduation advice yeah and you and it it Has to be the right answer for how you

Figure out your career which is you get The image of the lifestyle you want at Whatever point you know in the future And you make it super tangible like you Can you can feel it you can smell it you Can see it but not getting specific at All about what your work is like are you In the countryside are you in a city is It you know you you're you're at the Bohemian bar in the in the Lower East Side and and around all these artists Are you in a field and you've been out In the sun and like you know whatever Working on your Trails like what is it Is it very social are you in a small Town are you what are you up in the Mountains like get that really clear and Then say great let me work backwards now To figure out how do I get there with my Work Right and and I think that's such a Critical way of thinking about things Because hey it's not just hey Follow Your Passion or something like this Because the right answer might be I'm Going to go to medical school so that I Can be uh sort of get these Nightingale Shifts where I work uh three times a Week one week out of the month or Something like that or work for three Months and it's and it's the highest Hourly rate I can get and then I can Spend the whole summer in the Canary Islands like it it can lead you to

Really interesting places I think it's The way to do it and the reason why I Think you in particular are not you're Not deluding yourself into you know Avoiding the difficulties of ambition is That A lot of people when they do this Exercise it is 100 clear they want that They really crave that activity and work Right so I think it's a really clear Personality type thing that that if you Are the type of person whose ideal Lifestyle does involve I've got a team I'm making moves it's super really clear If you talk to those people and I have Because you know this is my framework And I run that framework past there's a Lot of people who are like I love the Idea of activity I don't want to be Doing something I want people you know I Want to be at the center of attention I Want people that are on my team I want To be I love that action the sociality The the some people love that so If you don't feel it unambiguous of Course that's what I want to do Then I think that's really meaningful And I'll tell you I think I'm like you Which is why the way I am logistically Handling the business aspect of all this Career is right now I have a half day Rule One half day a week it has to fit in That if it can't if something can't fit

In that then I can't do it and my goal Down the line is make that one day a Week And that's it and and so and that's how I've done my whole with the podcast Everything else it's whatever fits in a Half day a week that I put aside on my Calendar that's what I can do and as I Get good at something we hire people to Do something that frees up more time I Can try to add something else but I'm Constrained by that because I think like You I would have misery I would find misery if every single day It was like rock and rolling let's go This the calendar you mentioned your Calendar chock full of uh I got heart Palpitations I hate that right so for me It's like okay one half day a week all In what can we do with that get better Improve this hire that let's fix this And outside of that I don't want to Think about a thing about the business Because I think I'm with you and that's The compromise I've come up with nice Yeah I've I've landed on uh one day a Week where I just do my YouTube stuff so Every Thursday is YouTube day perfect we Start the Thursday with usually just a Vague notion of uh maybe we'll film Videos ABC in the morning without all Right cool what are the videos are going To be and uh yesterday filmed I think

Three three videos they're like yeah Cool that's content for the next three Weeks sorted Um and that and that feels like a good Place to be because to come back to the Book thing and I'd love to get your Thoughts on this Um that now unlocks basically every Morning for three four hours from nine Till 12 30 nine till one is blocked out Protected book writing time and then Most afternoons are generally free-ish To you know either be in the studio and Chat to the team and brainstorm some Ideas if that's what I feel like doing Or just doing like a whole day on the Book Um and as of this morning I handed in The really crappy first draft to our Editors at penguin and MacMillan and now About my age and I'm just waiting Because but like some of it is like Fleshed out some of it is still notes And bullet points some of it is still Like I was feeling so bad about this but Then my agent replied she was like don't Worry canning in the first draft is Always really really messy it does not Need to look look pretty oh what what's Been your um your experience of the Whole first draft and then and then Beyond Yeah well I just handed in uh a week ago The first 20 000 words of my newest book

So we're in the same place I haven't Heard back yet now look I mean I've been At it for a while because I did my first Uh what's the math on this my first book Deal I signed right after I turned 21. So like I've been I've been through it a Bunch of times and it's so it's less It's it's a little bit less what Uh 40. oh okay now have you been into The toilet 20 years solid 20 years yeah I've been I've been I've been at the Game for yeah for 20 years yeah I wrote My first book my my last year at University and then Um so I've been doing it for yeah I've Been doing for a little while my method Everyone has a different method what I Tend to do is hand in like big chunks Early on so to see because for me it's a Hard I have finding the voice for a book Is usually takes me some time and so I Want to make sure I have it right so Like I handed in 18 000 words last Friday Um a critical part of the book and it's Like I want to stop there and talk to my Editor and then if if if she's on board With with that and once we get that Right then I'm gonna have the confidence To to go and and write the next 60 or or Whatever however many are however many Are going on so so that that's been my Been my process now I'm also right now Writing the the one of the first

Chapters in the book is more idea like And uh I pitched the ideas of New Yorker Article so I'm I'm writing it for the New Yorker now then I can use it for the First draft of the book so that's Another one of my tricks if something Has to be it's subtle and it has to be Really well researched I let the Pressure of the New Yorker like force me To do the work because it's like you got To get it right it's really hard Um so that's like that's where I am now I'm and it's like today this morning Um like finish the last technical piece Of that art it's a big five six thousand Word Beast Um finished the last technical Beast of That this morning and so like by Monday I'll probably probably have that thing Have that thing done but that's what I Do pieces I do it in pieces What is your if you know let's say it's Uh four hours in the morning and you've Got your writing time what is that what Does that look like I guess As specifically as you could possibly be Because I I'm I'm looking for any magic Bullet that will help solve my problems Well okay so I I Spend a lot of time doing richly Detailed annotated outlines Right so like to me that's really Important I gotta get if I'm working on A big section I got to get that feel

Right like this and that and this and These are the examples and that I'll Work on not on foot often I find on Foot's the right way to do that and I'll Spend hours and hours over many days Just coming back to thinking about Structure idea structuring and do this I Did this and that and this all right so Then when I'm writing What I'm doing is implementing that plan So when I'm writing in the morning like This morning if you came into to my Study and like watched me writing it's Uh I use scrivener yep so I have you Know uh dozens of notes where I've Copied in notes or this or that on one Pane and and the uh and the the main Draft in the other and then I'll have a Stack of books that whatever books I'm Polling from for that for that Particular piece and then it's just I'm Climbed one sentence at a time You know like that that look this up and I'm all about pacing this has been my Big thing recently uh in the last few Years I'm trying to up my writing Qualities it's a lot of pacing it's like Take your time get it right you know Slow and steady definitely like a slow And steady wins the race type of type of Vibe get it right get because I think That density comes through it comes Through in the writing if it was A lot was trying to get done here in two

Hours and it shows in the writing you Know you're kind of you're you're Working your way around the tricky Points and I try to and a lot of this Came to me writing for the New Yorker Helped on this is you got to have Consistent density like you know what You're saying everything is based on It's been thought through you're citing The right things it's you're taking your Time Um and so it's just polling sentence by Sentence let's go let's go I do I do it All on this you know small MacBook which Is this one is you know two years old But there's no you can't see any of the Letters uh most alerts on the keyboard Have been rubbed off from just writing You know like just just rock and rolling Like all the notes you take all the Writing all the editing Um and then the other thing I'll say About my process is uh It's all gut for me so I I will often Finish something and just and my gut Says it's not singing and I will go back And do Drastic surgery I do this all the time I I really trust my gut where I'm like I I It's it's uh I physically feel Uncomfortable And and about a draft And to me that it's the structure There's nothing to do with the craft of

The sentences the structure of the ideas Is not right Um and that makes me physically Uncomfortable and then I will I will go Back and do drastic surgery on things You know and and just to give you like An example of this a couple weeks ago I Published a New Yorker piece on Tick Tock and Facebook and what Tick Tock Means about social media After that article had been sent to copy Editing I was feeling so physically Uncomfortable and I was on vacation at The time I was like this is just not Right and I I just told my wife and kids Like pretend I'm not here and just put My head down and essentially like Completely rework the whole thing And and and and then suddenly it felt Right and that's like very common for me I'm like this isn't right uh and then What it is it feels it nice yeah that That very much Vibes with my experience Um in that So I've been working on mine for about 18 months now and we're now at the point Where you know I had it in the first Draft but a lot of it there was a lot of Outlining initially and then a lot of Like just sort of uh trying to get vomit Any kind of words out onto the page and In the process of vomiting words out Onto the page I feel like my ideas got Refined to the point where now when I

When I went back to it to just do the First round of editing before handing it Into the editor officially I found it Really helpful to actually Zoom back out Um I went on a mirror white interactive Whiteboard thing and just put loads of Post-it notes on there and basically Drafted out the outline again And thinking okay that leads to that Leads to that oh hang on there's a bit Of a hole in the logic over there okay Let's figure out how we're going to Flash that and bit and sort of moving Sort of Post-it notes around this Interactive whiteboard thing was just so Helpful Um and then I just translated once I was Happy with the argument I just Translated each one into a little thing On scrivener and after that right cool Back back And I felt like okay cool and at least The argument makes sense the point a Leads to B leaves to series to D and There's no random leaps of logic where I Can get away with it in a YouTube video Where no one's going to think about it But like in in writing it's like oh I Feel like the argument needs to be a bit More refined for it to feel legit well And I think people and I think people uh They don't realize the importance of That especially in idea writing like how Much of idea writing is that

Subconscious feel the reader has of as Their mind is piecing together what you Say if it all fits regardless of whether They think it's interesting regardless Whether they agree if it all fits their Mind is going to give them a different Reaction than if it doesn't quite fit And if it doesn't quite fit It feels weird to people and they can't Even really put their finger on it They're like I just don't like this it's Why by the way you know probably from Your your medical training which there's A lot of precision to that is probably Helping you hear a lot because you think This this has to fit this has to put Together my training as a mathematician Helps me a lot in idea writing because I Do proofs uh for a living as an academic Work everything has to fit like Literally so I construct my my arguments Like a proof like if this doesn't fit From this and if you didn't mention this Here and there uh no QED yep it makes a Big difference even if the reader Doesn't put their finger on it directly This is why some stuff if you read like Online feels amateurish and some stuff Feels really compelling is the the Amateur stuff is people are putting down Here's a bunch of points I thought of That I think are interesting but they Don't click all together in some sort of Cohesive way and it just reads very

Different How do you think about this uh where We're going deep into sort of Self-indulgent territory here on on my Pod but that's fine how do you think About the balance of Let me say the things that are Sufficiently counter-intuitive and novel To get a dopamine hit from the audience Versus let me say the things I need to Say in order for my argument to make Sense do those things ever Clash in your Mind I mean yeah because we we both are in This space we're we're you know I'm Definitely known for contrarianism I Mean I would say for me What I'm always looking for is an Understanding of something in the world That makes sense to me explains things That otherwise didn't make sense before And is generative so I can then use this To like make decisions going forward or Understand new things that arrive in the World and there's like a real great Feeling when you get there now there's Often a Contrarianism to it because look I grew Up immersed of the the sort of the great Idea writers of the of the 90s and 2000s I was you know immersed in Gladwell and Uh Johnson and I really like some of the Stuff Clive Thompson was doing back then Um but the really great idea writers and

Gladwell was a master of this it was It wasn't contrarianism in the sense of You thought this but it's the opposite Instead it's you don't know anything About this but once you do all of that Makes sense in a new light Like that's what that's what I love so If I can convince myself like okay I I Have a a working model of that explains Whatever that explains the Dynamics in The social media space and and why What's going on with Tick Tock or this Or that or I've Dynamic understanding Career satisfaction or or what's going On in the workplace and why we're so Distracted why would that persist why Would we persist with something that was Was so low low productivity when I get a Model that works and the pieces click Together that's what I love and then It's like it's contrarianism but it's Not it's different than I think takism Which you get a lot online especially in Click culture which is look at look at My take you know I've got my hot take Where all you're trying to do is have a Headline that grabs people's attention And you're trying to make your hot take That to me is a lot less interesting Um I mean a lot of the hot take writing Online right now that's trying to Attract uh clicks especially more like The news and commentary space often it's Usually it's not even contrarian anymore

It's more just like We all belong to the same tribe let me Take my turn dunking on the on the enemy And then everyone kind of applaud like Oh that was a that was a good like you Got a good punch in there that was Really kind of smart and snarky and then Someone else steps up it's like well Look at my take you know yeah so and so Is the worst since you know whatever ah So not interesting all right so so Anyways that's how that's how I come at It and I mean I don't know a lot of the Details of your book but it sounds like It's kind of in the same Pace you have Your Your ideas you're explaining various Things I mean obviously I think your Thoughts on on productivity have a lot Of this too it's like here's my model You know this is the way I think about Things uh and I think that's really Fulfilling yeah no it's really fun like I get a I get a big kick out of like yes The framework makes sense it's like Coming coming up with like how do I make The framework in three parts because two Is not that satisfying like three oh yes It works and it explains all these Different things and when I teach my YouTuber Academy and teach people how to Do content and stuff I try my best to Essentially framework if I like I would When back when I went back when I was

Teaching medical students around like Hey really there's only three different Types of hemolytic malignancies that you Uh that you need to know about one two And three and now we can break those Into three more and if there's something Satisfying about connecting ideas or Simplifying ideas like that in a way That is generative as you said like Helps you actually make decisions moving Forward Yeah and and just to throw out one other Thing that like non-non-professional Idea writers also get wrong as well is You as the writer don't have to handle All the caveats so it's like another Issue you have like if if it's a common Misconception people have where they'll Be like well but you didn't mention this And what about people who are in this Situation and the reason is if you're in Interpersonal conversation with another Human Your course are going to caveat whatever Advice you're giving to kind of match That person right like if you're if You're a runner and giving running Advice and someone has like a knee brace Song is that a knee injury you're going To sort of caveat it well you know like You're not gonna I'm not going to tell You like go run six miles a day or Whatever but in in Broad audience idea Writing you don't do that like you have

A framework that's interesting it's Compelling it's going to open up a lot Of thinking help people understand new Things they're going to take that and Integrate it into their own experience And they're gonna have to caveat and Modify it and like of course the running Advice isn't supposed to apply to the Person who's in the knee brace like they They'll figure that all out but it's Like a a a cohesive coherent Intellectual schema that they can Integrate into their life and that's Exciting and they build from it and Integrate it to other things they know So it's like in professional idea Writing you take your swing and you make It as exciting as possible and good and Interesting and coherent and you don't Bother explaining but here's 10 here's 10 cases where you know it might not be This and these people might not be able To use them don't worry about that and So I think idea writers get this Critique from individuals a lot well you Didn't talk about this situation because Again I think that's the Gap when you're Dealing one-on-one with people of course You're going to caveat whatever you're Saying to their situation when you're Writing one to a million it makes the Writing bogged down and boring and weird And uh self-protective and and muggy you Know it's not good right yeah you know

Take the swing throw the take the big Swing you can other people will other People can modify it a little bit that's Another thing it takes some getting used To is you have to it's like you're Simplifying yeah a little bit that's a Really good tip this is something I'm Definitely struggling with right now and I think Um sort of the the YouTube videos that I Put out so you know the other day put Out something around um Oh I was I was I was a it was it was a Collaboration with a friend of mine who Was thinking of quitting their job and I Was like okay cool you know let's figure Out let's try and riff and come up with A framework for how to decide when to Quit your job in terms of like how much Income you have coming in expenses side Hustle income or blur all this Opportunity cost expected value all of The things and the video did really well People really liked it and there was one Comment saying this video was extremely Ableist as a disabled person who Struggles to focus I couldn't possibly Do any of this stuff And part of me was like yeah you're kind Of right like I mean but also part of it Was like um you know maybe I should have Caveat a bit like hey this relies on you Actually having the time and the energy To do but then the whole video becomes a

Series of caveats and I think I'm Struggling with that in the book as well To think oh but I I can think of like Eight different objections to this idea Here uh and I don't want to have space To write a contra to all eight of them So yeah yeah and I mean I I I I I I I Call this like the the the blind caveat Rule or something like this it's like if If you're if you're writing a book about A painter or something like that and Like well this is Cezanne was really Working with color and doing this and That you don't have to bother adding the Caveat of course if you're blind Uh there's like information about what These paintings look like is not going To be as useful because people already Know that like they'll add that they'll Add that copy I know it's the broken leg The broken leg principle right like if You're writing a book about running Training you don't have to caveat it you Know if you're if you have a broken leg Uh you're not gonna be able to do this Training the people with the broken legs Know they're not gonna be able to do This train but again I think what comes Back to here is it's actually well Intentioned I mean some of this stuff is Cynical it's you know I whatever like We're in a world of there's a whole There's a whole thing to talk about About how the various critical theories

In Academia have pervaded culture so There's a there's a tone of critique in Those theories that have now filtered Into culture so there's a lot of now Social standing from critique blah blah Blah there's a whole Self-indulgent uh rant academic rant to Give about that but actually like a lot Of that type of critique is well Intentioned like what you're talking About there because again if I'm not a Writer or someone who does YouTube Videos for hundreds of thousands of People or millions of people my Framework reference is talking to Someone and if I was talking to someone Whose life was really not and they're Having a lot of difficulties and they Their life wasn't in order and I was Giving them advice about like yeah then You gotta like Look at the expected value and do this And that it would be weird and insulting And kind of mean you know like this is Not someone who's who's they're in a Situation where they can't take this Advice why would you possibly be talking About this stuff when someone's not in a Situation to take it and so that's our Frame I think our frame as humans is one On one and it's very different than one To a million and so yeah I think the the It it when you shift to the broadcast Frame it's like yeah obviously a lot of

People this is not for but but there's a Lot of people who can take this and and Work with it and so like let's let's put That put that out there but I get the Same thing all the time um how can I do Deep work if dot dot dot and there's a Lot of things you can put on the other Side of that dot dot dot and and you Know I get that all day long and it's Like it's true but it would be the first 50 pages of my book if I had to go Through it you know and it would be such Boring weird Self-indulgent writing if it's like let Me let me talk about it's like obviously You know how can I do deep work if I'm a Telegraph operator and my job is to at Western Union to to take papers and do Telegraph I can't do deep work there It's like yeah okay you got me I mean This is the theory is not valid like I Don't know what you want me to say but Anyways I feel you feel your pain This episode is very kindly brought to You by wework now this is particularly Exciting for me because I have been a Full paying customer of wework for the Last two years now I discovered it During you know when the pandemic was in On the verge of being lifted and I spent Like the whole year just sort of sitting In my room making YouTube videos but Then I discovered wework and I was a Member me and Angus my team members we

Were members of the wework in Cambridge And they have like hundreds of other Locations worldwide as well and it was Incredible because we had this fantastic Beautifully designed office space to go To to work and we found ourselves like Every day just at nine o'clock in the Morning just going to wework because it Was a way nicer experience working from The co-working space than it was just Sitting at home working these days what Me and everyone in my team has is the All access pass which means you're not Tied to a specific wework location but It means you can use any of their Several hundred co-working spaces around London around the UK and also around the World and one of the things I really Love about the co-working setup is that It's fantastic as a bit of a change of Scenery so these days I work from home I've got the studio at home but if I Need to get some focused writing work Done and I've been I'm feeling a bit Drained just sitting at my desk all day I'll just pop over to the local wework Which is about a 10 minute walk from Where I am I'll take my laptop up with Me I've got some free coffee from there I'll get a few snacks and it's just such A great Vibe and you get to meet cool People I made a few friends through Meeting them at wework and it's just Really nice being an environment almost

Like a library but kind of nicer because There's like a little bit of soft music In the background and there's other kind Of startup Bros and creators and stuff In in there as well and it's just my Absolute favorite co-working space of All time it's super easy to book a desk Or book a conference room using the app And it's a great place to meet up with Team members if you're going to Collaborate and you'll live in different Places they've got unlimited tea and Coffee and herbal teas and drinks on tap And they've also got various kind of After work events that happen like happy Hours and yoga and a few other exercise Type things and you can also take in Guests so often when guests will come Over to visit I'll say hey let's pop Into wework and we'll just work from There for the whole day and then we'll Go out for dinner sometime in the Evening anyway if you're looking for a Co-working space for you or your team Then I'd 100 recommend wework like I Said I've been a pain customer for Theirs for the last two years which is Why it's particularly exciting that They're now sponsoring this episode and If you want to get 50 off your first Booking then do head over to Forward slash Ali and you can use the Coupon code Ali at checkout Ali to get 50 of your first booking so thank you so

Much wework for sponsoring this episode I'm just curious what sort of Criticism do you get and how do you how Do you deal with it like I I've Heard Lots of criticisms of Malcolm Gladwell Of like oh but he's cherry picking Whatever story to suit his ends and then When he wrote talking to talking to Strangers and had a whole thing about Sexual assault in there I was like oh Hello that's going to get a lot of Criticism from people who are like oh Jerry the cherry picking of data cherry Picking stories that's not how it Actually happened he's only saying that Because it's interesting Um what sort of stuff do you get and I'm I'm just I'm just very curious because I'm trying to sort of preempt to what Sort of criticism I'm gonna get and I Feel like my stuff is going to be more In line with yours than in line with With gladwells I mean it it depends on The on the content area because because I I write in a bunch of content areas But okay so here's a few Classics and Some of these have changed Um it's like you know obviously in my Techno criticism I did a lot of thinking And writing about social media and as Impact on on human flourishing was what Sort of a an early critic of social Media the only person My Generation not To have a social media account uh I I

Used to get before disliking social Media became mainstream I used to get a Lot of like how can you possibly write About something that you don't heavily Use so that was a big one Which I thought was weird right because A lot of great journalists for example Covered the various drug epidemics in The U.S without having to go heavily use All those drugs to write about it I mean Did people have written books about Serial killing without having to Actually go serial kills yeah so I used To get that but I don't get I don't get That as uh I don't get that as much with Deep work one I get a lot now And it's taking me a while to try to Um Untangle as I used to I I get a lot like But how can I do deep work if Um like I have kids Or child care or deep work is great if You have someone at home to take care of Other things That's a very common one and for a while It it confused me because I was like Well wait a second this framework was About You know you're at the office for eight Hours a day During that time that you're there uh You should spend more of those hours In undistracted work versus more Distracted work so it was about like the

Ratio of what you spent your time on Like during the day when you're at work I was like it's not and and so I used to Be confused I was like well what does This have to do I'm not asking people to Work more I'm not asking like I'm trying To understand what's going on here and I Think what's happening with that Critique is there is Um a leap and I think this is telling And and Earnest so it's not like I'm This is critical I think there's a leap From Deep work uh deep work Can produce like more impressive Accomplishments that gets associated With ambition and that gets associated With the sort of all in ambitious like I'm working all day trying to crush it You know Changing the world so there's this weird I think Elite people are making in their Minds between what I thought was a Pretty dry argument which is like when You're at your office instead of like Going back and forth your inbox all day You know like do that first and then do This for a long time and then go back to Your inbox instead of interspersing like It's a very dry technical argument about How you spend the time you're already Spending working right Um and it became and and I think it Became wrapped up in people's minds

About a life of ambition and going after Really cool things and a frustration of Like not everyone is has the like the Flexibility or autonomy or or just Energy left to do that and so that's That's an interesting critique right and I'm still trying to pull that pull that One apart yeah deep work to people I Think means Like excessive ambitious self-oriented Elon Musk changed the world type work Yeah so I think yeah that's a common one That's out there too I think I I get That a lot and then the third one I get Which is just accurate is you're a dude And especially like you don't really Fully understand not being a dude And I'm like fair enough that's fair Enough right like I mean just the way Like guys very you know stereotypically Speaking process a lot of things think About a lot of things the things they That they're concerned with is specific And I think it comes through and and I Have a lot of women in my audience but They also are like you talk about this a Little differently than we do and to Which I tip my cap I'm like that's true Yeah definitely I guess um this your Your second uh criticism this sort of Deep work becomes associated with Ambition hustle and and stuff Um how broadly what's your uh what's Your hot take on uh on the phrase toxic

Productivity these days Yeah well I mean this is in my work on Slow productivity comes out of this Um the some degree Uh yeah so there's a there's a real anti Productivity movement going on right now But it's it's a little bit confusing I've wrote about I wrote several Articles about this for the New Yorker Trying to Figure out what's going on Like with with the anti-productivity Movement Um and I think there's a couple Different things in there like one There's this there's a straw I think What now has become a straw man this Like hustle culture and maybe it's not a Straw man because I'm not on social Media so maybe this still exists you Would know better Um but I think it's become a straw man This idea of everyone is saying work Harder do more things and I'm the Bold Social critic who says you know maybe Not whereas I actually see the opposite Everyone is saying like we're too Overloaded like we should do less stuff Like me time find yourself like I don't Know where maybe it's just Gary Vaynerchuk's like the last person left I Don't know where this is but there's This notion of like there's this big Culture that's pushing

Um even outside of professional sphere This like Instagram hustle culture of Like you gotta but and that might exist Again I don't use social media so maybe There's a lot of that going on still of Of you know Jocko I'm up at 4am and you Got to uh you have to as well though Even Jocko says like I'm weird I I have Low sleep demands and I don't recommend This for other people Um so there's that and then I think There's another thing going on which to Me is more interesting Which is I think knowledge work in General is pretty broken I think the way We run offices is very haphazard and Unintentional and it's it's Unnecessarily exhausting I think we're Terrible at organizing groups of people Using their brains to add value to Information and people are exhausted Because we run offices dumbly and the Pandemic made it much worse so there's a Few things that happened with the Pandemic that made the systemic issues We already had which were productivity Issues like the way we assign organize And keep track of work is just Bonkers And office work it's just rock and roll And email and slack I don't know here's A media invite let's just hope it works Out and the pandemic made it work Because it generated a bunch of new work And reduced the effectiveness of

Collaboration because it was all video We couldn't grab people in the hallways And kind of push things over the edge so I think the other half of and this is Probably the core engine of Anti-productivity culture is People in office jobs are exhausted by How stupidly we run offices and so they Kind of vaguely just like uh Productivity like stop asking me to do More work like my work's exhausting me And then there's a small sliver there's My cynical thing there's a small sliver Of like very online people for which the Productivity movement is like their Online well-educated professional Writers with sub Stacks who um who used To you know quite left of center and Want to they love the idea of like Being part of a labor movement Themselves they sort of look look with Some Envy at the big sort of industrial Labor movements the union movements These big successful uh movements from The left they get have workers against The capitalist overlords I think there's Some sense of like oh I want that too so We kind of invent this notion of this Mustache twirling uh managers are like Trying to force us to do too much work And we're fighting back and we're Norma Ray and so there's a little bit of that Going on too so I think all three of Those things are going the sort of the

The straw man culture of like I want to Fight against the straw man the fact at Work we don't know what productivity Means in the office our definition is Stupid I think people get that and that Just gets simplified as enough of this Productivity stuff and then you have the Sort of sub stackers that are just you Know want to be uh Cesar Chavez and and And are trying to conflate and they're Trying to you can tell this type because They make a living writing but when They're talking about their issues and Their exhaustion we'll try to work in The Amazon labor union Uh debates into their like try to mix Those two together like yeah me and the Amazon workers in the warehouse like We're all kind of fighting management And so there's some of that type going On we have to like pull all those Threads apart to really understand What's going on yeah I definitely agree With you on the the whole Stromaanization of the hustle hustle Culture thing even Gary vaynerchuk's has Stopped peddling that narrative many Years ago uh but it's still he's been Become painted with that brush and now It's sort of lab bastard it's like oh But like garyvee says you should work All the time Curry B is like his whole Thing is like hey look man you know just Do whatever makes you happy

Um uh I think that that was that was a Super interesting that was a random Instagram reel that a friend of mine Actually posted where the caption which I just sort of chuckled at where the Caption was hey it's Friday so I'm gonna Close my laptop at four rather than five Just uh because my corporate Overlord Does not own my time And like it was like okay cool fair Enough Um but then part of me was just like a Bit confused by that because It's like This person is choosing to work well has Has chosen to work in a job which is Famously demanding I.E one of the Management consulting firms And it's like saying that yeah it's an Act of self-care to stick it to my Corporate Overlord and quit working an Hour early yeah and I was I was just Like what's what's going on there but Because I I I guess for me in this Position of privilege is like my my work Is done with my life and I genuinely Enjoy it and it's like would I want to Leave leave work early on a Friday Probably not because it's actually kind Of fun and I But but that post got loads of likes and It's as I I I've been trying to figure Out like what is the culture going on There where

It's like almost almost us against them Almost a sense of like I am you know I'm A poor employee and my manager is the One who's forcing me to work really hard And therefore I'm gonna I'm gonna carve Out this like self-care time for myself By closing my laptop an hour early any Right any idea on there yeah well so Here's my one Theory but we'll see if This one sticks I wrote about this one Last fall Um I was like okay here's one thing that Might be going on with with this Particular type of backlash which is in Most if you look in most economic Sectors uh a lot of thought goes into How the work is actually organized and Assigned and so productivity is Typically a systems issue how do we run This Factory in a productive way if if You're on the Ford assembly line it's Not just like you know hey Um do what you can to get these cars out Of here fast like it's a systems issue Right that you think through with Knowledge work unique among all major Economic sectors before that the the Task of productivity was put onto the Individuals made personal it was like Okay it's up to you to figure out how to Organize stuff and get things done so Like I don't know like you should watch You should read getting things done or Whatever like that's kind of up to you

It's none of our business and there's a Whole reason why that was that has to do With Peter Drucker and the autonomy Culture surrounding knowledge work There's various reasons but that's the Case The issue is when productivity and here I mean like how you actually like Organize and schedule and execute and Assign tasks is left to the individuals Just to kind of figure out that builds Resentments that's where you get this Interesting resentment because now you As the individual are are you have to Start making these choices between I Could work more hours tonight Um but now like my personal life is Affecting and now my personal life is Pitted against my professional life and That's really different than when Productivity is systemic so when the System so here's how our company assigns Work and how much work we think you Should have in your plate and and you Know how we collaborate or whatever now You have a clear thing that you can if It's demanding too much you can push Back against it you can say here's our System and we think it should be two Projects at a time not three we think it Shouldn't be like you you have a thing That you can argue about and debate and Have a saying it's such an interesting Trick and this wasn't done on purpose I

Think this was accidental but it's such An interesting devious trick though and That becomes completely personal now you Have to to wage the battle against Yourself well maybe I could work Saturday maybe I could work a little bit More because like I I need to get these Things done and so I think the the Inefficiency and the the personal Internal battles created by in a Corporate setting or organizational Setting just letting everyone figure out Their own personal productivity it just Doesn't work and it's making people Resentful and this is why like a lot of My Solutions are if you work for a team Or if there's an organization or a Company you can't just say it's none of Our business how you organize your task You got to be like no no how do we Figure out like where work comes from Where are all the projects we're waiting On how many are you working on right now That looks like a full plate like you Shouldn't have to pull on more when do We talk do we just send emails all day Or do we have uh do we do DACA clearing Meetings and office hours and like just All of this we need when productivity is A thing that the system supports you can See and debate and modify and improve And have you know it's much better and When you put it on the people's plates It's we can't handle it well and we have

To and so I kind of get why people are Getting resentful I also get I agree With you too that it it also doesn't Seem to make sense from The Outsider Sounds like I'm closing my laptop at Four you're like well I thought the Agreement was you're gonna work you know Eight hours a day or something or I this Happened a lot with the remote work Things I think remote work by the way These fights about remote work Remote work has just become a proxy for These frustrations with how knowledge Work comes out so like all of this Frustration and anger and issues of like Its emails all day long and I have way Too much work on my plate and it's all Up to me to figure it out and I'm kind Of tired of this it's all getting Channeled now into like I should be able To work from home because it's like the Only thing people know to spec it's like A specific tangible thing you can you Can fight for it's like spoiler alert I Mean you remember 2020 and early 2021 You're still not going to like your work Even if you're at home and your kids are Running around you know it's like not That much better but this is one of my Working theories is making productivity Personal we take it for granted but it's A really weird step we took when the Knowledge sector emerged it's kind of a Weird way of doing it hmm nice I look

Forward to reading more about this um What is slow productivity Probably so yeah so if we don't have Here's the issue with knowledge work in General The issue we've been grappling with in The last 20 minutes like what does Productivity even mean right and and so Then it just becomes this weird Catch-all or Boogeyman so I have this Thought of like why don't we actually Positively come out and come up with a Definition that we'd like a definition That's human a definition that that Melds well with our human instincts and The way our brain is actually wired That's centered around producing Meaningful and valuable things but in a Way that's very sustainable in a way That's very satisfying so so instead of Just pushing Back Against The Boogeyman Productivity like let's put in place an Alternative and the alternative I've Been working on is called slow Productivity and like the slow food Movement or these other movements I've I've gone back and pulled from these Sort of existing cultures of knowledge Workers that have been around for Centuries in some cases Millennia that Had the privilege and space to kind of Figure out what's the best way to work With your mind you know what works what Doesn't and figuring out can we have a

Widely applicable definition of Productivity that comes out of it and so Slow productivity has three principles To it do fewer things Working at a natural pace obsessing over Quality Those three things approaching knowledge Work with those three principles Realigns the efforts with uh our Humanity the way we're wired I can give You a neuroscience argument for it I can Give you a psychological argument for it I can give you a philosophical argument For those three things all on all three Of those levels Orienting knowledge work around that is Meaningful satisfying you can produce Things a great value it can be very Productive for companies that can be Very satisfying for individuals so I'm Sorry putting together my pitch of what What Target a productivity should people Who make a living using their brains What it what should they be going for Beyond just you know Get after it have your to-do's organized I don't know what's what's the Philosophical argument Well there's uh like we go back to Aristotle if we need to right there's This the what what is the the teleology Of of human existence well what's the One thing we have that other creature Stone is we have these brains that can

Sit and think and create things Um and there's there's a there's a There's an argument towards the the the Production of things of value and Meaning and sort of giving things the Time they require craftsmanship that There's there's a real philosophical Foundation to the human value that's Extracted from actually like doing Things of of value of impact with your Mind and a lot of that gets sapped away When you're just answering emails all Day uh or just hustling to get after it You could go all the way back to neuro I Mean this is the the thing I'm working On now is I I've gone back heavily to do A deep into the mainly social Anthropological research to do a deep History of work For 300 000 years what was work for Humans because that's a long enough time Span that our brain Evolved right the the match this Definition of work and you know surprise Surprise when you go back and look Through this deep literature you see Not doing too many things sees a Variation in Pace and intensity a lot of Your time being the application of hard One skills like that's exactly what Comes up that's what we did for 300 000 Years so there's also this almost like Psychology anthropological even Neuroscientific argument for not being

Overloaded varying your intensity in Various ways and spending more of your Time like applying hard-won skills like What we expect work to be Do you have you stumbled across any kind Of Um Dunbar number for number of active Projects that one should have at a given Time like when you say fewer things I Mean how few are we talking Well yeah I mean I so there's two Different time scales I mean at the Scale of like what you're working on Right now it's one right so like in the What what we cannot do what our brain Cannot do is concurrently during like The afternoon go back and forth between Three different things It just the way our planning motivation Loop works like we have one thing in our Working memory we build this internal Model that pulls episodic memories out Of the hippocampus we use that to try to Predict what we should do next that System cannot handle more than one thing So we cannot be thinking about making Decisions on or making progress on more Than one thing at a time and I don't Mean like literally at the time like Over a couple hours even like work on One thing till you're done move on to The other thing our brain cannot go back And forth It's why email like going back And forth between your email just

Crushes us psychologically uh you know a Recent podcast episode I talked about Task freeze where you see like 15 things You need to do and you just stop it's Because you literally the planning Motivational Center of your brain can't Make plans for 15 things at the same Time it neurologically can't do that so Your motivation system just freezes up Right so at a time one thing in terms of Like ongoing projects I'm a big believer In like pull-based methodology or There's like two or three things your Two or three things you're working on When something finishes you can pull Something else in You know and I actually think this is How companies should organize work Software developers already do this but I think we should do this more broadly In knowledge work where yeah there's a Lot of work the company needs to do Don't just distribute that to everyone's Plate and everyone has 20 things that They have to kind of figure out what to Do with they should just be working on a Couple things and they can pull in new Things once they're once it's ready and The problem why you need well I think This is important and why I think it's Killer to have a lot of things on your Plate even if you're not working on them At the exact same time is that there's Something called an overhead tax that

Every project that you have committed to Generates it's a overhead of Administrative work that you have to do Even if you're not actively working on The project it's emails you have to send Meetings planning meetings standing Meetings you have to have and just Cognitive load of knowing it's there so That builds up so if you have 15 Projects on your plate you're paying Overhead tax on 15 projects and that tax Takes up your time and before you know It most of your time mental energy is Going to the maintenance of the ongoing Project and almost nothing gets done and Then you fall farther behind and then The the more projects build up and the Tax gets worse I call it the overhead Spiral it's a terrible state to be in so There's a real cost to having too many Things on your plate even if you're very Careful about this morning I'm just Working on this and then in the Afternoon I'm just working on that and On Tuesdays I work on this once you get Past a certain level it's a problem and I think again it's something companies Get wrong they just say let's distribute The task informally to everyone we'll Have everything live on people's Individual plates and they can just Figure out what to work on and whatnot And the overhead text kills them like a Much better system is this all sits in a

Holding tank And when I'm ready for the next thing I Pull it in but until it leaves that Holding tank I'm paying no overhead tax On it it's not actually it's not Actually my view so I honestly think Like three active projects at a time is Best and obviously when you're working On something you're only working on that One thing Yeah this is actually something like as Of last week we have now started doing In our in our team and it's I'm so Surprised it's taken so long to get to This because we were in that model of oh There's all these things we could do Let's just like distribute them but now We're like oh actually let's do the Thing that software people do and Actually make a I mean we have like a Bucket list of we would love to to have Have my website contain book summaries Of every book I've ever read we'd love To make think about it patreon we'd love To think about making our own keyboard We'd love to think about making our own Bad we'd love to think about this Enormous list of things but not right Now like for the next six weeks we're Just focusing on these things good and Then six weeks later we can reassess the Bucket list and see okay whether we Actually want to put things onto it and That model has uh basically is like

Within half an hour freed up a lot of Cognitive overload from people being Like Oh actually this is not a priority Right now so therefore I'm not going to Think about it until our next six week Sprint planning or whatever that looks Like yep yep that's 100 right by the way That's what everyone should be doing I I Have a chapter about this in the new Book I I wrote a couple weeks ago Everyone should be doing that but mainly Only software people do and it's such a Such a it's such a Such an unnecessary unforced source of Stress and overhead I mean just like This is what I think happened by the way With the zoom apocalypse so I don't know If you heard this from your listeners I Definitely was getting this feedback That during 2021 when everyone we were Everyone's remote knowledge workers were Remote people got to these sort of Absurd states where like all they were Doing was Zoom eight hours a day they're Like wait there's no work left like it Became absurd it was like a Kafka play Or something like this like some sort of Like meta commentary on on the absurdity Of of work and bureaucracy or something Like that but what this was I think was Like a really clear example of the Overhead tax Inspiring out of control because when People went remote it increased the

Amount of task on their plate by like 20 All of a sudden because you had to Figure out how to run whatever you do Remote so it generated new work right to Figure out how do we make the transition And switching over to uh video Is there's efficiencies that that's lost So there's a lot of efficiencies in Person where where I can grab you at the End of a meeting be like wait hold on Like what are we doing about this client Coming tomorrow we go back and forth for Three minutes and figure it out when I Can't do that anymore we're left saying Like we should have a zoom meeting yeah To talk about the client but what's the Smallest interval on your calendar 30 Minutes and so now five minutes becomes 30 minutes so I think the the zoom Apocalypse that happened in like the Summer of 2020 was making the phenomenon Of overhead tax unavoidably visible like It's like look we we up these things by About 20 and soon all time went away for Working all time went away for working And it showed how how perilous like how How much we we push that tax up almost To the Limit like before the pandemic we Must have already been spending so much Of our time just talking about work Because when it got 20 worse we couldn't Ignore it anymore because people were Writing me and saying I don't know when To go to the bathroom because it's back

To back to back to back to back for Seven hours of you know it got so absurd That people were like okay obviously This this can't be right but we were Like right below that for years and Years so I think it's a huge phenomenon And we really should spend more time Thinking about it yeah yeah this is Something that we're trying to figure Out right now in terms of Um you know we're moving into this new Like sort of office type thing and I'm Trying to figure out what's a good Balance between oh having on Team B Somewhat remote and also somewhat in Person where in person Just those conversations happen the Three minute conversation that I just Had about pricing for one of our courses Which would have happened maybe never or In like a sort of one hour long course Debrief and stuff and actually just it Just took a few like bouncing a couple Of ideas as I was refilling my water Bottle Um to actually come up with a pretty Solid idea and we just don't get that in Zoom meetings because like who's gonna Bother arranging Zoom meeting and then When some people are remote and some People are not it's like you're having a Conversation about a thing but then it's Just like a lot of effort to update the Person who is also involved in that

Project because you you're never going To be like hey let's hop on a zoom Meeting just so I can update you about This 30 second conversation I had but Then that person is out of the loop and It just ends up creating this this mess Um have you in your thinking about this Figured out a magic solution or is it Still a like uh We've gotta kind of work Through this and figure it out Well like my take on remotes I did a Bunch of pieces on this too like this Was like a big issue especially during The pandemic is You have to for remote to succeed it has To be accompanied by really rethinking And getting much more smart and Structured about how just work happens In your organization in general right so Like think about for example what Economic sector in knowledge work Already had successful widespread remote Work before the pandemic hit it was Software There's lots of software development Firms that are remote Um how are they able to pull it off well Think as we've just been talking about Software development is highly Structured like we we have we're using An agile methodology we have this pull Methodology with these with these highly Structured collaborative status meetings We know the point of the status meetings

We then do the Sprints everything was Already really well structured so we They understood okay if we're going to Move you out of this location we know Exactly how to integrate you into the Workflow when you don't have that so Most offices just run off what I call The hyperactive hive mind like we just Rock and roll back and forth grab people Messages email slack uh when you go Remote it just amplifies the issues Which is why I keep saying like that the Making the debate that's happening now Just about can I be remote or not like Do you have to be in the office or not It's missing like you have to actually Structure your work and then if you Understand exactly how things are Assigned when things are discussed then It's much easier to figure out who can Be remote and who can't and and so I Mean I see a future in which Hybrid work is going to succeed when Things are much more clear and segmented Like you're not here But because of that we don't think of You as the same that we think of the Like this core planning team that is Here like probably what you're working On for us is it's much more clarifying Yeah it's much more like you're taking This uh you're working on it and you're Coming back and producing giving us what You've produced it's it's uh you know

It's it's much more segmented in that Way but then this other type of group we Have here we're all here we're all in London because there's like a lot of Planning and decisions that have to Happen and there's huge efficiencies uh In the in-person interaction right There's all these efficiencies in it you Know I wrote this thing once about Um World War II talk about remote work There's a reason why if you go back and Look in World War II Churchill and Roosevelt would go through literal risk To life and limb to travel and meet each Other Uh they had telegraphs they had Telephones but there's just there's Something in the in-person interaction That was that was so important that you Know they would actually uh take ships And fly from Greenland or whatever like Do really dangerous things right to do This and George Marshall our chief of Staff would go over to Europe and you Know whatever right so there's something To it so I think we're going to see much More segmented clearly defined roles More clearly to find systems for how Work is assigned and executed and Reported back once you have that then You can figure out How does this work and so it might be Some people are in person some people Are remote it might be I wrote about

This this uh a particular proposal That's out there Chris heard the Entrepreneur Chris heard had this Proposal where it's everyone's remote But then gathers on these sort of Semi-regular basis not at a set office It could be all the way all around the Country you gather every month or two And it's like a hyper in-person session Where like all these decisions are made And figured out and when you get all Those advantages of being in person and Team building and then everyone Disperses and executes and comes back so I think there's a lot of options but the Option it doesn't work is we were kind Of doing this and now we're still doing This but like if you want to be on Zoom You can it does not when you just Informally insert some remoteness into Your work that's not the right way to do That which is why I think most companies Are going to be coming back to in person Before we see further Innovation most Companies in the pandemic just said like Look we got to go remote because of like Virus stuff and made no other Substantive changes to how work executes And so the friction of that inefficiency I think is collapsing most companies Back to in person They're going to have to then re-go back Out into Innovative forms but only once They actually rethink like how work

Actually happens yeah no this is all the Stuff that we're in the process of Attempting to figure out having doubled With various degrees of remote and Hybrid and in person as I'm sure is Everyone who's listening to this and who Has a job Um final thing I'd like to I'd love to Talk to you about and um it would be it Would be great to do a part two of this If you're ever in London in the near Future Um that would be sick to meet up in Person but I guess one of the things I Love about your work is that you pull in From all sorts of different sources Um and like even in this conversation You know talking about like Aristotle or Talking about World War II and Churchill And martial it's not like what does your Reading process look like are you kind Of Ryan holiday with a little note cards Like what's your what's your method for I guess ingesting information from stuff And then doing stuff with said Information Well so so yeah I do uh I call the Corner marking method so it's much lower Friction than Ryan's more zettel cast in Style like capturing ideas on cards that You then uh that you then file Um so what I do is if I'm reading a Non-fiction source that I think I will Need for a book or article if there's

Something on a page that seems relevant You put a line across the corner At the upper so you can find that real Quickly see there's like a little hash Mark up in the corner and then I'll uh Bracket out the relevant sentences and That's it right so Mark the corner Bracket out the things you think are Relevant what I found is that maybe you Lose a little bit information but I you Can go back and take a book and I was Just doing this today 500 page book and In four minutes just flip through and Find every page that is corner marked Read those bracketed uh sentences and in About five minutes you can basically Load back up like oh yeah I remember What was interesting in this book I Remember what this book was about I did That the other day for a book I read Probably in 2009 A present shark by by Douglas ruskoff There's something I wanted from it and I Went through and went through my Markings five minutes That whole book is swapped back in like The stuff that the stuff that really Matters so I love that method because It's incredibly low friction it barely Slows down your writing and there's Almost I mean you're reading there's no Overhead like you don't have to go and Then like laboriously uh like I think The subtle cast and folks will spend a

Lot of time Processing their thoughts from the books Afterwards but I go through a lot of Books and and I just I'm not going to do That and I don't want that overhead to Stop me from actually reading so that's Why it's a pencil uh That's it can I play Um Cal thank you so much this has been Wonderful um any final parting bits of Advice uh having like so so you know What stage of the process I'm at just Somewhat handed in the first draft but Now we're in for probably six months Worth of or maybe more of just this Editing back and forth to try and make This absolute third of 80 000 words that I currently have into something of Vaguely presentable any any tips from a Season Pro Well I mean first I'll say editing is Always more fun than writing for the First time so that's good news because You have the foundation you're moving Things around you're cutting things down And also it just the stuff you come away With from the sessions is better because You're like hey made this thing better Um cutting is usually the right answer That's like the other when I'm when I'm Like wrangling with something I'm I'm I cut and then I feel better like oh It's it's a it's simpler like let's get Rid of that story you know kill kill

Your your anecdotal babies like let's Just cut that one of that one and just Like form it around this one get right To the point you know hit it hit it and Get out so you know editing is funner Than writing so that's good and two Simplifying is always the right move at Least in my case the as I simplify it Things get tighter yeah I get happy with The writing So that's pretty excited you're at 80 000 words what's your target you think You're gonna do it's like 675 ish I I Feel like shorter is probably better Um but at the same time I still have This like oh but what if there's not Enough material will people feel Shortchanged if the book's not big Enough then I think no obviously not People prefer a shorter book anyway so Why don't I just like Cut out the fluff and yeah How how long was digital minimalism Because that was quite small in Paperback oh minimalism it was probably Here I have it here somewhere it's 780 70 or 80. wow okay what about deep work Because that was pretty big but I I Guess I'm just sort of thinking in terms Of how thick the paperbacks are Yeah so you're in UK I think yeah so It's complicated because well It's Tricky because I think the the trim size For digital mineralism in the UK was

Bigger so the pages are bigger right and Deep work has a smaller trim size yeah There's a lot I don't know it I I always Misdudge that but if I'm usually like 70 To 90 000 words right yeah it's working For like my final thing I'll say by About about uh book writing is um I always think about the book I'm when I'm trying to finish up I'm like well my Goal here is just to make this Reasonable the next one will be great And then like so in other words like and Then that that helps me not get too Worried about like is this right are People going to like it and then as soon As I finish a book I'll start thinking About the next one you know once it's Out of your hands you know you move on To the next things incredible well thank You so much this has been wonderful uh When can people learn more about you if They want to uh check out more of your Stuff Uh so I have a podcast deep questions Which you can you can listen to or Watch The episodes on YouTube and then my Newsletter every week I write an essay On the stuff you can sign up at ready Cal thank you so Much for taking the time thanks for Having me all right so that's it for This week's episode of Deep dive thank You so much for watching or listening All the links and resources that we

Mentioned in the podcast are going to be Linked down in the video description or In the show notes depending on where You're watching or listening to this if You're listening to this on a podcast Platform then do please leave us a Review on the iTunes Store it really Helps other people discover the podcast Or if you're watching this in full HD or 4k on YouTube then you can leave a Comment down below and ask any questions Or any insights or any thoughts about The episode that would be awesome and if You enjoyed this episode you might like To check out this episode here as well Which links in with some of the stuff That we talked about in the episode so Thanks for watching uh do hit the Subscribe button if you aren't already And I'll see you next time bye

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