Welcome to the tenth issue of The Curious Letter – an occasional collection of fascinating things worth your time – books, podcasts, articles, videos, and more.
If you missed the previous issue, you can find it here.
Today I have for you a book that will help you see the world in a new light, a new season of one of my favorite podcasts, an article on how to make a living with only 100 fans, a video with top 10 marketing tips for 2020, and a few curious links.
? Book I’m reading
Rationality: From AI to Zombies (View on Amazon)
This is a collection of essays by Eliezer Yudkowsky that were originally published on Less Wrong and Overcoming Bias, which have since given birth to an incredible community of rationalists. Even though you can find them all here, get for free or by donation to his non-profit here, I also recommend buying an audio version to accompany your reading.
In Eliezer’s own words, “These essays are fumbling attempts to put into words lessons better taught by experience. But at least there’s underlying math, plus experimental evidence from cognitive psychology on how humans actually think. Maybe that will be enough to cross the stratospherically high threshold required for a discipline that lets you actually get it right, instead of just constraining you into interesting new mistakes.”
What does it actually mean to be rational? Why is that a good idea to act rationally? What prevents us from making optimal decisions? How can we fix ourselves? Do we even need fixing if we feel happy? These are just some of the questions that are being explored in the book.
It will help you understand a broad set of principles, including evolution, foundations of science, the human brain, quantum mechanics, BayesCraft, clear thinking, probability theory, and much much more.
I should mention that the Kindle version is 2393 pages long, and the audio version is 49 hours 40 minutes long, but please don’t let the length of the book scare you. It’s highly entertaining, witty, and illuminating, and since it’s a collection of blog posts, you can skip some of them and only read the ones that interest you the most (although, this is one of those rare books that I do recommend to read in its entirety.)
This is a must-read for those who want to be able to see and understand this world a bit more accurately and learn a set of tools to see everything around them in a new light.
? A Podcast Episode Worth Listening
Naval – Season 2 (Apple Podcasts, Overcast)
Naval Ravikant is back with season two of his podcast. In season one, he explored the question “How to get rich without getting lucky,” and in season two, he’s focusing on the practical philosophy of health, wealth, and happiness.
So far, there are only four short episodes:
- Live Long Enough, and You’ll Become a Philosopher.
“If you live long enough, you will become a philosopher yourself. You’ll have spent a lifetime solving the big problems in your life. The big problems are the old ones, the ones we’ve been trying to solve since the beginning: How do I stay happy? How do I become healthy? How do I become wealthy? How do I raise the family I want?”
- Happiness Without Material Comfort Is Playing on Hard Mode
“You’re no going to buy your way to happiness, but you can buy your way out of common causes of unhappiness.”
- Happiness Is Not Science or Math
“Happiness is more like poetry than algorithms.”
- Happiness Is a Skill You Can Develop
“The first step to increasing your level of happiness is realizing you can. This is where a lot of people get tripped up. For the vast majority of people, some of their happiness – probably a lot more than they think – is in their control.”
? An Article Worth Reading
1,000 True Fans? Try 100 by Li Jin
This article was making rounds on Twitter last week.
You’ve likely heard of Kevin Kelly’s now-legendary 1,000 True Fans theory that argues that a creator can have a thriving career if they can attract 1,000 fans.
Li Jin expands on that concept and explains how to succeed with just 100 true fans by shifting how you monetize your audience and what type of content you create.
She breaks down how to segment your audience into tiers, including a high-value tier that generates higher revenue in exchange for higher-value offers.
“People are willing to pay more for exclusive, ROI-positive services that are constructive in their lives, whether it’s related to health, finances, education, or work.”
? Video worth watching
Top 10 Marketing Tips for 2020 by Noah Kagan
In this video, Noah (founder of Sumo Group) goes through his top marketing strategies for 2020:
- Facebook Groups
- Weekly Email Newsletter
- LinkedIn Newsletter
- Active Audience count
- Free tools
- Calculators and generators
- Offline events
- Facebook marketplace.
And not surprisingly, I’m bullish on pretty much every single one of them as well.
✨ Random Curious Stuff
- Twitter – a great thread where people list 3 things that they believe strongly in their 40’s that they didn’t quite understand in their 30’s;
- China is almost as wide as the continental US (and spans 5 geographical time zones), but the entire country is officially under just 1 time zone: Beijing time – NYTimes;
- It turns out the Oatly oat milk is actually pretty bad for you;
- Europe vs. the United States – Sunshine duration in hours per year:
As always, feel free to reply with your questions and feedback, and if you liked this issue, please share “The Curious Letter” with a friend or two.
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