Marcus’ Interesting Things #4

Beginning of quarantine edition!
So after less than a week of quarantine in my apartment with my family, we decided pretty quick that it made sense to go from our home in Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast where my parents live, so that they can help out with childcare while my wife and I still have to work from home.  So we need to first quarantine by getting out of the city before moving in with my parents (my dad is 70), so we ended up getting an amazing AirBnB on the beach front.  Definitely been enjoying it.

So asides from scrolling twitter all day and overwhelming myself with anxiety with COVID-19 articles …

  1. Marc Maron: End Times Fun – This is my first time really getting into Marc Maron, and I’m an instant convert.  Great comedy for any millennial or older, to relate to some of his jokes (for instance, cassette tape jokes).  I’ve been having to distract myself and decompress at the end of the day with stand-up comedy, and I loved this one.
  2. Where I Am – Doug Boneparth writes an honest blog after the 1st week or so of COVID-19 being a serious issue in North America.  It really resonates with me all the feelings that I feel as far as trying to be a father, trying to protect, feeling scared and anxious, and all the emotions being felt right now. 
  3. My First Million – with Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat.  Gosh I wish they had like 20 of these for NBA players for me to binge.  Tyler goes through the 1st million dollars he spent after getting into the NBA. Went down a rabbit hole of watching his high school highlights too.
  4. Just a super sobering thought … think about your favourite restaurants in your own city … now consider that you may have already eaten there for the last time ever, as COVID-19 is decimating independent restaurants :'(.
  5. The Freakishly Strong Base by Morgan Housel, is a short essay on how a strong base and the power of compounding leads to unthinkable growth as you give it time.  
  6. Money is the Megaphone of Identity – If you follow along, you know I read and refer to a lot of personal finance content.  On one hand, I do have a natural bend towards it, on the other hand it’s cause I get high anxiety about money.  It’s some deep rooted emotions that I have, and this article helped me sort out what money means to me and what part of my identity it affects.  I imagine this would be reflective for anyone.
  7. Learn Python 3 The Hard Way — Part of the reason that I didn’t post a newsletter for awhile, is because I spent all my extra time for about a month learning Python.  It halted pretty hard once COVID-19 started though.  However I can’t recommend this book/course enough.  The way that he teaches is right up my alley, and cuts through a lot of BS.  He starts by saying that it’s important to do the hard work, write things down, google things yourself, and basically says if you don’t get it, to keep going at it until you get it.  That is part of writing code, getting frustrated and having to debug it yourself.  I look forward to continuing to learn, as unfortunately it’s been several weeks and I’ve probably forgotten some of it. 
  8. Bill Simmons has been posting some old school basketball games available on YouTube that are iconic games.  I started watching the ’97 Bulls vs Bullets game, and it’s amazing watching Strickland attack MJ so hard, it’s super impressive.  Also check out a dominant young Webber. 
  9. Zoom Happy Hours — Once we started working from home, I barely interact with some of my colleagues that I sat next to everyday.  We started a happy hour every Friday where we get together and drink at the end of the work week.  It’s been seriously nice to catch up, and I realize how much I miss office life.  If you haven’t already, get a group together on a Google Hangouts or Zoom or whatever, have some drinks, snacks or what not, and continue staying in contact with your circles. 

Marcus’ Interesting Things #3

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last. I had a business trip visiting customers in Chicago and Jacksonville, FL, that kept me busy from morning till night and I didn’t consume much interesting content other than some airplane movies.

Source

Thoughts on Chicago
This was my 4th or 5th time in Chicago, but my first time having a friend who’s a local share more about the city. I met several people this trip that just absolutely swear by the city and love it, which really opened my mind to the possibility that it’s a great city. Some things that make it great …
Great restaurants – I didn’t realize how few good restaurants Vancouver had, until I compared how many good restaurants that Chicago had.
Good burgers – similar to above, but the number of good burgers that can be found in Chicago is just insane. My friend told me that he can think of 20 places that have seriously good burgers. In Vancouver, I can think of Pourhouse, and Uli’s in White Rock. That’s probably it.
Summer – I’m told the summer is just amazing in Chicago. I’ve been there a couple of times during the summer but didn’t notice so much.
Big city, without the cost – It’s one of America’s major metropolitans, but it is still affordable, with great wages, and didn’t seem like people were killing themselves working. Seems like quite a decent place to settle down if you were young, where there is lots of opportunities.

So with that preamble … let me share some interesting things …

  1. The most important truth about hard work, and also reading, that you can find by Tyler Cowen. Which is really just a long quote. But I feel like it is one of the most important lessons in life, which is using compound interest. Compound interest is insanely powerful not only in finances, but lends itself to knowledge, friendships and relationships, career, skill building, it’s a model that can be applied in many aspects of life.
  2. Stop Doing Low-Value Work — a quick reminder, that doing high value work is not only more rewarding, but is necessary for career growth and future career stability and opportunities. Always focus on doing the hard things, and learning new skills, that have high leverage and give you high accountability.
  3. Finding Time to Invest in Yourself — pairs well with the above article. If you’ve never heard of Naval Ravikant, he has some awesome ideas, and some of the best podcast episodes out there. I loved his Tim Ferriss one, while others like the ones he’s on with Joe Rogen, or The Knowledge Project. He also has a super popular podcast series that’s all compiled here on How To Get Rich. For a quicker read, his most popular tweet storm on How to Get Rich.
  4. An Elite Athlete’s Real Life Training Plan — The contents of this article are not what you would expect from the title. Learn how on mother of two daughters, husband, and an author fit’s training for an ultramarathon.
  5. Table Stakes — by adventur.es, which is a cool fund ran by Brent Beshore, that from what I can tell is trying to be the next Warren Buffett. The fund exists to invest in private businesses, for the long term, where the businesses require an influx of capital, are stable businesses that they understand. The article describes how to unlock growth in a business, in the order of 5 buckets.
  6. Love what you do in front of your kids — If you haven’t noticed, Austin Kleon is one of my favorite inspirations. Being passionate in life, is one of my top, most important “parenting rules”. I think setting an example of a passionate life, that’s worth living, and making that your children’s “normal” is one of the best gift’s you can pass to your children. And you’re making your own life better and more worth living at the same time.
  7. “Here’s the point that I tried to convey to my students: As wealth grows, diversification—and rebalancing—are critical. Don’t get caught up in the herd mentality and invest in what’s being talked about, such as Japanese stocks in the late 1980s or gold in the current century’s first decade. Instead, draw up your own investment policy statement and have a plan to build wealth over time, while still being flexible to whatever life throws at you.” — Mike Zaccardi via If Only. This is a really timely and important quote for me, as I’m figuring out what is my long term investment strategy. I’ll share what my investment system looks like sometime in the future.
  8. How Will You Measure Your Life — this week, a notable business scholar passed, Clay Christiansen. Though I’ve never studied any of his work, this one has always been on my list and it certainly was well worth the short read. I’ll certainly keep it as one of the most important essays to read, and re-read during my life.
  9. Study links 1 type of extreme exercise to reverse aging in the heart — I’m not gonna lie, this article is making me re-think running as a sport, which I’m heavily considering picking up.
  10. Booksmart — Hilarious, great acting, soundtrack was poppin’, and actually really well filmed. Certain sequences were shot really well, my favorite was probably the underwater pool scene. Also, a directional debut by Olivia Wilde. I give it a really solid A-.

Marcus’ Interesting Things #2 – Parents Corner

I’ve read plenty about parenting that has been inspiring my own practices lately. To be more specific though, it’s more about not parenting while parenting … let kids be, make sure their basics are well covered, healthy food, good sleep, plenty of exercise and stimulation, interesting activities, and then generally allowing them to do anything unless it jeopardizes their safety/livelihood.

Letting our daughter jump over these cracks from a height was terrifying as a parent, but she was having the time of her life.
  1. Austin Kleon shares a nice little morsel:

Most parents conceive of themselves as teachers when they would be much better off thinking of themselves as librarians who provide their children with the time, space, materials, and resources to grow into whatever they want to become.

2. Abandon Parenting, and Just Be a Parent
Authors argue to just allow children to explore the world through play and observation. There’s no need for us adults to impose our notions of the world that are largely built on experiences of failure, poor parenting, heart break, hurts, etc. We bring all sorts of baggage from falling, getting hurt, fear of being judged, insecurities about our children’s wellbeing and safety, that we can over-parent or hover over our children, when what really helps them thrive is figuring things out on their own.

3. Kids who engage in the arts feel better about themselves
In The Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life” in 2019, one of the points is about how kids have more self confidence when they engage regularly in art. Both drawing/painting, but also from reading. This article, in combination of Austin Kleon’s time, space, materials post, has inspired me over the past month to invest way more into all sorts of materials for my daughter to play with. From new blocks, new duplo, paints, markers, the amount of materials and mediums for kids to engage in are endless, and have great benefits for their development.

4. Purchase I’m happy about
Check out Duplo blocks on Ebay if you are a parent looking for a set of blocks. I found all the sets on Amazon are pre-made structures and things, rather than just the generic set of blocks that allow kids to imagine and build whatever they want without instructions. I got 100 blocks for $40 shipped, which is probably double the amount of blocks for the same price as I would get from an Amazon set.

5. New site to order toys from
Aliexpress.com …. has some really awesome toys. I’ve ordered this awesome marble run duplo set (not genuine duplo of course, but great reviews), to add to our duplo collection.

6. This picture from Austin Kleon again, really sums up parenting really well. Yelling, bossing around, and lecturing are not effective ways to speak to your child (Joanna Faber’s book is excellent for alternative methods of communicating). Giving kids choices is a great way to help them develop their own decision making skills, and experience the negative emotions with choosing poorly.

7. Children need to play outside
If you read parenting articles, you will have read tons about how europeans and nordics parent their children (seeing as they are amongst the happiest, and academically strongest in the world). Finland has a different view of what kids should be doing in school, and that includes plenty of outdoor play, even if it’s cold outside. I remember as a child, playing outside, jumping on rocks or ledges, climbing trees, rolling in grass, all of this is physical learning and motor development that also helps how you see the world. I do my best to model and practice going outside with our daughter, often.

8. When is it too cold for toddlers to play outside?
Pairs well with the wall street journal article above.

9. Not limiting screen time for children
First off, to get out of the way, there is no scientific studies that show that there is some sort of optimum screen time. Obviously there are always going to be better ways of spending time, such as playing, or being creative, I think that as parents, we would do a lot better monitoring our own screen time and being a good model of healthy screen use while also being happy and productive without it.

Marcus’ Interesting Things #1

Woop! Thanks for checking out my first newsletter. Since I haven’t been writing, the least I could do is share some cool stuff that have been inspiring me, impacting me, or entertaining me lately.

Music I’ve been grooving to

I randomly stumbled on Cory Wong on Facebook, and have been enthralled ever since. The musicians and music heads will definitely appreciate his tunes. The musicianship is insane. Check out this concert he did. Also, he’s hilarious.

Movies I’ve really appreciated the last couple months

Marriage Story on Netflix, was an incredibly well done film. Great acting, great writing, very touching.

Long Shot was one of the more rare rom-com’s that actually keep you laughing from beginning to end. Which Seth Rogen is particularly good at (Bad Neighbors was similar for me). One of my favorite comedies as of late.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is super emotional, very inspiring, a great story, and based on a true story. A story about a village in Africa that is experiencing a long draught, and what one young, smart boy did, in order to turn it around.

Dazed and Confused has aged shockingly well. I guess if you were born between roughly 1980 – 1990, this should feel both nostalgic and funny.

Rounders is one of my all time favorites, and I gave it a re-watch. If you haven’t watched it, it’s Matt Damon and Ed Norton. Matt Damon also discusses some of the back story, and his readiness for a sequel, in his interview with Bill Simmons.

Favorite Purchase

If you’re a parent, and you think Duplo is expensive … check out ebay. For $40 I was able to get 100 pieces of various shapes. Also, aliexpress has what appears to be some quality sets that fit Duplo perfectly. I’m super pumped about this set that I’ve ordered (unfortunately takes aliexpress forever to ship). .

Business Idea that Really Attracts Me

On one hand, I’ve always been really drawn to owning my own business. I’ve read countlessly on entrepreneurship and business, even since university. However no matter how much I’ve ever wanted to start, or initially got started, I’ve never been able to get going.

However the idea of being an “acquisition entrepreneur” seems like it might fit my skillset. I’m perfectly OK with seemingly boring businesses that produce a good quality product or service.

A “data” related joke that I got a kick out of

Your Primal Brain is Scaring the Shit Out of You

We are unable to rely on ourselves. Or to be more precise,

We don’t believe we can rely on ourselves.

It’s all based on the narrative that our brain has concocted for us. Lucky for us, narratives we tell ourselves can change

In fact, it’s easy to rely on ourselves. That you can do that thing that you’ve always wanted to do.

That you can start that business venture.
That you can start a portfolio of the work you’ve been working on in your 5–9.
That you can start a blog.
That you can go back to school.
That you can volunteer to do a project at work to boost sales.
That you can change careers.

What is holding us back is fear. The primal part of our brain doesn’t like pain, it likes survival. That part of the brain doesn’t care about anything else.

 The primal brain’s mission is to make you survive. In other words, to not fail. The primal brain sees two options.

  1. You can’t fail.
  2. You can fail.

But those options are actually these ones:

  1. You don’t try, and you don’t fail.
  2. You try. And you learn something. Or you succeed.

Nurse Bryan’s Rule for Leadership

Isn’t it easy to believe that leadership looks like some variation of Major Payne?  Muscling your way by simply telling others what to do.  Ordering others around, acting like you know what’s best.  Focusing on activities and outcomes.

Leadership is about having followers.  Having followers doesn’t require a position or a title.  Leaders are the ones who are brave enough to step up, and lead with energy, enthusiasm, and living out core values that inspire others to bring the best out of themselves.

“A new hospital administrator, holding his first staff meeting, thought that a rather difficult matter had been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, when one of the participants suddenly asked: ‘Would this have satisfied Nurse Bryan?’  At once the argument started all over and did not subside until a new and much more ambitious solution to the problem had been hammered out.

Nurse Bryan, the Administrator learned, had been a long serving nurse at the hospital.  She was not particularly distinguished, had not, in fact, ever been a supervisor.  But whenever a decision on patient care came up on her flood, Nurse Bryan would ask, ‘are we doing the best we cand o to help this patient?’  Gradually over the years, the whole hospital had learned to adopt what came to be known as “Nurse Bryan’s rule’, had learned in other words, to ask: ‘Are we really making the best contribution to the purpose of this hospital?'”

Step up and do what others aren’t willing to do.  Step up and do what makes everyone else uncomfortable. Stick up for what is right.  Challenge yourself and lead by example.  When you are willing to go that extra mile for the organization, for your colleague, for the customer, to do what is right, is when you energize others to do the same.

Notes:
Excerpt from The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker