The joy of being wrong

Now more than ever, opinions divide us. Meanwhile, our ability to effectively communicate has degraded, fueled by social media algorithms and self-selected information silos that confirm our biases, calcify our world views, and consequently drive us even further apart. As a result we suffer—individually and as a collective.

~ Rich Roll from, https://www.richroll.com/podcast/adam-grant-580/

I’ve been cherry-picking episodes of the Rich Roll Podcast, and this is another superlative one. Roll’s discussion—about a half hour in if memory serves—of trying to be a “lighthouse” makes clear an important point about modeling behavior: Be the change you want to see in the world.

Grant and Roll talk a lot about Grant’s new book; That’s a model for a podcast episode which I usually do not like. And they talk almost as much about competitive swimming and diving, which are two more things I’m generally disinterested in. But to my delight, I enjoyed through (contrast with the more usual ‘sat through’) the first half, and currently have the second half awaiting my ears.

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Narrative

Cinematic Portraiture … I try to make a picture that draws elements of a larger scene happening. For me it’s always that challenge of how do you come up with a picture that gets the essence of the person, but also does a little more.

It’s different depending on the medium, but there are some things that are the same throughout. One of them is, you have to know or define your narrative because you’re always telling a story whether it’s in a single frame or in a two hour documentary. The first thing for me is to know what story I’m telling. With photographs it’s often, I read about the person, I start sketching ideas, and hopefully I can make up a story that I can tell that is true with that person. If it’s a music video, I’ll try to get what I want to say about the song; Whether it’s trying to be very literal or trying to be very opposite, I still have to know the story I want to tell. With doing Off Camera, it really is— You could talk to anyone for 100 hours and not get even close to their whole deal, so the idea is to try to pick the things you really want to look into and develop a little narrative.

~ Sam Jones starting around 44:50, from https://www.richroll.com/podcast/how-to-cultivate-your-authentic-voice-with-sam-jones-rrp-126/

Sam Jones is well-known for his Off-Camera project. Each “episode” is a photoshoot, documentary video, podcast and print magazine. This interview from 2015 on Rich Roll’s podcast covers a wide range of things related to being creative. This podcast episode is a true gem.

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Deep dive about problem formulation

Episode 27 of John Vervaeke’s, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis presents an intriguing definition of intelligence, and in particular how does on succeed or fail at finding solutions to generalized problems (“I’m thirsty, how do I get water?” “How do I win this chess game?” “What’s 4 times 8?”)

https://anchor.fm/john-vervaeke/episodes/Ep–27—Problem-Formulation-e4m01h

https://overcast.fm/+RhgZ_rULA

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Going in dumb

In the episode with Ray Suarez, about 43 minutes in, they’re talking about the evergreen (for those of us into this stuff) topic of preparation. Should one be [prepared]? How much, or how little? And so on. There aren’t many things I listen to more than once; this is one.

Here’s a link to the area where Suarez starts discussing “going in dumb” versus going in prepared. If you’re really into conversation, you’ll need about 15 minutes as you probably won’t be able to press stop. In any case, nothing I write here is as important as what they’re discussing.

https://overcast.fm/+JU6XxrKbc/43:16

That’s a link to the Overcast podcast player’s web frontend. It will simply play from that time code right in your web browser. You can also try this link to the episode itself.)

https://maximumfun.org/episodes/the-turnaround-with-jesse-thorn/ray-suarez/

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The Roller-Coaster

I think working with anyone who’s a brilliant creative can at times be a rollercoaster. Working with any other human other than yourself can be a rollercoaster, because they’re not you, so, you know… their reactions to things are going to be different than yours. But I think that’s part of the adventure. You talked to me about One Love, you talked to me about the telethon, and now you’re talking to me about clients. My response is the same: Life is not ever going to be content. Life is never going to be normal. For the rest of your life you’re on a journey that has ups and downs and ups and downs, it is a roller coaster that never ends. Until one day you close your eyes and you’re off the roller coaster. And I think for me, I just want to be on as many different journey’s as possible, so at least if I’m on a roller coaster, there’s a new zigzag and a turn that I didn’t know about before.

~ Scooter Braun from, https://www.calfussman.com/podcasts/2018/1/29/big-questions-scooter-braun

In this interview titled, Bringing Light to Darkness, Cal and Scooter have a wide ranging discussion of the challenges Scooter faced in 2017 and the lessons he learned. I’m a big fan of Cal’s work generally. Although this is one of his earlier podcasts, it’s a gold mine.

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Spontaneity, creativity and the ability to connect

… A lot of it is relaxation. I ran into, the acting guru from the actors studio once, in an airport, and we just chatted. And he said, “you know what the actors in the movies in the 40s had, that was helpful to them? They knew how to make themselves relax on camera.” Because most of them were not experienced or trained actors, and they had to be comfortable. That’s why you constantly saw them lighting a cigarette or sitting on the edge of a desk. Anything to help them relax. And in that relaxation, which you can get other ways if you learn, comes spontaneity, creativity, the ability to connect with the other person, because you’re not worried about yourself. You’re not thinking ‘how am I doing, am I too fat…’

~ Alan Alda from, https://art19.com/shows/clear-vivid-with-alan-alda/episodes/4a35b668-2adc-4aa3-83b0-25ef831568d2

Theirs was a wide-ranging and very interesting conversation about the healing power of music. Around this part, they were talking about how some people seem to be natural-born communicators. In particular, how some people just seem to “fill up a space”—in a good way.

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Faith nevertheless

…when you look at everything that goes wrong historically, you can see a deep chain of continuous mistakes that lead up to it. And in a way, that’s really discouraging because it makes you think about each step leading to greater consequences. But on the other hand, it’s really encouraging because if you think about it and you think about, “Oh, wait. What if you do something right? And you do something right right now, you’re starting a whole other chain of events that can lead to a really positive outcome.” And so, his point when he was making the statement which was more or less that is even if things seem like they’re going in the wrong direction or things seem really wrong, you can stop, and you can do something small that’s right.

~ Nick Thompson, Editor-In-Chief of WIRED, from, https://tim.blog/2018/04/27/nick-thompson-editor-in-chief-of-wired/

Not only the studying and writing of history but also the honoring of it both represent affirmations of a certain defiant faith — a desperate, unreasoning faith, if you will — but faith nevertheless in the endurance of this threatened world — faith in the total essentiality of historical continuity.

~ George Kennan, The New York Times (27 May 1984), from, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_F._Kennan

This was a great interview where they spent a lot time talking about how writing really works, how good stories get written, and how good editors make or break publications. A long listen, but for me, it was a delightful glimpse into a new world.

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