2020 was a roller-coaster for most people around the world. The word ‘unprecedented’ became so popular that I doubt I’d ever hear it and not think of COVID-19. Working remotely became the new normal and wearing masks became compulsory for everyone.
For me, At the end of the year like this [2017, 2018, 2019], I put together a list of some of the most helpful content I came across during the year, I hope you find a thing or two that’s helpful. This list is a stripped-down version of a monthly newsletter on the most helpful/interesting things I come across every month, I started this about a year ago.
Keeping this list has helped me reflect on what I found most helpful and how it helped me, whilst also, making it easier for me to revisit it when I need to.
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith — Tim Keller
This rather short book by Tim Keller explains the love of God clearer.
Value-Based Fees: How to charge and get what’s worth — Alan Weiss
This classic by Alan Weiss was written to change people’s mindset around charging by the hour and focus more on the value they offer people. For me, I learnt more about how to present value and feel more comfortable asking to be paid for the value provided.
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
― Octavia E. Butler
From the Web
From the Collaborative Fund:
Something stupid you can stick with will probably outperform something smart that you’ll burn out on.
Boring is perfectly fine. Boring is good. If you want to frame this as a strategy, remind yourself: opportunity lives where others aren’t, and others tend to stay away from what’s boring.
From the School of Life
Of course, the idea of pleasing customers is not in dispute. What needs to be targeted, however, is the mistaken assumption — working away in the background — that what people want is a fixed factor — when in truth, what people want is dramatically malleable, contingent and divergent. A good follow up read to this is Innovation and Creativity
In general, we can only start working when the fear of not doing anything finally exceeds the fear of doing it badly.
To sum up: fame really just means you get noticed a great deal — not that you get understood, appreciated or loved.
Your Ministry Will Take a Lifetime — Desiring God
Because the Lord is committed to his purpose for you, the friends and the opportunities you seek are seeking you. They are on their way toward you this very moment.
His plan, his timing, his methods are well suited to get you ready for the greatest moments of your life still out ahead.
We know what to do, we just don’t do it correctly.
I’ve listened to many talks around habits, however, I found James Clear’s ideas quite good and easy to implement. We are always forming habits, consciously or unconsciously
Future Babel: Why expert predictions Fail — Dan Gardner
I like to know about will happen in the future, you like to know what will happen, we all want to know. This is why people make predictions but most are wrong anyways.
How to detect Media Bias and Propaganda in National & World News — Critical thinking
I read this because I follow the news and also share it others
When you have a great experience you, you tell people. When you don’t, you people. And yet, research shows that most companies aren’t acting with any urgency to improve the customer experience they offer.
“If a cat sits on a hot stove, that cat won’t sit on a hot stove again. That cat won’t sit on a cold stove either. That cat just don’t like stoves.”
From the Web
How to lose Money and Time — Paul Graham
An overlooked perspective on how people really lose money and time.
The Problem of being very beautiful — The School of Life
This is something I’ve never thought about before, being attractive does come with its own burdens.
It’s becoming rather difficult to express your views without thinking about what ‘acceptable’
A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade.
The happy secret to better work — TED Talk
This talk was funny and insightful. Felt more like a comedy gig.
Akimbo: Seth Godin’s podcast is really good. I love the Q & A at the end of each session.
Business Wars: These guys have got storytelling figured out.
Read this as part of a 40-day challenge, a breath of fresh air, I think it should be revisited every couple of years
The story of Pixar as told from the Business angle by its former CFO. My happiest moment was reading that they were looking for a Financial Model to make projections, I felt validated to know that many things aren’t just handed down to you.
Shades of Loneliness: Pathologies of a technological society — Richard Stivers
A reading club recommendation, a beautiful read that addresses many issues around technology, the media and its effects on the society.
As a Christian, I can’t help but think about how in times like this I’m reminded that the essence of the Christian faith is to trust God. It’s easy to get carried away…
Reflecting on this a week after, I realised that in the coming year I’d rather focus on the positive What Ifs — What if it works out, what if succeeds.
From the Web
In many countries in East Asia, when offering a gift, you should expect to be refused once, twice, or even three times. This is done to avoid seeming greedy or impatient.
Crises reveal that — under sufficient pressure, and with the imaginative restlessness bred by necessity — pretty much everything is up for being rethought: the money supply, the education system, hospital service, community support, entertainment, leisure, love.
Attention isn’t free.
It requires time, effort, resources and a strategic approach.
“I think the biggest shock that awaits us is [getting to know] how often he intervened and we never knew it.”
– Ravi Zacharias
“I’m not worried about what I do, I’m worried about why I do it and I’ll find a job that helps me do that.”
I love Simon Sinek’s video in response to this pandemic, you should check this out.
This book was a gift from a friend. The major takeaway for me was: People want to help, ask them for help and let them help.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think — Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling
Absolutely loved it.
Factfulness is…recognizing that a single perspective can limit your imagination, and remembering that it is better to look at problems from many angles to get a more accurate understanding and find practical solutions. To control the single perspective instinct, get a toolbox, not a hammer.
One thing that stuck: Wealth is discretionary time
Enjoyed these two by Alan Weiss.
There’s a lot of rightly placed focus on what is being lost- lives, jobs and pay cuts. However, I think there’s another reality; that some persons wouldn’t return to their jobs because they’d rather continue working on what they finally started during the lockdown or they’d return with a different outlook on life.
From the Web
In contrast to the sprint to read every book on Kindle, Charlie Munger once said: “Take a simple idea and take it seriously.” Many of the most successful people I’ve studied have found their edge by putting their faith in one big idea.
At first, you don’t see bad news, because it starts small and isn’t reported in traditional outlets. A few experts chat amongst themselves, but word has yet spread.
We like to think of capitalism as a system that’s rational and efficient when it comes to meeting human needs. But in some respects, it’s exactly the opposite. In pursuit of constant growth, firms resort to intentional inefficiencies.
This is water — David Foster Wallace
One of my fave speeches.
“Learning how to think” really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.
Why Listening Is A Powerful Skill To Master — The Futur
What compels you to open your mouth? What does silence equal to you?
Here’s a video I put to use by calling different clients at work and just listening to what’s happening with them. Just to get a feel of what’s happening and thinking of ways to help.
The Task in a time of Crisis — Ravi Zacharias
Never underestimate the value of an individual. We cannot control everything but one of the things you can control is ask, “What does God have you do as an individual?”Don’t underestimate what you can do, and what your words can accomplish and what your activity for God can bring about and make changes…Don’t underestimate what God can do to you, in you and through you.
I read this because a friend recommended it. In the past year, I’ve been a bit cautious about distraction. I deleted my Twitter App and killed disabled all my notifications and my phone in mostly silent mode. Deep work reminded me about why it’s important to spend more time not distracted.
How to do Nothing: Resisting the attention economy by Jenny Odell
Here’s one book that I felt could have been shorter but still has good parts, I read it as a follow up to Deep work. One thing I’ve taken away is not using my phone while eating, I just eat and let my mind wander. It was difficult at the beginning but it’s getting easier.
Driven from within — Michael Jordan
I read this shortly after watching the last episode of the Last Dance.
This book chronicles the Journey of Michael Jordan, the Air Jordan and other aspects. I didn’t know he was very involved in the creative process of each Air Jordan sneaker. A mere 100 and something page book, filled with many pictures. It was a good read.
The question of pain and suffering provides the greatest challenge to belief in God. This book does justice to its title.
I read this after it was mentioned in an interview with Ravi, more so since Ravi died this year.
Nope, didn’t write any article for myself, it’s still in draft but then I did feature on a podcast.
From the Web
Smart people screw up. Good people have bad days. Nice people lose their temper.
Pablo Escobar expected 10% of the cash he stored in warehouses to be eaten by rats or spoiled by mould. That was if everything went well.
“He who knows only his side of the case knows little of that.”
— John Stuart Mill
How engineers build bridges — Video
Now I understand why bridges have high beams.
Your security is only as strong as your weakest link.
This reminded me to improve my security generally, not sure I’ve acted on it fully.
Yes, this is the same interview I referred to earlier.
We’ve learned this year that the assumptions you have about the future can be destroyed overnight. That’s true for the poorest to the most successful, the old dry cleaner to the tech startup. It was true in January, and it’ll be true again in the future. Things change.
If that’s the lesson, the question is: what do you do about it? How do you think about a world where fundamental assumptions about the future are so fragile?
I found some of the responses to this question funny, interesting and it made me wonder what I would have done.
Last December, I started a practice of only re-reading some of my faves book in the month of June & December. It’s my way of intentionally reminding myself of things I’ve learnt and not getting caught up in the race for new knowledge. I mostly read part of these books or listen to audio versions.
Originals: How non-conformist move the world — Adam Gran
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw”
Mere Christianity — CS Lewis
One of my top fave books of all time. I listened to an audio version of this.
“When you have reached your own room, be kind to those Who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck — Mark Manson
“Life is essentially an endless series of problems. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of another.”
Whatever you Think, Think the Opposite — Paul Arden
There was a story of a professor who was bathing in the River Cherwell in Oxford, at a place called Parson’s pleasure, in which it was the custom to swim naked.
As the professor got out of the pools a punt of undergraduates glided by, whereupon he grabbed his towel and wrapped it around his head.
God is Good: He’s Better than you think — Bill Johnson
The goal of many in ministry is no messes. And that becomes the measure of success. I remind you, graveyards are orderly and clean. Nurseries filled with babies are not. One is alive, and the other is dead. If you want to increase, get a shovel, and learn how to patiently work with people who are in process.
Nope, didn’t write any article for me again this month but made these contributions to Daily Vulnerable.
From the Web
Creation/recognition — Seth Godin
Creation plus persistence can lead to recognition. But creation without recognition is still a worthwhile endeavour.
Build for the world — Timi Ajiboye
If you can be successful at building for the world that’s already willing to pay, then maybe you’ll have way more resources to build for the world that can’t pay (yet).
How To Identify Your 12 Hidden Skills — Josh Spector
You’ve got more skills than you realize.
This is really long but a beautiful piece. I should re-read it often.
Author E.B. White once captured the essence of why. “I wake up in the morning unsure of whether I want to savor the world or save the world,” White said, “This makes it hard to plan the day.”
I got talking to an agnostic (former Hinduist), and this prompted me to read. I’ve had it on my list but I just wanted to understand the relationship between Christianity and Hinduism.
From the Web
It’s in the nature of our psychology that a pattern developed in relation to one particular set of circumstances in childhood becomes a feature of an adult character, until and unless we remember and understand its dynamics. In other words, we’ll continue not to be spontaneous until we can grasp how and why being so once felt so dangerous.
When Snap launched, there were infinite ways to share images, but Snap asked a bunch of weird questions that no-one had really asked before. Why do you have to press the camera button — why doesn’t the app open in the camera? Why are you saving your messages — isn’t that like saving all your phone calls? Fundamentally, Snap asked ‘why, exactly, are you sending a picture? What is the underlying social purpose?’ You’re not really sending someone a sheet of pixels — you’re communicating.
The primary obstacle to good thinking is not a cramped desk or an uninteresting horizon. It is, first and foremost, anxiety. Often the most profound thoughts we need to grapple with have a potentially disturbing character.
In struggling companies, people often subconsciously assume they have Wrong Strategy Syndrome, because it is human nature to invent new narratives when we’re in trouble. It doesn’t occur to us as easily that the old narrative would work if we implemented it with more focus and clarity.
Watching this video about Hernando de Soto’s work in Peru got me asking, What’s the cost of being a predominantly informal economy?
At 95, Charlie Munger is still spot-on.
In his documentary on American history, Oliver Stone says, “Real history is the story of lots of things happening at the same time.” Big trends rarely have one cause.
But while everyone knows they have to be wrong about something, few of us want to admit or think hard about what that something might be.
A really cool project: Open a new window somewhere in the world
As a follow to reading, Jesus talks with Krishna, I read this. I just wanted to understand the relationship between Christianity and Hinduism. It’s a good read.
“History smiles at all attempts to force its flow into theoretical patterns or logical grooves; it plays havoc with our generalizations, breaks all our rules; history is baroque.”
A book I’d read again, the authors drew meaningful lessons from history. It made me less concerned about world issues and realize how far the world has come. Also, this book was published in 1968, a reminder that it’s not ideal to only read the latest books.
I created a post that I’d keep updating based on questions I get from people about the exam.
From the Web
When you remember that jeder time a persons acts in a way that you think is unbecoming, they’re most likely acting from a place of fear then you don’t get upset.
The best way to improve your ability to think is to spend time thinking.
This twitter thread was a good reminder of the power of people’s stories.
Everyone’s ordinary until they open their mouth.
Everyone should listen to this episode. Fu’ad Lawal is the storyteller on this episode of the show, sharing stories of his experiences travelling across alle the states in Nigeria, and countries in West Africa.
Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask that’s what separates sometimes the people who do things from those who dream of them.
Many people would say the existence of intersex people shows us there’s no such thing as Male and Female. That’d be like saying because there are colour blind people there’s no such thing as Red or Blue.
I enjoy listening to responses to popular culture questions. It gives me more context and framework to process it.
I have always believed in God. I have grasped the logic of the Christian faith. What I have had a hard time seeing is God’s power.
Big, fast, changes only happen when they’re forced by necessity.
Here’s the first test of a great idea: Will you keep believing in it when other people tell you it’s a bad idea?
Low budget video tricks: This is a short video on how to create video effects with a low budget.
25 Ways to Win with People by John Maxwell
Becoming a Person of Influence by John Maxwell & Jim Dorman
Thanks to YouTube recommendations, I read these two books by listening to the audio versions. John Maxwell is my day one guy, we go way back. Despite having read both books multiple times in the past, I still got some useful nuggets. I definitely recommend it if you’ve not read them.
Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions — Gregory Koukl
This is a fantastic read!
Sometimes the reason you are confused about another person’s meaning is because she is confused, too. She objects to Christianity for reasons she hasn’t thought through. The objection flourishes because no one has challenged the lack of clarity that led to the muddled thinking in the first place.
The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life — Kevin Simler, Robin Hanson.
Why do you do the things you do? What’s the real reason, Your brain might have been lying to you.
We, human beings, are a species that’s not only capable of acting on hidden motives — we’re designed to do it. Our brains are built to act in our self-interest while at the same time trying hard not to appear selfish in front of other people. And in order to throw them off the trail, our brains often keep “us,” our conscious minds, in the dark. The less we know of our own ugly motives, the easier it is to hide them from others.
Self-deception is therefore strategic, a ploy our brains use to look good while behaving badly.
If there are guidelines on how to consume food for our bodies, what about for our minds?
From the Web
The truly well-read person isn’t the eins who has read a gargantuan number of books, it’s someone who has let themselves be shaped — deeply shaped in their capacity to live and die well — by a very few well-chosen ones.
Brené Brown replies someone’s question on what Rolle parenting plays in reducing shame in children — Nature vs Nurture.
Compound interest is the most powerful force on earth. Build a product and brand that can experience compound growth. Then work on it for a really long time.
We cannot — it seems — be winners at everything. Those who appear to be carrying off all the prizes and are lauded in certain quarters as superhuman athletes of life cannot, on closer examination, really be triumphing across the board in any such way.
I first read this article sometime last year, but the response is ever helpful even for different contexts.
I had to trust that for whatever reason, God deemed it good and right for me to be single for the time. He deemed it good and right for the aching in my soul to cause me to turn to Him for comfort and hope, instead of a relationship with a man. And whether he chose to bless me with marriage or singleness, Psalm 84:11 promised me that God wasn’t going to give me second best. He wasn’t hiding his gifts from me, but was blessing me instead.
A brilliant and witty channel that helped me in my quest to understand different wars
Contagious: Why things catch on by Jonah Beger
I enjoyed reading this as it gave me a general framework to approach virality. This book is designed for people who want their products, ideas, and behaviours to spread.
Nobody wants to read your sh*t by Steven Pressfield
I loved reading this and consider this a go-to for writers.
“Sometimes young writers acquire the idea from their years in school that the world is waiting to read what they’ve written. They get this idea because their teachers had to read their essays or term papers or dissertations. In the real world, no one is waiting to read what you’ve written.”
I read this book last year and only came back to read a chapter — Organizing the business world: How we create value?
The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin
A re-read, I first read this book in 2017 — arguably the best book I read that year.
Art isn’t pretty. Art isn’t painting. Art isn’t something you hang on the wall. Art is what we do when we’re truly alive.
If you’ve already decided that you’re not an artist, it’s worth considering why you made that decision and what it might take to unmake it.
If you’ve announced that you have no talent (in anything!), then you’re hiding.
2 years ago, Ajoke, a graduate of performing arts, wasn’t sure about what she was going to do next. When I asked her what she hoped to do with her performing arts degree she replied, “I don’t know, I just knew there were companies like Banks that hire just graduates irrespective of what they studied.”
In my conversation with Ajoke, she talks about how without any business background or prior desire to run a business she started and runs a thriving business which has served over 500 customers with about 70% returning customers.
From the Web
Any creator of anything knows this feeling:
You experience someone else’s innovative work. It’s beautiful, brilliant, breath-taking. You’re stunned. Their ideas are unexpected and surprising, but perfect.
You think, “I never would have thought of that. How do they even come up with that? It’s genius!”
Afterwards, you think, “My ideas are so obvious. I’ll never be as inventive as that.”
“The world is full of obvious things which nobody ever observes,” says Sherlock Holmes.
- Most of our everyday actions can be traced back to some form of signalling status-seeking.
- Our brains deliberately hide this fact from us and others (self-deception).
So we think and say that we do something for a specific reason, but in reality, there’s a hidden, selfish motive: to show off and increase our social status.
I enjoyed listening to this conversation. So many deep things said. It’s worth a re-listen.
You should see me whining like a spoiled brat when a video call is not working as smoothly as expected — all those interruptions and the bad sound quality! An experience which would have appeared nothing short of a miracle to people just 50 years ago and which requires the operation of a colossal infrastructure has become an expected normality for me.
We fail to appreciate and to empathise because we don’t understand what is going on.
So does technology makes us dumb? This question isn’t really new. Famously Plato warned us about the detrimental effects of writing — which we know of because he wrote them down.
Amazon is not one business — it’s many different businesses, at different stages of maturity and profitability. Some of those businesses are established and highly profitable and others are new and in a start-up loss-making phase, but you can’t really see from the outside, because all of the money gets both aggregated and reinvested.
Cold fusion does some of the best documentaries available on Youtube. This one on Adobe Inc, the makers of PDF, Photoshop and other great products was great.
I’m very familiar with Davido’s story but I enjoyed this interview. It shed light on other aspects of him that I hadn’t heard before.
A second read and it felt like I hadn’t read it before.
“You will not have a meaningful life without work, but you cannot say that your work is the meaning of your life.”
This is one of those books I expect I should have read but I haven’t. It’s helpful since I’ve been interviewing many people in the past month. Although I think comfortable talking to anyone, anytime, anywhere, there’s no end to learning.
“My first rule of conversation is this: I never learn a thing while I’m talking. I realize every morning that nothing I say today will teach me anything, so if I’m going to learn a lot today, I’ll have to do it by listening.
Since I’m now a full-time writer, I have to plan to write for myself.
But here are two stories I wrote in my first month at TechCabal
- What’s Bolt doing about the increasing harassment complaints?
- Inside Kuda Bank’s playbook for banking every African
From the Web 🌍
A child’s greatest gift to us is to keep insisting that nothing is ever very normal.
If you tell me you’ve found a way to double your money in a week, I’m not going to believe you by default.
But if my family was starving and I owed someone Geld next Monday that I don’t have, I would listen. And I would probably believe whatever crazy prediction you have because I’d desperately want and need it to be right.
Tell your boss you found a trick that will make you more creative and productive, and they ask what you’re waiting for. Tell them that your trick is taking a 90-minute walk in the middle of the day, and they say no, you need to work.
This is such a good interview and a rare one too. Michael Jordan has been low-key for a long time. It’s pre “The Last Dance”.
From the Web
A Netflix original on the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to modern times. I’m almost halfway through the 4 seasons. I wonder what the Queen (94) and her husband (99) who are still alive think of this.
A re-read, June and December are months dedicated to only re-reading books.
“Anxiety and fear are cousins but not twins. Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one.
Fear screams, Get out!
Anxiety ponders, What if?
Fear results in fight or flight. Anxiety creates doom and gloom. Fear is the pulse that pounds when you see a coiled rattlesnake in your front yard”
📚 The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller.
A re-read that reminded about how beautiful and tough marriage is.
This is one of the few articles I re-read almost every month. In this article, Sam Altman shares 13 thoughts about how to achieve outlier success.
My colleague Alex wrote this piece and it’s one of my favorites.
Who to call?
“I could call Dapo Abiodun [the state governor] but obviously you don’t just call him; he’s no longer Uncle Dapo.”
“My daddy gave me the commissioner of Police’s number. I called him, he said I was disturbing his sleep. I said ‘my dear, you will wake up.’”
“I called my grandpa, I said ‘sir, for your legacy — phone Obasanjo, start waking everybody you know. People are being imprisoned in our state, it’s not normal.’”
The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel 🎧
Morgan Housel has interesting pragmatic ideas about our relationship with money. I enjoyed listening to his interview. I’d recommend it to anyone
I hope to learn more from talking to people, travel more, keep on learning German and take a few ‘random’ courses.