Tim Ferris Podcast – Maria Popova – 07/2015

Tim Ferris Podcast – Maria Popova

Maria Popova runs Brainpickings.org.

  1. Knowing what you know now, what would you tell someone about starting a blog?
    • Write for yourself.
    • Once you write for other people for anything creative, you lose long game
    • You must stay motivated by it to create something rewarding in the long-run
    • Key to being interesting is being enthusiastic about your interests
    • Don’t think of your work as “content”
    • “Content” implies external motive, filler currency for advertising
    • No one does content for joy of the soul
    • Write for yourself, stay interested, don’t view it as content, love words, agonize over sentences, pay attention to the world
  2. You have read a lot of books, have you become who you want to be?
    • Started in early 20’s as a record of my own becoming and nine years later it is still that
    • We never stop becoming or growing, if you do, you’re dead
    • Dan Gilbert’s book Stumbling upon happiness should be required reading for everyone. People are works in progress who mistakenly things they are finished.
    • Key is being content in any given moment but not so satisfied you cut yourself off from continual growth
    • I haven’t become who I want to be because it never ends
    • Stop myself of illusion of having arrived
  3. What is the most significant characteristic of people who have accomplished greatness in any field?
    • Consistency
    • I’ve read multiple journals and diaries, they show up no matter how they are feeling
    • There is a deep love of the work and it needs to be done in order to feel alive
    • Our culture makes it seem like difficulty and torture confers seriousness on something
    • The fact that doing great work for the love of it sounds flimsy and is failing of our culture
    • Some creatives deviled by serious illnesses, but without their art, they would have suffered more
  4. How do you decide what to read?
    • Literature is like original internet and many footnotes have “hyperlinks” to other books. Ultimate recommendation algorithm.
    • Likely to take you to similar books that call to you.
    • What makes book worth reading? illuminates some aspect of how to live, makes you understand your purpose a little more, helps you understand the world a little more
    • Really matters what’s on my mind and what I’m trying to make sense of the world.
    • Depends on mood, life events, time of year/month/day
    • Has to answer some question on how I am going to make my life better or richer
  5. What text do you refer to again and again?
    • The Diaries of Henry David Thoreau
    • No one writes more beautifully on the inner and outer world
    • Many universal timeless truths
  6. If you house burned down, what book would you rescue?
    • Diary of Henry David Thoreau
    • If I could replace, likely my marginalia
    • A Rap on Race and On Science, Necessity and love of God two very hard to find books with copious notes on my thoughts
  7. If you could make every public official read one book and take on a habit what would those be?
    • Plato’s republic
    • Mindfulness meditation
    • Makes it harder to be selfish when you see inherent interconnectedness of everything
    • If you’re a public official, the public good should be your primary concern
  8. How do you turn down invitations that don’t interest you to avoid time jacking?
    • It’s harder earlier on because we crave positive reinforcement and mistake interest for affirmation of our work
    • Overtime, you get better at trusting your criteria on what makes your work admirable on the inside
    • Once you accept requests, it can impact the quality of your work
    • Oliver Sack’s memoir, On the Move, was one of most transformation reading experiences of my life and couldn’t recommend more heartily
    • When his writing career picked up, he had a sign on his office that just said “No” to remind himself to decline requests that took away from his writing time
    • I have a tattoo in right arm to remind me everyday on what to focus on
    • Almost always do things for students because if I can help consider a path other than corporate gristmill or persuade aspiring journalist to refuse mindlessness and mediocrity and instead focus on lifting people up, It is absolutely worth my time.
    • Do things for friends and people I admire or people I feel kinship of spirit
    • Creative culture is woven of invisible threads of goodwill between people who believe in one another.
    • Art is carried on the wings of this kinship
    • Put investment in rewarding things when put in a position to help

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