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We are the product of our lived experiences. True empathy for another’s worldview can only be achieved by replicating or simulating their life e.g. the people they knew, the challenges they faced, their exact environmental conditions. Although, it is is not feasible. What is possible is that we can connect with people we admire and talk to them about their lived experiences. This is impractical given the constraint of time. I cannot, for example, quiz Kobe Bryant about his approach to discipline or Che Guevara about where his fervour for the proletariat came from. We can, however, access their mental wealth by consuming the content that they did e.g. the books they read, podcasts they listened to, or articles they read. Imperfect an approach as it may be, it is one that is accessible to the masses provided such information is catalogued and made publicly available.
As I found more and more interesting people via Twitter, I appreciate most the ones that have taken the time curate a sampling of content that has influenced them the most. For example, many creative and entrepreneurial folk have a section on their personal sites dedicated to books they have found influential. Oftentimes, I would find myself scrolling down a persons’ twitter posts to see what articles or videos they have shared. The goal is always to uncover how they came to develop a trait or frame of mind that I admired. In other words, what were they reading or watching that contributed to what I found admirable?
How to curate your mental wealth
While we we will not all become figures of history, I think it is a useful exercise to curate a dynamic list of catalogue-able influences. No two lives are unique, hence why I think investing the hour or so to set up I have begun to do this on my personal site here for practical reasons. So far I found a way to present more-or-less dynamic lists of my favourite:
So now, whenever anyone asks me to recommend them anything, I can just direct them to this page.
For books, I have loaded everything I can remember reading onto my Goodreads while making sure to review every book I have read since. As my opinions on books change over time, it is easy enough to update my review. At all times, the reviews available through my Goodreads is up-to-date. What I like about Goodreads is that you are able to shelve books in a way that makes sense to you. If people are interested in, for whatever reason, what personal development books I have read, then there is a shelf for that.
For podcasts, I recently loaded all my podcasts into Breaker and spent two hours ticking off all the podcasts episodes I remember listening to. The beauty of Breaker is that your profile page presents neatly your podcast listening history with the likes, favourites, and specific playlists. The platform makes it easy to share ones podcast sensibilities with a simplicity that Spotify or Apple podcasts lacks.
For music, I made a dedicated page full of the playlists that I feel represents me. Each has a little description of how and when I would listen to it. This is, however, just a temporary workaround. My hope is that Spotify brings up their game so that there is an easy way to link directly to a specific group of playlists. The organisation within Spotify for playlists is great, but the thought around sharing is lacking. I can only share individual playlists, but not a group of them.
This is the next thing I am focussing on. So far I have been able to find a simple-enough-to-be-sustainable method of curating online articles or videos.
The internet has an overwhelming amount of information, the best way to cut through the noise is by following in the footsteps of others. Whether in our working or personal lives, we take inspiration from trailblazers – given that time is scarce, the other way we can derive insight is through the content they have consumed e.g. articles, podcasts, playlists. This is why I am such a big fan of people that share their mental wealth online.
I recently discovered YourStack which looks promising in this space – granted it is more focussed on products and not ideas.