About 66 years ago, the United States ousted the democratically elected president of Guatemala, the popular reformer and FDR fan, Jacobo Árbenz. That story is well-known by now. But over the past year, my research team and I investigated a more obscured aspect of that coup that has taken on surprising relevance today: The primary weapon the U.S. used to overthrow Guatemala’s democracy was fake news. A key part of why the plot worked tells us something important about what Americans need to watch out for as the Russian government tries to interfere with our democracy in 2020.
In the early days of humankind, the way to resolve a difference of opinion was to bash the other person’s head with a rock. Fortunately, we’re now able to handle most conflicts with our words.
But in order to hash out differences — or even better, to build off one another’s viewpoints and make conflict productive — we need to express our thinking clearly. That means choosing the right words.
I have become concerned about a linguistic habit that I hear everywhere, from casual conversations to serious confrontations. It sounds like this:
Writing a book is hard. Writing a good book is even harder. Writing a good book for children is in many ways even harder than that.
So it’s rare for me as an adult nonfiction author to have a children’s book catch my eye as an example of good writing. The last one that comes to mind was B.J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures. The latest one just came out this month: Mighty May Won’t Cry Today by Claire-Voe & Kendra Ocampo.
Ozan Varol is one of my favorite thinkers on thinking. And as someone with a tattoo of a Falcon 9 rocket on his forearm, I was particularly drawn to the title of his brand new book, Think Like A Rocket Scientist.
If you liked Smartcuts or are a fan of Farnam Street, you’ll LOVE Think Like A Rocket Scientist. The fun stories and clarity of writing makes this manual on thinking bigger and better a pleasure to read — and I dare say it’ll change your mind.
Without further ado, here’s how Ozan Varol writes:
As Peter allegedly wrote, a little charity can cover a multitude of sins. So it goes in business, too, it seems.
When people are showing up and sales are coming in, we can be forgiven for not having perfect habits at work. We’ll often excuse some inefficiencies — and even bad behavior — as part of the price of growth.
Bumps and bad habits are just business — so long as share prices are going up.
It’s when things get tough that we realize that some of those “bumps” are actually quite serious.
Unfortunately, the Covid crisis has exposed some…
I once managed a very talented graphic designer who could never seem to hit deadlines without staying late and working weekends. She was miserable. And as her boss, I was worried.
The reason for the late work wasn’t because she was slow. Her output was fantastic. The problem was that most of the day, she would get pulled into “urgent” projects for our salespeople who needed custom pitch decks. She’d often work all day on those, and then have no time leftover during normal hours to do her marketing design work for me.
We didn’t have the budget to hire…
But when McGraw announced that he was releasing a business book about what leaders can learn from comedy, I was intrigued on a second front. Much of my own writing has explored how innovation tends to happen when you import ideas from different fields. That’s exactly what McGraw’s new book, Shtick to Business does — and masterfully so. …
I wouldn’t mind if we got rid of 99.999% of podcasts out there. But if Ryan Hawk’s The Learning Leader ever went away, I would be heartbroken. It’s the greatest business podcast, hands down. That’s why I was so excited when I learned that Ryan was distilling his wisdom from hundreds of interviews into a book: Welcome to Management.
While he was in the middle of book-launch chaos, he agreed to share his process for my How They Write series. So without further ado, here’s how Ryan Hawk writes:
RH: For my morning writing: I stretch and drink water. I…
Everybody has an email problem. But mine was ruining my life.
I make my money as a writer, but I was spending more time writing emails than writing books. It got so bad that I started leaving the country any time I had a deadline, just to make it harder to access my inbox. Life pro-tip: Fleeing to Mexico is not a sustainable solution to email overload.
Then last year, my friend Nir Eyal sent me an early copy of his new book, Indistractable. It’s all about how to take back your life from the apps and people pulling you…
This post is part of my ongoing series on how great writers write. Subscribe to future posts here.
My co-author Joe Lazauskas says that Stephen J. Valentine was the toughest teacher ever — and also the best one he ever had. That’s why I was so excited to get my hands on Steve’s new book, Make Yourself Clear, which is about how learning to be an amazing teacher can make you better at business — and in other areas of life, too.