Grant Gochnauer: Awesome Humans — Issue #81

“Awesome Humans” is a weekly curated newsletter highlighting content at the intersection of becoming extraordinary individuals, building extraordinary teams, and the future.

Awesome Human

52 key learnings in 52 weeks of 2016

Fantastic insights into being an awesome human and also a process to integrate the learning process into your daily life.

Example: “The practice of deep Listening consists of keeping compassion alive in your heart the whole time you are listening. You do not listen in order to judge, criticize, or evaluate. You listen for one reason alone: ​​to sacrifice the other person a chance to express himself. “ — Stephen Covey, Author / Educator.”

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I Read 40 Books This Year, Here’s What I Learned (aka 10 Lessons for 2017). —

With so many books on productivity, entrepreneurship, self-improvement it’s hard to sift through them. Here is a great summary of many of these well known books distilled into key lessons allowing you to dig into specific books that you might find helpful.

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Heavy Social Media Use Linked To Isolation In Young Adults —

It’s not clear whether spending a lot of time on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram leads to social isolation, or whether the lonely seek solace in social media.

It turns out that the people who reported spending the most time on social media — more than two hours a day — had twice the odds of perceived social isolation than those who said they spent a half hour per day or less on those sites.

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If You Are Serious About Achieving Success In Any Area of Your Life, Master Your Mindset — 
 For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.

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Can Learning Another Language Boost Your Empathy? —

Learning to speak a second language is a crash course in parsing ambiguity and decoding others’ intentions–and that’s a good thing. (Thanks Kim!)

How music affects your productivity

Great overview of why/how different types of music impact your productivity. (Listening to Above and Beyond while I put this newsletter together ;))

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Is Technology Destroying Happiness? — 
 Yuval Noah Harari warns that the constant pursuit of happiness is neurotic — and technology isn’t helping.

Healthy Human

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For the First Time, Researchers Can Genetically Modify Human Embryos — 
 Up until now, no other researcher has ever been granted permission to perform gene editing on early-stage human embryos. Researchers hope that this could help us understand the first seven days of embryo development, and help to prevent miscarriages.

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Terminal cancer patients in complete remission after one gene therapy treatment — 
 A groundbreaking gene therapy treatment which boosts a patient’s own immune cells has been shown to clear disease from one third of terminal patients.

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It May Be Your Microbiome Will Become Your Personal Pharmacy — 
 It may be possible to treat eczema with a super-effective ointment made from your own microbes.

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Sugar Does Rot Your Brain After All: Scientists Connect to Alzheimer’s — 
 Scientists from the University of Bath have just found the first connection between excess blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers in this unprecedented study found what they describe as a molecular “tipping point,” where a crucial enzyme related to inflammation response and insulin regulation is damaged by excess glucose. While the scientists involved do not make the direct assertion, the takeaway is Alzheimer’s disease may be triggered by consuming too much sugar.

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Scientists Have Found a Way to Reverse the Signs of Aging — 
 “Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process. These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine.”

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Caffeine May Prevent Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias —

Your morning cup of joe may have effects that reach beyond getting you alert and ready for the day. Researchers at Indiana University identified 24 compounds that can increase the brain’s production of an enzyme that could help protect it against diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. One of the strongest impacts on the enzyme came from caffeine, which was additionally shown to improve memory function in mice.

Human Builders

Culture and Revolution

We know that culture is important. We even think we know what it is. But culture isn’t perks like dogs and snacks in the workplace — nor is it a defining personality, like, say, “googleyness”. Culture is the collective behavior of an organization… and whether or not you go about creating one, you’re going to get one anyway, argues a16z cofounder Ben Horowitz. “Unless you set it, it’ll just be what it is.”

So how should founders building companies (or leaders trying to turn their company around, address disruption, beat competition, and so on) go about creating a true winning culture? Horowitz shares key takeaways from the only successful slave revolution in the history of humanity — the Haitian revolution led by Toussaint L’Ouverture in 1791 — in this keynote first given at a16z’s inaugural summit event. How did this 18th century leader essentially “re-program” an entire culture to win?

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Inside the Schools That Want to Create the Next Mark Zuckerberg — Starting at Age 5 —

“The idea that you go work for IBM for 30 years and get a pension is antiquated,” says Craig Shapiro, associate super­intendent for high schools in the Austin Independent School District, a position he assumed after starting the Crockett program, Student Inc. “By the year 2020, 40 percent of the jobs will be entrepreneurial in nature. Yet we have a factory-style education system that doesn’t prepare kids” for such a world.

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How to find the first 100 customers for your startup — 
 For most startups, attracting the first 100 customers can be a challenge. Here are 29 actionable steps you can start using today to reach this milestone.


After running 2,000 experiments for Fortune 500 product teams, here’s what we learned —

“The ‘Lean’ movement has taken the corporate world by storm, but there are still countless barriers for product teams that seek to adopt its experiment-driven ethos and make decisions informed by customer data.” — Here is one company’s learnings summarized through customer development and product iterations. Good insights in here for product organizations!

Future Humans


DARPA’s Brain Chip Implants Could Be the Next Big Mental Health Breakthrough — Or a Total Disaster — 
 How did a Massachusetts woman end up with two electrodes implanted into her brain? Why is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developing a controversial, cutting-edge brain chip technology that could one day treat everything from major depressive disorder to hand cramps? How did we get to deep brain stimulation and where do we go from here?


Retinal implant could add years to your eyesight —

“Researchers have developed an implant whose light-sensitive material could at least partially restore retinas and preserve your eyesight. Their invention combines a biocompatible substance (in this case, silk) with a conductive polymer and an organic semiconductor to send electricity to nerve cells whenever the implant is subjected to typical environmental light. Previous attempts at photovoltaic devices like this have required either exceptionally bright light or unusual light wavelengths to work, so this would be far more practical in the real world.”

One More Thing


This Year’s Best Science Photos Are So Good They’re Basically Art — 
 The finalists of the 2017 Wellcome Image Awards have been announced, showcasing the best science-related imagery from the past year. This year’s crop features a bioluminescent squid, a high-tech contact lens, and a microscopic ‘brain’ on a chip.

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