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🔄 Birthdays, big ideas, and a book review
Keep reading for a review of Ideaflow by Jeremy Utley and Perry Klebahn
It’s my birthday this week. I grew up hating having a birthday near the end of the year because it was always 1) miserable weather and 2) too close to Christmas. Stuck with indoors birthday parties (ok, LaserQuest was admittedly pretty cool), I dreamed of picnics or beach days or warm days out somewhere interesting. Moving to Australia was the only sensible solution to this 27-year-long curse.
Fun story: my first birthday here was spent on the Gold Coast as it coincided with a work trip… a trip where I cut my foot, developed cellulitis, had my first trip to an Australian doctor, and spent the whole weekend indoors on antibiotics (even more Aussie), with my foot elevated, and making sure the red line of the infection didn’t spread beyond the Biro line the strange doctor had drawn on my leg.
Anyway, one good thing about a birthday near the end of the year and *especially* now that it’s just a whisker away from the best season (summer) and its associated longer break, is that it’s quite a nice time for some reflection and resetting.
A couple of things I’m resetting or rethinking in my pre-birthday musings…
That the podcast will move to fortnightly, at least for a while, to allow space for a new project or two… watch this space.
That next year will be the year of discomfort challenges. I’ve earmarked dance classes and 10 day silent retreats to start with. Two things that fill me with horror.
This year I’m accidentally spending my birthday in Sydney as some client workshops changed dates. It’s a lucky accident as Sydney will be 10C warmer than Melbourne. It also means I’ll get the treat of celebrating with friends I wouldn’t usually spend my birthday with (thanks N & O! 👋🏻).
Things I’ve enjoyed
Here’s some things that I’ve read / watched / listened to recently…
Podcast - Diary of a CEO ft Scott Galloway: An incredibly powerful episode that covers a lot but in particular talks about the loneliness epidemic of GenZ, and the societal danger this creates, especially from lonely young men. Important listening whether you live with, work with, or simply know young people. Spotify | Apple
Podcast - Ben Roberts-Smith vs The Media on Guardian Full Story - I’ve seen this story in the headlines for the last year, but hadn’t followed the full details. So I decided to listen to this five-part special on the Guardian podcast to better understand it. It’s so messy, no wonder the trial went for over a year and the verdict is likely still months away. Spotify | Apple
Netflix - FIFA Uncovered: Growing up in the UK, I feel like it was always taken as common knowledge that FIFA was dodgy. Watching this documentary is yet another frustrating example of what happens when ego, money, and unilateral power go together.
Podcast - If Books Could Kill: I love anything that dispels the crap that’s baked into conventional wisdom, and so this new podcast from Michael Hobbes (Maintenance Phase, You’re Wrong About) is a joy. It is essentially (informed) takedowns of popular non-fiction books and some of the bad/unhelpful/very problematic ideas that have made their way into the popular conscience because of these under-researched/under-fact-checked books. So far they’ve covered Outliers and Freakonomics. Spotify | Apple
Music - Nick Cave films now available on demand: I am very pleased that all four of the Nick Cave films are now available on demand across a few different streaming services. I know what I’ll be spending my upcoming month off watching. Watch.
Tech - Oura Ring: I’ve had my Oura ring for about eight weeks now and I am a convert. I’ve been sick (just a cold) for the last few days and it’s been the first time I’ve really been able to test a few of the predictive measures. And it’s working - the ring knew I was probably sick and I now have baseline health measures to work myself back towards as I recover. Get yours.
Black Friday - I know I know, consumerism is very uncouth, but I’ve been holding out on a couple of things for this week’s impending sales. Fingers crossed the savings are worth the delayed gratification…
What have you been reading/listening/watching/enjoying recently? Pop a comment to this post, hit reply, or just tap the little heart button if you liked something you read.
Waving with handfuls of cake,
PS. To borrow from Austin Kleon (and everyone else who borrows this from Austin Kleon), this newsletter and the podcast are 'free but not cheap'. You can support their ongoing creation and keep me in books by buying me a coffee as a one off 'thank you', or leaving giving the podcast a (five 😉) star rating on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Thanks!
Review: Ideaflow by Jeremy Utley and Perry Klebahn
Stanford dSchool professors write a book about how to have better ideas, and importantly, more of them.
Things I liked
The book is peppered with cool examples of businesses and individuals breaking free of the shackles of their boring bureaucracies and trying new things - especially regarding testing their ideas. I appreciated the fact that the book was predominantly made up of the ideas and methods from the authors / dSchool, and not just a reorganisation of other people’s ideas. The book is also well written and contains lots of highlighter-friendly pithy quotes and often funny anecdotes from both the authors and people who have been through their dSchool program.
Things I didn’t
Sigh. There just wasn’t anything new. There are SO many books out there about creativity and ideas and improving your thinking and this just didn’t offer anything radically different. For this reason I really found getting through this one a bit of a slog, marred by disappointment.
I really enjoy following Jeremy on LinkedIn so I was expecting a lot more from this book. Given dSchool are so open with their methods already, I think for this to justify being a whole ~300 page book, it really needed to bring something new.
Overall verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
As I often say with books that are pretty much the same as others in their sub-categories, if this is the first book you’ve read on the topic, you’ll probably have your mind blown. If you’ve read them all, you probably won’t get a lot out of it unless you just want some more updated case studies and anecdotes.
So yes the case studies and examples were cool, and maybe it’s useful to read them all neatly packaged up, but is that better than having them in a great looking (and more easily updatable / digestible) website? I’m not convinced.