The Idea EnthusiastThe Idea Enthusiast

Newsletter Stories from January 2019

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by Greg Roth

Each Wednesday, I send out a newsletter with links to “idea enthusiasm” stories from around the web. Here is a compilation of stories from January 2019. You can sign up for the newsletter here.



The career journey of Bjork, who began writing music at age 9, and the power of treating creative work as an ongoing experiment. [1-9-19]

“Why the best leaders don’t always have a plan“. Adam Grant interviews Gen. Stanley McChrystal about moving forward without knowing whats next. [1-9-19]

The concept of microproductivity is a foundational aspect of the Challenge Mindset. On the Trello blog, 4 aspects of breaking work down into its smallest parts to insure success. [1-9-19]

If you want to tackle big problemstry thinking like a bee. In its lifetime, a bee makes only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey. [1-9-19]

How to balance full-time work with creative projectsDone is better than perfect. Also, start small and build slowly. [1-9-19]

VIDEO: Goose Island Field Goal Challenge. After the Chicago Bears lost their playoff game on a field goal that hit the uprights, not once but twice, the local brewery gave fans a chance to win tickets by kicking a similar 43-yard field goal in the snow. 101 tried, including the author of this article. 101 failed. A lesson in humility and skill appreciation. [1-16-19]

The #MakeupOnPotato challenge has taken over Instagram. Make-up artists from across the world are getting out their beauty blenders, ebbing out all the imperfections on potatoes and giving them a full make-up transformation. [1-16-19]

Reframing Facebook’s #10yearchallenge. Helena Price, owner of a Silicon Valley production company, asked a different version of the question on Twitter (changing the focus from looks to accomplishments) and got hundreds of replies. Bravo. [1-16-19]

Journaling one sentence every day. Author James Clear, who is enjoying the fruits of 3 years of blogging with his NY Times bestseller, Atomic Habits, writes about the surprising benefits of one of the most micro challenges you can do. [1-16-19]

Farnam Street’s guide to doing great things. Two great insights here: (1) Focused investment of only one hour a day can double your lifetime output and (2) People who do great things tolerate ambiguity — they can both believe and not believe at the same time. [1-16-19]

The skilled climber and thief Vjeran Tomic, whom the French press referred to as Spider-Man, has described robbery as an “act of imagination“. This is the story of his — and possibly history’s — greatest heist. [1-23-19]

What can we learn from people who succeed later in life? Beyond their resiliance, they have a “Q factor”. [1-23-19]

Comedian Chris Gethard is known for his awkward comedy and freewheeling live show in NYC, but here he talks about working on his physical strength, taking 3rd place in a grappling tourney. [1-23-19]

The National Association of Concessionaires is celebrating its 75th anniversary by launching a 30-day membership campaign designed as a challenge. [1-23-19]

VIDEO: Comedy writer Matt Buechele concocted a one-minute parody of most musical’s opening songs. [1-23-19

After years of attempts and a partner’s heart attack, Austrian sport climber and mountaineer David Lama finally made it to the top of Nepal’s tallest unclimbed mountain. [1-30-19]

Pew Research Center walks us through its survey experiments and how wording influences responses. [1-30-19]

Experimenting at a 160-year-old company: an interview about the inner workings of the in-house creative team at The Atlantic. [1-30-19]

Big brands like Häagen-Dazs and Tide are testing reusable packaging in an attempt to cut down on plastic waste. [1-30-19]

At 66 years old, David Kilpatrick, the president of Paramount Pictures, challenged himself to walk 100,000 steps in a single day. [1-30-19]

“Never underestimate the difference a few minutes can make.” Scarsdale (NY) High School experiments with two different schedules. [1-30-19]



The dark underbelly of America, as witnessed by female cable tech[1-2-19]

An Israeli reporter embeds with the fact-checkers at Politifact to cover the 2018 midterms. [1-2-19]

A social entrepreneur quits her startup to study depression. [1-2-19]

“Going Dumb”: a year with a flip phone. [1-2-19]

“Unplugged”: logging off and reading 12 books in a week. [1-2-19]

Spending 2018 reading motivational books. [1-2-19]

Riding an electric skateboard from New York to Philadelphia; a contemplation on the changing nature of transportation. [1-2-19

How a non-designer redesigned his Twitter feed to be “mostly harmless”[1-9-19]

Joe Pulizzi, of the Content Marketing Institute, pulls lessons from his 12-month sabbatical. [1-9-19]

Observations from a year of professional party-crashing. [1-9-19]

Teaching your local neighborhood baristas about implicit bias, after the Philly Starbucks incident. [1-9-19]

This guy tracked his entire life in 2018 using a Google Spreadsheet. [1-16-19]

16 people who lost 100+ lbs share their best tips. [1-16-19]

Following Ben Franklin’s daily schedule for one month. [1-16-19]

Reflections on reading 50 books in 2018, grouped by theme. There’s one on “mindset”. [1-16-19]

How one person who hates exercise learned to love exercise. Took about a year and a half. [1-16-19]

behind-the-scenes look at how Chick-Fil-A makes its signature chicken sandwich shows it’s a race against the clock, and the results are plucked (ha!) right from lean startup and kanban philosophies. [1-23-19]

A writer wrote for a year anonymously and reflects on the freedom of losing a byline[1-23-19]

10 creatives on when they knew they had to make a change in their career. [1-23-19]

DC-based writer Andrew Zaleski returns to the TIE newsletter, this time with a report on joining the Shawn Baker meat-eating cult for 30 days. [1-23-19]

“I tried to block Amazon from my life and it was impossible”. [1-23-19]

Every year, California Democrats elect 7 men and women in each of California’s 80 Assembly Districts, for a total of 1,120 delegates to represent the party at the Democratic State Convention. Kristen Wong learned that running for this unpaid position is no joke. [1-30-19]

The State of Work Life Balance in 2019: What the RescueTime platform learned from studying 185 million hours of working time. [1-30-19]

Writer Kashmir Hill is back with another story about quitting and this time, it’s quitting Facebook. Turns out, she missed it. [1-30-19]




Should you learn things you don’t plan on using? [1-2-19]

A lifestyle blogger keeps a monthly gratitude list. How writing down what your thankful for is good for your health. [1-2-19]

Even better, the act of drawing something has a “massive” benefit for memorycompared with writing it down. [1-2-19]

Intellectual humility: why it’s so hard to see our own ignorance, and what to do about it. Observations from the Loss of Confidence Project. [1-9-19]

The most Instagrammable place on Earth, a behind-the-scenes tour of Color Factory’s New York space. For anyone who designs “experiences”. [1-9-19]

The man behind most of the ski maps in America you’ve seen and his creative process. [1-9-19]

An oral history of the Hampsterdance, one of the worlds first memes and a true nod to creativity just for creativitys sake. The actual meme here. [1-9-19]

Let’s end the obsession with innovation. “True innovation isn’t just some magic carnival of invention, like a Steve Jobs keynote with a pretty toy at the end. It is a continuing process of gradual improvement and assessment that every institution and business experiences in some way.” [1-16-19]

The art of decision making. Your life choices aren’t just about what you want to do; they’re about who you want to be. A centuries-spanning look at how our brain picks what we do, based on the new book from author Steven Johnson. [1-16-19]

What’s it like to be an internet advice columnist? Five advice columnists on the letters they’ll never forget, whether they give advice to friends/family, how to get them to actually answer your letter, and so much more. [1-16-19]

Revisiting the One Thousand True fans theory, ten years later. One of the enduring lessons is, “sticking with something long enough to see a result, far past where the average person quits.” [1-16-19]

Six actors turned artists that make work worth talking about. RELATED: Nine musicians share secrets to staying creative in sobriety. [1-23-19]

This photographer spent years finding original locations of vintage vinyl covers[1-23-19]

We need both rituals and routines to power our workday. [1-30-19]

Your digital identity has three layers, and you can only protect one of them. Worse, your online profile isn’t always built on facts. [1-30-19]

GUIDE: 6 powerful psychological biases and how they influence human behavior online. [1-30-19]

How to create your dream job inside your existing company. (Position yourself as a key problem-solver). [1-30-19]

How to use Gmail more efficiently, by setting up multiple inboxes. [1-30-19]

Biohacker Dave Asprey, founder of multimillion-dollar brand Bulletproof Coffee, has spent $1 Million in his quest to live to 180. #curseofloftygoals [1-30-19]



Change My View, the story of a subreddit built on the idea that we’ve at least got to listen to people we disagree with. [1-2-19]

Two methods for getting better at arguments, based on the moral foundations theory. [1-2-19]

Why the Australian Ministry of Justice ran a design sprint to tackle child sexual exploitation. [1-2-19]

How to manage people who are totally disorganized. [1-2-19]

Are your high expectations hurting you team? A study of more than 300 executives in 10 countries shows that approximately 35% of executives fail because of a tendency toward perfection. [1-16-19]

SurveyMonkey made a “culture of curiosity” its mission. They worked with an organizational psychologist to re-imagine how employee surveys could help them identify fresh perspectives and new thinking. [1-16-19]

The power of “Legacy’. Clemson’s championship-winning team, and culture, may owe some credit to a New Zealand rugby powerhouse. [1-16-19]

Let’s keep the ideas moving: A former Target executive shares how to move fast within organizations that are slow to evolve. [1-23-19]

High school students in Connecticut used design thinking to tackle social media problems. [1-23-19]

If you’re staring at a problem you’ve never seen before, “pattern-based thinking” is your friend. [1-23-19]

Team of dysfunction: inside the perpetually-rebuilding Cleveland Browns. [1-30-19]

Venture capital still has a diversity problem, as pitch rooms are still unwelcoming and inaccessible to women of color. [1-30-19]



A big-picture look at social rules and how people make / break them. [1-2-19]

Turns out, alot of the internet is fake. [1-2-19]

Perhaps you’ve heard of the design sprint. Parlor co-founder Keith Frankel writes this piece on his org’s version, the “discovery sprint“. [1-9-19]

The 7 deadly sins of product development, as explained by Dilbert cartoons. No Brad Pitt, but a funner read than you’d expect. [1-9-19]

The co-founder of Village Global’s conversation frameworks he’s picked up from the investor world. Still time to add your own. [1-9-19]

The ‘5-15 communication principle’ was invented by folks at Patagonia. It provides those at the very top of even the most complex company a weekly snapshot of what’s going well and badly from the point of view of all their employees. [1-16-19]

How to spend less time checking email every day. [1-23-19]

How often should you be wrong? Aim for somewhere between 0% and 50% of the time.  15% to be safe. [1-23-19]

Let’s say you have to greet someone you hate. How should you do it? Completely ignoring them is not the right choice. [1-23-19]


Greg Roth
About Greg Roth
Founder, The Idea Enthusiast. Speaker, Trainer, Facilitator, and writer about all things creative consulting. DC-based consultant to individuals who want to be more creative, teams who want to collaborate without fear, and anyone who wants to deliver the best pitches and presentations.

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Newsletter Stories from January 2019