February Coffee Talk: Mind, Body, Business & Books (#30)

Jenny Blake — Elephants in Taro, Bali
Jenny Blake — Elephants in Taro, Bali

Feeding elephants in Bali . . . a highlight of my trip that has sadly come to an end—sigh! I am grateful to have had one of the most important, moving, transformative, rejuvenating, dare I say delightful! months I can remember in a very long time. There will be more to follow on the blog, though some lessons have been very subtle and are still sinking in, while others whacked me wonderfully upside the head.

Alas, it is time for me to re-enter the real world! Though I may still be frustratingly slow to reply to much of what comes my way . . . it is time for major book buckle-down mode! My editor and I both agree that it could use some major restructuring, which might mean cutting significant chunks of what's currently there (and using that content for related articles).

I'm totally on board — as one of my LAC book mentors Michael Larsen used to say to people when asking for feedback, "Don't spare me, spare the reader!" Clear, powerful and direct are definitely my aims here, and the book has a ways to go until it gets there. But like a piece of play-doh, the shape is slowly taking form.

Psst! Last plug to share a career pivot story if you have one! I'll still be working them into the next book draft over the next month.

Smart Business Revolution Podcast

If you’re in the mood to listen to a little somethin’ related to the book, I had a great time chatting with John Corcoran on how to change directions. Skip to 15:00 to start with present-day thoughts (if you've already heard me talk about my background) and how I approach networking:


"What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?

Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?"

"That’s the overarching conclusion of social psychology: we’re all staggeringly imperfect organisms, prone to making bad decisions when stress, busyness or poverty robs us of “cognitive bandwidth”. We habitually excuse our own bad behaviour as the result of special circumstances, while blaming others’ misdemeanours on deep-down nastiness. Or we torment ourselves with how much more accomplished everyone else is, when really it’s just that we lack access to their inner monologues of self-doubt. So: ease up. Except when it comes to these three resolutions, which you must now implement fully."

—Oliver Burkeman, New Year's Resolutions Worth Making


"Researchers eavesdropping on wild chimpanzees have determined that the primates communicate about at least two things: their favourite fruits and the trees where these fruits can be found.

Of particular interest to the chimps is the size of the trees bearing these fruits - the chimps yell out that information, according to a new study published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

The study is the first to find that information about tree size and available fruit amounts are included in chimp calls, in addition to assessments about food quality."


"The first step is to have an explicit belief in change. People who fall victim to a monotonically increasing confidence in their opinions are implicitly concluding the world is static. If you consciously remind yourself it isn't, you start to look for change.

. . . So I don't even try to predict it. When I get asked in interviews to predict the future, I always have to struggle to come up with something plausible-sounding on the fly, like a student who hasn't prepared for an exam. But it's not out of laziness that I haven't prepared. It seems to me that beliefs about the future are so rarely correct that they usually aren't worth the extra rigidity they impose, and that the best strategy is simply to be aggressively open-minded. Instead of trying to point yourself in the right direction, admit you have no idea what the right direction is, and try instead to be super sensitive to the winds of change.

. . . Another trick I've found to protect myself against obsolete beliefs is to focus initially on people rather than ideas. Though the nature of future discoveries is hard to predict, I've found I can predict quite well what sort of people will make them. Good new ideas come from earnest, energetic, independent-minded people.

. . . Surround yourself with the sort of people new ideas come from."

—Paul Graham, How to be an Expert in a Changing World


  • I loved Charles Eisenstein's latest book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. I had the great fortune of hearing him speak in Bali, and his ideas moved me in a very powerful way. One example: Eisenstein believes that major life change—the inner feeling of death and rebirth—is not a choice, but a gift. We are not fully initating it . . . often these changes "choose" us, from a greater intelligence, and we can accept them with gratitude even though the empty space between stories often feels quite disorienting and traumatic.
  • The New Yorker on The Pleasure of Reading to Impress Yourself:

"There are pleasures to be had from books beyond being lightly entertained. There is the pleasure of being challenged; the pleasure of feeling one’s range and capacities expanding; the pleasure of entering into an unfamiliar world, and being led into empathy with a consciousness very different from one’s own; the pleasure of knowing what others have already thought it worth knowing, and entering a larger conversation."

That's it for now . . . sending lots of love your way for Valentine's Day!