Ep. 254: The Laws Of Less
Transcription for the video titled "Ep. 254: The Laws Of Less".
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Cal's intro (00:00)
So let's make that today's deep question. Why should I do less? I'm Cal Newport and this is Deep Questions, the show about living and working deeply in a distracted world. All right, well, I am not in the deep work HQ. For those who are watching the video, you will see right now, I am actually outside. I am recording from my house in New Hampshire where I will be spending most of the summer. Jesse, however, is joining us from within the deep work HQ. So the HQ is recognized. It still is represented in this episode. And I have to say, Jesse, seeing you in there does make me a little homesick. Hopefully everything is going well down there. - How's the house up there? - It is good. It is good. So here's what I'll tell you about it because actually it's relevant to what we're going to talk about today. This house is provided by the fellowship program. So I'm a fellow at Dartmouth College this summer. And this particular fellowship program, they own this house that's here on Occam Pond, up in Hanover, so it's sort of this old historic house. But this fellowship program's actually been around for a long time. And what they do is they have interesting people from all sorts of different backgrounds, professors, writers, journalists, they've even had an ex-president here or there come through. They come through, they stay in the house for various amounts of time. Some people are just here for a week. Some people, like I'm doing, will come for a whole semester, whole quarter and teach a class. And they come and stay in the house. And usually they give some sort of lecture. And so it's cool. There's a history to this house of really big interesting people coming through. It's also intimidating though, because what they've done is every time someone stays in the house, they get a book that they wrote and put it on the bookshelf. So there's bookshelves full of books from the last 40 years that this fellowship program has been running. And you know that every book on that shelf was written by someone who at some point stayed here in this house. It's quite intimidating. I was just jotting down some names I saw earlier today. David McCullough, Gore Vidal, Joan Didion, Robert Carrow, Cornell West, Louise Erdic, Kurt Vonnegut. All of these people at some point have stayed in this house and done deep work and thought deep thoughts. I don't know how I feel about at some point deep work being on the shelf between Gore Vidal and Joan Didion. I think somehow I'm gonna be bringing down the average intellectual quality of the fellows contributions to the house. - You can put the time block planner up there. - I'm gonna put the time block planner right next to Kurt Vonnegut, you know. And that's gonna be the heavy hitting intellectual shelf right there. - Do a lot of those people have ties with Dartmouth or is it just random? - Now so the fellowship they don't. So the fellowship program just brings, I don't know how it works. They just invite various people to come for various reasons and they're all sorts of different backgrounds. So some of them do have a Dartmouth background. Some of them don't. Some of them are coming through here anyways. I don't really know the full story. But it's a really cool house though. It's basically a rich person's house that they donated to this program at some point in the 70s. So it's one of these rambling sort of rich person country type houses, which is, it's fun. Fun if my kids don't destroy it and it'd be the end of the program. That's it. It'll just be the end of the program. Once they come in, here's what's gonna happen. We're gonna leave, I was gonna say, we're gonna leave, they're gonna come in, they're gonna see the damage we've done and say, burn it down and that's just gonna be that. And then it's gonna, the house is gonna go up in flames. That'll be the end of this fellowship program. - How far from the main campus is it? - It's right down the road. Yeah, no, it's a pretty ideal. I taught my first class. I'm teaching a class up here this summer. I just walked to my, walked to my classroom. The other direction, there's a woods full of hiking and walking, they're actually cross country ski trails. So I can walk four minutes down the road and walk by the river and do thinking walks. I mean, it's essentially, and I can see water, so I'm looking at a pond right in front of me now. So it's essentially, a deep work generation machine that I grew up on paper, exactly what you wanted. For doing deep work, this would probably be, it's probably what you would come up with. - That's right. - But I wanted to actually use what I was just talking about there about these books and you find them in the house. I actually wanted to use that as the foundation for what I wanted to talk about today, because here's what happened. Now I got up here a few days ago. I see those books, it's cool, it's inspiring, it's also kind of intimidating. Then last night, I was doing an event, a dinner, a dinner with a bunch of students and some professors and the students were asking me questions. And one of the students asked me a question that made me unexpectedly draw from these books and what they were making me think about. So a student just asked me, hey, you've done interesting things, you've met a lot of interesting people in your various things you've done in life. What's something you've learned? It's what she asked me. What's something you've learned from being around all these interesting people that you would pass on as advice? And this got me thinking about all of those books, all those impressive books on the shelf. And so on the fly, I put together this piece of advice. I said, well, one thing I would advise would be to shift your time scale when it comes to thinking about productivity from days and weeks to years. So focus on producing a small number of things you're proud of over the course of the next few years. And the books in this house is what was making me think about that because no one knows what Joan Didion was up to on some random Tuesday in 1967. No one knows was she busy, was she doing a bunch of things, was she here and over there and doing this call and contributing this article. No one knows that. What they know now 55 years later is that the next year slouching toward Bethlehem came out and it was great. And these books represented that to me. These books are interesting and high impact and made a change on the world. And they took a long time to write and no one really cares or remembers or knows anymore what these people were up to on the hourly basis or the daily basis or the weekly basis. The sense towards activity in the short term can often be really disconnected from impact in the long term. So this is the advice I was giving these college students is when you're young, it's go, go, go. I remember this. I remember this exact feeling being on this exact campus 20 years ago. I remember this feeling of I need to do stuff. I need something next month to be done. I need to show myself. And in the end, the stuff that brought me back here, the stuff that brought me back as a fellow was actually the stuff I spent years and years on. The slowly building up my writing craft, spending years on a book and trying to step back and figure out what I wanted to do next, building up that type of craft. So that was the advice I gave. And I thought that's what we would tackle today in the deep dive. This deeper idea of doing less as being at the core of having high impact top layer, plan for the remarkable because systematically doing less in your professional life, focusing on just a small number of things, maybe even just one thing at a time that you want to be really good. That's actually a strategy for professional remarkably. It's a type of strategy you might put in place because you want one day to have a book that's on the shelf in a house like this. So even though the calm layer is about controlling your obligations, we're talking more specifically now about doing less as a professional strategy for actually finding distinction. Now, of course, everything builds off each other. If you have not established that calm layer, so if you've not established control over your time and obligations, you don't have enough control over your life to be able to implement this strategy in your professional life. So the stack layers build, you do need to work your way up the stack before you get to this final advanced professional strategy. But I'm gonna put this as a strategy for remarkably.
Various Questions And Topics
Why should I do less? (08:30)
That's what we're really doing here when we want to try to do less. So what I did is I have one, two, three, four, five. I'm gonna call these the laws of less. These are five laws I came up with that explain both why it can be an effective strategy to focus on a small number of things over a long period of time and to some degree how you succeed in doing this. So we'll call these the laws of less. All right, so number one. Accomplishment is non-additive. And what I mean by that is when you think about your standing in the professional world, you are often categorized, so where you are in that world, you're often categorized by what you do best. The best thing you've done is what gives you your professional category, what level of skill are you at, what level of celebrity are you at, what level of accomplishment are you at. This is non-additive. So you cannot add up multiple things that are done at a lower level of quality to get the equal impact of doing something at a higher level of quality. You can't self-publish three books that are okay, okay, written sort of mediocre and have that be the same as writing one book for a publisher that actually caught some attention. So you can't add lower quality to push yourself into a higher quality category. But these categories where the professional world places you is actually quite important because these categories is what opens up and defines the impact you're gonna have. These categories are often typically what opens up opportunities. So if you wanna have higher impact, the higher category in your fields, you can be categorized in, the more impact you're gonna have, the more seriously people will take you and your work. And also the more interesting options that come up. So this is an argument for doing less. If the function here is a max function and not a sum function, then putting more energy into doing one thing really well becomes, that's the logical strategy. To instead spread yourself thin over multiple things that aren't done as well, becomes the illogical strategy because your goal here is not some sort of accumulation of effort, your goal here is to get that peak. The best thing you've done as tall as possible. And the best way to do that is not to disperse too much energy on other activities. All right, law number two, Simultaneity, simultaneousness. But there's another way of saying it, Simultaneity, Simultaneity. I'm gonna have to add this. - I've never heard you mispronounce reward. - I can't pronounce this word. So what we need to do here is somehow integrate this into a Zock-Dock read. Zock-Dock.com/simultaneity to the end of me. Let's just say simultaneousness. Simultaneousness. Breed stress. All right, doing stuff simultaneously, breed stress, let's just say it that way. Jesse, I'm up in New Hampshire, my mind is slowing down. I don't have that city energy like I have in the Deep Work HQ, I can't pronounce things anymore. Simultaneousness breeds stress, let's just say that. All right, so what I mean by that is if you think about what actually creates a sense of burnout or stress in the world of work, multiple things at the same time is often one of the main drivers of this. So work itself is typically not stressful. The actual effort of working on something hard is not typically by itself stressful. If you talk to a novelist, for example, they're not particularly stressed out working on chapter four on some random week. It's actually hard work, but it's not stressful. Stress is often created by a sense of scarcity, stress is often created by a sense of I don't have enough time. This thing is due and I don't have time to get it done or these three things I need to take action on at the same time they're starting to conflict with each other. So when you're just working on one thing, the amount of time that you actually have some sort of deadline where something is due is limited. Every once in a while I have to hand in a manuscript and very rarely do have things landing on the same, landing on the same deadlines because you only have one thing you're working on. When you work on multiple things, you don't have multiple different deadlines. You're never too far from one thing needing your attention. So once you're working on multiple things, the friction, the psychological friction of work becomes more pronounced. I of course know this well as someone who famously works on two or three things, it's seemingly at the same time and a lot of what I've done to make my working life sustainable is to try to avoid having these things conflict. So I will accomplish this either by completely automating something so our podcast setup is pretty automated, we know how it works. It takes up time, I know how much time it takes, I know how it works so it doesn't hang over other work, I can put time away for it. And then when it comes to other types of things I do, I do it sequentially to degree possible. I'm working on this book right now, I'm working on this research paper right now, I try to actually put things in the sequence. When you zoom out it might look like I'm doing multiple things at the same time, I actually really try to avoid that to the extent possible because interleaving, simultaneous work, that's a breeder of stress. All right, the third law of less overhead destroys originality. So when you're working on a project, regardless of the field, we've talked about this before on the show, it brings with it some degree of logistical overhead. These are things you have to do in order to help keep that project organized and moving forward, but it's worked at a shallow, not deep. So it's the meetings you have to have with collaborators, it's the emails that have to be exchanged back and forth, it's the coordination you have to do, and you look, I need to set up this interview for this article and we're going back and forth to try to figure out the time when this is going to work. It's the copy editing for the thing you're working on, we're gonna stick with writing samples. There's overhead, logistical overhead, that it comes along with any sort of non-trivial or important project that you do. If you're working on one thing, the overhead is typically manageable. The issue with working on multiple things is that the overhead begins to accumulate. So now the ratio of your work hours going towards overhead versus going towards the deep efforts the overhead is supporting, that ratio gets larger. And now we've talked about this in past episodes before, just from the time, just from the perspective of time scarcity. So when we talked about this before, we said, look, here's the issue, if you have too many things going on, their overhead takes up a bigger and bigger fraction of your time, and then that will begin to squeeze the time you have to actually work on the projects. And so now it takes you longer to try to get the projects done, which means more things can build up, and you can fall into a spiral where you spend all day, eventually you're spending all day basically just talking about projects and almost nothing gets done. So we've talked about that before on the show, but there is another aspect here that I want to bring up, which is the overhead doesn't just squeeze the time in the short term, it also reduces the quality of what you're producing. Because technically you could say, look, let's do a math equation here. Let's say you're working on three things instead of one. So now it takes you the amount of time you have available for deep work is cut by a factor of three because you have three times the overhead. Now we're doing math here, okay, so we're gonna do some math here outside on this podcast. Technically if you just solve this as an abstract math problem, you could say, okay, so it's going to take three times as long to finish one of these things. But once you get through this time, this three times as long, you're finishing three things. So if something would take you a year to do if it's the only thing you're working on, now if you're working on three things, maybe it takes you three years, but at the end of that three years, you're finishing three things, it all averages out to be the same. There's an abstract math problem you can do here that says it's all fine, it all works out in the same. Things take longer, but the overall throughput works out to be the same. But what's missed by that equation is when you have a lot of overhead squeezing your schedule, so when that ratio of overhead, the depth gets too large, the quality of that deep work goes down. You're not able to immerse yourself in the single big project you're working on to live and breathe it, to have that loaded up, to be thinking about it, to comfortably slip back into it. You lose that ability because you have less time to work and you're switching back and forth between different things when you work. You have different deep endeavors. So the overall quality or the overall originality of what you produce goes down. So working on one thing not only gets you to an accomplishment faster, but the quality of that accomplishment goes up. And that's the whole game here with doing less, right? This was law number one. Accomplishment is non-additive. You're judged by the very, you're categorized by the very best thing you do. Doing one thing is gonna push up the quality of the things that you actually produce. Let's do law number four. The slower pace is deeply fulfilling. In general, humans are happier. Working on less things, but really caring about those things and spending a lot of time on them. This is back from the deep myth of early mythology forward to contemporary case studies. We return to this archetype again and again of the artist, of the sculptor, working the marble week after week, month after month, to produce David, to produce the Pieta. There is this archetype of slowly producing something great that resonates with the humankind, resonates with the human spirit. So there's just a sustained, it's like a logical sustainability to this approach. You're working on one thing feels right in a way that juggling many things, though there might be some identity you can get wrapped up in about busyness and being able to manage lots of hard tasks, it doesn't hit the human spirit in the same way. So something about it just feels right to be working on one thing or a small number of things at a time. So as first four laws are descriptive, right? We're trying to explain why this idea of doing less is a sustainable effective approach. The fifth one, I'm gonna think of this as per scriptive. And I'll state it this way, none of this works without disciplined diligence. So it's actually a very hard strategy to implement. Even if you have the autonomy to choose what you work on, it is a hard strategy to implement because it requires you to stick with something over a long period of time. And this is very scary for a lot of people because the thought is if it's just up to me to keep coming back to this thing and I don't have any particular tight timeframe, you know, okay, I have a week to get this done or it's National Novel Writing Month and I have one month to get this manuscript done. If I don't have that type of pressure, I'm just not gonna work on it at all and this thing will fizzle out and that's true. This strategy only works if you're able to actually deploy disciplined diligence to return to the thing again and again while also being disciplined enough to keep saying no to the other things that might come in and take away that time or focus. Now what I wanna emphasize here is discipline diligence is something to work up to. It's not something you just choose to deploy. So hopefully this makes you feel a little bit better if you're concerned about your ability to actually follow through with something over a long period of time. It is actually artificial to do this and it does require some care and training. So first of all, you must trust your capabilities. You must trust the plan you have for deploying those capabilities to produce something good. This is very important. You can't just go after a big project, focus your energy on it and just invent in your mind how you want that type of work to work. You can't just say, what matters is if I whatever, write every day and get enough words then I'll be able to sell my novel. You actually have to confront the reality of how does the field in which your project exists actually works. You have to talk to actual people in that field. You have to convince yourself and your mind, my current capabilities, I know, if I do this type of work over this time period has a good chance of succeeding with what my goal is. If you don't trust that, if there's a part of your mind, and the part I'm talking about here is going to be the executive functioning centers that actually deal with motivation for long-term planning, if it doesn't trust what you're doing, is likely gonna lead to a good outcome, it will withhold motivation. And you will feel that subjectively as a strong urge to procrastinate. Your mind is smart, it's not gonna let you keep going if you just say, I'm gonna write every day and it'll just work. So you actually have to trust your capabilities in your plan and that means you really have to find a way to assess your capabilities non-objectively. Am I ready to do this? Any that have evidence from real people in this field who've succeeded before you about how does this field actually work? So that becomes critical. The second thing needed to develop discipline diligence is a strategy of working from the smaller towards the larger, this also really helps. So you don't jump right into the super ambitious project. You layer or level yourself up to that bigger project. So maybe the first thing you work on in that field is smaller, something that takes a few months and is not as competitive, but now you have a little bit more confidence. You understand that field a little better, you have a track record to show your mind, hey, this worked, we succeeded. And then you level up to something bigger and then you go after that bigger one. That's accomplished. Again, you get a track record. Okay, I can succeed in this field. I know more about it. So you build yourself up so that when you go for your big project, it's not grasping in the dark. It's not necessarily a big stretch. You feel good about it. I'll give you a writing example from my own life. When I decided to become a professional writer, I didn't jump or straight into so good they can't ignore you, which was my first general audience, big hardcover idea book on the tables of Barnes and Noble publicity campaign behind it. I actually started with How to Win at College because this was a book that I had designed and sold to be much easier to write. I purposefully had built that book around a collection of contrarian rules that were each just two or three pages long. It was a book that was much more tractable for me to write. It was much more similar to the type of journalistic writing the smaller form writing I had been doing because each chapter was just a standalone contrarian idea that was expressed. So it was actually a bunch of little essays of the type I was comfortable writing. This was part of me building up my confidence. So by the time I got 10 years later to publishing So Good They Can't Ignore You, I was ready to tackle a much bigger journalistic, big idea book that was aimed at a large audience. And we see this in many professional fields as well. So you want to build up your confidence. Just don't jump right in. So that's this fifth law is so critical because otherwise we just romanticize, think about these fellows at this house, such as disappear for two years and come back with their essay collection that changes the world. And we think, well, even if I could do that, I don't know if I'd be able to stick with it. How would I trust it's actually going to get done? You shouldn't expect a trust to get it's done until you've actually done the work to develop that trust. And so it gives you a place to start. Discipline diligence is developed over time. You can focus on that as you build yourself towards a more focused professional life. You also get the advantage that as you level yourself up and what you're able to produce, you can then leverage that to get more autonomy and the more and more ability to spend more time on a more focused number of pursuits. So everything can link together here pretty effectively. So those are my five laws of less. I'll just read all five real quick. Accomplishment is non additive, simultaneous work, breed stress, overhead destroys originality, a slower pace is deeply fulfilling, and none of this works without developing disciplined diligence. All right, so that is my deep dive. All right, so now we are ready to move on to the question portion of the show. If you're watching this on YouTube, what episode are we just, this is episode 254. All right, so if you're watching this on YouTube, youtube.com/calenuportmedia, episode 254 or the deeplife.com, episode 254. You'll notice I have in preparation for the questions, I have changed locations. I thought it was cool to do the deep dive outside. My laptop was less happy about being in full sun. So I have now moved to the basement of my house to to do the question portion of the episode. We've pulled some questions here that are going to deal roughly with our theme of the day. So the questions we're gonna deal with all tackle, roughly speaking, doing less. This idea of finding more productivity in reducing what's on your plate.
Cal talks about Cozy Earth and LMNT (26:22)
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How can a teacher embrace slow productivity? (31:25)
One thing that's critical in teaching at the level that you're doing is to be very careful about taking on extra responsibilities. Your margin for time is very narrow. You're basically in front of students, as you know, for many of the hours of the typical eight hour workday, you're left with, I don't know, an hour, maybe 90 minutes within a nine to five, nine to five 30 day to work on everything else. Prep in classes, grading, et cetera. There are a lot of opportunities, especially if you're teaching at the secondary level, but maybe the middle school level. There's a lot of opportunities for other things you can do. Be very careful about that. Be very careful about volunteering. I'm not trying to be curmudgeonly to make you into a misanthropy. I'm just saying your time is limited. So right off the bat as you return to teaching, be very protective of that time. Your first order of business, especially when you're new back, is just focusing on doing your core obligation of teaching and molding these young minds as well as possible. Another thing I'm gonna recommend again, we're all trying to avoid unsustainable overload right now. The other thing I'm gonna recommend is that to the extent possible, set up assignments in ways that makes your life easier. Now this is something professors know a lot about. There are many different types of assignments you can give your students. Some of these forms are gonna require much more time from you than others, but there's often this same pedagogical impact on the students. So often you can think about different ways you might evaluate your students, which gets you to the same pedagogical goals. The students are going to learn, they are gonna be assessed, but there's some ways to do that, it's gonna make your life much easier than others. Do not feel guilty about shaping your courses and your assessments around easier, more sustainable for you approaches. This is actually about making your into a better teacher. If you have more time, if you're not up to your neck and impossible to grade ambiguous essays that make you stay up late at night, if you're not doing that, you're gonna be better at the other aspects of your teaching. And from the students perspective, there's lots of different assessments, they all are basically the same. They don't really care, they don't really recognize that much. So think about yourself, do not be a martyr to pedagogical innovation. I see this a lot. You say, I just wanna, I have this cool idea for where we're gonna do these type of projects and it feels kind of innovative and it sucks a huge amount of time away for you as a teacher. And now you actually can't show up as a teacher. In your effort to be a better teacher, you made yourself work. So be very careful about how you set up your assignments, prioritize or keep yourself in your own, the demands on you, keep that in mind. You probably are gonna have to work outside of nine to five, that's just the reality of teaching today. So let's do that intentionally. I'm gonna say use automation and elevation here. So automation means it's the same time, same place, the same days of the week that you do the work that has to happen outside of the nine to five. You do not want these efforts, the extra grading, the extra prep you have to do. You don't want it to be something that just hangs over your head at all times and you always feel like you should be working on it and it just, ah, it's Thursday night, I better, I gotta do this, I have to prep for class, automate. This is how I do it. This is when I do it. This is where I do it. You're doing the work outside of the nine to five on your own terms. And it might be something as simple as, all right, on Tuesdays I've set up with my partner that I actually come home at 6.30 instead of five. And that is on Tuesdays when I finish my prep for the rest of the week through next Monday. We just have that set up, I don't even have to think about it. And Saturday morning, I have a grading block and I've given assignments so that two and a half hours on Saturday morning, I can definitely get the grading done. Now I know when that work happens and all the other times outside of work, I'm not worried about it, I'm relaxed, I'm going on with the rest of my life, I'm not feeling overloaded, I'm not feeling burnt out. The elevation piece of this, that's automation, the elevation piece is, be careful about the locations and the rituals around this work. Have a cool place you go, yeah, Saturday morning maybe you do the grading at a particular coffee shop or if you live in a city, it's you go to a cafe in a museum, right? So you set up the location to be inspiring or interesting or have other benefits to it, it gets you to, you like the coffee they serve here to a long walk to get to where you do the work. Think these things through so that the work outside of the normal nine to five does not hit you as a burden. It doesn't hit you as, oh my God, this thing is hanging over me and it's sapping away other things I enjoy, you've actually elevated it into an intellectual experience that you can actually get some satisfaction out of. Finally, a lot of this is about keeping work at bay. The other aspect here is improving craft and this is where I'm gonna give you a slow productivity approach. Choose one thing per marking period, one aspect of the teaching craft that you are systematically but slowly improving. Don't try to go too fast here. Days are short, years are long, that's why I like to think about it. If you're constantly working slowly but steadily on some aspect of your teaching craft, give that three years and you're gonna be a much better teacher than you were. You don't have to rush this, you don't have to be up till midnight every day in the first September of your back, trying to come up with all these grand projects and new schemes that are gonna engage your students slow but steady. That's the way you avoid burnout here, allow these improvements to accumulate over time. So if in a marking period you say, I'm just working on this one thing. How do I, I don't know, I'm teaching calculus and I'm working on the way I am trying to convey some of these techniques to the students and maybe I don't wanna just write things on the board. Let me just really start thinking through a whole, just a little bit on the way to work. I think about it, I try things, I take notes, it's not a lot of time at any one day but I spend four months or three months just working on this and in that marking period, I have a slightly better method for teaching calculus. I figured out what works and what doesn't, that's working better. Now the next marking period I'm gonna try to push that to the next level. The slow but steady improvement of craft is not gonna change things much in the first few weeks but after a few years you might actually be considered an exceptional teacher and you did this without having to break your schedule, you did this without having to be completely overloaded. And I think this general template we can export to many other types of knowledge work professions that are similar to teaching. These ideas about being careful with your time, setting up your work in ways that keeps in mind the demands on you. If you have two equivalent ways of doing something and one's gonna require much less time, don't feel guilty about deploying that way. Automate and elevate where you do work, especially work that's outside of the normal work hours and work on improving craft but do it slowly but steadily. So that's gonna be a general template here that hopefully we can extrapolate to multiple different positions. All right, Jesse, what do we got next? - My next question is from Jim. How do you know if a big slow productivity idea is good enough to warrant the daily effort? Background, I'm a full time online writer and I have a book idea. I think that I might find an audience but I don't know if it will work. - Well, this is very important. Jim, we talked about this with the final law of less during the deep dive but this gives us a specific case study to tackle. So let's go back and remember what I said in that fifth law of less and we'll apply it to your particular situation about working on a book idea.
How do you know if an idea is good enough to spend years working on? (39:20)
So first of all, you're going to want to work up to bigger size projects. You might not wanna start right away with just I am writing a book. What is actually happening here is, okay, can I write? Have I actually published some writing before? All right, that's a step. Do I have an agent? Well, that's gonna be another first of it. If I can get an agent, that's gonna be a justification or validation that my idea is good and there's someone else who's a professional who thinks I'm the right person to write it. So let me make that the next step. Now I got that done. Now I feel a little bit more confident. Now I'm writing sample chapters for the proposal. I can write two sample chapters. That's hard but that's more tractable. My agent likes these sample chapters. Oh, now we've sold the book. Now we've actually can go, now when I'm going ahead and writing this book, I've done some writing, I've gotten an agent, I've written some sample chapters, so sample chapters convinced a publisher. Now you're gonna find motivation to finish this book. This is all very different than just saying, let me just start writing. I think I could produce something really good. The executive function center of your brain is gonna look at that plan and says, says who? How do you know that anything that this at all is gonna turn up? We have no evidence, we have no background experience with just writing every day and it turns out producing a book. So I would say you really wanna ladder your way up to this bigger, longer project. Now the foundation to what I'm talking about here, it sort of underscores all of this, is to be ruthlessly evidence-based in figuring out your plan for the thing you want to accomplish. So again, I'm really worried when I hear about, for example, a writer saying, yeah, I'm just gonna start writing every day, because that tells me you haven't talked to someone in the publishing industry, you don't understand how the publishing industry works, or you do understand and you reject it. You're nervous about talking to an agent 'cause they might not like your book ideas, you're gonna have the circuitous approach where, well, write it myself, but then I'll be very clever about the marketing and we'll do this and that, and then the agents will come to me later and wanna buy my book. You're inventing your own story about how the industry works because you either don't know or you don't like, or you're afraid of what the actual story really is. You have to be ruthlessly evidence-based when coming up with what you're gonna work on and how you're gonna work on it for one of these diligent, disciplined, long-term project endeavors because it's a really big investment of time. Your brain has to trust, you know what you're doing, and this has a chance of succeeding. So do not skip the step of ruthlessly gathering evidence about how your field actually works. Now, I see this all the time. There's a lot of other common examples where people write their own stories instead of actually figuring out how a field works. This happens in tech startups a lot. I talk to people that like the idea of having a technology startup, but don't actually want to talk to, let's say, funders or investors or get a sense of what would make a company attractive to an investor that would allow an exit, that would allow growth or acquisition. They don't want those stories. They want it just to be the fun stuff. Then I have a Slack account set up and I'm jumping on calls with people to get their ideas about things and paying web developers to set up a website. They don't want the reality of what is the technical skill required. What is the work that actually goes into producing something that is good enough, that has the potential scalability that can actually attract funding? How much talent does that actually require? I don't know how many times I've heard someone say, "Yeah, I just need to find a programmer type to build the thing, but I've got this great idea. They want just the fun part, not the hard part." And there's other fields too, where you'll see the same thing, you'll see it in podcasting. But what actually, it's a successful podcaster. How does a podcast become financially viable? It's rare. So what are the elements that makes a podcast financially viable? What is required to actually get there? What type of audience or content and what differentiates a successful one from non-successful one? People don't want to hear that too. They just say, "I just want to start recording because you never know. Maybe I'll be Joe Rogan." You know, that's not how it actually happened. So ruthlessly evidence-based approach to these big ambitious projects, it sounds at first like a downer, but it is the fuel that will allow you to actually continue and get something big done. The bad news is, it might take a lot of things off the table at first, things that you want to do for your big projects, you gather the evidence and you realize, I'm not in a good position to do this. And that is a downer. But what it does mean, and this is the side, the benefit, when you do find a thing that is reasonable for you to pursue, that feeling of motivation you have, when the evidence is there to back it up, you've built your way up to this, your mind believes it, that feeling of motivation is really powerful and a lot of people don't even recognize it until they get it and they say, "Oh, this is what it feels like to go after something big," in a way that is deeply grounded in reality and has a real chance of succeeding. It just feels very different than the, I'm writing every day, I'm doing my thousand words, I'm having zooms with people about my startup idea, I bought a USB mic and now I'm a podcaster, it really feels different once you have that foundation of evidence. So I'm glad you brought this up, Jim, because I think that's, it's downplayed too much when we talk about these big ambitious long-term projects. All the prep work is often ignored, and we just say, well, have the courage to follow your passion and just go for it. No, don't go for it. And tell you're so convinced that you'd be dumb not to, that you have no other choice. All right, Jesse, I don't know, Jesse, I kind of feel now like I'm temporarily back in that beginner podcast phase, I have a USB microphone, I'm in a basement, I'm not in the HQ, I feel like we're taking steps backwards here. Though actually, I think, this is what's gonna be fun, I think listeners are gonna see and viewers are gonna see I'm slowly going to evolve my setup here as the summer goes on. Because I flew up here and I'm flying back to drive up with my family, so I'm gonna be bringing more equipment up in a couple of weeks. Yeah. Nice cameras, some nice lighting. My goal is by the time we get the mid-August, that this house here at Hanover is gonna be producing a really slick looking podcast. I think it's gonna be a fun project. I'm gonna build a cool setup here. It's gonna really will be the Deep Work HQ North once I'm done. So that'll be a fun progression to watch as the summer runs on. Yeah, baby. All right, let's do another question, what do we got? All right, next question is from Amanda. I work in secular teacher education, but considering whether I would eventually do a pivot to apply everything that I've learned within my career to independently offering courses related to Christian topics that interest me.
How can I slowly build the success needed to pivot into a new career? (45:58)
Your concept of slow productivity is encouraging as it shows how great work can develop little by little on the side of a main career. How should I apply these ideas in slowly building toward my pivot? Well, Amanda, I like that you're embracing slow productivity here. I think this idea of working slowly and steadily on one thing is a great fit for this particular scenario you're talking about. We haven't touched on the scenario yet in this show, so I'm glad you brought it up. But the scenario of I have this job, I wanna do this other job. So I want to on the side work on something to distinguish myself. And that is a great place for the slow, but steady approach to be applied. And I think it's a great place for two reasons. One is just a quality reason. So as I covered in the laws of less, when you have this one thing in a particular field that you're giving all of your attention to and just keep coming back to again and again relentlessly, but sustainably. You're never too long from working on it, but you're never working a lot on it in any short period of time. You're never staying up late to work on it. That is as we talked about in the laws of less, the recipe for producing the highest quality that you are capable of producing. That is critical when you have a side project that eventually is gonna provide the pivot into something else. You are gonna get the most options if what you're working on is as good as possible. So the better the thing you produce, the more options you're gonna have about how to leverage that to change your career or push you into a different trajectory. So quality is very important here. Knocking something out of the park, producing something too good to be ignored is a really good way to try to actually induce a professional pivot. So slow but steady as we talked about is a good formula for that. The other element that makes that a good match for what you're doing is that it can fit into a life or there's other things going on. Slow but steady work is very flexible. It means when you have a really busy day, you don't work on the project, that's okay. When you have a slightly easier day, you're able to make more progress. And when you have a, your teacher, so when you have a summer, maybe you're working on it a lot. So you can have this natural variation in pacing. All that matters with the strategies, you're never too far from the work. You just wanna keep coming back to it again and again. It's relentless, but it's not overwhelming. And it's very flexible for these three days, we did nothing. But these three mornings, we did do something. And during this month where we had time off, I was working a few hours every morning. Slow but steady is very adaptable, very sustainable. It's something you can fit next to other work you're doing because you're not charging towards some deadline. This has to be done in this time. And oh my God, I don't have enough time and have to stay up late to get it done. It can adapt to the time available. And as long as you don't abandon it, as long as you've done the other things we've talked about for developing disciplined diligence, you will keep moving until you accomplish it. The timeframe will depend on how busy or the work is, but it will get done. But it will get done in a flexible and a sustainable way. So I think the slow but steady, slow productivity approach is a really good fit for what you're thinking about, Amanda, which is building on the side, something that one day will be at the center of what you're doing. All right, let's do one more question. What do we got here, just let's do one more. All right, next question is from Mahmood. How do you read five books monthly with all your other duties and responsibilities? Do you have a one and a half hour time block daily? Do you have your paper book everywhere with you? Or do you read it on your phone? - Well, Mahmood, I can, first of all, I'll say I did a video about this. So you can find at youtube.com/countaportmedia. Somewhere on there is a video, how does Cal Newport read five books a day? Or something like this? I don't think it's too hard to find. But let me just hit on a few-- - Five books a day, baby. - There we go, five books a day.
How does Cal read 5 books a month? (50:08)
I'm telling you, up here in New Hampshire, it's super productive. Five books a day, no problem. Go for long walks in the woods. That's the way you do it, five books a month. Come on, five books a day. Let's get after it. All right, five books a month. So how do I actually do that? Let me just mention a couple points here. I'll mention a couple points here. A huge part of this, and it's hard for people to believe until they try this, is that I don't distract myself with my phone. I don't have interesting things on my phone. I don't have social media. I don't have, I don't know, a YouTube app on there. My phone is pretty boring. I mean, the most distracting my phone is, is if we're in a period where the Washington Nationals are doing well, I'm gonna be checking those scores while the game is going on. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about that right now. So there is no distraction coming from my phone. It makes a huge difference. You don't realize how much of your time goes towards essentially paying the bills of these attention economy corporations that are packaging and monetizing your attention for money. You don't realize how many shifts you were pulling in their attention factories until you actually take that out of your life. When you do take that out of your life, you have downtime. There's more downtime than you would think. Even if you have a busy job, like I do, you have a lot of kids, like I do, there is still downtime. The kids are watching a show, dinner's not ready yet. You know, there's nothing to really do right now. I could read. There's a lot more of that downtime than you think. The second piece of this is just changing your identity. Your self-identity is I'm a reader. I like to read books. That's what I do. I'm excited about books. I seek out books I'm excited to read. I look forward to reading more of those books. When you think about yourself as a reader, then you're much more naturally going to fill these type of down times with reading. So I don't schedule time to read, but a lot of reading tends to get done. I read during downtime. I'll read while I'm eating lunch. If I'm up before the kids, I'll get maybe 20 minutes of reading in there. I'll read in bed at night before I go to sleep. My wife and I often do reading sessions at night after the kids go to bed. Go to the library. If it's the winter, we turn on the fireplace in there. Let's read for a half hour. This morning, you know, here in New Hampshire, I walked down to the dirt cowboy, the coffee shop right there on the main street in Hanover, and got a flavored coffee. I was reading a book I'm working on. Why not? Right? It's just natural. So if you aren't distracting yourself with the phone, and you think of yourself as a reader and take real pride in engaging with the well crafted idea expressed through the written word, you will get a lot of books read. So I don't stretch myself that much to read five books a month. I just have enough opportunities to read some days I'm reading more than others. It's usually not that hard for me to hit that mark. And I have to say, my mood, I recommend it. The reading life is a deep life. The reading life is calisthenics for your brain. Your brain is now constantly grappling with both complex structures of ideas, as well as complex understanding of other human psychology, especially if you're reading novels. So it's calisthenics for your brain. It makes your brain better at dealing with that information. It builds the scaffolding of thought on which you can produce original ideas. It produces the scaffolding of thought upon which you can build your own understanding of yourself and your life. It literally changes your perception of yourself in the world the more you are reading. It is like a superpower. It calms your mind. It gives you insight and perception. It connects you to other people. It really is. If you wanna have a deep intellectual life, it really is deferment on which that can be built. And it's not that hard to do if you can get the phone out of your life as a default source of distraction. So that's what I would recommend. Get that phone plugged in by your front door when you get home. If you need it, you can go near the front door, pick up the plugged in phone to look something up. It's now no longer a default distraction. Always have a book with you. You're excited to read. You'll be surprised at how quickly you will get things done. Within a short amount of time, you'll be reading five books a month. And of course, if you stick with it, you'll be reading five books a day. Right, Jesse, that's where we wanna end up. Gary, to your phone, you'll be reading five books a day. But only if you, we should have a product built around that, Jesse. My cow's course for reading five books a day. - I feel like that's seen in short circuit when the, who's reading on the encyclopedia's. - That's a deep poll. Short circuit reference, I like it. - I remember that movie. - Yeah. - What's the name of that actor? He was also in police academy. The non-robot actor. - I remember the robot. - Johnny Five? Is that the robot? I'm thinking the right one, Johnny Five? Johnny Five is alive? - Maybe. I just remember the scene when he was reading all the books. Remember, he was like gathering all the information. - Yeah. So basically, what I'm offering you is you'll be like Johnny Five from short circuit and be able to read, just sit there and read encyclopedias. These are such millennial references. All right, here's what I wanna do before we, oh, speaking of books, the final segment I wanna do today, Jesse, is books I read. So it's well timed. But before we get to that, I wanna do a quick case study. I sometimes like to do these. People send in case studies about their experience, putting the type of things we talked about on the show in the practice. And I like to share how people are actually, what they're actually experiencing. So here's a case study I wanna read here. I don't have a name with this one. It was anonymous. But I'm gonna read it to you now, and we'll talk about it briefly. All right, so here's the case study. I'm working full time as a grants manager at a mid-sized nonprofit. I'm almost a year into the role, and I have used all of your productivity tools and techniques to work an average of four hours a day. Some days are more, some are less, but if I can control my day, I can get my work done in about four hours.
Case Study (56:10)
The great part of this is that working an average of four hours makes me better at my job. I'm constantly optimizing workflows and trying to improve the quality of what I do. I use techniques from your book, a world without email to decrease the amount of unnecessary back and forth on email. I also track my average weekly hours so I get immediate feedback of a mom track. The result is my organization is on track to raise the most grant money in its history, this calendar year, and I can use my extra four hours to my advantage. I have a part-time job where I do consulting, coaching, and write a blog. I also have time to work out and enjoy meals with my wife and son. Therefore, within the nine to five window, I can work a full-time role through a phantom part-time job, work out, and spend time with my family. The only downside is that I keep this to myself at my job because technically I'm supposed to be working all of those hours. I'm happy with the current setup, however. The key was I started thinking about this from my first day. I was working more when I started, but as I refined my work, eventually I settled at four hours. I think others can benefit from doing the same if they have the ability to do so in their own work. So I love this case study because I think it's a good response to a critique I often hear. I often hear this critique that organizational or productivity thinking is all about just trying to squeeze out more work so that your employers can exploit you more and you're more than just your labor and we have to stop this discourse because it's making us think, it's turning us into machines. But this shows the counter-reality. Being in control of your time and obligations, actually understanding what's happening, understanding where your time is going and then reacting to that, building processes or systems to get rid of the huge sources of distraction, to get rid of all the context shifting, to get things done more effectively. It is not about how can I squeeze out more, it is not about hustle culture, it can be about like we saw in this case study, making your work much more manageable. People ask me sometimes, how can you be a professor and write books and do podcasts? This is part of the answer. If you are finding calm through control in many different positions, you realize the amount of time required to do your work at a respectable level is much less than what other people are spending. You are eliminating waste and frustration with a lot of these techniques much more than you're trying to squeeze out more work. And we see in this case study, what was the result? They're doing good jobs. This grant manager actually is on track to break the record for grants brought into their organizations. He's doing a great job. It only takes him four hours a day. So during his work day, he can exercise, have lunch with his wife and kid. He's working on a sort of side gig that's just important to him. If something went wrong in his life, let's say there was a health scare with a parent or his wife or something, he could easily just turn down that side gig and have hours every day that he could work or tend towards that. Yes, it's extreme flexibility. He could as I would highly recommend that he should do during Halloween time, spend hours every day working on elaborate animatronics and making that one of the focuses of his life. This to me sounds like an incredibly sustainable lifestyle. Now there's two ways we can get here. We can wait for there to be some sort of systemic top down reform where we pass a law that reduces the work week down. It can only be three days or that we have to have some sort of universal income that allows you to only work a part time job and still make it meets and all this stuff might be possible and there might be good arguments for all this stuff. But what is true about any one of these ideas is it's not gonna happen tomorrow but you could do what he's doing starting tomorrow. That this one thing that is in our control, taking advantage of the fact that everyone else around you, the norm, the norm is so incredibly inefficient that if you're one of the few people that actually find calm through control to control your obligations in time, there's these huge inefficiencies for you to eliminate and these huge advantages that you can extract right away. And so I think it's important, this productivity organizational thinking is not about squeezing out more work. It's about how do you refine a humane and sustainable relationship to your work in an age where technology has pushed work into this frenzy, this potential frenzy of exhausting busyness. And there is a lot that you can do right now to help try to push back against it. So I think this is a great case study of the type of deep life that can be crafted on top of this layer of controlling your time, controlling your time and obligations. I like that, Jesse, four hours. I've had a lot more people could be doing that. It's not every job. I think there's a lot of jobs. A lot of jobs for four hours a day. You could be crushing it and no one even realizes that you're building a 10 foot witch that has a broom motion that rotates realistically. No one even knows, they just assume you're up late, especially if you're not in an office, especially if the work is more results oriented and a little bit less performative. So I like these case studies. That always shows an extra step. All right, so what we're gonna move on to is a final segment. I wanna talk about the books I read. God, I guess we're looking back to May, even though this is coming out at the end of June. We always fall behind. Before we get to that though, I wanna mention another sponsor that makes the show possible. This show is sponsored by BetterHelp. Now, I think this is important.
Cal talks about Better Help and Henson Shaving (01:01:52)
We talk a lot on the show about different buckets or areas of your life that you wanna think about and make deeper. Well, one of those buckets or areas that you really should think about is actually your mental life. If your mental life is struggling, if you're struggling, for example, with excess anxiety, if you're struggling with depression, if you're struggling with other types of thinking that is reducing the quality of your life, getting in the way of things that matter, you could use help here. And not just white knuckling it, but professional help. Just like if your knee was hurting, you would say, "I'm gonna go see an orthopedist "and look at my knee and see why it is hurting." Just like if you didn't like your mile time, you say, "I wanna run faster, "I'm gonna go get a training regime "and work with a trainer to become a faster runner." If your mind is not operating the way that you would like it to operate, therapy can be that training. Therapy can be that route to helping your mind get to that state of health that's gonna make everything else possible. Now, the issue with therapy of course is that it's hard and confusing to find a therapist. A lot of them are busy. A lot of them are filled, especially if you're just looking for someone nearby. You might not like the therapist you end up with and then it's sort of awkward because now you're going to this office and how you change this. Better help is here to help make all of that easier. It's entirely online. It's designed to be convenient, flexible and suited to your schedule. You just fill out a brief questionnaire and you'll get matched with a licensed therapist. And because it's online, you can switch therapists at any time for no additional charge. So if the therapist you're working with isn't quite right, you can switch to someone else. I personally know people who have used better help for very specific issues and maybe they switch once or twice and they find this great match and because it's online, they're able to draw from therapists or all around the country, right? And they can find this really good match. It's incredibly convenient and they're able to work on exactly that issue, work exactly on their thought patterns, get somewhere that is more healthy for them. So find more balance with better help, visit betterhelp.com/deepquestions today to get 10% off your first month. That's betterhelphelp.com/deepquestions. All right, I also wanna talk about our good friends at Hinson Shaving. This is the razor that I use. It is the razor that I recommend you use as well. Here's the idea behind the Hinson Shaving Experience. They put their expertise into the production of this beautiful precision milled aluminum razor. They use aerospace grade CNC machines to make these metal razors set up so that the blade extends just 0.0013 inches past the edge that's less than the thickness of a human hair. This means it's a cure and stable blade with a vibration free shave. It's a clog free design because that's so perfectly aligned. You don't get the diving board effect where the blade moves up and down which can create nicks or cuts or scrapes. So they use precision in the design of the razor to give you a very good shave. Now what makes this really cool is that then when it comes to blades you can just use a standard 10 cent safety razor blade. All of the smarts, all of the engineering is in the razor itself. So you pay a little bit more for the razor upfront but then it is incredibly cheap to operate going forward because all you have to replace are these 10 cent blades. So it does not take long but for the experience of Hinson Shaving is cheaper than a monthly subscription service. It doesn't take long but for the experience of shaving with a Hinson razor is cheaper than buying those really expensive over package disposable blades from the drugstore. So it is the razor I use. It's beautifully engineered. I love great tools built really well that solve a purpose and can last for a really long time. So it's time to say, notice subscriptions and yes to a razor that will last you a lifetime visit hinsonshaving.com/cal to pick the razor for you and use that code Cal and you'll get two years worth of blades free with your razor just make sure to add them to your cart. So you add the blades to your cart and then when you use the code Cal the price of them will drop back to zero. So that's 100 free blades when you head to HEN S-O-N-S-H-A-V-I-N-G.com/cal and make sure to use that promo code Cal. All right, so let's talk about the books I read in May. I had to put on my memory hat here. That was a while ago but I went back. Actually, Jesse, you'll be impressed by this. There's a long running joke in the studio where whenever it's a week that we are going to record the books I read I always forget to bring my list of books I read to the studio which is down the street from my house. Well, this time I packed that list with me in my bags and I brought it to New Hampshire. I have my official list with me. My May books are on there, my June books are on there. I'm adding July books to it now as well. So you are probably impressed, Jesse.
Books Cal Read In May 2023
The 5 Book Cal Read in May 2023 (01:07:19)
I hope you're impressed that I actually have my list of books even though I'm hundreds of miles from home. - Very organized. - That's the way to do it. All right, so what did I read in May 2023? Book number one, "The Soul of a New Machine" by Tracy Kitter. This is a book from the 1980s. He was a Tracy embedded himself in a microcomputer or I guess it was a mini computer manufacturer. Mini computers are not really a thing anymore but these were a big deal for a while. These were computers that were less powerful than a mainframe but more powerful than a personal computer running off a microprocessor. And so these mini computers, which were in between these two things, were really big. They were big and companies would buy them. You would buy them often through what was called an OEM. So there would be these third parties that would, you would say, "Here's what I need to do "from a computational perspective." And then they would build a custom package for you. They would buy these mini computers and set it up and set it up perfectly for your business. This was big business for a while. Anyways, Tracy Kitter embedded himself in one of these companies to document the creation of a new mini computer. And his whole point was to try to encapsulate in a book the feel of these technology companies. These sort of new Silicon Valley, though this one was not based in Silicon Valley, but these new Silicon Valley ethnic infused venture capital backed, super fast working, move fast and break stuff, stay up all night to try to get the product out. This was very new in the 80s. And he wanted to capture it in a book and he did so. And this is a, it's a famous book in the history of technology writing. I believe it won the Pulitzer Prize. I believe it won the National Book Award. It was a highly-fedded book. And you'll see why if you read it, it's just a really well-constructed profile that captures what it was like to be in one of these tech companies during that period. The next book I read was "Cautious" by Anika Harris, who I believe is Sam Harris' wife. So "Cautious" it's a short book. It's really cool though. I like this type of book. It just tackles directly the question, what do we know about consciousness? Where does consciousness come from? What are the different theories about where it comes from? And she just goes through it. Here we go, boom, boom, boom, without dwelling too long. And you come out of it with a, I think where she's successful is a really good understanding of the major rifts in the field of those who study consciousness. There's these big schools of thought. Some of them are more prominent than others. And you get a pretty good feel for that landscape. So I actually read this book as a background to the writing I've been doing recently, especially for "The New Yorker" about artificial intelligence. And I really wanted to brush up on my understanding of what we know about consciousness. I was thinking forward to machine consciousness. This was a good primer. I wish there was more books like this. Deep topic, tackled by really smart scientists and a book that can deliver you the lay of the land. And it can do so in 150 pages. That's a cool book. Next one, this is kind of weird. This is a health book, "A Staton Free Life" by Assim Malhotra. This is just me being in my 40s and worrying about my heart and reading about. Lifestyle, food, exercise, heart stuff. This is a, so there's nothing exciting and intellectually about this. This is just someone who comes from a family with heart disease. So there we go. Keep your heart healthy. All right, this next book, I'm gonna recommend, though I'm not sure I'm gonna recommend that you go try to read it because it's incredibly hard to find. The life cycle of software objects. It's a novella by Ted Chang. Who of course is a fantastic science fiction short story writer. Now this book was recommended to me by one of my editors. I really wanted to read it because again, I'm thinking some about artificial intelligence and machine consciousness. It's a really cool Ted Chang classic Chang style novella about artificial intelligence. It posits a world in which you develop these artificially intelligent digital agents but you teach them. So instead of the training be something that happens in a week offline in a big data center, it posits a world where you essentially raise, you have people raise these digital agents in a virtual world and through interaction with humans, these digital agents learn about language and emotion. So it's an interesting thought experiment. Maybe it's easier to build a digital brain capable of learning and then you teach it like you would teach an actual human kid and then it goes into sort of dark places because what do you, you know, these things, it's like they're your kids and then at some point a technology comes obsolete and just turn off the computers would be like essentially putting an end to this particular consciousness and it's all sorts of very Chang style. He follows through the implications in interesting places. The issue about this is it's really hard to find. He published this with a specialty press. It's a beautiful two color print and he published it with a specialty press, relatively limited run and that's it. So it's not available in Amazon warehouses, it's not available in Kindle or on Audible. You have to find one on the secondary market. I mean, this is probably an example, Justin I used to do a segment called Deep. What was it, Deep or Strange? What was the other option? Just he was like, deep or crazy, something like that? Like, is this thing I did? - Yeah. - It was an admirably deep or concerningly crazy and I think the effort I went through to acquire this book could be used for that segment. I don't want to say how much I paid for it but I will just say the number of digits involved was more than two. And so this might be an example of deeper crazy. So this is why I'm not really recommending everyone go out and find this book. But if you do come across a copy to use bookstore, definitely read it. I'm a big Ted Chang fan and I think it's really cool. How do you judge that, Jesse? Is that deeper crazy? - Is it above two or just above two? It's not crazy, that's deep. - Yeah, three, three figures. - It's above three figures? - No, it's not above three figures. It's in three figures. - That's deep. - Okay, we'll call that deep. Four figures is crazy. All right, four figures is crazy. Three figures deep. We agree with that? - Well, you could always, I mean, Ali, you're ready, you could always sell it, you know? - Thank you. - For your property, your library. - I'm gonna keep it my library. It's a really cool book. All right, final book I read, this one's, this is also a curve ball. It was called A Book of Life. This thing was a Beast 500 Words by Michael Strassfeld, a complete survey of Jewish theology. So a rabbi friend. - Five pages. - Yeah, it's a rabbi friend of, what was that? - You said five hundred words, five hundred pages, right? - That's right. Yeah, 500 words. That would be selling Jewish theology a little short. - Hey, five hundred words. - If I remember one book, you could easily read five in a day. - That's how I read five books a day. Is there all 500 word books? Yeah, this book was, yeah, there's Noah, Moses, Yadi Adiyata, Deuteronomy, Yadi Adiyata, Profits, Judges, you get the gist. Now a rabbi friend loaned it to me. And he's like, this is, and I was like, okay, I'm gonna, I like understanding religion. People know I like religion. So I read it. It's cool, it's interesting. So I now know some, I now know some about Jewish theology. All right, so those were my books for May 2023. I brought a bunch of books up with me to the Hanover. So I'm excited to keep reading. There's a couple of bookstores I'm looking forward to visiting here as well. So keep the reading going. And I will remember to do this update next month as well. All right, Jesse, I think we should wrap it up here. I think we, hopefully it's successful. Our first sort of deep HQ North recording of the podcast. Again, if you're watching at youtube.com/calanuportmedia, watch how the quality of my setup here hopefully is going to improve with each passing week because I think that's a fun challenge, a fun engineering challenge. Maybe I'll assign my students, Jesse. We'll say this is their assignment. How good can you make my podcast studio and just make them come and run the studio and like hold the boom mics and your grade is 50% dependent on the viewer numbers of my podcast for the next three weeks. But one way or the other is good. - And write like a compelling piece describing it, your deal, because aren't you teaching at writing class? - That's true. They could write about, actually this is write my question answers. So they're gonna write, they're gonna write all my segments for me and run it. And also make sure my coffee is fresh. Yeah, this is what you do. This is the right way to be a professor. All right, well let's wrap this up, Jesse. Thank you everyone for listening. I'll be back next week with another episode recorded up here from my Northern headquarters. And until then, as always, stay deep.