Lost Connections – How ‘Social’ Media Makes Us Lonely – Johann Hari

Social media makes us feel good. Every like, upvote, heart and retweet gives us a little dopamine boost.

So while you get short term satisfaction from your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ these social media cues don’t provide the same benefits as spending time with people face to face, and being part of a close social group.

As a social animal we humans feel most comfortable with a strong peer group around us, and when this is removed and replaced with social media, it can lead to stronger feelings of depression and anxiety.

A city doctor was tasked with leading a group of dealing with mental health issues, and decided to trial getting them together as a group to start tending a shared garden. Being part of this new social group had a profound effect on its members. The reduction in stress and anxiety was higher than the effect of their prescribed medicine.

Forming a connection with people, and having friends who understand your issues, and support you when you’re down made all the difference to these people. Being outside, and having a helping hand in making/maintaining a garden also improved their mental state.

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed consider joining a club or starting a hobby. Meetup.com is a great place to find people nearby with similar interests to you.

Also consider taking a social media detox. Removing app shortcuts on your phone and browser, and turning off notifications can help. Without a constant stream of ‘likes’ you can better concentrate on your relationships with those around you, for a more balanced mental state.

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Building an Audience? Start With “Why?” – Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is a one of the foremost advocates of value-centric business.

In his ‘Start With Why’ speech, Simon talks about how to use core values to inform the messages we put across, and the effect it can have on your audience.

He uses examples like Apple, Martin Luther King Jr and the Wright brothers to explain this. These people were able to inspire others, by always communicating their core values and beliefs. The famous speech is ‘I have a dream’ not ‘I have a plan.’

To help understand what this looks like, Simon explains his ‘golden circle:’

He splits each message into three types based on what area they are communicating:

What: What service/product do you provide?

How: How is it different/special?

Why: What core value has lead you to this?

Most people communicate the first two: What and How. This gives the audience rational reasons to buy a product or service.

It doesn’t reach the part of the brain involved in trust and belonging. This part is activated by understand the core belief behind the message.

Apple start with ‘why?’ Their entire brand is built on the idea that they innovate, push the status quo and put the customer experience first. The How and What follow, but it’s this core value that attracts and resonates with people on a trust level

It’s the reason you see people queueing around the block to get Apple’s latest release.

It is also this intuitive trust level that appeals more to the ‘early-adopters,’ those more willing to try something new and different if it resonates with them. Unlocking this audience can be the key to market penetration, as early-adopters act as influencers on the wider market.

Watch Simon’s fascinating presentation here:

The 5:2 Diet – Dr Michael Mosley

The 5:2 diet is a great introduction to intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting simply means you pick periods of your week to stop eating.

One of the simplest, and most pain-free examples is the 5:2 diet. The idea is that 2 days a week you only eat a very small amount, just enough to stave off hunger. You can eat at any time the rest of the week.

For example the average, moderately-active person needs around 2250 calories a day. On the two fasting days this would be restricted to around 575. For example: skip breakfast, have a normal lunch, and half portions for dinner.

Just this change has two major effects on the body:

  1. Even if you over-compensate the next day your calorie count will still decrease overall
  2. You’re training your body to feel hungry, which readjusts how much and how often you feel you need to eat

There are also wider health benefits, such as improved insulin response, and improved cognition.

As with any diet they suggest making sure you’re still getting all the nutrients you need with plenty of fruit and vegetables, but the flexibility of the diet is the key.

Having a diet that you commit to long-term is going to have a much bigger impact than a short-term diet that you stop once you hit your goal weight. If you can stick with the 5:2 diet you should lose weight consistently until your body reaches a new normal weight.

Dr Mosley’s book ‘The FastDiet’ goes into the full details and gives some great recipes for low-calorie, filling food.

The FastDiet

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Marketing: the Gary Vee Method

Gary Vee promotes content marketing above all else. In marketing there also needs to be an understanding about what is your brand message, and the types of content that best suited to each social media platform.

Rule #1: Create

Gary often suggests creating 100+ pieces of content for social media EVERY DAY.

Research suggests the average customer will only be aware of your brand after 6 encounters with it.

Considering the algorithmic nature of today’s social media, offering a large range of content is the best way to get noticed. Being present on these social channels gives a chance to engage with your audience, and build up a community.

With speed being the key, it’s important to have an efficient workflow, and clear brand values so you can communicate without overthinking.

Rule #2: Learn what works where

Certain types of media work differently on different platforms. A short piece of text can be perfect on Twitter, but completely fail on LinkedIn.

Become aware of these differences, by spending time on the platforms and looking around at what’s working.

Look for opportunities as well. Being an early adopter on an undervalued platform can pay off, with less competition for attention. Right now (November 2019) it’s TikTok and LinkedIn.

Rule #3: Find your message

We are bombarded with adverts all the time, and people are more and more aware of when they are being sold to.

Instead, try and share your brand message. Build a picture of the experience you create. Help your audience with insights and advice in your area of expertise.

The key is bringing value to your audience. When you bring value, your audience will want to be part of your community, and keep coming back.

Conclusion

Gary Vee suggests the key to successful businesses is to become a media company. Get the media right, and the rest of the business will rise with it.

Minimalism Explained

Minimalism is a method of thinking about the things we keep in our lives. The most obvious way it is applied is to your possessions, but it can be used to improve many parts of your life.

Possessions

The things we keep have large effect on us. As well as occupying a physical space, each thing we own occupies a mental space as well. For example, imagine a basket full of dirty clothes. The basket takes up space in your home, but in the back of your mind is the knowledge that you need to wash them.

There are many things we hold on to, because they seem valuable in some way, but unless you use them, they are just taking up space.

Take a look through your shelves/wardrobe for something you haven’t looked at or used in the last year, a book, DVD, jeans etc. Do you think you’re likely to use it in the next 12 months? If not, is it really worth holding on to?

Minimalism promotes the idea that if some isn’t ‘adding value’ to your life, you don’t need it. Your home, and your mind will be clearer if you let go of it.

Behaviour

Minimalism doesn’t just concern objects, you can also examine your behaviour with the same scrutiny.

There are activities we do automatically day to day, like crashing on the sofa to watch TV. You might not even want to watch anything, you might end up scrolling past shows and movies for a long time to find something. In that case are you really gaining value from watching TV?

The minimalist approach would be to only watch something you’re excited about, so only turn the TV on when you can name the show you’re excited to watch.

Relationships

Some relationships are truly valuable, but not all. If you notice you slip into bad behaviours around certain people, or if a relationship is giving you stress and/or negative emotions it might be worth asking if that person is worth having in your life. Is there a way to change the relationship to something more positive?

Conclusion

The key to minimalism is using extra scrutiny when making decisions, about all aspects of your life. There are so many ways this thinking can be applied, that it can be useful to focus on one area at a time.

There are lots of guides about applying minimalism. The first book from ‘the minimalists‘ a great introduction if you feel applying minimalism could improve your life.

‘Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life’

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Mindfulness 101: Stop emotions controlling your life

At its most basic mindfulness is a technique to step back from stress and emotion, to allow yourself to return to rational thought.

Stepping out of your emotional state can be really beneficial in times of stress, allowing you to make better decisions.

Try this quick excersise: try to think about how your body is pushing against the seat/floor right now. Pay attention to the pressure pushing back against you.

Next, try and pinpoint how your body feels when you breath in. What feeling is most vivid? Concentrate on that for a few breaths.

Being actively conscious of your physical state is the first step towards mindfulness. It uses basic physiological sensations to give your mind something neutral to focus on, triggering that step away from feelings of stress and emotion.

Once you have mastered only thinking about your body’s sensations, try and think about how you are feeling. Understanding that you can separate yourself from your emotions is the key, and the more you do it, the easier it gets when you’re in a stressful or emotional situation.

If you want to dive deeper there are lots of resources to help you get started.

Headspace App: iOS Android

Waking Up App: iOS Android

Dan Harris: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics

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Atomic Habits

Habits are our brains shortcuts to allow you to concentrate on more important things. Most people don’t think about how each lace wraps around the other, you just automatically tie your shoes.

Habits (or automatic behaviours) can be split into 4 parts:

  • Cue: the event that triggers a habit (e.g. you smell food)
  • Response: how you feel about the cue (you feel hungry)
  • Action: you automatically perform an action (you make a sandwich)
  • Reward: you feel better (you’re not hungry any more)

When you’re trying to form a new habit, or break a bad habit you can think about strategies that effect these stages.

  • Cue: the most obvious way to change this is through ‘environment design’ – put a bowl of fruit on the table, which reminds you to eat more fruit.
  • Response: this is the trickiest part to change. Pair a new habit with something else you enjoy, to give it a positive association (e.g. only listen to your favourite songs when you’re running.)
  • Action: make the action as easy as possible if you’re trying to build a new habit, or as hard as you can make it when you’re trying to break a bad habit. Stop buying snacks if you’re trying to change your diet, to make eating healthy the easy option.
  • Reward: Give yourself an extra reward when you’re building up a habit that has long-term benefits. The sooner your brain gets a rewarding outcome, the stronger the habit forms.

Your actions impact your identity, changing your habits will lead to a change in personality, as with repeated actions comes a sense of being ‘someone who _____”

Over time small changes build up to large differences, but the most difficult part is starting. Concentrate on doing the first 5 minutes of a habit, and being consistent.

Once you’ve been writing for 5 minutes every day for a week, it’s much easier to sit down and write for much longer without thinking. If you establish the habit by the end of the year you will have been writing for 30 hours minimum, probably much longer, and you’ll be a better writer.

Conclusion: this book makes so much sense to me. It gives a great mixture of actual things you can do to change your habits, as well as good insights about why the techniques work.

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The 4 Hour Work-Week

Tim Ferriss’s ground-breaking book opens up the idea that businesses can be automated to an extreme level.

After founding a nutrient/protein shake business (and having a nervous breakdown) Tim went on a 6-week break, during which he discovered the company nearly ran itself.

On his return he found ways to further automate. He outsourced systems, with clear rules which handled ordering stock, providing customer service, marketing and warehousing/distribution without lifting a finger.

Nearly everything else was handled by a remote personal assistant, and the remainder allowed Tim to handle a highly profitable business during 4 hours a week. The entire relationship with the company is through emails with his personal assistant, and the rest of the time was used to focus on the business strategy.

Other key concepts in the book include:

The Pareto Principle

In most cases 80% of your income will come from 20% of your clients/sources. 20% of your clients will cause 80% of your problems. By identifying these groups you can make your business more efficient.

Test Before You Invest

There are lots of tools available for you to gauge how much demand/interest there will be for a potential business. Building a website for your business idea, run some advertising and see how many people reach your landing page. If it stalls, you might need to try Plan B.

Do the Opposite

Tim had great success in a sales role, when he experimented with doing the opposite from his colleagues. Instead of making sales calls between 9-5 he would call ‘out-of-hours.’By making this switch he was able to reach the right people much more easily, and quickly out-performed his colleagues.

Conclusion

There’s much more in here (including Tim’s stint as an MTV breakdancer, national kickboxing champion and world tango semi-finalist) and it’s an engaging read even today.

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Thanks for reading!

Welcome

Here at ‘Better in 60 Seconds’ we take lessons from the world leaders across a wide variety of fields, and distil them into short, insightful summaries.

There’s a vast wealth of information out there for people looking to change for the better, and it can be hard to sift through it all to find a message that resonates with you, or reflects your personal situation.

How can ‘Better in 60 Seconds’ help?

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