[Second Brain 3] Distilling Notes

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I am a mentor for the Notion Advanced track of Tiago Forte's Building a Second Brain, Cohort 12. This is the cleaned up audio of the third of 5 mentorship sessions with Q&A at the end.
I am a mentor for the Notion Advanced track of Tiago Forte's Building a Second Brain, Cohort 12. This is the cleaned up audio of the third of 5 mentorship sessions with Q&A at the end. You can catch Week 1 and 2 in the previous 2 weekend episodes.

This week we cut out the intro and just go straight into content. For visuals you can follow along the Week 3 Slide Deck and the recorded video (don't share this!)

There are 2 weeks left in this series and I'll write a recap blogpost at the end of it.




Week 3 Recap - Distill [00:00:00]

swyx: [00:00:00] So this week was about distilling. I thought this was one of the more interesting slides. Cause I think Tiago just likes the cooking metaphors. last week he also used the cooking metaphor. Basically your notes should be about getting the best ingredients for you to cook with when your, the time comes to eventually produce.
And it's not so much about how you rearrange your kitchen. It's not so much about the hierarchy of the notes. It's just about getting the best quality ingredients each time. And they just really nailing the quality of the ingredient. So that's the way that I interpret his emphasis on note first knowledge management.
So he also had this really interesting duality. Let me turn off my discord because this is really distracting right now. Give me one second. I have this beeping in the background, which I always have tuned out, but I know it's distracting on zoom. Okay. So most people notes are like this, but our notes are going to be like this.
And the difference is the gradients, right? In, in understanding like where we are pretty shallow on and where we're pretty deep on, if you'd advert the mountain metaphor in terms of the amount of work that we've done and being able to see in a single glance, like the highs and the lows.
Stepping away from an undifferentiated mass with just random notes towards putting different degrees of work based on how often we use them, how well we use them. So that's kinda how I pitch the importance of this progressive summarization approach. He used to actually have a much uglier chart than this in the previous cohorts, but I like this metaphor.

Okay. This is a example that I thought was really helpful. The perfect note taking that he exemplifies where we really use some structure. Seven habits is easily breaks yourself down bolding heightened and just a really light sprinkled highlighting. The key is to be able to zoom in and out.
While preserving the same context of the notes which you were connected to. Okay. You gave, he also gave 4 guidelines. I think, I don't think I did a very good job with these slides. I 
just took some screenshots. I don't know. So the first one is used resonance. So literally notes are very personal.
I think every one of us should be able to look at the same documents and come away with different notes because it really just matters what resonates with you. Not about trying to produce something objective right answer what it means. The second one is to really be very sparing in terms of how we, how much we highlight To keep it glanceable as they say, really.

I think I liked his metric of being able to grasp what you summarized in 30 seconds. I think that's a really nice hard limit. And there's only so much you can fit in 30 seconds cause that's how you make your notes consumable in the future like that your notes are only as useful as they are consumable in the future.
The dial-in number three is spending as only as much attention as it's needed. So your notes don't have to be the same length or same level of detail every single time you can come back and expand upon it if you need to. And sometimes if it's just like a, one-off a couple of sentences here that's okay, too.
And then the last guideline is that you should distill when you have an use of mine. So sometimes if you don't even have a use case, you can just leave them notes in raw capture form, like this without all the, with all of the bolding and highlighting. And that's totally fine. When you have a use case, it's much better to have a purpose.
That's what the projects in the areas of for and to me, a lot of that use cases just blogging. Like how will this show up in a future blog posts that I need to do or talk, okay. We also finally talked about the convergence and divergence process. The divergence is something that we're all trained to do very well.

Because we love exploring ideas and there's an infinite number of different, interesting ideas, but convergence is what we essentially get paid to do. Or the it's the final output that people actually see. So we need to practice this more. The way I also think about it is that this line between divergence and convergence is moveable.
And a lot of us for a lot of us, the divert this line is all the way up here. And sometimes it's beyond the delivery point to the point that we never ship. So we need to move it back. We need to move this divergence convergence line back all the way towards something closer here so that we just force ourselves to produce more.
I think that's something that motivates a lot of people. Okay. I also like this table because it compares and contrasts attitude, focus, approach principles. It's really weird because you have to be the same person. But these qualities are super different and you have to do that switch and almost inhabit a different personality when you approach convergence.
And that's what we are starting to be about today. We're going to continue this next week, but I think it's a skill that we have to train and get good at because it's so fun to diverge, but Hey we need to make converging fund as well. And love to chat about that with you. Fun fact.
So this is a diamond chart. I think it's pretty famous among like knowledge management people. I have a friend who actually made an alternative so he actually made a circular chart and check out this animation. I'll drop the link in the chat. So it's some dots that's spinning out from the divergence points and then bouncing off of both framing and liminality, or I guess the short term need to produce something and then converging towards a single point as well.

So I think it's point here is that we're not just, we're not just like doing that with thing in, in the diamond we're also using, we will also get to shape what constraints we want around how we structure our whole research and production process. So I think it's a really interesting way to think about this.
And also just like the animation. I just want to offer that up to you because it's creative, it's provocative. I don't know what it means. Thanks, Joyce. Joyce says that is really nice. And Glen says it's a neat animation and I agree. He's an artist and a coder, 

Speaker 1: [00:05:40] he works like that.
swyx: [00:05:41] Okay. Let's keep going. So feature quotes. I like to pull out some of these quotes there's a whole section in the BSB circle where you can actually drop some quotes. I highly recommend it because it helps you distill it helps you practice this settling. So here I'm actually taking notes from the original lectures, right?
So I highly encourage that you do that as well. So I have four quotes. First is it's time to start spending more of a time of engaging with the substance of the knowledge that we are capturing, not organizing. I think para ironically is the maximum organization that you should do. I think Tiago is essentially a very anti organization, but you do need some, so the minimum is like literally four categories.

That's it. And. Trust in search and the algo gods to do the rest. Second quote, at some point you have to stop collecting new things and start compressing your ideas down into a usable form. I think the emphasis on usable is really. You useful for me because I think a lot of us I'll call myself as an information hoarder or an info war.
I just hoard stuff. Like I might need this in the future. I don't know. That's not super helpful. And actually that creates a lot of background anxiety, and I think. If we spend more time or just consciously biased ourselves towards compressing more towards some form of usability. That's something that we all agree we want to do, right?
It's you can hoard up a giant database of stuff that nobody ever sees and you can, you yourself can never use, and that's not very helpful. So I stopped doing that. The third quote, when you remove the parts that are merely good, then they no longer tell you the parts that are truly great. So this is more like a, there is some amount of fluff in every single blog, post or book or talk.

And if you can remove the parts that are merely good, then you zero in that a little bit more. Me personally, I struggle with this because I love the details. I love people elaborating. Once you make a point, you tell me a story, you give me an example that reinforces the original point and you could remove all of that and just go tell me the original point, but I'm missing all the context and sometimes that's good as well.
I don't have a, I don't have a really strong opinion about this apart from I know that I have to distill things and there's a part of me that always fights it. And if you have that instinct as well, then you're not alone. The final quotes, most people's notes are like a dense jungle.
What we're doing by distilling is revealing your personal knowledge landscape. So again, this is the visual that we had earlier where most people's notes are just an underappreciated, massive just stuff. And then when we have a personalized knowledge landscape, we have parts of our notes that are very highly developed and others, which are just very shallow.

And it's a lot clearer what what we know well and what we don't. Okay. Those are my feature quotes. I don't know if anyone else has any feel free to pop in and chat if you do. I also thought that this week secondary and volt stuff was was a pretty interesting idea. I've grabbed this from this screenshot.
This is pretty poor quality screenshot and sorry. By like seeing examples, right? Like we learned by looking at other people. So how do I encourage you to check out there the second revolt, if you haven't, I guess this is just a wealth of information. I like that second, the second brain course has layers itself, right?

You could just do the lectures, but if you had the extra time, you could actually go further and deeper and there's so much depth to the amount of content that's available. So highly recommend it. Okay, so we're gonna, we're going to pause a little bit. That's my little 10 minute recap.
15 minute recap of week three three's content. I was just wondering Is there anything that people wanted to ask about or discuss? 

Q&A: Calendar as Todo List [00:09:10]

Speaker 1: [00:09:10] Yeah.

swyx: [00:09:10] Oh, hang on. Someone's talking, but ah, there we go. You don't know your name? Is it Dennis?
Yeah, sorry. I think I clapped my hands instead of raising my hand. I'm sorry, under reactions, but last week, this is an about the stealing. It's about what you mentioned last week about don't have to do lists, just have a calendar. And I don't think we covered that necessarily, that piece of philosophy.
Can we put that on the list to cover this week? To be clear that it's not part of the second brain course, that's just, 

Speaker 1: [00:09:40] yeah, 

swyx: [00:09:40] that was one of your 

Speaker 1: [00:09:41] things. 
swyx: [00:09:42] My personal take on organizing for those who wants the week two slides it's here there we go. Yeah. What about it? I'm not saying, I'm not saying like never have a to-do list.

I'm just saying, I think there's a level above to do lists that is scheduling it, putting it on the calendar. Cause that's the only your calendar is the only thing only to do lists that is, has a guarantee of a hundred percent completion. So if you don't book time with yourself, then when are you prioritizing this?

I don't actually know when I mentioned this. Did I mention in the first week or second week it was last week. It was the second 

Speaker 2: [00:10:13] week. 

swyx: [00:10:13] Yeah. Okay. I don't remember when I mentioned 

Speaker 2: [00:10:17] it in 

swyx: [00:10:17] the beginning, but you didn't have a slide for it. And then we asked for questions at the end, but then I forgot I wrote it down because yeah.

So I should probably turn this into a blog post. It's basically this idea called time block planning that you sh whenever you do something to do lists have basically have no constraints, right? Like you can just add on a bullet point after bullet points, and then pretty soon, you're just want to stuff.
So forcing yourself to not only place it on the calendar forces versus forcing yourself to estimate them all the time that you're going to spend doing the task, but then also prioritize it like what comes first. And when you look at your calendar and everything's filled up, then you have to start saying no, and that's I think a key part of why a to-do list you're using your calendar as your, to do this really helps you don't have to finish everything.
Let's say if like your time goes over, you can move stuff in your calendar around, but just blocking off time. So you don't over commit yourself in the future because like present day. That you today, it's very easy for you to promise your own future time because that's a different person and then do that all the time.
And then when you get there, you just look back and you go Chris, what was I thinking? That's really, it. That's my para for time. So this course though, I found it really, I it's been something I've been struggling with is I've been inputting projects and I start putting things with them.

Speaker 2: [00:11:40] I'm like, ah, it becomes like this wave of overwhelm around how much I haven't I guess it explains what's going on in my head, I guess how much I have been done. But yeah it's a nice discipline. There, there are a lot of other authors. Yeah. There are a lot of other authors that do this.

swyx: [00:11:57] It helps you to focus as well. So like bigger chunks and yeah. I recommend reading up more about it. I'm just getting into it and stuff. That's why I think I probably didn't put a slide on it just because I'm still forming my thoughts on it, but the more I explain it, the more I think about it, I'm like, this is the only way to have any sanity on.

 Speaker 2: [00:12:14] Can you place that Twitter thread in the chat? 

swyx: [00:12:18] Thank you. But thank you for asking about it because it helps to reinforce that. 

Speaker 2: [00:12:23] Yeah. It's helping me with that dip effect. Cause I'm definitely been dipping and around different items around this this methodology, but yeah. Okay. Thank you.

swyx: [00:12:33] Glen and Peter in the chat say that was a helpful question as well. I think when you have a question a lot, sometimes a lot of other people may have the same question. So it's always helpful to just ask, if it's on your mind, especially cause we're wow. We're 50 people now.
So not that small group, but a lot of people will tend to keep to themselves. And I, I appreciate people who ask questions. Okay. There was someone else with the hand up, 

Q&A: Zettlekasten vs PARA [00:12:55]

Speaker 2: [00:12:55] it was bomb Barnard, 

swyx: [00:12:56] Bob. Did I answer your question or Nope, I have a different one. That's 

Speaker 1: [00:13:01] on topic. So 

swyx: [00:13:02] what's the difference 

Speaker 1: [00:13:04] between the 

swyx: [00:13:05] process that Tiago talks about in the design casting idea of permanent notes and literary notes and all of that.
Because they obviously seem different. I don't know what this does anyone, so I'm not very familiar with the zero Casta method. I just have seen some blog posts about it. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? How does toggles method comparable to stochastic
this one literature notes. They build graphical notes, permanent notes. I just haven't used this at all. So I can't speak to it. Does anyone else have thoughts on okay.

Speaker 2: [00:13:39] Just just in blog posts? I don't use 

swyx: [00:13:45] it. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's, I think it's all right. Like the thing. Oh, sure. Who was that?
Hey, Dave,

Speaker 3: [00:13:53] the big difference settle custom is about creating small comic blocks of content. So the idea is instead of just progressively summarizing, the idea is to take whatever you read until eventually end up with something that is completely yours, but it stands alone as a concept. It's not just related to the book or article or whatever else you may have read.
What it means then is that instead of, let's say writing a blog post or a book in isolation, you would piece it together from all of your zettabytes from all your small kind of atomic blocks. They can all come together. Then, with new ideas, they're all interlinked to one another as well, complimentary.
And they the more of these you get, the more they build in the morning, because each one is complimentary. You begin to get that kind of loyalty of your own unique content.

swyx: [00:14:45] yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I'm actually reminded of I've read, I have read this post. This was a very popular post on digital Castin and taking an atomic box and linking it. I think that's why people really like roam research so much because it's really structured around the two-way linking of ideas.
And yeah, I can look, it can look pretty complex, but I liked the sentiment of it. I think there, I don't think there are diff I don't think they're necessarily different because you could easily think about this kind of complementary. Exactly. Yeah. You could link, oh, 

Speaker 3: [00:15:15] you progressively summarize forced.
And then all I do, what's called them page Q and a, which is hello, question and answer that Jamie mills does. And then if the answer is suitable, I may turn that into a settle at the end.

swyx: [00:15:30] Yeah. There you go. I hope that was helpful bug but quick question.  So there are a couple other comments in the chat. Now, Ryan lavender says it's largely time-based para has more structure and is simpler. And David Schneider says there's a strong connection between stochastic permanent notes and what Tiago calls, intermediate packets part of next week's topic.
So we'll talk about next week. I'm not sure it's still there actually. So he's been moving out, moving the content around, so I'm not sure what's going to be covered next week. Okay. And then I think there's one more from TM. Okay. Ramdas alt. Yep. Okay. All right. 

Q&A: Time Blocking [00:16:05]

So that was about Zelle Casta, and I think we have one more from how do I call you IP?
Sure does. Yeah it's just IP IP. Hey. 

Speaker 4: [00:16:14] All right. Amen. So I've got a question regarding time blocking. So I've been trying to time block for quite some time now and So there are certain things which I want to do throughout my day regarding like the projects I want to work on. And then I have to, I've got a day job.
And so when I try to time block after my day job I'm working on a company at the site, I've got a remote working company, so I need to manage that. So I need to time block stuff, but sometimes when I come back from work, like the energy level is not there, so I need to move those time blocks to a different part of the day.
So it's not consistent. Those time blocks, I continuously have to keep shuffling them around. So how would you recommend I Is there like a better approach to time blocking based on energy? Should I make my blocks based on my mood emotion or I don't know. It just getting a little bit because they keep shifting.
Sometimes I need to postpone and to discover the day. So I don't know. I think I'm still confused, 

Speaker 1: [00:17:22] right? 

swyx: [00:17:23] I think so. First of all, I think that's pretty normal that you move stuff around because we often don't have an estimate of how much time we're going to spend on something, or how much energy we have.
So it's silly to try to preschedule everything. Just that, that just means you think, everything in advance. But also it's probably as a sign that you may be over-committing yourself and not leaving any time to rest. Okay. So maybe you need to time block some just chill time, like rest chill time.
Yeah. And stop committing so much to your day. And I, it's probably a muscle as well. So when you're getting into this and getting more into deep work maybe you have the energy or the focus to, or the stamina to time block only for one hour a day. And then you build up to two and then, gradually you build that up to 10.
I prob and there's probably a limit to how much you can do beyond that. Because we all need some unstructured time. 

Speaker 4: [00:18:15] Absolutely. Currently I've been using this app called forest. I currently try to plant at least three, three trees in a day. So I try to get 25 minutes of deep 

Speaker 1: [00:18:27] books.

swyx: [00:18:28] Yeah. My sister used this one does that there's two actual trees get planted. 

Speaker 4: [00:18:32] It's just the app. It's just the app. It's like additional forest. So you can keep track of how big a forest guest. So it's cute. That was awesome. Thank you so much. I'll try to I think, should I more chill time into my routine?
I think that 

swyx: [00:18:45] might be it. Awesome. Thank you so much. Thank you. Okay. 

Maker, Manager, Master [00:18:47] We have a couple of comments as well. Dave Meyer, I like this one. Dave says I time block based on roles, Meeker manager and master. What does master Dave. 

Speaker 1: [00:18:55] And master is 

Speaker 3: [00:18:57] getting better at your craft. So a maker is what you do for the job.
So I design for a living, so I need to create, but I have responsibilities. So master shouldn't have responsibilities. You need kind of room to experiment and to make mistakes and to not be Holden to deadlines and stuff like that. So I would even say things like when, when we're reading and taking a lot of notes and stuff like that, or mastering some sort of craft as well, but it's good to distinguish those roles to say, I may want two hours to experiment, but it's okay if we don't produce anything, but where does the maker I have to produce something for somebody or how I'm responsible to other people.

swyx: [00:19:35] That's a brilliant one. I've only heard of maker manager, but masters, a new one. I read 

Speaker 3: [00:19:40] a lot about mega manager. No, that's mine. Oh, wow. Okay. 

swyx: [00:19:44] Hey, that's something that you should 

Speaker 3: [00:19:45] Put a TM, Dave at the end of it there. 

swyx: [00:19:50] Yeah, I do TM. I do ironic TMS. I love that. So the shortcut is alt two on the Mac keyboard.
So I love teaming everything a day, job TM. I love it. No, but seriously, when you come up with something like this and it's so useful because it's very clear that you need time to not be a maker manager and you call it a master. And it's very clear. I like it. I think 

Speaker 3: [00:20:12] I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm still pulling that information into my second brand at 

swyx: [00:20:19] the moment.
Dennis wants you to NFC this Dave, you need to immediately blog about this. So you own the public

Speaker 3: [00:20:29] next week. 

swyx: [00:20:29] Make it, it can be a, it can be a very short thing. So for example I have something there's someone pretty famous on Twitter who always talks about Fran catchers 

Speaker 1: [00:20:37] catchers. 

swyx: [00:20:38] And, it's a pretty popular concept for him that the people that he likes to refer to a lot I think yeah, Patrick, but he's never written about it. So I just I noticed it and it's, it was after like three years of waiting for him to blog about it and he never did. So I did it. And I now own the top result for it. 

Speaker 3: [00:20:54] It's funny you say that, because until today I didn't have this in my notes to blog about, so they weren't going to put it in because last week, and I mentioned panning for gold when it comes to actually distilling information and looking at it, and a lot of people said, oh, you have to write something about that.
So that was last week's notes that I've started really in about planning for golf, but make our manager, our master, or you already have that. That's going to build into what I do when I've already run some stuff about that. Shouldn't be difficult. Yeah. Yeah. I'm more than happy if anybody wants to connect outside, there's more than happy to share it on the ground.
So any questions on it? 

swyx: [00:21:31] Yeah. You want to put your link to your contact details in the chat. 

Speaker 1: [00:21:34] Yeah, 

swyx: [00:21:35] Dennis says, we're building Dave's to do this. This is great. I think that's something that, when you're panning for gold it's help helpless to have a sieve serve. Sometimes the filter is other people right now.
People like us all at the same mindset. It's very helpful. 

Speaker 3: [00:21:49] Yeah. Look, I think even we're time blocking and stuff like that. I think what LEP was saying about Warframe and my engineer and what energy level you have for me, that's good because of all you have a heavy morning where, the maker doesn't mean to just create a maker means I can only focus on that one thing.
And that gets all of my energy. So could be, a meeting with somebody for two hours, but I'm drained after that. So I become a manager and the manager can juggle multiple things. Not at once. Cause that's impossible, but. And manager can flip between stuff. So I can email, I can call people. I can send the invoices and I can do lots of stuff that doesn't take a whole new level of brain activity that I can stop and start.
So it's really good for when you're drained afterwards. 

swyx: [00:22:30] Perfect. What's the manager 

Speaker 3: [00:22:32] tell Joseph that's the hardest thing. 

Speaker 1: [00:22:35] Sorry. 

Speaker 3: [00:22:35] I was just, I just sent a comment from Joseph Barry. Give me a happy fifth birthday.

swyx: [00:22:39] Yeah, that's nice. Nice backgrounds. That's your kid. Okay. Yeah. 

Speaker 3: [00:22:44] Yeah, some sort of Benjamin button or something like that, maybe. 

swyx: [00:22:48] So you only asked for some clarification thank you, Yani. I'm sure you're not the only one trying to try to clarify this idea. So maybe we just turn this into a mini a workshopping session.
So for me maker manager, maker versus manager is a very well-known concept. So that's actually wind back for people who haven't heard of it. Maker's schedule ministry schedule. I think this is a pretty popular essay about this. So I'm just going to drop that in here where you have to basically do the thing, but then also spend time deciding what things to do.
And those are two very different modes of operation. I think the innovation here is that the master or whatever you choose to call it. Needs like it's just basic R and D like exploring things that you have no idea what could come up. And that's also a key inputs into your future process. I like hard on ourselves, 

Speaker 3: [00:23:32] Even in what we're doing with second brain, everybody's obsessing about the details and how do you use this app and what database you use and, worrying about what's going to happen.
If it's not prayer for you, instead of saying I'm going to try this for a week and I'm going to try something else next week. And that's where that gonna master mindset could be helpful as well. They're going to be happy to discuss it still for, to be happy to make mistakes 

swyx: [00:23:53] as well. Absolutely.
Absolutely. Great. Yeah, David, if you want to leave some info on, I don't know your blog where some contact details with people want to follow up. You've already listed. Okay. Wow. That's a great discussion. Okay. I'm gonna, I'm gonna pause it for a bit and then give my own comments on this week's content.
And then we'll come back to a second round of questions and discussion.

Visual Structure in Notes [00:24:12]

Okay. I'm going to show you my notes for this week's lectures. So I take my lectures, I take my notes and notion. I've got week one, two and three here and is literally bullet points.

I definitely think a lot in bullet points. If you think, if you look at the way that Tiago does his note taking it's very much like he takes the raw content because I think he uses Instapaper or read wise. I don't have that workflow. I literally skip the. Copy and paste part. And I only do the bullet points.

So each character here is written by me. I feel like that helps me internalize a little bit better. I don't know. But I have a bit more emphasis on. Bullet points. Like I'll try to bullet point everything because it's being able to see the visual structure helps me to collapse and expand upon things.

One of the things that he talks about here is distilling by like the ways that you can enrich the original source content, with tags they created and modified bold title originally and get highlights. I think so. I think he didn't talk about enough is bullet points.

That's why I want to make sure, because visual structure, that's the easiest way to give bullet point to, to give. A visual structure. And I think that's something that maybe he doesn't do enough in his notes compared to what my preferences mnemonics, it's always a hard word to spell, but giving yourself a way to remember things in the future by making some sort of acronym code is an acronym, right?

C O D E we're in D of the four weeks of Cod, but just giving yourself a way to, to remember that it's super helpful and then visualizing it's something that if, especially if you have a more visual brain or I think people with synesthesia actually do really well out of this, but when you hear about a concept, it's helpful to just draw what they just talked about.

So here I've listened to a podcast and then I drew it out. I drew what Adam Grant's and Scott, Barry Kaufman I drew them. I drew the main functions of their disagreements. And when you visualize something that really sticks in there, pretty much better than a bunch of notes.

To me, it's like a higher level than highlighting. So if you can do a two by two, we can do a chart. If you can do something I do a lot is like just categorize things, put them in order. It's one way to just condense a lot of information into a single image. And I think that's, to me, that's the highest level of distilling a, we should visualize something.

So I think you I haven't I have a pretty ironic blog post, which is basically how to thought lead, which is just like a collection of all these ways to to distill things because it turns out that the best distillers are the thought leaders. Okay. These are just like extensions of what Tiago already said.

Producing in Reverse [00:26:44]

Then I think the other thing that we should think about as well is when we produce, we should think about producing in reverse the way that we summarize things progressively from structuring out the paragraph to improving the title to so these are all points that he said in his original lecture.

So building the most important points and then highlighting. So these are like level five, level four level three level, two level one, and then top level, we should maybe do that in reverse. Actually let me,

I just I liked the image so much. This is the original image she seems to have got rid of it because maybe it was too confusing or ugly or whatever. But I like this because it shows the landscape. And it shows the personal knowledge. Management landscape and saying like your base level is notes, second levels building their levels, highlighting for 
summarizing and remixing by combining across different pieces.

I think that's a really good idea, but maybe when we write, so when we produce, we do it the opposite way, we start with the mini summary and then we expanded out, noting, spent the passages folder and then we have the full text of the blog post. So I think that's food for thought in terms of what we can do when we distill and reverse the order.

That's definitely a lot of how I do things. Although I will tell you that there are there are okay. 10 years 

Speaker 1: [00:27:55] professional blogging. 

swyx: [00:27:56] They're prominent people who tell you not to write the title first. So I definitely think about, I do a title driven development. So I'll think about the title and then I'll flesh it out.
And if it's not a compelling title, I won't even work on it. But Andrew Chen, who is a very good blogger in and of itself. Oh, what happened to his site? Oh, no, that can't be right. Why is it down? Jesus. Okay. When it's back up, go read this, go read his post because he says you should write the whole post first and then decide on a title and come up with a few different options.

So this is definitely not a fact, but I definitely do. This is what I do. I decide on the title and do the bullet points. And then when, because you haven't written it. So let me show you my blog was ideas list. Literally I'll decide on the title first. How to talk to your developer. Second next syndrome, deputy API, and then I'll do bullet points.
It's cheaper to reorganize my blog posts. When I see okay, this doesn't work. I need to cut this here. A new chapter here, you section here, and then put it in here. It's much easier to be organized when it's just in bullet points before you write the whole thing out. So I just want to give you some inspiration.

Thank you. So Glenn actually posted in the zoom chat and archive version. I don't know what happened to his site. I think he doesn't care anymore. Cause he blogged his way to the top of Silicon valley. 

Two Words [00:29:07

Okay. Finally, I wanted to give you this concept of this two word distillation. I think the pinnacle of distilling an idea is to distill it into two words.

So second brain is a two word distillation of. It sells itself. If you like one brain, how about two brains? Like it's sells itself atomic habits Hey, you liked habits, but Hey, the twist, my twist on atomic habits is that it should be atomic, right? And that's a best seller, same for candor and radical candor.

It's gotta be radical. That, that, that's what makes us stand out. Seth Godin purple power. You can still get to see your cows and it embeds the story. He can tell the story in a, in a five minute version or give a whole talk. But I do have this explanation of the tour principle, if you want to check it out.

Because I think it's a really key idea. That's what people really come away with after a whole lecture, a whole Ted talk. They may just come away with two words. And if you can find the right two words, you can compress so much in there. So I have a list of digital nomad, indie hacker, open source.

Growth hacker. These are all just two word descriptions. And I think that if you can con condense an idea to that level and find something that you have a personal relationship with that can really help to define your identity as well. So I really like it. I'll tell you my tour thing later 

Speaker 1: [00:30:24] looks closely on slides.

swyx: [00:30:27] All right. Keep going because I have 15 minutes left. Where am I? Where the hell am I? Okay. The contrast is so low here. Benjamin advocate for cases. The number of syllables matters to Glenn says generalizing specialists. Interesting. Okay. All right. So the second point I wanted to meet, so that was my first point.

Forcing Function [00:30:45]

Distillation is creation. The second point is the importance of a forcing function. I feel like Tiago did not focus enough on how to force yourself to converge. We were pretty sold on okay, we re we're going to revisit our notes a couple of times, we have some guidelines as to keep it glanceable and distill it.
We have a use of mind, but how do we force ourselves to do it because it's work. And a lot of it just doesn't get done. I think it's a, this is an important piece. I have three ideas, so first is time. When I look at a lot of professional, like high-performing creators, they dedicate a fair amount of time to that's to their job.
And these are like side jobs when they start out. So I'm talking Tim urban from Weipa. Why? James Claire, when he started out all the up dog was another mentor here, but like when he started out, he was just a student and then he did his YouTube thing on the side. And pretty consistently all of them do two hours a day or 10 hours a week, which is weekends.

That means that may be very high for you, especially if you have a family, but some amount of dedicated time set aside to create, to converge to say okay, enough with the adding of notes, that's turned the notes into something useful. That is pretty important. I think so really just make the time commitment.
And I think another phrase that really resonates with me is that we don't find time. We make time So it's up to us. Like it's very easy to let 10 years go by and not prioritize and just end up with a problem. They'll say you never use. So we have to make the time. Okay. Second piece, which I like is also that some amount of consistency.
Th the developers in the room probably have heard of the a hundred days of code. And that's something where you just commit publicly to posting or learning about how to code for a hundred days. And people do two, three rounds of this thing. So that's pretty, it's pretty nice. Another one that's gotten quite some steam recently is shipped 30 for 30, which is a writing group that's, you break the ice by shipping a small essay every single day for 30 days.

Some amount of commitment for me, what I really like is a weekly newsletter. I love seeing updates from people because it's essentially your personal board of directors that you're saying like, okay out of this week that I've just lived out of the limited weeks I have left this is what I've done and here's my personal update.
And you hold yourself accountable to that. I think that's a really great way to say to structure everything that happens outside of them writing a newsletter towards okay, how is this going to show up in my weekly update? Podcasting is also a really good one. I think that just the regular cadence of Hey, let's get together talking about news.

Talk about a topic of the week. I just think that it just. Builds up over time and it's this consistency really helps of Hey, I, it's that time of the day, again, that time of the week, again, I gotta make something, force yourself to do it. Finally social pressure.

If doing things alone, it's easy to just drop it because you think nobody notices, but if people are expecting you to ship and you see other people shipping as well, that you have to shift as well. So a circled Twitter, discord mastermind. Now these days not uncommon. I have, I do run my own for developers.

But this group is a mastermind or a discord inner circle, I don't know. But you may have like your own group chat. There's a telegram chat. This is one from makers. If anyone's interested this started as a telegram group and now, you can just post updates on what you're shipping.

And these are the hot streaks that people have of like continuous 888 days of shipping. Something like. That's just super motivating to me here. I know you'll be a success if you just keep at it. It's. It's the people that give up that don't go anywhere. So having a forcing function, just however way you do it is I'm sure there's more categories you can think of.

Q&A: Two Hours A Day [00:34:02]

Just think about it. Okay. There's some questions in the chat for reap. Sean says a question two hours a day includes weekends. No, actually, so those people who do two hours a day, it's actually weekdays before work, because if you do it after work, you're more likely to not do it. So if you were serious about this towards the day before work that's where 
I've seen a lot of successful side hustles.
Let me be concrete.  Alex West.

Okay. So this guy he's now he's not quit to go full-time but he, for three years, 
probably three years, he was doing two hours a day before towards, yeah, towards the day before work and he's, these are all his, monthly revenue updates. And I just, the more I talk to people with dedicated successful side hustles that's the amount of time could be a minute.
It takes to produce something. Obviously two hours is a lot, like I, I'm not saying this is for everyone. I'm just saying this is a pretty consistent number. And when patterns like that emerge from creators let's talk about Tim Barbin. When he talks about his own journey and creating Wait But Why he also talks about, and you can see this numbers emerge again and again and again. He also did it on a somewhat regular basis at two hours a day. And it's just like a really recurring pattern.

There's nothing special about the two hours. I just think that people converse there because that's the trade off of okay. Amount of time spent to create something substantial, but then I have other things in my life that need to go do so take of it, what you will. Okay. Then one more question from IP.
I always want it to wake up early from work sessions, 6:30 AM shifts and waking up at 5:00 AM. Forcing function is really helpful. Okay. Yeah, I agree. Basically I just want you to know that like this, these notes don't just happen. From just cause you feel cause just cause the yoga says, so like you need some kind of commitment to make them happen.
I probably beat the dead horse already. 

Three Strikes Rule [00:35:35

Okay. A couple final points. This is my three strikes rule. So one way to get you to move that diamond from all the way to the right. All the way to the left. So we're talking about this where you're spending a lot of time diverging and researching and reading and note-taking and not really converging.

Enough. So how do you move yourself from right. All the way till after, how do you move this trade-off point where you stop diverging and start converging? For me, this is as left as I will let myself do it. So the first strike is when you first heard about an idea, first read an article first, listened to a podcast.

The second strike is when you recommend it to someone else, right? Because then you have to put it in your own words and summarize it to other persons because you're not going to repeat verbatim. Like you're going to actually try to re explain the article and you're probably going to get it wrong.

The emphasis for this for me was I read this really good blog post, right? The four kinds of luck. And this is, this will probably happen to you as well. So I read this article from mark and Jason and they said, okay blah, blah, blah. All right. So this is the whole blog post, and it's not very well summarized, right?

Because so Four kinds are chance. One is blah, blah, blah, chance to blah, blah, blah chance, three blah, blah, blah, chance for blah, blah, blah. All right. So I was trying, I read this blog post was very inspired by it. And I was trying to tell a friend and I could not remember what two of the four war.

So that was strike two for me. And strike three was when I had to reference it again and I was like, okay time is time has gone well past when, like I need to write it down. So I started to write it down and blog about it. So that's how I, and because I do the visualization thing I made the two by two.

And that's that's anytime you see like a, we'll have four, you make a two by two and you're like, okay, now I have it in my mind now. Or you can do a little bit more if you want. So I just want to bring home that, that idea that having some sort of three strikes rule, some trigger where you don't give yourself a choice of okay, time to stop diverging.

And I have this backlog of things I need to write down now and making incentives as far left as possible. I think that, that makes a lot of sense. 

Speaker 1: [00:37:33] Cool. 

swyx: [00:37:33] Thanks, Peter. Okay.

 Learning in Public [00:37:35

And then finally, I think this idea of learning public is something I'm very well known for.

It's my top read essay. I highly recommend it. And this is where we start learning in public with our second brain, when we started distilling things for others to consume. It's, it feeds that feedback cycle, right? Because when the first time we summarize something, when we share it, we're going to get feedback on it.

And it said that loads the trigger for the next time. We'll be going back and summarizing and again I think this is a very fundamental feedback loop that everyone needs to have in their lives. And there are many ways to get this done. I'm happy to talk about it more. But yeah, that's my reflection on the descending idea that we need to have we need to think 
about how we distill for creation when we need to have a forcing function.

We, I like the three strikes rule and I like the new public, so yeah, I'm going to, I'm going to leave it there. Cause we're almost out of time. We have five minutes left. I have a question that they want us to follow up. Cool. Peter brace wants the link to. 

Speaker 1: [00:38:26] Yeah, the cough, then we go that's Peter 

swyx: [00:38:30] and Peter, you can find a link to that podcast as well, but like now I don't, I don't need to listen to the podcast.

Cause this is essentially what the mats out in there in their one hour. Thanks, Danny. 

Guy Takes Over [00:38:39]

Okay. So yeah, who's got questions or discussions that you want to talk about or you can email me. Maybe I'll call upon guy because guy you're also a mentor. What do you think you covered what's covered in distilled that really resonated with you? Or what do you normally cover in your sessions? 

Guy Margalith: [00:38:52] I actually go into the nuts and bolts of how to do this in notion specifically which you didn't cover today.

But I think that's fantastic because frankly I took. Awesome notes from your presentation today, which was great. I think the key emphasis from the lecture is that when that it's really hard to do, but when you distill something down, you make it better. And it's, there's constant resistance to this, at least in my line of work, in informed policy, we, we come 
across volumes of information and we think that, there's every little bit of nugget of of information is useful and could make a difference in a life and death scenario.

But in truth, if no one's going to read it, it doesn't matter. And the only way you make it readable is if you compress it. And I think that's what resonated from this week's lecture for me. And you've hit on it very well as well here site. I 

swyx: [00:39:38] appreciate it. Thanks a lot. Do you want to, so there's some people who wanted to attend your sessions, but they're at the wrong time zone.

Do you actually want to briefly show you the notion? Just to give a quick hit. 

Guy Margalith: [00:39:48] Yes, I'm not it's not really ready for prime time. If you don't, if folks don't mind that I'm going to late, I could show them around my cut. It's like letting someone into your bedroom in the middle of a party before you've 

swyx: [00:39:57] cleaned it up.

It's more realistic.

Guy Margalith: [00:39:58] Sure. Let me just see where I am here.

Actually. It's good because I can preview a, just for how much time you want. Do you want me to go for it? Two, three 

swyx: [00:40:07] minutes? Yeah. Yeah. Five minutes, 15 minutes. You know where we're at? We're already at time, but I typically go over another 30 minutes for people who can stick around so we can talk about stuff.

Cool. Yeah. Yeah. I love it because now you get two mentors for the present one.

Guy Margalith: [00:40:25] Yeah. Your approach is so analytical, so interesting. You put so much stuff out there in public, which I cannot do because of my line of work. So I admire it. So for me, my, my notion set up is designed to do the things that I can do best, which is internal. And I use my I use the concepts of building a second brain to focus on my journaling and on my habits and on driving personal change, because that puts me in the right frame of mind to, to focus on my work, which has to be very private and very segmented in a way.

Basically, I summarize progressively summarize my journals and entries, which I do daily. I combine them with a habit tracker. So what folks are seeing here is just the common view that I have every day when I open it up. And I think the innovation that I've used for notion, which is something, not something I made up, but Marie pullin does this in her setup 
is she rolls stuff up into higher level databases.

So for example, this is the journal entry that's already precooked for May 24th for tomorrow. Nothing is in it yet. I'll input this tomorrow I do it in the morning and I look backwards for what happened in the previous day. I track all the habits that I want to track such as some, whether I stretched, I moved, did I meditate?
Did I connect with someone? I track health indicators am I sleeping? Do I have in my taking any medication? If I stretched, I linked to databases that document the stretch. I tag the day with a master tags database too, so I can see themes that emerge. I like to capture food that I eat restaurants, that I go to, anything that I watched so that I can refer to it later.

I typing what happened today. I give myself a 20 minute timer to do so otherwise I could go for hours probably. And then I go through a series of startup tasks. After I do this for an entire week, I have a weekly review and the weekly review. I can show you the one that I just did. I do them on Sundays and I use, I roll up the information from the prior week.

So for example every day I put in a daily three daily themes, and then I force myself to distill those themes these themes from the entire weekend to just three words that represent the entire week. And this is my choice. So this is my perspective. Notion just feeds me the raw data and I choose same for what's an example here things that I put that I need to 
improve on.

I then. Forcing myself to distill that into whatever I perceived to be the issue for that week. I do the same thing for the good things that happen. I asked myself a series of questions, which roll up later, I'll show you. And then I also roll up those health features that I showed earlier. So that's 

swyx: [00:43:08] a sample.

This is amazing. And 

Speaker 2: [00:43:09] then just very quickly the, I can go into a monthly view, which rolls up the data from the weekly reviews. Again, the exact same thing. I do this at the end of the month. Here's the top words. And then from the, from each weekly review, I choose three. Again, what did I learn?

And then I wrote down my monthly knowledge what was I effective? So on and so forth. Here's the entire week's happy highs or happy moments. And then I summarize it down, distill it down to the monthly wins and then zooming out even further. You guys are getting the picture, I think, in the quarterly review I like to put in a photo, I choose one photo from 
the quarter that means a lot to me.

That's me with my niece. Again, just showing the three words, those are the monthly words. Again, I've summarized down to three words. Same thing I keep distilling down and then I get all the way to the year. And I've only done one of these because I only started doing this a year ago, but In December and January, I did a yearly review, which actually was 
really fun.

Cause I, all he did was distill the information that I had from my three quarters. Here's my 12 word for the entire year and those were my three words for the entire year and eventually I'll get a decade. I'm pretty sure. That's a preview. And if you guys go to the circle group in the advanced notion group and also the beginner notion group, I've put in a link to 
my dashboard.

And if you like, I have a shareable template that I call a mindfulness engine that just reproduces what I showed. So feel free to to copy paste and enjoy 

swyx: [00:44:42] yeah. Share it with us. And I think that's so generous and that's amazing part of why we put in the link. Yeah. I I actually was very.

Afraid to be put in the advanced category because I'm not an advanced notion user at all. When I look at your setup, I'm like, okay. Yeah, that's an advanced lotion set up. 

Speaker 2: [00:44:58] I have the, I had the exact same thought about your set up, even though I didn't see it. I'm like, oh my gosh, this isn't set up. I 

swyx: [00:45:04] have so much to learn.

My only thing I had to clean the famous, I made a book out of my book and the book has sold six figures. So that's, I think people went to different elements that I really enjoy. I'm really glad I asked you this. I had no plans, but, and then thank you for stepping up that was awesome. I, I P as a follow up question how long do these things take?

Because they probably take awhile. It takes a while. 

Speaker 2: [00:45:27] And Tiago in his course on habit formation talks about how the goal as you work through your habits is to tighten the loop. You have to make it so that the habits that you have instead of adding more and more habits, Once you learn how to build a habit.

That's easy. The hard part is tightening it. How do you make it faster? And that's why I have to give myself a timer. Otherwise I lose track of time and I could go on forever. So it takes me about right now, it's about 20 to 30 minutes a day. I don't have a job that requires an early start like IP.

So I have that luxury, but as soon I will, I'll have a very early start. And so I'm going to have to figure out a way to get it down to probably five or 10 minutes, which makes me a little nervous. But that's the challenge.

swyx: [00:46:10] Yeah that, that's amazing. For those people who might've missed the chat, he actually dropped his template in the zoom chat. So make sure to check that out and I'm also pasting it inside of the presentation so people can catch up on it. But this is really great. Wow. What about note taking though?
So you have a lot of reflection stuff. Do you. Do you also use notion for note taking? 

Speaker 2: [00:46:28] I do. And I'm still refining it. I took a building a second brain the first time at the same time you did. So it's I believe you took it a year ago, so it's it's about, it's very new to me. I didn't take any notes before in my life.

It's a very new concept. So for me, I use where did it go? That's down here. I have a. Notes database. And when I want to find a note or to create a project, I go into the space, I call my neocortex and I S I drag and drop interesting notes, and I'm still learning to deal with it, but I could, for example, search by a specific para.

So in my notion mentor session, last week, I showed how you would create a project for hosting a food extravaganza by dragging notes on that topic. When I summarize in notes, I add a tag to it. As an example, 

Speaker 1: [00:47:22] that's a good example. 

Speaker 1: [00:47:23] Here's a food one. So I track the, if I drink something that's good, favorite alcohol, I'll keep a database, a running list of beers or wines or things that are cool.

I'm at a restaurant and I give this a progressive summarization level. So this one's pretty high up because I made my own, this is my own unique perspective on alcohol. No one else has it. So it's my own remixed work. But when I clipped something, I maybe it's just the key excerpts as I bolded, I'll give it this a bolded key points.

And then what I can do is filter for notes that have that level two and above that are that either have a highlight and above. So it's a more limited number of notes. I also put in the notion for each note, a summary if I, if it resonates with me, this is from building a second brain. I took a note on how to, from the circle group, how to measure success in areas.

Here's the actual note that I copied and pasted, but I bolded things that appealed to me. And then I put in my own my word summary, and that gives it extra oomph when I searched for stuff with that summary. Cause not every note has it. And I even give it a score, which is using a notion formula that basically it gives it points for whether there's a takeaway, 
whether I've set a review frequency for it and whether I've given it the trophy, which means it's it's really cool.

So if if all those three things are checked, then it gets a 10, which is a high score. And I can even filter for those. I don't know if I filtered for scores in the neocortex. Yes I did. So these are high scores notes with high scores. Every single note with a high score. I think the filter is set for more than six, I guess it's not working right now, but eventually if I went in 
there and fix it, that's what it would do.

So yes, that's right. I'm still working on it. It's not, I'm not able to produce as easily as you can for public use. And so that's where I struggle at the moment. 

swyx: [00:49:17] You can, you don't have to produce about your work stuff. There are definitely other areas of your life. Like the alcohol notes.

Speaker 2: [00:49:24] Everyone thinks I'm an alcoholic, but, 

swyx: [00:49:25] No they're definitely elements of your life, which are not. National security related. So I think that part is okay. But no, that's, this isn't really awesome. Yeah I worry a bit about being too tied into notion which is why I tend to keep my things relatively low fi, but it's so nice to see your weekly and monthly collections that that makes sense.

It makes sense. Yeah. Great. Document your decade. Okay. Interesting. Yeah, there, there are a bunch of the people that people bring up in the chat. I feel like this is a really good ad. People should go check out your session when you're in your sessions and just join the your group, it is 

Speaker 2: [00:49:57] two in the morning, Eastern time on Mondays.

Sorry, on Tuesdays. Sorry for the late hours, for those of you who are sleeping it's great for those folks in the India, Pacific ocean Asia area. Okay. 

swyx: [00:50:09] Got it. But yeah, people can catch up on the circle, I guess. 

Speaker 2: [00:50:13] Yes. Feel free to talk to me in circle. I haven't recorded anything yet.

I'll. I plan to start since I've had quite a few people ask. 

swyx: [00:50:20] Yeah. I think I think that this piece was really great. Okay. We have we have about 15 more minutes of people. If you want to go, we're already over time. So thank you for coming. We'll see you next week on we for, but I usually stay to answer questions.

Guy, if you have stuff to do that on the weekends, thank you so much. You've already I should have asked you to join anyway, but thank you so much invited me to present. It was 

Speaker 2: [00:50:43] a lot of fun. I'll stick 

Speaker 1: [00:50:44] around. I'm 

swyx: [00:50:44] still learning. Yeah. Yeah. If anyone else has other topics they want to talk about now, it's the open bar session.

Once a week Newsletter [00:50:51]

I'll tell you, I'll tell you my, my I definitely feel like more unstructured and I feel like the habits of keeping to a regular publishing schedule, like once a week, a newsletter plus a daily audio clips, podcasts that I do that just keeps me full already. I feel like everything else emanates from there, all the note taking that I do, because I always have an outcome that I want in mind and I have a mental timer of okay, if this thing ages too much, then I either have to get rid of it or I just have to ship what I have today.

That's it like, I know I'm not happy with it. It's not my best work, but I'm shipping it. And sometimes people like that. So 

Speaker 1: [00:51:31] let's just start just on that.

Private Journaling [00:51:32]

swyx: [00:51:32] So John Harker says, I like how Thiago shows, how he uses Evernote for all this internal stuff, then move things into notion when he wants to share. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So have a public side and the public private side. I think that makes a lot of sense because, and sometimes you want to air gap it by different apps.

So my journal wasn't one note where no one else uses and it's a password on it. I think one node has the best password solution that I tried. I'm not sure how other apps lock it up. I don't think notion even does a password on. Yeah. So I recommend for journals at least to put it in one node.

Book Writing Process [00:52:05]

Dave Meyer says I struggled, outlining going from small standalone ideas to a fully formed publication, like an article. Dave, I don't know if you were here. Were you here last week? So I gave a little, okay. So I the people were here last week. I gave a, those screen-share into how I wrote the book.

So I wrote it and get help cause I'm a nerd like that. And when I wrote the book, I essentially planned out my structure. I planned out the ideas that I had, these are all black bullet points. I should probably be, turn this into a theme. 

Speaker 1: [00:52:33] Okay, 

swyx: [00:52:34] sorry. I know people like just prefer live alone.

I went, when I wrote the book, I wrote all these chapters and then these are all black originally, and then I turned them blue into links of the actual 

Speaker 1: [00:52:43] final products. 

swyx: [00:52:44] And then 

Speaker 1: [00:52:45] it's like the chapters. Okay. Sorry. It's 

Speaker 3: [00:52:49] we would find downloading chapters and stuff like that. Okay. It's the individual chapter itself then of that kind of content, that kind of all the body 

swyx: [00:53:00] in there.

Let me show you. So this is, these are all just like literal brainstorm of everything that every point that I wanted to make and then I took this and then use this as my starting points for writing the essay, which I knocked out in probably like three, four hours. I don't know if this helps or not, but it literally is bunch of topics.

And I don't necessarily know the end point that I want to get to. I just know things that are interesting to talk about and I just list them out. And part of the writing process is rearranging them into some kind of order sequence. That makes sense. And then the final output, 

Speaker 1: [00:53:33] you don't see, you don't see a lot of the 

swyx: [00:53:35] final of, but let me show you the correspondence.

I don't think it's, I don't think it's very high. So here's the draft and then here's the final output. So I would say, I had a section called dealing with the mob and I thought that mom might not be PC. So I said, dealing with haters and literally like four bullet points.

Like that would be three, four pages like that. And just having some amount of separation between deciding what you're going to write about and then actually sitting down to write the thing. I think 

Speaker 3: [00:54:00] that helps. I can see that there's a lack of perfectionism there, which is, I think.

I think that's the issue I have there. 

swyx: [00:54:07] Yeah. I'm literally like a lot of my writing. I actually often say that I do it while running. When I was writing, so I wrote for 600 hours every day before I would write, I would go for a run and doing a run might still be active. So I would just be like organizing things to my brain.

And when I thought of something, I would actually just get on my phone and rearrange and add point bullet points to this. 

Speaker 3: [00:54:30] Anything before a real soda it's front and center your mind? 

No. And was this already the main focus of what you 

swyx: [00:54:36] were working on? No, I would just be working on three or four different topics simultaneously.

I had all these in my kind of on board. And yeah, I was, I w I would have. I think I had it up next section that had three or four chapters and then some which some, which were just said idea stage, which I think I seem to have got rid of it, but yeah, then I would just be working on these and now move them over to the complete section.

And then I'll promote other things to do the writing section. And I would just be working on four or five of simultaneously, but my book had 40 chapters there's a lot of content just everywhere. And then there are some, I just threw away as well. I don't know. It's a messy process.

Embrace it. And I think the organizing structure of chapters is really helpful because that's a self-contained unit. It gets tricky when chapters interlink, which I also did. And and that's a path that I think you best I would recommend doing after you've finished the book. 

Speaker 1: [00:55:24] Yeah.

swyx: [00:55:24] Yeah, that's the book writing process now.  Don't know if it helps. 

Speaker 1: [00:55:26] Thanks. 

swyx: [00:55:27] Definitely some community helps as well and also writing in public, right? For those planning to write a book or to sell their writing in any way having some kind of focus group, which is either a Twitter for Twitter, for me, or like some kind of discord chat or whatever other peer group that you want.

And like sharing drafts as you go along to get feedback is very important. For me, like I actually used it as marketing I knew some topics would do very well. So I released chapters for free and got them to sign up or just buy the pre-sale copy. And I highly recommend doing that because then you have the people pay you for the privilege of getting updates 
on your book as you go along so that when you launch, you have a preset base to spread word of mouth, because they'll probably be happy with the updates, as long as you do updates and stuff.

It's you can also think of it because it puts 

Speaker 3: [00:56:13] more pressure on you to deliver as well. Yeah. I like 

Speaker 1: [00:56:15] it. 

swyx: [00:56:16] Yeah. I have I have a post on this called why you should pre-sell so I do have a strong opinion on this. The downside, the only downside is that there's two downsides.

One is that your most ardent fans are the most are the ones that are most likely to buy from you. Pre-sale so you're making less money from the people who like you the most. And then the other one is that you may commit yourself to a timetable which you may need to back out of. So you need to be ready to refund everybody if you can't beat your 

But yeah, otherwise I think the most important thing that you can have for anything that you do is word of mouth. And if you can get paid to build word of mouth, then that's a slam dunk. 

Q&A: Publication Approval Process [00:56:55

Guy Margalith: [00:56:55] Swyx can I ask you a question? 
Yes, sir. 

I'm going to take advantage of the time to ask. I don't know if others are experiencing this particular issue, but let's presuppose that before, before you could publish or learn in public, you had to get every piece of writing, cleared through some committee through some process that took anywhere from two days to a month.

How would that impact how you shared in public and how you would advise people here to share in public? Not only process wise, but also what do you think that would change the nature of the content you're sharing and how you're learning 

swyx: [00:57:29] in public? Oh, definitely. It definitely would change it. I definitely don't love the process, but it has to be done for some publication.

So I've been published in some major sites and I've had a blog post written at work where it sat in a review process for two, three weeks. And it really bothers me. I'm the kind of guy I want to write it and fire it out and then react to feedback. But a lot of other publications are more conservative.

They want to a proper review process, which is probably a good idea. But yeah it really takes up mental space of uh, I've written this and it's not out yet, so I can't move on to the next thing cause it's not out yet. And it's silly, like really the right approach is to just it's done.

It's written. I don't know when it comes out. It'll come up when it comes up and I should move on to the next thing. So the more you can disassociate yourself from just like the what's the publication schedule and just focus on the writing schedule. I think that's a good idea.

Yeah, thanks. That's great advice. So no, I actually have that. I do that at work. We do, we do have a video review process and it sucks. And then you have to be more careful what you say. Because I also find that th this is the other thing, when people edit, they generally tend to nitpick.

They don't really give substantive, like they're not collaborative so much as just Hey, your grammar is wrong. Let me change the title a little bit. And that's just the nature of things. People are not trained to be good editors. If you just take a regular coworker and they're like, can you look at, look over my piece?

They, they're not trained to, to be good editors. Uh, either find someone who is actually adding value as an editor, like pointing out ways, you could restructure the whole thing or uh, restate that you just like factually had wrong. I think those are the highest value edits. And if it's like editing spacing, or like adding a comma, I don't care.

No, no reader cares. Are you entertaining? Are you informative? Yeah. There's, there's, there's, there's a lot of writing advice out there, but I definitely subscribe to the idea that It's not about like factual accuracy. The factual accuracy is that kind of like the baseline, but like people read stuff that entertains them and informs in some useful way that's relevant 
to them.

I find that editors don't generally think about these dimensions because their skin is not in the game, but their name is not on the byline. And I've had really bad disagreements with people I work with over edit suggestions that I just said no to. And they were like, what why you're not waiting on a CD player?

I'm like, my name is on this piece. And I don't like the way you're taking this. So I don't know. You just have to be comfortable with that. And I think having an outlet, if like things don't go well and like you have to kill a piece, then just do it in another way, like book a podcast and just talk it out.

Talk out your feelings. That's fine. Okay.

Q&A: Publishing on Big Platforms vs Building your own [01:00:05]

 Ken rice is pigs and chickens. I don't know what that means. Is there a story behind that kid?

 Speaker 1: [01:00:09] Real quick, Swyx the story behind pigs and chickens is that pigs get made into bacon and chickens just like eggs. It's just another metaphor for having the skin in the game. And sometimes she used an agile communities, so anyone can Google it.

 I won't go into 

swyx: [01:00:23] depth on it. I think you distilled the concept very well. Yeah. I just I have thoughts about. Venue as well. So count. So there they're two opposing views. One is that you should build your own platform, right? That's the only thing that's going to stick with you the rest of your life.

If you're beholden to anyone else, you're publishing them their platform, you're borrowing their audience. And they're not really finding you or sticking with you. Uh, that's one perspective. The other perspective is Cal Newport's perspective, where going through the editing process that has that's competitive, that has a chance to get it rejected.

That forces you towards higher quality writing because you have something to lose. So some, probably the right answer is somewhere in between. I think that when you start out. It makes sense, actually, to try to work with editors, to get some sense of what professional writing can be and then also to get published so that people know of your name and find 
you and then as you progress in your own journey to eventually locate everything on your own property so that people can just find you directly and you have a direct relationship with them.

So that's something that Tim Orban also said in his interview. He originally started only sharing, only writing for Facebook. And then people found him and then sign up for his newsletter and then he could pivot and stop writing, click baity, Facebook headlines. think that's a, that's a wise approach, 

Speaker 1: [01:01:35] basically

swyx: [01:01:35] pig and chicken. The chicken is involved. The pig is committed. That's excellent. I'm going to put that. Let's stick that in, into my own notes. That's great. All right, cool. Our hour R and a half is up. We do have a session coming on afterwards after us. But thank you everyone for this. I thought it was a really great session.

So much surprising. I'm just blown away by this. I wasn't sure what I was sending out for when I did the mentor session, but going through this with you guys, this is it's really rewarding for me as well. So thank you for for joining us and I'll see you next week.

[Second Brain 3] Distilling Notes
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