Monthly update: Silly stories and strong songs

Jul 31, 2020 9:16 am

Hi !

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Here's what had my attention in July...

What I've been up to

📖 I’ve never really been one for journalling. This means I’ll never be truly successful, because journalling always appear in those articles about “8 things billionaires get done before 8am” and “94 simple daily habits you MUST start doing if you won’t want to be pitied by your so-called friends and die a pathetic failure”.

However, I recently read the book “Storyworthy” by Matthew Dicks, about how to capture and tell stories from your life. It’s brilliant. And he recommended an exercise much simpler and potentially more powerful than journaling: every day, answer the question “If I had to tell one story about something that happened to me today, what would it be?”

So a few weeks ago I started a simple spreadsheet: all it has on each row is the date, and a cell to write a prompt for a potential story arising from that day. So far I’ve captured such gems as:

Accidentally caused chaos in the lift with the fluffy white dogs from downstairs

My son insisted on going for his nap with the rack from the dishwasher

These aren’t going to delight and captivate an audience, I know. But they're small, fun moments that I'd otherwise have forgotten within hours – yet now when I look back at my past entries, the memories come flooding back.

Some days it’s hard to come up with anything at all, but apparently after a few months you get better at tuning into and capturing small storyworthy moments you’d otherwise miss. I haven't got there yet, but based on the first few weeks I’ll be sticking with the habit.

🚚 As you read this, I'll be moving house. I’m super-excited – largely because I’ll have my first proper home office and there's a gym in the building, but also because I love fresh starts and new surroundings. It's also been a great excuse to go through and have a clear-out. There was pleasingly little to get rid of, so I think I can just about still claim to be a minimalist even though there seem to be Amazon boxes arriving every day.

The ease of making the move and all its beneficial side-effects has renewed my enthusiasm for renting rather than owning. Speaking of which… 

What I've published

Why renting a home is better than owning it. OK not always and not for everyone, but renting needs someone to stand up for it.

You don't deserve to be financially free. And why shortcuts don't exist. Sorry.

3 power moves to improve your life satisfaction. This article will make you 15% happier in 60 days or less, or your money back.

What I've enjoyed

🧼 In last month's newsletter I shared my scepticism that we're in a brave new "work from home" world that's going to re-shape everything forever. A couple of weeks later I read this article by Joachim Klement, which makes the same argument far better than I did.

🏦 Banks are universally acknowledged to give an awful customer experience. The new "challenger banks" are better...but how much better, and in what ways? Peter Ramsey has written an in-depth, multi-part comparison of what it's like to use 12 different banks – including challenges like Monzo, incumbents like HSBC, and sort-of-in-the-middle-ones like Metro Bank.

It sounds geeky, but he's done it so well it's totally accessible to anyone with a passing interest. He's also applied the same method (with similarly brilliant results) to analysing other products you're probably familiar with like Zoom and Rightmove.

🎵 If you're a music fan, you might enjoy the Strong Songs podcast – in which an infectiously enthusiastic man (who sounds like he's constantly grinning from ear to ear) breaks down a different popular song in each episode, and explains what makes it so great. You'd be surprised by just how much is going on in Annie Lennox's "Walking On Broken Glass".

👋That’s it for July! It'd be great to hear from you if you've got news or recommendations to share.



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