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Ness Labs: Make the most of your mind
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Ness Labs: Make the most of your mind

Ness Labs: Make the most of your mind

September 9, 2021
32 Jogs
Why it matters?

The world has transitioned from one of information scarcity, to information abundance. Demands on our time have sky-rocketed, and content production has exploded, yet your available time has likely flat-lined or decreased. Being able to filter through all the noise to consume the right information is critical in a world that is increasingly becoming more complex, but how do you manage this when you are constantly hit from all sides by infinite distractions?

Ness Labs is a pioneer in personal productivity. Becoming more productive - doing more with the same amount of time or less - is the key to understanding this ever-increasingly complex world. Deciding what to say no to, avoiding burnout, effective decision-making, and mental well-being are critical paths to master on your journey to mastering your own time. With an abundance of interesting media to consume, saying no is one of the biggest ways to save time, but how do you make those decisions with limited information? Here is a collection of content from Ness Labs filled with amazing recommendations on how to master your time. As always with Joggo, we've summarized it all to help you determine where to spend your time and then dig in, learn, and change your life.

The Content

Each link contains a summary produced by one of Joggo's geniuses so you can decide where to spend your time learning more

September 9, 2021
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Reducing information anxiety with the founder of Joggo

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The Summary

🎥 View a video about the product here

The Media Paradox

  • You can’t know if you’ll find content valuable until after you’ve consumed it
  • Joggo allows users to save and organize content from anywhere, and adds value by delivering high quality summaries

How Joggo Summaries Help

  • Summaries give the reader insight into whether the content is worth investing time in
  • Summaries also serve as pre-written notes that can jog your memory later

The Geniuses Behind the Jogs

  • Recruited students from Stanford and Harvard
  • Joggo Geniuses now span over 25 top universities
  • Joggo tracks summaries closely to ensure consistency, efficiency, and quality

What Gets Summarized

  • Articles, newsletters, podcasts, and videos longer than 5 minutes
  • Users can hit the request button to get a summary of their content 
  • Newsletter channels allow users to subscribe to a publication, and have summaries automatically delivered to them when a new piece of content is published

Actually Read It Later

  • People are inspired by content all the time, but are quickly overwhelmed by other distractions
  • Saving something for later allows you to revisit that inspiration and act on it 
  • Joggo allows you to capture those moments and begin the consumption journey with a high-quality summary

How Joggo Will Transform Knowledge

  • Summaries allow users to consume more content in less time
  • Sharing a summary enables people to spread information more easily
    • This benefit is compounded in a workplace setting
  • In the future, Joggo plans to summarize and distribute curated content from influencers
May 11, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Writing as a thinking tool

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The Summary

Writing is a great tool for ideation

Ways to use writing effectively: - Summarize all of your media content. This will inevitably make you more selective due to increased time cost. - Prove your understanding of a concept and make future recollection easier by rewriting the idea in your own words. - Jot down the evolution of your ideas, so you can later craft them into unique content. - Ask for feedback on imperfect writing in order to gain collective knowledge and critiques.

June 25, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Creating calm: how to manage stress

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The Summary

Stress is detrimental for your health, but is manageable.

Stress signs

  • Mental: difficulty concentrating, feeling overwhelmed, being forgetful
  • Behavioral: being irritable, eating/sleeping too much/little, drinking/smoking more
  • Physical: headaches, dizziness, chest pain, faster heartbeat, sexual problems

Manage stress

  • Maximize eustress (good stress) while avoiding other types
  • Action: directly address cause of stress (e.g. write down priorities, say no)
  • Emotion: change the way you feel instead of situation (e.g. meditation, exercise)
  • Acceptance: situations outside your control (e.g. support group, journaling)
December 10, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Curiosity and consistency: thoughts on growing a newsletter

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The Summary

Q&A with Anne-Laure Le Cunff on effective strategies used by Maker Mind newsletter to grow. Consistency can lead to phenomenal results and one should focus on producing content of high quality for readers. 

How to differentiate yourself

  • Be consistent and add value to your readers
  • Adopt a friendly tone
  • Encourage feedback from readers

Mistakes to avoid

  • Trying not to make mistakes - these are the best ways to grow
  • Being inconsistent - you need to find your voice and define your value

How to get traffic & grow

  • Sharing your editions on social media e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram etc.
  • Ad hoc communities where your audience resides
  • Telling your friends and networks about it & encouraging them to share
  • Organizing events with guest speakers & giving access to email subscribers
  • Referrals

Helpful tips on growing

  • Focus on providing value so people don’t find your content annoying. Growing becomes easier when readers begin sharing your content. 
  • Challenge yourself - spend some time writing everyday
  • Consistently deliver value to readers
  • Create a platform where readers can choose their own adventure and decide what they want to read

Content to include in the newsletter

  • Short introduction
  • Links to new articles
  • Interesting findings online

Launching a community

  • Who is the community?
  • What value would they get from joining?
  • This will help you decide when to paywall and launch a community

Potential benefits

  • Intellectual stimulation from conversations
  • Coffee chats with creators
  • Being featured in podcasts and giving presentations
  • Early access to products Be consistent in writing and sending your newsletter but also take breaks to recharge your batteries.
October 8, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

How to practice nuanced thinking

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The Summary

Nuanced thinking leads to more constructive conversations.

Trap of polarized thinking

  • Difficult to listen to another's view point when invested in yours being right
  • Difficult to compromise when invested in other person being wrong
  • Reality is much more complex than an "all-or-nothing" statement

How to practice nuanced thinking

  • Pay attention to automatic responses
  • Beware of false dichotomies
  • Avoid over generalizing
September 23, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Networked thinking: a quiet cognitive revolution

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The Summary

Networked thinking (NT) considers the complex interactions between nodes and connections in a given problem space.

How Common Sense Limits NT

  • Cognitive biases and preconceived opinions allow wrong ideas to sound right.
    • i.e. People thought it was common sense that the Earth was flat.

NT in Science

  • Our human connections may be seen as an extension of the way we interact with the world.
    • i.e. Researchers found that a person's network had a huge impact on their chance of obesity.

Two Key Principles of NT: Divergence and Emergence

  • Divergent:
    • Branching out from the original point in many directions, without trying to evaluate the validity of any idea (a node).
      • i.e. Is the cause of obesity only tied to the individual?
  • Emergence:
    • The emergence of patterns connecting the nodes.
      • i.e. Scientists noticed clusters of obese people who knew one another.

Navigating Islands of Knowledge

Every new node is an island of mystery until it is bridged to another node.

Tools for NT

  • Augmented Intelligence:
    • Tech. used to enhance, and not replace, human thinking.
  • Website suggestions:
    • Roam
    • Patreon
    • Substack
December 3, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

The benefits of laziness: why being a lazy person can be good for you

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The Summary

Most cultures see laziness as a negative trait. However, there are advantages backed by science.

Why are we lazy?

  • Nature has optimized biological processes for laziness.
    • More efficient predators appear lazier than unproductive predators.
  • Laziness is often the other side of productivity; it can be the result of smart work freeing up time.

Ten benefits of laziness

  1. Lazy solutions can be smart
  2. Slacking off can be a form of active procrastination
  3. Lazy people focus on high-leverage activities
  4. Unproductive time helps us manage our stress
  5. Being lazy makes you less prone to burnout
  6. Lazy time encourages diffuse thinking
  7. Laziness can be good for our mental health
  8. Being lazy is a way to recharge our energy stores
  9. Problems can solve themselves if you leave them alone for long enough
  10. Laziness can be a helpful symptom

An ode to tactical laziness

When implemented carefully, laziness can be used to be more productive & relaxed in the long run.

October 28, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Hindsight bias: the knew-it-all-along phenomenon

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The Summary

Hindsight bias is the tendency to think that you knew about the outcome of an event before the event actually occurred.

Three models describe the mechanisms by which cognitive bias occurs:  - Selective activation and reconstructive anchoring: we can only remember a limited amount of information so we reconstruct our memories every time we recall an event later. - Reconstruction after feedback with “take the best”: If we try to calculate the probability of a previous event, we use our current knowledge to update that probability. - Causal model theory: If we are surprised by an event, we go back and connect the preceding events logically to explain the actual outcome.

Consequences of Hindsight Bias:

Hindsight bias may prevent us from learning from our previous actions because we rationalize our previous uncertainty and actions.

January 8, 2021
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

The butterfly effect: the impact of deterministic chaos on our lives

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The Summary

Butterfly effect

A tiny change in initial conditions can have an outsized effect on the outcome.

Chaos theory

The things that change the world are the tiny things.

The Arrow of Time

  • Time seems to move forward, to have a direction: 
    • The past is behind us and unchangeable;
    • The future, is ahead of us and is fixed
  • We can perhaps predict the future to some extent, but we have no firm evidence or proof of it. 
    • E.g., We can’t predict the weather more than a few weeks in advance
  • The butterfly effect and chaos theory tells us we can't reverse the arrow of time
  • Randomness is the only thing that cannot be undone.

Examples of the Butterfly Effect:

  • Tiny changes in neurotransmitters can have a massive impact on cognition
  • Hitler was rejected twice by art school, perhaps history would have been different if he had been accepted.

The Butterfly Effect Teaches Us To

  1. Acknowledge the chaotic nature of life
  2. Be mindful of our starting conditions
  3. Generate the best catalysts to achieve our goals
  4. Constantly adjust our forecast
October 29, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Building an antilibrary: the power of unread books

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The Summary

An anti-library is a collection of unread books. Books you have read are actually “far less valuable than unread ones,” as they represent things already known. An anti-library allows you to create a research library for topics you want to explore. In fact, being faced with all that you do not know can be humbling.  But how can we properly create an anti-library?   - When reading a book, check the references, and add any interesting sources to your anti-library - Ask for recommendations - Allow for random additions to your collection  - Expect that the proportion of read books to decrease as time goes on - Be comfortable being reminded that knowledge is finite and always changing

August 6, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Pre-mortem: how to anticipate failure with prospective hindsight

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The Summary

A pre-mortem is where you imagine that you've failed before you've even started, and work backward to determine why.

Pre-mortems manage overconfidence

  • Prone to overconfidence at the beginning of a project
  • Pre-mortem brings future consequences into the conversation
  • Fosters communication about failure

Performing a pre-mortem

  • Review the brief - discuss the plan and members' roles.
  • Set the scene - the project has failed.
  • Brainstorm - uncover every possible reason.
  • Discuss and improve the plan to avoid failure.
June 3, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Mental wealth: managing your mental health budget

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The Summary

2020 has been a rough year

Humans have a limited mental health budget. How to manage mental health to continue addressing important issues:

Mental health is like a wallet

The amount of money within the wallet relates to the among of adverse effects one can sustain. Mental health is not considered until the person faces tough times. Many factors can contribute to the weakening of one’s mental health including… - Negative use of social media - Microaggressions - Discrimination - Urban life - Financial instability - Lack of sleep - Alcohol consumption - Poor diet

Invest in mental health

Focus on activities to refill the mental health wallet. - Journaling - Exercising - Communicate with close people

Become a mental health ally by following these principles

  • Educate oneself about things that affect mental health
  • Empathize with those struggling with mental health
  • Be conscious of language People of color tend to face mental health issues more often; there are resources and programs designed specifically to target minorities.
May 6, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Confirmation bias: believing what you see, seeing what you believe

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The Summary

“Confirmation bias” is the human tendency to seek, interpret, favor, and remember information in a way that supports prior predications or personal beliefs. Experimentation by Peter Wason showed: - Humans seek specific rules to support intuition - Humans quickly make unsupported, automatic assumptions when faced with specific rules

Causes of this are:

  • Wishful thinking: people find it easier to make decisions off what they wish is true
  • Limited human capacity: lazy brain takes shortcuts to arrive at conclusions that don’t require more objective thought

Where bias exists?

  • When searching for information: testing predictions without objectivity
  • Memory: remembering selective memories to support beliefs
  • Interpretation: analyzing coincidences in a way that strictly supports personal intuition

Examples of bias include:

  • Biased eyewitness accounts
  • Promoting news that supports own values
  • Political party polarization: strictly supporting beliefs of subscribed group 

Some effects of confirmation bias are:

  • Prejudice, discrimination
  • Limited mindset In order to have an open mind, it is important to be aware of confirmation bias pitfalls
April 28, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff

10 ways to speed up your Roam Research workflow

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The Summary

Productivity Shortcuts for Roam

  1. Add Roam as a shortcut to your dock or taskbar.
    1. It only takes a few seconds to add a shortcut to Roam to your dock (on MacOS) or your taskbar (on Windows), and it will make Roam more accessible by letting you open it in a new window in one click. 
  2. Automatically add the source to web snippets.
    1. Utilize the chrome extension to automatically copy not only the text, but the title of the page and its URL into your clipboard, nicely formatted in markdown.
  3. Change the appearance of Roam.
    1. Install the Stylus extension which allows you to override the CSS styles of specific websites.
  4. Add your hub pages to the navigation menu.
    1. Go to the page you want to add to your menu, and click on the little star icon in the top right corner of the window.
  5. See mentions of a page directly in the current page.
    1. To do this, type: — you will see the same “linked/unlinked” reference list you usually see at the bottom of each page appear in the current block.
    2. If you can’t remember the exact syntax, you can always type / and scroll down to “Page Mentions.”
  6. Create soft line breaks.
    1. Press SHIFT + ENTER instead of just ENTER. This will create a soft line break instead of a new bullet point.
  7. Make the most of shortcuts.
    1. CMD+B for bold, CMD+I for italic, CMD+H for highlights
    2. CMD+ATL+1,2,3 (choose a number) to create H1, H2, or H3 titles
    3. Use TAB to indent and SHIFT TAB to unindent
    4. CMD+SHIFT+UP or CMD+SHIFT+DOWN to move the current block up or down
    5. /ENTER to create a to-do checkbox 
    6. CMD+SHIFT+D to go to your daily notes
    7. CMD+U and start typing to activate the search bar (great to quickly access or create pages)
  8. Use quick capture on mobile.
    1. Open Roam on your mobile, and you will see a “Quick capture” screen. Anything you add here will be tagged #Quick Capture so you can easily go back to it once on desktop and tag accordingly.
  9. Open two notes side by side.
    1. Use SHIFT+CLICK or CTRL+SHIFT+O on a link to open it in a parallel panel, side-by-side with the current page.
  10. Filter linked and unlinked pages to surface relevant content.
    1. You can use the filtering function to surface exactly what is relevant to you right now.
October 7, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff

The collective brain: where does innovation come from?

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The Summary

Often we think of individuals who can be attributed for their work, like Aristotle, Da Vinci, Einstein, etc. But innovation is better understood at the collective level.

Innovation does not happen in isolation

  • Our brains cannot achieve at the individual level without accounting for the successes at the collective level as well
  • Homo sapiens, with bigger brains, need more energy, and we used our big brains to create innovative ways to gain calories more efficiently, and we transmitted that information socially
  • A key difference between our species and others is that we have networked thinking - innovation is caused through the evolution of the collective brain

Three components of innovation

  • Serendipity - most innovations are a result of luck
  • Recombination - combining different elements to come up with something new
  • Incremental improvements - technological improvements that help scale a technology over time

Interconnectedness and innovation

  • The biggest factor that reflects rates of innovation is sociality
  • People need to collaborate to advance, and often highly collaborative groups are more advanced in technologies and innovation
  • The heroic genius of individuals cannot be achieved without work that has been learned from other people before them
August 17, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff

The planning fallacy: why we underestimate how long a task will take

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The Summary

Systemic Underestimation

  • Often people have overly optimistic performance scenarios which tend for us to underestimate the time something will take
    • Planning fallacy
  • Only 30% of senior thesis students complete their thesis in the time they thought it would take them 
  • The planning fallacy is persistent
    • We do not learn from our past mistakes 

When Planning Fails and Deadlines are Missed

  • The planning fallacy is a culprit in many public projects
    • Big Dig Highway project in Boston went over budget and 10 years longer than expected

The Origins of Planning Fallacy

Three main biases that are responsible  - Optimism bias - A cognitive bias where we are less likely to believe we could encounter a negative event - Motivated reasoning - Emotionally biased reasoning where we create justification for what we want rather than what goes with evidence - Taking the inside view - Focus on the fine details rather than the final result

Five Ways to Avoid the Planning Fallacy

  • Take the outside view
    • Thinking big picture rather than small
  • Define your priorities
  • Question your motivations
  • Perform a pre-mortem
    • Imagine the project has failed and what you can do to revive it if it could be done differently
  • Manage your time
November 4, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff

Personal values: how knowing yourself can guide your actions

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The Summary

Our cultural environment transmit personal ideologies

  • Traditional cultures value religion while secular-rational cultures value science research
  • Societies focused on survival are likely to be industrial while those focused on self-expression are post-industrial

Good values are evidence-based and controllable; bad values are emotion-based and destructive

Personal value quadrant 1. Personal-competence: value wisdom, achieved through independent thinking 2. Personal-moral: value friendship, achieved through honesty 3. Social-competence: value equality, achieved through ambitious work 4. Social-moral: value national security, achieved through obedience

Discovering personal values

  • Think about someone you admire and write a short essay on their values and how they align with your own
  • Pick from a list of values: bravery, compassion, family, financial security, health, leadership, love, nature, success, work, etc.
  • Journal to self-reflect

Align your actions and behavior with your values

  • Values are not fixed: shape them over the course of your life
May 27, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Thinking in maps: from the Lascaux caves to modern knowledge graphs

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The Summary


  • Since the beginnings of the Roman Empire, maps have been used to devise strategic attacks or agree on treatises in times of war.
  • Purely geographical maps have played a significant role in history; most ancient maps, however, are symbolic – they use allegorical devices, geometrical shapes, and pictograms that originate in a physical and mental world.

Lascaux – One of the Oldest Maps in the World

  • The Lascaux cave (14,500 BCE) is mostly known for its paintings of horses, aurochs, and deer.
  • It is also a prehistoric sky-map – the dots on the walls represent Orion, Taurus, and the Pleiades.
  • It is unlikely that this map was purely geographical – it probably represented a sacred belief, as historically stars were often associated with gods.

Types of Maps

The amalgamation of both of these creates a visual representation of our knowledge and beliefs: - Word-maps - Pictogram – a symbol that conveys its meaning through resemblance to a physical object. - Ideogram – a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept. - Logogram – a written character that represents a word. - World-maps - Physical or mental space maps.

Creators of Mind Maps

  • Leonardo Da Vinci – although we have no evidence of any mind maps drawn by Da Vinci, his ability to think in maps is visible in the many cross-disciplinary connections he made across art and science.
  • Cassiodorus – the creator of one of the earliest mind maps found in Codex Amiatinus. He created a visual representation of the outline of the Bible; it represents “flow of thought,” with the central idea found at the top and branching out into sub-concepts.
  • Ramon Llull – a mathematician from the 13th century, a polymath, and a pioneer of computation theory. Llull considered visual maps as a tool for thought, while his “Tree of Science” represents various scientific areas with roots, leaves, and fruits symbolizing different structures and principles.
  • Isaac Newton – used maps to explore scientific concepts and research ideas.

Modern Knowledge Graphs

As the need to visually represent complex ideas evolved, new ways of thinking in maps were devised. These differ by the types of nodes, the interlinking rules, the directionality of the links, and the presence/absence of a root node. Modern maps include: - Radial maps - Nested maps - Topic maps - Process maps - Concept maps

Limitations of Thinking in Maps

  • The complexity and messiness of our thought processes.
  • The dynamism of our ideas and intricate bi-directional relationships needed to formulate them.


  • Ontology, the philosophical study of being, addresses these limitations – the study concerns itself with a formal representation of categories and relationships between the concepts that make up an area of knowledge.
  • These representations have a crucial impact on the way we view and interact with the world.
  • In information science, ontological principles are used to build the modern web to make the Internet data machine-readable.
  • With almost no human intervention, Google’s Knowledge Graph has connected billions of real and abstract concepts.
  • Some foreshadow that metamodeling of thinking in maps will be the next step in the knowledge management quest– namely, creating algorithms of thought.
May 7, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff

Learning to let go

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The Summary

Learning to let go of something you are invested in is often more difficult than getting invested and attached in the first place; however, it is a necessary step to open up greater opportunities in the future. 

You don’t have control

  • The most important lesson you can learn is that you don’t have control over what happens to you just as a parent doesn’t have complete control over their children and a manager doesn’t have control over their employees. 
  • Understanding this allows you to detach yourself to an extent, enabling you to let go when it is necessary. 

Don’t fall for the sunk cost fallacy

  • Often people continue to invest in a relationship or goal despite it being clear it won’t reach fruition, biased by their past involvement. 
  • Don’t be influenced by past actions, look at your future as a clean slate and then determine if something is worth spending time and energy on. 
November 25, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff

Productivity and permaculture with Marie Poulin

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The Summary

Marie is a co-founder of a creative digital agency and launched a SaaS platform for creators with her husband, and discusses the interconnection between permaculture and digital gardens, building creativity systems, activating your ideas, avoiding burnout, creating empathy, and more.


  • Is about designing for regenerative systems, using principles based on nature to create more productivity 
  • Being aware of your inputs and outputs and maximizing efficiency

Sustainability and Virtuous Cycles

  • When people think of systems they think of rigid frameworks, but not Marie
  • She thinks in terms of self sustaining systems
  • She started using Notion to store her permaculture notes, eventually turning it into a digital garden for her

Habit Building

  • Habit building and processes for different parts of her life help her
  • Makes her goals visible and easy to achieve
  • Notion allows her to visualize her goals and see the ones she needs to focus on

Design Thinking

  • A framework for solving problems that are human-focused
  • In her case, software only solved a technical problem, not the human ones that stopped them from shipping
  • Design thinking helped her to empathize with clients and help them achieve their goals incrementally

Systems Prevent Burnout

  • Marie has fallen victim to burnout
  • When you don't have a good system to keep track of things, that's when your mental RAM goes over capacity
  • Good systems can help foster creativity
July 9, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Managing risk with the NASA Risk Matrix

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The Summary

The NASA Risk Matrix helps us determine the level of risk associated with a particular situation, so we can then decide how to react.

  • It is a graphical representation of the likelihood and consequence scores of a risk.

How to clearly state a risk according to NASA

  • State the risk as factually as possible without trying to provide a solution to it.
  • Template: Given that [Condition], there is a possibility of [Departure] adversely impacting [Asset], thereby leading to [Consequence].
    • Condition: Current fact-based situation that is causing concern, uneasiness, anxiety, doubt, etc.
    • Departure: Undesired potential change from the original plan, made more likely as a result of the condition you identified.
    • Asset: Project affected by the risk you identified.
    • Consequence: Potential negative impact the risk can have on the asset.

Using the NASA Risk Matrix to quantify risk

  • Two main factors impact any level of risk: how likely the potential departure is to happen (likelihood) and how negative the impact of the departure from the original plan would be (consequence).
  • For the likelihood score (y-axis), estimate how certain you are the risk will materialize/
      1. Not likely 2. Not very likely 3. Likely 4. Highly likely 5. Near certainty
  • For the consequence score (x-axis), use the consequence scorecard available from NASA.
  • The likelihood score and consequence score together give an overall risk score.

Mitigating risk based on a specific NASA risk score

  • Lowest risk: Put risks on the watch-list and re-assess regularly.
  • Low risk: Perform extra research to better understand the risk and write a mitigation plan.
  • Medium risk: Write and share mitigation plan, continuously assess and assign resources.
  • High risk: Communicate to NASA immediately.
  • Highest risk: Consider considerably changing the original plan.
  • Note: A mitigation plan can also be not to mitigate the risk.
August 12, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

The mindful productivity guide to intermittent fasting

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The Summary

Intermittent fasting can increase productivity, but it is most important to tailor your regimen to your body and daily schedule.

  • It is not one size fits all, so explore the many different regimens before choosing one.
  • Look at your work habits and default fasting times (e.g., sleeping) to design your regimen.
  • Breaks are important to mental health, creativity, and productivity, so do not skip them.
  • Keep it simple, listen to your body, and do not hold yourself to stressful, rigid timetables.
  • Remember, intermittent fasting does not replace basic health habits.
July 3, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

50 lessons learned from writing 50 newsletters

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The Summary

After sending out the 50th edition of Maker Mind, Anne-Laure le Cunff reports what she's learned

  1. Don’t be afraid of not knowing everything––do research on a “need to learn” basis.
  2. Choose a topic you care about.
  3. Or several topics you care about.
  4. Focus on the right goals––instead of subscribers or results, focus on your frequency of writing.
  5. Clearly set the expectation for the frequency and content of your newsletter.
  6. Be realistic with your time commitment.
  7. Make it easy to subscribe
  8. Make it easy to unsubscribe.
  9. Block out time within your schedule to work on your newsletter.
  10. It’s okay to be flexible and send the newsletter out late or skip an edition.
  11. Don’t be afraid to pivot your focus.
  12. Make friends and build relationships with your readers.
  13. Build an ecosystem by sharing and discussing other people’s work.
  14. Spread the word on channels where your audience congregates.
  15. Respect the reader-writer contract by delivering what they expect. 
  16. Think long-term and don’t trade readers’ trust for increased publicity.
  17. Be selective with sponsors.
  18. Newsletters are a sustainable way to generate revenue for the starving writer.
  19. Your newsletter doesn’t have to strictly be in the newsletter format––consider branching out.
  20. Go beyond one-way broadcasts by facilitating interaction with and among readers. 
  21. Ask for feedback.
  22. Disregard trolls.
  23. Keep it simple, from design to content.
  24. Keep it fun while respecting the reader-writer contract.
  25. Work in public––share your process, lessons, and plans.
  26. Keep it human––it’s okay to share personal experiences from time to time.
  27. Keep an ever-growing list of ideas.
  28. Manage your impostor syndrome.
  29. Celebrate your newletter’s achievements/milestones.
  30. Not all numbers are made equal, and the number of subscribers is a vanity number. 
  31. Don’t get obsessed with stats.
  32. Each subscriber is unique, and interacts with your newsletter in a unique way. You don’t need to push engagement.
  33. People are busy, so make your readers’ lives easier.
  34. Tools don’t matter that much, especially when you’re just getting started.
  35. Growing a newsletter takes time.
  36. Each new edition is an opportunity to improve: listen and adapt.
  37. Proofread.
  38. Don’t sweat it if you make a mistake.
  39. Subject lines are important––writing them is an art.
  40. Ignore the ups and downs and keep on showing up.
  41. Don’t stress over unsubscribers.
  42. Make your newsletter privacy-friendly.
  43. Ask for help from others.
  44. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  45. Use your newsletter as a self-education mechanism.
  46. Learn new skills beyond writing––marketing, communication, design.
  47. Invite your readers to participate.
  48. Make space to reflect on your goals and results.
  49. Make yourself proud.
  50. There is no magic formula.
December 9, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff

Selective ignorance: cultivating intentional knowledge in a chaotic world

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The Summary

The Internet enabled limitless amount of information, fitting to our brain’s 2.5 petabyte memory storage capacity. Real limitations to our learning are time and mental energy.

Selective ignorance: information diet that broadens intentional knowledge and abandons draining content

  • Ignoring certain topics helps you prioritize and forward your goals
    • Leads to less distractions, reduced stress, improved concentration

When cultivating selecting ignorance:

  • Carefully select diverse information sources of different standpoints and mediums (books, articles, podcasts)
  • Cut back on social media and unfollow accounts that are useless or draining
  • Seek interesting, stimulating conversations
  • Reflect periodically on your learning journey
  • Enjoy the journey
November 24, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Inductive versus deductive reasoning: how to make stronger arguments

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The Summary

Both inductive and deductive reasoning are important modes of reasoning that should be used in combination and chosen based on the context of a situation or problem.

The Nature of Reasoning

  • Often considered a distinctly human ability, it involves using our intellect to form logical and valid arguments that help the mind move from one idea to a related idea.

Inductive Reasoning

  • Use your personal experiences and observations to come up with a general truth.
  • Conclusions are considered probable.
  • Example: Sherlock Holmes looks for trends or patterns and extrapolates on this information to formulate a general truth.
    • He is also an exception because it is common for inductive reasoning to reach an incorrect conclusion, but Holmes almost always solves the case.
  • Limitations: Mistaking correlation for causation or applying the particular to the general.

Deductive Reasoning

  • Apply logical rules to your premises until only the truthful conclusion remains.
  • Conclusions are considered certain.
  • Wrong conclusions often occur because the premises or logic applied to move from one step to another is flawed.
  • Limitations: Impractical to use on a daily basis because you must start from a factual premise to which you rarely have access.
September 24, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Negativity bias: how negative experiences cloud our judgement

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The Summary

Negative bias

  • Negative events have bigger impact than positive ones
    • Negative stimuli triggers stronger response in the brain
  • We make decisions based on negative information, causing:
    • Risk aversion - preferring a sure outcome over a more risky but higher-rewarding one
    • Loss aversion - choosing avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains
    • Clouded judgment

Combatting the bias

  • Pay attention
    • Be aware of this bias and refresh your perspective objectively
  • Self-reflect
  • Establish positive routines
  • Use mental models
    • Judge a situation then make a decision objectively
  • Avoid the rabbit hole of negativity
November 17, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

Memory bias: how selective recall can impact your memories

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The Summary

Types of memory bias

  • Rosy retrospection: judging the past more positively than the present
  • Consistency: incorrectly reconstructing past to align with self-image
  • Mood-congruent memory: recalling memories that fit with current emotions
  • Hindsight: considering past events as predictable
  • Egocentric: reconstructing past memories to look better
  • Availability: overestimating certain events
  • Recency: best remembering newest information
  • Choice-supportive: selecting chosen options over rejected ones
  • Fading affect bias: emotions associated with bad memories fade faster than pleasant ones
  • Confirmation: interpreting memories to confirm beliefs

Faulty memories are trade-offs that enable us to cope with our past and survive in the present

  • If we remember everything, mass confusion ensues
June 18, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

The art and science of mind wandering

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The Summary

Mind-wandering is when we are physically in place while our mind is in another place. Some see mind wandering as a negative habit that needs to be controlled, and others see it as a creative necessity. The truth is more balanced. There is an art and science to mind wandering.

Mind-wandering Through the Ages

Many thoughts, feelings, and images fill our consciousness without any active thinking. Researchers have found that our minds have been wandering for more than 2,000 years. Humans have been seeking the right balance between focused thinking and mind wandering.

Researchers have assessed mind wandering on three dimensions:

  1. How vivid the person’s thoughts are
  2. How deep into the thought the person goes
  3. How many of those thoughts are based on guilt or fear

The Neuroscience of Mind Wandering

  • Research seeks to understand how the brain generates the unconstrained thoughts experienced by mind wanderers.
  • The brain is constantly busy. Even in default mode - the resting state of the brain - our mind wanders.

A Constant Mental Oscillation

The mind constantly oscillates between two modes of thinking - focused and diffused. 1. Focused Thinking: when the brain works hard to understand a problem at hand, trying to explore potential solutions actively 2. Diffused Thinking: when the mind is wandering or “day dreaming.”

Directed Distraction

Mental wandering is not good or bad; it is what we make it that matters. This is how a person can cope with mind-wandering better: 1. Accept Mental oscillations 2. Take conscious breaks 3. Deal with negative mind wandering Mind-wandering, in conclusion, is a great ability but poorly understood.

June 29, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff

Creative challenges with Alyssa X

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The Summary

Alyssa X is a talented designed, full-stack developer, and entrepreneur, and has a portfolio of other experiences such as animated mockups. Startups use many of her GitHub posts in their daily work.

How she comes up with ideas

  • Tries to combine two themes together
  • Sometimes Alyssa comes up with ideas and does not pursue them
  • Variety of factors that can lead to not pursuing goals such as time

The most challenging project to date for Alyssa is Animockup

  • There was a high degree of complexity
  • Two most challenging parts of the project
    • The canvas
    • The video renderer
  • The planning process is the most important part of succeeding in a computer-based project, being organized is key

Communities can be a large help when you are having issues

  • Remote working is advantageous for this reason
  • Can reach out at any time and there is a high likelihood that the person will get back to you quickly
  • Social media helps fill in the loneliness that remote work can have
  • Connecting with other creators and asking for advice is something that Alyssa recommends
June 10, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

As we may die

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The Summary

Legacies and How We Create Them

As paradoxical as it may seem, death may be what creates life, simply because it can give life meaning. Yet, as people age it is only logical to consider what happens after their eventual passing. Who remembers their story? This question has arisen throughout the course of history and many have grappled with the issue, here a few possibilities: - A written or recorded story. - Consulting with our ancestors and their stories helps give us insight into who we are. - This is a common method and one used throughout history where stories of past relatives would be passed from generation to generation. - But, while this is an effective manner, does it encapsulate the full story? - A device that records every single moment. - This type of method, while futuristic, certainly ensures that no information or side of the story is missed. - With every recorded incident, the detail of one’s legacy only increases. - But this brings up another question, do we want every intimate detail of one’s life? Should we see both the good and bad? And isn’t the best part of the story the storytelling? - This brings us to the final possibility, descendants. - Descendants are, effectively, nature’s instrument to creating a legacy. - They are a perfect encapsulation of a legacy simply because their story is a part of their ancestors. - Think of the time your grandmother baked you cookies or a parent counselled you. All of that is part of their legacy and it lives through you.  Now, these three possibilities don’t mean that we won’t have to grapple with questions about legacy in the future, they simply suggest potential ways forward. Which path you take depends on the type of legacy that you want.

December 16, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

2020 year in review: chaos and community

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The Summary

Life cannot always be a forward journey: enjoy the weird pit stops and collect unexpected memories

With the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a year of chaos and growth for many

When nothing goes to plan, make a new one

  • Productivity is not the end goal: nurture your mental health and spend time on things or relationships you enjoy
  • If you have the mental capacity, pick up new skills or hobbies

Unity in community

  • Take advantage of virtual events: join others with the shared interest of knowledge and creativity
    • Online platforms like Circle or Roam help you find calmness within chaos

Explore your spirituality

  • Spirituality and science coexist: the common factor is the will to ask challenging questions
  • Manage stressful experiences by adopting calming habits like meditating, enjoying nature, and journaling
September 16, 2020
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs

The science of deliberate practice

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The Summary

We tend to see practice as tireless repetition of the same task, where the goal is to progressively become an expert by building intuitive memory. Of course, more practice will make the difference between being good and being great, but the most efficient route to expertise is not mindless practice—it’s deliberate practice.

The talent fallacy

  • Expert performance is not based on a set of intrinsic aptitudes which only some individuals possess.
  • Instead of merely practicing a skill a large number of times—and blaming a lack of talent when that strategy does not result in clear improvements—deliberate practice consists in continually practicing a skill with the conscious intention of mastering it.

The promise of deliberate practice

  • Deliberate practice is focused, systematic, and purposeful. It’s enhanced by active coaching to generate continuous feedback.
  • Deliberate practice requires to be able to fail like a scientist in order to build a learning loop.
  • Deliberate practice can be applied in any kind of challenging skill, whether intellectual or physical.

The 3 M’s of deliberate practice

  1. Measurement
  2. Metacognition
  3. Mentoring