Made You Think Podcast

May 15, 2018
Turn Off Your Notifications: Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz
Part of

Solitude is what you have the least of here, especially as plebes. You don’t even have privacy, the opportunity simply to be physically alone, never mind solitude, the ability to be alone with your thoughts. And yet I submit to you that solitude is one of the most important necessities of true leadership.

In this episode of Made You Think, Neil and Nat cover the first speech on this show! Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz is a speech held by the professor at West Point Military Academy. In it, Deresiewicz goes against the common thinking that Yale’s professors or MBAs are leaders, just because they are the best at following what they are told to do, and looks at solitude and moments of deep work the roots for true leadership.

Multitasking is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. […] Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

We cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Turning chaos into order vs maintaining the order
  • The “clever” app that interrupts you to check if you are in the flow
  • Guns and drug wars in Chicago
  • Nat and Neil’s rituals for solitude
  • Why starting your podcast with your friends will bring you to the best of deep thinking
  • A new sponsor that will make you smell better

And much more. Please enjoy, and be sure to read Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz!

Links from the Episode

Mentioned in the show

Books mentioned

People mentioned

Show Topics

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7:13 – Leadership. “Excellence sheep” concept, or what people do to get a position at Yale. Being the best at following orders doesn’t make you a leader. People’s confusion between leadership and being good at what one is supposed to do. Turning chaos into order vs maintaining the order.

12:05 – West Point vs Yale Leadership concept. One line Commander’s intent employees.

13:18 – Solitude. Bringing Chaos back to Order requires solitude and focus. Creative thinking is not possible nowadays unless we take the concentrated effort to avoid all kind of interruptions. Kayne West and Jordan Peterson on tour. Multitasking and interruptions vs learning.

16:29 – Generally, our first though may not be the result of our creativity, but a subconscious recall of someone else’s idea. Places where many ideas come because we are concentrated (and not multitasking), even on other activities.

21:07 – Meditation and background processing. Tips for reducing notifications distractions. Training your friends to not expect immediate response. Following a team at bird’s eye view without babysitting them.

25:00 – The effects of talking about ideas on this podcast.

27:02 – Good work starts slow and needs time to get up to the core ideas. Experiences writing good articles or books. Japanese Zen practices and working clean are part of the many activities that foster conditions for creative spark. Organizing the CRM.

33:43 – Different types of flow. Getting “lost” in a mindless activity or reading a fiction book that helps “defrag” your hard drive. The absurd notification app to check if you are in flow or not. Differences between a book and a tweet or the newspaper. Nat & Neil’s secret to read 60 books a year like top performers CEOs.

Discover the fiction book we are reading listening to back episodes and participate of the give away!

40:43 – What is solitude: introspection, concentration of focused work, sustained reading. And… deep friendship. The traits of good long conversations with friends. Taking the part of the Devil’s advocate, and the problem to link our identity with ideas. Not reasonable ideas are just as logical as reasonable ones, but with different inputs. Trump’s voters example.

45:18 – Immigration. Extreme views like open borders and racism. Naturally moving toward the middle. Tailor-made narco-economy and guns in Chicago. The reason to legalize drugs. Libertarians against Abortion.

51:59 – The bad habit of everyone should have an opinion on everything. Replying emotionally on Twitter without being informed. Trump bringing peace in Korea.

57:07 – Solitude being the essence of leadership. Nat and Neil’s rituals for solitude. Physical stresses that help freeing the mind.

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