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Just the words "yet" or "not yet," we're finding, give kids greater confidence, give them a path into the future that creates greater persistence. And we can actually change students' mindsets. - Carol Dweck, TEDxNorrkping
The five:
  1. Did you know “America has a narcissism problem”? There are also two categories of pain, clean and dirty, and it’s important to learn how to let go of the latter💰. Also, are you sick of people saying “saving money won’t make you rich?” Well, it’s true … at least according to this guy who retired at 35. Meanwhile, meet Mike Meru. He has $1M in student loans. Also, there’s value in having greater negotiating skills — and here’s how to negotiate anything (according to people who have done it)
  2. The future of work is untethered, and here’s how folks are designing for it. Also, here’s how to take control of your learning at work💰. Once you’ve seized control, here are three hacks to help your brain learn faster, and here’s how extraordinary brains are helping is better understand the run-of-the mill ones💰. Also, if you’re holding off on all of that learning you could be doing, remember it’s more important to get started than to succeed. In other brain news: “This works so well … How come nobody else talks about this?” The “this” in question is the relationship between diet and depression. 💰On the subject of learning, here’s what one man learned from working as a mail carrier, and this is what one woman learned about motherhood in the age of fear (a very good piece)
  3. "For what is the meaning of life, after all, than coffee and tea and talk with loved ones?”💰 This is from one of the most beautiful pieces I have read in a while by the widow of an artist who happened to be a refugee. On the topic of navigating difference, racism kills, and here’s what self-regulation can do about it. Also, architecture has a diversity gap, and the jury’s still out on whether it can be fixed. In happier news, it turns out Mr. Rogers was a real-life nice neighbor, according to someone who was his IRL neighbor
  4. Here’s how cars are dividing America and how parking lots have eaten American cities
  5. These stories stop us from being present and taking action. Also, apparently “every story is not a book,” says this literary agent. (Yeah, but with self-publishing it can be, says this writer.) We move away from that buzzkill, to this sigh of relief: apparently, life gets better after 50, and our brain goes on a wild journey when we sleep

💰 = Paywall, though please do consider paying to read what people write. Writers like to eat too. (Apologies if I miss one…) 

How to learn when your mind says 'no' ⛔
I am terrible at math.

Hold on, before you start yelling "yet!' and send me Carol Dwek’s TED Talk, let me stop you because I just watched it … and I’m really, really bad at math. I am so terrible at math that, when I see numbers, I break out into a cold sweat, my mind goes blank, and I lose my appetite. I would need to study math for somewhere on the order of 20 years straight — no breaks — to begin approaching even the lowest level of comfort.   

My distaste is so acute, I fully believe word problems are a crime against words.  

My deep aversion to math comes from a deeper aversion to linear thinking, or thinking step-by-logical-step. No one who knows me well would ever describe me as a linear thinker. I much prefer to free-associate. I am a divergent thinker. I enjoy bringing odd things together and smashing them like atoms to produce energy. My favorite type of work is when there’s a problem, no solution, and no rules on how to go about solving that problem — and I’m told the magic word: “go".  

So, why on Earth am I taking a financial accounting course right now!?!? 

Yes, that’s right. I am in week 3 of 4 of the introduction to financial accounting course on Coursera. I think if University of Pennsylvania’s Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor, Brian Bushee, who teaches this online gauntlet, ever met me, he’d simply shake his head and point me to the marketing department. Then, the marketing folks would send me to comms, and then I’d run to the theater department … where, let’s just be honest, I belong.  

I am, to put it mildly, bombing this course. This course has a “C’s get degrees” policy. In other words, you need a 70% to pass, and I am clawing my way uphill to that marker of mediocrity. At the end of each week, there’s a 10-question quiz. I usually need to take each quiz twice — sometimes three times (the maximum number of times allowed every 8 hours) — before I can get a passing grade. The final exam is a 40-question jungle.  

Help. Me. 

The problem is, the math isn’t complicated (not even for me). It’s the logical progressions that are getting me. For example, if your assets go up, they are entered in the journal as a debit, and if your liabilities go up, they are entered as a credit. Why? Because they exist on opposite sides of the balance sheet equation: assets = liabilities + stockholders’ equity. Then there are the T-charts, the operating statement, adjusting entries …  

I can’t believe I just typed that from memory. Sweet mother of depreciation, I hope it’s all right.  

My brain wants no part of this information, especially when the numbers start appearing. It is fighting me every step of the way.  

“We don’t do this,” it says.  

“We don’t think this way,” it cries.  

“I thought we agreed,” it howls, "no more math and no more logic! We’re too old for this sh*t!”.  

I’ve spent my life running away from math and logic, but the fact remains: if I want to have the flexibility to pursue the random things that interest me without going broke, have any real understanding of my personal finances, or just not feel dumb when talking to people who know this stuff (most of the people I come across day to day), I have to learn this stuff.  

So, what do I do when my brain says “no”? '

I suffer through it. 

That’s it. There’s no secret sauce. I don’t Jedi mind trick myself into it. I can’t. My brain is too good at playing hide-n-seek with math. I have to hold it down under a spotlight and force it to understand. So, I watch the recorded lectures over and over again until my brain finally starts turning the noise into (albeit weak) signals. I laugh openly at Professor Bushee’s accounting jokes to produce a bit of dopamine and alleviate the tension in my jaw and shoulders. Then I do the problems over and over again until I can do them from memory and I can feel in my bones why the answers are right. 

It’s painful work. I can only compare it to climbing up a greased pole. I’m essentially grabbing a bucket of water, dishwashing detergent, and a sponge and cleaning the pole. Then, once I get a foothold at the bottom, I start climbing with the bucket of cleaning fluid and the sponge along for the ride, scrubbing all the way to the top.  

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go review how to calculate EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) and wrap my head around why it’s not a good replacement for the cash flow statement when analyzing a company’s performance.  

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Thank you a million times...
Thank you so much to my long-time donor Natalya Pemberton! Natalya is a culture and design enthusiast learning Sustainable Systems at the innovative Presidio Graduate School.

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Emi Kolawole · E is for Everything HQ · Palo Alto California 94306 · USA
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