50 Things That Matter

by on April 19, 2010 | posted in SEO Theory

The internet is guilty of information overload. Thankfully, with this information overload comes a newer, higher standard of content expectation, which results in bigger, better, badder posts. Sometimes, these posts are relevant, good, money making, entertaining, or hopefully, all of the above. But so few of them actually matter.

Occasionally I’ll come across a blog post, quote or page design that grabs me, shakes me, and changes my life. These are the most recent 50 things to have done that. They vary, from inspirational quotes, to direct improvements for the internet professional’s life, to leadership advice, but more generally, these “things that matter” can be used to improve yourself, or your thinking, in some way, shape, or form. They will most directly benefit the internet professional, as I am one, but there are plenty of takeaways for those people who work offline as well. If there weren’t, this list wouldn’t matter.

You’ll find that I pull from certain sources multiple times. This isn’t nepotism or some nudge to all my internet friends – in actuality; I don’t know one person on this list personally (although I’d like to). However, I do think highly of all of them. The few I pulled from multiple times have common characteristics that make me greatly respect their opinions. These two characteristics are authenticity and intelligence. Put these two determining factors together and you will have a high probability of things that matter.

To the list. Sometimes, I’ll post a summary, where it’s necessary. Sometimes I won’t, because I don’t want my message to dilute the original author’s piece, as some of these are sometimes very simplistic, but very, very amazing.

1.  “Do One Thing”, on Our Delhi Struggle – http://ourdelhistruggle.com/2008/08/11/do-one-thing/

2.  “See Randomness”, by Paul Graham – http://www.paulgraham.com/randomness.html — Your roommate ate your sandwich. You can’t find your favorite shoes. Your waiter is offering poor service. You are seriously, seriously pissed off because of this. You shouldn’t be – Paul Graham explains why.

3. “Quotes that Matter”, Zefrank.com –http://www.zefrank.com/zesblog/archives/2010/03/my_favorite_quo.html – A compilation of amazing quotes on Zefrank.com, mostly created by people in the comments. Not that “work hard, achieve” type either. Real, salient stuff that you haven’t heard, but you’ll love.

4. “Great Leaders Smile Back” by Tim Sanders: –http://sanderssays.typepad.com/sanders_says/2010/03/great-leaders-smile-back.html

5.  “Why You Can’t Work at Work”, by Jason Fried – http://bigthink.com/ideas/18522

6. “5 Ways to Become Happier Today”, by Tal Ben-Shaharhttp://bigthink.com/ideas/16660 — Five ways to make yourself happier, suggested by a Harvard psychology lecturer. They aren’t as obvious as you might think – and even if they are, they are good reminders that what you’re doing is right, and to keep at it.

7. “Nobody has to be vile”, by Slavoj Zizek – http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n07/slavoj-zizek/nobody-has-to-be-vile — A challenging article uprooting the idea of “liberal communism” that is found in many of the rich upper-managers of Fortune-500s and the elite entertainment populace. If you’re not ready to think, put this on the back burner, but don’t forget it – cause it matters.

8. “How to Start a Movement”, by Derek Sivers — http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement.html | http://sivers.org/ff — Two takes by Derek Sivers on “how a start a movement”, and more importantly, “the first follower” idea. I prefer his essay to his video talk at TED, but both are cogent illustrations of the same idea.

9. “Pretty Sketchy”, by Jason Santa Maria — http://jasonsantamaria.com/articles/pretty-sketchy/

10. “9 Reasons Why Smart People Go Nowhere”, by Rajesh Setty — http://www.lifebeyondcode.com/2010/03/29/9-reasons-why-many-smart-people-go-nowhere/ — Have friends with 140 IQs that can’t hold a steady job? Know plenty of Harvard grads that aren’t living up to their education? More than “they don’t work hard enough”, this article is a unique, fresh take at why smart doesn’t always mean success.

37 Signals

11. “We would rather suffer the visible costs..”, by Warren Buffett, via 37signals -- http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2279-we-would-rather-suffer-the-visible-costs

12. “The Way I Work”, by Jason Fried – http://www.inc.com/magazine/20091101/the-way-i-work-jason-fried-of-37signals.html — A look into the typical workday of 37signals founder Jason Fried. Seems straightforward, but for anyone that’s a fan of 37signals, you know it’s anything but. Jason gives an account of the way we should work (in my opinion), through an in-depth synopsis of how his typical work day normally looks.

13. “Real-World Validation”, by Tien G Nguyen – http://abardapart.com/real-world-validation

14. “Life Below 600px”, by Paddy Donnely – http://iampaddy.com/lifebelow600/ — A little discussion (and a beautiful bit of design storytelling), on “the fold”, a typical part of the internet experience. More than a design lesson, this page also offers some storytelling takeaways, if you interpret it that way.

15. “Infographics” , by Phil Gyford – http://www.flickr.com/photos/philgyford/4505748943/sizes/l/

16. “The Nerd Handbook” by Rands — http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2007/11/11/the_nerd_handbook.html — Ever wonder what’s going on in that nerd developers mind in the corner of your office? Ever think their swimming in the deep end of some pool with a 4000 feet deep end? Then read Rands’ definitive guide on “the Nerd” construct, and maybe, you’ll start understanding that guy (or girl) a little bit better.

17. “Have you ever had that fantasy of taking..” by Merlin Mann, via marco.org — http://www.marco.org/503225622 — A quote that can be taken many different ways. I took it in a “stuff sucks”, minimalism rules, escapism kind of way. I’m sure you’ll take it some great way as well.

18. “I am a Racist”, by Mark C. Chu-Carroll — http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2010/04/i_am_a_racist.php — An incredible take on racism, what it really means, and how almost all of us, therefore, are racist.

19. “No one has the right to spend their life without being offended.”, via 37signals — http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2246-no-one-has-the-right-to-spend-their-life

20. “Why Our Leadership System is Flawed”, by Ross Hudgens — http://www.rosshudgens.com/why-our-leadership-system-is-flawed/ — I lied, I do know one person on this list – myself. I believe in the reality (and matterness) of this post, which is why I wrote it, and why I’m sharing it. “I only lead because I’m at the front. I don’t lead because others are behind me.”

Dustin Curtis

21. “The rich and powerful”, by Dustin Curtis – http://dustincurtis.com/the_rich_and_powerful.html — Why are rich people so bent on uncovering the formula for their success and replicating it? Is success enough?

22. “Hiring & The Sixth Sense”, by Dustin Curtis – http://dustincurtis.com/hiring.html — We never truly know the value of experience until we have it. We’ll always be smart, but we won’t always be wise.

23. “You should follow me on Twitter here”, by Dustin Curtis — http://dustincurtis.com/you_should_follow_me_on_twitter.html — Mr. Curtis did a study on how many followers he got from various phrases. It turns out “You should follow me on Twitter here.” Yes, that’s my account.

24. “Learn to Fucking Spell”, by Paddy Donnely — http://iampaddy.com/spell/Communication matters. Every time I edit a blog post, read a book, or analyze a website as a link building target, I constantly think “quality signal, quality signal, quality signal”. What low quality signals are you giving off?

25. “Learn to Appreciate Technology”, by Louis CK – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LkusicUL2s&feature=player_embedded# — “We live in an amazing world, and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation.”

26. “Cleese on creativity”, by John Cleese, via Gregory Wood — http://gregorywood.co.uk/journal/cleese-on-creativity/ — A memorable quote on experience, self awareness, ego, and any other self-reflexive term you’d like to use.

27. “The Makers of Things”, by Rands — http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2009/03/23/the_makers_of_things.html — “We are defined by what we build.” Build nothing, be nothing. Hzzah.

28. “you, less than”, by Pam Slim, via Gaping Void – http://gapingvoid.com/2010/04/15/you-less-than/ — It will happen, and happen, and happen. Forty compliments that make you smile, followed by one insult that destroys your world. Pam Slim explains that you, less than, is a lie.

29. “Inspire”, via and by Brian Nikolic – http://inspire.boranikolic.com

30. “Ignore One in a Million”, by Seth Godin – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/04/one-in-a-million.html – Career advice, life advice, and more generally, great advice.

Seth Godin31. “The Levy Flight”, by Seth Godin – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/04/the-levy-flight.html –Seth Godin explains how a concept known as “The Levy Flight”, that’s used for animals, can similarly be utilized to explain human behavior.

32. “Is Effort a Myth?”, by Seth Godin -- http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/10/is-effort-a-myt.html Godin clears up many misconceptions we have about effort, luck, and how they relate. He then goes into detail about how we can overcome our thoughts about effort to become the best we can be.

33. “The Panhandler’s Secret”, by Seth Godin – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/02/the-panhandlers-secret.html — With a great analogy, Godin offers superb, memorable advice for every person attempting to sell a product, service, or themselves.

34. “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule”, by Paul Graham — http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html – Interruption is a common theme running through workplace productivity discussions in our Web 2.0 world. Paul Graham explains one portion of it in a way nobody had before.

35. “The Myth of Creativity”, by Robin Hanson — http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_27/b3991115.htm — A column about society’s overreliance on creativity and underreliance on the execution that actually matters. “In fact, humans generate far more suggestions than we could ever possibly pursue.”

36. “Everyone I spoke with loved the idea…” by Josh Kopelman – http://redeye.firstround.com/2010/04/everyone-i-spoke-with-loved-the-idea.html – Another riff on why the idea doesn’t really matter, this time with a marketing focus.

37. “The Final 1%”, by Jonathan Fields – http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/final-1-percent-dreams/

38. “A Trainer Tells Everything They’ve Learned About Health and Fitness” — http://www.fitnessspotlight.com/2010/03/01/trainer-tells-all-what-i-have-learned-about-health-and-fitness/ – A comprehensive tell-all by a trainer on the lessons they’ve learned in their career with exercise. This post supplies every tip you could possibly need to know, in a way that’s easy to digest. A must for every human, ever.

39. “I read a lot of threads about being lonely, sad, or unhappy in general.”, by Alukima — http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/b87a0/i_read_a_lot_of_threads_about_being_lonely_sad_or/

40.Announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them”, by Derek Sivers — http://sivers.org/zipit

Derek Sivers

41. “Ideas are just a multiplier of execution”, by Derek Sivers — http://sivers.org/multiply

42. “No more yes. It’s either “HELL YEAH! or no”.”, by Derek Sivers — http://sivers.org/hellyeah

43. “Don’t punish everybody for one mistake”, by Derek Sivers — http://sivers.org/punish – In life, we overcompensate for every isolated thing that happens to us. When one in a million happens, we make it one in ten. Derek explains why we should see through the one in ten mentality and identify one in a million when it occurs.

44. “Japanese Addresses: the opposite is also true”, by Derek Sivers — http://sivers.org/jaddr – So I like Derek Sivers. A lot. This is another great one about assumptions, and how the word should essentially be dropped from our vocabulary.

45. “Is There Enough Criticism in Social Media?”, by Eric Schiller – http://beyondgrowth.net/social-criticism/social-media-moving-towards-a-brave-new-world/ – No.

46. “Know What Success Means to You”, by Alain de Botton — http://www.nosotroshq.com/blog/post/make_sure_you_know_what_sucess_means_to_you/

47. “I really wish I spent more time being a dick to people.” – Wil Wheaton

48. “Sleep deprivation is not a badge of honor.”, by David Heinemeier Hansson — http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1006-sleep-deprivation-is-not-a-badge-of-honor -Workaholics like to twist the notion that a lack of sleep means they’ve been working so hard and for so long to accomplish their goals, but, as Hansson explains, less sleep hours doesn’t necessarily mean more production.

49. “Johnny Talks about Motivation”, by Johnny Truant – http://ittybiz.com/johnny-talks-about-motivation/ – Motivation is perishable, but where does it come from? Where can we get that unflinching push that makes us never stop until we get something done? Truant gives a great analogy and supplies the “what it takes” part of the equation.

50. “Do what you love (no excuses!)”, by Gary Vaynerchuk – http://www.ted.com/talks/gary_vaynerchuk_do_what_you_love_no_excuses.html – You’ve heard this before, I know. Vaynerchuk says it in a way that makes you actually do it and not just wish you did it.

This isn’t the all-encompassing list, definitely. I want to find more things that matter and share them with you. If you have some things you think matter and would like me to know to include in the next list, e-mail me. Or leave it in the comments. Or talk to me on Twitter.

If you were paying attention, this is a good time to say “You should follow me on Twitter here.” I try and find stuff that matters and share it. If you do too, contact me, and I’ll gladly follow and disseminate your stuff. In a space where “5 Social Media Resources that are Cool” is way too commonplace, we need more people finding the stuff they love and spreading it to the world.

Ideally, I’d rather not have to spend two months compiling the next list.

My favorite: “I really wish I spent more time being a dick to people.” – Will Wheaton

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