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Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine Kevin Kelly just turned 70, and on his birthday, he shared 103 bits of advice that he wished he had known. This week, Paul and Rich share some of their favorite pieces of Kevin Kelly wisdom from the list. 

Transcript

Paul Ford Just like: Hey guys. Hey, hey. Oh, oh. Did you hit your sister?

Rich Ziade Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

PF Noooo! 

[Intro music fades in, ramps up, plays 10 seconds.]

PF Richard.

RZ Yes, Paul.

PF Let’s do a short, fast podcast for people to just enjoy and then they can get on with their days.

RZ You ever bite into like a brownie? 

PF Yes, absolutely. 

RZ And the density of nuts was excellent?

PF God yeah. That’s what we’re gonna make right here.

RZ It’s going to be an incredibly dense—just rich in information and wisdom podcast in maybe 10 minutes. This is going to be a quick one. Go!

PF The best part: it’s not even our wisdom. Do you know who Kevin Kelly is?

RZ I do. I do. One of the original thinkers in my mind of the web and technology.

PF Truly, and has been around for like the Whole Earth Catalog and really focused on tools and a very global thinker. Anyway, I like Kevin Kelly. I think he’s great. And he published a 103 bits of Advice I wish I’d known, because he’s turned 70.

[1:09]

RZ Wow. He’s 70. That’s crazy.

PF Isn’t that wild? People get older. Yeah. I am 32 years old and yeah, it’s just wild. I thought, I’ll throw you some of his wisdom. You’ll riff. We can talk about it. 10 minutes, we’ll compress some good life wisdom and talk about what it means for us. 

RZ Let’s go. 

PF Here’s what—the first one. Good for you: about 99% of the time, the right time is right now.

RZ Boy, that’s real. I would revise it. 99% of the time, the right time was 10 minutes ago. [Laughs.]

PF Yeah. So for me, about 70% of the time, the right time is three to five days from now after I’ve had time to think about it.

RZ Okay. That’s very, very decisive there, Paul. [Laughs.] All right. Keep going.

PF Yeah. That’s why I work with you, right? [Rich laughs.] So here’s one: cultivate 12 people who love you because they’re worth more than 12 million people who like you.

RZ Okay. I’m missing both of those numbers. [Both laugh.] I’m capping out at about six—

[2:10]

PF The thing is I’ve made surprisingly little progress on both. I’ve actually worked really hard on both. [Rich laughs.] And so we’re just gonna, let’s move on from that.

RZ Keep going. I love you, Paul. I just want to say that out loud.

PF I love you too. So that’s one. One on both. [Rich laughs.] Whenever there is an argument between two sides, find the third side.

RZ Oh, that’s a bunch of nonsense.

PF Okay. Efficiency is highly overrated. Goofing off is highly underrated.

RZ I agree with that at the individual—

PF Yeah. Regularly scheduled sabbaticals, vacations, breaks, endless walks and time off are essential for top performance of any kind. The best work ethic requires a good rest ethic. 

RZ Oh, Kevin. 

PF [Laughs.] Remember that the people who listen to this are people who work with you!

RZ Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. [Paul laughs.] Efficiency is highly overrated. I’m okay with that. Goofing around is highly underrated. I’m okay with that too. I am a counter-example to this, and I want to turn this to make it about me. Crisis and a swirl of chaos around me very much animates a lot of my imagination, more than goofing around, strangely, but that’s me. Others are creative when they walk in the woods and I get that and I appreciate it. I wish I could do more of it.

[3:23]

PF I’ll tell you, I wish that everyone listening to this could have the experience of Rich going on vacation and having limited internet access to Slack. [Rich laughs.] It’s one of the most beautiful things to see. I love it. It’s just pure entertainment for me at this point. Ask funders for money and they’ll give you advice, but ask for advice and they’ll give you money. That’s just true.

RZ Okay. I’ll take that. I mean, that’s a great piece of advice. If you’re in the agency world, give advice. Don’t transact too quickly and eventually the money will come.

PF It’s also real that if you ask, I mean one of the best ways to figure out what people know and what they’re all about is ask them for advice. What’s tricky is if you pitch a VC though, everybody already knows this. You’re like, ah, you know, we’re not really here to talk about money even though your job title has capital in it.

RZ Right. Exactly. Exactly.

PF [Laughs.] So there’s a little of that. Uh, let’s see. The distance between your fingertips of your outstretched arms at shoulder level is your height. Handy measure.

RZ Okay. Is that true?

PF Yes. 

RZ Uh, okay.

PF Yes, that is true. There’s no such thing as being on time. You’re either late or you’re early, your choice.

RZ I’m a paranoid on-time person. I find it infuriating when I’m late. I don’t find it infuriating when others are late. I’m more understanding when others are late than I am of when I’m late. I think it’s rude. I’ve been raised that way.

PF We’re client service people.

RZ Yeah, you don’t want to be late.

[4:45]

PF It’s just like, it’s not just that—New York City also builds that anxiety. Like you just, you learn to be terrified. And there are moments, I think, because you will be late in New York City, no matter how, no matter what happens, it’s going to happen. So everybody’s kind of empathetic, but oof. Don’t wait for the storm to pass. Dance in the rain.

RZ Okay. I mean, this is the cat hanging off the branch. [Paul laughs.] We gotta, I mean, some of these—

PF I love it. I love it. Here’s one, though. Here’s one that’s great. You can’t get smart people to work extremely hard just for money.

RZ Ooh, that’s a good one. I mean, that’s wisdom right there. That’s a strong one.

PF You know what that ties into is when somebody is ready to go and then they go get that other offer and you do the counter-offer and they decide to stay. How long do they usually stay?

RZ It’s never good. Right? It’s never—

PF They’re going to be gone in three months.

RZ Yeah. It’s never good. They’re gonna be gone. Counter-offers are tricky.

PF Sometimes it’s okay. And you’re transitioning out and everybody’s still figuring out, every now and then they really will stay. But boy, people, when they’ve gotten to that point, they’re ready to go. You can be whoever you want. So be the person who ends meetings early.

RZ I’ve been doing that a lot lately. It’s a running joke.

PF Yeah. Yeah. You have.

RZ I like doing it. I like giving people their time back. Meetings are funny, right? Like meetings, you would think—there’s that odd dynamic of not getting invited to a meeting that you heard everyone’s going to, and you’re like, why was I left out? And it’s like, you were left out because we value your time more than the other people’s. [Laughs.] Like, we want you to keep going. But it never works that way.

PF We’re not going to get that done in 10 minutes. That is like that’s—

[6:16]

RZ Yeah. But that is a gift. End those meetings early, you probably can, if you can, do it.

PF Here’s one for me, maybe a little less for you. It’s thrilling to be extremely polite to rude strangers. That is for me. That’s for me, that’s just like, if I’m like, I’m so sorry.

RZ Yeah, yeah.

PF [Laughs.] It’s such a good feeling. He’s right. It’s actually, if somebody is having a meltdown—that said, if somebody’s having a real meltdown and it has nothing to do with you, you know, one of the best things you can say, it’s a little Paul Ford advice. Somebody gave me this and it’s good. Hey, tough day. Right? Like if you see somebody like yelling at their kid, like just walk by and go like, Hey, tough day. Like you’re not, you’re not in their business.

RZ They don’t want advice. They don’t want to be called out. You’re just acknowledging.

PF You also want to sort of point to them and be like, Hey, I can see that. Right?

RZ Well, we’ve got a few minutes left. Let’s go even faster. I can only respond with one sentence. We’ll take turns. You go, pick one.

PF Actual great opportunities do not have Great Opportunities in the subject line.

RZ Agreed. Yes. Thank a teacher who changed your life. Do you have one you can thank that changed your life?

PF I have thanked teachers who changed my life. I had a few. Yeah. I had a few. A lot of them went missing. Um, I don’t know where they are. But uh, yeah, there were a couple. Don’t bother fighting the old, just build the new.

RZ Mm. I agree with that. I mean, that’s very, that’s a technologist talking, right? [Laughs.] That’s what that is. 

PF That’s right. Purchase the most recent tourist guidebook to your hometown or region. You’ll learn a lot by playing the tourist once a year.

PF I get that. But I’m going to tell you something even better, which is go get guidebooks from the past and look at how much the city has changed. I have a guide to New York City from the eighties and it has all the bookstores and all the like meat stores. And it was such a different city and you see the Delta and then if you get one, you can get one from like 1910. So that was one sentence. Habit is far more dependable than inspiration. Make progress by making habits. Don’t focus on getting into shape, focus on becoming the kind of person who never misses a workout.

[8:14]

RZ Says the svelte 70 year old.

PF Yeah, I know. I mean, that’s just oof boy. It’s good though. Yeah. True. It’s about the behavior, not the outcome.

RZ When introduced to someone, make eye contact and count to four. You’ll both remember each other. I am terrible with names. I can meet you. 10 seconds later, I forgot your name. It’s really bad. I do make the eye contact. I do the thing. I do the eye contact thing. I make an effort to do that, but man, I’m bad with names.

PF I’m pretty good. I try to do the—you know, you think about it like Rich Ziade. So I’d think about like a letter Z wearing a crown because it’s Rich. I’d put that on your shoulder. 

RZ Yeah, you visualize— 

PF Saw you the next time. I’d be like, oh, it’s—I’d say your name is King Crowney the next time I saw you. So there is always that.

RZ One more for each of us, Paul, and then we’ll tell everyone to go to postlight.com where we do great digital services. Actually, I got that out of the way. One more.

PF You got one for me? Or is it my turn or your turn?

RZ Either way.

PF Go, go.

RZ You are as big as the things that make you angry. I don’t understand that.

PF Well, I’m pretty big. [Both laugh.] So what makes me angry? People being mean actually makes me angry. Like, especially as I get older and older. So unnecessary. 

RZ For no reason. Yeah yeah yeah. 

PF Not snippy. Not funny, not I’m not talking about a joke missing the mark, but just sort of like cruel. This is my favorite on the whole list and this, by the way, kk.org/kk that’s where we got this from. To keep young kids behaving on a car road trip, have a bag of their favorite candy and throw a piece out the window each time they misbehave. [Both laugh.]

RZ Worth noting that’s against the law, but it is effective.

PF That is colosally good. No, that speaks to something utterly fundamental about human nature.

[10:04]

RZ Or you can just eat the candy so you’re not littering the road.

PF That’s not as good. That’s sort of like a kind of like, yeah, you’re being mean to me. It’s just more like, okay, then clearly the rules don’t work at all. Weee. And you just, I’m just imagining their faces. [Rich laughs.] Like by the second piece of candy, they’re gonna be angels in that car.

RZ Yeah. Well, I mean just snack size pieces of wisdom here. Courtesy of Kevin Kelly. And then—

PF I love it. Look, I mean—

RZ Put a dash of color in there. 

[Outro music fades in, ramps up.]

PF What’s great about Kevin Kelly. Kevin Kelly knows what we can handle.

RZ [Laughs.] That’s a good point. That’s a good point. It’s nice and small. Exactly.

PF And so people don’t think—there are 103 bits of Kevin Kelly wisdom on that blog post. So just go to kk.org/kk. So we only read like 15 and so we’re, you know—

RZ He’s written a lot of good stuff actually in the past.

PF I’m a fan. Every now and then he has some feedback for some stuff I write for Wired and it’s always really good and really smart and really thoughtful. And I bought a bunch of his books, including the big ones. And that’s just a lot of history right there. So, all right, Richard. Well, you know, it’s good to do a short one and let’s get it all done here. Let’s get people to go to postlight.com. Send an email to hello@postlight.com. You can do all those things, but really just, you know, think about the life advice that you would have. Send us some life advice. I’d like to see some.

RZ Yes. hello@postlight.com. Have a great week everyone. Take care of each other. Bye bye.

PF Bye!