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  • 🏴 On inescapable ideas, obsession hours, and motivation. Ten Bullets.

🏴 On inescapable ideas, obsession hours, and motivation. Ten Bullets.

For The Obsessed

To the obsessed,

Here are your weekly Ten Bullets.

Ten ideas to help you build companies, make art, and find your obsession.

1. On the idea you can’t escape from:

“He’d played around with and toyed with a variety of other businesses he wanted to start. He realized Instacart was the one for him, when the idea of the business was the last thing he thought about when he went to sleep, and the first thing that he thought about when he woke up in the morning.

And to me, that was as good a definition of obsession as any I’ve heard.

It’s that sort of full on experience that you can never stop thinking about and you never turn off.”

2. On why Bill Gates ripped out his car radio:

MM: “Back in the 1980s, Bill Gates gave me a ride to the airport, and the radio was missing from the car. Big gaping hole in the dashboard. I said ‘Bill what happened, did you get ripped off?”

BG: “No, I had it taken out.”

MM: “Why did you have it taken out?”

BG: “I drive from my home to the office, which is seven minutes and 32 seconds. And then I’ll drive from the office to the airport which is however long. If I’ve got the radio, I’m afraid that I’ll switch it on and I won’t be thinking about Microsoft.”

“That’s obsession.”

3. On creating a unique style:

"At an art school where I once studied, the students wanted most of all to develop a personal style.

But if you just try to make good things, you'll inevitably do it in a distinctive way, just as each person walks in a distinctive way.

Michelangelo was not trying to paint like Michelangelo.

He was just trying to paint well; he couldn't help painting like Michelangelo.

The only style worth having is the one you can't help."

— Paul Graham, Taste for Makers (h/t Jay Yang)

Great post on design + style:

“Good design is simple. Good design is timeless. Good design solves the right problem. Good design is suggestive. Good design is often slightly funny. Good design is hard. Good design looks easy. Good design uses symmetry. Good resembles nature. Good design is redesign. Good design can copy. Good design is often strange. Good design happens in chunks. Good design is often daring.”

4. On Walt’s obsession:

“Walt Disney seldom dabbled. Everyone who knew him remarked on his intensity. When something intrigued him, he focused himself entirely as if it were the only thing that mattered.”

5. On obsession hours:

These pre-dawn hours are my core work. On the days when I don't go into the art gallery, I usually write for another few hours during the day. But that feels more like preparing the ground for the morning. It is the morning hours that keep me inside the work.

There is something hermetic and sealed off about the pre-dawn hours that appeals to me- the sky slowly shifting, the animals living up as night ends, the skylarks, the deers, the pheasants with their clapping wings. There is nothing human between me and the work”

Sitting down seven mornings a week is my way of remaining in the depths. The repetitiveness, without pause, gives my existence a certain monastery flavor; except, instead of God, my ritual brings me closer to confusion. Productive confusion.

Perhaps it helps that my body tells me that the world is asleep? It is, after all, often a fear of what others will make of me that steers me away from deeply creative work. During the day, in the world of humans, what is rewarded is measurable progress. But down here, in the pre-dawn, all is darkness and fog; it is what we breathe. While the world sleeps, as fog envelopes me, I feel less like an idiot when journaling for days, interrogating myself, watching my mental models dissolve with nothing to fill their void.”

— Henrik Karlsson, Morning Ritual (Substack (h/t Spencer Kier)

The Obsession Hours are early mornings or late nights.

I’m a morning person right now, but I except that to change, as my obsession does.

4am-10am, or 10pm-4am.

6. On internal motivation:

“The most successful people I know are primarily internally driven; they do what they do to impress themselves and because they feel compelled to make something happen in the world. After you’ve made enough money to buy whatever you want and gotten enough social status that it stops being fun to get more, this is the only force I know of that will continue to drive you to higher levels of performance.”

— Sam Altman, How to be Successful

7. On reinvention:

"We brought Ye into Arista to showcase for LA Reid before Roc-A-Fella. Stack Bundles was sitting there. Imagine it's me, Stack Bundles, Kanye, and LA Reid in the office. When we stopped, LA was like, 'Yo you should stick to making music, you stick to making beats.' Real sh*+. So that's why I always honor Ye, no matter how crazy he goes. I've seen that man struggle and him just working through it."

(h/t David Senra for this clip. Young Kanye’s confidence is something to marvel at.)

8. On rest days:

When you're obsessed, rest days take the most effort.”

9. On packaging:

“Maturity is realizing that most books can be judged by their covers because the cover was in fact deliberately selected to be representative of the book and often even contains a description of its contents.”

#1 rule of design- always judge a book by it’s cover.

10. On what you can’t not do:

“Write what will stop your breath if you don’t write.”

If you enjoyed this, forward it to an obsessed friend.

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