This year I learned - 2021

Matt 4 min read
This year I learned - 2021
Photo by Luca Onniboni / Unsplash

Writing a weekly newsletter is a privilege. Each week, a growing list of people give me few minutes attention, and I get to share the stuff I find interesting.

I didn’t expect a return, but it appears that writing ‘Stuff’ has also been an amazing way to learn a huge amount of new things, so to finish up 2021, I thought I’d compile a list of my favourite Stuff of the year.

I hope you enjoy.

  1. The goal isn’t more, it’s more impact.
  2. Practicing gratitude really works - this year I kept a simple gratitude journal, nothing fancy - just a few bullet points each day. After a few weeks it became a habit and I could feel my anxiety ebb away. (Tip: Start tomorrow, 3 minutes x 3 bullets = Today I am grateful for…)
  3. Driving around a random city listening to the local radio is a treat that can be enjoyed from my desk. Possibly my favourite link of the year. (Stuff 14)
  4. One of the most important aspects of an enjoyable work life is the people we get to work with. For me, the key is to understand and trust them. Almost everything else follows from there. (Tip: make and keep a list of people you’d love to work with if the opportunity arises.)
  5. The pure crystalline form of Botulinum toxin has an estimated street value of $100 trillion per kilogram. The entire global face paralysing industry is supported by an annual production of just a few milligrams.
  6. When you score a hole-in-one in golf, some cultures demand you buy everyone a drink and even a gift. You can get insurance for this. Via
  7. Planning your career needs deliberate next steps - there are ways to map out your ambitions (Stuff 62)
  8. “Dream after dream, we all lie in each others arms” - Leonard Cohen
  9. Huge learning for me this year : Inbox zero doesn’t make you more productive — unless your job is to achieve inbox zero.
  10. Leverage is a superpower - figure out how to get more done with less effort.
  11. Someone found a lost Caravaggio in Spain (Stuff 31)
  12. Take the insurance on the rental car. You aren’t paying for the protection of the car, you’re paying for the convenience of walking straight out of the rental place and having peace of mind for the whole trip.
  13. These are the ten most powerful life skills (Stuff 65)
  14. “Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” - Rilke
  15. I am the product of my habits
  16. There are many things that you can do instead of scrolling through your phone (Stuff 64)
  17. The most effective productivity hack: Say no.
  18. Grass doesn’t grow faster when you pull it.
  19. The new 1:1 is the remote 1:1 - it needs a different approach.
  20. “Where you stumble, there lies your treasure” - James Victore
  21. There is a ton of classical music that you haven’t heard yet, and it’s ideal stuff for working to. This tool can help you find something new. (Stuff 61)
  22. Ruthlessly Eliminate Negativity
  23. My name, your name, all our names have a story (Stuff 60)
  24. The essential skills of work are are changing, but it’s not late to pivot and learn something new. The tech resilience course from Microsoft is one of the most important time investments that you can make. (Stuff 54)
  25. A great icebreaker is an excellent way to start a meeting - turns out there is an amazing app for that.
  26. Powerpoint is worse than useless. I’ve tried to avoid building slides for most things this year, and things have worked out just fine. Try the six/whatever page alternative. (Stuff 48)
  27. Happiness is a habit, and there are ways to use this to hack your brain at work. (Stuff 46)
  28. Goal setting is a muscle that we can all develop more. These unconventional methods really helped me think about goals. I particularly like micro goals, and have used those to take some big strides forward. (Stuff 45)
  29. Even a budget car now has 100 electronic control units, and over 100 million lines of code. No wonder we are short of chips for everything!
  30. It’s time to upgrade your webcam microphone. High quality audio can make you sound up to 19% smarter.
  31. Hack your happiness - here’s the list I use to find new things to do. (Stuff 20)
  32. Maybe this is why working from home is a good thing, studies have shown that privacy = productivity. By putting curtains around factory workers, output increase 10-20%.
  33. It’s YOUR calendar.
  34. Doing a mindful productivity audit : 10 questions that can really change the way you think about your working time. (Stuff 26)
  35. Remote working is not going away - people are still learning how to do it the right way (Stuff 63)
  36. Bill Gates knows how to ace a job interview question (Stuff 16)
  37. You can rent a fake private jet set to make your Instagram look even more bougie!
  38. People have a natural bias towards urgent tasks, even when a non-urgent task would give them a great reward. This is called the ‘Mere Urgency Effect’.
  39. The Rando Restaurant twitter feed - every hour, a random restaurant from around the world with four photos. Today I learned about a cafe in Windhoek, Namibia, and a restaurant in Rafa, Syria.
  40. A fixture of my youth, but even now , mixtapes are a really cool thing to give and receive. (Stuff 43)
  41. The house from Home Alone is on AirBnB
  42. Mars has the longest and deepest canyon in the solar system, the Valles Marineris. If it was on earth, it would stretch right across the United States.
  43. Music remains the key productivity tool in my arsenal (My Top 10 albums)
  44. Be alert for the arrival of luck
  45. Naval Ravikant - a very important thinker. (Stuff 3)
  46. Newsletters are where all the cool kids hang out now, I use The Sample to help me find interesting things to read.
  47. You have to notice when the universe is cheering you on.
  48. The week wasn’t always seven days - maybe it won’t always be seven days in the future.
  49. “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.” - Rilke
  50. These days will pass.
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