Book Summary

  • The Life We’re Looking For Sketchnote Book Summary

    What is our fundamental need? According to Andy Crouch, it’s to be recognized by God and each other. This need is so important that studies have shown when we are neglected of it, we don’t develop properly. In the Book, The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World, Andy Crouch starts by laying out this need before addressing how we’re failing to fulfil it and how we might address it in the future.

    As someone who loved The Tech Wise Family by Andy and who has become increasingly technologically wary, I was excited to read Andy’s book. It was both more than I expected, and very different than what I had expected.

    Important note: Andy is writing from a Christian perspective and this is one I hold. His worldview influences his writing heavily.

    The Life We’re Looking For Sketchnote

    A sketchnote summary of the book The Life We're Looking For by Andy Crouch.

    The main point

    Andy’s main point is that we’re increasingly trading real relationships, with each other and God, for the “magic” of technology. This isn’t completely new but recent changes in the world from the industrial, financial and telecommunication revolutions have made this view dominant in society.

    Andy contends that to be truly satisfied, we need to promote a society where we are fully human and in true relationships with God and each other. This means we need to engage our

    • Hearts
    • souls
    • minds
    • strengths

    and recognize each other as being of immense worth, no matter of our differences.

    The search for true relationships and a lesson from Gaius’s Table

    To give an example of true relationship, Andy highlights the community in the background of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

    This group of slaves and free people, men and women, Jews and gentiles met in the house of Giaus, a wealthy roman head of household. Here, although they were treated very differently by society, they were all equal.

    One of the shocking details Andy picks up on is that the person who writes Paul’s letter, Tertius, has a slave name for “3rd”.

    By society he was viewed of so little importance that he was merely denoted by the order of his birth. And yet Paul invited him to add his name to the letter, showing him of as equal importance as Giaus.

    This kind of relationships, where we see and value even the people neglected by society, is what Andy argues for.

    Devices vs instruments

    A core point Andy distinguishes is between devices and instruments. Andy defines them as

    A device is something with makes an activity so easy, that humans are no longer really required. An example is how a roomba can tidy up the house with no human effort.

    This seams like it’s an unqualified good; we no longer have to do a boring, time consuming or difficult task. However, there are usually unforeseen consequences of devices.

    We usually adapt for our devices.

    Using the Roomba examples, we might design our homes so they are more suitable for our robot friends to clean. Or the unlimited access we now have with the internet can lead to us watching endless entertainment rather than engaging deeply with what we watch.

    Instruments, on the other hand, still augment our skills or abilities but require skill (and usually focus) to use. The main example Andy gives is a bike which allows a person to travel further than by foot, but still engages the senses and requires strength. Going for a bike ride might leave you tired, but often it comes with a sense of achievement. Compare that to the experience of a long-haul flight; you can travel further than ever possible in a short time, but you sit passively the whole time.

    Does it give more than it takes?

    A key question to our evaluation of the tools around us is if they give more than they take.

    An instrument will allow us to do new things without imposing new requirements or constraints upon the user. A great instrument also empowers us to more fully use our hearts, souls, minds and strength and deepen relationships.

    In contrast, a device will impose more limits than benefits and reduce us as

    Impact vs influence

    Personal note: Using “impact” as a verb is one of my pet peeves and has been for a while. So I was delighted to see Andy has similar issues with it.

    He points out how recent this usage of the word is, and how there are many other options including influence. I’d go further and say that every other near synonym is more expressive than impact. Andy does, however, point out why impact has become a popular verb: it reflect quick, significant change.

    In our current society, the goal of “moving fast and break things” is lauded. Caution is a negative and so any negative side effects are seen as costs of innovation.

    But impact is short lived, and so another impact is required. And then another and another. All the while the shockwaves of these impacts can be causing colossal damage. Just look at the data around self-esteem and use of Instagram all the while the owners try to make it more addictive.

    The alternative is influence, which looks at long-term change and compounding effects. It’s not about making massive changes now, but about deliberate movement towards a goal.

    Influence isn’t as popular as it can often be missed in the moment. Contrast that with impact and it’s easy to see results. But in the long run, impact leads to burnout and influence leads to growth.

    Charmed vs blessed

    A final key difference is between charmed and blessed.

    Andy highlights how many of the examples we might tag on social media as #blessed are really examples of living a charmed existance.

    A charmed existence is one free of worry, pain and work.

    It’s the all inclusive holiday in the sun where we don’t lift a finger and all our needs are catered for. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it, but there are negatives.

    Charm is costly. It’s not just money, it can be costly in terms of personhood. To keep a charmed lifestyle for some, others have to live in servitude. Yes, tourism can help raise economic standards in some places (while making them dependent) but it isn’t always equal and costs still need to stay low to keep that servitude possible.

    Furthermore, the relationship between the charmed person and the server isn’t one of equals. It’s one of subjugation via economics.

    The contrast is a blessed existance, one which is rich in love but is costly too.

    Andy draws examples of Biblical figures such as Abraham, Jacob and Jospeh who are blessed but after suffering or through suffering. He even draws on his own story of his friend dying of cancer and how although it was immensely painful, it was also a blessing to be able to be so close with him.


    Andy isn’t against technology; he even owns a Roomba (something I surely would have thought to be a device he’d be cautious of). So this book isn’t a doom and gloom or quick easy practical tip book.

    At first I felt slightly disappointed by this fact. After all, I want help and guidance to help avoid the negatives of technology and devices. But I realised that this actually helps prove the point of the book.

    The real challenge isn’t just reducing our technology dependency, but replacing it with pursuing true relationships. That’s not something with easy prescriptions for every situation, instead it’s something we all need to workout on our own, for our contexts.

    Plus there are plenty of blogs and books on how to reduce our technological dependence.

    Grab your own copy of The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World

    If this review has whet your appetite, then you should pick up your own copy of Andy’s book to go into greater depth. And if you’d like some practical tips as a parent, I’d recommend his book The Tech Wise Family

  • The Mom Test Book Summary and Sketchnote

    What’s the best way to validate a product or service idea? According to author Rob Fitzpatrick it’s the exact opposite of what most of us do. Here’s a quick summary of his book The Mom Test (including a sketchnote) to show you what we do wrong and the right way to act instead.

    Table of Contents

      The Mom Test Sketchnote summary

      What is the mom test?

      The mom test is the worst thing you can do to validate an idea, and yet it is what most of us do.

      It’s when you ask someone you know if they like our idea. It’s called the mom test because it’s like when a mom evaluates their kid’s drawings. They like it because of their relationship with the child and so don’t give it fair evaluation or feedback.

      When you rely on the mom test, you fail to properly validate your ideas but get positive feedback. This leads to bad decisions.

      What to do instead of the mom test?

      Instead of asking if someone like your idea, you should either

      1. seek to understand their problems, situation and current solutions
      2. ask them to buy your product or service.

      The first helps you get evidence on what the person actually does and needs not what they think they might like. The second proves if they think the idea has value to it and that they would be willing to pay.

      How to properly validate an idea

      Rather than start with your idea, start by finding out what they are currently doing to solve their problems. You should ask questions to make sure this is a real problem and one that is causing them issues.

      While they are answering, look for specific past occasions they have tried to solve their problem instead of generic ideas or opinions about what they’d like. If they can give an example of how they have tried to solve that problem, it proves it is a significant problem. If they haven’t tried to solve it, they don’t care enough.

      An anti-marketing approach to sharing your idea

      In marketing, you want to share your idea in the best possible light in an attempt to convince someone to buy. When validating an idea, you want to present it as plainly as possible.

      State exactly the idea, how it is different, how it works and what it does. Don’t talk about the pain points or how it can help overcome problems with other solutions, be as to the point as possible.

      If someone still has a positive reaction to your idea, then you know it’s a good idea. If they have problems or questions about it, don’t be upset.

      The value of bad news

      Bad news is better than good news.

      If you find out there is a similar competitor or another solution which solves the problem better than you could, you have saved yourself from wasting your time.

      If someone finds a fault in your product or service, you can now address it. Problems aren’t the end of the discussion.

      How to respond to feature requests

      Everyone and their dog knows what’s missing from your product or service.

      But they’re mostly wrong. Especially when they talk about features.

      Your goals is to find out the underlying problem they are trying to address and then work out the best way to address it. This is tightly connected to one of the mom test golden rules.

      You cannot tell the customer what their problem is or isn’t, and in return they can’t tell you how to solve it.

      If someone tells you they have an issue, accept that feedback. They do have an issue.

      Other people might not have the same issue but their problem is real.

      But you don’t have to accept their solution.

      Get your own copy of the mom test

      If this summary and review of the mom test by Rob Fitzpatrick has whet your appetite, you can get your own copy of the book to explore the ideas more.

    1. The Alter Ego Effect Sketchnote Summary

      Last year I finally decided to do something about my imposter syndrome. I picked up the most recommended book I had heard of “The Alter Ego Effect”. Little did I know that once I had finished reading it, I would have come to the conclusion that I don’t really have imposter syndrome (though sometimes suffer from self doubt) and that this book would have helped me greatly.

      Table of Contents

        Sketchnote summary of the Alter Ego Effect

        Core Idea

        You should use a different persona or “Alter ego” for different areas of your life to help you perform at your best. This helps you have emotional distance and get over the hangups you might have with acting the way you need to be the best in this area.

        Key concepts

        • Fields of play
        • Ordinary world & Extra-ordinary world
        • The trapped and heroic selves
        • Alter egos
        • The enemy
        • totem or artefact

        Why do we fail to live up to our potential?

        There are always moments when we fail to perform at our best or don’t fully apply ourselves to a task. Sometimes it comes from an external source such as an incapacity but internal forces can also hold us back.
        These internal issues can be far more frustrating as they can be both more opaque and/or easily preventable. And yet, they have a nasty tendency of sticking around and become entrenched as part of our identity.
        This is how a sport person can become known as “skilled, but missing the killer instinct” or a employee

        Fields of play

        The athletes field of play is the arena where they test their skill. This is the time and place where their performance is measured. But all of us have different areas of our lives where our performance matters. It might be in how we relate at home with our families, or how we do our core jobs at work. We may even require very different skills for different tasks we have at work (such as leading a meeting vs creating a report).
        Each different arena of life is a field of play with its own criteria for success. What make us excel in one field may hold us back in another.
        This is where an alter ego can come into play. An alter ego allows us to apply the right traits in one area of life, and apply different traits in another without any conflict.

        The Ordinary vs the Extra-ordinary world

        There are two worlds, the ordinary and extra-ordinary world.
        The ordinary world is full of negative self-talk and a destructive place. It’s the place where most of live, listening to the internal monologs that say we shouldn’t, can’t and won’t do what we long to. That’s why Todd says our “Trapped self” live here. This is the version of us that fails to perform, that is held back.
        The Extra-ordinary world is a positive environment and is an enjoyable place to be. It’s a place of flow where we get lost in the task without conscious thought. This is where the “heroic self” lives: the version of ourselves that fully applies itself to the task.

        To create an alter ego, we need to define what our heroic selves look like from the deep levels of our beliefs up to our core actions. It can be helpful to both identify when things have gone well and how we acted differently then, as well as when they went badly and the negative beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions we want to avoid.

        The Enemy and Negative Self-talk

        “The enemy” is the personification of our negative self talk. It is the dark voice that says we can’t, shouldn’t, won’t or don’t deserve to do something. It can appear in four common ways.

        • Imposter syndrome – the phenomena that makes experts feel worried they will be found out at fakes.
        • False narratives – stories we believe that prevent us from doing something. I.e. “[people like me] don’t/can’t do this.”
        • Past trauma – when past events cause us to worry about next events. For example, “last time I failed to… I bet it will happen again.”
        • Conflicting values – some of our values may hinder ourselves in other fields. For example, if we value justices, we may struggle to win in competitions.

        By identifying an enemy (giving it a name) and making it an external force, it provides us with something to fight again that is outside of us.

        Creating an alter ego

        This is an iterative process and may follow different paths usually refining as it goes along. However, the first steps are consistent.

        1. Define a field of play

        You need to pick an area of your life to build an alter ego in. The largest divisions are home and professional but you can narrow either of those down to a particular relationship or activity.

        2. Identify the goal and key actions

        What do you want to achieve in this field of play? What would success look like in this area? With that identified, break down the key actions that bring that success as well as the underlying thoughts, beliefs and values required to create those actions.

        Either 3a. Identify your desired traits

        With your goal and attributes identified, you can list out the traits you need and what they look like. You should describe them as vividly as possible. If you start with this step, move to the next one, if you start with the next one, come back to this step.

        or 3b. Identify an alter ego

        Sometimes it’s easier to jump to an alter ego straight away as your subconscious resonates with someone or something. If that’s the case, it’s worth going back to the previous step and identifying the attributes that make this alter ego a good choice.
        Some possible candidates for an alter ego include.

        • Real people
        • Fictional characters
        • Animals
        • Concepts
        • Images of a person
        • Combinations (merging aspects of two previous items)

        Activate with a totem or artefact

        A totem or artifact helps you to “activate” (put on the personality) of your alter ego. It should be a tactical item that you can touch and can even have a ritual associated with it to help “get in the right mind”.
        This works through “enclothed cognition” where we take on a trait due to associations with an object. An example is glasses which people perceive as for smart people, so we feel and act smarter with them. Or wearing a suit often causes people to be more confident.
        When our totem matches our alter ego, it helps enrich that association.

        Grab a copy of The Alter Ego effect

        If this summary has interested you and you’d like to learn more, use the button below to get your own copy so you can work through the whole process.

      1. Storyworthy book summary with Sketchnote

        Storytelling is powerful. Everyday we make reference to, our influenced by and retell stories that are part of cultural zeitgeist. The allure of storytelling has directed much of my recent reading as well as book summaries (including my recent Storybrand related book summary) but Matthew Dicks book was different.

        After seeing Storyworthy in photos of friends desks, in book summaries on other sites and recommending reading lists I finally caved and grabbed a copy.

        Best, decision, ever.

        Seriously, Storyworthy is a fantastic book on storytelling that gave me fantastic ideas not just for writing and marketing but it has idea that can help us make better track of our lives.

        Table of Contents

          Sketchnote summary of Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks

          A sketchnote summary of the storyworthy book by Matthew Dicks

          Key facts

          Title: Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling
          Author: Matthew Dicks
          Year Published: 2018
          ISBN-10: ‎ 1608685489

          My three key takeaways

          1. Matt’s activities for finding storyworthy moments have been a great exercises and way to not just get story ideas but keep track of my days better.
          2. The idea of the start showing the greatest contrast with the moment of transformation was a eureka moment for me. It’s affected my approach to both storytelling and marketing materials.
          3. The idea of explaining a plan or making a prediction to get people invested, only for it to fail is my final game changing idea. It made me realise how we can create tension just by explaining an idea.

          What makes a good story?

          Every good story is about a five second moment of transformation. This is the moment when the main character, the storyteller, has a realization and things can’t be the same again.

          Every good story is about a five second moment of transformation.

          The typical mistakes in story telling including

          • Trying to be funny
          • Telling a story that has no transformation or depth
          • Focusing on crazy stories with rare or unbelievable events.

          Some of the best stories and transformations come from small moments of everyday life.

          Once you have a good moment of transformation, you just need to make sure every other part of the story directs to that moment of transformation.

          A story we can relate to

          Great stories have something that we can all relate to. A story about an incredible event few people have experienced sounds impressive, but leaves us the audience disconnected.

          This can make stories about big events (like a car crash) more difficult to tell than a story about a moment at an evening meal as they are more relatable.
          If you have a story about a huge life event, your moment of transformation needs to be relatable.

          How to get ideas for a good story

          Matthew shares three main methods to get a good story.

          1. Homework for life
          2. Crash and Burn
          3. First, last, best worst,

          Homework for life involves writing down a storyworthy moment from each day. Matthew uses an excel spreadsheet for this as it’s easy to browse through later.

          Crash and Burn is what man people know as stream of consciousness writing. You write whatever comes to your mind and follow random trains of thought. To help you get idea, try writing lists (of colours, numbers, food) and see what triggers a memory. After 10 mins of writing, go back over and see if there are any ideas that you could use in a story.

          First, last, best, worst again uses categories but this time it’s a bit more intentional. You choose an object and then the first, last, best and worst of that item. I.e. Pizza, First time you ate it, the last time you ate, the best pizza you ever ate and the worst.

          How to craft a good story

          Every part of the story needs to reinforce your moment of transformation. Start, middle and end. So you should keep the transformation in mind throughout the story.

          The importance of the start.

          The start of your story needs to set up your transformation and be as close to your moment of transformation as possible.

          The start of the story needs to be the greatest contrast between our moment of transformation.

          Matt shares the example of Jurassic Park where Alan Grant shows his dislike of Children at the start of the film but by the end of the film he has the children resting on him on the flight away from the island.
          Without showing the contrast at the beginning, the moment of transformation is strange.

          You may want to write out the before and after of your transformation (i.e. “I was one…but now…”) and then search for a moment that best encapsulated that “before” state.

          Starting as close to the moment of transformation also aids us as starting in the action. Don’t include any build up, but start in the action. You want to have momentum from the beginning so the audience feels they are going somewhere.

          Don’t include an introductory or expectation setting statement. These ruin the surprise in your story or set unrealistic expectations. For example.

          • “Let me tell you about the most incredible moment in my life.” — Now you’ve set extreme expectations)
          • “This is a story about” — now the audience is looking for signs of that.

          Raising the stakes

          An ace of hearts and poker chips with “raise the stakes” text

          The stakes are what keep people listening to a story. While stories about mundane moments can be the most profound, we can raise the stakes to keep a story interesting.

          One way is to introduce a problem that needs solving early on. This gives the audience a reason to root for you in the story. Matt call’s this the “elephant” and while the elephant may “change colour” (gain a different view or flavor), it won’t change.

          In more practical details, this means your problem may become more intense, or you may solve one aspect but discover another, but you won’t gain a new unexpected problem.

          If you do, try to cut out one problem from your story or show how it is related to the original one.

          Fortune telling and raising the stakes

          Another trick to create extra tension is to explain our plan, idea or hopes in great depth. This helps the listener feel those emotions, gain those hopes and buy into our plan. It even works if the plan makes no sense at all.

          We can also make predictions about what is going to happen (even wild crazy ones) and this gets our audience to wonder if they will happen, it can distract from the obvious outcome.

          The five permissible lies

          5 permissible lies of storytelling

          There are five types of lies which are okay in storytelling.

          1. Omission – Cut out what doesn’t matter or extra people who distract from the core parts of your people.
          2. Compression – It’s important to keep stories moving and short. You can make routes or timelines shorter so it makes the story move faster.
          3. Assumption – Sometimes we can’t remember the details but we can assume details to make our stories more vivid. Just make sure they are reasonable.
          4. Progression – we can change the order of events to make them flow better for a story. For example, making people laugh before they cry and placing the transformational moment at the end.
          5. Conflation – we can put all our emotions on one moment rather than spreading it out over time. Sometimes we have the same realization multiple times and it takes time to stick, by merging it to one, we bundle the emotions together.

          The “But” and “Therefore” Rule

          The South Park writers says that a story is bad when every scene is connected with a “and then”. This shows that it is the natural flow of events and there’s no drama. We can predict what is going to happen next.

          If a scene is linked by “but” or “therefore” it creates more tension and makes the story unpredictable.

          Use negatives

          Similarly, negatives are better than a positive adjective (I’m not smart vs I’m dumb) as it shows potential.

          Using a negative introduces the positive idea while showing we aren’t there yet. As our story is about transformation, we get our audience to hope that the protagonist will change to the positive state.
          We can use multiple negatives attributes before ending with a positive. This emphasizes the positive at the end as it stands out more.

          “I’m not smart, not handsome and flat broke.”

          Exception: Always answer a question with a positive. It’s strange to answer a question with a negative description.

          Keep it short

          Make sure your story is to the point and tight. There may be extra details that are cool or impressive, but they distract from the story. We need to keep it short. The longer you speak, the better the story needs to be.


          Surprise is powerful in stories. It keeps people engaged and it is the key for humor as it makes people laugh.

          To increase surprise, we need to hide details by distracting the audience.

          We can do that with humour or placing key details in a string of other details. If we focus on another detail around the same time, it suggests that detail is more important than the real key detail.

          Some previous points can help with our surprises such as

          • explaining our hopes and dreams,
          • giving detailed plans (that fail)
          • showing alternative possibilities

          We can ruin surprises by

          • including a thesis statement at the start of the story
          • not explaining the stakes or a situation
          • not including critical information in advance

          One challenge is making sure we include critical details so a surprise makes sense, but camouflage them well enough so people don’t predict the outcome.

          The present tens is king

          Most people tell stories in the past tense as they are about events in the past. But we can also tell stories in the present tense.

          “I was on a train” vs “I’m on a train”.

          Using the present tense helps the listener to feel like they are in this story at this very moment. We can then use the past tense to provide background information during the story.

          Shifting tenses can highlight emotion in a story.

          While the past tense can add more distance which is useful for gross moments or moments when you want the audience to have more distance.

          It’s tricky and take some practice, but a skilled story teller can switch seamlessly between tenses.

          No one likes a bragging story

          “I started off great, had a great time, and everything ended perfectly” is the type of story arrogant jocks tell.

          We prefer failure stories because we can more easily relate to them.

          If you are telling a hero story, you need to either show your negative aspects and give yourself potential to grow or position yourself as an underdog so the audience will root for you.

          How to deliver a good story

          Matt doesn’t advise memorizing the whole story, just three parts.

          • the beginning — make sure you can start the story well
          • the end — make sure you nail your moment of transformation and conclusion
          • the scenes. — make sure you know where you are going to next.

          If you try to memorize everything, you can add extra stress and feel lost when you go off track, but memorizing the key beats will help you have confidence and flexibility.

          Grab your copy of storyworthy!

          There’s more insights in Matt’s books as well as examples of his own stories. If you want to your own copy, click the button below and find it at your favourite book shop.

        1. Digital Minimalism Book Summary

          I grabbed a copy of digital minimalism as soon as it came out. After reading Cal Newport’s previous book, Deep Work, I knew it would be good. But there was another reason driving my reading that you may well be able to relate to.

          I felt like the constant noise of the online world was just a bit too much. I loved the benefits of online tools, websites and communication, but it felt like a bike going down a steep hill that had changed from fun to unable to stop.

          A few weeks back, I felt that same feeling again and as I woke up and found myself with my phone in my hand before a cup of coffee was there, I knew I needed to reread and reapply the lessons of the book.
          So here is my book summary.

          Table of Contents

            Digital Minimalims Sketchnote summary

            Yes, for the sketchnote summary of digital minimalism I went back to analog sketchnoting using my Neuland markers.

            The most common approach to technology

            Cal calls this approach “digital maximialism”: freely adopting any new technology that seems to offer some benefit to us.
            This can seem a natural idea and positive as we gain the real benefits that these new tools offer us. A small example is that I can be connected with my family who live in a different country and my daughter has grown up speaking with her grandparents even though she hasn’t been able to see them in over a year due to the covid restrictions.

            The problem of digital maximialism

            There are there consequences that come out from our wild use of social media and related technology. These include

            • increased dissatisfaction and depression.
            • We’re hooked on the short term rewards from using our devices. This reduces our capacity to focus for a long period of time.
            • It becomes difficult to concentrate due to the noise and anxiety we feel
              The net effect is we are less happy and less able to do the activities which are deeply satisfying.

            What is digital minimalism

            The alternative to this technological maximialist approach is Digital minimalism.

            Digital minimialsm is an approach to using technology that focuses on getting the most of the benefits we wants from technology, in the least time via intentional and focused use.

            Cal focuses on short bursts of time, but with high intentionality and optimized practices. A practical example is we don’t log on to social media whenever we want to mindlessly scroll, instead we schedule when we will log on for a time limited period and with clear goals before we do so.

            A Digital Detox to readjust

            The practices at the heart of digital minimalism.

            A key part of digital minimalism is the practices that can help you apply these ideas in your life. One of the aspects I really appreciated is the positive actions not just negative avoidance. These are split into four sections.

            1. Solitude in Suburbia

            One of the key steps is to disconnect from all the noise around us and create our own “waldens” like Thoreau. Cal notes that during Thoreau’s stay at Walden pond, he was still connected to society and could still receive visitors or take the 30 min trip to the centre of town, at the same time, it was an intentional disconnecting.
            Some practical ideas includes.

            • Leave your phone at home – go for walks without it. Enjoy the silence.
            • Go for walks

            2. Engage in Rich Communications

            Not all communication is equal. Some is richer than others. A quick “like” on social media isn’t as rich as a sit down conversation due to the deeper engagement of your senses.
            However, these low quality communications feel satisfying as we get a hit of dopamine. These hits encourage us to stick to these lower quality communications.
            Here are some practices

            • Avoiding hitting like
            • Find face 2 face communication opportunities (in person is best, video next.)
            • Instead of sending text messages throughout the day, set certain times to work through text messages (applies to email et al)
            • Set communication “Office hours” regular times when you can be contacted.
              • You could be in a physical place too.

            3. Reclaim Leisure

            Most of us spend our free time passively consuming netflix or social media. While neither activity is wrong, the issue is unintentionality. It is better to have a plan for leisure that involves demanding activities. Here are some ideas.

            • Fix or build something each week (even if you aren’t naturally skilled. Developing and growing is rewarding).
            • Make a leisure plan (Decide what goals you will work towards in your free time)
            • Join something (groups and communities provide richer experiences )

            4. Join the attention resistance.

            The final practice involves activities that push back on attention stealing services and devices. While many people will accept the earlier practices, the following are the most likely to result in a “but you’ll miss out” reaction. At the same time, they are key to a full picture of digital minimalism.

            • delete social media apps
            • dumb down your phone

            Use social media like a pro

            Those who use social media for their profession often employee very different tactics to the average consumer. This is due to their focused goals and need to get the maximum value in the shortest time. These professional social media users can help provide a model for us regular users to more effectively engage with social media.

            • Limit your time on social media – set deliberate times, don’t constantly use.
            • Use filtered lists and searches to find really valuable content (The twitter advanced search can let you find the most engaged tweets on a certain topic which are more likely to be high value.)
            • Limit the number of people you follow. (You might want to consider Dunbar’s number as your guide. )

            How I’m applying Digital minimalism.

            As I said at the start, this is my second time working through digital minimalism. Although I introduced many of the old measures and intended to introduce others, overtime I stopped being as intentional.
            In my first pass, I

            • deleted my social media apps and set up limits using Apple’s limit features
            • reduced the number of people I followed on Social media
            • tried leaving my phone at home
            • set two quarter’s of leisure goals.
            • Took more walks
            • avoided hitting like

            The practices I stuck to the best were walking more and reducing the number of people I follow. These are activities that have stuck around and the second was one I can occasionally do but regularly benefit from. The most difficult to implement have been those that require multiple other people such as joining a club and office hours.

            I am only a couple of weeks into my return to digital minimalism so it’s difficult to say how well these practices will actually turn out but I want to share my ideas anyway.

            I’ve set Saturday as a digital downtime day. This is my day to leave the phone at home and do something physical as well as spend time with people. That’s been the big difference so far, I have both the negative idea (get away from the phone/screens) with a positive (spend quality time with people).

            Building and fixing is the practice I most neglected last time and yet is the one that appeals deeply to me this time. The closest practice I could point to that I previously took up was calligraphy but that slowly drifted to being mostly digital on an iPad.
            This time I am interested in doing more DIY projects as well as investigating some wood craft to learn to make a ukulele.

            Our recent DIY projects have set a great start and I intend to continue, but intentions are a dime a dozen so we’ll have to watch how this turns out.

            Get your copy of Cal’s book

            if this has whet your appetite for Cal’s book and you want to know some more details of the problems with Social media, why the practices are beneficial and how you can apply them, use the link below.

          1. Hello, My Name is Awesome Book Summary

            I’ve taken part in a few brand naming exercises over the last couple of years. Most of these were for products but the need for a good name was the same. While it’s easy to spot a good name in the wild, coming up with one is another matter.

            For years I had just assume that it was a matter of luck, thinking and waiting, but the action plan in the book Hello, my name is awesome makes this process more straight forward, even if it does still require a lot of time, energy and thought to come up with a good name.

            This books summary has my main takeaways and will provide you with a guideline that you can implement as well.

            Table of Contents

              How to create brand names that stick Actions steps to come up with a brand name

              There are really four steps to generate a brand or product name.

              1. Generate 12 words that describe or are related to your brand.
              2. Follow a nine step brainstorming (or expansion) of these words
              3. Synthesize your research into name ideas
              4. Use the SMILE and SCRATCH criteria to review the possible names you have

              Why this process works

              This process is based on the same mindset as that in A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young.

              You immerse yourself in a topic till you gain mind fog, you distract your mind from the task and let your subconscious chew on it, you wait for eureka and then refine the idea from there.

              The process in Hello, My Name Is Awesome just helps you drown yourself in the topic of a product name.

              The additional aspect I recommend from “A Technique for Producing Ideas” is to engage in an emotionally stimulating distraction when you feel overwhelmed by a topic.

              The list of 12

              To start, you need a list of 12 words that describe or are related to the brand. Look for a diverse list and avoid just stating synonyms; that will come later.

              The brainstorming process

              The brainstorming process is about turning that list of 12 into a list of 1200!

              You want to dive into a wide variety of different stimuli to find alternative ways of saying a word or how others have used the name in the past.

              The nine steps are

              1. Using a thesaurus for synonyms
              2. Using image search to see visual associations
              3. Using a Glossary to find related industry words
              4. Using Dictionaries to see idioms and expressions
              5. Using to find Cliche’s related to the term
              6. Using Google suggestions and related searches
              7. Using movie titles
              8. Using book titles
              9. Using song titles

              Book titles are particularly useful as they aren’t subject to copyright and so can be reused.

              Once you have completed this process for every word, you will have a long list of ideas and inspiration to draw upon. You may be starting to feel mental and topical fatigue. That’s a good sign that you have fill your brain with the topic.


              The key part of synthesizing an idea is subconscious, but you should still start by consciously trying combinations of words and name ideas. You may find THE idea this way, but even if you do, let your subconscious have a go at crunching all the information you’ve filled it with and see if it can generate a better idea.

              Deliberately give your brain a break when you can’t think any more, but keep a note book with you. This break could be a shower, a long walk, a good film or a trip to an art gallery. relaxing and emotionally stimulating tasks work best.

              Once you’ve got a few idea down, it’s time to evaluate.

              The review process: Smile and scratch

              You’re review process has two steps.

              1. Smile – finding good names.
              2. Scratch – eliminating bad ones.

              SMILE: 5 Qualities of sticky names

              • Suggestive – It doesn’t describe, it evokes.
              • Meaningful – Something that will resonate with potential customers
              • Imagery – Something which is visually evocative
              • Legs – An idea which can be extended
              • Emotional – Something which moves people, reminds them of memories and associations.

              SCRATCH: Ideas to remove

              • Spelling – don’t use clever spellings, it confuses people
              • Copycat – don’t follow other companies, be original
              • Restrictive – It doesn’t allow for future growth
              • Annoying – Something that is forced or just doesn’t work.
              • Tame – Don’t go for a safe, boring and forgettable name
              • Curse of Knowledge – Don’t use a name that only makes sense to you and your inner group
              • Hard to pronounce – Make sure people can tell others what your name is

              Finding the domain

              Once you’ve gone through all this process, then you should look at domain names and usernames on social media platforms. This might seem like it’s too later and it might but the copycat step should help eliminate some problems by this point. If you find there’s another company with the same domain (and there’s a good chance of that now), you can either use a more unique TLD or add a verb to the start of your website domain, like which offers domain hosting.

              Grab a copy of Hello, My Name Is Awesome

              If you’d like to read the whole, short book, grab a copy bellow.

              Or you can check out other book summaries here.