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PRODUCT.|PHILOSOPHY.|LIFE.

The only way forward


I read a lot. Since the start of the year, I have read more than 1700 articles. This includes long ones that take more than an hour each, short ones that take at most a couple of minutes each, and everything in between. These are on diverse topics ranging from the fundamentals of blockchain technology to the biography of America's most famous muslim immigrant of the twentieth century.

That's an average of five articles a day. That's anywhere between half an hour to an hour a day. Every day.

One thing this doesn't include though, is news. It has been over a year since I stopped reading news articles. I occasionally scan through the headlines, especially those related to my industry, but nothing more. And I haven't missed a thing. Sure, I hear about Trump's fancy policies a few days late when my colleagues are having a laugh over them at lunch, or hear about big companies laying off people, or Kevin Spacey being accused of sexual harassment, or the outcomes of the various European elections when others are discussing them at the bar or the restaurant. And life has been as blissful as ever.

I have subscribed to hundreds of blogs and newsletters. So, each day, I have over a hundred new articles delivered right to my inbox for me to pick the five I want to read from.

There are some authors like Seth Godin, James Altucher, Umair Haque and Fred Wilson, whose articles I have been consistently reading. And there are others like Jon Westenberg, Chris Connors, Srinivas Rao and Ethan Siegel, who I used to read regularly but have not been choosing to more and more in the recent times. The patterns are similar when I look at the Medium publications I follow and magazines like Harvard Business Review and The New Yorker.

As I look at the names of these authors and publications, it instantly becomes clear why this is the case.

And it is not just about what I read, but about what I watch as well. There are shows that I just stopped watching after a season or two and there are shows that I watch every new episode as it comes along.

Again, it is the same pattern.

The trick is simple. Total reinvention.

The famous standup comedian, Louis CK, throws out his entire material and starts over from scratch every year. This way, he stays fresh and keeps his audience on their toes and looking forward for more.

The restaurants I love going to the most, do the same. They change their menu completely every three months or so, introducing altogether new dishes, not even bothering to keep their bestsellers. No wonder most of these have Michelin stars and charge such high premiums.

The mark of a creative is to keep bringing newer things to their art. The moment the content gets repetitive, the audience gets bored and they leave. It may be really good content, but if it is something that the audience has already seen, they begin to go elsewhere in search of new things and new experiences.

After all, everybody wants to grow. Nobody wants to be stuck in the same loop.

This is why Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are constantly reinventing themselves. As are the best authors, musicians, movie directors, actors, football players.

It is extremely hard to create something new. And it is a hundred times harder to discard (or at least stop relying on) something that has been very successful and create something new instead.

But that's the only way forward.

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