Choosing the Right Subject – 7 Takeaways No. 140

Graduation cap and degree.

(If you’re having difficulty viewing this in email, visit in your browser. If a link to a source below leads to you a paywall or is otherwise inaccessible, please read my note on the topic: Paywalls.)

1. “A solution that does not allow for real-world constraints is a bad solution.”

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor – Hank Green – (ebook)

This is the second in a two book series, the first being An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. Ostensibly they’re a science fictions story, and a good one. Particularly in the second book, however, Green carefully builds an allegory for today’s use of social media, our addiction to it, as well as its control by a handful of billionaires.

The picture he paints is not a pretty one. What’s I found fascinating was the key role actual social media plays in the handling the existential threat posed in the story. (Aside from still calling Twitter Twitter, and not “X”, the story feels quite contemporary.

Do this: Pay attention to your use of social media.

2. “We’re all living in Micky Mouse suits.”

Nine Quotes by Keanu Reeves That’ll Reprogram Your Mind (Guaranteed) – Tim Denning – (Substack)

I used to think that the various quotes floating around attributed to Reeves were a) misattributions, or b) infrequent glimmers of wisdom. Turns out I was wrong — the man has some insight. (Not a fan of Denning’s clickbaity headline — my mind has not been reprogrammed.)

Another example:

Multi-culture is the real culture of the world — a pure race doesn’t exist.

On which Denning comments:

It’s a quote that had me jumping for joy. All these gender and race wars are so damn stupid. None of us are pure breed.

Do this: Seek wisdom. Doesn’t have to be Keanu’s — I’m sure some of you disagree with this as a takeaway, even — but look for it across your own media consumption. (PS: I know “Micky” is misspelled. Should be Mickey, but it’s a direct quote.)

3. “Over half of today’s college students will work jobs that don’t yet exist.”

In Praise of the Meandering Career – Simone Stolzoff – (

It’s long been accepted that the concept of a single job for life has fallen by the wayside. Similarly, the concept of a single career for life is also on the decline. It’s not at all uncommon for people to have several careers. But at least those different careers existed at the start.

Development is such that careers are being both created and destroyed much quicker than the length of an individual’s working years. Consider “AI prompt writer”. Created only within the last year, and likely to last how long? Certainly not the decades we might have previously expected.

consider what might happen if more people had the confidence and ability to experiment with their careers

I suspect that confidence and experimentation will become more of a requirement and less of something to just “consider”.

Do this: Experiment.

4. “Optimistic but dissatisfied is the road to progress.”

We need the right kind of climate optimism – Hannah Ritchie – (Vox)

Even as an optimist, I recognize that it’s very easy to be pessimistic these days. And yet if we’re going to make positive progress, optimism is required. Positive change happens only because optimistic people believe it can.

What unchangeable pessimists feel is paralyzing anxiety. That’s a horrible place to be in emotionally, but it’s also an ineffective one. It prevents people from actually going out and doing things to mitigate climate change.

While the essay is primarily focused on climate change related topics, the philosophy applies everywhere.

Do this: Cultivate your pragmatic optimism.

5. “Surround yourself with people who …”

Surround yourself – Mike Crittenden – (Blog)

A short and sweet reminder reminiscent of the “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” adage.

Hard things that take a lot of discipline can become organic if they are the default for people in your life.

Wanna be a writer? Hang out with writers. Wanna lose weight? Hang out with people care about what they eat. Online. Offline. Whatever works, stack the deck to make success more likely.

Do this: Choose your people.

6. “Choosing the right subject”

Was your degree really worth it? – (The Economist)

There’s much controversy, or at least assumption questioning, with higher education. Massive amounts of student debt, coupled with the shortage of skilled laborers (with high-paying jobs) are causing many people to at least ask the question. And it’s worth asking.

In England 25% of male graduates and 15% of female ones will take home less money over their careers than peers who do not get a degree..

We don’t have as rigorous data for the United States, but the opinion is that the situation is similar. And, as the takeaway highlights, the field of study makes an enormous difference.

Do this: It’s a complex decision involving more than just money, but choose wisely.

7. “Cherish the small things”

What Life Should Be About

What Life Should Be About: Elegant Essays on the Things That Matter – John P. Weiss – (ebook)

I’ve been reading his essays on line for some time, and discovered this collection in book form. This takeaway is from the very first essay.

The spirit of small things soothes our hearts and warms our souls. It can bring us peace if we’re willing to slow down and travel to the past. Cherish the small things your loved ones left behind.

Honestly, “cherish the small things” is good advice for so many aspects of life, but should also be preceded by “notice the small things”.

Do this: Notice. Cherish.

More random links & thoughts


Unfiltered by Tim Denning – Occasionally Denning pushes my buttons with over-simplistic tripe (for lack of a better term), by clickbaity headlines, or by pushing his courses a too hard. On the other hand, he sticks the landing often enough with fascinating insights across a wide variety of topics that I stay subscribed. Denning’s the source of this week’s “We’re all living in Micky Mouse suits.”

I’m building and keeping a list on the sources page.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


Support 7 Takeaways

As Austin Kleon says about his own newsletter: it’s free, but not cheap. Your support helps keep 7 Takeaways viable. I appreciate your consideration VERY much.

The best approach is to become a paid subscriber on Substack. This has ripple effects that go beyond your subscription, which is why I list it first.

I also have options for recurring Support (Monthly/Quarterly/Yearly options) as we as one-time support over in The Ask Leo! store.


Leave a Comment