Coffee Shops Can Be Teachers – 7 Takeaways No. 148

Gentleman sitting at a table in Starbucks.
(Image: DALL-E 3)

(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. “You only believe what you believe because you’re you.”

Why being uncertain is a hidden strength – Annie Duke – (YouTube)

This is a perspective I hadn’t considered in my “war” against black-and-white thinking. Our discomfort with uncertainty is part of what makes us closed minded and unwilling to consider alternate viewpoints. We’re taught from an early age that “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure”, and “I could be wrong” are inappropriate answers.

We have to be willing to look for [more information] which we won’t do if we already believe we’re certain. What’s the motivation to go look for more information if you’re certain?

One of my signals that something I read should be included here is the number of things I want to quote. There’s a lot of meat in this one. It’s worth a watch.

Do this: Embrace uncertainty.

2. “Humans, individually, are often bad at truth.”

What’s Our Problem? – A Self-help Book for Societies – Tim Urban – (ebook)

I generally don’t “do” politics and/or sociology, but I’ve been working my way through Urban’s book and … I won’t say I’m enjoying it, because of the subject, but I’m appreciating it. He’s doing a good job using both metaphor and example to explain why we are where we are today as a society. The takeaway above is on a section dealing with the struggles currently seen in higher education.

But when a bunch of people get together and their ideas can clash freely in the ring, they form a genie and collectively can be pretty good at truth. There’s only one way a scholarly institution, full of biased thinkers, can keep itself consistently pointing toward truth: every theory that emerges must survive a gauntlet of people trying to prove it wrong.

Sadly, it’s become the case that on many campuses, debate on opposing viewpoints has turned into — and I hate to use the phrase — cancel culture. Where once discussion could occur, there are now topics, or rather positions, that are simply verboten.

Do this: Remember that simply being open to discussion does not imply agreement. Be open.

3. “Social media is inducing a fog of war”

A flood of misinformation shapes views of Israel-Gaza conflict – Elizabeth Dwoskin – (Washington Post)

Honestly, with the recent trends in social media, capped with the turmoil of the last year over at Twitter/X, this has been one of my greatest fears. People are being exposed to buckets of misinformation. The catch is that the average person isn’t really in a position to determine what is and isn’t true.

While social media has been a critical tool for disseminating wartime information in recent days, a barrage of images, memes and testimonials is making it difficult to assess what is real. Activists in the region warn that viral horror stories that turn out not to be true may lead people to further distrust authority figures — and could spark hate, violence and retaliation against innocent people.

And there’s the issue: misinformation is being weaponized.

Related: When Our Smartphones Become Windows to a War (Wall Street Journal’s personal technology column)

Do this: I know I say this often, but it’s so incredibly important: be skeptical.

4. “People’s opinions are going to try to shake you”

How to care LESS about what people think – Jason & Caroline Zook – (YouTube)

This is targeted primarily at entrepreneurs and business owners who publish online. Be it content, or social media commentary, or videos, or anything else, there will be “those” people. The haters.

Can confirm. It’s one lesson I had to learn very early on when I started Ask Leo!. There’s no shortage of opinions on technology, and there’s also no hesitation to share those opinions, often in a less-than-respectful way.

… you have to move on you’re not going to ruminate on it you’re not going to let it make you a bad person you’re going to take the next step forward and keep going on your entrepreneurial journey.

Here’s the thing, and the reason I included it today: this applies to so much more than just entrepreneurs. We live in a world where it’s common to share publicly and then have that get slammed by people whose opinions you honestly shouldn’t be paying attention to. The steps outlined in the video apply equally well to staying sane in the face of “those” people.

Do this: Don’t blindly react to negativity and/or criticism. Choose first if it should even matter.

5. “Signs of vigorous antibody production”

Feeling Terrible After Your Covid Shot? Then It’s Probably Working. – Apoorva Mandavilli – (The New York Times)

This caught my attention because, unlike prior COVID or flu shots, it happened to me with the most recent. I got my COVID and flu shots together, and later that night I had horrible chills. The next day I was extremely tired, but the day after that all returned to normal.

The chills, fatigue, headache and malaise that can follow vaccination may be signs of a vigorous immune response.

It nailed my symptoms. And yes, it’s possible I got a stronger reaction because I got both flu and COVID shots simultaneously. Either way, I choose to take is as a good sign that my immune system has reacted “vigorously”.

Do this: Get vaccinated, if you can.

6. “Coffee shops can be teachers.”

Why Coffee Shops Are Teachers, If Only We’d Pay Attention – John P. Weiss – (Blog, via What Life Should Be About: Elegant Essays on the Things That Matter ebook)

Through four stories gleaned from his visits to local coffee shops, Weiss shares not only four interesting lessons and observations, but shows the power of paying attention and just listening.

But we have to get our noses out of our smartphones and laptops. We need to sit quietly, listen, and observe.

I know I’m as guilty as anyone of trying to fill every available moment with “something”. I’ll admit to also appreciating those times I’ve simply sat and watched the world around me.

Do this: Observe more.

7. “Forgetting is a normal part of one’s brain function”

Phone. Keys. Wallet … Brain? – Jancee Dunn – (The New York Times)

I think all of us worry about this topic as we age, particularly if there’s been a history of issues in our family, or if we see it affecting a friend or loved one. Certainly every time I blank on someone’s name, or worse, a simple word, I’ll admit to having some concern.

We are inundated with so much information each day, said Dr. Davis, and the brain has to manage memories.

This makes so much sense. Information overload has many costs. Our brains can only do so much. Something has to give.

Do this: Don’t panic.

More random links & thoughts


Full (and growing) list on the sources page.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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