Experience the Whole World as a School – 7 Takeaways No. 157

A simple, photorealistic image showcasing 'the whole world as a school'. The scene includes a single, large, open book with pages that transition into different landscapes across the globe. On one page, iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, and the Statue of Liberty are illustrated, symbolizing different regions of the world. Surrounding the book are small, diverse groups of children in casual clothes, representing students from various ethnic backgrounds. They are looking at the book with curiosity and excitement, depicting a global learning experience in a straightforward and clear manner.
(Image: DALL-E 3)

(If you’re having difficulty viewing this in email, visit 7takeaways.com/latest 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.)

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Something of substance each day, collected and delivered weekly.” Smile

“What’s with the 8th Takeaway?” I occasionally highlight an essay of my own, but never at the expense of one of the seven. Hence, an 8th.

1. “The geography of every person’s soul is different.”

And We Slip at Last Into Place – John P. Weiss – (Blog)

The essay opens detailing the recent shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The author’s son attends UNLV, and as you can imagine, there was concern.

The portion of the essay that spoke to me was this:

The line between becoming a well-adjusted, relatively happy person and someone whose soul descends into bitterness and hatred, is often a narrow line. We forget that there are people among us whose lives are hanging by a thread. A smile or single act of kindness could make all the difference between finding hope or giving up.

It’s a topic I’ve touched on repeatedly here. We don’t always know what impact our kindness towards others might have, and it’s statistically unlikely that it’ll be the difference preventing a violent outburst. But it costs nothing, makes the world a slightly better place, and can make a positive difference in other, untold ways.

Do this: Be kind.

2. “Psychedelic cryptography”

52 things I learned in 2023 – Tom Whitwell – (Medium)

Yes, yes, it’s another listicle. I found it insightful, educational, and entertaining. Though not everyone will get it, this one cracked me up:

The UK government recently changed the law to ban company names containing computer code, after Michael Tandy of Hatfield registered a company called “; DROP TABLE “COMPANIES”; — LTD,” which could theoretically erase the companies house database.

(See also little Bobby Tables.)

The list has many more items, most of a more serious nature. (Including the takeaway above. I think.)

Do this: Sanitize your inputs. (It’s a computer thing, but it applies to life as well. See little Bobby above.)

3. “The classics are the classics because they rule.”

Want to Build? Technical – Excellence Won’t Be Enough – Evan Armstrong – (Napkin Math / Every.to)

A slightly rambling essay, mostly targeted at startup founders and entrepreneurs, his premise is that we should all have spent, and be spending, more time in the humanities.

This is something I’ve touched on myself, however peripherally, regarding my education. Ultimately, it’s also one reason 7 Takeaways exists — a way to force myself to consume more, better, content.

The humanities matter for founders because these subjects build an intuitive grasp of the world.

They matter for everyone, for exactly the same reason.

Do this: consume better.

4. “To experience the whole world as a school and every source and subject as a teacher”

When the New York Times lost its way – James Bennet – (The Economist)

This is a lengthy article, and the second half devolves into a painfully detailed description of how publication of a conservative-leaning Op-Ed caused an internal uproar at The Times, and eventually lead to the author’s ouster.

However, there are many, many good points prior regarding journalism’s role, and specifically the importance of providing factual information, separate from opinion, and the importance of including both sides of issues, even those you might disagree with. The New York Times, in the author’s opinion, is no longer adhering to those principles. It’s hard not to agree.

A journalism that starts out assuming it knows the answers can be far less valuable to the reader than a journalism that starts out with a humbling awareness that it knows nothing.

What the author doesn’t address directly is the change in motivation. Today, publishing an Op-Ed, or any story, that doesn’t match the audience’s and staff’s concept of what’s “right” puts you at risk of subscriptions being cancelled, advertising being pulled, and staff quitting. That directly, and quickly, affects the bottom line; a very serious issue. That easily becomes a serious change in motivation, away from being comprehensive and objective, and towards publishing only the approved narrative. It takes courage to be open to both sides, and with newspapers at risk for so many reasons, it’s all too easy to set that aside.

Do this: Have courage.

5. “Disagreement has less to do with what people know and more to do with what they’ve experienced.”

Wounds Heal, Scars Last, from Same as Ever: A Guide to What Never Changes – Morgan Housel – (ebook)

This plays directly into the previous takeaway. The people we disagree with are worth understanding because their life experiences have been different. This means listening to, not hiding from or “cancelling,” viewpoints we don’t like.

What have you experienced that I haven’t that makes you believe what you do? And would I think about the world like you do if I experienced what you have?

While that’s a rhetorical question, the answer is almost always “yes”.

Do this: Listen.

6. “Reduce the annoyance of someone’s stupid belief”

Excellent Advice for Living – Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier – Kevin Kelly – (ebook)

The full quote:

You can reduce the annoyance of someone’s stupid belief by increasing your understanding of why they believe it.

This dovetails with the previous item nicely. Together they remind me of a saying I’ve quoted before:

“If you grew up where they grew up, and you were taught what they were taught, you would believe what they believe” – Anon(1)

Many people struggle with that. But at a minimum, understanding where someone’s beliefs come from, rather than how different (or “wrong”) they are, is important. Sadly, too many people flatly refuse to do so.

Do this: Do so.

7. “My friends are my ongoing birthday present.”

This is 54: Author Elizabeth Gilbert Responds to The Oldster Magazine Questionnaire – Sari Botton – (Oldster Magazine Newsletter)

A fascinating Q&A with the popular author, sharing how her perspective on many things has changed as she’s aged. There are several lovely takeaways. Here’s another, longer, one:

Life has taught me that things tend to shake out, if you can be cool for two minutes and try to not freak out. Aging has taught me how to respond, not to react — and sober, intelligent responses can take weeks or even years to formulate. That’s ok.

Do this: Respond, don’t react.

8. “A well-considered opinion should invite thoughtful discourse”

You Are Entitled to Your Opinion – Leo A. Notenboom – (Blog)

One of my more important essays, updated somewhat.

If you (or your business) hold opinions or engage in practices I consider to be wrong or harmful to society or the people around you — particularly people I care about — then I have the right to not want to associate with you. Period. That’s not stifling your freedom of speech or action in any way. That’s not “cancelling” you. It’s not preventing others from associating with you.

Do this: Understand that actions come with consequences.

More random links & thoughts

  • Ellen’s Story – Amazingly talented 9 year old bass player who’s having so much fun.


Full 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