Another year comes to a sleepy close.
As I did last year, I wanted to take some time to share my gratitude and inspiration from the previous year. Short and sweet once again!
First, to every single person who has opened the Mind Meld this year, thank you once again. It’s been a much slower year for output but nevertheless, so grateful for the response to any of the pieces written, particularly the one around sonic branding that became a fan favorite. Big thanks also to Substack, for the group of new features that have let this newsletter grow even during its breaks!
As Oscar Wilde once said: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” You are all the reason I have stars to look at.
Now, without further ado, wanted to share some of my highlights of 2022!
Favorite Reads of 2022
A quick snapshot of some essays that stood out:
I Can’t Stop Thinking About This (Kyle Chayka) - “In our age of content overabundance, it is not enough to simply watch, listen to, or read something, to be stirred by a piece of art and then move on with your life. The experience must cause an all-encompassing fever—or, at least, you must perform a state of all-encompassing feverishness to issue a credible recommendation. Given so many options, why would your friend watch something that you say merely interests you?”
De-Atomization is the Secret to Happiness (Nat Eliason) - “Booting up my computer to play a video game is way easier and sounds more immediately fun than texting some friends to play pickleball. Crushing takeout chips and queso sounds tastier and easier than cooking steak and rice. But I know I’ll feel better afterward with the latter, and that’s what we have to try to optimize for. Integrated living is more satisfying than atomic living.”
Where’s My Quarter-Life Chrysalis? (J.P. Brammer) - “There’s a rhythm I have going here in my apartment, and it functions fine for me, week by week. But we don’t just want life to function, right, LL? A rhythm alone isn’t enough. We want lyrics. Poetry. A bass drop. Music! We want the fantastic, and the thing about the fantastic is, by nature, it lies outside of our quotidian affairs. It’s out there, beckoning us to chase it.”
Run Your Own Race (Ava) - “We believe that desire is mimetic, but we forget that the people who inspire real desire are always people who are redefining it—who give us something new to look at, allow us to escape groupthink. There’s nothing more powerful than separating signal from noise, spotting a phenomenon no one else has recognized yet. But to do that you need your own separate thoughts.”
Software Is Eating the Individual (Evan Armstrong) - “What it means to be human is shifting. We are becoming what I call “embedded humans.” Our interactions with the world are determined by the software that we use. Software is being embedded into our identity and individuality.”
Notes on Social Rejection (Kasra) - “I’ve realized through this process that it’s not just about facing rejection, but facing social discomfort altogether: all those little moments where I’m not sure if I’m being annoying, or whether someone likes me, or whether I’ve embarrassed myself. Seeing these moments not as something to avoid at all costs, but as something to embrace and even relish, because they’re indications that you’re taking risks, that you’re trying to connect with people.”
Favorite Newsletters of 2022
My general consumption has gone down a lot when it comes to newsletters but still wanted to highlight some newsletters that I continue to read regularly.
Kevan Lee’s Newsletter, The Menu by Amanda Natividad, B2B Bite by Jason Bradwell, Link In Bio by Rachel Karten, Social Media Detox by Nicole Tabak, Brianne’s Blog by Brianne Fleming
Napkin Math by Evan Armstrong, Divinations by Nathan Baschez, Cybernaut by Fadeke Adegbuyi (All in the Every Bundle), The Jungle Gym by Nick Dewilde, Just Enough To Get Me in Trouble by Lyle Mckeany
Bookbear Express by Ava, Platformer by Casey Newton, Garbage Day by Ryan Broderick, Where’s Your Ed At by Ed Zitron, Infinite Play by Nat Eliason, Perspectives by Deb Liu, Scatter Brain by Sar Haribhakti, Bits of Wonder by Kasra, Catalectic by Alicia Kenworthy, and Young Money by Jack Raines
Favorite Books of 2022
The list of books read in 2022 was horribly short and I had about 20 on the backburner with varying levels of progress. Hoping to change this up in 2023 - already signed up for a reading challenge on Goodreads with a goal to hit 24 books by end of the year!
The Dynasty (Jeff Benedict) - History of the Patriots from Kraft to dynasty
Super Pumped: Battle for Uber (Mike Isaac) - Inside look at Uber’s rise and fall
Three Ring Circus (Jeff Pearlman) - Story of the Shaq/Kobe Lakers dynasty
Creativity Inc (Ed Catmull) - How Catmull started and grew Pixar’s legacy
Freezing Cold Takes (Fred Segal) - Stories behind inaccurate predictions
Favorite Shows of 2022
Every streaming platform needs a wrapped in 2023 because this was impossible to remember. Also embarrassingly few movies this year.
White Lotus (HBO), Dead to Me (Netflix), Abbott Elementary (Hulu), Mo (Netflix), Ramy (Hulu), Stranger Things (Netflix), The Dropout (Hulu), Only Murders in the Building (Hulu), Stutz (Netflix), Glass Onion
Miscellaneous Reflections from 2022
Some miscellaneous reflections from 2022. Included ten in my annual life reflections piece on Medium.
Most of the pleasure in a dessert comes in the first three bites. Writer David Perell has a great piece on life advice from his birthday, but this is one of my favorite tips that I’ve almost used as a personal mantra. As someone who has been largely sugar-avoidant and eaten much less dessert in the last three years, I love this philosophy as a way to exercise both control and joy when eating. No regrets now when eating a good Tiramisu or Tres Leches.
It’s nice to put a value on time. One of my biggest shifts in the previous year has come from unlocking time. Not necessarily doing less, but spending money to do more things of value. Inspired by a tweet around giving yourself an aspirational hourly rate, I thought about all the things that could take me hours/days, becoming much more flexible with outsourcing those in the process. There are a few things that I regularly put in this bucket: TSA pre-check, getting a Keurig to save time on coffee, outsourcing my move, and even getting more expensive flights with less layovers/rental cars to save money on Ubers. This year, one of my biggest investments was a car membership, mostly from tallying up the inconveniences and scheduling delays that came from taking a bus to Berkeley last Fall. Even Grammarly is something that I put in that bucket — being able to get rid of small commas and fractal errors while working on big-picture writing has paid dividends every time.
Going viral sucks. I went mega-viral for the first time (16MM impressions) on Twitter and it was awful. Impossible to use the app. So many random lanes of conversation to track. Random DMs from people trying to get my feedback on their opinion. Even after muting the tweet, the quote tweets continued for days. Nothing made me yearn for peace faster than going viral. My new existential quandary is pure confusion. Are all content creators just masochists in waiting?
I look forward to experimenting with new types of writing for this newsletter, more strategic pieces, and a more regular cadence in 2023. Thank you again for a great year!
Thanks for the inspiration Kushaan and have a great year. Keep it coming please! I will just start writing asap - even though I find it extremely challenging.
I once went viral on LinkedIn (felt accidental) and like you absolutely hated the spam that came my way and desperately tried to shut it down