I hope you’re all staying safe out there. With all that’s going on with Coronavirus, we’re finding ourselves in a very stressful period. Truth be told, part of me wanted to write this newsletter without mentioning Coronavirus at all. I wondered if I should just focus on positive topics, and serve as a distraction. After all, we’re already being bombarded with information about this pandemic. If you’re like me, you’re alternating between mild panic and calm preparation.
I won’t overwhelm you with too much more information, but I felt obligated to at least share two quick thoughts with you. It’s just too important.
1. Don’t Take Coronavirus Lightly
This is serious. Depending on where you live, and where you spend your time online, you may find yourself within communities that are not affected by the news, and not changing their behavior at all. Please don’t follow their example. Take the necessary precautions, and if anything, err on the side of being overly cautious. This applies even more if you live in the United States, where the federal government is actively harming the effectiveness of containment efforts.
This graphic has been making the rounds, for good reason:
In the U.S., we are in the red. There will be serious consequences for the failure of our administration to respond to this situation appropriately. The best thing you can do is protect yourself, and try to ensure your vulnerable friends and families are protected too. There are many preparedness plans out there, but a few key reminders:
Wash your hands and sanitize devices regularly.
Avoid all unnecessary travel, large group events & gatherings.
Work from home whenever possible.
Remember that even if you can handle the virus, you can infect others who cannot.
Remember to breathe. It’s a stressful time, so be sure to give yourself some space and prioritize your own self-care needs.
If you want more information, the best resource I’ve found on understanding COVID-19 and preparedness steps is the UCSF Panel on Coronavirus that was just released today.
2. Tips On Remote Work
Many people are now finding themselves working from home, due to precautionary measures taken by their companies. This is good. However, the concept of working from home / working remotely is still new to most people, and most people don’t fully grasp how different their lives will become — until it hits them, hard.
First-time remote workers often find themselves overwhelmed with loneliness. They’ve spent their lives benefiting from the automatic interactions that offices provide, and don’t have the tools necessary to recreate them pro-actively. When most people think about preparing for remote work, they think of work-from-home desk setups, Zoom conferencing, laptop cameras, fast WiFi, and so on. In reality, the most important tool is emotional resilience. We need to be able to recognize our own needs, and then cater to them. Just like eating, we need to feed ourselves a dose of social interaction every now and then.
We all need a mixed diet, if you will, between solitude and society.
If you’re working remotely for the first time, here are two great resources I recommend:
Anne-Laure Le Cunff has written an excellent guide full of tips on working from home. Note, in particular, the section on Mental Health.
REMOTE: Office Not Required is a great book on what a fully remote working culture looks like.
P.S. The link above is to BookShop.org, not Amazon, for a reason. BookShop.org is an online bookstore that lets you buy from independent bookstores, without having to visit them in-person. With all that’s going on, local bookstores (and local stores in general) need your business more than ever. Please support them as much as you can.
If you missed my last newsletter (welcome, new subscribers!), you can now find my latest post about overcoming our inner critics on my blog. In it, I talk about the compounding powers of negativity, and how you can counteract its effects.
In my forays into meditation and learning more about psychology, one of the topics that keeps coming up is the philosophy of Stoicism. There are a few books out there that I keep getting recommended, but just haven’t gotten around to reading them. Last week, I found myself in a Twitter conversation with Ramses Rudolph, who is a big advocate for Stoicism. I decided to interview him about the topic (joined by another friend, Tim Coil) to get some quick learnings, and recorded it so I could share it with all of you.
This is the first video on a new YouTube channel I just created. I don’t have any grand plans for it, but I do plan to start recording some of the conversations I have with interesting folks every so often.
I decided to completely sidestep the landmine of questions my mind often prompts me with (“What’s the channel going to be about? How often will you upload? Who’s the audience? Are there competitors on that topic? Haven’t others already talked about this?… yadda, yadda, yadda). Instead, I just setup the call, recorded it, and uploaded it.
Hope you learn something from it! And as always, please respond with any thoughts, feedback, or questions of your own.
P.S. If there’s a topic/person you think I should interview (or would like to be interviewed about a topic), send me a note!
Lastly, I wanted to share some artwork I’ve done recently. The first one is something I’m quite proud of — it’s the first time I’ve ever done a logo/branding illustration. As background, some of you might remember that I took the Write of Passage course with David Perell recently. David asked if I’d be interested in creating the logo for a new podcast he’s building — I jumped at the chance.
Here’s what I came up with:
I’m pretty happy with the output! I actually designed the entire thing end-to-end on my iPad with an Apple Pencil using Procreate. It’s a pretty different approach to typical illustration work that is done with Photoshop/Illustrator, but those are the tools I’ve been using for drawing characters, so I figured I’d try it out. It was a ton of fun! The podcast itself is David sharing short, actionable tips about writing — you can find The Write of Passage Podcast on Spotify.
I also wanted to share some of the fun characters I’ve drawn in the past, including an updated rendition of your friendly neighborhood Quick Brown Fox! I’ve realized I’m a big fan of the “messy” art style, where multiple lines reinforce shape, rather than single, clean bold lines. I don’t know why I prefer them, but I do, and it’s liberating to accept that and embrace it in my art. Not everything has to be perfectly clean, and follow the rules. It’s your work, so no matter what you to do improve it, make sure it still says yours.
Let me know if you’d like to see more art in the newsletters! There’s more where these came from — check out some of my drawings on my Tumblr page.
That’s all for this edition! Stay safe, and see you at the next one.