“Why put in the effort to explain why it isn’t a fit, if they haven’t done the homework to determine if it is a fit?”
– Maria Popova [1:23:00]
Maria Popova has written for amazing outlets like The Atlantic and The New York Times, but I find her most amazing project to be BrainPickings.org.
Founded in 2006 as a weekly email to seven friends, BrainPickings now gets more than 5 million readers per month (!). I read very few blogs regularly, but BrainPickings is one of the few that makes the cut. It’s a treasure trove.
BrainPickings is Maria’s one-woman labor of love — an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life. From Mark Twain to Oscar Wilde and everyone in between, Maria finds the hidden gems. She is also PROLIFIC and makes me look like a sloth.
In this in-depth conversation, we cover just about everything: how it happened, her workflow, how she writes (and workarounds to problems), how her site generates revenue, her workouts, and many more details. If you want to know the habits of a hyper-productive person, this episode is for you.
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Selected Links from the Episode
- Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
- Wilderness Essays by John Muir
- Sam Harris’s Blog
- The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert
- Explore LJ or Maria’s Literary Jukebox
- Share-a-Draft Plugin for sharing with WordPress.org
- WordPress VIP
- Buffer for Twitter/Facebook Management
Where to Start? BrainPickings Recommendations from Maria Popova
- The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and The Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long by Maria Popova
- How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love by Maria Popova
- Happy Birthday, Brain Pickings: 7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living by Maria Popova
Show Notes (Times Are Approximate)
- What percentage of New York Times best sellers are a result of Maria’s coverage? [4:55]
- How to live a meaningful happy life. [10:00]
- The importance of writing for an audience of one. [12:10]
- Contending with the temptation to create Buzzfeed-like content. [15:45]
- Maria Popova’s daily rituals, beliefs on sleep, distraction-avoidance habits, meditation, and exercise routines. [23:25]
- Maria Popova’s note-taking system. [31:45]
- Seneca and the time-tested challenge of presence vs. productivity. [37:36]
- Start-up opportunity? Build a note-taking tool for heavy readers/highlighters. [41:58]
- About the team behind BrainPickings. [48:45]
- Maria Popova’s process for editing within her team. [51:12]
- Self-reliance pathology and how to overcome it. [53:56]
- How to find a professional personal assistant and delegate. [56:40]
- What Maria Popova’s weight lifting regiment looks like, plus her favorite bodyweight-only exercise. [1:02:14]
- Blogging strategies [1:05:22]
- Social media strategies [1:15:00]
- How cultivate a personal inner circle, how to pre-screen book review requests [1:20:30]
- Why there are no dates on the posts on BrainPickings? [01:12:30]
- Scheduling (and automating) social media [01:22:10]
- How do you deal with friends who want you to read their books? [01:27:10]
- What donation model works best for site revenue? [01:31:45]
- Sam Harris
- Wendy MacNaughton
- Richard Betts
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Kevin Kelly
- Alan Watts
- Chris Sacca
- John Romaniello
- Oscar Wilde
- Tara Brach – Mindfulness Practitioner (Meditation Podcast)
- Werner Herzog
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Paul Graham
Posted on: October 21, 2014.
Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.
Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.