Paced Inspiration: 4 Sites To Check Out

When you’re searching for new ideas, inspiration – where do you look?

As for me, sometimes I just scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and click on animal videos such as this Turtle on a Skateboard… Other times I am more focused.

Let me tell you more about the other times.

I realized that I have 4 places that outrank all others and you may find interesting to check out. I visit each of them in a different context – let’s see whether it works the same for you.

The First I read on the screen of my phone during a coffee break in the office. A daily portion of wisdom.

The Second I enjoy on my tablet, sitting in couch in my living room on a Saturday morning – my day without a schedule. Because these posts are not meant to be read in a rush.

The Third is for all the moments when reading is not an option – I listen to it during my stretching routine in the morning, when making myself breakfast and while cleaning the house on a weekend.

The Fourth, finally, has its turn when I’m sitting at my desk after it’s cleared of all clutter. On my laptop with Evernote and Goodreads open so that I can grab and store quotes & add books to read.

What are those four places, how did I find them and why you should care? Let’s have a look.


The First: Seth’s Blog

How did I find it?

One of the two bloggers my friend RyanSeth_Godin_in_2009 recommended to me when I told him that I’d like to start writing and confessed that I have no idea what a good blog looks like. I checked a few of Seth’s posts and found them OK. I read Seth’s book Linchpin, got inspired in how I can love my work even more and became a fan. I saw his 2003 TED Talk and I fell in love.

What makes it special?

New post every day. Topic? Feeling like a failure, taking feedback, pathfinding. Each concept illustrated with a metaphor that makes me go “Wow, I haven’t thought of that!”.

What is the most memorable piece?

“It doesn’t ship because it’s ready. It ships because it’s due.” , from Optimistic vs. Honest Time. Even more elaborated in Linchpin:

Saturday Night Live show goes on each week, no matter whether the team feels it has enough good material or not. The show is live and it’s on Saturday.

Made me change my approach to postponing things, striving for perfection – and rather getting them done and making sure they’re really good on the date they’re due.

Check it out if…

If work means for you doing something meaningful rather a place where you spend your day 9 to 5 in order to pay your bills; if you’re eager to get a small bit of inspiration every day – you’ll want to check Seth’s blog out.


The Second: Mark Manson

How did I find it?

Second of Ryan’s recommendations. Thinking about it – isn’t it interesting how some people shape your life? Thanks Ryan, by the way!

What makes it special?

Mark Manson has the unique ability to combine broad range of knowledge (he’s read a ton of books on various topics ranging from popular psychology to philosophy and economics), connect it with his life experiences and package it in posts that are simple and fun to read, yet not superficial.

What is the most memorable piece?

There’s a couple of posts I re-read more than once. But if I should pick only one, it will be Stop Trying to be Happy.

Completing a marathon makes us happier than eating a chocolate cake. Raising a child makes us happier than beating a video game. Starting a small business with friends and struggling to make money makes us happier than buying a new computer.

And the funny thing is that all three of the activities above are exceedingly unpleasant and require setting high expectations and potentially failing to always meet them. Yet, they are some of the most meaningful moments and activities of our lives. They involve pain, struggle, even anger and despair, yet once we’ve done them we look back and get misty-eyed about them.

Simple and profound at the same time, don’t you think?

Check it out if…

If you’re curious to learn more about yourself and your life from a 31-year old who’s wise as if he were 51 and you’re willing to spend more than 10 minutes on average on reading a blog post – you should go for Mark.


The Third: The Tim Ferriss Show

How did I find it?Timothy_Ferriss

My friend Oli gave me a book by Mr. Ferris – The Four Hour Body – for my 29th birthday. I saw that there’s a chapter on how to please a woman plus advice saying that once a week you can eat so much sweet stuff that it makes you sick – and stay healthy in the long run. I labeled it as “Not serious reading” and for a long time didn’t come back to it. Until earlier this year I stumbled upon the Tim Ferriss Show and found out that this guy is the most engaging interviewer I’ve ever heard and that he’s able to mine pieces of wisdom from his over-achiever guests that are worth diamonds.

What makes it special?

Tim apparently knows a lot about hacking one’s life and becoming a super-effective ultra-human. Because he is genuinely interested in the topics he discusses with his guests, he can dig way deeper than the initial answer to his first question; and as a world-class host, he’s able to make his guests feel so comfortable that they get relaxed and share more than they would with an ordinary reporter.

His guests are rockstars in their fields: Phil Libin – the executive chairman Evernote; Neil Strauss – the author of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists; Arnold Schwarzenegger – well, the Terminator; and more than a hundred of others.

What is the most memorable piece?

Interview with Robert Rodriguez, the filmmaker behind Desperado and Sin City. While the topics being discussed are journaling, making great low-budget movies and cartooning, the overarching theme of this interview is creativity. Just to illustrate, answering one of the final questions as what he would recommend to his 30-year old self, Robert goes:

Sometimes you know too much and then you stop doing things. It’s better not to know. Example – you ask a bunch of little kids – who can be a president, who can write an opera, who can paint, who can be a filmmaker – they all raise their hands, because they don’t know. They all just believe they can. You ask the same kids in 10 years and the hands start going down. No life experience. They stop believing. I always try to be like that kid with a hand up in the air. (Someone asks me) Can you write a score to a movie for a 100-piece orchestra – even though you don’t read nor write music? (I say) Sure. (…) How do I know I can’t until I try it?

Check it out if…

If you want to learn about productive habits of ultra-high performers – and can find use for content in audio rather than text – you’ll love the Tim Ferriss Show.


The Fourth: Brainpickings.org by Maria Popova

How did I find it?

Maria_Popova_(2)Presentation gurus in my Twitter feed (Nancy Duarte; Garr Reynolds) kept retweeting notes linking to Brain Pickings for so long – that one day I surrendered, clicked on one of them, read the post – and subscribed to the weekly newsletter.

What makes it special?

It looks like nobody loves reading as much as Maria Popova. In her own words, she is “a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large.” On her site you can find articles about an endless amount of books (multiple more added every week). What I find fascinating is Maria’s ability to use excerpts from books to illustrate the key ideas, make the reader hunger for more – and provide him with a list of “what to read next” books & essays on top of that.

Books treated on Brain Pickings provide a good balance to my usual reading list consisting of business literature and sci-fi / fantasy. And the weekly newsletter supplies me with discoveries I would never be able to make on my own.

What is the most memorable piece?

I bought Rebecca Solnit’s Faraway Nearby – the minute I finished reading this post. A quote picked from the book used by Maria Popova to illustrate the relationship between reading and writing:

Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone.

When I read that, suddenly I had the feeling I want to grab the first book I find and read it from cover to cover.

Check it out if…

If you love reading and are open to new influences – you’ll love Brain Pickings. If you like to think about reading – you’ll go crazy for it. And you get the weekly newsletter every Sunday morning just before you wake up (if your clock is tuned to Central European Time at least).


If you managed to check all four, then you see it’s quite some reading out there! I don’t want you to get too overwhelmed – so reward yourself with another video of a turtle on a skateboard (this one is a bit more action).

You deserve it!


Featured image by *maya*, taken from Flickr, under Creative Commons license. Colors adjusted.

Seth Godin: By Joi Ito (Seth Godin) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Tim Ferriss: By Olivier Ezratty [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Maria Popova: By PopTech (https://www.flickr.com/photos/poptech/15609869645/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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