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Creators' Corner #25 - become a conversation barista

John Nicholas
John Nicholas
4 min read
Creators' Corner #25 - become a conversation barista
Photo of the week: a behind-the-scenes look at my new home studio. As I was taking the picture, Lily came in to say hi. She's the star of the show.

Hey everyone 👋. Greetings from Munich!

Welcome to the 7 new people who signed up this week, which brings us to 201 subscribers. Here's the previous edition of the newsletter for those of you who missed it.

Thanks so much for being a subscriber. If you enjoy the newsletter, please forward it on. If you have 10 seconds to share a thought or an idea, please hit reply or comment below.


200 up! We hit another small milestone. Thanks to all of you for joining the creator journey with me.

Feeling that Michael and Dwight hands in the air energy.

Line-up this week:

  1. Quote of the week
  2. New essay on fostering better conversations
  3. Actuarial Summit
  4. Things you might like

1. Quote of the week

Everyone has something valuable worth sharing. Don't hold back.

"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got." – Steven Pressfield, The War or Art.

Thanks to Adi Verma for putting this quote (and the book) on my radar.


2. New essay on fostering better conversations

We spend a large chunk of our day in conversation. It's clear that better conversations can improve the quality of our ideas and our lives. Can we parametrize this ‘thing’ we do every day that’s ‘mushy’ and intangible, but has high value if done right?

This is my attempt at answering:

What is a “good” conversation?

And, having defined this, can we foster more of these conversations?

Themes: energy, good qualities in conversation, expanded vs. closed awareness, respecting others, coffee and balloons as metaphors.

Score: 8/10. I'm quite excited about this one. It started as a coffee chat, which turned into a newsletter segment, and became meaty enough now to justify a standalone essay. Not full marks, because it's far from 'perfect', but I've spent enough time sweating on this one. There's a whole host of other essays that need to see the light of day.

Click the link below to read the full piece. I'd love to hear what you think :).‌

Become a conversation barista
I’ve been lucky to have a few meaningful, high-quality conversations lately. Talks that have left me brimming with energy and ideas. Discussions where I could have gone on talking for hours if I didn’t have to head to the next appointment. Conversations where the topics and ideas bounced off

3. Actuarial Summit

I had a rad time presenting at the Disruptive Actuary Summit hosted by ProActuary last week. The feedback was resoundingly positive. It seems like I've inspired some of my fellow actuaries to increase their luck surface area.

Here are 8 tips to promote your work in a non-braggy way:

I'll add "9. Public speaking."

Shout out to Jay Sivaraman for idea number 6 on the list. I wish I created a Brag Doc way earlier in my career.

I also interviewed Marc Glickman at the Summit. We spoke about his move from corporate actuary to CEO and entrepreneur and his motto to "Always Be Connecting", which linked well with my topic on increasing your luck. It was a fun experience and gave me a taste of what it must feel like to do podcasts one day. Marc is very natural and conversational on camera. You can see that he has done these video interviews many times before.


4. Things you might like

  • 🧵 Thread: Kevin Shen is a wiz when it comes to home studio makeovers. I used some of his tips to upgrade my Zoom experience in preparation for Write of Passage next month. Main changes I applied to my setup: i. Set my video at chin height (don't let viewers peer down on you). ii. Set up soft lighting at a side angle (not flat and frontal like a mug shot). iii. I moved my desk so the office door is no longer in my background (viewers get anxious thinking someone might walk in). Et voilà!
  • 🎥 Video: The new Write of Passage video dropped last week and, man, it gets me pumped about online writing! If you're curious to learn more about the course, click here. If you want to apply for a scholarship, click here.
  • 📚 Book: I'm currently reading Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World written by renowned economist Tyler Cowen and venture capitalist and entrepreneur Daniel Gross. They have an unconventional approach to identifying talent. During interviews they ask questions like: “How did you spend your morning today?” “What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from another human?” “What’s something weird or unusual you did early on in life?” Since candidates can't prepare for these questions, asking these questions can provide a glimpse of the candidate's personality and resourcefulness under pressure. It shows who the person really is, instead of interacting with a well-practiced robot.
  • ✏️ Visual: "How do you eat an elephant" by Visualize Value. With some big projects coming up on my side over the next few months, it's going to take discipline to juggle it all.

Until next time. Have a great week further and happy creating.

-- John


P.S. you can respond directly to this email or drop a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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Actuary and creator.

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