4 min read

Creators' Corner #9 - Return on Focus, actuaries that write and WOP8

Creators' Corner #9 - Return on Focus, actuaries that write and WOP8
The drawing I made for my latest essay (featured below). It's not the Mona Lisa, but it should get the message across ;)

Hey everyone 👋. Big news! 13 new people join us this week bringing the total up to 101 subscribers. I am blown away. Thanks so much for being an early subscriber and for the high level of comments and replies. I might have a whiskey tonight to celebrate the 100-up milestone.


Line-up this week:

  1. New essay: Return on Focus.
  2. Creator in the spotlight: Mark Farrell.
  3. Write of Passage 8: review.
  4. My Favourites: article and quote of the week.

1. Return on Focus

I published a new essay called Return on Focus (ROF), a play on the term Return on Investment (ROI).

Inspired by this quote by Shane Parrish:

You don't need more time, you need more focus. Fewer projects. Fewer commitments. Fewer obligations. Fewer responsibilities. Carefully choose what you commit to, then go all in.

In the essay, I explore three frameworks we can use to focus on the most important things in our life.

  1. The Non-Negotiables
  2. Get 3 As instead of getting 5 Bs
  3. Ask “Is this Necessary?”

One of the main lessons that emerged while writing this piece was that my non-negotiables (health, career and writing) are all connected. One thing supports the other. My health helps me to perform well in my career. My career gives me time and money to support my well-being and writing. My writing helps me reflect (mental health) and makes me perform better at my job.

Featuring guest appearances by actor Matthew McConaughey and the OG Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius.

Click the link to read the full piece -->

ROF: Return on Focus
We are all given a fixed amount of time per day. How we apply our focus determines our outputs. Similar to getting better returns on an investment (ROI), we can also gain from using our attention wisely, increasing our Return on Focus (ROF). You don’t need more timeWhen I

2. Creator in the spotlight: Mark Farrell

Mark Farrell, another actuary that blogs (one of the precious few!), reached out to me this week because I shared my writing on LinkedIn.

Mark is a lecturer at the Actuarial Department at Queen's University in Belfast and he runs a business and blog called Pro Actuary. He has done a brilliant job of cornering the actuarial science writing niche. Here is one of his recent posts on the 9 books every aspiring actuary should read.

We had a great conversation about the future of work, how he comes up with topics to write about and gaming the LinkedIn algorithm for better engagement. Chatting to him also showed me that it's possible to write about my work as an actuary.

Another reminder of the the importance of sharing our work to spark serendipity.


3. Write of Passage

Cohort 8 of Write of Passage came to a close on Wednesday. This was my second time taking the course and it was another incredible five weeks connecting with fellow writers. I have never come across such a talented and supportive community. It's one of the cornerstones for my writing habit.

In review of WOP8, I went back to the goals I set out initially:

  1. Crack out 5 more essays --> 3/5. I managed to post 3 out of 5 essays during the course and I have two drafts ready that I am excited to post over the coming weeks.
  2. Pass the elevator back down and share my learnings with new course mates --> 5/5. I created a guide to help other students: 7 Strategies for Getting The Most out of WOP. Bonus: I have joined forces with three other course mates (Melissa from the US but based in London, Adi from India and Ako from Japan) to set up ongoing Feedback Gyms for 30+ students now that the course is over.
  3. Keep chipping away at my personal monopoly --> 4/5. I am more confident than ever that I can turn writing into a side hustle.

4. My Favourites

Article of the week

This post from Nathan Barry, the founder of email marketing platform ConvertKit, on the importance of online writing.

Good things come to those who write
Most of my highest paid friends are writers or teachers.At first thought that sounds ridiculous. Generally those are two of the lowest paid professions around. English majors are told to enjoy their career at Starbucks. Teachers are respected, but know they’ll never be well paid. Teaching is mor

Key takeaways:

  1. "Writing is how you get attention. And in today's world attention is the most valuable resource."
  2. "Unless you’re writing a novel, good writing is about teaching. Most of my friends who make their living from writing wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves writers. Instead they are developers, freelancers, hobbyists, marketers, designers, and business owners."

Quote of the week

Thanks to Chris van der Westhuyzen for sharing.

Have a restful weekend and happy creating.

-- John


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