Anything noteworthy with a quick summary, notes or highlights.

Article: Harry Potter & the teller of truth

A really, really interesting opinion. The article starts with a big claim – JK Rowling has been the greatest contributor to the public good in the Western world in 20 years. The reasoning goes:

… recent studies across many countries are showing the best predictor of adult success in life is the single factor of child reading engagement and ability, often correlating with the number of books kept in the home. It is not the more commonly assumed influences of quality of school attended or the socio-economic status of parents.

And because Harry Potter has gotten so many people reading, it’s improved the lives of many.

The article then analyses what the story of Harry Potter has to say to Western culture. It's all very interesting. Quotes below.

One lesson to be drawn from Harry’s quest is that the human individual is required to live in contact with death, wrestling to tame the monster that sleeps in its cave, striving to find some harmonious and even intimate relationship to it. Harry is the master of just such a life. This reading, if correct, needs some digestion. It is most strange, and perplexing, in a children’s story addressed to the modern secular, sceptical world.

The principal archetype that Harry Potter taps into is the saviour as suffering servant.

Virtually all of the major Harry Potter themes and implied messages clash with the claimed mainstream beliefs and attachments of the age in which it was created.

Harry Potter speaks truth to times that are deceived about their own condition, and hypocritical in their self-deception, to times that are profoundly ill at ease in themselves.

PS. The article is behind a pay wall. If you want to read it, just email me at There’s also a podcast on the topic but the article is better.

Blog: How to write a cold email

While Sriram Krishnan’s post is about writing a cold email, what caught my attention was something he wrote about influential individuals; they are very good at responding to email.

Podcast: How to Get Rich – Naval

Naval explains principles for creating wealth which he first shared in a tweetstorm. The recording is long (3 hours, 35 minutes) as it’s is a collection of interviews merged together. I got a lot of value from this. Notes below.

Scholarly article: OPTIMAL theory

OPTIMAL is an acronym for Optimizing Performance Through Intrinsic Motivation and Attention for Learning. The theory explains three factors that help with learning new physical skills, and can probably be applied to learning generally.

The factors are (1) enhanced expectancies: improving expectations of how well a skill will be performed (2) learner autonomy: letting the learner make choices that relate and don’t relate to the movement task (3) external focus of attention: prompting the learner’s focus on the intended movement effect, away from the body – the further from the self, the better.

Not that fun to read but it has great insights.

P.S. Yes, I remade the the diagram because I thought I could make it look cooler.

Blog: How to be Phone-Free

Someone who has significantly reduced their screen time through using an Apple watch. Relevant to me because I spend large amounts of time on my phone and I massively enjoy exercise, calls and podcasts – all activities a watch and ear pods combo could help hugely with.