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What content has Paul Armstrong noticed recently, and why?
Good day to you all, depending on where you’re reading this from in the world!
This is the last of this interview format for a while. It’s proved really popular so expect to see it return later in the year. When we launched Attention Matters the plan was to use this platform to experiment with telling stories about audience attention in many different ways. If you’re new here and haven’t seen our previous experiment, do go to Scroll Stoppers or scroll back on the Substack archive to read it newsletter-style (they’re the first six episodes of this newsletter). Next week, we’re going to try something else, so make sure you check you email next Wednesday.
Paul Armstrong is Essex-born, and raised in LA. He helps people see round corners when it comes to emerging technologies, with TBD Group. He writes a fair bit for folks like Cool Hunting to The Information and created/write ‘What Did Amazon Do This Week?’ weekly(!). The hill he'll die on? GIFs are totally business appropriate.
I chose the theme for the latest TBD Conference (‘what matters’) after reading ‘Citizens: Why The Key To Fixing Everything Is All Of Us’ by Jon Alexander because the message blew me away. I found it on a completely unrelated Discord channel I am a member of to do with snacks called ‘Snaxshot’. If you like snacks and branding, find that channel - you’ll be drooling every day. The book hit me at the right time and crystallised my thinking on a few areas and helped me reinvent several elements of work and life to get more from both, and move into new areas that make sense for future goals.
I am always looking for new voices for TBD Conference and Badassery.HQ is a regular bookmark I check because they are always adding new and exciting people you haven't heard of and sometimes you need to see it not in your inbox, you know? You can book a whole conference of changemakers and doers via the site. I found it through a Google search when I was looking for Walmart execs. Their use of Airtable and openness is setting them apart from the stuffy and boring speaker bureaus of yesteryear. I take a look at least once a week usually because they add talent all the time, and I share it whenever someone has asked me for a recommendation.
Now you are hitting me where I go to church. I L.O.V.E. newsletters. They're so personal. Web Curios earns a descriptor I rarely use because it's so overused, but ‘epic’ works for it. Each issue oozes passion, loathing, longing and more. I credit it for helping me fall back in love with the internet and seeing how people are prodding it, using it to rebel, rebuilding, and testing it. The way it should be. I ruthlessly enjoy Matt’s tone, outlook and humour. It’s one of the emails that I read every word of and regularly find something to share with the TBD WhatsApp group, Twitter or client. I found it years ago, and it has kept me inspired but also enabled me to find sources for stories, speakers for TBD - amongst other things.
Equally, I thoroughly recommend giving your attention and money to Bruce Daisley’s Make Work Better for everything about the future of work, Ethan Mollick’s One Useful Thing for something interesting and helpful, and The Way We’ll Live Then which is all about ‘slow social’, by The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims.
The last thing I shared was a podcast recommendation to a friend who wants to ‘take back control’ of her time, when we were catching up at St Catherine’s Dock. Her feedback has been similar to mine: it’s changed my relationships, how I talk, introduce myself and a lot more. I have probably recommended this podcast to at least 100,000 people at speaking opps and on stage at TBD over the years. It’s utterly superb from several angles. The idea, the production, the content and its effect on you. Anyone who knows me knows it took me years and several attempts to get into podcasts. I still think 95% are better as one-paragraph blog posts, but hey, buy me a coffee, and we can debate.
This podcast episode is from This American Life (I know, probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I lived there for seven years, so I have an affinity). The episode surrounds the mother of a producer of the show and the seven things she never talks about, including health, dreams, diet etc. I won’t ruin them all because the show doesn’t just list them; it depicts multiple often shocking, although some poignant, scenarios that challenge her to say it’s ok to talk about these things. Spoiler alert(!), hardly many make it through. The episode reminds me that all time is precious, we aren’t here forever, and small talk is called small talk for a reason. I challenge anyone not to remove ‘route talk’ from their lives for a week and miss the activity.
That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to share this post with friends if you like it, and ask them to subscribe if they haven’t. And leave us a comment sharing anything you’ve found, saved, subscribed or saved - we love reading them.
See you next week, with the new format!