68: A Noble Profession


00:00:00   What a surprise! CGP Grey the podcaster, he made a YouTube video. Is this a new thing for you?

00:00:06   Very funny Myke. Very funny.

00:00:09   You know someone was monkeying around with my Wikipedia profile.

00:00:14   There was a Wikipedia discussion about what order those things should go in, right?

00:00:18   YouTuber or podcaster and podcaster or YouTuber.

00:00:21   And I saw there was like a little minor edit war over which way it should go.

00:00:25   I'm not sure what the current state of things is now.

00:00:27   now. But no, I make YouTube videos because I am, Myke, a YouTuber.

00:00:32   Oh, right now? CGB Grey is an American Irish podcaster and educational YouTuber. So a

00:00:38   podcaster currently wins.

00:00:40   Podcaster currently on top.

00:00:41   Yeah, I feel like it should just change around. So right now you can be a YouTuber if you

00:00:46   post a video within the next, I don't know, two months maybe? We can maybe switch it back

00:00:51   around again. But right now, I think you're a podcaster.

00:00:55   I leave it up to the Wikipedia gods, but I just thought that was funny.

00:00:59   I would say it is quite an honor to be a podcaster and to be considered as such, you know?

00:01:05   Yeah, no, it is.

00:01:07   Podcasting is a noble career.

00:01:09   Noble profession for anyone.

00:01:12   So what is the deal with the dragon video?

00:01:18   What's this one all about?

00:01:19   What do you mean, Myke?

00:01:21   This is just a regular video?

00:01:23   the

00:01:43   No, this one is a little different.

00:01:46   It is a tad different.

00:01:47   It is a 13-minute animated video in which you are reading a story.

00:01:51   That is basically the exact opposite of what you typically do, right?

00:01:59   Like that pretty much in every way, this is extremely different to the typical type of

00:02:06   video that you produce.

00:02:07   Well, I mean, you know, Myke, I like to, when I have the opportunity, I like to keep the

00:02:12   people guessing. You're an envelope pusher. You know. It's what everybody knows about

00:02:16   you. People get into ruts of expectations and then sometimes it can be nice to be surprised.

00:02:24   And of course from the perspective of someone who's actually making these things, it's

00:02:27   nice not to be caught in becoming a caricature of yourself over time. So I like to do different

00:02:34   things as well. Because you know, you always like to have things that are out of character

00:02:37   as you're well known.

00:02:40   - Again, anything that I do by definition

00:02:42   cannot be out of character.

00:02:44   That whole phrase makes no sense at all.

00:02:46   - Now part of your character is yarn weaver, right?

00:02:49   You know, that's, I guess that's part of what you are.

00:02:52   You just weave some wonderful tales with CGP Grey.

00:02:57   - Well, I think it's important at this point to say that,

00:03:00   no, I am not a yarn weaver,

00:03:03   because this is not a yarn that I have weaved.

00:03:06   I did not write this story.

00:03:07   This is, I wasn't quite sure how to describe it,

00:03:11   so I called it an adaptation of.

00:03:15   It's an adaptation of a,

00:03:17   it was actually a paper in a philosophical journal first

00:03:20   by Nick Bostrom called "The Fable of the Dragon Tyrant."

00:03:24   So it's from, I think like 2005,

00:03:28   and yeah, it was originally published as a paper.

00:03:31   And that is a thing that I have adapted into video form.

00:03:36   Why did you want to do this though?

00:03:38   So like, when did you come across this and like, what about it made you think?

00:03:43   Like, I don't want to make a video about this.

00:03:46   Like you have many times, right?

00:03:47   Where you will take a source material and make a video that is referencing the

00:03:52   source material, where in this instance you wanted to basically use that material

00:03:59   in its entirety with some modifications, right?

00:04:01   Like it's, it's different to the way that you would usually adapt to source.

00:04:06   There's a couple of things here.

00:04:07   Thing number one, for the past maybe two years,

00:04:12   I've had it in the back of my mind

00:04:17   that it might be interesting to do something

00:04:19   like a short story at some point.

00:04:22   I didn't have anything really actionable about it,

00:04:25   but it was just on my mental radar

00:04:27   of things I was keeping in mind in the world

00:04:30   and what am I looking out for and what can I possibly find?

00:04:33   So it was a thing I was scanning for in the world.

00:04:37   What eventually ended up happening,

00:04:39   to give the longer version of this then,

00:04:42   is viewers may remember that a little while ago,

00:04:47   I did a video about death, which got people quite worried.

00:04:50   I don't know why, I'm just talking about a topic,

00:04:54   but people were concerned.

00:04:55   - I think it was, again, was the problem.

00:04:57   That wasn't your first video about death.

00:05:02   - No, well, yeah, okay.

00:05:04   So, okay, so I did a couple of videos about death.

00:05:07   - I did a whole death series, you could say.

00:05:09   - Yeah.

00:05:10   Now, okay, so this is exactly it though.

00:05:12   Here was the original plan.

00:05:15   Me and my friend, Philip from Kurtzkazza,

00:05:19   we were talking about doing a little series on this topic.

00:05:23   And so back in October, we roughly had a plan

00:05:28   that we were each going to do like a pair of videos

00:05:32   every two weeks for a month or six weeks.

00:05:36   So in the end, the idea was going to be like,

00:05:39   there'll be six videos, we've each done three,

00:05:42   and the videos will cross-promote,

00:05:44   and they'll be talking about this topic

00:05:45   that we think is interesting,

00:05:48   and perhaps people haven't thought of it

00:05:50   in the way that we think maybe people should think of it.

00:05:53   - And you're referring to the fable?

00:05:55   - Well, okay, so the original plan

00:05:57   was that we were going to do several videos.

00:06:00   - Right. - Right, now,

00:06:01   In this plan, the fable that I have just uploaded was supposed to have been uploaded back in

00:06:09   November.

00:06:10   Ah, it was a part of the series.

00:06:13   Right, so it was going to be a part of the series.

00:06:17   There was going to be the first video that I did, which was called "Why Die?"

00:06:22   The little like footnote sort of follow-up thing, which was like, I don't know, like

00:06:28   almost like a little piece of concept art,

00:06:31   which was the 24 Hours of Death was the next one in that series.

00:06:34   But that was supposed to be just like the weird little middle one,

00:06:38   and then the fable was going to be the final one in this series.

00:06:44   That was the original idea.

00:06:47   But what happened is,

00:06:50   this project dramatically expanded in scope very quickly.

00:06:57   So the original idea was, I know what I can do to produce something quickly.

00:07:01   I'm going to take an already finished thing.

00:07:05   There's this short story.

00:07:07   All I have to do is I'm going to read it.

00:07:10   Because that removes the typical bottleneck,

00:07:12   which is how long it takes you to write a script, right?

00:07:15   Yeah, exactly.

00:07:15   That removes what is the bottleneck for me,

00:07:18   which is I spend a lot of time writing these things and I thought a thing has

00:07:24   already been written.

00:07:25   I have but to speak it aloud,

00:07:27   and then I have to work with an illustrator

00:07:30   who I've worked with before,

00:07:32   and get storybook images made.

00:07:35   Maybe it'll be a little bit like a Ken Burns documentary,

00:07:38   you know, a Civil War documentary.

00:07:39   We'll have some still images.

00:07:41   There'll be a little zoom in, little zoom out maybe,

00:07:44   little pan across these images.

00:07:47   But this should be a nice, quick, simple project.

00:07:52   But that is not what happened.

00:07:54   that is not remotely what happened.

00:07:57   - Did you get a little bit creative, Greg?

00:07:59   Is that the problem?

00:08:00   - Okay, there's a couple of problems.

00:08:06   - I became an artiste.

00:08:07   - Okay, problem number one.

00:08:13   Have you ever seen the behind the scenes videos

00:08:18   about the production of the original

00:08:22   Lord of the Rings trilogy, Myke?

00:08:23   [Laughter]

00:08:28   No, Grey.

00:08:29   Oh, I highly recommend them.

00:08:31   Grey, do you know I've only seen one of the Lord of the Rings movies and didn't like it?

00:08:35   Don't tell me this, Myke. I didn't hear that. I'm just going to keep moving on.

00:08:38   So, you just haven't -- it's like, it's understandable you wouldn't have seen these because I'm not sure if they exist in digital form,

00:08:44   but they were like DVDs back in the day. You had to buy like a huge big box set.

00:08:48   So it's understandable that you might not have come across them, because obviously you would be searching them out.

00:08:52   - I mean, obviously, I mean, I love Lord of the Rings.

00:08:55   - You do, excellent. - But I came to it

00:08:56   just a little bit late, I guess,

00:08:58   so I never had them on DVD.

00:08:59   - Yeah, you came to it late.

00:09:01   - Came to it late.

00:09:02   - I watch these things obsessively

00:09:05   because it was the first time that I had

00:09:09   ever seen explained the process of,

00:09:13   like, how do you take a book and turn it into a movie?

00:09:17   Now, in the modern world,

00:09:19   there are a million YouTube channels

00:09:21   channels that talk about the process of film and how do you do things and like the structure

00:09:25   that a film requires like this is a much more well known concept. It's much more out in

00:09:30   the world now. But back when the Lord of the Rings movies first came out, this was my first

00:09:35   exposure to this idea of like, we're a team of people trying to structure some movies,

00:09:42   and in particular, trying to structure what might be one of the most unfilmable series

00:09:50   of books that has ever been written. Like the Lord of the Rings does not translate well

00:09:54   into a movie and I think they did an amazing job doing that. I thought about this a lot

00:09:59   in the process of making this video because I originally thought I just need to read it

00:10:04   out loud but the very first few times when I read it out loud I realized oh no. It's

00:10:13   complicated. This does not work at all as a video. It suddenly becomes obvious when you sit down and

00:10:21   you think what am I going to have on the screen while I'm saying these words and as soon as the

00:10:29   door was open to I'm going to have to modify this document it's like all of what would have been

00:10:37   easy is now gone because now that seal is broken and I'm going to start doing my iteration

00:10:43   process so like I'm going to go over and over and over the story.

00:10:47   So did you, well so you considered that the complication was that you had to adapt it

00:10:50   not that it needed additional work in animating.

00:10:54   Yeah I mean that was going to be problem number two is I dramatically underestimated how many

00:10:58   images need to be on the screen that the time frame I had originally set out was an insane

00:11:03   man's time frame because I thought like oh there's only like 10 images I need and we

00:11:08   can get 80% of the way there. I was like nope nope not even remotely. But before that could

00:11:16   even happen was the process of trying to change it into something that could be a video. Now

00:11:24   here's the thing that original paper is indisputably more convincing and more interesting than

00:11:33   that I produced.

00:11:34   Like that paper is a famous paper for this very reason.

00:11:38   Like it's a good story and it goes through all of these

00:11:42   different like tangents that relate to a whole array

00:11:47   of aspects around this topic, which is the topic of death.

00:11:51   And it like is just incredibly well done,

00:11:55   but not all of it works in video format.

00:11:59   Like when you're explaining about how a hospital works,

00:12:02   Like it just, there are big sections where you can't really show it on screen.

00:12:07   And so it seems like it should be easy, but I thought about that, that Lord of the Rings documentary all the time,

00:12:14   because I remember the script writers seemed like they were like, "Oh God, we're having such a hard time with this."

00:12:19   And you sort of think like, "Oh, but don't you just, you just cut some parts and you put it together and bam, you've got a movie."

00:12:24   And you realize like, no, you have to cut parts, but still leave it as a coherent whole.

00:12:30   It still has to be the original thing that you're trying to make, like you're not making a thing from scratch.

00:12:35   You just have to be really selective about what is going to go.

00:12:40   And that just took far, far longer than I expected it would.

00:12:46   Did you find it harder to modify fiction?

00:12:51   Yeah, in some ways, because there are some little parts that I've added as well.

00:12:57   and I don't work in fiction.

00:13:02   - 'Cause I assume there was a little bit

00:13:04   of like a creator's dilemma there of like,

00:13:06   is it good enough?

00:13:07   'Cause you are taking something

00:13:08   that is an incredible piece of kind of fiction, right?

00:13:12   - Yeah.

00:13:13   - It's fiction, but like was a study, a paper.

00:13:15   But if you've got to add to it, it has to be good enough.

00:13:19   - Yeah, well, yeah.

00:13:20   And this is also like the pressure,

00:13:22   which is, this is a philosopher who is incredibly

00:13:27   well-renowned the world over with very important people,

00:13:31   and he's written this very important paper.

00:13:32   And I'm like, I'm gonna tweak it a little bit

00:13:34   here and there, right?

00:13:36   - I don't think you could do a bit more succinct.

00:13:39   Let me see if I can help you with that.

00:13:41   - Yeah, and that's what it is.

00:13:42   It's like, well, I'm gonna cut this down,

00:13:43   and it's like, oh God.

00:13:44   So it did, it was, that was a lot of pressure.

00:13:50   Like, I have gotten the thumbs up to the final production,

00:13:54   but it was a lot of pressure

00:13:56   and a very different kind of thing to do.

00:13:58   -So you communicated with the author about it?

00:14:00   -At the beginning, I contacted Nick Bostrom

00:14:02   to ask for permission because, like, I don't --

00:14:05   I want to make sure that you're okay with this project.

00:14:08   There have been other people who've tried

00:14:09   to do adaptations of this, but, like,

00:14:11   I want to make sure this is all above board.

00:14:13   And then at the end, like, I sent the final thing along,

00:14:15   and it was like, "Oh, great, thanks."

00:14:17   So I was hugely relieved,

00:14:19   as opposed to getting back an email of like,

00:14:21   you've totally misunderstood my work, you fool.

00:14:23   - What's wrong with you?

00:14:24   It's obvious.

00:14:25   Why did you ruin it?

00:14:27   - Yeah, so it was a lot of pressure,

00:14:32   but there are things that I'm really pleased with.

00:14:35   I did have to add some details when I took other things out.

00:14:39   So in the original version, the king doesn't have a wife.

00:14:42   There's no queen in the story at all.

00:14:45   So it's like I just added her as a visual element

00:14:47   that I think works really well.

00:14:49   - I think that's a good emotional moment

00:14:51   with the locket, I like that.

00:14:54   - Yeah.

00:14:54   - I think it added, honestly, I will say,

00:14:56   I don't know the original, but it personally added a lot

00:14:59   to the story for me because when the guy is pleading,

00:15:04   you should see the video, if you've not seen the video

00:15:06   at this point, it'll be in the show notes,

00:15:08   you can watch the video.

00:15:09   When the guy is pleading with the king,

00:15:11   it adds to the king's kind of motive

00:15:15   for why he thinks this is important.

00:15:17   if he is also lost.

00:15:18   I think that that is a,

00:15:22   it was for me an important part of the story

00:15:24   to show that the king's motivation is pure, right?

00:15:28   He feels like the dragon needs to be killed

00:15:30   and he understands that this guy's gonna lose his dad,

00:15:34   but everybody's lost someone,

00:15:35   he lost the most important person to him.

00:15:38   And again, I also like thinking back to it now,

00:15:40   that happened in between the moment

00:15:42   of them deciding this project or not

00:15:43   Because she's sitting behind him in the town meeting, right?

00:15:48   And so between then and the time they shoot the missile, he's had to send his wife away.

00:15:53   Yeah, in the canon of where the wife is, I feel like it's months before the final event

00:15:59   has occurred, because the last scene that she's in is she's there celebrating the successful

00:16:05   test launch with him.

00:16:07   And then, you know, you don't see her there anymore.

00:16:08   And it's like, at some point between those two events, she disappears.

00:16:12   then there's the king with the locket. So that came along relatively late, like maybe

00:16:20   three weeks before the final production, but I have to say I was really pleased with that

00:16:25   addition. I haven't really worked with fiction before, but I was like, I think this is a

00:16:29   detail that adds to this.

00:16:31   So you should be great. Author, podcaster, YouTuber.

00:16:35   Yeah, no, but I'm not an author. This is the thing that I've often thought, like if I hadn't

00:16:41   ended up doing YouTube or having this public career, I have often thought that a job that

00:16:48   I could be pretty good at would be like a second or third draft editor on movie scripts.

00:16:54   Like I could never write the original thing, but I've often thought like if I was the

00:16:59   second or third guy to look at a script, which is a very standard process when you're doing

00:17:03   movies like you have drafts and you send them off to different people, I thought like I

00:17:08   could do that. Not that I could ever create something from scratch, but I think I could

00:17:12   find the places where you don't need this plot line or like if you add this element

00:17:17   it would be a little better.

00:17:18   Like I can't do it, but I can tell you what's wrong with it. And that's like critics,

00:17:22   right? Like a film critic can't necessarily make a movie, but they can look at a movie

00:17:27   and they can tell you what they think should be changed. And that's just a different

00:17:31   skill set.

00:17:32   Yeah. But anyway, so like, it's just funny because this is a little moment in my life

00:17:37   It's like, "Oh, I got to kind of test this idea.

00:17:39   Like, can I actually do a draft on somebody else's story

00:17:43   and adapt it to a different medium?"

00:17:47   And I feel like I pulled it off pretty well.

00:17:50   Yeah, so in addition to adding elements,

00:17:51   it was just an enormous amount of trying to cut

00:17:54   and focus on just a few elements.

00:17:58   And I really think people should read the original paper.

00:18:03   Again, the original paper is better and more convincing

00:18:06   and more interesting in every way because you can do so much more with just written

00:18:12   text where it's less like you're having to hold people's visual attention while

00:18:18   there's related videos on the side trying to pull them away. Like it's a very different

00:18:21   medium, and I think it is better. But I'm super pleased with what came out of this in

00:18:29   the end, but it was… I'm gonna say, of all of the projects I have worked on in my

00:18:37   adult career, this is probably the one where I underestimated how much work it would be

00:18:43   by the most. Simply because I thought like, it will be straightforward and it isn't.

00:18:49   Yeah, and like it's not necessarily the thing you've worked on the longest, but

00:18:54   it was the, like, when you're looking at the ratios of how easy you think it's gonna

00:18:58   be in the time you allotted and how long it actually ended up taking.

00:19:01   Yeah, because I originally thought like, oh, this is going to be like a three week, four

00:19:05   week project at most. Like, whoops. No, it is not. No, it is not at all.

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00:21:20   It's also interesting seeing, like, cutting out parts

00:21:23   that you particularly like and realizing,

00:21:27   "Oh, this needs to go even though I like it."

00:21:30   And one that feels like a very cortex kind of scene

00:21:33   that's in the original is,

00:21:35   while this whole thing is going on with the dragon,

00:21:38   there is a rattlesnake infestation

00:21:40   that occurs in the kingdom.

00:21:42   And it's like, I love in the original paper

00:21:46   this rattlesnake infestation

00:21:48   because the purpose of it is the rattlesnakes are new

00:21:52   and people are scared of rattlesnakes,

00:21:54   and a couple of people have died from the rattlesnakes,

00:21:56   and it becomes this thing that the kingdom,

00:21:59   like, they demand right now,

00:22:00   like, you gotta get rid of this rattlesnake infestation.

00:22:03   And the whole point of it is to illustrate the idea

00:22:06   of the urgent versus the important.

00:22:09   - Ah, yeah. - And it's like,

00:22:10   the rattlesnakes are new and they feel urgent,

00:22:14   but they're not remotely important,

00:22:16   and they're a huge diversion from what the actual problem is.

00:22:21   - Like give it 10 years and you'll be sacrificed

00:22:23   into the rattlesnakes as well.

00:22:25   - Yeah, and it was like, it just like,

00:22:28   it hurt me to the core to lose,

00:22:31   I'm like, I love the rattlesnakes, right?

00:22:33   But I showed it to a couple of people and like,

00:22:35   dude, you gotta lose the rattlesnakes, nobody cares.

00:22:37   Like you're having this whole story about a dragon

00:22:39   and then you have this side tangent about rattlesnakes

00:22:41   and like, no, but it's really important,

00:22:42   the idea between the urge, like, it's not for this medium.

00:22:45   medium. Like this is a story that you can't tell in a video.

00:22:49   I actually agree with everything that I love the idea of that,

00:22:52   that is genius, but it would have been too much, too much to keep track of.

00:22:56   Like, why are there snakes? Like, how did they get rid of the snakes?

00:22:59   And then you forget about the dragon and all the dragons back, like it's too much.

00:23:03   It's just too much going on for what is a high concept that you're just walking

00:23:07   into as well, right?

00:23:08   Like the person presses play and then a book unfolds and they're given a story.

00:23:12   Like, there's enough time just trying to work out

00:23:15   what is happening before you can really latch on

00:23:17   to the story, so like keeping the story

00:23:19   as simple as possible probably worked out pretty well

00:23:23   for you, I think.

00:23:24   - Yeah, and the original would've just been way too long.

00:23:26   I think the first time I read it through

00:23:29   and I timed it, it was something like 30, 35 minutes

00:23:33   to get to the end at like a speaking voice.

00:23:35   - I will say, I think it would've kinda liked that.

00:23:37   Like, you know, as much as I enjoyed the video,

00:23:40   like I think I would want more of it.

00:23:42   Like, whilst I understand, it's probably too much,

00:23:45   I kinda like the idea of a 35 minute video,

00:23:49   but I'm probably very alone in this,

00:23:52   especially to YouTube's algorithm.

00:23:54   Me and the algorithm disagree significantly on this,

00:23:56   I would expect.

00:23:57   - This is a good example though,

00:23:59   of my feeling with so many things in life,

00:24:02   where you can never know if you get it exactly right,

00:24:05   but you can know which way is better to overshoot.

00:24:10   and this is a case in video format

00:24:13   where you always want to overshoot under, right?

00:24:16   It's much better to have a video that people feel like,

00:24:19   "Oh, I would like more of that."

00:24:21   - Overshoot under? - Versus a video

00:24:23   where people feel like.

00:24:24   - What is that phrase?

00:24:27   Overshoot under?

00:24:28   - You could overshoot over and you can overshoot under.

00:24:31   - All right, can I give you a better phrase

00:24:33   for this one, please? - No.

00:24:35   - Can we go with under promise and over deliver?

00:24:37   Can we go with that one?

00:24:38   - No, because that makes no sense in this context.

00:24:41   - Of course it does, Grey.

00:24:42   Overshoot under, what, like there's two basketball hoops

00:24:45   and like you go into the middle one,

00:24:47   which is still impressive 'cause it's 60 feet away

00:24:50   rather than the 90 feet, like I don't, you know, like--

00:24:52   - I think it makes perfect sense, Myke.

00:24:53   You just don't like my phrasing.

00:24:55   (laughing)

00:24:57   - That's kind of the problem.

00:25:00   I'm not disagreeing with the sentiment.

00:25:02   - The reason why I'm using overshoot under, right,

00:25:04   is like, okay, let me explain.

00:25:06   Is because again, the metaphor in my mind

00:25:08   with so many things is that you have a dial

00:25:10   and you want the dial to be set at the perfect marker,

00:25:14   but you don't know what that marker is, right?

00:25:18   Where exactly should that dial be turned?

00:25:20   So you can overshoot in both directions.

00:25:24   You can overshoot too much and you can overshoot too little.

00:25:27   Like you're missing the target.

00:25:29   And so like, which way do you want to go?

00:25:32   That's always the important question to ask.

00:25:34   And I think with video format,

00:25:36   too short is almost universally better than too long.

00:25:41   Without question, that's the way that you want to --

00:25:44   you want to err on that side.

00:25:46   That may not be the case with many other things,

00:25:49   but with this format, I really think it matters.

00:25:53   And after many, many, many dozens of revisions,

00:25:59   there was not a shorter version of that story

00:26:02   that I could have conceived of.

00:26:04   Like I tried to wring out every version I possibly could,

00:26:09   and the rattlesnakes were the last to go.

00:26:12   - Yeah, I mean, you know, I think you made the right decision.

00:26:14   Like I wasn't checking the progress bar, you know,

00:26:17   as the video was going, right?

00:26:18   And that's kind of like a warning sign to me.

00:26:21   You know, if I'm watching a video

00:26:22   and I tap the screen to see how far along I am.

00:26:25   - Yeah, that's always a bad sign.

00:26:27   - That's the death knell.

00:26:28   That's the death knell of a video, right?

00:26:30   Especially when you go into it,

00:26:32   it's like, oh, this is 13 minutes, right?

00:26:34   And you press play.

00:26:35   If I start tapping around minute two,

00:26:38   like you haven't done very well there, my friend, you know,

00:26:41   and I wasn't finding myself doing that.

00:26:43   Like it was gripping enough.

00:26:45   I do just want to circle back and say that I do not agree

00:26:48   with the metaphor that you have created still.

00:26:52   I agree with what you're trying to say.

00:26:55   I disagree with the metaphor.

00:26:56   I just want people to know that because I disagree.

00:27:00   In a different way to the Forest Fire one where I just flat out didn't like that.

00:27:04   Your objection has been noted.

00:27:05   I just need everyone to know that that phrase is poppycock and I don't like it.

00:27:11   What about the boulder?

00:27:12   Do you object to the boulder metaphor, Myke?

00:27:14   Or can we come back to that later?

00:27:16   I don't want to talk about that right now.

00:27:18   We actually may come back to that later on.

00:27:21   So I actually got a bunch of questions in our Cortex subreddit for you.

00:27:25   Oh yeah?

00:27:26   to pick a couple out from a post from the user QuirkyRain07 who asked some questions

00:27:32   that I thought very interesting as it pertains to the creation of this video. So I'll give

00:27:38   you a couple of these. So what was your role in making this video? Because with the script

00:27:45   you kind of serve more of an editor than a writer, right? Like you really, again, whilst

00:27:49   you adapted it, and we think we can see you've added to it, it wasn't an original kind of

00:27:55   idea and thought from you. And also there seemed to be significantly more asset creation

00:28:02   than usual. Animating, there was more music, there was also an illustrator, which I think

00:28:08   is kind of different to your usual process. So were you kind of acting as a director?

00:28:14   What was your role in the creation of this video? Were you way more involved than usual

00:28:20   in the kind of the piecing things together?

00:28:23   Well, I mean, it's listed in the credits, Myke. It's very clear. It says "adapted

00:28:28   and narrated by CGP Grey."

00:28:30   Right. So is that what you did then? You just gave the audio and then let everybody else

00:28:34   run on their merry way and then just a video popped out at the end of it?

00:28:38   Yeah. Well, I mean, I guess it could say "produced, adapted and narrated by CGP Grey."

00:28:44   Exactly.

00:28:45   But then I would look like an a**hole, right?

00:28:47   Surely you did do that though, or produced, directed, adapted and narrated by the renowned

00:28:56   author CGP Grey.

00:28:57   No, but I'm not an author at all.

00:28:58   I've written nothing.

00:28:59   Why do I keep getting that wrong?

00:29:00   This is also just to be really clear.

00:29:02   I don't know why, again.

00:29:03   I am edited at best.

00:29:06   By the world-renowned podcaster CGP Grey.

00:29:09   That's why you narrated it, because you're a podcaster, right?

00:29:12   You're used to the audio medium.

00:29:13   I am very used to the audio medium because I record all of the audio for my videos, Myke.

00:29:22   But yeah, I don't know what this role would be called, but it was a very different process

00:29:32   because in almost everything that I work with with other people, it's like I'm usually

00:29:41   working with one other person or one other person is the primary contact through which

00:29:50   other people exist, but I tend to just be very one-on-one in the way that I collaborate.

00:29:57   But this was the first time that it was much more of a coordination between the team.

00:30:07   And the thing that I think is throwing people off in the credits, so let me explain the

00:30:11   the roles like as it seems to me. So obviously I am adapting and narrating, that's obvious.

00:30:17   There's music and also sound design, which is obvious. That role is very clear.

00:30:22   But that's different though, right? Sound design. You don't usually have sound design

00:30:26   in your videos.

00:30:27   Yes, that is true. This is a thing that came up in the process that was suggested and I

00:30:32   was like, that is a brilliant idea that never would have occurred to me, like go for it.

00:30:36   Yeah, it adds a new dimension to it, sorry. I think that the sound effects were – I

00:30:41   I mean, you know anyone that is a Relay FM member knows Myke loves the sound effect.

00:30:46   He is sound effect wild and there are going to be some great sound effects this year.

00:30:52   Very excited. We'll talk about that later.

00:30:55   But if you want to hear Myke's handiwork with those sound effects, where can they go,

00:30:59   Myke?

00:31:00   relay.fm/membership. Sign up to become a member and you will get our bonus content

00:31:04   which includes a couple of text adventures that we've gone on together, including the

00:31:09   pronounced spooky manna.

00:31:11   - Yeah, there'll be plenty of sound effects in there for you.

00:31:15   So yeah, that was a thing that just didn't cross my mind,

00:31:18   but then it became part of the process,

00:31:20   and I was like, okay, great, this is way better.

00:31:22   But the one that seems to confuse people

00:31:23   is illustration versus animation.

00:31:25   So it's been interesting to get feedback

00:31:29   from people that I've shown it to,

00:31:30   because I'm looking at it in a very different way

00:31:33   than I think the viewers are.

00:31:36   but there are the actual drawings that you're seeing.

00:31:40   So there is the drawing of the dragon,

00:31:42   there's the king, there's the queen,

00:31:44   they're all of the people.

00:31:45   That to me is the illustration.

00:31:49   That's what's occurring there.

00:31:52   But what's not obvious behind the scenes

00:31:53   is the way we set it up is that almost all of those pieces

00:31:58   are done as separate little Photoshop drawings

00:32:02   so that they can all be moved by the animator,

00:32:05   the person who is animating the things, bringing them to life. But those are two separate roles.

00:32:13   Now, if you're just doing stick figures, an animator can very easily also be the illustrator

00:32:20   that can be the same person.

00:32:21   Because I think we spoke about this when you brought your animator on, that there was a

00:32:26   library of assets already created by you, right, that they were taking from primarily,

00:32:32   creating their own when necessary, but it's very different and this is in a very different

00:32:38   style.

00:32:39   Yeah, and to go back to those episodes when we were talking about me bringing on an animator

00:32:43   in the first place, one of the questions, one of the things I was really looking for

00:32:47   because it was my first like real hire in quotes, was I was trying to find someone who

00:32:54   could play both of those roles. I was aware that that might not be possible, but that's

00:32:58   that I was really hoping for.

00:32:59   So like with the first person,

00:33:01   I want to be able to find someone who can,

00:33:03   who can both do new stick figure drawings

00:33:06   in a way that looks like my style

00:33:08   or even improves upon my style, which totally has.

00:33:11   - Same person. - And can also animate.

00:33:14   Like I'm looking for those things.

00:33:16   And now is the first time,

00:33:20   and there may be exploratory motions in the future

00:33:22   in different directions for this,

00:33:23   where it's like, oh, maybe I can look at bringing someone on

00:33:27   who is just an animator, right? Or who is someone who is just an illustrator.

00:33:32   To be more ambitious.

00:33:34   Yeah, this was an interesting project for me because it was the first time and it was

00:33:37   a way I really could see that by, you know, like the whole of the economy, by increasing

00:33:44   the specialization that people can do, you can do more.

00:33:46   Yeah.

00:33:47   Right, where it's like, I can't write music, I can't draw that well, I can't

00:33:51   that cleverly. But I can act as a coordinator between these people and I can bring my skills

00:33:59   to the table, which is the editing and smoothing down and simplifying of a complicated thing.

00:34:07   And then all of those elements together become something that none of us could have produced

00:34:13   individually. And so it was just really interesting to see because it just made it so

00:34:21   different than anything else that I've put together before. And again, I have to say

00:34:27   I'm really, really pleased with the way it came out.

00:34:30   I think you should be. I'm watching it silently here as we're talking because it would be

00:34:37   really distracting to listen to it as well.

00:34:39   Yeah, I think that would be hard.

00:34:41   But it is visually… I mean, you know, I'm not trying to suck up to you here, but this

00:34:48   could be on TV.

00:34:49   You're not sucking up to me because I didn't draw or animate any of the visuals.

00:34:54   Then I'll suck up to your animator and illustrator.

00:34:57   The visuals here are as good as something I could imagine watching on like children's

00:35:03   TV, right?

00:35:04   Like, you know, like that this would be an educational program that might be on the BBC

00:35:07   or something.

00:35:09   Because it is such a striking and kind of original style, like the way that everybody

00:35:15   I feel like I have and haven't seen this type of way of depicting people before.

00:35:23   It's kind of unique in its own way.

00:35:25   It is very, very attractive.

00:35:28   I think the time, and I'm expecting significantly increased budget required to do it this way,

00:35:38   was worth it.

00:35:39   I'm looking at this and I think that it was worth it, and that does actually lead me into

00:35:44   a question which about 25 people have asked me about the money involved in this. Like,

00:35:52   obviously this was a more expensive thing to do. Is the ROI calculation positive and

00:35:58   does that matter?

00:35:59   Peter: Yeah, well, at the time of recording, the final bill has not come due. So I can't

00:36:10   like exact comparisons to other projects but easily, easily just ball parking it in my

00:36:19   head compared to other projects that I've worked on. When you factor in the amount of

00:36:23   time that was spent, when you factor in the dramatically increased cost and the ungodly

00:36:31   number of human hours that have been poured into this thing, it has to be one of the worst

00:36:39   return on investment projects I have yet worked on. It's measured in those terms of like dollars

00:36:48   back per dollar time hour spent. I think it's got to be near the very bottom of projects

00:36:55   that I've worked on.

00:36:56   Right, but this, you know, coupling with what we were just talking about, this can be the

00:37:02   problem with assuming that all work must be positive on revenue generated alone, because

00:37:12   this project has shown you that, "Oh, I can make significantly more exciting and interesting

00:37:18   things if I have an animator." Well then, if you factor that into potential future revenue,

00:37:24   this is a very different equation, right? You may look at this video right now and be

00:37:29   "Well, lost money on that one."

00:37:31   But in a year, you could be like,

00:37:33   "Oh, well, then we brought on this animator as well,

00:37:36   and our videos became significantly more popular,

00:37:40   and we made significantly higher returns on every video."

00:37:43   And then it changes the equation for this one, right?

00:37:46   - Yeah, I mean, there's a few things here.

00:37:50   The one that I wanna say is like,

00:37:52   we'll get to the business end of it in a second,

00:37:54   so let's not forget that.

00:37:56   But on a personal level, this was a project

00:38:00   that was really important to me.

00:38:02   And I was very aware of everybody I worked with

00:38:07   had just total free reign.

00:38:10   Like anything you can think of to do to make this better,

00:38:13   just go for it.

00:38:14   Like I'm not checking in with billable hours.

00:38:18   Like just go. - Not nickel and dime

00:38:19   on this one. - Yeah.

00:38:20   Like I don't want progress reports

00:38:22   on how much you're spending this week.

00:38:24   I don't want any of this.

00:38:25   Like, if you think it can be better,

00:38:27   if you think it can be better, just go for it.

00:38:29   And part of that was,

00:38:34   because this was originally intended as this little series,

00:38:39   this little crossover series,

00:38:40   I was really disappointed with the way

00:38:44   my first video came out in that series.

00:38:46   Like, I just don't-- It was not what I wanted it to be.

00:38:49   And probably is one of the videos I'm the most unhappy with

00:38:53   in the past many years.

00:38:54   Which one was that one?

00:38:55   It's the Why Die one.

00:38:57   Okay.

00:38:58   24 Hours of Death.

00:38:59   I love that one.

00:39:00   I think that one's great.

00:39:01   Genius.

00:39:02   I mean, I really liked Why Die.

00:39:03   I mean, it's not my favorite CGP Grey video of all time, but like, I enjoyed it.

00:39:08   The thing that is disappointing to me is like, there's...

00:39:10   Whenever you create anything, there's the idea of it in your head, and then there's

00:39:13   the ugly reality of what you have birthed.

00:39:17   And boy, boy are those things different sometimes.

00:39:21   But sometimes you feel like, you know,

00:39:23   after you have birthed the thing

00:39:24   and you're looking at like the blood all over your hands

00:39:27   and this mess of meat that you're holding,

00:39:28   you're like, "How did this happen?"

00:39:31   - Why do you write metaphors this way now?

00:39:33   Like what is going on?

00:39:35   (laughing)

00:39:36   - I think it's a good metaphor.

00:39:37   But it's like, it looks horrible.

00:39:41   You're like, "This is not what I was intending

00:39:42   "to create in the world at all."

00:39:45   And I think the why die one is probably the one

00:39:48   where the version of that in my head

00:39:49   is the most different than the thing

00:39:52   that I ended up creating.

00:39:53   But we don't need to revisit it.

00:39:55   There were a lot of constraints

00:39:55   around the production of that.

00:39:58   But it's partly why I really felt

00:40:00   that just by the choice of projects,

00:40:02   it happened to be that what I was intending

00:40:04   to be the third and final thing in this little series

00:40:07   basically gave me a chance to try to redo that first one.

00:40:13   And so that was also why I really want this to be good.

00:40:18   be good. And I don't want to make another thing and feel like, "Oh, man, I only got

00:40:26   one out of the three that I was aiming for." And now I feel like, "Oh, I got two out

00:40:30   of three. I'm pretty happy about this." And so that was part of the reason.

00:40:36   Other part of the reason is I do think it's an important topic to talk about. And it sure

00:40:42   does bring out a lot of interesting conversation, much more so than other topics I touch upon.

00:40:48   which you can see from the crazy number of comments on the video and in the Reddit.

00:40:52   Which never hurts.

00:40:53   It never hurts. It never hurts.

00:40:55   It can be weird, but it doesn't hurt.

00:40:58   It doesn't hurt.

00:40:59   14,000 comments? My word! That's a lot of comments.

00:41:04   There's a lot of discussion going on about the video.

00:41:08   Yeah, the YouTube numbers are crazy as well.

00:41:11   That's wild. I've just looked at the comment numbers on the rules for rulers,

00:41:15   which I think is your most popular,

00:41:16   or one of your most popular videos,

00:41:17   six million views, that has 19,000 comments.

00:41:21   The current video is approaching a million

00:41:24   and it has nearly as many.

00:41:27   That's wild.

00:41:28   That's really crazy, wow.

00:41:29   - So it's like, yeah, the comment view ratio

00:41:32   is six times higher than rules for rulers.

00:41:34   - Yeah.

00:41:35   - Yeah, it brings out some interesting conversation.

00:41:39   (laughing)

00:41:41   - That I will not take a part in, but it can happen.

00:41:44   We can skip right by for the moment.

00:41:46   (laughing)

00:41:47   But I can just say people sometimes have some very

00:41:49   interesting interpretations of things.

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00:43:42   (beep)

00:43:43   I do feel much more responsibility on the videos

00:43:45   where I'm working with somebody else's material

00:43:48   as opposed to assembling something on my own.

00:43:51   So the previous video about how machines learn,

00:43:54   like that video I put in front of people

00:43:57   who have talked about the topic

00:43:58   or like I send off to some experts

00:44:00   and like I wanna get the topic right

00:44:02   and I feel really good when people see the topic

00:44:07   and they send back and they're like,

00:44:08   "Oh yeah, you've done a good job explaining this."

00:44:11   But it's very different when I'm adapting the book of an author, right?

00:44:16   And this one was even more so.

00:44:18   It's like, I'm not even trying to convey the ideas in your story.

00:44:22   I'm trying to make a version of your story that's a video.

00:44:26   Fiction's harder because nonfiction is like facts and research and you can be like, well,

00:44:30   I did this research and I don't agree with your point.

00:44:33   I think of it this way and this is what I'm pointing to and saying, you know, there you

00:44:37   go.

00:44:38   That's why I disagree with this.

00:44:39   If you're taking somebody's imagination and telling them, like, "I think it should be

00:44:43   done differently," that's an emotional thing that you're giving to that person.

00:44:48   Yeah.

00:44:49   So that's also why I really felt like just as many human hours as is necessary to make

00:44:55   it good, like, let's go for it.

00:44:57   Although even there, you know, you have to set some limits.

00:45:02   Go draw the line somewhere.

00:45:03   You have to draw the line for yourself because, you know, Myke, I know I told you that I built

00:45:08   black monolith that I'm in for you and podcasting.

00:45:12   But that wasn't really truthful.

00:45:15   It's very useful for podcasting.

00:45:17   But the whole saga of building the black monolith

00:45:19   was entirely motivated by this project.

00:45:22   That I wanted to have a much better audio setup.

00:45:25   - You want a clean audio.

00:45:25   - I want clean audio.

00:45:27   I wanted something that was at least,

00:45:30   I knew I couldn't replicate it,

00:45:32   but I wanted to get something that was at least close

00:45:35   to the cleanliness of audio books

00:45:37   when you have high production values for those.

00:45:40   Like I did as best as I think I could do as an individual

00:45:44   for approaching that level.

00:45:45   - Well, I mean like considering how much money

00:45:47   you threw at this project,

00:45:48   why didn't you just like hire a studio for a day?

00:45:51   - I seriously considered it,

00:45:53   but one of the reasons I knew hiring studios

00:45:56   wouldn't be great is because I knew I was gonna end up

00:45:59   doing multiple takes of this,

00:46:00   which certainly happened over a long period of time.

00:46:03   - And that doesn't work.

00:46:04   There were three different versions of the audio composed from, I think in the end, eight different takes.

00:46:12   And each time I was trying to get it better and more what I would want it to be.

00:46:18   And this is where I did stop myself because I still don't like that final take.

00:46:24   I feel like it's very close, but it's not really perfect of what I would want.

00:46:28   But this is also a case where I had to set some limits for myself and say,

00:46:32   - All right, after eight takes, we're done.

00:46:35   You don't like, it's not perfect.

00:46:36   - You're probably not gonna do any better than this, right?

00:46:38   Like you can keep trying,

00:46:40   but it's just gonna be wrong in different ways.

00:46:43   - Yeah, I think I could have done better

00:46:44   if I had more time.

00:46:45   - How much more time?

00:46:46   - But at a certain point,

00:46:48   I am the bottleneck in the process

00:46:50   where the animation, the illustrations,

00:46:53   they need to be moved against the actual audio,

00:46:56   I'm going to say,

00:46:57   so we can see like, where are we missing?

00:47:01   Like where are our images on the screen too long?

00:47:04   What doesn't quite work with the exact timing

00:47:07   of the way I've said things?

00:47:07   Like there's so many details that hang on

00:47:12   finalizing the audio that this was a place

00:47:15   where it's like I got it 90% of the way

00:47:16   where I want it to be and I'm gonna have to stop myself

00:47:20   'cause I will rerecord this for another month

00:47:23   if I have my way.

00:47:24   - And I guess the problem is you're about to start traveling

00:47:27   for the summer, so you didn't have any more time to record it in the black monolith, right?

00:47:34   Like this was it, right? You can't push it on three more months because otherwise

00:47:38   this video comes out in November.

00:47:40   Matthew: Yeah, there is a very… we were really down to the wire on this one, where

00:47:47   if this video had not come out when it did, which is a couple of days ago as we're recording,

00:47:52   it probably wouldn't have come out until after the end of the summer, precisely because

00:47:57   people's schedules are all of a sudden less available.

00:48:00   I'm less around.

00:48:01   So like we were really pushing it to get it out

00:48:03   by the end of April,

00:48:04   because we knew like we're gonna start,

00:48:06   it's going to get into that time

00:48:08   where there are just big delays

00:48:10   because someone isn't available.

00:48:12   Very often that would be me

00:48:14   and you just can't move the thing forward.

00:48:17   So yeah, it was like, we gotta get it out at this time.

00:48:21   And that was partly what was,

00:48:23   I was able to tell myself like,

00:48:24   I can stop recording this audio

00:48:25   because otherwise we don't have a chance of making it.

00:48:29   - So what about the business side then?

00:48:30   You said we're gonna come back to the business side.

00:48:32   We've done the personal ROI part.

00:48:34   - Yeah, I mean I guess you can do art above commerce

00:48:39   sometimes, but not all of the time.

00:48:43   - And there's nothing wrong with that.

00:48:44   I do this almost on a weekly basis.

00:48:46   I produce things that I know I'm never gonna make

00:48:48   any money on because I want to make them.

00:48:51   - What is your most recent art over commerce project?

00:48:54   Like what's something like that that you've done recently?

00:48:57   - Streaming Portal 2 for eight hours.

00:49:00   (laughing)

00:49:02   You know?

00:49:03   - That's not profitable, Myke?

00:49:05   - It will be eventually.

00:49:06   - Uh-huh, but not today.

00:49:08   - It is, my first, this first stream,

00:49:11   I didn't make any money on it.

00:49:13   But you know, it is in like, and I guess the same

00:49:15   kind of thing that you're thinking of with the animation,

00:49:19   right, like I did this thing and it cost me a bunch of money

00:49:22   but this actually might work out to be a good thing in the future.

00:49:25   And that's how I'm approaching stuff like this.

00:49:28   I think in the future it could become a thing,

00:49:30   but right now I would do it purely for the love of it.

00:49:33   - Yeah.

00:49:35   My thoughts on this project is,

00:49:37   especially when you're self-employed,

00:49:41   I think it's really important to be trying out

00:49:48   different things and to just have your mind

00:49:52   on different stuff because it's really easy

00:49:58   to put your head down and just always work

00:50:03   on the thing that's successful and that's great.

00:50:06   You can double, triple, and quadruple down

00:50:09   on the successful thing and keep your head down,

00:50:11   but if you do that all the time,

00:50:12   if you don't ever look up and try different things,

00:50:16   you may not recognize as the landscape shifts underneath you.

00:50:21   So this is a project that I can justify

00:50:23   from a business perspective purely for the fact

00:50:26   that it is good to do new things

00:50:29   and it's good to try out different ways of producing stuff.

00:50:34   In a more direct business way,

00:50:38   like there have been places that have opened doors

00:50:43   about doing a big series for other places.

00:50:48   (laughing)

00:50:51   - Just when you're walking down the street

00:50:54   and someone's door opens and they're like,

00:50:57   "Come on, make a series."

00:50:58   - You know, it's just like sometimes that's a thing

00:51:02   that can come up in conversations with places.

00:51:07   Places near or places far, who knows?

00:51:10   - Yeah, who knows?

00:51:12   - Who knows?

00:51:13   No one knows, really.

00:51:14   - I was just talking in general.

00:51:15   But now in a very small way,

00:51:18   I have at least some concept of what it's like

00:51:23   to work with a tiny team.

00:51:27   You know, again, I'm really only working

00:51:28   with three people here,

00:51:29   but it's a big difference between working with one person.

00:51:34   And it becomes exponentially more difficult.

00:51:38   And I would feel like if I ever did something

00:51:44   that was much more complicated and involved many more people,

00:51:50   I would have at least some better idea

00:51:52   of what to expect going into that,

00:51:55   as opposed to if we rewind the clock six months,

00:51:58   like, I really wouldn't have any sense

00:52:00   at all of what that would be.

00:52:02   And part of that means recognizing the parts

00:52:05   where I'm not good at that.

00:52:09   Like we're talking about like,

00:52:10   "Oh, this video came out and it's like amazing

00:52:12   and I'm really happy with it

00:52:14   and like I couldn't imagine anything that's better."

00:52:17   But like, I'm not always the best at working with people

00:52:20   and it's like, it's useful just to have a sense of like,

00:52:23   where am I better or where am I worse with this?

00:52:25   Like, how does the process work better

00:52:28   or how does the process work worse?

00:52:30   And like, maybe that's applicable in the future,

00:52:32   maybe it's not.

00:52:32   but that's a kind of thing just to know for the business and for myself.

00:52:40   So not every individual project needs to be ROI positive,

00:52:45   and this one may or may not be,

00:52:46   but I'm very pleased with the way it came out in the end.

00:52:50   (chime)

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00:53:12   When you start a project, you need a domain name.

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00:54:37   How's that journal going, Myke?

00:54:40   Well, the journal we spoke about before no longer exists.

00:54:43   Oh, so poorly then.

00:54:45   No actually.

00:54:46   Oh!

00:54:47   Little fake out for you.

00:54:48   I got a new journal.

00:54:49   Ah, it's like the Phoenix Journal rising from the ashes of the other one.

00:54:54   - Exactly.

00:54:55   So I had a slight problem with the structural integrity

00:54:58   of my previous journal.

00:54:59   I created the cardinal sin of removing pages

00:55:03   from the beginning of the journal

00:55:05   before I started using it,

00:55:06   which meant the cover started to come off.

00:55:09   I should have known better, but nevertheless.

00:55:11   And then I decided to go down a different route.

00:55:14   I will put links in the show notes to what I bought.

00:55:17   There's no point in me explaining it,

00:55:18   but it is a really nice paper made in Japan,

00:55:22   and it is a company called Hobonichi

00:55:24   and they make these specific journal products,

00:55:28   like journaling products.

00:55:30   And what I like about it is there is a page for every day

00:55:34   and it's just blank, it's just got the date on it.

00:55:37   So it's not really boxing me in.

00:55:40   So it's a smaller book, so because it's smaller,

00:55:44   I've had to refine my questions

00:55:46   because I don't have much space anymore.

00:55:48   But I actually, having done my journal for a bit,

00:55:52   I found a different feel for what I wanted to be putting in it.

00:55:58   So I want to give you a recap of the questions that I was using and now what I've changed

00:56:03   to, which actually means that I now need to get both of these journals in front of me.

00:56:08   Okay, so journal one.

00:56:10   Before I changed over, I was asking every day, what are my priorities?

00:56:15   A good thing that's happened, a bad thing that's happened, what I'm looking forward

00:56:19   what I have learned, what is on my mind, and the pens that I've used. That was

00:56:24   what was going in on a double page every day. So now I've moved down to a

00:56:28   notebook which is single page every day and the single page is probably about a

00:56:35   third smaller. So a lot had to go, right? So I started looking at what I

00:56:43   had. I decided the first one to go was priorities because all I was doing was

00:56:48   just patting myself on the back every day. It was kind of pointless really. It didn't

00:56:52   really give me any kind of feeling of like, "Congratulations, you did this thing."

00:56:55   All I was doing was opening Todoist, writing some of my tasks down, and then ticking them

00:56:59   off at the end of the day. It quickly... the dopamine rush of that quickly went away.

00:57:05   Right.

00:57:06   Right? Like when I started the journal, it was lovely to be like, "You accomplished

00:57:10   these three things." But ultimately, it just became like, "Why am I writing these

00:57:14   things down again? They're already written down." So that went quickly.

00:57:17   - Yeah, I've like, I really struggled with that thing too,

00:57:22   where there's like a use in prioritizing three things

00:57:26   that need to happen, but I always find any kind

00:57:31   of information duplication, it's just,

00:57:34   I cannot maintain it for long periods of time.

00:57:37   It's like, oh, this thing's here and it's there.

00:57:39   - You start doing it for long enough, and it's like, well,

00:57:43   if I'm only saying my priorities are three things,

00:57:45   why do I do everything else?

00:57:47   And then it's the question of, well, they're also important things, which is why I do them.

00:57:51   So then it's, well, what's the point in me doing this in the first place, right? Like,

00:57:54   I either start listing everything that's truly important or remove things that aren't. And I

00:57:59   didn't really get any specific learning from performing that activity. I can imagine that

00:58:04   activity being very valuable for a lot of people. But for me, over time, the value of writing that

00:58:11   down every day waned quite quickly. So for me, writing down my pens every day is something that

00:58:17   that I like to do because this whole process, and one of the reasons that it has stuck for

00:58:26   me is that I love my pens and I don't get to use them as much as I would like and my

00:58:33   little self-imposed rule of using two pens every day and they cannot be the same pens

00:58:37   as the day before means that I'm using a lot more of the stuff that I love. I'm changing

00:58:42   it every day. So there's just a little space right at the very top of the page where I

00:58:46   I just write down the name of the pen and that makes me happy.

00:58:50   And then I was thinking, I was going back to kind of like the core of what this thing

00:58:54   was for in the first place, which was to help me kind of just really think about what is

00:59:00   going on in my life and focus on the impact that things are having on me and kind of looking

00:59:06   at it and seeing what I can do.

00:59:08   So very quickly, good and bad thing made the cut because they were kind of like the crux

00:59:14   of doing this in the first place.

00:59:16   down a good thing, writing down a bad thing, allowing me to reflect on those and seeing

00:59:21   if and how they keep popping up. That was very useful for me.

00:59:25   The same with looking forward because that has been very valuable to me in understanding

00:59:30   that there's always something good on the horizon and just taking time to think about

00:59:35   that every day and also with the self-imposed rule of not repeating the same thing two days

00:59:40   in a row makes me value things that are coming up. So that's been very good too.

00:59:46   And then the other thing that I kept came from you, which was originally in my old journal

00:59:52   On My Mind, but it's changed in the new journal to Think/Feel.

00:59:58   So this kind of encompasses the learn as well, because that's where I kind of put stuff like

01:00:03   that.

01:00:04   Like if I've learned some things that I find interesting, it will go in Think and Feel,

01:00:07   because typically they're either things that I think or feel.

01:00:10   That doesn't get completed every day.

01:00:12   good, bad, and looking forward will get completed every day. Although sometimes there isn't

01:00:18   a good thing or there isn't a bad thing. There's typically always a good thing that I can write

01:00:21   down but something that I enjoy is not every day a bad thing gets written in. I think that

01:00:26   that can be a nice feeling. But I try my best to fill as much as I can out of every one

01:00:30   of these every day. It has also become a weekday only task for me. It is a very work focused

01:00:39   journal.

01:00:40   journal. That's an interesting idea. Because if I'm finding that I'm just putting work

01:00:47   stuff in there, if I'm putting stuff in on the weekend, it maybe means I'm working too

01:00:51   much on the weekend. So enforcing that as a practice for me, I actually found to be

01:00:57   not good, so I don't do that. The other reason I bought this journal, Gray, was it gave me

01:01:05   a way to start having daily active questions from Triggers. Because what this journal has

01:01:13   in it is also a monthly calendar view with a little square for every day. So what I have

01:01:20   is, I have my questions written down the side of the page, and then in each daily box I

01:01:25   give myself a score out of five for every one of those questions, and then add them

01:01:29   up to see my daily score. So it's given me a way of finding a way to put this information

01:01:37   on paper which I wanted. I wanted it in the same place as my journal because they are

01:01:41   a process that goes hand in hand. And I also wanted it to just be on paper. That was just

01:01:46   the way that I liked it. And then when I'm finished with my journal for the day, I complete

01:01:51   my active questions too. I'll give just a refresh of my seven questions. Be creative,

01:01:56   advance new ideas, generate revenue, make colleagues feel valued, do good for Edina,

01:02:01   engage my audience and improve my health. They are my seven questions. And I give myself

01:02:06   a score out of five. There is no scale for this score. Like I haven't defined what each

01:02:12   of these mean. It is more for me just how did I think I did today? And that is kind

01:02:18   of like, I know that that is a very loosey goosey way of scoring myself. But that's kind

01:02:24   of all this system feels to me really, it's just a way for me to reflect on how I feel

01:02:29   I have done in a day to give myself some data.

01:02:32   Soterios Johnson Yeah, this is the loosiest, goosiest system

01:02:35   ever.

01:02:36   Like the whole journaling thing, it's not scientific.

01:02:41   Today I feel exactly 4.2 on making colleagues feel valued.

01:02:45   Adam Backman Exactly.

01:02:46   So like, you know, so it's just how I feel on each day.

01:02:50   like all good data. It has given me something already. So I've been doing this for the whole

01:02:57   month of April, by and large, except when I've been traveling or it's been the weekend

01:03:02   or whatever. And I have noticed something very interesting, which ties in with a personal

01:03:08   hypothesis. I am a person who travels a lot, and I enjoy traveling because when I travel

01:03:17   I'm typically going to do something that I enjoy and I'm with people that I care about and it's always a good time.

01:03:23   I spent the first four months of the year

01:03:27   not traveling, having spent the previous like eight months going somewhere every month.

01:03:34   What do you think was the furthest you were from your home in the last four months before travel started?

01:03:41   Mmm

01:03:44   Not far man like within an hour

01:03:47   Right, okay

01:03:50   Not far and I

01:03:53   believed as

01:03:56   The time was drawing to a close of being just stuck in London

01:04:02   But my mood was declining because of it like I was kind of feeling maybe a little bit grounded or trapped

01:04:09   you know, I wasn't liking it and

01:04:13   And my scores started declining

01:04:16   Leading up to going to the Atlanta Pen Show

01:04:20   When I have come home, the scores are significantly different. So going from in the week prior

01:04:27   scores of 15 out of 35

01:04:31   15, 17, 18 to coming back and I have not scored myself lower than

01:04:38   24 in the last week and a half

01:04:41   Mm-hmm

01:04:42   I feel better like I feel rejuvenated in general and it's coming through in the work that I'm doing

01:04:47   I feel more energized again because I am entering a period of knowing that I'm getting into my normal rhythm again

01:04:54   So I'm working differently

01:04:56   I'm working harder and faster in the time that I'm in London and I have things to look forward to and

01:05:01   new ideas and things that I'm able to put some work into because of the fact that my

01:05:07   Usual rhythms are coming back

01:05:10   so

01:05:11   The daily active questions. I will really enforce this as a very good thing

01:05:17   If you can find a system that works for you because having only done it for a month

01:05:22   I can already see the benefits of having this information. It's very much like time tracking the actual daily

01:05:29   Benefit of time tracking is almost zero right me spending the time to track what I'm doing every day

01:05:36   Does nothing for me every day, but when I want to find out a piece of information about myself, I have this huge

01:05:43   Dataset to draw from and it's taught me some very interesting things

01:05:49   You know

01:05:49   We spoke about this at the beginning of the year like when it comes to setting my yearly themes and thinking about the things that

01:05:55   I want to do every year. I have this data set of

01:05:57   by and large

01:06:00   Every time I have spent any time working over

01:06:04   65 days

01:06:05   What did I spend my time on that is an incredible source of information?

01:06:10   And it's why I continue to time track all of my work every single day

01:06:15   Because maybe in December I'm gonna need it

01:06:19   And that's the same for me now with the active questions

01:06:23   It is a very quick thing for me to do. It takes no more than a couple of minutes

01:06:28   I should also mention as well a

01:06:31   A friend of mine listens to the show and reached out and they're doing it too and we are reporting

01:06:36   to each other.

01:06:37   Oh, so you're going all in on the triggers method.

01:06:41   You have an accountability buddy.

01:06:42   I have an accountability buddy, a guilt friend.

01:06:45   Yeah, we didn't mention that I think in the actual discussion of the book review, the

01:06:49   idea that you're supposed to have somebody check in with you on those questions.

01:06:53   To make sure that you're both following them and also as a person to ask questions, which

01:06:58   we have been doing to each other of why are you scoring yourself one on that every day?

01:07:02   Yeah, it's like, as I think I have made very clear, I feel this is almost weird resentment

01:07:08   to journaling and how effective it is at all sorts of things because it's so touchy feely

01:07:15   and the accountability buddy, I do not deny that that would be even more effective but

01:07:23   It's just, it's a bridge too far for me.

01:07:26   It's like, I'm sorry, I can't go down that bridge.

01:07:28   - I will say, when he recommended it,

01:07:30   I was apprehensive, like I was willing to try it,

01:07:33   but I was apprehensive.

01:07:35   It is valuable.

01:07:37   - Oh, I do not for a second deny that it is,

01:07:42   but it's like, if I had to do the like,

01:07:47   let me tell somebody else how I feel about my work today.

01:07:51   I just, I don't think I could do it.

01:07:54   I don't think I could do it.

01:07:55   Even though I would acknowledge,

01:07:56   like if I was forced to do it,

01:07:58   I would almost certainly acknowledge that it's a benefit.

01:08:01   But it's like the activation energy of that hill

01:08:03   is just too high.

01:08:05   - Yeah.

01:08:06   You know, but in general--

01:08:08   - But I'm happy for you, Myke.

01:08:09   I'm very happy for you.

01:08:10   - I mean, I was saying in general that like,

01:08:11   I'm surprised that this whole process

01:08:16   has embedded with me as quickly as time tracking did.

01:08:20   both of these things people will spend a week doing and shy away from it, right?

01:08:27   But this feels very much to me just a part of my daily life now. I have been on trips and I've been

01:08:37   away from doing it for like four days, come back, straight back into it and that's when I know

01:08:41   something has become a habit. Because I'm the same when I travel for work, I very rarely will

01:08:49   time track because it's too difficult to work out what's work at times.

01:08:55   Oh yeah, time tracking while traveling and working is a nightmare. It's very hard to

01:09:00   do. It's very difficult to do because it really

01:09:03   helps when I have consistency to be able to know what's what but when I don't have

01:09:07   my consistency it's difficult. Yeah, like I've jury-rigged my own little

01:09:11   ways of doing it but it's like, it's so fiddly. I would recommend to almost anybody

01:09:17   doing time tracking like hey, when you're traveling, just put in a whole bunch of hours

01:09:21   for traveling and leave it at that. Like you're fine. Right, you're fine.

01:09:25   But this is like, you know, like time tracking, it's just something that I come back to

01:09:29   and I actually think the reason is, is the idea of the actionable data.

01:09:35   Yeah.

01:09:36   That's what both of these systems share and there is a part of my brain that really

01:09:41   likes to have that and that the benefit of being able to just look at a piece of paper

01:09:48   and tell by numbers what my emotions are is incredibly important to me and kind of my

01:09:57   well-being and my mental health. Like I have been able to look at this calendar and confirm

01:10:03   something which I now won't let happen again. So if I am faced with a period of no travel

01:10:11   for four months, I now need to know that there's something that I need to do during that period

01:10:17   of time to make sure I don't get this like stuck in a rut feeling that I had. Right?

01:10:22   So like, I don't know what that is yet, but I know that if I'm forced to go, I'm

01:10:26   going to spend way more time thinking about it instead of just thinking about it like

01:10:30   three or four weeks before it was over because I realized that I was like had

01:10:35   these feelings that I wasn't able to fully appreciate until I got to the

01:10:40   point where I was getting ready for my next trip and then being like why does

01:10:44   this feel good and then like kind of like unpacking all of that to come to

01:10:49   the answer of oh you were on this like decline in your output and in just kind

01:10:55   of your general mood because you weren't doing something that you love that you'd

01:11:00   gotten used to.

01:11:01   It really is good to be able to quantify it like that and be able to look forward in advance

01:11:05   and try to solve that problem ahead of time.

01:11:10   That's something I should definitely do more because I think oftentimes my impetus for

01:11:15   a graycation is my wife gently suggesting that maybe it's time for me to go away for

01:11:19   a little bit.

01:11:20   And I'm like, "Oh, okay, maybe I should do that."

01:11:24   I really like what you've done with having the 30-day boxes on one side and the questions

01:11:31   on the other and summing it up that way.

01:11:32   I think that is a great idea and that's a great way to put all of that data in a visible

01:11:39   place because that's something I've come across as a problem of ending up with all

01:11:44   of these individual pages that I would then have to correlate the data across and it's

01:11:49   like, "I'm never going to do that."

01:11:51   Again, it's like the data duplication problem.

01:11:53   I was never starting this until I could do it all on one view. That was why I was thinking

01:11:59   "I really like this, but I haven't got a system for it yet." And then when I was looking around

01:12:03   at new journals and saw that they had these monthly pages of a space for every day, it

01:12:09   was like "Well that's it. That's what I need. I can see an entire month at a time and flick

01:12:14   between pages of months and it's all just there. It doesn't need me to write out every

01:12:20   day as to whether, you know, like all that kind of stuff. And I've flirted with the idea

01:12:25   of maybe just having checkmarks of like ticks and crosses as to whether I feel like I have

01:12:31   made an impact. That was like something that I was thinking about, like do I need the numbers?

01:12:36   But now I know I need the numbers because a tick could be three, but a tick can also

01:12:44   be five. And when you add those things together, it's very different in the results. You know,

01:12:50   I could feel like I have adequately done something today, but if I feel like I have excelled

01:12:55   at it, that is a very different mind space to be in.

01:12:59   So the numbers work for me, but I also have a short list.

01:13:04   I've been seeing a lot of people sharing their lists in the Cortex subreddit, which is really

01:13:09   fascinating to look at.

01:13:10   I've enjoyed that quite a lot.

01:13:11   I've noticed those posts as well, and it's very interesting to see how other people format

01:13:17   with their questions and what they're putting on those lists.

01:13:21   Again, as Triggered specifies,

01:13:25   the scope of human endeavor is not infinite.

01:13:29   There's a lot of overlap,

01:13:29   but it's still always interesting to see

01:13:32   how do people phrase things or how do they order them

01:13:35   or what are they putting emphasis on.

01:13:37   I've enjoyed those posts quite a lot as well.

01:13:39   - But I've seen people who had 20 questions

01:13:42   and there's no way I would score those.

01:13:43   You might just be best at ticking and crossing

01:13:46   or people that have really, really specific things as well,

01:13:50   which I totally understand,

01:13:51   was like if something's super specific,

01:13:53   you might not need to score it.

01:13:57   You might just need to have said, yeah, I did it, right?

01:14:00   You know, like make progress on X.

01:14:03   Well, sometimes it doesn't need a score.

01:14:04   Like you can just say, yeah,

01:14:06   I chipped away at this a little bit.

01:14:08   Like one of mine, so the new ideas, advanced new ideas,

01:14:11   that was one that I was toying with for a little bit

01:14:14   and I actually may change to just a binary yes or no,

01:14:17   because some days all I may need to do

01:14:21   is just have thought about something for a minute

01:14:24   and go in and note, and that might advance the idea.

01:14:27   Like it doesn't always need to be such a large thing.

01:14:31   And also it's like,

01:14:32   it's all related to the big mystery project, right?

01:14:37   For me, a lot of it, which is not moved again.

01:14:41   And I hate looking at that and being like,

01:14:46   I still haven't done anything on it.

01:14:51   And luckily I've got some other stuff

01:14:53   that I'm actively producing right now,

01:14:56   which is growing in scope and they are new ideas.

01:14:59   So I'm scoring highly on that.

01:15:00   But once I've got that taken care of,

01:15:03   I'm gonna be going back to Mystery Project

01:15:05   when it comes to question two.

01:15:07   And I'm not looking forward to that again

01:15:09   because I'm just hitting blocks that I'm not sure how to progress yet.

01:15:19   But maybe scoring myself on that every day will actually help me make some real decisions

01:15:24   on it eventually.

01:15:27   Listening to you talk about it, I've really got to make some decisions about this and

01:15:32   give it another real push.

01:15:35   That was the whole reason why I wanted us to read the book a second time was because

01:15:38   was sticking with me and I felt like this is a thing I really need to try to work into

01:15:42   my life on a regular basis. And I keep pushing it off, like I have this recurring task that

01:15:47   pops up every once in a while which is like, "Think about how you want to do your journal,

01:15:51   buddy." And I'm like, "Uh, we can delay this for another week. I'm too busy this week to

01:15:55   think about it." But it really is something that I need to give another very serious go

01:16:02   and to try like you have done to successfully work it into a real routine so that it's as

01:16:12   regular to me as the time tracking is.

01:16:14   Yeah, I just sent you a picture of what my double page spread looks like. It's messy

01:16:21   as you can imagine but it gives you an idea of what it looks like, you know? So that kind

01:16:27   of layout has been really good. It's very simple, right? It helps me get it done quickly.

01:16:34   And then also to be able to look at all of those scores together is the real part, the

01:16:41   real great part of it all.

01:16:44   I'm envious of your success with the journal.

01:16:47   It's nice and colorful, isn't it? See all the different colored inks that I have?

01:16:50   It is very nice and colorful. It looks like there's someone who loves pens using this

01:16:55   journal. Lots of smudges that make it your own.

01:17:00   That's good.

01:17:01   That's lots of smudges. It's very smudgy.

01:17:04   It is very smudgy.

01:17:05   This is the problem with being a left-handed person who uses fountain pens. Your life is

01:17:10   full of smudges.