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The Commonplace Book: How to Get Compound Interest on Your Ideas

Everything compounds. Momentum is an underappreciated force of nature: not only in finance, but waistlines, populations, popularity, curiosity, and information.

Ideas want to propagate themselves. When two ideas have sex, most of the offspring are hideous mutants: the shower thoughts, the drunken 3am kitchen ‘creations’. Ramen pizza is probably not going to catch on. But very occasionally, you get something beautiful.

The last post was about collecting and curating the best ideas. This post is about earning compound interest on your collection. The magic happens in the nooks where ideas collide and fuse, but we have to create the right conditions for recombination—the equivalent of turning down the lights and piping Barry Manilow through the speakers.

To earn compound interest on your money, you need somewhere to put it, like a bank account, and a practice for making it grow—an investing strategy. Same goes for information. I suggest the ‘somewhere to put it’ should be a Commonplace Book, and the ‘practice for making it grow’ should be the Zettelkasten Method.

If this is all German to you, no fear. Here’s what we’re going to cover…

The Matthew Effect: For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Meditations on Momentum

What’s the difference between Robert Galbraith and J.K. Rowling? Clearly, being a talented writer is necessary, but not sufficient. Rowling has momentum on her side. At this point, she could publish the contents of a bowl of alphabet soup, and it would still sell better than 99 per cent of novels by hopeful first-time authors.

This is a ‘no duh’ example, designed to get you nodding your head along. But momentum is everywhere, and it’s rarely in plain sight. Without being consciously aware of doing so, I’ve written about it in four domains…

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Fat People Are Heroes

When I see an overweight person slogging away on the treadmill, I think to myself: that person is a goddamn hero.

Here’s the dirty little secret that fit and muscular people don’t mention in their #fitspo Instagram posts: if you’re already in decent shape, you can get away with all kinds of shenanigans….