Chiwi Journal August Issue: Biography, Journaling, Self-authoring, Storytelling and More
Welcome to the August Issue of Chiwi Journal! Your monthly newsletter with the content I filtered, curated and wrote based on 140+ hours of reading and listening time.
Quick update from my side:
This month marks my second anniversary of living in London! Time flies! Before I moved here, I set up three goals:
So far, I have completed 2/3 missions apart from travelling Europe. That’s actually not bad since I’m not in a holiday mood anymore (work fulfilled me more!). Now, time to move on!
‘Thanks’ to the COVID, the digital nomad lifestyle and remote working are gradually becoming the mainstream trend, which means there are so many options for the next destination in front of me.
I’m currently planning for my annual meditation retreat to clear up my mind and follow my instinct to decide where to go next. Wish me luck!
Now, let’s get straight into the content.
Podcast of the month
If there is one podcast I want to download and listen to EVERY episode, it is the Founders Podcast. Thanks Richard for the recommendation!
The host David reads a biography of an entrepreneur every week and distils the essential anecdotes and themes from those remarkable people’s life, so you can find a formula or summarise the pattern and apply to your own path.
“Founders is the only podcast I pay for, and it’s worth 100x the cost.”
Past episodes including Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, John D. Rockefeller, Coco Chanel, Andrew Carnegie, Enzo Ferrari, Estee Lauder, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Phil Knight, Joseph Pulitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Henry Ford, Walter Chrysler, Thomas Edison, David Ogilvy and so many more!
Those high-performance people went through a trial and error journey throughout history, inventing and building businesses and technologies that could advance human civilisation. Some of them have gathered their experiences in books so that we can spend a few hours learning their lifelong lessons. That’s why I enjoy reading biographies to learn stories on an individual level.
Founders Podcast is a great tool to help me revisit my knowledge base after reading those biographies and introduce me to many founders I would have never known existed.
More podcasts and newsletter recommendations
Book of the month
The things we do today, the choices we make, are compounding assets to where we go in the future – Matthew McConaughey
Many people are sceptical about autobiographies written by Hollywood stars because the majorities are either from ghostwriters or boring and cliche as hell. Matthew McConaughey is exceptional. His memoir Greenlights is filled with interesting stories, timeless wisdom, and lifelong lessons.
I have become a big fan of Matthew McConaughey after watching his iconic performance as Rust Cohle at True Detective. Matthew interpreted this dark, chaotic, philosophic and complicated character superbly and vividly that made me curious about what kind of life he has been living through to equip him with a complete understanding of Rust's character.
Greenlights gave me the answer. What impressed me most is Matthew has been journaling for 35 years. He went out into the desert for 52 days to revisit and reorganise his decade-long notes to compile this autobiography. David Perell made the video to explain Matthew's note-taking system and how he turned those notes into the best-selling memoir.
Greenlights is also in audio format, read by Matthew with his charming voice and accent. And, don't miss out Tim Ferriss's interview with Matthew McConaughey!
My all-time favourite books recommendation.
Story of the Month
After visiting Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace this month, I dug the rabbit hole to study the British Royal Family’s history and found this interesting story:
Queen Elizabeth I wrote a letter to Chinese Emperor Wanli of Ming back in 1602, attempting to establish direct trade with China. The letter was supposed to be delivered by George Weymouth, an English explorer, on his trip to Asia. For some reason, George Waymouth never made it to China, but the letter was eventually delivered in the 1980s when Queen Elizabeth II visited China.
“The letter that could not be delivered 390 years ago, I myself delivered it safely.”
I also found another letter between China and the UK that Chinese Emperor Qianlong of Qing wrote to King George III in 1793 to decline the trading requests from Great Britain.
P.S. I’m always fascinated with cross-cultural communications, especially in the early days of human history. Do you know Leibniz had studied the I Ching and Beethoven had been influenced by the Bhagavad Gita? How excited to see ideas exchange beyond language and cultural barriers!
Course of the month
It seems to me that the purpose of life is to find a mode of being that is so meaningful that the fact that life is suffering is no longer relevant. — Jordan Peterson
Most of my readers knew that I’ve been busy translating Jordan Peterson’s new book Beyond Order into Chinese with Steve and Marcel since April. This project is closing to the end, and I can’t wait for the inaugural launch in China market this year!
Among twelve rules from this new book, I benefit from Chapter Nine, “If old memories still upset you, write them down carefully and completely” the most. When I translated Chapter Nine, I felt that Dr Peterson engaged in a direct dialogue and provided detailed answers to my strugglings. I’d like to recommend the ‘Self Authoring’ course he mentioned in this chapter.
Unless taking time out of your busy schedule to reflect, you will never know what is most important to you. Writing about the past helps you understand who you really are; writing about the present enables you to assess strengths and weaknesses; writing about the future makes you think about what you do want to become.
After you’ve done the course, you should have four documents ready to help you understand yourself better:
I have them in Chinese and will gradually publish the English version later. Watch this space!
Question from a Weibo reader:
How to tell a story that resonate with others?
When we socialise with people, it would be great to share some stories either entertain or resonate with others. One way to do so is to share the significant moments that have changed your life, such as moments of pain or moments of triumph and failure.
Just think about which memories are constantly popping up in your head and turning them into stories. For example, the most haunting memory from my childhood was witnessing my mum had a severe car crash. She stayed in the hospital for a whole year and had more than 15 surgeries, and survived. And the first thing she did after discharging from the hospital was driving a car again! Every time I shared this story with my friends, they could see where I got my hardcore spirit. Salute to my mum!
There is also a formula you could follow to write or tell your own story: Hero's Journey model, and don't forget to describe the emotions from your protagonists and share what lessons have they learnt along the way.
You've already had the story materials, and your task is to work it wisely to decide when to throw away more information to your readers and listeners. The key is to ask a triggering question or come up with a bold narrative at the beginning that will capture the interest of your audience. It's also important to have variety in voice and tone when telling the story and practice and test your storytelling skills with friends or family (but never repeat the same story to the same group of people!).
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