noise cancelling headphones

Aaron Wolfson – Writer, Reader, Coder, Thinker

Aaron Wolfson is a writer, reader, coder, and thinker. He spouts off on books at his blog, Profound Reading, and he is building a better reading list at BookTrackr. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut. My favorite novel by my favorite novelist.

What would happen if all of humanity was destroyed—except for a ragtag tour group on a visit to the Galapagos Islands? What would happen if this group was left to evolve for a million years?

This is Vonnegut’s treatise on how the great big brains we’ve evolved are always getting us in trouble.

Would we be better off if we could have a do-over? Go back to our small-brained existence?

This is not your average post-apocalyptic scenario. Then again, Vonnegut is not your average writer.

Plutarch, Parallel Lives. This is a 2,000+ page book. Of biographies. Of dudes who have been dead for millennia. Written by a guy who’s been dead almost as long.

Why should you read it? Because there’s really nothing new under the sun.

All of the lives described here are pertinent to what you’re doing today. Avoid making the same mistakes that have been made in the past.

You’ll learn how to deal with corruption and favoritism in the workplace (Life of Cato), how to build a team that will follow you anywhere (Life of Alexander, Life of Caesar), how to become an expert in your field (Life of Demosthenes), how to build a culture from scratch (Life of Solon, Life of Lycurgus), and, if you wish, how to terrorize an entire populus (Life of Sulla, Life of Marius).

You’ll learn about the true origins of many ideas, words, and techniques that we still use today.

And it’s just a good time. Plutarch includes plenty of time-tested jokes, and he dishes on all the juicy rumors and debaucheries of some of history’s most ridiculous tyrants, sybarites, and fools.

You’ll also come to understand the fickleness of public adoration, as you see the rise and fall of titans like Themistocles, Pericles, Cicero, Caesar, and Pompey the Great.

The collection may be massive, but you can read one bio every few days, and pick and choose the ones you’re most interested in.

Use Aubrey Stewart and George Long’s translation on Project Gutenberg for maximum effect.

Zero to One, Peter Thiel. An incredibly wide-ranging work on business, entrepreneurship, philosophy, and how to change the world, from a guy who’s been there, done that.

It gets the most notoriety for its controversial ideas about why competition and capitalism are opposites, and how the world is largely at a technological standstill.

But my favorite thread is about how we should strive to create brand new things in the world, instead of making incremental improvements to what already exists. Thus, going from zero to one, instead of from one to N.

This book will change the way you think.

Good things to watch.

Turtles. My wife and I were at a wildlife refuge, and I noticed there were some turtles sunning themselves on some logs near the shore of a lake. I sat down to watch, and found myself transfixed.

It takes the average turtle about 15-30 minutes to actually climb up onto a log. Then they simply sit. Be. Enjoy.

It’s easy to forget how fast we live our lives. Maybe that’s why we all notice time speeding up as we get older. So much to think about.

Next time you feel sped up, go find some turtles and watch how they live.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. How amazing is it that two cousins became two of the most important and influential world leaders in all of history? This Ken Burns documentary series will show you exactly.

Oh, and that Eleanor was no slouch.

Louis CK. Funniest human alive. Get lost in his brilliance.

Good things to use.

Noise-cancelling headphones and Spotify. If you are ever forced to be in proximity to people who do things that annoy you (cubicles, airports… pretty much any public place), don’t get annoyed. Tune out. Who’s living in your head rent-free?

Your hands. It doesn’t have to be “making things.” Honestly, I don’t do nearly as much of that as I could. But you can try washing dishes by hand, now and then. Touch and hug people. Feel textures—on book covers, wallpaper, carvings. We live most of the day in our minds. Get back in touch with the world.

Nature. It’s, well, nature’s de-stressor. Just take some long walks amidst foliage and everything else will take care of itself.

Connect with Aaron on Twitter, @AWolfson0

Jeremey DuVall – Trainer, Publisher, Helper

Jeremey DuVall is a former personal trainer turned writer and digital publishing guy. He spends his time helping bloggers produce amazing content and contributing to a variety of health and fitness publications. He’s also really great at high fives. He blogs regularly at  These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Yes, before there was a movie, there was a book, and in my opinion, it’s much better than the motion picture. Although it can be difficult after having the stage set by Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, try forgetting everything you know about Fight Club and read the book with an open mind. Palahniuk’s writing is unusually entertaining, and the characters will keep you reading page after page. Be sure to read the afterword and find out that many of the events (like peeing in the soup as a waiter) are actually based on real-life events.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This is just a great story from start to finish — plain and simple. Combine the interesting adventure with real life lessons, and you have one hell of a book.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve read all of Gladwell’s books, but this is by far my favorite. Far too often, I think we look at the success of others with contempt and envy. Outliers presents success in a very different light. While you’re reading, go ahead and pick up Tipping Point and Blink; you won’t regret it.

Good things to watch.

New Girl. By the time Tuesday arrives, everyone is usually in need of a great laugh. For my fiancee and I, New Girl provides just that. The situations the characters get themselves into are likely reminiscent of your own life. Plus, everyone knows a real-life Schmidt. Two things I’ve taken away from the show:

  1. Everyone should play True American at least once in their life.
  2. The Douchebag Jar needs to be utilized in most places.

This is Water. This commencement speech by David Foster Wallace has gone all kinds of viral. It’s certainly worth 8-9 minutes of your life. After watching, you will view the world through a different lens.

Your Own Presentation. Whether it’s giving a presentation or interviewing for a new job, getting an outsider’s perspective on your presenting style can make a world of difference. I was lucky to have several interviews critiqued when I was starting to apply for jobs. The feedback I was given made a huge difference in my confidence in front of others.

Good things to use.

Noise-Canceling Headphones. I work best when I’m isolated in my own environment. To stay focused and avoid outside distractions, I use a pair of Able Planet headphones. Put those on, and it’s like the entire world disappears around you. Seriously, someone could be screaming right next to me, and I wouldn’t hear it. For those that don’t like working to music, I occasionally use Coffitivity to give me some ambient background noise, or I play something more mellow like Acoustic Alchemy.

A Standing Desk of Some Sort. Coming from a personal training background, I’m used to constantly moving throughout the day. Since I began working at my computer more and more, I had to rely on a standing desk otherwise I would go absolutely crazy. Sitting, in general, isn’t great for your posture. Plus, you’ll likely be more awake and concentrated with a standing desk. Currently, I use a ledge in my apartment when I want to stand, but I’m looking for the ideal standing/sitting combo desk (likely going to build one). If you have to sit all day, invest in a laptop stand and use a wireless keyboard and mouse so you can avoid staring down while you work.

A Timer. Ever wonder how you finish the day with half of your to-do list unchecked? Probably by wasting time on Facebook or browsing the internet. Using a timer can help you best allocate your time and also plan intermittent rest breaks to recharge. I use Timebar because it sits in the menu bar at the top of my screen so I can see how much time I have left before the buzzer. If you find yourself constantly checking out your friend’s pics on Facebook, consider using SelfControl, a free app that both acts as a timer and a buddy that blocks any URL you want (like

Connect with Jeremey on Twitter, @JeremeyD.

Dan Andrews – founder of TropicalMBA

These are Dan Andrews good things.

Good things to read.

When Dan was getting out of debt he still wanted to read, budgeting 10% of his take home pay or books.  Some of those on that list were Purple Cow, The Ultimate Sales Machine, and The 4-Hour Work Week.

Good things to watch.

Besides people watching and south Asian scenery? Dan says that he limits what he watches now although he would “gorge himself” on The West Wing while in college.  The main reason is “I don’t feel like I need to get away from my business to be entertained.”

Good things to use.

Dan is on Twitter and does the Tropical Talk radio podcast.  “When you record audio for anything, make sure your mic plugs in with a USB. Anything else sounds bad. Toss in a little EQ and compression in FREE audacity and boom, you’ll sound like a pro.”  He also updates what he reads on his Kindle and uses Instapaper and noise cancelling headphones on all his flights.