Illustration: Christoph Niemann.

Required Reading: Creating Cults, Finding Randomness & Maverick Geniuses

Just because an article didn’t come through your RSS feed one second ago, doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time! For our latest Required Reading roundup, we sift through the past month’s tweets @the99percent and curate our top 5 reads – articles, interviews, and blog posts that offer essential insights into making ideas happen. Read on for tips on pushing yourself, managing your time, hiring, and more.

1. How Do Maverick Geniuses Get Created?

Since it was founded in 1861, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has boasted a stunning capacity to produce graduates who go on to found profitable, innovative companies. “If the MIT was a country, it would have the 11th highest GDP of any nation in the world.” In this piece, The Guardian takes a look at what gives MIT an edge. Not surprisingly the school’s curriculum focuses on doing, not dreaming:

From the moment MIT was founded by William Barton Rogers in 1861 it was clear what it was not. It was not like the other school up the river. While Harvard stuck to the English model of an Oxbridge classical education, with its emphasis on Latin and Greek as befitted the landed aristocracy, MIT would look to the German system of learning based onresearch and hands-on experimentation, championing meritocracy and industry where Harvard preferred the privileges of birth. Knowledge was at a premium, yes, but it had to be useful.

2. Does Great Hiring Mean Creating A Cult? (Yes.)

Via Sebastian Marshall, I recently stumbled on this piece by veteran entrepreneur Steve Newcomb, which dispenses some wonderful, no-nonsense advice on how to hire well and how to work through your anxieties as a business owner. Don’t be deterred by its length, the whole thing is worth reading.

Steve on managing your start-up anxiety:

Whenever people ask me how I make it through, I always say the same thing.  Sit down and write down the shit storms that you are worrying about and divide them into two list.  Those that are under your control and those that aren’t.  Then focus on the list that you can control.  If you stare at that list long enough you’ll realize a commonality.  That the solution to every single one of them begins with having a team that is rock solid, one that isn’t afraid of challenges and one that believes in you as a founder.  If you do this one thing right, it will steady you and calm your mind enough to face and conquer any challenge.

3. Illustrator Christoph Niemann on Happiness, Work and Creativity

A regular illustrator for the New Yorker, the New York Times, and other major publications, Christoph Niemann knows the life of the freelance creative professional inside and out. I had a great conversation with him about creativity and deadlines on 99U, and Swiss Miss recently invited him to give an awesome talk at her Creative Mornings. Watch it here.


Illustration: Christoph Niemann.

4. 50 Ways to Expose Yourself to Randomness

The Twitter-sphere recently resurfaced this classic post from one of our favorite bloggers, Ben Casanocha. Our greatest strokes of luck often come through random connections, and this list is all about pushing outside of your comfort zone to spark even more ideas, connections, and relationships.

Some of my favorites:

1. Go to the nearest magazine shop. Now. Spend 20 minutes. Pick up 20 — twenty! — magazines. None should be ones you normally read. Spend the better part of a day perusing them. Tear stuff out. Make notes. Create files. Goal: Stretch! Repeat . . . monthly . . . or at least bi-monthly.
18. A crummy little assignment comes along. But it would give you a chance to work with a group of people you’ve never worked with before. Take the assignment.

34. Institute a monthly Brown Bag Lunch Session. Encourage all your colleagues to nominate interesting people to be invited. Criterion: “I wouldn’t have expected us to invite — — .”

36. Consider a . . . four-month sabbatical.

5. Roseanne Barr on How Hollywood Really Works

One of the month’s most unexpected gems was a tell-all piece by comedian Roseanne Barr about the making of her runaway hit sitcom, Roseanne. The eye-opening essay provides an excoriating account of how Hollywood really works (at least from Roseanne’s perspective), and she doesn’t shy away from taboo topics.

Roseanne Barr on her first disillusionment:

It didn’t take long for me to get a taste of the staggering sexism and class bigotry that would make the first season of Roseanne god-awful. It was at the premiere party when I learned that my stories and ideas—and the ideas of my sister and my first husband, Bill—had been stolen. The pilot was screened, and I saw the opening credits for the first time, which included this: CREATED BY MATT WILLIAMS. I was devastated and felt so betrayed that I stood up and left the party. Not one person noticed.

What Are You Reading?

What have you read lately that opened your eyes?

Check out our previous Required Reading roundup.

More insights on: Focus, Hiring

Jocelyn K. Glei

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A writer and the founding editor of 99U, Jocelyn K. Glei is obsessed with understanding how work gives our lives meaning. She has authored three books about work, creativity, and business, including the Amazon bestsellers Manage Your Day-to-Day and Make Your Mark. Follow her @jkglei.
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