I'm constantly chasing that great-dinner-party high. The tingly sensation of thinking differently after a stimulating discussion with a group of people.
Like an explorer after a discovery, when you expand your mind you can't go back to seeing just one way again.
It's those compelling conversations where we say 'Wow' or 'Interesting' or a simple 'Hmm I never considered that,' that bring me the most excitement.
To have those conversations, it takes two things. Openness to new ideas, and the discussion prompts themselves.
I started the Other Answer newsletter with the simple objective of providing people with the following nuggets for contemplation and discussion:
Ideas that challenge the current or shape the future
Intriguing questions to encourage compelling conversation
Varying perspectives on social norms and expectations
My motivation was to have an outlet to easily share all my readings with other people and to provide them with different perspectives to consider. Not to convince, nor sell, or even sway, just to encourage people to be aware that there are challengers of the status quo out there and ideas that push the boundaries.
In each newsletter there is an opening message, 3 sections (Explore, Discuss, and Consider) and a personal recommendation from me.
Though you won't see the opening messages in this post, you will see everything else from the first 5 editions of Other Answer newsletter. Enjoy!
If these topics intrigue you, please subscribe to Other Answer and get the newsletter delivered directly to your inbox. Other Answer is free, and I'll never spam you or share your information.
The First 5 Editions of Other Answer
Click the arrows below to expand each section. Links to each reading are in green.
Ideas that challenge the current or shape the future
What’s stopping you from living elsewhere for a short period of time? Or giving up your home completely in exchange for a different home every few months? Now that the world has gone remote, people are booking Airbnbs for much longer periods of time and Airbnb’s CEO is doing the same.
Prisons have been around since the early 1800’s, yet Reuben Jonathan Miller is asking “Why do we punish in this way?” His research shows that punishment doesn’t end when a prisoner’s sentence ends and he shares an eye-opening story of what it’s like for a person to simply try and live life after prison. Watch this video or listen to the podcast version. I felt saddened, angry, and ready for change.
The first step to getting unstuck is removing the fear(s) blocking your path, so consider thinking about that fear head-on, imagining what would happen if it came true, and what exactly you would do in that situation. Sound terrifying? It could be, but it’s extremely effective (I’ve used this method many, many times).
Now, start imagining your Rich Life. Does thinking about being rich make you uncomfortable? That’s probably why you’re not rich. Thinking about what it would be like to be rich doesn’t have to make you feel bad.
‘Micromobility’ will change our cities, and our future: Most people are annoyed by e-scooters and frustrated by how carelessly they’re thrown around after being used. However, 80% of urban trips are less than two miles long. So why do so many of us make short trips in big, inefficient, and expensive vehicles?
Machines will make our fruits and vegetables more delicious. Biting into a mild-flavored strawberry or bland tomato is disappointing and I always thought it was due to global shipping and the decay of produce in transit. While that may be one factor, human produce ‘breeders’ have been surprisingly shortsighted in how/why they cultivate our produce.
No more passwords to remember (or reset), and a world with machines that haven’t picked up our history of bias - these are 2 of the 10 breakthrough technologies that will shape our future. Even if technology isn’t your field or interest, it’s always neat to see where the world is heading - or at least trying to at this moment in time.
Robots to help you with every day tasks are coming. Just like the internet helps us to find information quickly, ‘Everyday Robots’ promise to get household tasks done and even provide elderly and child care. The technology is inevitable, but the human values and actions we choose to keep for ourselves is up to us.
Death Coaches or ‘Doulas’ are changing the way we die. Often at the end of life the focus is on caring for a person’s physical state and limitations. The rise of death doulas is a trend towards prioritizing mental awakening and emotional relief as well.
Still one of the best explanations of, and arguments for, the Are We Living in a Version of The Matrix? theory.
China is building robots so lifelike they have veins and get goosebumps, however this enlightening book beautifully explains why we attempt to personify robots and how it hinders their adoption by the general public.
Intriguing questions to encourage compelling conversation
But what if we stopped using our phones as an alarm?
Can talking about sex with young people make it safer and better for everyone in the long run?
What is something you now think is possible, that you didn't just a few years ago?
What is something that is underfunded but shouldn't be? Here’s one: Humanitarian organizations keep getting hacked because they can’t spend to secure data.
Do you believe in work / life balance? Give an example of a process you follow or a boundary you’ve set to achieve a sense of balance in your life.
Why are books banned? The attempt to ban books is on the rise and getting a lot of media, though it seems most people don’t agree with these kinds of restrictions on ideas and speech. So why are a few still pushing so hard?
“Book bans don’t help students; they only serve parents who want younger people, including but not limited to their own children, to be sheltered from ideas they disagree with.”
Does saying ‘gay’ influence children to become gay? For me, I can’t ask this question without following up with the larger, direct question of: What if someone is gay? Is this something we are trying to prevent? History has shown there have been gay people since we’ve started documenting sexuality - do we think that will change in the future?
What can we do about the 70% of teens who think anxiety and depression is an issue for their age? There’s also other concerns that young people are carrying such as the amount of girls who feel pressured to look good, and teens in lower-income households feeling more pressure to contribute financially than their peers in higher-income households.
How would you pivot your life, or start all over - in the middle of your life? It may take 10,000 hours to become a master at something - but is master-level what everyone is going for? Many people continue on a certain path throughout life to capitalize on prior experience, but perhaps starting all over and finding a new calling can be more beneficial.
What is a crazy idea you heard of that actually made sense? Whether it works or not, or makes the Earth split in half, their $63 million in funding will allow them to find out.
Want to see something that will blow your mind? This will make you feel very, very small and insignificant.
Perspectives on social norms and expectations
Don’t cover up your daughters because hiding her body won’t stop men from looking.
This innocent question we ask boys is putting more pressure on them than we realize.
The secret struggle of those trying to conceive: the most important lesson I learned in researching the conception process is to be mindful that so many people are experiencing conception struggles - and you likely don’t know about it or the depth of the hard things they’re dealing with.
Here’s what it feels like to constantly be met with judgment and expectations. Tip: don’t get caught up on the title and read all the way to the end. I guarantee there will be a perspective you hadn’t considered before, regardless if you’re male or female, wanting children or not.
When I was a kid saying “That’s retarded” and “That’s gay” was acceptable for a long time, until eventually it wasn’t. As a society we learned that those phrases were turning people’s intellectual disability or sexual identity into a negative thing. So why are we still saying 'You Guys?'
Being alone, and living alone, is wonderful. When someone is single I never assume they are looking to date or even wanting to date. This was something that bothered me when I was single - the assumption that a human is better off paired up.
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” - I share this quote with people when they tell me they’re feeling stuck in life because for a long time I lived with a secret in Chicago…Don't get stuck in one place.
We’re missing out by not capitalizing on what older people have that young people don’t. Analysis and innovation often comes earlier in life, but deep wisdom known as ‘crystallized intelligence’ is the gift of age.
When talking about age and the stigmas surrounding it, I learned that popular methods can sometimes do more harm than good. These narratives push for age-friendly policy and help to confront ageism.
By glorifying youth, has our sexually-charged society made them more sexually appealing? Although I haven’t watched the popular show Euphoria, I have never understood why we cast adults to play teenagers. It’s time to retire TV’s ‘fuckable’ teen trope.
Raise your hand if a man has told you wearing a condom decreases their sexual enjoyment. [Raise]. The burden of conception is often placed on women, but are men are the ones responsible for unwanted pregnancies? Regardless of your beliefs about sex, conception, abortion, or otherwise - read the tweet thread and you’re guaranteed to think about a perspective you hadn’t before.
What if—instead of misery and stress, our transportation networks could actually bring us joy? Many people ditched their commute due to Covid, but most still want to go to an office often, so how can we change our commute from dreaded to enjoyable?
A Separate Notion
After seeing an advertisement saying the Lucid app was the solution to mindless scrolling on social media I was intrigued. Now, after using Lucid for a few weeks I can safely say I am hooked - and I feel good about it too. The app summarizes best-selling books like Black Swan, Sapiens, and Atomic Habits into short courses and provides quick reads on a variety of popular topics. I totally dig it.
Sometimes the push we need doesn’t come from within ourselves, or a book, or a well-spoken expert, but from an entertaining movie instead. Add these two movies to your Next Up list: Chocolat and Moneyball. Yes they’re a few years old, but they’re not outdated and they are delightful stories of people who marched to the beat of their own drums - in whimsical and imperfect ways.
With all this talk of travel and people making life changes, I wanted to share an interesting site that takes you on a walk through different destinations around the world. In my opinion it will never compare with the in-person experience, but I do believe you can get an essence of a place simply by walking through it and observing - so this does mimic that feeling a bit.
For me, the way I make change is to learn about the thing I’m seeking, reflect, talk with others who have done it, and then implement. Recently, I’ve taken free courses through LinkedIn Learning and Accenture’s FutureLearn collection and was very happy with the quality and delivery of information.
I’ve been traveling which means I’ve been walking a ton. When I first get somewhere I always take a long walk, regardless if I’ve been there before. Like a reptile can adapt to its surroundings, for me there is a strong desire of wanting to observe and be absorbed into a place. Once that acclimation period occurs its business as normal: meaning walking everywhere and listening to podcasts. A few shows that I’ve added to my favorites recently are Decoder (innovation), Foundering (technology & business), and People Place Power (activism).