Digestable #44: Billie Eilish LIVE, Gordon McArthur, BLUF Communication, Blaise Pascal, Subsidized Suburbia, Pearl of Great Price

Hey there!

Here’s the latest Digestable, the short, weekly email where you can choose your own adventure. This edition was emailed to subscribers on April 3, 2022.

Here’s what I’ve got for you this week:

Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever Tour: My daughter Adia and I had the opportunity to see Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas live in Vancouver last week. Here are a few video clips from our Billie Eilish adventure:

Gordon McArthur: While waiting for HOURS at the merch lineup before Billie’s show, we had the pleasure of passing the time with mixed-climbing star Gordon McArthur and his family. Watch for him on an upcoming cover of Gripped and stop by his family-friendly climbing gym next time you pass Cranbrook, BC.

BLUF – How the Military Can Improve Your Emails: BLUF stands for “Bottom Line Up Front,” and is the best way to make your emails understood and acted on. BLUF is “the practice of beginning a message with its key information (the bottom line). This provides the reader with the most important information first . . . BLUF is a standard in U.S. military communication whose aim is to make military messages precise and powerful. It differs from an older, more traditional style in which conclusions and recommendations are included at the end, following the arguments and considerations of facts.” (Wikipedia). For example:

Bottom Line Up Front: I need you to approve both the design and content of the attached flyer by noon on August 10.”

Background context and rationale come after: “This flyer is for an upcoming conference at which we are exhibiting. I have included information about the upcoming classes we are offering, our contact information, and a list of the services we offer. …”

Read more about BLUF here.

How Blaise Pascal Can Improve Your Writing: Here are 3 quotes from the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, and theologian Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) that will immensely improve your communication:

  1. “The last thing one discovers in composing is what to put first.” This is directly applicable to BLUF communication. You will likely need to get all your thoughts on paper before you have clarity on the bottom line. Compose your note, determine the “bottom line,” and then put it at the top.
  2. “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Think before you speak (or send that email). There’s not much more I can add to this.
  3. “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” Clear, concise communication requires more time and effort than babbling. Before sending that important piece of communication, spend extra time culling the extraneous. “Simplify, simplify,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. Ralph Waldo Emerson retorted, “One ‘simplify’ would have sufficed.” Touché!

Credit to Brief Lab for providing me with the first Pascal quote above. Brief Lab specializes in teaching lean communication. You can learn more about it in the book BRIEF: MAKE A BIGGER IMPACT BY SAYING LESS, and you can listen to a podcast interview with the author here.

Suburbia is Subsidized, Here’s the Math: This 10-minute video beautifully visualizes how our poorest neighborhoods are often subsidizing the wealthiest ones, and why we can expect more property tax increases if we don’t zone and develop our cities differently. Related article: can a libertarian approach to residential property rights solve the housing affordability crisis in Canadian cities? Check out Let a thousand four-plexes bloom: How private property rights can fix Canada’s housing crisis by Peter Shawn Taylor (seven minute read).

Quote I’m Pondering: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” – Jesus (Matthew 13: 45-46)

Since we’re thinking about the power of brief communication, the parables of Jesus are paramount examples. This “Pearl of Great Price” parable distills a book’s worth of wisdom into just two sentences. It’s up to us to unpack it again.

According to Jesus, the right opportunity compels us to go “all-in.” Though diversification is touted as the optimal strategy to build wealth, diversification rarely creates wealth, rather it protects it. Wealth is created by going “all-in” on the right opportunity. Specialization is a wealth creation strategy; diversification is a wealth preservation strategy.

When we discover the right spiritual opportunity – a story that truly explains the purpose of the universe and our unique role in it – we will be compelled to go all-in. Be aware that going all-in (like the merchant selling everything he owns) will look crazy to outsiders who don’t understand your opportunity.

What adventures did you get into this week? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks again for following along. I’m having a riot putting these together, so if you are enjoying this newsletter I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two and we can keep the great conversations growing.

Yours truly,

P.S. Shorter communication is not always better. In a professional setting, instead of saying, “That sounds like a “you” problem,” try, “I believe that falls within your scope of responsibilities, but I’m happy to support where it makes sense.” 🙂 For more ways to speak “professional,” check out this hilarious list (hat tip to Shane Parrish for the link).

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