📚Deep Work, Creativity in Startups and Music, The Resume is Dead...And Content Killed It.

Avthar’s Weekly Newsletter #5 (5/29/2020)

Hello from locked-down New York City! 🗽

Welcome to the edition #5 of Avthar’s Weekly Newsletter. This is where I share lessons and experiences about startups, learning, health and happiness, all to help you level up your own life.

Here’s what’s in this week’s letter:

  • The Resume is Dead. And Content Killed It.

  • Book that changed my life: “Deep Work” by Cal Newport

  • Creativity in Music and Startups

  • Plus my book highlight and journal thought of the week

Please enjoy!

If you’ve been enjoying this newsletter, please do share it with your friends!


👀Article I published this week: The Resume is Dead. And Content Killed It.

Many of you reached out to give feedback on a mini-blog that appeared back edition #2 titled, “How Content Killed the Resume”. Thank you all for your help! I’ve incorporated your feedback, refined the ideas in that post and published the final piece on my blog! 

Creating content it extremely relevant to those job or internship searching right now as well as to those looking to break into a different industry and anyone looking to thrive in the job market of the future.

Here’s a taste of the essay:

Traditionally, most career advice has centered around building an impressive resume. Most job hunters spend most of their time on resume reviews and practice interviews. However, in the internet era, a resume is way overrated.

The resume is dead. And content killed it.

Content will help you get any job or internship you want. This is especially true for those of you who come from diverse or non-traditional backgrounds (like me). This makes content the great equalizer.

Your content portfolio can consist of projects, code, essays, podcasts, videos, interviews, designs, art or any other artifacts you can think of. These artifacts will demonstrate your thinking, personality and execution abilities. This makes your content portfolio more important than the perfect bullet points on your resume and even having degrees from the ‘right’ schools or stints at ‘prestigious’ companies.”

Read the full essay here ➡️

📚Book that changed my life: “Deep Work” by Cal Newport

One of the most popular responses to last week’s survey about what I should write and talk about in future was “Books That Changed My Life”. 

While I’m still putting together the list, I want to share a book that transformed my thinking about how my best work gets done: “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.

Core Takeaways

  • In an age of digital distraction, attention and focus are required for success.

  • Our best work is done in 2-4 hour uninterrupted periods, called periods of Deep Work. Major breakthroughs in understanding or insight often come after 90mins or so.

  • However, our attention ‘resets’ every time we get distracted or take outside input. Outside input includes checking email, messages, social media or watching videos. Activities like exercise, taking walks and water breaks are fine. 

  • To achieve anything great, we must create an environment where we can habitually do Deep Work and avoid distractions.

How “Deep Work” impacted me

I encountered this book just before my 3rd year at Princeton. Like many college students, I was overwhelmed with academic, social and extracurricular commitments and fell prey to the temptation of the dopamine hits from scrolling social media or looking at memes in class when I should’ve been paying attention.

“Deep Work” taught me about the importance of protecting my attention and doing one thing at a time. It also helped me define and stay away from the “grey zone” between focus and relaxation.

I learned that if you try to ‘multi-task’ by checking social media or scrolling the internet while trying to ‘focus’ on something, you’re training your brain not to be fully focused and that it’s okay to run away and find stimulation at the slightest hint of boredom. What we want is to train our brains to focus intently, so that we can effectively complete our work, and then move on to having fun with friends or relaxing. 

What we don’t want is to live in this grey zone between working with full attention and relaxing without guilt. In the grey zone, you work, but don’t really pay full attention and you relax by scrolling the internet, but you don’t really relax because you feel guilty about not working and wasting time.

Resources to apply “Deep Work” to your life

The principle of Deep Work helped me achieve creative breakthroughs when working on problem sets as an engineering student at Princeton, find solutions to writing code for applications and helps me cultivate ideas when writing essays and this very newsletter. I hope you find it useful in your life too!

Here’s some resources to further explore Deep Work:

🧠Kindle Highlight of the Week

🎵Creativity in Music and Startups

I believe that multi-displinary thinking is an underrated component to world class performance. Just like Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick-technique was inspired by him watching the swerve of a ping-pong ball, we must also seek out ideas from different areas of life and integrate them into our craft. In my work in the tech world, this means borrowing and applying ideas from outside the tech and business, such as art, sports and economics.

Moreover, building products that solve problems you and others face is also a form of creative self expression, just like playing music, composing visual art and dribbling a football. I’m always looking for inspiration and insights from other creative fields in order to refine and deepen my own creative process.

That’s why I’m excited to talk live with talented South African musician Nish Pillay (@nish_music). Nish is a hybrid percussionist who plays the ‘Tabla’ (think: Indian drums) and other percussion instruments like the Cajon.

Nish and I will be talking about:

  • The Creative Process in music and entrepreneurship

  • Music and consciousness

  • Expressing ourselves through our artforms

  • The role of physical training in our creative lives 

  • And answering your questions live! (Ask a question here)

The conversation will streamed live on Facebook, on Saturday, 5/30/2020, and will start at 11 AM EST USA time / 5 PM South Africa time. Talking to Nish promises to be a great conversation and I hope to see many of you there!

Ask a question and get a recording of the event ➡️

💭Journal Thought of the Week

Came across this gem from my 2016 End of Year reflection that I wanted to share with you all:

Suffering does two important things: 

It makes your ego accept the way the world is. 

And it gives you a big impetus to change your situation.

That’s all for this week! 

If anything from this week’s newsletter resonated with you, let me know by replying to this email or tweet me at @avthars. Or better yet, leave a comment:

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You can find more of my work and writing on my online home avthar.com

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