Barry Lopez’ Lessons from his book Horizon

Barry Lopez died on Christmas Day.

Barry Lopez was a nature and travel writer. His most famous book is Arctic Dreams, which won the National Book Award in 1986. Last year I read Horizon, which, like Arctic Dreams, is a travel book, an environmental book, and even a philosophy book.

But in addition, its lessons apply to business.

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Image courtesy of

In Horizon, Barry Lopez travels to all ends of the earth — literally. From the Arctic to the South Pole and many spaces in between, like the Pacific Northwest, Kenya, Australia, and the Galapagos. Lopez works to truly understand the places he…

Living Dangerously, While Never Leaving Your Couch

Reading, especially this year, allowed me to travel the world and travel across time, finding and broadening my perspectives. Below are those books that accompanied me in that journey.

As in prior years, this list only reflects the books I read cover to cover. I abandoned or have yet to complete many others. My inability to complete those books is not always an indictment of the quality of those books. Often, my fleeting attention span diverts me to new books, while leaving other incomplete.

In earlier years, I had several big themes and topics I dug in deep. This year…

Growing insight from Cloud Compost

I am a collector of notes.

5400 or so in Evernote, at last count.

I have notes about everything:

  • Books I’ve read
  • Ideas I’ve come across
  • Movies I’ve watched
  • Half-written essays
  • Random ideas
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I’ve been doing this because I planned, someday, to go through all of these notes.

I had the false belief that somewhere, deep in this content, was something valuable: insights, new perspectives, articles, connections…hell, even a book.

I had the belief that, magically, these notes would sprout and grow into something insightful.

This was my compost pile in the cloud.

Yet nothing happened.

The compost just sat…

Jeff Tweedy's memoir, Let's Go (So We Can Get Back) includes expected anecdotes about his growing up, his struggles with addiction and the evolving nature of his band, Wilco. It's also about his creative process, which I found most fascinating.

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I've pulled a few of the creativity lessons from the book. Please keep in mind these nuggets are not as valuable as they are within the context of the book, but it's still valuable (to me, anyway) to have a concise list.

Be Vulnerable

It's a strength. His "superpower.” He has a "bone crushing earnestness, a weaponized sincerity.”

Tweedy says he is

The last thing the world needs is another list of books read, but I’m adding mine, nonetheless.

I enjoy using the quiet time of the holidays to look back at the books I’ve read and identify a few key themes and ideas that are consistent in these books. These books, in turn, provided ideas that propelled me throughout 2019 and beyond.

Some common themes (and books they showed up in) include:

  • Appreciating cultures different from my own (Horizon, Washington Black, Disappearing Earth, How to Be An Anti-Racist, Shadows of Statues)
  • The continuous search for meaning (Man’s Search for Meaning, Sapiens…

My family and I recently spent 12 days out west, visiting the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, with short visits to Bryce and Arches National Parks. We ventured across most of the Colorado Plateau, absorbing the landscape and contrasting this radically different world to our home in Atlanta.

At Arches National Park, in the visitor center, I picked up the book Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. Abbey was once a park ranger in Arches and this book is full of his observations about desert and outdoor life. …

These are the books I read in 2018. These books correlate to places I went, or places my mind went. These books complement my journeys or became the journey themselves. This list is really a summary of the year lived.

Each of the books listed below I read beginning to end. (There is also a great list of 2018 abandoned books I should put together.) There’s a sense of accomplishment in making it through an entire book. I share my list on Goodreads and enjoy measuring my progress against a goal. …

I talked here about the Inevitable Decline. It happened in a football game a couple of weeks ago. It happens in every evenly matched sporting event, and it happens in the evolution and development of any organization. Things will decline over time.

So how do you actually pull up from the decline?

I’ve been slowly reading Ray Dalio’s Principles. It’s full of his ideas about management and building a successful organization.

He spends a lot of time talking about the loop below.

Dalio calls this the Progress Loop or a Personal Evolutionary Process. The loop highlights the five steps to emerge from an Inevitable Decline and to improve a process.

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Within Dalio’s curve, between steps 1 & 2, is a declining curve. This is the Inevitable Decline. Dalio’s…

Lessons from the National Championship Game

Monday night I attended the College Football Championship in Atlanta.

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Image from Section 313, Mercedes Benz Stadium — Photo by Andrew Marti

It was a big, noisy spectacle, with presidents, Big Flags, marching bands and Kendrick Lamar.

But most importantly, it was an awesome game.

And within this game a was classic narrative flow:

  • One team starts strong.
  • That team can see victory.
  • That team then struggles.

Does that team adjust or do they not?

This is the central question within every game.

Here’s what happened Monday night:

  • A team starts strong. In this case it was my team — University of Georgia (UGA) against the University of Alabama. The UGA defense…

Unpacking How You Can Become One

I’m working my way, slowly, through Ray Dalio’s Principles. It’s not a book you skim through. Nor is it a gripping narrative that drives you from beginning to end. Instead, it is a collection of meaty concepts that require thought and processing.

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Ray Dalio is a hedge fund manager, having created the largest ever, Bridgewater Associates. In this book he documents the concepts and the principles which led to his success.

One concept he discusses is that of a shaper. Examples of shapers include Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Reed Hastings.

A shaper, according to Dalio, has a

Andrew Marti

technologist, cultural omnivore, book nut, father

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