Communication fail (Ricky Weekly #11)

why we love talking about sports

This is where I share 3 things every week with my friends and anyone else interested.

A picture from my life:

I went to watch Team USA vs. Team Spain. It was basically watching the future all-stars and a ton of fun. Also was great to see what a NBA-level basketball game is like without all the timeouts and free throws to stop the clock.

Thing on my mind:

I was hosting people who have never been to the United States. I reminded them that it gets really hot and then really cold at night, but their understanding of “hot” and “cold” was limited by their context, so they were very unprepared. That’s how communication works most of time. Your existing context is what you use to interpret what you hear, and that’s why words are never enough.

It’s not like they didn’t know they were missing context. It’s sometimes painfully obvious. For example, when I’m with my family, I sound very alien sometimes because I’m more educated and I know more about certain things than they do. I code-switch, but I can’t hide it completely, and I know they don’t understand me completely.

The reason why so many people spend an inordinate amount of time consuming and talking about sports is because it’s a great leveler. Sports is easy to understand, and everyone can have an opinion and they’re all equally valid. When I was younger, someone asked me why my family was always talking about sports and nothing else of substance. I was offended because I didn’t know what to say but I knew it was important for my family to stay close to each other.

Piece of content I recommend:

SCMP’s China Internet Report 2019

If you like Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report this is like that for China + better designed. Mary Meeker can really use some design help.

Your turn:

Excelling at knowledge work also requires deliberate practice, but it’s hard to think about how to deliberately practice knowledge work. Tyler Cowen wrote about how he practices what he does. I think writing this newsletter is practice, so is all my public writing. What do YOU do to deliberate practice intellectually? I’ll share some anonymized answers in the next newsletter.

As always, you can find out what I’m thinking in more real-time on Twitter and my essays are on my website. My latest essay is called “I got next!” — a personal #RequestForStartups.