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Book Freak #62: Tim Gunn's Golden Rules for Living

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Book Freak

August 4 · Issue #62 · View online
Short pieces of advice from books

Sponsor message: I recently got a subscription to 12min, a library of condensed non-fiction books (audio and text). New titles are added all the time. I’ve found it especially useful to refresh my memory on books I read years ago, like Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Fooled By Randomness, and Tim Ferriss’s Tools of Titans. A lifetime subscription to 12min is $39 – Mark

Beloved pop culture icon and New York Times bestselling author Tim Gunn is best known as the Emmy Award–winning host of Project Runway. He also hosted two seasons of his own Bravo makeover series, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, and was the host of the reality TV series Under the Gunn. Here are four pieces of advice from his book, Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work
Two pieces of life advice
“I’ll give you some life advice,” I said. “The first piece is: Listen and listen intently when you’re being spoken to about something. The second: Take the high road. When presented with frustration or anger or discontentment with a situation or a person, don’t reduce yourself to that level. Don’t get into a conflict in that moment. You’ll feel better about yourself for it.” Well, to my surprise, this created a near frenzy in the room. The students were aghast. I was surprised by the reaction, so I said: “Tell me more about why that seems like bad advice to you.” “I believe I should stand up for myself!” said one student. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t stand up for yourself,” I said. “I’m just saying, in the heat of the moment, walk away from it.”
Entertaining isn't about showing off, it's about making people feel comfortable
“Entertaining shouldn’t be about showing off. It’s all about making people feel comfortable and setting a stage for everyone to have a good time, make new friends, and have stimulating conversations. You want to leave a party thinking: If I hadn’t gone to that, I never would have met this wonderful person, or had that delicious meal, or felt that sense of camaraderie with the people I met at the dessert table.”
Phrase criticism in the nicest possible way, but never lie
“I try to phrase criticism in the nicest possible way, but I also never lie. If people ask, I assume it’s because they want to know. People are not dumb about these things; they can tell when a compliment isn’t sincere.”
How to be a good houseguest
“To be a good houseguest, you should be as independent as possible. You should buy groceries or take your hosts out for dinner. Pick up after yourself. Pretend to have a good time even if you’re not. Say, ‘I’d like to make a dinner reservation tonight. What’s your favorite restaurant?’ Try not to break anything. Be quiet.”
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