View profile

Japanese Cotton Paper

Japanese Cotton Paper
By Mustafa Sultan • Issue #38 • View online
Friends,
I used to obsess over making nice notes. My physics teacher would slow down the whole class’s teaching so I could make perfect swivels with my Lamy Fountain Pen.

At the start of Medical School, armed with a handsome SLC Reimbursements payment — I bought 6 Midori Notebooks — made from Japanese Cotton Paper. Now having upgraded to a Meisterstück Montblanc fountain pen, I beautifully mapped out every orifice of the human body.
In case you were wondering, this is what Japanese cotton paper looks like
In case you were wondering, this is what Japanese cotton paper looks like
It kind of worked. But not really.
Later I learned that I could achieve the same result with a fraction of the work. The real learning wasn’t happening when note making (this itself was procrastination), it was happening when I practiced my flashcards after having made the notes.
This concept —that you can get the same result with a fraction of the effort has many names— the Zipf Principle, the 80/20 rule, the Pareto Principle, ‘min effort max reward’…
End of Year Review
For the first time ever, I’m doing an end of year review (which I encourage everyone to try).
One of the questions I’ve found helpful to think about is: How can I apply the 80/20 rule to my life?
The 80/20 rule (at least in some variety) is a universal law. Whether it’s 80/20, 70/30, 90/10… you see it everywhere:
  • 10% of the world holds 85% of its wealth
  • 20% of people commit 80% of crimes
  • You’ll wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time…
This too applies to (my) life—
  • 20% of work leads to 80% of accomplishment
  • 20% of people result in 80% of happiness (also applies inversely)
  • 20% of activities will result in 80% of bad health
So in what meaningful ways have I/can I apply this?
🎙 Podcast editing. In my first 5–10 interviews, I edited out every ‘um’ and silence. This took ages. Whilst working out how to make this project sustainable (and fun) — I asked myself: “What would it look like if this was easy?”. Now I probably put in 30% of the effort into each episode to get 90% of the result.
💉 I’ve made no notes this year, relying completely on question banks. We’ll find out if this has worked in August…
I also thought about which 20% of knowledge (that I don’t currently have) would be the most helpful on wards. I’ve always felt like I suck at interpreting CXRs/ECGs so I’ve worked on those this holiday.
🤜 🤛 I’ve thought about which personal relationships bring me the disproportionate happiness — I think it’s probably a 30/80 split. I’m committed to focusing on those 30% of people.
These are some other questions I’ve asked myself in the end of year review for inspiration—
What was my overall rating for the year? What went well? Room for improvement?
How am I different between last year and this?
Three things I’m grateful for?
What can I start doing daily that I’ll be grateful for in 12 months?
Three goals and specific ways of achieving them?
What are my loonshots? Goals I think are impossible but would love to achieve?
The Pretentiousness of this Email
If you made it through the non-stop pretentiousness and brand dropping—thank you. I read a really great article whilst researching ahead of my Karl Friston interview
The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI
I was so impressed by the writing that I immediately emailed the author—
He said—
Hi Mustafa, 
Thanks for reading the Wired story and for your message. If the interview hasn’t happened already, good luck with Karl. He’s a very nice guy and I’m sure you’ll have a fascinating talk. Please send me a link when the episode goes up. 
I’m not sure what would be my number one tip for storytelling, but one thing I always look for while interviewing and reading about my subjects: little details that are unusually odd, beautiful, happy, or sad. Sometimes in the midst of a story with a clear arc or theme, it helps to have a little thing that isn’t necessary to tell the story appear and surprise the reader. Like Karl’s blanket, or his wife’s taxidermy, or any number of things in that story. But those are the types of things I like reading or hearing about, so that could be my bias. 
Again, good luck today. Please tell Karl I say hi!
Best, Shaun
Including little details/brand dropping is too a feature of Bret Easton Ellis’s writing (author American Psycho)—
I think people like knowing oddly specific details — so I’m trying to incorporate it more into my writing, podcasting etc. 🤷‍♂️
(I think this is linked to the often viral, ‘day in the life of’ YouTube videos. After watching every single day in the life of medical student/startup engineer/entrepreneur video — I found myself watching a day in the life of an apprentice bricklayer video yesterday. People like seeing details of other peoples’ lives).
Podcast
#044 Rare Disease AI — Rudy Benfredj (CEO Mendelian)
All the best,
Musty
Did you enjoy this issue?
Mustafa Sultan

What I'm reading about.

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue