May inspiration bloom

May inspiration bloom
Photo by Alyona Bogomolova on Unsplash
Note: I'm adding a new format to Ideas-Led Growth in between my longer messages. I'm already doing the stay-inside-and-think "idea" part of Ideas-Led Growth twice a month. What I'm adding is the go-outside-and-play "sled" part. Highbrow and pop, fringe and mainstream. It's a curated collection of things to read, hear, or see, presented through the lens of thought leadership and ideas-led growth.

Ferdia Lennon's Glorious Exploits seems impossible. The premise: after the failed Athenian invasion of Syracuse, two feckless Syracusans decide to recruit Athenian prisoners of war, kept in brutal circumstances in a quarry, to put on two plays by Euripides, Medea and The Trojan Women. The novel is narrated from their perspective in modern Irish vernacular. It sounds like the setup for a mess. Instead, it's powerful, funny, and moving while showing the brutality of war and its aftermath. 

Glorious Exploits: A Novel

Speaking of Medea and The Trojan Women, in the time most adults spend on social media (over 2 hours per many sources), you could read either play or any other piece of Greek drama. We can always make better choices in what we read. If it's not Greek tragedy, then poetry, short fiction, or essays might suit you. The idea is to build strength and perspective by getting out of the word of quick hits—to the ultimate benefit of your thinking and writing.

Vision of Medea, J.M.W. Turner (Image credit: Tate Britain)

American artist Frank Stella died on May 4, 2024. From minimalist to maximalist, Stella's almost seventy-year career seems to have covered a lot of ground, yet consistently and diligently explored one single idea—abstraction. As thought leaders, even if we examine many ideas from many angles, one overarching idea often drives us. 

Paul Auster pivoted from translation and poetry to novels in the 1980s and kept at it until his death on April 30, 2024. Starting with The New York Trilogy in 1987, Auster used familiar genres, like detective stories, to ask huge questions about identity, memory, and language. The genres we work in can seem constraining, but we can also open up our work to higher stakes. That's often what makes it rise above the rest.

Mr. Vertigo, Paul Auster

Could many of our most visible examples of success be just as many cases of toxic, broken people who forced and lucked their way into massive billions of dollars? And that behind the illusions stand desperate wizards with more tricks than power? That's how Kara Swisher frames it in Burn Book, her caustic take on the founders behind the successes we are expected to see as role models. They might not be the best paradigm for our aspirations. 

Burn Book, Kara Swisher

Maybe what you know about RuPaul leaves you assuming he is a silly figure (yes, he goes by "he, she, or Kathie Lee"). Don’t! Ru has always been full of insights about how we use the tools of presentation to show up in the world. His memoir The House of Hidden Meanings is brilliant, introspective, and loaded with takeaways for thought leaders. 

The House of Hidden Meanings, RuPaul

The tide is turning! Even as we lament the dismal garbage-hole of digital content, where thought and style and feeling are reduced to compost, there are people talking about doing better. I try to be one of them, but here are a few further insights worth sharing. 

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash
  • "The Revenge of the Home Page," Kyle Chayka
    As social media struggles with distributing news, online readers are returning to traditional home pages for reliable journalism. Some publications have seen success by investing in their home pages. The shift towards personalized content and loyalty to specific websites suggests a return to curated digital experiences.
  • "We Need To Rewild The Internet," Maria Farrell
    The internet needs to be rewilded to regain diversity and resilience. Big tech companies have centralized control, stifling innovation and competition. Rewilding involves diversifying infrastructure and promoting interoperability for a more open and collaborative internet.
  • "Chasing Social Media Algorithms Is Out — Community Is in. Here's How to Create Connections That Matter," Paul Sullivan
    Entrepreneurs seek genuine connections in communities amid noisy social media platforms. Building or joining the right community involves focusing on factors such as exclusivity and tailored insights. Executives also benefit from communities offering intimate, trust-based interactions for mutual growth.
  • Not an article but an unbelievable resource, a generous community of creators led by Jay Acunzo and Melanie Deziel, The Creator Kitchen is a force for good. It uses a mastermind format focused on helping you stand out and resonate by creating higher-impact content. I found it by noticing Jay on LinkedIn and seeing him as a leading force in the content resistance. Then I met Mel and many other fellow chefs—all cooking up fantastic things. I would never have launched Ideas-Led Growth (the newsletter or the rebrand) without their brilliance and fellowship. I wrote this edition during one of our co-working sessions. Ask me about membership and how to get on the waitlist!

Note: Many of the links above are affiliate links. I'm using them in lieu of paid subscription tiers or digital tip jars. Seems like a much more graceful way to generate financial support while sharing more thinking and writing that can guide thought leadership.

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