Needles from the Haystack #30 – 04/2020

Welcome to the lockdown – edition of the Needles from the Haystack – newsletter.

It’s crazy how much the world changed in the blink of an eye, isn’t it?

Do you think it’s crazy if I told you that you’re able to make big changes in your life in not that much longer time?

I believe you can draw some inspiration from this newsletter.

First and foremost, we’ll start to tear down that belief, that you are what you are and that it will stay that way with Brian Clark.

Then we’ll have a look into the meaning of life with Derek Sivers.

Afterwards, get on with improving your decision-making, health or one of the 120 things Louis Tsai would recommend to his younger self.

Stay healthy,


The Persistent Illusion That Prevents Personal Growth – Brian Clark

This is a short and interesting take on why people become stuck in a fixed mindset and what transitioning to a growth mindset might look like.

If you’re not familiar with those terms, this is the time to learn about them.

It’s necessary to get out of a fixed mindset, but it’s almost impossible to do without knowing what that means and what the alternative is.

The Meaning Of Life – Derek Sivers

Awesome discussion on all the things the meaning of life could be – ending in an inspirational conclusion.

What do you think the meaning of life is?

How To Simplify Your Decision Making – Noah Kagan

Many people have trouble making decisions, small or big.

Here are some strategies to simplify your decision making and have more time for the execution in the future.

I used this a lot since learning about it!

Radio Hour: Controlling Stress, Nutrition Upgrades and Improved Health – Tim Ferriss Show

An hour full of practical knowledge -great tips, hacks and things to think about- if you want to get healthier or just stay healthy long term.

It covers the mind and the body.

120 Actionable Ideas from Ten Books I Would Have Given my Younger Self – Louis Tsai

This article combines 120 life lessons from 10 books in just 3.300 words.

Talk about efficiency!

There are some really good ones in there.

I’d be surprised if none of those ideas is worth trying for you.

Needles from the Haystack #29 – 03/2020

Hey There,

1/6 of the year is already gone. Did you stick to at least 1/6 of your New Year’s resolutions so far?

If you didn’t manage to change a certain behavior, the 1st article by Leo Babauta is exactly what you need.

It provides the right mindset for making lasting change, even if you fall back into your old ways every now and then.

But the other pieces will be equally helpful.

I really enjoyed the article by Erick Godsey as well. His list of flawed ways to think which create negative emotions is worth remembering.

Have a great month of March!



Starting Over And Over Again – Leo Babauta

Life rarely goes according to plan. Plans get disrupted all the time.

And sometimes, we get discouraged by it. We get off track and stay there.

What you need to do is the ability to re-start.

Again. And again. And again.

This is a practical guide to letting go of what happened and getting back into action again.

Communing With Our Demons: Metaprogramming Automatic Thinking – Erick Godsey

This article explains the biases we are subjected to and confused by when it comes to dealing with our emotions.

It also offers a practical exercise to get to the bottom of that barrel.

Accelerated Learning and Mentoring – Tim Ferriss – Show

Tim Ferriss is interviewed about his methods to learn things quickly, why being mentored was very important for his development and how he wants to create „an army of benevolent teachers“.

Very inspiring and useful!

12 Habits That Set Ultra Successful People Apart – Travis Bradberry

I don’t know if this really is what sets successful people apart.

But I know, that I enjoy this list of useful skills / traits.

I think working on any of them is worth it.

Is Ignorance The Problem – Seth Godin

When people act different than you’d like them to, they are not ignoring what you say.

The problem lies elsewhere.

Good news: if you work on that, you will solve it.

Needles from the Haystack #28 – 02/2020

People really liked that last edition of this newsletter!

Or did the subscriber number spike because more people are interested in self-development once the New Year comes around?

I don’t know. But I know that every day is as good a day to embark on a self-improvement journey.

This month, I have 2 fine podcasts and 3 articles for you.

They cover productivity, planning, skill acquisition, focus & idea generation and how to deal with the worst people you’ll ever meet.

Enjoy the month of February!



The Man Who Does Everything – Adam Grant @ Tim Ferriss – Show

Professor Adam Grant is able to drive a lot of projects at the same time.

His level of organization and clever use of productivity tools and techniques allows him to do that.

This interview with Tim Ferriss goes to the bottom of this productivity – barrel and provides lots of things you can adopt to perform better right away.

Fragile Plan vs Robust Plan – Derek Sivers

A good plan works as long as everything goes as expected.

A great plan stays intact when the inevitable obstacles are met.

This article shows you what a robust plan looks like and how to make one.

We all make plans all the time. That’s why this article is required reading.

The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice – James Clear

If you want to become great at something, deliberate practise is what you need to engage in.

Deliberate practise is different from mere repetition in a couple of ways.

This article points the differences out and teaches you how to do it right.

How to Focus on the One Important Thing – Gary Keller @ Tim Ferriss – Show

This is a wide-ranging interview between Tim Ferriss and Gary Keller on business, strategy and life.

I particularly enjoyed the discussion of the focusing question and all its applications.

I shall ask that one a lot more often!

And so you should probably do as well. See what it is and you will see why.

How to Deal With Crappy People – James Altucher

Although most people you’ll ever come across are good people, there are some pretty crappy ones out there as well.

And sometimes you can’t ignore them.

So you need to learn how to deal with them properly.

This article will give you plenty of methods to adopt.

Needles from the Haystack #27 – 01/2020

Happy New Year and All the Best for 2020!

Let’s start off with 5 strong pieces on creativity, parenting, communication, critical thinking and happiness.

I think we agree that improving our life in any of these areas will be worth it.

Not only for the next year, but every year after that as well.



How To Find Your Creative Calling – Chase Jarvis @ James Altucher – Show

Creativity is a super power.

It allows you to leave the beaten path to find your true calling.

But what is creativity exactly? And how can you increase it within you?

This awesome interview between James Altucher and Chase Jarvis will give you lots of tipps, strategies and tools to accomplish the things you really want to do in life.

How To Be A Better Parent: 4 Secrets Backed By Research – Eric Barker

Everybody wants their kids to make good decisions.

But not everybody’s wishes become true.

Here are 4 things you can do to support your kids in making good decisions all by themselves.

I got to know all of those methods before I read this article and I found them all to be working great.

I think 2) and 4) are especially powerful.

You Could Be Much More Persuasive – Scott Adams @ James Altucher – Show

If you want to debate better, avoiding weak arguments (or spotting them when others use them) is a great start.

Scott Adams calls it to avoid Loserthink: unproductive ways to think about the world that should be abolished as soon as possible.

This interview with James Altucher will enable you to learn a lot in a short amount of time.

30 Positive Reframes: How to Start Changing Your Perspective on Life – Steven Handel

Perspective is everything.

It determines how you feel about whatever the situation is.

How about choosing the more positive, more empowering one?

Here are 30 examples for positive reframes of negative / limiting thoughts.

You might get the hang of it and become happier in the process.

Check out Steven’s best articles on his blog as well. He has written a lot of great pieces in the last 10 years!

Happiness – The Minimalists-Podcast

We all strive for happiness, right?

But what does that actually mean? And how can one get there?

The Minimalists have great answers to those questions.

This episode is packed with practical, simple and easy-to-follow advice to live a happier life in 2020.

Needles from the Haystack #26 – 12/2019

With 2020 just around the corner, it’s time to get started on some resolutions.

This month’s pieces will give you ample suggestions on what to work on in the next year.

You’ll learn how…

I can’t serve you dinner for Christmas, but this is the next best thing I can do.

Enjoy the month of December, the Holidays and have an awesome start into 2020!



Jim Dethmer: Leading Above the Line @ The Knowledge Project – Podcast

This podcast has a lots of practical advise on what you can do to be a better version of yourself:

  • a better partner to the ones you love
  • a better colleague to the ones you work with
  • a better parent to your children.

I enjoy the mind- and thoughtful approach that Jim’s line-concept brings to the table.

It’s an easy to remember idea that creates awareness in your daily interactions.

Cutting Through Indecision & Overthinking – Leo Babauta

If you’re overthinking a lot, you’ll know how hard it is to overcome this habit.

Understanding what really happens when you overthink is the first step to finding a practical solution to the problem.

This article provides both in a short & sweet way.

The Most Important Daily Task – Tynan

Daily effort compounds to great results over time.

If you do the right thing and do that consistently, you’re ensuring progress in the direction you desire.

This article provides a practicable way to identify the one task to prioritize each day.

Then it’s up to you to follow through.

Working Up the Ladder – Tynan

This article ties so well to the previous one.

Because sometimes, we’d like to be productive and work on that important thing we know we should be doing.

But we might just don’t feel like starting or generally off-beat.

This article describes a great simple method that can slowly turn an unproductive day around.

On Happiness Hacks And The 5 Chimps Theory – Naval Ravikant @ Tim Ferriss – Show

This a wide ranging Q&A – episode in which Naval Ravikant shares (but not limited to)

  • some of his happiness hacks
  • thoughts on how to live a better life
  • how to deal with conflict and anger.

Spending time on a podcast with Naval is ALWAYS time well-spent because I ALWAYS pick up some useful thoughts.

Listening to this is a must!

Needles from the Haystack #25 – 11/2019

Hey There,

Who else wishes to be 25 again? I do, but only this newsletter actually is.

This month all pieces are more like me though. Not too old, but slightly older. And yet still in great shape.

If you only have time for one thing, I’d go for either of the podcasts.

Naval Ravikant is brilliant, but so are James Altucher and Derek Sivers. Both podcasts are absolutely worth your time. Fight me if they aren’t 🙂

I wish you Happy Halloween and a great month of November.



Naval Ravikant: The Angel Philosopher on Investing, Making Decisions, Happiness and the Meaning of Life – The Knowledge Project

This podcast episode goes deep into a couple of topics: reading, habits, core values, education, mental models and then some.

Naval Ravikant is a person that just has interesting thoughts on a lot of topics and Shane Parrish does a great job of bringing that out with his questions.

It’s a great episode to get inspired to action in a couple of areas.

The Zen Master Of Entrepreneurship – Derek Sivers @ James Altucher – Show

Inspiring discussion between two not-so-common types of entrepreneurs on how to make a living using two new currencies: ideas and favors.

This is a truly inspiring and fun conversation between two exceptional characters.

Focus as an Antidote for Wanting to Do Everything – Leo Babauta

Most of us share a common problem: we want to do more things than we actually can.

We feel like we miss out on stuff and suffer from that.

This article guides you through a process to re-gain focus and avoid the suffering.

How Quickly We Adapt – Tynan

If I can only name one thing that is total turn-off to making change, it’s the outlook of having to unlearn your old way in order to learn the new one.

It’s seriously disheartening. However, often this is just more of an imaginary, then an actual problem.

This is a lot about practical changes, but can be applied to more conceptual endeavors as well.

10 Steps To Phone Freedom – Gavin McInnes

Out of all addictive things, phones have gotten way up there.

That’s why we struggle to restrict ourselves from using them all day.

Here are some ideas if you dare to try fighting that.

Needles from the Haystack #24 – 10/2019

Hi There,

Sober October starts tomorrow. But you can still get drunk on delicious wisdom to improve your life.

And that’s what this edition serves once again.

Some productivity tips, ideas to improve your relationships, insights on how your mind actually works in the background and some parenting sprinkled in…I call that a balanced diet for your brain.

Enjoy October!



Relax For The Same Result – Derek Sivers

This is a very brief tale that shows you how saving energy and resources doesn’t necessarily imply getting worse results.

I enjoy to re-read it from time to time when I feel like I’m running over capacity.

It’s so calming, relaxing and best of all: true.

121 Strategies To Get Work Done Fast –

A great way to have more time to relax is to get more done beforehand.

This is a great list to get an overview on effective ways to increase your productivity.

Try the ones that make most sense to you.

Most come at no cost other than trying a different way of doing things.

These Battles Just Aren’t Worth Fighting, According To Real Parents – Angel Soft

I think fighting battles with your kids is inevitable. It’s a part of the deal and that’s ok.

As an adult, you should make sure that you don’t start unnecessary ones. Otherwise you’ll stress your kids and yourself out more than you need to. And your kids might even lose faith in your judgement.

These are some practical thoughts on where to draw the line between fighting with your kids and just letting them be.

Relationships – The Minimalists-Podcast

What I really like about the Minimalists and their philosophies is, that most of them transfer very well to areas outside of material possessions.

Relationships are a great example and what this podcast episode is about.

They talk about a lot of things to do (or not to do) in a relationship. And all come from an open heart.

There’s a lot of stuff in there that you can use right away.

Fighting Skynet and Firewalling Attention – Tristan Harris @ Tim Ferriss – Show

This whole episode is interesting, but the first hour or so is highly relevant for self-improvement.

It’s about the power of words, directing attention and explaining the whole machinery that is running in the back of our minds without us even noticing.

You can use that to your advantage, as all marketers and social media companies use it to theirs.

Needles from the Haystack #23 – 09/2019

Hi There,

I’ve been busy with other things lately and didn’t get to read as much as I normally do.

That’s why this month’s newsletter features older pieces only.

I think you’ll forgive me, if the content is still great. I think it is!

I really liked the summary of cognitive biases. It’s a wide topic and I wouldn’t have dared to condense it like this. And I would have never been able to do it that well!

Have a great month of september!



8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 AM – Benjamin P. Hardy

The way you spent the first 1-2 hours after waking up set the tone for the day. That time has a big influence on the probability of you having a good or great day.

It took me a while to find the perfect routine. But it was totally worth it.

Here are eight ideas on how you could make your every day better.

How To Entertain A Toddler Without A Smartphone – Brett and Kate McKay

There’s alot to say about letting toddlers play with smartphones. Harsh things actually. Let me put it as neutral as I can:

Relying on technology to entertain little children is just lazy.

Read this and you won’t have an excuse anymore.

Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet: Because Thinking Is Hard – Buster Benson

Basically everybody carries cognitive biases in one form or another. And there’s quite a variety of those around!

Someone took the time and effort to condense this immense list into 20 items across 4 categories.

Pretty useful knowledge right there!

7 Secrets Of Mastery – Dr. Anders Ericsson @ James Altucher – Show

Mastering any subject is less about natural talent then deliberate practice.

Lots of it.

Anders Ericsson talks about what this means and how to become not good but great in what you set out to do.

Learning How To Learn – Dr. Barbara Oakley @ The Knowledge Project – Podcast

If you want to learn, learning how to learn must sound like a worthwile investment.

It surely is.

I took the coursera course by Barbara Oakley a couple of years back and it changed the way I learn. Chunking and spaced repetition are the big keywords here.

This interview gives you a good overview on what you can expect from that course, some methods you can immediately start using and a lot more.

Needles from the Haystack #22 – 08/2019

I hope you’re enjoying this beautiful summer to its fullest potential!

If you spend some of it outside, sitting or lying comfortably with a cold drink nearby, you might enjoy the pieces I picked for the July – edition of my newsletter.

Let me know what you think!

I enjoyed the 1st and 4th article in particular. And I found the Marginal Revolution blog recently. Some articles are a bit over my head, but how do you get smarter if you only read thinks you understand easily?

Enjoy July!



These 10 Biases Impact Who & What Influence You Gabriel Weinberg @ James Altucher – Show

The thing about our brain is, that it is somewhere between hard and impossible to figure out how it works and to use that to your advantage.

Knowledge on cognitive biases creates awareness for the dangers and opportunities that lie within them.

I’d bet that you’ll take at least one thing from this podcast that you haven’t really thought about before.

How I Practice What I Do – Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cohen is a prolific witer on his blog

The amount of content he produces and the diversity of topics he wrestles with is impressive. Besides being more gifted than most of us, he is also deliberate about improving his skills.

He laid out how he does that in this post. Great read for all knowledge workers out there.

Knowing When You’re Boring and Avoiding it – Tynan

Here’s something one can easily work on in order to be more interesting: notice when you’re boring and shift gears, topics or whatever needs to be shifted. This one is concise and useful.

Advice to My Kids – Leo Babauta

Life lesson: If someone puts together a bunch of things and names it „Advice to my kids“, there’s probably good stuff in there for you as well.

Where to Start When It Feels Like Nothing Is Going Right in Your Life – Patrick Allan

Once your down is the right time to get up again. All you need is some impetus to get moving. This article gives lots of ideas on where to start and explains them well.

Needles from the Haystack #21 – 07/2019

Hey There,

This is the summer edition of my newsletter. It comes with icecream. And dopamine. And some great tips on how to live longer, better and more fulfilled.

The “how to get rich” podcast is not a scam at all, although the title is like one gigantic red flag. It’s a compilation of unconventional thoughts on (self-)employment and business from an unconventional thinker that you’ll enjoy greatly, if you have any interest in those topics.

It was my favorite discovery of June, for sure!

Have a great month of July!



How to Get Rich – Naval Ravikant

This podcast is a compilation of a Naval Ravikant’s tweetstorm on „How to Get Rich Without Being Lucky“ enhanced with additional commentary.

Naval claims that following these principles, he’ll get rich in 99 out of 100 universes he’s dropped in. Quite a confidence level!

As his strategies emphasize long-term cooperation, compounding benefits of skill & knowledge acquisition and acting in accordance with highest moral standards, I’m certain that his ideas are not a scam.

Hard work is a must, but it has to be put into the right things. This podcast will give you great advice on what your focus should (and shouldn’t) be.

Making Big Decisions Good Decisions – Tynan

The big decisions we have to make might be less important than we think they are.

Whether a big decision was right or wrong depends on all the small decisions that we made afterwards.

Tynan makes a great case for this way of thinking that should serve you well when dwelling on a big decision doesn’t let you sleep at night.

A Guide to Habit Resilience – Leo Babauta

Creating good habits and following up on them is hard work.

It’s definitely worth it, but still tough. It’s even tougher to get back on track, once you broke a habit.

This article details some great strategies to prepare yourself for the inevitable.

How to Slow Down Time and Live Longer – Mr. Money Mustache

Humans are creatures of habit.

And that helps us tremendously in some areas and nearly destroys us in others. Routines also influence the way we perceive time.

So in order to feel like you’ve lived a long life, it might be necessary to switch it up every now and then.

Naval Ravikant – The Joe Rogan Experience

There’s a reason some call Naval Ravikant a modern day philosopher.

You’ll find out in this great 2-hour conversation with Joe Rogan. They discuss a lot of big ideas in this podcast: wealth, happiness, focus, peak performance, AI, jobs of the future, UBI & more.

You’ll feel just a tad smarter after listening to this.