Paul Millerd

Solitude & Leadership

I’ve re-read this essay at least once a year since I first found it. Deresewiecz’s call for solitude is even more important in 2023, a time in which anyone can be instantly entertained or amused. I also resonated with the idea that conversations can be a form of solitude, something he calls, “the deep friendship of intimate conversation.” A lot of my writing emerges from real conversations with people and also inspires further conversations.

The Lie Factory

An entertaining telling of the origins of political consulting and how one firm worked with the American Medical Association to turn public sentiment on universal healthcare from highly favorable to highly unfavorable. All in only four months! Also some fun Upton Sinclair things I didn’t know.

David Whyte on On Being

I’ve been using Matter’s podcast transcription, so I thought it would be worth sharing my most-listened to podcast, one with Krista Tippett and David Whyte. Whyte has an unmatched ability to transcend our modern reality through language and his ideas have helped me rethink my “conversation” with the world.

The Talent Myth

In my brief stint working in an executive search firm, helping companies select CEOs and executives, I was shocked at how little anyone seemed to know or be curious about how to select talent. Much of what people did relied on cliches, stereotypes, and proclaimed abilities in being able to identify things like “executive presence.” I was always a bit more skeptical of talent and that included my own, which seemed to vary quite dramatically depending on which environment I ended up in.

A Brief History Of The Corporation - 1600-2010

Venkatesh Rao’s early writings on organizations and work more broadly were a big influence in my own writing and thinking about my career. He showed not only that you could build a life around being obsessively curious but that doing things like pursuing an indie work life didn’t have to be so scary. This history of organizations helped me realize that full-time jobs, the things we see as normal now, didn’t really exist before 200 years ago. 

You And Your Research

A speech by Richard Hamming talking about what it takes to do great work and his observation that there is often a disconnect between scientists identifying the most important problems in their field and actually setting up their lives to work on it. Also includes an interesting back and forth on the tradeoffs of giving up an independent contributor role and how that may undermine doing great work.