Updated on 08.08.11

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #28

Trent Hamm

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

1. Black Button
This is a really interesting short film about a choice.

Would you push the button? I wouldn’t.

2. Winston Churchill on remaining true
Winston Churchill delivered this as part of a commencement speech at his old school (Harrow) in 1941, just as the tide was gently beginning to turn in the second World War.

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” – Winston Churchill

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the expectations of society and of the community around you. Don’t give in, except to what you think is right and wrong.

3. Lonely Tree by Julie Berlin
I think we all feel like this sometimes.

Lonely tree

There is a big part of me that’s drawn to trees like this. If I were in that field, I would have a very hard time resisting walking toward that tree.

4. Thoreau on aiming high
What are you doing to make the world a better place?

Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something. – Henry David Thoreau

One of the challenges I always had at my previous job is that I couldn’t connect it very well to improving the world. All I felt like I was doing was setting up resources that were mostly used by companies to increase their profits. Although I liked the work, when I thought about the end product of it, I often felt empty.

5. Chris Anderson on technology’s long tail
The “long tail” refers to the fact that even relatively unsuccessful creative works will often sell slowly for a long time, picking up fans and viewers and readers along the way.

Part of the reason I enjoy writing online so much is because online writing has a tremendously long tail. People are regularly stumbling on things I wrote in 2007 and 2008.

6. J. M. Barrie on life and humility
If we ever begin to think too much of ourselves, life will inevitably slap us in the face.

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” – J. M. Barrie

Be glad with what you have and don’t come to expect that the world owes you anything.

7. Mencken on the depth and width of life
What is the width and depth of your life?

“You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth” – Henry Louis Mencken

Width is all about how many people you affect with what you do, how many valuable relationships you have, and so on. Depth is about how deeply your life affects others. Every time you build up a relationship or help someone in need, you add to the depth and width of your life.

8. StartCooking
This is a YouTube channel filled with great instructional cooking videos, particularly aimed toward beginners. I particularly like their short instructional videos, like this one on preparing garlic:

Short, sweet, to the point, and upbeat. It’s exactly what you want in a cooking video.

9. e.ggtimer.com
The name really says it all. This is simply a very flexible timer for whatever your needs may be.

I actually have a series of bookmarks to various specific timers for my own use: 45 minutes for uninterrupted writing, a 2 hour reminder to get away from the screen and stretch, a nice morning routine, and a teeth-brushing timer.

10. Woman at Her Toilette: Madame Poupoule (1898), by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
For the longest time, I thought this was a woman sitting in a cafe reading a book. I didn’t know the title of the painting, but I saw it once many years ago and it stuck in my mind.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

I found it again this week, and to say I was surprised by the actual name of it is an understatement.

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  1. FrugalJane says:

    There’s something wrong with the formatting you use on these Saturday inspiration posts – the text gets bigger and bigger and is unreadable. I enjoyed reading them when the formatting was right, but the last few weeks it’s not worth it to have to scroll down after just a few words.

  2. Other Jonathan says:

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been reading a bunch of free classics on the Kindle lately, and the term “toilet” in days before our modern-day toilet was invented seems to include all of a woman’s preparations for the day – if not dressing, then at least makeup, perfume, etc. So the title doesn’t mean she’s sitting on a toilet under that table trying to squeeze one out.

  3. marta says:

    Other Jonathan:

    Was it the reason for Trent’s confusion, though? Doesn’t seem so.

    He said he thought the woman was sitting in a cafe, reading a book. If you actually look at the painting, you can see the woman is brushing her hair.


    A timer for brushing your teeth? Aren’t you taking it too far? It really feels so robotic! Hopefully you don’t use a timer with certain activities…

  4. eva says:

    @marta: most better electric toothbrushes actually have built-in timers. brushing your teeth for the right amount of time makes a huge difference in oral hygiene and prevents gum disease, cavities, etc.

  5. Kelly says:

    Perhaps I’m more than a bit neurotic, but I time my teeth brushing with a cheap kitchen timer; 30 seconds for each quadrant of my mouth.

  6. Amy says:

    trent obviously doesn’t care that the format is messed up… ergo, he obviously doesn’t care about his readers.
    i’m out, trent.

  7. con says:

    People have been mentioning the formatting problem for a few weeks and nothing’s ever done. His right, I guess. But like #6 says, it is a reflection of how much he cares and is in tune with his readers. Guess not. I’ll still read just to see if this changes, but I doubt it will. Of all the other blogs I read, the author comments that they will correct any problems and they do. Again, his to do how he wishes. Whatever. The inspiration pieces would be my favorite of any of his posts if I could only READ THEM.

  8. mary m says:

    “the black button” reminds me of this new show on Hulu+ called “the booth at the end.” I thought the ending to “the black button” was going to be ‘now that you made your choice you can’t have the key’, which to me would have been more thought provoking.

  9. mary m says:

    Yes other jonathon is correct. Toilette as in toiletteries.

  10. Jamboree says:

    The formatting to the “10 pieces of inspiration” articles always reads perfectly on my Mac laptop running the Safari browser. Perhaps it’s optimized for some browsers and not others?

  11. mary m says:

    Works fine on my iPhone too.

  12. Dee says:

    Format is messed up in email feed. I click on the comments and am taken to the website where the format is fine.

  13. Ranga says:

    Awesome Boss! Many thanks for the Startcooking.com website. That is a big help .

  14. Lis says:

    The formatting is not a problem for me, but, I am using Safari. There was one odd thing though – the video in the post was a little blurb about how to prepare garlic, not the video about the black button. I had to click on the title to be redirected to the actual video. Very odd. Most of these are pretty cool, but I’m confused as to how a painting of a woman brushing her hair is inspiring. To each their own I suppose.

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