Deliberate Rest

Designing rest for a busy world

Category: Talks (page 1 of 7)

Some personal news: I’m joining the BrightSight Group

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I’m on my last business flight of 2019, heading to Bentonville Arkansas to talk at BlakeSt. about work, rest, and the 4-day week.

It’s been a busy year: I’ve traveled from one end of the Silk Road to the other, given talks in the UK, Europe, and Asia, and did a very fun author event at the Googleplex, and will close out the year with a talk at Silicon Foundry in San Francisco.

And with SHORTER (US | UK) coming out next year, 2020 could be even busier.

Which is why I’m really pleased to be able to share some news: going forward, I’m going to be represented by the BrightSight Group, one of the big (and obviously, best!) speakers’ bureaus.

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We’ll be working together on keynotes and other traditional talks, but we’ll also offer workshops to companies and organizations that want to apply the lessons of SHORTER and REST themselves.

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

Having organized, facilitated, or participated as an expert in something like 200 workshops in my professional life, in places as far-flung as Cincinnati, Baku, and Kuala Lumpur, this is a kind of work that I really enjoy, and I’m really looking forward to being able to do more of it.

You can contact them here, or 609-924-3060.

Speaking at Life Lessons in London, February 2020

London Bridge and the Shard

I’m going back to London in February to speak at Life Lessons, a conference at the Barbican!

Wellbeing isn’t about lycra and fad diets. Its aim is not weight-loss for image-sake. Wellbeing is a way of life. It’s smart-thinking, sustainable living, community-building and frank-speaking. When well-informed, with an open-mind and with life lessons at our finger-tips, we can all live a happy, healthy and more inspired life.

Welcome to Life Lessons. A weekend of big talks from big thinkers. Where we dare to dream of a better future.

The speaker list is a cool mix, ranging from Richard Darwins to Ruby Wax to James Wallman.

Essentially, the talk will be the start of the publicity campaign for SHORTER (US | UK). I’ll be doing several other talks while I’m there. Watch this space for more updates.

Talking about REST and SHORTER at Silicon Foundry, December 4

I’ll be talking about REST and SHORTER at Silicon Foundry in San Francisco on December 4.

Let's talk about distraction

The talk will range cross my last three books, THE DISTRACTION ADDICTION, REST, and SHORTER, laying out my argument for the importance of deliberate rest, explaining how we can develop practices that create more time for focused work, and how companies are redesigning their workdays to build more time for focus– and reduce their working hours at the same time.

Speaking at Somnex

You can pre-register here, but space is limited!

My talk at Google

Recently I was at Google, at the invitation of the Asian Googlers Network, to talk about Rest, my new work on the 4-day week, and even a bit about contemplative computing. The video of the talk is now up on YouTube:

It was a terrific crowd, and I just hope I did the subject justice!

On being “talent”

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Last week I spent a day in San Francisco, recording a summary of REST for a company that’s putting together a series of lectures on work-life balance, digital distraction, and other topics. (I’m not sure what I can say about it publicly, hence my obscurity.)

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I spent the morning recording the lectures in a studio that mainly does voice work for video games), then several more hours with a film crew shooting video that’ll go into a set of promotional videos and advertisements for the class.

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Some of it involved responding to questions that’ll be used in a series of advertisements. We then decamped from the studio, and went over to the startup, so they could get some footage of me talking to people, looking thoughtful underneath a logo of the company, and so on.

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I think one of the photographers also caught me napping at one point. We shall see.

It was an interesting experience. Of course I’ve given lots of talks about rest, but it’s still interesting thinking about how to organize your material for listeners you’ll never interact with, who are looking for things they can put to use in their own lives.

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I’ve also done a very little video or TV work, and lots of radio interviews, but this was the first time I’ve done any studio recording, and the first time I’ve worked with a professional camera crew.

For one thing, I was stunned at just how much stuff a professional crew uses. Even in our iPhone-GoPro era, people who do this for a living wrangle a lot of equipment.

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So this was no record-over-Skype kind of deal!

The whole interaction was really interesting because on one hand, there are a half dozen technicians— all very skilled people— who have been mobilized on your behalf, and you are literally the center of everyone’s attention; yet at the same time, you’re utterly objectified. You don’t have a name; you’re “the talent.” The cinematographer and photographer want to make you look great, but that means treating you as a bunch of shadows, angles, posture, etc.. (I guess it’s better than being the opposite of talent….)

Not that they always succeeded, of course.

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And there’s just an enormous amount of artifice that goes into creating natural-looking scenes: the crew might spend 90 minutes setting up cameras for 3 minutes of me talking, and there was endless adjustment of lights, mics, and so on.

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Anyway, it was an illuminating day, and I look forward to the finished product becoming available.

Jabra video on deliberate rest

In September when I was in Europe, I gave a talk at Jabra corporate headquarters, just outside Copenhagen (where I had some excellent food, and saw some cool cats). We shot some video of me talking about deliberate rest, and Jabra has now created a short video from it. (Sorry about the auto-play.)

As a place that makes some outstanding headsets for office use, Jabra is really interested in issues of focus and concentration in business environments, so it turned out to be a great place to talk about deliberate rest and my earlier work on contemplative computing. (I’ll confess I have no fewer than four pair of Jabra headphones– two sets that I’ve used for everyday listening, a pair of their Bluetooth earbuds, and a set of noise-canceling office headphones. They’re all awesome.) And of course they did a great job with the video!

A few months ago I was doing an Al Jazeera show, and during the sound check beforehand one of the other guests described me as “the silver gent.” I suppose I see what he meant. Mentally I don’t feel like i’ve aged in the last twenty years (I feel like fundamentally the same person I was when I was a postdoc, or first married), but I have gotten more silver.

And anyone who meets me on the road is likely to see me wearing some variation of those clothes– the black shirt and black cashmere jacket, and jeans. What can I say; one of my professors extolled the virtues of wearing black on the road, and I still dress that way out of respect for her.

Get Brainwashed: Talking about work and rest with Brainwash.nl

When I was in Amsterdam, I took some time to do an interview with the Web magazine Brainwash about REST, work in contemporary society, and creativity. The first section of the interview is now up.

In this section I talk about busyness, why it’s so pervasive and persistent, and how Western thinkers used to consider busyness a kind of moral failing or sloth (channeling the great Josef Pieper and his book Leisure the Basis of Culture).

I think another section will be up in the near future!

Writing about talking: An old set of posts about the craft of speaking

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Sometimes you write something and  forget about it for years, only to rediscover it and think, Hey, this isn’t bad. (More common is rediscovering something and think, Boy, this is terrible. What was I thinking?) In the course of chasing down some broken links, I came across a series of posts about the business of speaking: about making the transition from academic to business speaking, working with an agent, building talks, and the logistics of travel and delivery.

Speaking at The Hopkins School

The pieces were written in 2014, before my most recent round of interviews, podcasts, radio appearances, and conference talks about REST. However, I think the basic advice is still pretty sound. The posts in this series include:

“Je brein werkt door als je bewust rust:” I don’t know what it means, but apparently I said it

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An article about REST is out in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. It quotes me as saying “Je brein werkt door als je bewust rust.” It might also be a warning. Or a joke.

I can’t tell. I don’t speak Dutch, so I have no idea.
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My DLD17 session with Arianna Huffington is now online

My session on Rest (or as it was called in the program, REST!!!) at DLD17 is now up online. Arianna Huffington and I talk about deliberate rest, multitasking, and more.

Or, to put it another way, Arianna is onstage, and I happen to be there too. Still hard for me to process.

The audio doesn’t sync up perfectly (at least in the 15 times I’ve watched and reloaded it!), but otherwise, hey. It’s cool.

Not to sound too much like a fanboy, but it was fabulous to spend time with her. She’s really nice in person, and was as generous with her time at the conference as she was in her New York Times review and Lifehacker shout-out. I met a lot of people who I wouldn’t have otherwise, which is always a good moment at a conference.

And DLD is an extraordinary event. It’s one of the few conferences I’ve been to where I can genuinely say everyone was interesting, and I never felt like I had to disentangle myself from a conversation that felt like it was going nowhere with someone I didn’t want to be around. For someone who has to make a conscious effort at small talk, this is a huge thing, and something I really appreciated about the conference.

Not to mention the fact that Munich is wonderful, and the venue was awesome (despite being a confusing Inception-style combination of three different buildings joined together by a series of catwalks and open spaces designed by M. C. Escher).

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