Digital Coffee — better late than never; and, why you should be planning your life as a series of sprints!

Uh oh...two weeks without sending my newsletter — sorry about that 😬. Very poor form on my part. By way of excuses...I was travelling last Sunday, then this weekend I had a family emergency. Still, I should have done better! 

Why does it always transpire that as soon as you want to get into a habit, life has a way of trying to get you out of it? I’m now going to try and be a few newsletters ahead — at least with some draft content to reduce the pressure to do it all on a Sunday morning. 

If I’ve learned anything about publishing content on the internet, it’s that consistency is key — same time each week, and people start to build the habit of expecting and reading your content. Once this happens, more referrals and recommendations happen; and voila, your audience grows. 

Thanks to everyone who has provided feedback on the content and structure, I appreciate you taking the time to email me. Now for the typical please share . I think there are ~50 people signed up. If you think of anyone who would enjoy reading, just ping them the digitalcoffee.substack.com link. Also, feel free to share on LinkedIn, Twitter etc. Thank you so much 🙌

This week’s espresso shots

📝 New blog post

Last week I published “This is why I’m predicting where we’ll be in 10 years”. In the article I explore some areas that are interesting to me as I think about my next startup — including the future of health and transport amongst others. I go through explaining why I’m set on doing sufficient pre-planning before jumping into building. If you have a minute, definitely check it out! 

P.S. wow, who would have thought writing about the future was so difficult!? You quickly find yourself wanting to write about everything. The article length just kept growing and growing. And I didn’t even get to scratch the surface on everything that I wanted to write about.

💰 How Britain can help you steal millions

Oliver Bullough wrote an interesting piece for The Guardian last week on money laundering. He highlighted the fact that the UK is the best place in the world to do it. Going on to say “it is increasingly hard to avoid the conclusion that Britain tolerates this kind of behaviour deliberately, because of the money it brings into to our economy”. Jump over to the article, and you too will be able to follow his simple five step formula on how too use British shell companies to cleanse your dirty money. 

🏦 Deutsche Bank’s derivative dumbness 

Over the weekend, Deutsche Bank announced a new "strategic transformation" after a decade of woeful underperformance. The headline-grabbing figure was 18,000 — the number of jobs it expects to cut as part of the restructuring. But of course, it's a large bank. So that means it poses systemic risks. Which means bad news for everyone. So cue a pack of market bears over the weekend speculating over the bank's long-term health, and what it might mean for the broader market. And that means, of course, citing Deutsche Bank's notional derivative exposure, which as of Dec 31 2018, according to the bank's annual report, stood at a terrifying €43.5tn. Even more terrifying when you understand the net exposure is infinitesimal compared to the notional number. Maybe just the market event that will pull the plug on the longest equity bull market in history.

Coffee & chats (longer form piece)

This week I’m covering happiness — specifically ‘How to be Happy’. A recent NYT article got me thinking, and I wanted to share some of the learnings with you.

So let’s start with the fact that happiness often comes from within. And so, as a result, we all have to learn how to tame negative thoughts, and approach every day with optimism.

Conquer negative thinking

All humans have a tendency to ruminate more on bad experiences than positive ones. It’s an evolutionary adaptation — over-learning from the dangerous or hurtful situations we encounter through life (bullying, trauma, betrayal) helps us avoid them in the future and react quickly in a crisis. But that means you have to work a little harder to train your brain to conquer negative thoughts. Here’s how:

  1. Don’t try to stop negative thoughts — Telling yourself “I have to stop thinking about this,” only makes you think about it more. Instead, own your worries. When you are in a negative cycle, acknowledge it. “I’m worrying about money.” “I’m obsessing about problems at work.”

  2. Treat yourself like a friend — When you are feeling negative about yourself, ask yourself what advice would you give a friend who was down on herself. Now try to apply that advice to you.

  3. Challenge your negative thoughts — Socratic questioning is the process of challenging and changing irrational thoughts. Studies show that this method can reduce depression symptoms. The goal is to get you from a negative mindset (“I’m a failure.”) to a more positive one (“I’ve had a lot of success in my career. This is just one setback that doesn’t reflect on me. I can learn from it and be better.”)

Next.....controlled breathing

Science is just beginning to provide evidence that the benefits of this ancient practice are real. Studies have found, for example, that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder. For centuries yogis have used breath control, or pranayama, to promote concentration and improve vitality. Buddha advocated breath-meditation as a way to reach enlightenment.

Grab a pen and paper

Writing about oneself and personal experiences — and then rewriting your story — can lead to behavioural changes and improve happiness. (We already know that expressive writing can improve mood disorders and help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, among other health benefits.)

Some research suggests that writing in a personal journal for 15 minutes a day can lead to a boost in overall happiness and well-being, in part because it allows us to express our emotions, be mindful of our circumstances and resolve inner conflicts. Or you can take the next step and focus on one particular challenge you face, and write and rewrite that story.

We all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it right. By writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of our personal well-being.

Get moving

When people get up and move, even a little, they tend to be happier than when they are still. A study that tracked the movement and moods of mobile phone users found that people reported the most happiness if they had been moving in the past 15 minutes than when they had been sitting or lying down. Most of the time it wasn’t rigorous activity but just gentle walking that left them in a good mood. Of course, we don’t know if moving makes you happy or if happy people just move more, but we do know that more activity goes hand-in-hand with better health and greater happiness.


That’s it folks, I hope you enjoyed this newsletter. If you did — please share it with your friends! See you next Sunday (hopefully) 🗓