10 Top Motivational Ads from Nike

I don’t like advertising. Marketing is more powerful than the average person suspects. Marketers are armed with million-dollar budgets and decades of research. We defend ourselves only with our experience. It’s not a fair fight. I wince every time I hear somebody brag that ads don’t affect them; it’s my guess that ads affect these people most of all.

Still, I can’t help but love certain ads. For example, there’s an entire series of Nike commercials that make me want to get off my ass and do something. In a lot of ways, I don’t care if these make me buy more Nike products. They make me motivated to improve myself. In fact, I have an entire playlist at YouTube composed entirely of Nike commercials. When I’m feeling sorry for myself, when I’m feeling lazy, when I’m feeling uninspired, I watch these. When I’m done, I’m ready to go do stuff.

Here are my ten favorite motivational Nike commercials. I suspect that if you watch even a few of them, you’ll have a more productive day.

Awake (how to start your day)

Move (one of my faves)

Training (motivation to keep going)

Courage (dare to pursue your dreams)

No excuses (there’s no reason not to try)

Leave nothing (good if you like American football)

Take it to the next level (good if you like real football)

Failure (Michael Jordan explains success)

A little less hurt (wow — just wow)

After watching these commercials, I’m ready to take on the world. (And the funny thing is: I don’t own a pair of Nike shoes. I have a couple of Nike shirts for running, but that’s about it!)

By Any Other Name

Kris and I went to the local Methodist church rummage sale last weekend. I found a 25-cent label maker, a “cartigan sweater”, and a hideous lime green-and-yellow turtleneck. Kris found some treasures of her own.

For some reason, I took my camera, but the only thing I found worthy of photographing was the attendance chart in the children’s Sunday school room. It started with March 6th and ended in late June, but was still on the wall. There was heavy attendance from mid-March to mid-April, but otherwise things were sparse. I wouldn’t call any of the kids “regulars”, either. I don’t think anyone made it even half the time.

But what interested me was the list of names:

Alstin, Zachery, Daniel, Cameron, Devin, Damon, Caprial, Jacob, Aidan, Ellie, Stephen, James, Ryan, Sierra, Spencer, David, Berkeley, Gerome, Adrianna, Lauren, Samantha, Conner, Aaron, Ben, Taylor, Kim, Tiffany, Brandon, DeLancey, and Hannah.

Aside from Alsin an DeLancey, there’s nothing too strange here. Some of the names (Conner, Taylor, Sierra, Berkeley) make me tense, but that’s just personal preference.

Still, this list of names is pretty different from a similar list you might have found 30 years ago, when I was going to Sunday school. The crossover names are: Jacob, Stephen, James, Ryan, Spencer, David, Lauren, Aaron, Ben, Kim, Tiffany, and Brandon.

What I find interesting is that it’s the boys’ names that are most likely to stay the same from generation to generation. I’ve noticed this in the past. When looking at a list of popular baby names by decade, you’ll find that the girls’ names are much more changeable. There’s fluctuation among the boys, to be sure, but the girls’ names, especially after 1910, are subject to all sorts of whims and fancies.

The Snowflake Method

The snowflake method for writing a novel seems needlessly complex. In general, I think elaborate mind-mapping systems for writing are counter-productive. When I write a story, I have a clear picture of who my characters are — I don’t need to write pages of notes about what they eat for breakfast. At the same time, however, the method fascinates me. While I think a novel might break it, perhaps I could use it for a short story.

The Einstein Principle

From Study Hacks comes The Einstein Principle: Accomplish More by Doing Less.

Einstein’s push for general relativity highlights an important reality about accomplishment. We are most productive when we focus on a very small number of projects on which we can devote a large amount of attention. Achievements worth achieving require hard work. There is no shortcut here. Be it starting up a new college club or starting a new business, eventually, effort, sustained over a long amount of time, is required.

In a perfect world, we would all be Einsteins. We would each have only one, or at most two, projects in the three major spheres of our lives: professional, extracurricular, and personal. And we would be allowed to focus on this specialized set, in exclusion, as we push the projects to impressive conclusions.

But this doesn’t happen…

Our problem is that we don’t know in advance which project might turn out to be our theory of relativity and which are duds. Because of this, most ambitious people I know, myself included, follow a different strategy. We sow lots of project seeds. We e-mail a lot of people, join a lot of clubs, commit to a lot of minor projects, set up lots of meetings, constantly send out feelers to friends and connections regarding our latest brainstorm. We don’t know which seed will ultimately take root and grow, so, by planting many, we expose ourselves to enough randomness, over time, to maximize our chance of a big deal, interesting, life-changing success eventually happening.

These numerous seeds, however, have a tendency to transform into weeds. While some of them clearly grow into pursuits worth continuing, and others die off quickly, many, instead, exist in a shadowy in-between state where they demand our time but offer little promise of reward in the end.

These weed projects violate the Einstein principle.

We can no longer focus on a small number of important project, but find ourselves, instead, rushing between an increasingly overwhelming slate full of a variety of obligations. This time fracture can prevent real accomplishment. Imagine if Einstein maintained a blog, wrote a book, joined a bunch of clubs at ETH, and tried to master rowing at the same time he was working on General Relativity? We’d still be living in the age of Newton.

Filed for future reference.

The Water of Life

Paul J. passed along a New York Times article on independent bottlers of Scotch whisky. These folks buy premade whisky from distilleries an then work new magic on it.

Suffice it to say, this isn’t your usual Macallan or Glenfiddich. And because of the intricacies of American importing laws, these gems rarely wash up on our shores. What’s more, now that many distilleries are bottling their own single-malt Scotches rather than selling them for blending, and with increased demand from the thirsty middle classes of China, Russia and India, the pool of whiskey that independents draw from is drying up.

Autumn is here, and that means whisky season has arrived. Kris and I were also noticing taht our wine rack is rather empty. We just haven’t been drinking much lately. (That’s a good thing, of course, both for our health and our pocketbooks.) Still, I think a re-stocking trip is in order.