Accelerating Leadership One Book at a Time
What’s Our Problem?
By Tim Urban
From the creator of the wildly popular blog Wait but Why,a fun and fascinating deep dive into what the hell is going on in our strange, unprecedented modern times.
Between 2013 and 2016, Tim Urban became one of the world’s most popular bloggers, writing dozens of viral long-form articles about everything from AI to colonizing Mars to procrastination. Then, he turned his attention to a new topic: the society around him. Why was everything such a mess? Why was everyone acting like such a baby? When did things get so tribal? Why do humans do this stuff?
This massive topic sent Tim tumbling down his deepest rabbit hole yet, through mountains of history, evolutionary psychology, political theory, neuroscience, and modern-day political movements, as he tried to figure out the answer to a simple question: What’s our problem?
Six years later, he emerged from the hole with this book. Narrated by the author, What’s Our Problem? is a deep and expansive analysis of our modern times, in the classic style of Wait but Why, packed with original concepts and sticky metaphors. The book provides an entirely new framework and language for thinking and talking about today’s complex world. Instead of focusing on the usual left-center-right horizontal political axis, which is all about what we think, the book introduces a vertical axis that explores how we think, as individuals and as groups. Listeners will find themselves on a delightful and fascinating journey that will ultimately change the way they see the world around them.
Anyway, he wanted to say a lot more about all of this, but there was a word limit on this book description, so just go listen to the book.
“One of the best ways to improve one’s happiness is to avoid that instinct to avoid doing things that seem like a lot of energy. When the thought of doing an activity makes you go “ughhh,” that is likely a sign you should do it, not that you shouldn’t.”
“National income is defined as the sum of all income available to the residents of a given country in a given year, regardless of the legal classification of that income.“
“There will be more words written on Twitter in the next two years than contained in all books ever printed.”
“Fear is the greatest killer of creativity,” Asai explained, “and humor is the most effective tool I’ve found for insulating cultures from fear.”
“When numbers come up, half of us say, “I’m a designer/teacher/lawyer, not a numbers person,” as if casting a spell to ward off a vampire. And the other half of us mumble apologies for the numbers and rush through our presentations before we slink back to our underworld lairs, where we can calculate in peace without facing scorn. Our claim is that we aren’t so different. If we simply translated our numbers differently, a lot more people would consider themselves numbers people.”
“But leadership is about making the lives of others easier, not blaming them. Leadership is about the hard work of taking responsibility for how our actions and words affect the lives of others.”