I write for You. That’s my promise — and the name of my daily email full of inspiration, smart ideas, and emotional support: https://youletter.substack.com/

Also: What can you expect from Nik in 2021?

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It’s the kind of question I’d never have asked myself, but that I was ultimately grateful to be asked: “What were your top 10 articles of 2020?”

In preparation of his digital summit Story 2021, where I’ll be speaking, Sean Smith handed me this question, and I had to admit: “I have no idea, but let me look it up!” Thanks to Moneyball, a tool made by my friend Zack Shapiro, I was able to quickly compile a list of my 10 most read stories of 2020.

The list is sorted by member reading time, a great “the proof is in the pudding” kind of metric. Arguably, Medium readers found these stories the most interesting because they spent the most time actually reading them. …

“What if that’s wrong?” can turn you from an employee into an entrepreneur

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In 1954, a milkshake machine salesman named Ray called his secretary to check if anyone had left a message. To his surprise, someone had ordered not one, not two, but six milkshake mixers, each capable of making five milkshakes within a few seconds.

Ray was skeptical. Business hadn’t exactly been booming, and who could possibly need to make 30 milkshakes at a time? He thought to himself: “No one orders six mixers — what if that’s wrong?”

To make sure the order was correct, Ray called the restaurant himself. He could barely hear the owner over all the background noise. The guy seemed in a hurry. “What? Six mixers? Yeah, that’s us. Actually, make it eight while you’re at it. …

Here’s why and how to make it so.

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If your phone was more like your toothbrush, your life would be a lot better.

Your toothbrush is the greatest tool of all time. You only use it when you’re supposed to, for as long as you need to, and then, you let it go.

That’s what the best tools do: They put you in control at all times, even when you’re not using them. That’s because all great tools optimize for mindfulness. They preserve your time, attention, and energy instead of draining them.

A tool must have three properties to achieve this:

  1. It only triggers you when you actually benefit from using it. …

I keep buying their wine because their stickers make me laugh

I come from Rheinland-Pfalz. That is not just a long and complicated name for Germany’s sixth-largest state, it is also a door to the infinite world of wine. Some 10,000 winemakers produce 65% of all German wine in my home state — and that’s about as much as I know about wine.

What I do know is good marketing when I see it, and I can tell you that out of these 10,000 winemakers, one has completely, unequivocally dominated grocery store aisles for the past few years. …

How to use reason and logic in everything you do

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The best reason to practice personal hygiene is that a clean body leads to a pure soul.

It’s not the explanation my dentist gave me the other day, but regardless, at nearly 30 years old, she finally got me to floss. “Your gums are at risk,” she said. I have flossed every day since. One, because I’d like to keep my teeth until I die, and two, if I don’t have a clean mouth, how can I expect good things to come out when I open it?

Neither the importance of dental care nor its effect on our mental state is new to us, yet more than half of Americans are short at least one tooth, and more than 10% have lost all of them. …

Analyzing my top 10 stories of 2020 with a total of 2 million views

a person setting off brilliant fireworks
a person setting off brilliant fireworks

The #1 rule of marketing is to double down on what works.

I learned this rule from Noah Kagan. Whether you look at his stuff from seven years ago, which is when I first found him, or at his latest YouTube video, the message will appear over and over again: Double down on what works.

Noah is living proof. He launched 24 business ideas before finding one that he stuck with for the next decade. The same with his salary: He has nine sources of income but spends 90% on just one because it pays the most.

Noah does a lot of case studies, and in those, the pattern repeats as well. After eight years of trying, Mr. Beast found a viral video formula he now uses in every video. Kevin Hart first tried to imitate Chris Rock in his stand-up comedy. When he realized making fun of himself worked better, he doubled down. To this day, he often mocks his height and family drama. …

It hurts when you hit it, but you can make it a solid foundation

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On August 1st, 1976, Formula One racing legend Niki Lauda crashed at the Nürburgring. In an instant, his car burst into flames, his helm flew off, and he was trapped in the wreckage.

Other drivers were able to pull him from the car, but because of the burns he suffered and toxic fumes he inhaled, he fell into a coma. A priest showed up to perform his last rites but, luckily, Niki survived.

When he woke up, he was in pain. He had lost half his right ear, and his face would never be the same. Just shy of a miracle, Niki recovered in six weeks — and got back into his car. He missed a mere two races of the season, and yet, to add insult to injury, he lost the title of world champion to his arch nemesis, James Hunt, by one point. …

1813, 2020, or 48 BC — eyes full of judgment have always felt the same

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Bridgerton is a period drama set against the backdrop of London’s high society in 1813 — think Gossip Girl but 200 years earlier.

The characters’ challenges are remarkably similar to the so-called first-world problems we occupy ourselves with today. None of them suffer a shortage of food or shelter, but they all struggle with meaning and expectations.

There’s Daphne, who wants to marry for love, not status. There’s Benedict, who wishes to be an artist, not a businessman. There’s Anthony, who can’t be with the woman he loves because of her heritage.

As they prepare for event after event, everyone is watching. They’re all always watching. The queen. The neighbors. …

On apples, the deferred life plan, and climbing the right hill

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Would you rather have an apple today or two apples tomorrow?

If I give you this choice, you’ll probably start thinking about how much you like apples, how hungry you are right now, and what your meal schedule looks like today. It’s tricky, isn’t it?

If I offer you a slight variation of this choice, however, you’ll immediately know your preference: Would you rather have an apple in a year or two apples in a year and one day? That one is obvious.

Why is it that one of these feels difficult, while the other one feels easy? …

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