One of the most crucial components to maintaining an edge in business / life is access to relevant, high-quality information. This information shapes our perspectives, decisions, and acts as the basis for new ideas or strategies.
So in the pursuit of this information advantage, common advice that is given is to read the news. The intent behind this is well-meaning, but the reality is that reading the news turns into you swimming through oceans of irrelevant information, overreactions, and repeats of company press releases. Occasionally, you come across an article that will change perspectives or add significant value, but skimming through news sites to find these nuggets of gold is extremely time consuming.
To me, staying informed is a situation where quality matters exponentially more than quantity. What defines quality? My litmus test is whether it unlocks a new perspective and provides applicable information to my fields of interest.
Those criteria also mean that everyone should build out a stream of information that uniquely suits their needs rather than listening to general advice.
On The Economist
I recently subscribed to The Economist on the recommendation of several friends. It does a great job of analyzing geopolitical trends, politics, and providing a global perspective. The Economist has definitely made me smarter.
But recently, I’ve asked myself how useful this information is to my own interests in technology, startups, and business strategy. My conclusion is that other than a few talking points, the information that I’m absorbing through The Economist has largely been redundant.
The pieces of information that would interest me, have already come in through other new sources in my stream of information.
My largest complaint of The Economist is that it is reactionary in its coverage and analysis. They provide few robust analyses on business strategy and trends in the future.
I get it, that’s not what The Economist does, their focus is on economics and geopolitics. My interests and the magazine’s interests don’t align, so it’s time to switch off.
The New Information Stream
My subscription of choice moving forward will likely be the Harvard Business Review. Their in-depth case studies, CEO interviews, and discussion of technological trends in business are more suited to my personal interests.
To keep myself up to date on significant news items, I am a fan of using newsletters which sort out irrelevant information. The Hustle is my go-to for daily business and tech news; Seeking Alpha’s Wall Street Breakfast is a short, digestible, daily breakdown of news from a financial lens; Abnormal Returns for curated article links on personal finance, investment strategies, and news from a financial lens; The Tim Ferriss Show is my podcast for learning about how high-performers think and operate through in-depth one on one interviews; National Geographic is my favourite magazine and it provides a holistic view of politics, culture, and nature through their passionate photographs and storytelling.
Moving forward, I will continue adjusting these information sources as my needs and interests change. So far, I am happy with the quality of information these sources provide. They keep me from being caught flat-footed in conversations while providing me with information that helps me make better decisions.