Transcript of Nono Martínez Alonso — The Origins of Getting Simple (#25)

Listen to this episode · 1 hr 27 min

Please enjoy this transcript. Nono Martínez Alonso on his story, his worldview, how and why he started Getting Simple, and the struggles and joys of making a podcast about simple living, doing less better, and crafting your own lifestyle. Transcripts may contain typos. You can find the episode notes here.

0:29Jose Luis García del Castillo: Hello, and welcome to The Getting Simple Podcast. This is your host, Nono Marti... Oh, wait! I'm not Nono Martinez Alonso. Let me start again. This is your host Jose Luis Garcia del Castillo and we have a very special episode tonight. I'm here in front of Nono Martinez Alonso and he's going to be our special guest for tonight. Hi, Nono.

0:51Nono Martínez Alonso: How's it going?

0:53Jose Luis: How does it feel to be on the other side?

0:55Nono: Ah, I'm on the spot. Feels a bit weird.

0:59Jose Luis: Now you know what you've been doing to all these poor people. So we thought it would be quite interesting that after so much time and so many episodes where Nono has been inviting all these really amazing guests to actually have some insights about him firsthand about what he thinks about simplicity, and a little bit about his own life. What do you think?

1:24Nono: Sounds good. Let's see.

1:25Jose Luis: All right.

1:26Nono: I'm not ready for this.

1:27Jose Luis: I don't think I'm ready either. But he was kind enough to invite me to command this episode. I want to let our audience know that there have been no agreed upon questions or there's no script. So Nono doesn't really know what I'm going to ask him. And I'm going to try to be a little evil and a little teasing to see if we uncover a bit more of the truth behind this really special character.

1:54 If you allow me to, I would like to structure this episode in three parts. I'm going to first ask you a little bit about yourself and about how you got to be what you are today. And then I'm going to move on to some questions that I have about the podcast itself. So it's going to be a little meta, right? And then we're going to end up with a bunch of random, unconnected questions the way you do with other guests in this show. How does that sound?

2:25Nono: Sounds awesome.

2:26Jose Luis: All right, let's go for it. I'm going to start super simple. I want you to tell us your story. And let me frame it this way, because you've disclosed a lot of bits and pieces about your story and things from your life and views that you have upon how things go in the world. But I don't think you've done a cohesive one-segment story about it. So I think the audience will be really interested in knowing a little bit about yourself, and I will frame it, perhaps, as.. Can you tell us what defines you today and how did you get there?

3:04Nono: All right. Hello, everyone. I'm on the spot today. I've done this too many people, maybe 20 people, 30 people already. It's the first time that it's about me, and I have to say it's not easy but I'll try my best. I think there are many things that surround me and I'll.. You've asked me how I go to today but I will start by saying I kind of see that where I'm at now, today, in 2019, is that I've tried to explore a lot of different things and formalized, or purposefully chosen to focus on the ones that I think are the most representative in my life, or at least the ones that I think that if I keep developing throughout my life will make me the happiest.

4:02 To start, going back a bit in time, I'll start with how I really started with what I do today. I root who I am today to my early days. I had the luck, through my family to get technology and devices, access to technology, from really early years of my life, and also, in some way I don't know why, get motivated to draw. To do sketches and to.. Well, not sketches how I understand them today but to sketching at school and to actually feel that what I was doing was something that other people were seeing that was taken a bit more care of than other of my classmates, right? And that's just the silly thing of winning the Christmas postcard drawing in the class, which is nothing really but I just liked doing that. Other people would be highlighted in the class by writing the best or doing some other exercises but that was one of the things that I was into.

5:01Jose Luis: This was before architecture school, right?

5:03Nono: Oh, this was when I was eight years old or six or ten. I don't know, I still have those postcards. I can share them, which is probably useless but you'll see how much I've evolved. And then going back to technology throughout the times were.. There was a time in Spain where pharmaceutical companies would be able to give doctors a lot of stuff just because they were selling [or recommending] their medicines and I had the chance too use a lot of small gadgets that they would give my dad because that was a normal thing. You would get a BlackBerry or a laptop or a PDA—the precursor of the stylus. Well, the first styluses and all that stuff.

5:51 And I found myself, I think when I was 11 years old, I don't quite remember, or ten years old, I found myself spending a lot of time with the computer. Something that wouldn't seem normal for a kid my age and wasn't normal for anyone there because nobody really had computers in their daily work and in their daily life. Something that to my surprise is super common today. And I remember my parents telling me that I was spending too much time on the computer. It seemed like I was doing something wrong and now we're all doing that and it still seems like it's wrong, but it's our job, right? We have to be using the computer.

6:27Jose Luis: So I think back in those times, computers were a thing that a lot of kids use for intense video gaming. How did it turn for you as a creative tool? How did that happen?

6:39Nono: That was something I was going to segue into. I don't know when it happened, but of course I would play Age of Empires or Counter Strike or Warcraft or any games that were around the epoch. But what I do remember is that some point I started... Well, I used to buy video game magazines but I also started buying computer magazines, which, for some reason, and I don't really know why, and they will bring the latest releases of devices, microphones, or prices of new chips and things. I wasn't necessarily interested on that but what really caught my attention was that they would come with a trial version of a lot of high-end, state of the art programs. Some of them would be.. I think one of them that changed, maybe, who I am today is PaintShop Pro, which was the..

7:33Jose Luis: Oh, wow.

7:33Nono: ..was the competition of Photoshop, and I think Photoshop catched on and PaintShop Pro disappeared. I don't really know if they're still in the market, but I started to do collages or try to explore all the effects that you could do or.. Yeah, to make my own backgrounds for the computer and things like that. I would spend hours doing those things.

7:54Jose Luis: Like they used to ground with the 90s?

7:55Nono: Hehe. Yeah, I guess I don't know. We also had one of the first.. Well, for us, was one of the first digital portable cameras. You would be able to.. I think you had a compact card and you would be able to take eleven photos and then you have to empty the card to the computer and start again.

8:14 Yeah, I don't know. [Technology] is something that even when I was really young caught my attention. I remember that at school we actually learned coding a bit—like, HTML—and that's something that I was really eager to keep learning. That was one thing that I was good at because I was spending time outside of the class, testing.

8:34Jose Luis: And how did that happen? I don't recall that being a common thing on kids in Spain.

8:40Nono: Yeah. I had a class which was an hour per week to spend on the computer, and there will be some games so some people would be allowed to play games in that moment. I remember discovering Google there. The teacher told us, "There's this new search engine called Google and it's becoming really famous. It's really good," and getting introduced to [Google]. Even using a game.. I think there was a soccer game and some other shooting game that was aimed at learning how to type with the computer. So I kind of learn how to type without looking into the keyboard, which is something that we all know now. (At least most people I work with. I don't want to say that everyone knows how to do that.)

9:24 For some reason one of the teachers decided that we were going to learn.. I might have been there a bit older, maybe fourteen or thirteen or twelve. The thing is that I had my first website when I was maybe thirteen.. I don't don't remember. I don't remember the exact dates but I know that I started doing HTML, doing some programming, starting to get into animated GIFs with my name to put on the website, a web counter, and things like that. Seeing that people would like that I'm going into.. This was probably "the early on Instagram." I actually made a Flash album with pictures of people from my class and people would go there because they would be in the pictures. So people would go into there and then they would see themselves. Also, pictures of myself [riding] motorcycles [outdoors] with my dad, that was something that I also did when I was young.

10:23 I've done a lot of activities throughout my life. I've tried swimming. I've tried karate, golf, surfing.. Doing a lot of stuff. But what really stuck with me during all those years, when I was a teenager, was using computers. I started getting a bit more serious with websites when I was maybe thirteen, fourteen, or something. That got me into keeping doing it and also into 3d modeling.

10:48 Then, a few years after that, when I was eighteen years old, I started studying architecture. That was the thing that was for me.. I really liked it. I was doing good sketching, I was learning a lot of drawing, I was good with computers. Everything I would do on the computer—like AutoCAD or 3ds Max or rendering—seemed like I enjoyed it. And I really liked the aesthetics of architecture: crafting something to be like super polished. And I think at the beginning one thing to note is that I had a bit of an advantage because of having knowledge on how to use computers, because everything was done on the computer at that time.

11:26 But then, the third year that I studied architecture.. This was in in my hometown in Málaga, that I said, "I cannot do this anymore like this." We were spending 24 hours, seven days a week in architecture school, and I guess a lot of people have mentioned this on the podcast but my own experience was, "I'm giving my full time to this, because I've enjoyed it, but after six different studios (and studio is an architecture studio where you have to design buildings and do projects based on a brief that the teacher gives you)." And I think it was it was too much.

12:02 I was doing well, but I was a bit burnt out. That was when I started looking into exchange programs to see where I could go a lot of people in my school were going to Europe or going to other cities in Spain, and some of them were internationally going to the US. I had the chance to access to go to North Carolina, North Carolina State University in Raleigh. That was my first real touch with the US, even though I had been there as teenager for three weeks in Indiana, Pennsylvania before. I continue to study architecture in my fourth year in North Carolina, but I had a lot more time for myself, to do my own side projects and to hang out with other people.

12:50 One thing that I forgot to note is how my programming continued during architecture is that I continued learning on my own and even started doing an iPhone application, a simple structures application for the iPhone [called Forces]. It wasn't until I was in this exchange program that I had time to sit and develop it properly. Because in Spain, I couldn't do that, right?

13:17 After North Carolina, I decided that I had liked [being abroad] so much that I went to Sydney. I did my fifth year in Sydney. Did a lot of networking there. I didn't really join the scene of programming there but I tried to go to some meetups to meet people who were doing user experience design or interaction or startups to create their own web platforms or iPhone apps and that was good. I saw that there was some other realm of people that were interested in different things, but also enjoyed design and creating their own products.

13:52Jose Luis: How did you end up in Boston then?

13:54Nono: I returned to Spain because I had to finish my final thesis project in architecture in October 2013. I had to finish this so I tried to finish it as soon as possible. I spent six or eight months doing this final project that for so many people seem to be the most important project of their life. I realized that that wasn't the case for me. I would do one project the best I could and would submit it and then I will go somewhere else. And during the process of doing this project, I applied to study a master's degree in design technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. I actually learned about this program because of Ana Puyol. She was doing the program at the time. And I took this as an opportunity to prepare my first architecture portfolio for architecture studios or any other design studios. And I did the portfolio, sent it through and, in March, I got accepted. So I got accepted to study the master's degree.

15:01Jose Luis: That was the month before we met for the first time in upstate New York, right?

15:06Nono: I think so. Yeah. Yeah, it might be that..

15:10Jose Luis: No, no, no, no. We met in 2012.

15:13Nono: Yeah, that was two years before. Jose Luis and I actually met at a conference in Troy, New York, in the weirdest place.

15:20Jose Luis: Yeah, SmartGeometry 2012, in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

15:24Nono: So I got accepted for this master's degree and then I realized I didn't have funding, I didn't have money to pay. And I started applying for scholarships. In the meanwhile, I also apply for a scholarship that will maybe take me to work in Europe, one of the, "starchitect studios," also an attractive thing that a lot of people do in Spain that like, "We can place you in [one] of these studios and maybe you can stay there for a long time." And I happen to get accepted as a Fulbright Scholar. I got the Fulbright scholarship and I got accepted to go to Foster + Partners on the same year. The problem is that the Fulbright scholarship wouldn't allow me to go study until that year afterwards. Long story short, I had to defer the time to come to study in Cambridge and I went to London. I spent almost a year working in London and then I came to Cambridge in August 2015. Since then, until the last September, I spent living here, one-minute walk from Jose Luis and I did a master's in Design Technology [MDes] and had the chance to meet people from Autodesk, get to do an internship there, and join as a full-time employee. I started as a software engineer and at the time that we're recording this podcast, I'm turning into an artificial intelligence and machine learning engineer. I don't really know what that means yet.

17:00Jose Luis: When you figure out you should tell me as well. So, currently you are still an employee of Autodesk, right? You belong to the Generative Design group in Boston, but you work remotely. You work from Spain, right? How has going back to Spain being for you?

17:19Nono: As I've mentioned before, I have spent around seven years living abroad. And I haven't really missed one Christmas going back home. I've tried to fly back as much as possible and even when I was in Australia, I flew back three times. Also, since I was living in London, I'm with my girlfriend. There were many reasons for me to go back [to Spain]. I also have family, my grandma is old, and I really enjoy going back. And due to some reasons I had to go back. For some people it seemed like it was annoying, like, "You have to go back, when are you going to come back to the US?" I actually took it as an opportunity. I enjoyed that possibility. I saw as an opportunity not as something bad like, "Oh, you have to leave the US." As something good that I actually had been thinking for a while. Working for a team but working remotely and see how that works for me. What I can say is that, so far, it's working really well.

18:23Jose Luis: Why would you say it's working so well? What makes the cut?

18:27Nono: One thing that made it easy before "why it's working well", is that I had been working with my team for more than a year when I left, and we already have a crafted process. We knew each other, we knew why we had to meet, when we had to meet, and how to allocate tasks so everyone on the team can do their own thing, and then put it in common. So for me it was really easy, from the first day when I went back, I could open my laptop and start doing my thing, and I didn't really have to learn new process, or anything.

19:01Jose Luis: So what's been added?

19:02Nono: What's been added or maybe what's been removed, better, is that when I lived here in Cambridge and everything about this, I had a one hour commute each way almost, maybe 35 minutes to 50 is more accurate. You know, the office is always really good to catch up and to be on the same page with everyone. But there's also a lot of room for chit chatting, or like going to tweet and then stay more time that you need to, or having more meetings that you feel you need to. So the first thing that I noticed was that I would spend the full morning for myself and I would be able to focus even decided the day before what I was going to spend my time with. And I had never really been able to do that at the Office, spending three hours straight coding. Sometimes you wake up really, really early, annd if you wake up at seven, you start working maybe at 7:30 or 8, and then around 12 you feel you've done the work you need to do for the day. You then might have some meetings, or do some other stuff, but it's really easy. I think it works for me, but it's also something that you need to be able to craft your schedule and organize yourself.

20:11Jose Luis: This links really well with a question that I wanted to ask you. What distracts Nono Marínez Alonso? What's on your way to a ¡lean¡ mental life?

20:22Nono: So this brings to my mind the the main reason why I do this project. The current slogan I have is to simplify your life, and less¡ stuff is ¡better. And I'm my own enemy in that, because I have a full time job, and I also try to do this podcast, and to write, and I try to skecth, and I try to collaborate with other people in projects. There's not really that much to distract me. I read about this and I try to craft my own process, and of course there is email, there is social media, there is meetings, and maybe unnecessary things that you agree that you would do. But what really seems that distracts me is the fact that I have to switch my brain sometimes, like I have to change from full time job at Autodesk, and then you finish, and then other day you might want to spend a bit of time focus writing, or editing podcasts is really time consuming. And I would leave sketching aside because that's one thing that I really consider a hobby. I decided that that wasn't going to be—I mean, I I sell some prints— but I'm not gonna be full time art seller. I enjoy it, I think people who like what I do appreciate it. Some people even do commissions and stuff, but that's not something I'm gonna live from, ever. So yeah, I think that's the thing. I don't know if I would get bored if I was doing just one single thing, but I think I'm my own enemy when it comes to getting distracted.

21:56Jose Luis: That also relates to another question that I wanted to ask you, because it's a constant in your story that you feel like you want to do a lot of things, you want to try a lot of things and experiment different ideas, different creative avenues. Do you think that's a healthy way of doing things? I say this perhaps as opposed to like, the other philosophy, which could be "oh, let's try to find out what I'm good at." And then let's like, really really hone on that, you know. What is the difference for you, between trying many different things, to build yourself as a person as opposed to really focusing on the ones that you think you're good at? Or that you're really, quote unquote, monetizing in your life?

22:39Nono: I guess you say monetizing not in monetary terms.

22:42Jose Luis: Yeah, not in monetary terms. But the ones who get returns from, tangible returns from.

22:47Nono: Tangible returns is a really ambiguous thing, I would say. And I'm not telling you to explain what you mean by it, it's just that that's what I think I'm doing. You know, it might not seem like that, but I've done a lot of other things. And I do this review process from time to time where I say, what are my main activities, and what am i engaging with? And why do I do them? What's the reason that I'm doing this podcast? Or what's the reason why I sketch, and what's my mission? And what's the reason to do it? What's the purpose, right?

23:20Jose Luis: Wouldn't your life be simpler if you did less, but better?

23:25Nono: Yeah it would. Maybe it would also be boring.

23:29Jose Luis: Okay. That's interesting.

23:31Nono: I advocate for doing less but better, but I think there is a medium point where if you don't feel some time in your life, that you're a bit stressed or that something gives you a bit of adrenaline because you need to almost close your eyes before you do it, and then jump to do it, I think it's not worth it. I mean, I love giving talks and I get that feeling every time. You get a bit stressed, you gotta prepare... But then it's super rewarding and I feel that I'm doing something because, you know, people are listening to what you're saying.

24:03Jose Luis: I can relate to that. And what bores you?

24:07Nono: Doing something for a long time without seeing any change.

24:11Jose Luis: You ask other people in this podcast, what is success for you? And what does it look like? And who do you think it's a successful person?

24:19Nono: The first person that came to mind is Seth Godin. I see this guy, or this man, I follow Seth Godin—I've been following him for a while—I think ever since 2012, 2013. And the only reason why I say that is because he has a lot of confidence on what he has achieved, and he's comfortable in his position. He takes risks, but it seems like his goals are met consistently, right? He's written around—I don't know, maybe 25 books—to clarify his own ideas and formalize them, and also to share them with other people, and he now talks really confidently about what he has crafted, right, in the process.

25:04Jose Luis: Well, I see you as a successful person. Very early you were tapping into technologies, you've achieved a lot in your life. You went to school, you got an architecture degree, you did a masters at a very high level university, you work for a high profile company, and you do sketching, you do all this amazing work with the podcast... Are you conscious about that? Are you confident about how successful you are?

25:33Nono: Well, I personally don't see it that way. Sometimes I look back and I say, "fuck." Can I say that on the podcast? And I say, "look you've done all this stuff already and a lot of people are not going to be able to do it ever." And I actually have that present.

25:53Jose Luis: You mean because of scarcity economic means?

25:58Nono: Disease, scarcity, family situation...

26:01Jose Luis: Social, political...

26:02Nono: Anything, right? Some people and I'm doing some other projects for this getting simple thing to raise awareness of how we give for granted daily the silly things that people on this podcast have repeated over and over a success is something that you measure Personally, I do consider myself successful, but I am always trying to improve certain things and I mean one of the things is that and I will put the example of this podcast right that you can always compare. Miss minimalist is this writer that also writes about she has a book called The joy of less she, I always remember her quote that is if you look at your neighbor and I don't know he has a Ferrari and you want the Ferrari, you have to compare yourself to the people who are up the ladder and also down the ladder. I think social media today is creating a never ending will to to have more like more followers. More reactions, more comments. And, and also, I think even more importantly, to generate more output than that you can buy yourself.

27:08Jose Luis: And an anxiety. I mean with that.

27:09Nono: Yeah. And I would say one thing that I, I say to a lot of people in 10 years, you know, if you were to ask me, I don't know if you have on the front your questions when, if you were to ask me, what would you regret not doing 10 years from now? It would be, I wouldn't say outsource, but collaborate and connect with people who also want to promote the same things I want to promote and work with them.

27:36Jose Luis: What would you tell the audience that listens to your podcast and looks up to you? Because like, they may think, Oh, well, he had all these computers when he was eight years old, and he was coding when he was 11. Whatever. Like I I didn't do that when I was a kid. So I'm already late to this game. We will tell them.

27:53Nono: I tell people that even though I won the postcard competition in my class, when I was or six or something, I had to sketch and draw a lot over the last 10 years to be able to sketch like, today. Like even if I, let's say I had some talent or advantage for sketching when I was born, maybe other people had it as well. And I'm not saying that, you know, you just have to be lucky or something, you need to work hard. You need to work your way to whatever you want to get. Atomic habits is a really good book about this. And mindset is really good book about this and some other books that I'll name in the Episode Notes. coding is a good example. You need to spend hours and hours before your brain actually understand what you're doing. Sketching is one of the best examples that you need to sketch every month, every week or every day if you can. And just to give you a different example, not something that I can see there that I would do well when I was younger, before studying architecture. My worst grades were in philosophy and literature. And I always have this complex of like, I don't know how to write, I don't know whether other people in the class are doing, they're getting really good grades, but I cannot do it. And I will study decart and plateau and niche or whatever, and I will get a five or a four. This is like, I don't know, I said the or whatever that is in it's an F, an F in in the US. And he was like, right before I could picture and my teacher actually told me that I was in working enough. And maybe I wasn't I don't know, I don't really know. But this was something really important for me because when I had that, I don't know if mental disadvantage of just thinking about that. I went to Australia and I said, Okay, I'm going to open my blog. I'm going to open it in English and I'm going to start just posting is putting things online and yeah, I didn't write great stuff on it's actually still online. If you go to Nolan dot man, go to the archives There's the first post from 2013, or something that it's called the launch. And it's there. So I still don't consider it today that I write well, but I've read books about how to write. And I practice and I have a lot of drafts. And I try to do it consistently. And I try to research to have some content that people might be interested in and that I learned from. And there you have it. And the only thing I can say is that I write better today that I wrote in 2013. And that personal success is defined in terms of the growth mindset, the concept that the mindset book mentioned, the book atomic habits, that I just finished reading last week. It's great to understand why you why anyone can get better at something and how to do it, and an actual action method that you can implement in your life from today after finishing reading right? And get better at anything and understand why the difference between Somebody who gets really good at something. And somebody who never gets around is that the people who, quote unquote, succeed in their field, managed somehow to keep going through the boredom, through the boring part of this podcast is really hard to edit is too long, or writing this drive is taking 10 hours, I'm gonna let it go.

31:22Jose Luis: It seems a constant in your discourse as well, to talk about the idea of tools and technology that enhance creativity. And there's a lot of the work that you that you do these days, right, especially now with your new machine learning artificial intelligence take, what is the role that tools play in your own creativity? I will

31:44Nono: tell you one little anecdote and is that when I was in architecture school, even though I was acquainted with computers and CAD drawings and all these things, I bought a printer I bought a really large for my printer my first year It turned out to be the best purchase I've ever done because I, I haven't printed more with anything than with that machine. And the role that I played was that even though I would do a lot of stuff digitally, I would always print and then go back to the analog medium and and sketch over paper with pen and pencil and trace paper, and then scan it back and then do the process over and over. And with this, I want to say that, you know, we try to create tools ourselves, I do this and usually do this as well. And I think we just want tools that enhance our process and and contribute to what we already are doing. Some of them might add something new that we weren't not doing before but at the end of the day is just to become so comfortable with a tool that that you can do it without thinking and only for the thing that you know that is is going to make what you're doing better.

32:55Jose Luis: There's also a lot of conversation in your podcast and with the people use interview on the idea of creating tools to enhance people's creativity, and share it out there so that you can turn people more creative or facilitate this process. Why do you think that's important? Why should more people be more creative?

33:20Nono: This is a bit of a philosophical question kind of can escalate to levels. I think, to me, being creative gives me joy in some way, even though sometimes what I do has been done by other people already, or in the same way. And that's something that struck me a lot when I go to a class at the Media Lab, where I wasn't allowed to do anything that on research had been published already. And I would say, I want to do this myself because I've never done it. I don't want to learn it. So I think that the process of creating something on your own and then feeling I don't, I wouldn't say useful. But having something that you can say I've done that, and I've given this statue of originality, and that's why you can see that I've done it or how it's different.

34:09Jose Luis: The contribution aspect.

34:11Nono: Yeah, so the contribution of something to probably let people see things differently, and understand different parts of something that you might be passionate about, that they don't know. The part of enabling other people to use your tools is also another level of joy is about. I can do these these way. And I'm enjoying it a lot. I can feel it. So I want you to try it as well and kind of share that that feeling with me because then we can communicate that we both share. So I guess it's about engagement and creating community. And I was thinking before that I hadn't really created any tools myself independently for other people to use. Even some applications that have done the interfaces. I've never really seen other People use them. But a good example is my content management system is called folio. Because the reason I was about this a lot, but I had my sort of first quote unquote client as my mom, I created her website even before mine. And with this content management system, she could post sketches or drawings and texts, and she had the meaningless newsletter automated. You can see how this is a tool that I think the key word is an enabler. It's something you couldn't do before. Now you can do it. And if you want some custom behavior, we can code it for you and then see how you perform with that one.

35:43Jose Luis: For our audience, a content management system is a beautiful website that makes creating a website much easier.

35:52Nono: You can refer to the W word.

35:55Jose Luis: Thank you. Sorry, I didn't know if I was going to offend you. Haha. Such as WordPress. But Folio is much nicer, I have to say.

36:03 All right, before we move on into the next section, I'm not going to ask you What will you tell your 20 year old self? But I'm going to ask you what is in your future? What is waiting there? How do you see Nono in 10 years.

36:16Nono: Maybe having an even clear idea of what are the fewer things I want to focus on? I think my, my direction over the last couple years, I think the last decade has been about trying a lot of things and discarding only living on the table. The ones I really think there are meaningful.

36:38Jose Luis: That's very nice. Thank you very much. So let's move on a little bit. Let's talk about these podcasts. They're getting simple podcast. Sorry, sorry, the getting simple podcast. Did I say that correctly? Yeah. How does someone wake up one day and think, Oh, I need to start this really labor intensive project that takes me a lot of hours every week. And that might have to arrange with all these amazing people to talk to. How did that happen? How did The Getting Simple Podcast start?

37:08Nono: Just to provide a bit of context, when I interviewed Panagiotis Michalatos, who is both of our thesis advisor. The first thing he told me, he looked at me when I opened my bag, and he said, so now you're turning into a sound engineer. This is I don't know, it's a weird hobby to have. And many people might know it. It has too many variables that you have to learn. And it'll be crazy how this actually happened. I believe that because I somehow started singing and recording myself. Some Oh, is that so? Yes. And there's nothing really published there. Even though I don't mind showing people I might put a little snippet to other people.

37:54Jose Luis: Perhaps you just started this episode with a tiny clip. I've actually heard some of those. They're pretty nice.

37:59Nono: After creating my blog in 2013 I formalize the project of everything I was trying to write about life crafting and how you understand your work day and things like this as Getting Simple in 2015. And along that year and next the podcast idea started to come up. And it wasn't until my Australian friend James Melouney, whom I met in North Carolina, and then I saw in Sydney.

38:23Jose Luis: And who was the first guest of this podcast.

38:25Nono: Yeah, so until he visited me in Cambridge, so he stayed there for a few nights that I thought his story was worth sharing with the getting simple audience. I hadn't really planned anything of like, I'm gonna make this podcast real or anything, and this was March 2017. But I told him to tell me his story over microphone. And maybe I would format that for the blog or something. His story was writing a book while he was working full time at our consultancy on the hours before going to work. So waking up really early and Quitting his job publishing this book and try to become a motivational speaker. I don't know I think that goes so in line with getting simple not that you have to quit your job to pursue or maybe you do. Yeah, maybe you do. There's a good book for that. To know if you have to quit your job or not. That is called so good. They can't ignore you by Cal Newport.

39:19Jose Luis: I need to read that one myself.

39:23Nono: But yeah, so I recorded that interview. And then in December 2017, I decided to do the whole ordeal of making a cover, uploading the podcast, updating folio to be able to release podcast with it, and learning how to edit audio in Adobe Audition. So I released the first episode in December 1, 2017. And since then, so far, I've been releasing one long form interview every month.

39:53Jose Luis: That's very nice.

39:54Nono: And I will just mention before we move on to another topic that the whole purpose of doing this is to not have getting simple be a blog where I just write, but a blog that apart from having some backed up content from books and research had also the thoughts of other minds, right, engaging with people, which is enriching for me and for the audience. And also looking for interesting people that are doing things that attract me, like research, art, programming.

40:26Jose Luis: Why is simplicity so important for you? And whether you think it should be important for other people because, and don't get me wrong. people's life these days are really complex. And making them simples is actually a very complex tax in a way. Why do you think we should spread the word about this?

40:44Nono: Well, I think there are many synonyms and unnecessary. Lee's simplicity is the most important word. I just had the time thought that was a good name. I think getting simple and I've been These a few times already refers to myself getting somewhere. So going towards simplicity. And I always refer to this as people joining the journey. And I think that you need to point somewhere to achieve better things. And you will always stay at the midpoint because you never going to reach the utopia point or the platonic point.

41:27Jose Luis: Can you tell the audience a little bit about the actual making of this podcast? What does it look when you are with one of your guests? All the time that it takes you to clean the sound later, edit.. How much editing do you do, etc.

41:43Nono: At first, it just was about talking to some friend or some colleague at work, and letting them know I wanted to record an interview. I would have identified in some way that I could have a conversation that we were listening to, at least to the people who interested in in these topics? So it would be about contacting someone and this is some how getting a bit different because now I'm also contacting people remote leaving some people that I haven't met in person before. And I think that even adds a new dimension to the project where some people who don't know me personally accept to talk in the podcast and how it usually works except for one remote interview I've done with Adam Menges so far, but I guess I expect I, I will do more remote interviews.

42:31Jose Luis: Adam Menges from, right?

42:34Nono: Yeah. So after somebody accepts the invitation, and I mean, I try to tell them, I have a template email. So I send an email. Let's say, I send the same email to everyone, right? But I always grab that email in a different way because of what topic I've identified that their lives or their careers much the themes and Trying to expose here. And then I would go to that person's house or maybe invite them to my house, depending on the situation. And then I have the whole ordeal of spending three to five hours with the person to spend some time talk to them through the process of recording of it beforehand, try to calm them down and say that this is something that we can edit doesn't need to be published if they're not happy with it. And all that happens. So usually, I take really long to setup. So I usually take I don't know 30 Well, I used to take close to an hour but I think I know I can set up in like 30 minutes, they will get to my house or I will get to theirs will set up this stuff. I will walk them through the process and then we'll start talking and I started doing long form podcast format, which inspires a lot in Tim Ferriss podcast because of of how long they are and how much I enjoy some The interviews and we would talk, usually from one hour and a half to three hours. And I would rarely do any editing to the content more than removing some phrases that are redundant, or removing long silences or cracking or things like that. I think I was a newbie when I started, I didn't even know anything about audio editing. So I would amplify background noise instead of removing it.

44:26 But after maybe 27 interviews edited or so, or maybe 20 something, I'm becoming a lot better. I mean, and this again, is one more thing that easiest practice, and it has taken me up to 20 hours to edit one episode, maybe 13 hours to 16 to edit the audio and then preparing the newsletter, crafting all the Episode Notes and references and then do a really comprehensive job with the notes and the description. I try and then sharing on social media on one thing that Talking about artificial intelligence has played a really good job in my life or role in my life is that before I would have to edit the episode, I would send it to the guests for them to listen. And then I would go around Cambridge around Inman square, I would listen to it with my iPhone and take notes, to see what the topics are and what they're saying and what time what things I need to correct. And now I'm using this online service that's co authoring i, where i just dump the file on in like 30 minutes, I get a transcript. And I can skim through the text and refer to the audio with that, that has really changed the way I work. The workflow I do is that now I added the whole episode. I know more or less every thing is fine. But then I can go and read the text or or skim through it to to extract books we've mentioned or movies or other references.

45:51Jose Luis: What was the most difficult part of doing these podcasts when you started, at the very beginning, and what is the most difficult part of doing them now that you're experienced?

46:03Nono: I would be nervous before, which is something that I'm not. Nowadays I'm more comfortable with the microphone and with interviewing someone and I can feel how I'm more comfortable interviewing than the interviewee. Because usually people haven't been through many interviews and preparing the notes for me before will be also an ordeal I will have to craft all these costume questions for the person and all the process and and I didn't really have that quite done so it will take me a few hours to prepare each episode.

46:34Jose Luis: Do you have like many notes before the episode starts? Or do you try to respond to what the interviewee is telling you?

46:46Nono: So I try to be prepared in terms of knowing the background of the person and having some prepared questions. I can lead to interesting conversations, hopefully related to the podcast or some of the topics that I'm interested in. But I do have prepared nodes, I now have a set of what I call research lines for research questions that are just topics that I like to write about and read about. They're actually getting simpler com forward slash interview dash topics. I started doing this just for people to start grooming in their minds over the weeks before the podcast, I would send this link to say, there you have some some random questions that I might do to you or or maybe not. And that's my, my baseline. That's my template. But then at the beginning, I will try to have some custom questions. I'm starting to be a bit better at letting the person diverted and follow up with whatever topic they might be talking about. And not to be so strict about following a guideline and, and be so restrictive about Okay, now we're going to switch to that we're not going to talk more about that other thing.

47:55Jose Luis: I believe I interrupted you before when you were about to tell us what's difficult about This podcasts now that you're experienced.

48:03Nono: One thing that is not really been difficult of the podcast is that now you have this contract with yourself, you want to release one episode every month. And now you have to find the time. So you have to cram those 10 to 20 to 30 hours to focus on this episode. And it's really hard because I do everything myself right now. And I mean, one one thing that straightforward, maybe somebody can collaborate with me or I can, you know, get some help. So that's hard is actually finding the time, the editing is still hard because we always record in different rooms, different locations. And I would say that he said it easier than before because I'm learning more about what you can do or not to edit audio. I guess one thing that is still super hard is to have a proper setup when you're recording a home to actually setting the whole thing to have it prepared. I've read a lot about friction about how any Sort of barrier to get going with something makes you the a lot less. And this again is in in atomic habits is really well written. So that's one thing I'm working toward to have one environment where I can sit and play record and I don't have to put absorption sound absorption panels or the microphone or the Yeah, there's a lot of stuff that goes on into having a good recording environment. And I'm really annoyed about it.

49:28Jose Luis: I know I can tell, can you share? I mean, this almost like asking who's your favorite kid? Which you should not tell, but can you..

49:37Nono: Well, but nobody's listening really, right?

49:39Jose Luis: All right. Okay. So just tell me, between you and I. Do you have a favorite episode and a least favorite? Let's reframe this question what what surprises or what nice and special moments can you recall from these series?

49:55Nono: One special moment is when I asked Andres Colubri about clothing. All the things you were everything. And he diverted into telling me his morality about cloning humans. Fine, but I, I kind of said to myself, I can do this to this guy. I'll just let him talk. And actually the conversation led to somewhere interesting.

50:17Jose Luis: I remember this moment like a spelling or pronunciation kind of a misunderstanding.

50:24Nono: And not for the content. But there have been two moments or three moments where I felt really happy where the first one is the second episode after I left the room with Zach Kron. I basically remember telling him, you just made my podcast a real thing, right? Because he's like, Oh, I haven't interview another friend of myself. And then after I recorded Ian Keough's and Ben Fry's episode, because those were...they're "big fish" in their field and the fact that they accepted to give me three hours of their time is super, super valuable.

51:04Jose Luis: I know the answer, but I don't know. Can we share that with the audience? Which other quote unquote, fancy people have rejected your invitation to participate?

51:13Nono: Yeah, go for it. Maybe some they accept an invitation from me.

51:18Jose Luis: No. I mean, can you share that with us?

51:20Nono: Yeah, yeah. Oh, I share it? You know it.

51:22Jose Luis: I know, but can you share it?

51:24Nono: There have been people who are? Yeah, there's some people that haven't rejected, they're just postponed. And that's something that I know, from heart that it is because right now they cannot do it. And that's, yeah, it's a bit sad as well. And also from people that are kind of, and I won't name names. There is some visionary right after his visionary of thumbtack that I am really passionate about, like his books. And his assistant reply to me really, really nicely. We tell us who prizes at like, wow. I have got his first assistant, I thought it was going to be the only one but even some other people who are not really that well known, like I never got to them, I got a message from their assistant. I mean, I guess I guess that's fine. Some people have that dynamic and it's understandable. Maybe I have the chance in the future. There is also a really nice researcher from from MIT, that was nice enough to tell me the quote unquote truth to say that she was writing a book at the time, and she was kind of retired from from the whole world, which is understandable. And she was kind enough to tell me to keep her in my list for the future. And I actually are in myself on an email one of the big CEOs of cloud computing or no, no cloud computing, cloud storage.

52:48Jose Luis: Cloud storage.

52:49Nono: I never got an answer, even though I actually talked to him that day. Oh, that's always a point. That's why these clothes into the world their laws.

52:58Jose Luis: I'm gonna teach you a little bit here and be a little bit controversial or polemic. Because talking to other people about the podcast, sometimes I've heard the opinion of like, well, what is this podcast really about simplicity? Or is it more about like, I don't know, recovering architects or computation or creativity design something something like she just renamed the podcast or what's going on here.

53:24Nono: So the name of the podcast that's sticking with me, I like it. And I think it works in some way. And maybe one day I'll change it, but I'm not really worried about names. What I'm aware of is what you mentioned. And I've seen this because I've gone to the architecture engineering and construction industry conferences and events and and I get this feeling that some people who are listeners active listeners, right, there are some people who seem to consistently listen and I mean, that made me really happy to hear some of you if you're listening by now. You are But I get the feeling that they assume that because the first people among the first people, there were a lot of architects that went into computation or into competition design into programming. Basically, the podcast is about that about beam. I'm building information modeling about architecture about the construction industry. And the most painful proof of that, which is true at the moment is the apple podcasts sets me with suggestions of podcasts to listen? And I don't know if it's because the people who listen to this podcast also listen to those are just because they also scrape the data and look at hashtags and text that I write and references but the podcasts next to me and the list are things like design allies or beam cut whatever or I don't know all these is not Seth Godin is not well, actually, there are some there's like Twenty Thousand Hertz and I think The Minimalists were on that list. And so that they seem to be topics that they're grappling already that make me more related to the podcasts that I feel have more in common. But I'm still definitely not there. And I think many interviews, a few interviews that I've not published yet, are completely in a different realm of conversation.

55:25 But just to summarize, I would say that this podcast is intended to reflect about my life and about your life, the life of the listener, why we do the things we do, how do we do them and obsessing maybe a bit too much but obsessing about the technological tools we use, how we use them, what do we do with our free time? How much do we work? Do we disconnect from work ever? Or do we spend enough time with our loved ones? So all these topics around why you do what you do?

55:57 And it's not really about process in there? particular industry, what I do take really seriously is that if I have a guest sitting there, I really listened to what they say. I tell them always that the first half of the interview is going to be about you about your life. So don't stop because I just want to talk the minimum words for you to keep talking and to tell me about why you are where you are today. What happened these are many of the people you interview so far studied architecture. And that's just because you know, all of this can Harvard Graduate School of Design and things like that.

56:28 But you can also see that a lot of other interviews are about the life of artists or educators or programmers, designers, and even environmental scientists, for economics. And last, I would say that also, this is possible for me because there is a long form format. And if I were to ask someone, the 15 Minute Summary of their lives, I will really get a shallow view of who that person is, what two hours or three hours conversation, let me do is to go in depth, and let them tell me about what they're comfortable about is like the job they do every day and then kind of cut out an hour and a half or something and then start asking them more personal questions.

57:14Jose Luis: Okay, I think we're gonna get into that moment very soon here, too. And just to wrap up this section about the getting super podcast, what do you see in the future of the podcast? Where would you like it to go? What kind of cast Would you like to have? What turns Do you think it may take what changes may be awaiting?

57:38Nono: Well, when you want to talk or write about something, the first rule is that you have to do some sort of immersion. And they mentioned I do is that I now pay attention differently where people are giving talks or they listen to different podcasts to see why what they do works and why they do the For my debut, one of the things I've already started doing, but haven't really published a lot, is experimenting with new formats. I mean, this is a different format, for example, you've proposed, but it's a different format already. And I've tried to start prototyping it's a shorter episodes where I talked by myself, trying to convert some concept or thought that I would usually write as a short essay for the blog as a 15 or 25 minute episode. I'm also already thinking toward different themed topics that a lot of guests have talked about. I will group those in sort of like maybe 20 minute capsules, or whatever time they require to discuss topics of something like email or clutter or any other topic that you might imagine that we've talked, because there are recurring questions that I asked and yeah, I've asked Yes, I do have a clear idea of that. There is actually a funny thing here and is that I don't know if it's in my head, or that really happens, I guess it's a little bit of both. It's not until you interview someone that the next person knows that they're a bit more eager to accept the invitation. Slowly, I can get to interview maybe people that I've met in person, or maybe people that I don't know, but that they know some reference from me from someone else, or that they know my work. Or maybe..

59:31Jose Luis: That they can see that the product is serious. And it's not just like this random person.

59:36Nono: Exactly. And try to help them out in understanding what the project is about and how it would be good for them to do it, and also how it relates to their career. I've reached two people on Instagram and on Twitter. And I guess like you have to establish some sort of communication, to let them know why you do what you do and why you identify them. But one thing that I know for sure is that I would like a format where maybe people don't spend time talking about their career, like their childhood or what they studied or what they're working on now. But they come to the show to explain one really crafted idea that they've been working for the past years, maybe writing a book, or a talk that they've given or some specific project that they're doing right now. And all of those around some topic that relates to those lines of research that I mentioned, ideal people would be like, having James clear, summarize his atomic habits book in the podcast, or even I don't know, maybe just a link, a guy telling us about hurry slowly.

1:00:45Jose Luis: Oh, that's wonderful. Let's take the opportunity here to publicly invite anyone who may have a very strong idea to come share it here with us. And get in touch with you.

1:00:55Nono: Just to name names. Cal Newport just published a new book called Digital Minimalism I think those, you know, those are concepts worth a book. And they're worth reading because they really change the way you interact with and like with technology in your life, for instance, in that in that case and and yeah, so I think identifying people that I think that's the biggest takeaway identifying people that can share, Tim Ferriss interviewed Marie Kondo. I don't know if she was that famous at that time. He interviewed her and, and I think that's a lot of people have read the book. A lot of people have seen the Netflix show, but she was able to tell people why she got to where she is.

1:01:38Jose Luis: Awesome. Thank you very much. Alright, so we're going to move on and now we're going to wrap up the this episode by I'm going to make a series of short questions to you and then you just respond the first thing that comes up to your mind, all right, how do you deal with digital clutter?

1:01:54Nono: I have systems to name my files and store them. So I try to Every time I have a file, I should have a folder where the file should go. And that folder has a naming convention. I'm doing a pretty good job but I always have an inbox box where everything I download everything people send me go and there's always something ugly there that I don't know where to put.

1:02:19Jose Luis: How do you deal with that? How do you resolve that?

1:02:22Nono: Create the two sword folder and then dump everything there. And I have one of those to have a dark folder. I do have it's a hole in my computer.

1:02:31Jose Luis: But there's your daily commute look like?

1:02:33Nono: It used to be bus. Well, it used to be walk or bike and then the T like the subway here in Boston, and then a bus, the silverline but now there is no commute. So I walk maybe 20 steps from my bed to my desk, and maybe that when I go back to sleep, do you miss having a commute? I've always said that even before leaving that I enjoy the commute because creates this space for yourself in your life, you're forced to it. So you have those 40 minutes to either 40 minutes twice to listen to podcasts or music or catch up with friends or catch up with family with your girlfriend. And that place is not there when you are always at home. Because at home you're either I don't know there's this thing at home that you're either working or you're not working. But when you're going to an office, your shower, and you go and you're walking, then you're on the T then you're on the bus, then you arrive and then you're talking to coworkers you're working and then you go lunch in the house is this is kind of like a binary thing. And I tried to do the as well. So I tried to go for walks or running or I believe you especially enjoyed when you were here in Boston, you especially enjoyed the walk from your house to the subway right? I think one way that you can see it is that instead of leaving your house As fast as you can have in this feeling the whole day that you're rushing everywhere, you could maybe meditate at home before leaving. It's not necessary, right? But if you meditate or you have a shower last a bit longer than usual and you have a shower, maybe eat something at home, then I had the choice to go by bike in four minutes, or go walking 15 minutes. So a lot of times I would rather go walking to force myself to have that decompression time and have time for myself instead of feeling that sense of rushing.

1:04:32Jose Luis: Do you have some morning routine now?

1:04:34Nono: Well, for the first six months, I lived in Spain, I sort of had it but I haven't really crafted one. I tried to wake up early, but I haven't really managed to to do the 6am wake up that I I really would like to do because I've done this before in Spain. So the routine my ideal routine would be that I can wake up at around five or 5:30am And then or maybe six 630, and then directly see it on the computer and then pour my thoughts in writing, even if it's just writing things that don't have anything to do with any article, any post or anything of work, just writing maybe 100 words or 200 get you started and then you automatically continue writing. And usually, those are the times where I draft the best ideas for future episodes or, or articles or things like that.

1:05:26Jose Luis: I was going to ask you when your best ideas came in to your mind.

1:05:29Nono: That's one moment. I also like doing that because sometimes I would either start with something like writing or doing some editing or some other thing. Sometimes I would straight start with work. So maybe start coding or things like that. And the best feeling that I had is to wake up and start working at 630 or seven, and then by 10, or 11. You feel you don't so much that you don't really need to do anything else on the day to feed productive for best ideas. I'm a really huge believer of..

1:06:02Jose Luis: Singing in the shower?

1:06:04Nono: ..singing in the shower. Haha. I think the research refers to this as the default network. So our minds have this continuous activation of different areas, depending on the activity you're doing or depending on what you're talking about. Or if you playing an instrument, you might activate certain neural networks in your brain. What's funny is that the default network, the one that activates when you are not doing anything, generates more activity in your brain than any other activity that you can do. Some really big believer in like taking long showers, going for a run without any music or any podcasts at times, and do some activities where you might be engaged in on a physical activity, but you're not distracted by other media or any other content. And I mean, I it's hard to do, it's hard to actually be mindful about let's not look at the phone when I'm in I don't know even the elevator while I'm on the subway and things like that. But you will see that most of the complex logic problems that you have get some random answers while you're not paying attention to other things.

1:07:14Jose Luis: I've known you for a while. And I don't know if the audience knows this, but you don't drink any coffee at all. I don't think you drink tea with caffeine. So only herbal teas, you barely drink any alcohol. Why do you do that? What other things are you self restricting to yourself?

1:07:29Nono: One thing you didn't mention, for example, I started not drinking Coke and not putting sugar tea for example, since I was in Australia, and I haven't had a coke since 2012, I think or something like that. And I don't put any sugar right so those are two things that I said to myself. I like to put restrictions to myself for some reason. There's no really, there wasn't any really thing that was making me do that. But I Actually, after reading, emotional intelligence by Daniel Goldman, he mentioned that. And this was an idea that Cal Newport mentions in his book. And Tim Ferriss also always mentions when he's talking about concentration and performing really difficult tasks is that even though we don't normally know it, practicing something like concentration or self restraint, in any aspect of your life is going to make you better at self restraint in any other aspect of your life getting better at concentrating in reading an article is going to give you better concentration when you're playing soccer, right. So that's a skill that your brain needs to practice. And the idea in emotional intelligence is the people can practice the delay of gratification, and that requires discipline, but if you practice it in any aspect of your life is going to affect your willpower 40 Lane ratification in other realms. So in some way, I mean, I guess there's, there will be some research papers or something that might back that up or not. But I believe that if you have some constraints in your life and you're able to fulfill them, like not drinking tea or coffee, or caffeine or alcohol or things like this, that's gonna allow you afterwards to, I don't know, avoid distractions while you're writing better or not pay attention to other things while you're doing one task. Right? So I think that that's the only reason and I would say, caffeine in general is not about coffee and tea. I like tea and I usually lately drink no caffeinated drinks, like camomille or things like that. So it seems to be boring, but I mean, I like it.

1:09:45 I used to drink tea. But I think the fact that you understand that you don't need caffeine to get focused or to get awake. It's something you only can realize after you have been without caffeine for a while. And the thing with alcohol I I don't know how but I gradually stopped drinking. It was like a really gradual process for the last 10 years that I've drink less and less and less. And then there was this time. A month ago when I saw myself every time I went for dinner out with friends, I will be thinking, do I have one beer? Do I have water? Do I have two beers to have no beer? And that decision making process was super painful. Like I was always thinking like, should have one should have to Should I know have any one day so I'll try just to not drink anything, maybe non coholic beer or maybe water? Ever since then I said like so much easier. I just don't take the decision. I don't have to choose if I drink more or not. If I can drive or not. If I can wake up tomorrow to write in a Saturday morning because I'm hungover night. Don't try to impose this into anyone because I know alcohol can be fun, but I don't know. I don't I'm not specially missing it. It's only about social pressure on the vironment that you're in that if you see other people doing it, you might be not forced into but pressure into or you might feel that you're missing out. It's a really complex like this issue. And it's not trivial. Like, oh, yeah, you shouldn't drink alcohol. But yeah, that's my take on that.

1:11:15Jose Luis: What's a healthy relationship with technology? What does that look like?

1:11:18Nono: So yeah, this question to everyone.

1:11:20Jose Luis: You do.

1:11:21Nono: My, my take on this is first, nobody teaches us how to use technology. Yeah, you're taught how to program, sometimes Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, any tools now they try to walk you through what you can do to get out of the tool when you sign up. But we nobody told you that if you check more than five times a day Instagram, you can be considered like your avid, quote unquote, an addict, right? Like you're getting these dopamine release that not that you're going to be unhealthy, but that you're going to get over the next days. You're going to get that need in your brain. To open the application, and what really bothers me is that there is no way to craft the application in a way that is healthier for you. And here's where I go with with the healthy part. Why can't I post an Instagram photo? Without seeing how many people follow me yesterday or like my pictures? Why can't I get one part of the feature like sharing content, but not being exposed to the suggestions that Instagram is telling me to see because it's really engaging. I don't buy that you can use Instagram and ignore that. If you open Instagram every day even for sharing a picture. You're going to get caught your brain is going to get caught by images of things that you like because they know it, and they're related to what you're sharing. I have this book really pressing right now because I just read it atomic habits. And I think it was something like 25 milliseconds of exposure to to powder of cocaine can make a person crave it and they don't even know that they have seen it is this thing that We feel we're not affected by advertisement and how things are crafted for us. But even just, I don't know you were going to share a picture of work and you're at an event, or you're working on an article, and then you're exposed to something that worries you, or that attracts you. And then your brain completely go somewhere. And this is just, you know, it's exciting to be because he's just opening Instagram, but now explode that to opening Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, things that people send you on WhatsApp, or I don't know, you have to escalate that to, you know, add brain and all these weird pictures that we get shown us ads, even in the New York Times or New Yorker. Well, I don't really know what what they show us right now. So yeah, that's to me, that's the first part is like about we are not taught how to use technology in a healthy way or what things might be a threat or habits.

1:13:55Jose Luis: I find it interesting that I asked you about healthy relationships with technology, but the You're kind of responding as if I had asked relationship with social media. Why do you think is this?

1:14:07Nono: We have social media really present as something that is taking on a shape of its own. And they have so much power in determining what culture means in every country or what news are important or what not. And I can mention Google as well. It doesn't need to be necessarily. And I mentioned as well, the internet, right? I assume you asked me about the internet and the programs that we used when you said technology and technology can be your car as well or anything. But talking about digital technology. I think we could have companies craft technology in a way that they know it's healthier, might be whatever, I don't know any other example of any internet application. But if you don't have the addictive, the addicting factor, or the recurrent notifications or or all the ordeal that goes with today craving and following and all that stuff, they wouldn't be that successful. And that's a problem. They need that addictive behavior for you to keep at it. Even just a newspaper, even if it's a newspaper about, you know, even getting simple, right that he's talking about this, but you know, you can go subscribe to the to the blog, and what I'm doing is annoying you with an email every once in a while, right? So even, it just works like that, like you can really get away. The problem is when you get technology to try to exploit human weaknesses as much as possible. I mean, the best example is viral ads, you have another have something that's in viral, the image is optimized for you to click. And then when you go to that there's another link and another link and the link and you get lost. Instagram is just a good example because you know, now everyone's on Instagram and it's super easy to download it, start using it and everyone ends up a lot of people in the with the same behavior really fast response rates, really high amounts of engagement and things like this. What I was going to say that this social media part is true took too long. Is that what I see as a healthy relationship with technology because that's an unhealthy relationship with technology, right? That's where you can follow a healthy relationship with technologies when you craft the process to only have to use the tools that you know that work for you. Look for them that it needs some research right needs, you need to try applications and you need to learn what might be more efficient for you. And then try to create some sort of systems ways in which you see that they are enabling you to do something and not being not determining what you do, but you're using the tools for what you want in a way that improves or enhances your outcome. I always also refer to this as if you have Kindle, which you can read books, you can read books, these really crappy Web browser but I don't know if anyone browse the web there and you read books. It's like a device in some way mimics what you had before you had a book. But now we have everything compressed in the same thing. Frankie Mero has a talk where he said that when plastic was invented, everything that was wood, steel or any other material or glass became plastic, you have transparent plastic, you have color, plastic, you have any any texture, anything could be mediated with plastic, and everything's become plastic. And when software appear and applications appear, every technology that we have as an analog object became one more application. So everything went for being a hard object that you can try and test and touch into a soft program in your pocket or in your phone in your laptop. What this does is that we have more potential productivity in our pockets but also more potential distraction. And I think that comes back to the healthiness of healthy relationship with your falling like using it for where you have to sit, remove applications that are distraction, you remove the notifications.

1:18:06Jose Luis: Can you name a recent purchase of $100 or less that you've done recently and that has impacted your life?

1:18:14Nono: It's funny that I've been thinking about this so much and I still don't get it. What is it? I had something I would recently Well, I will keep the I will kind of cheat something that I really like. I think it was under $100. But my Kindle, I just mentioned it and I read so much more since I have it. That's That's for sure.

1:18:36 What else can I say? I had something and I forgot about it. Oh, yeah. No actually talking. This is really this is really referred to everything we've been talking about. I bought $30 social panels that look like professional studio with like the pyramidal shape and all that and that's that can make any environment that has a bit of echo improves their quality a lot. So that really, really, really removes a pain in the ass that was finding a good place to record.

1:19:03Jose Luis: What is your take on clothing? Have I pronounce it correctly? Hehe.

1:19:09Nono: So with clothing is the same the what I said before about alcohol is about taking less decisions, again, supposedly backed up by research, like the bouquet scarcity bias and deal haami or something I'll link to that shows that every day your brain has a certain bandwidth they call it and the more decisions you take the worst decision you will make later. So one thing is about not having too many decisions to take. I don't think clothing is a super, super important thing in life, how many different clothes and stuff I do think it's important in terms of defining your identity. Because like it or not, clothing talks a lot about who you are, and we tend to sadly categorizable People buy what they're wearing. Many times we really surprised and I don't know I think I tried to make a point and because it was my level that I tried to make a point about being true because my backpack is really doing almost tearing apart and I've had it for five years and I don't think that really should be the point of everything.

1:20:20Jose Luis: And we've all been trying to get you a new backpack for years.

1:20:25Nono: My take on clothing is that I have and you can go to to see some of those. I have a few jeans I have four of the same black jeans. I finally found the ones I like and are more comfortable for wearing every day. I have one pair of shoes that I wear every day or the next free run. I guess those are another purchase on their hundred bucks that I changed my life because I find them so comfortable and an item really thing I want any other shoes. And this is no not sponsoring night. I'm saying night, but you guys here say night in the US. And I decided that I will only try to own clothing that is either denim jeans, or then black, white, gray or dark blue clothes. And that's I mean, I just have I wear t shirt every day and wear a sweatshirt and I think I have my uniform. I really like. This is a quote from Seth Godin, he says, and at work costumes are called uniforms. We decide how we what costume we want to wear for our daily lives. It's for me statement in some way that I'm wearing the same clothes every day in my house in my home office that I will wear if I'm going to give a talk anywhere. And that's just my take.

1:21:50Jose Luis: Do you have any book recommendations for the audience who?

1:21:55Nono: Well, I tried to summarize all the stuff in my website. Say, and I'll link to it but it's basically And I have another that is with the books I'm planning to read next, and you can see them out there. But some of the ones that I have resonated more with me for some reason, something that really ticked in my brain that I think is not relevant anymore, is getting things done by David Allen. Getting Things Done is the proposal of David Allen on the most well known action methods out there, how to organize your goals in the scope of your whole life, looking from a plane at 1000 thousand feet, looking from 5000 feet, maybe for your maybe 30 next years, and then looking ahead five, one, and then month and also how to individually set a set of goals so he understand the life as A set of projects, and each of them has a to do list of things that that you have to do next. And I'm simplifying a lot he he was I think he was on he is a consultant on productivity. He would go to offices and change the whole way how they are archive files and how they organize what needs to be done in a project and things like that. And yeah, it was, it was kind of my introduction to the whole world of productivity and things like that. But other books that really, really I would recommend reading because I don't I'm not sure if I would recommend you to read getting things done book right now. And one interesting thing is that after reading, getting things done a visionary so much, that I created a brand called Getting Architecture Done. And that then evolved to Getting Simple and that's actually where, where it all comes from. It was about bringing the Getting Things Done method into architecture, and then getting simple. It's about sort of bringing it into your daily life and things like that. And then the books I wanted to mention our deep work by Cal Newport, how to be productive and actually focus on making creative projects and making projects happen. I would recommend some books from Seth Godin tribes is really good, while his podcast is really good, Akimbo, kind of synthesizing his career in a podcast and his teachings. And also I liked All Marketers Are Liars, Emotional Intelligence, I mentioned already, and some that was always really liked The Information by James Gleick and The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. Yeah, I'll probably link to more.

1:24:39Jose Luis: Well, before we finish the interview, I mean, I'm not even sure if this question applies anymore. But where can people find you online?

1:24:48Nono: Well the easiest way actually is if you go to Nono, Ma, and there are a lot of links with icons to all the social media accounts that I have. I have Dribbble, GitHub, Instagram Facebook, Twitter, at Twitter you can find me at @nonoesp. And also this podcast is under @getting_simple even though an Instagram is just @gettingsimple, but really you can just go to and and find everything.

1:25:17Jose Luis: And I think it's this is my favorite question in your podcast. Do you have any questions for me?

1:25:25Nono: Yes. So how long have you been thinking about doing this to me?

1:25:30Jose Luis: Like you say, doing this to me in like a dramatic way. How has it felt to be interviewed in The Getting Simple Podcast?

1:25:39Nono: It felt weird in terms of being again a bit nervous for being the person interview. It also felt like I would like to write more about these things. And that's that's what I'm doing, right? But I always what I think about the podcast really and I think Everyone who's here, the afterthoughts is at some other time in in my life, I probably wouldn't have said that I probably would have said this other thing is that have told you more about this new project I'm doing. I was a bit concerned of, would I miss something? What's the best answer for each of those questions? And again, I think that's something I have really pressing in my life that life is more and more about quantity, right? Like getting the quality good enough, right, good enough is good enough, and then doing quantity. So I don't think that this might be the only time that I that I'm put on the spot and asked about my life. I think what would be really nice is that the interviews I do, and the writings I do and the readings I do actually change the way I do certain things. And I can say that I've improved and got better at the way I do things in my life.

1:26:55Jose Luis: I think that's a wonderful way of wrapping this up. Thank you very much, Nono,

1:26:58Nono: Thank you so much.

1:26:59 I'd like to say now that we're here, the only reason why this podcast exists is because you the listener are listening to us. And I would really encourage you to reach out to me. Write to me on on Twitter or even at my email (

1:27:19 Feel free to tell me what you think about this. Tell me if there's something that you will like to see on the podcast or something that you really enjoy.

1:27:26 I hope you enjoyed it. I'll see you next time.

December 5, 2019


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