Tom butler-bowdon
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Brandenburg Gate, Berlin


Apologies for the paucity of my communications. Last year was very busy; this is a belated update.

Recently had few days in Berlin, a city I got to know through work, and that I love returning to for leisure.

As well as visiting the fantastic Neue Nationalgalerie (a 1967 Mies van der Rohe modernist masterpiece), we enjoyed the DDR Museum which recreates life in the old East Germany. And we hung out at the Brandenburg Gate. We were there just as a demonstration about Ukraine got under way.

Finished in 1791, the Gate was originally called Peace Gate. The Soviet and then East German flags flew on top for over 50 years, when it was part of the Berlin Wall. Now it’s a place of peaceful fun for tourists.

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My books 50 Philosophy Classics and 50 Politics Classics are published in Ukrainian.

50 Economics Classics is scheduled for publication later in 2022. Kudos to publisher KMBooks in Kiev who are pressing ahead with the translation.

Some of my books are in Russian too, and I support every person's desire to educate themselves and find truth.

Fortunately, autocracies are fragile and often short lived within the span of history. Private citizens always find a way to pursue their goals and interests whatever the state is doing, and thank God for that.


At the start of 2021 I opened a fortune cookie. The message was about "the audacity of hope" and having trust that better things would come.

It turned out to be a pretty accurate. I dared to imagine a better quality of life for myself, moving from a suburban area to one of great natural and historic beauty. As the move coincided with the pandemic, the benefits were magnified.

When recently I was given tea at the home of friends, the label on my teabag said,

"Seek something higher."

In the absence of a New Year's resolution, that will do.

Once, people's station in life was set, with not a lot of need to make big personal decisions. You were part of some class or institution or religion which shaped your life. Today, the responsibility is all on the individual. We're expected to not only "know what we want", but to have clear opinions on everything.

Yet I believe that a purposeful mindset of "not knowing" releases energy and insight. Openness to new information, and to pointers from the universe around us, is powerful rather than weak.


Last year

Milestones included:

▪ Developed Memo'd, an online knowledge platform that has just gone onto the App Store.
▪ Edited and published seven new titles in the Capstone Classics series, and developed two more for release this year.
▪ Edited three new editions of the 50 Classics books - Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, due out this year.
▪ Moved house and oversaw renovation of the new property.
Developed Memo'd, an online knowledge platform that has just gone onto the App Store.
Edited and published seven new titles in the Capstone Classics series, and developed two more for release this year.
Edited three new editions of the 50 Classics books - Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, due out this year.
Moved house and oversaw renovation of the new property.

Through it all I kept to my weekly online "Sabbath" of no email, web search, or social media from 6 pm Friday til 9 am Sunday. It's only by having this rigid break from screens (and in their place, spending time with people, enjoying nature, doing exercise etc) that I feel renewed for the week ahead.

I can't remember where I got the idea, but have done it for over a decade now and recommend it to everyone.

If you want more detailed thinking on the the practice, the book above could be useful (I own it but haven't read it). Bloggers like Cal Newport have also written usefully about tech sabbaths.


A recent Memo I wrote - click to read

Get the memo?

The last 18 months has seen intensive work on Memo'd, the condensed knowledge platform that aims to:

▪ accelerate people's learning in the topics they love
▪ lets users share their life and work wisdom and expertise in concise 10-point "memos"
accelerate people's learning in the topics they love
lets users share their life and work wisdom and expertise in concise 10-point "memos"

Creators publish original ideas or summarize existing ones from a variety of sources like books and talks.

All of the content is totally free - there's no subscription and no advertising.

If you sign up for an account you can like, save, and share Memos, make boards of favorite content, and comment on other people's work.

Anyone can start writing and publishing Memos themselves, so why not have a go?

This week we went onto the App Store. So you can get Memo'd on your phone right now and start playing around with it - would love to know your thoughts.

There's also the web version, which has much the same features. Use this if you have an Android phone or want to explore Memo'd on your laptop.

I am the "Content guy" for the platform, but it's the combined result of a team of engineers and writers, plus private venture funding from the CEO.

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A few Memos from my 'Money' account - click to read them

I've written over a hundred Memos myself across three profiles:

Tom Butler-Bowdon - psychology, self-help, society, success, philosophy

TomBB-Business - company origin stories e.g. Amazon, Tesla, Slack

TomBB-Money- personal finance, economics, Bitcoin etc

The issue nowadays is not the volume of information, but making sense of it. Hence the concision of Memos and the 10-point struture. For those interested in the thinking behind the platform, check out the Memo'd White Paper I wrote last year.

* Memo'd is a natural extension of my writing.
* It's enabling people to make intellectual or spiritual leaps forward – just in a different medium.


Red is an apt colour

Capstone Classics

Last year saw seven new editions in the Capstone Classics series:

Each contains the original text of these classics, along with Introductions commissioned and edited by me.

They included three related titles:
* Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
* Narrative of the LIfe of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
* Interesting Narrative by Olaudah Equiano

Northup was freed and was reunited with his family. Douglass became a celebrated speaker and ended up well-off and a friend of Susan B. Anthony. And Equiano transitioned from sea slave to freed merchant seamen and retired to London... where he played an important role in the British emancipation cause.

The stories of millions of others who were not so fortunate are left untold. At least these narratives remind each generation about what happened.

We also brought out a new edition of The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels.

Being ardently capitalist, I've always been fascinated by its opposite.

My Introduction places the book within its historical context i.e. coming straight after the revolutions of 1848. Marx believe these marked the end of the old order, but it would be over 50 years before Marxism was properly applied for the first time (in Russia). The Manifesto itself is quite stirringly written. Marx had worked as a journalist so knew his way around a pen. He was less good on human nature and economics.

Of the new Capstone Classics coming out this is my fave. The Russian Constructivist look of red, black and white perfectly suit the subject.

Also released in the last few months were new editions of:
Seneca - Letters
Thomas More - Utopia
Virginia Woolf - A Room of One's Own


Rainbow of wisdom

The next Capstone Classics are out in March & April. They involve:

▪ A French mayor who gave up public office to retire to a life of writing and study, and who suffered badly from gallstones
▪ A German professor who spent years moving around Europe living in rented accommodation before sliding into madness
A French mayor who gave up public office to retire to a life of writing and study, and who suffered badly from gallstones
A German professor who spent years moving around Europe living in rented accommodation before sliding into madness

Can you guess who I'm talking about?

Yes, Montaigne and Nietzsche.

The new editions of Montaigne's timeless Essays and Nietzsche's astonishing, slightly mad Thus Spoke Zarathustra have Introductions by top scholars in their fields.

People are asking: How can I buy a full set of the Capstone Classics?

The publisher has no plans for an omnibus - you just have to buy them singly, at least for the moment. But yes they do look good when put together.


Blackwells bookshop, Oxford

50 Classics Series

New editions of:

▪ 50 Philosophy Classics
▪ 50 Politics Classics
▪ 50 Economics Classics
50 Philosophy Classics
50 Politics Classics
50 Economics Classics

come out later in 2022.

It's a few years since each of these was first published so I'm adding new chapters and taking out some older or less relevant titles.

I feel very fortunate that a series which began 20 years ago is still going strong internationally, with many translations.

I guess that's the advantage of educative, evergreen content: the demand for it never reduces, and usually only grows.

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"Caution: Rabbit holes". Near the Tomb of the Eagles, South Ronaldsay in Orkney Islands.


I did a few in the last few months.

Here's a couple you might enjoy, with two great podcasters:

"This Man Read 450 Classic Books and Distilled Their Best Ideas"
...TBB with
Ruben Chavez of Think/Grow/Prosper

Topics covered
* Why Tom equates success with truth
* The missing element from most self-help and success books
* How Tom’s job as a government advisor sparked his writing career
* Why reading books and writing about them are two very different things
* Tom’s reading and note-taking process
* The surprising benefit of physical books

"The 50 Classics Series has been immensely valuable to me in understanding the landscape of ideas in a particular field and making complicated philosophical and psychological works more accessible. Tom’s mission is simple: more people knowing more."
Ruben Chavez

Listen now

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A few interesting Memos - click to read

"What do the most successful people of all time have in common?"
Daniel Karim of The Psychology Podcast

What is this episode about?
* Tom Butler-Bowdon’s journey of becoming
* What he learned from studying the most successful individuals of all time
* How to write a best-seller
* The power of long-term thinking
* How to find one’s life purpose
* Commonalities of the greatest thinkers of all time
* What he learned from Carl Gustav Jung
* What he learned from reading and condensing the best books of all time
* His ideas on good and evil
* The importance of truth, beauty, and conscience

"The 27th episode of the Psychology Podcast with Daniel Karim features Tom Butler-Bowdon, a best-selling author, educational entrepreneur, and world-leading authority in the field of personal development."
Daniel Karim

Listen now


In the future, persons will be like institutions

Managed to get back to Australia over Christmas. Long-haul travel is not for the faint-hearted these days, and it turned out to be quite the adventure. But we made it, and it was worth it.

In the pic I am enjoying a coconut water in Nimbin, a hippy/New Age enclave inland from Byron Bay, New South Wales.

A reader asked what my "secret" was in terms of health. I exercise a fair bit (walking, swimming, gym) but could always do more. I don't smoke or drink alcohol, my diet is quite good (although could be better - am addicted to biscuits with my tea every afternoon, and like potato crisps). Was vegetarian for ten years, but now just eat what my body is telling me it wants. So no "secrets", and lucky genes surely play a part.

Long hours and few holidays seem unavoidable if you're trying to achieve something, especially if you're working for yourself. But if sleep, diet, exercise, and relaxation are not prioritized, there are costs. You have to honour your future self.

Techno-utopians say medical technologies are advancing exponentially. If you can stay alive another 20-30 years, you will be able to live for centuries. If that's the case, individuals will become more like institutions, amassing wealth, knowledge and connections. It's a loss when a person's knowledge and experience dies with them after a few decades of life.

But for the moment, the only way of getting around that is to create ideas, goods, services, offspring, that will outlive you.

Kind regards,

Tom Butler-Bowdon


Click to listen on Apple Podcasts

P.S. Book Insights

Am still curating the "Book Insights" audio series, which is available on YouTube and all podcast platforms.

Here's a few episodes for you to enjoy, but there are many more:

Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations

Carol Dweck's Mindset

Gary Keller's The One Thing

Work Skills
Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism

Book Lounge

Watch Book Lounge on YouTube

Book Lounge

Also watch co-host Karin Richey and I have an informal chat on each of these books with an invited guest.

Episodes here on YouTube.


Click to learn more...

Buy the 50 Classics books or see reviews

On Amazon
Amazon UK

Capstone Classics

On Amazon
On Amazon UK

Book Insights & Book Lounge

Listen here

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