Tom butler-bowdon


It's a rule of writing in newsletters, blogs, or newspapers that you begin by mentioning something current. That grabs the reader's attention and makes you seem relevant.

By this rule, I should start this newsletter by talking about Covid or climate change or the Olympics.

But I'm always more interested in things that don't date, that keep being powerful or useful or beautiful way beyond any news cycle.


Modern painter

Recently I had a very practical reason to think about this. I bought a new house which needs complete revamping inside. The structure and the location are great, but just about everything else needs changing. That means a million decisions about new kitchen, bathroom, decoration, not to mention plumbing and electrics.

With each of these decisions I'm forced to ask: will I be happy with it in 5, 10, 15 years time?

When it comes to books, naturally I'm biased towards the lasting and classic (as you'll know from the 50 Classics series and Capstone Classics). When I've read something like Aristotle's Ethics, or Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, or Solomon Northup's Twelve Years A Slave, I know it has not been a waste of my time. It might be a difficult read, or have no reference to present events, but I gain something real and unforgettable.

Rabbit Holes

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

Social media platforms privilege the new over the old. They give us the latest thinking and ideas from people we follow.

But if you're like me, you also spend a lot of time Googling things you want more background on. You end up on Wikipedia, or Britannica; you read a long article or blog, or watch a TED talk. You do an online course or watch a masterclass on YouTube.

Going down these rabbit holes can take a lot of time. I've spent whole days looking into some new knowledge obsession, negotiating many different kinds of content: article, blog, book, podcast, video – of many lengths, authors, styles, and dates.


A few interesting Memos - click to read

Knowledge made simple

The team I work with started to think: Why not take the instant usability of a platform like Twitter (with its standardized format of 280 character tweets), but make the actual content long-term, evergreen knowledge?

We imagined a platform that had tons of useful knowledge and insights from a diversity of creators, including lots of secrets and shortcuts for success in work and life.

It would have to be 100% free: no subscription, no ads. We'd worry about the money side later - the first thing was to increase the utility of existing knowledge.


Click to read these Memos

The result is Memo'd.

It's both a website and an app where you'll find hundreds of 'Memos' (10-point pieces of content on everything from self-development to psychology to philosophy).

Whatever the topic, you get only what's needed in a very succinct way. In a few minutes you can learn something or find a potentially life-changing idea.

Here are some Memos I've chosen at random. Please click and have a read:

Learn what psychology trait is the strongest indicator of success.

Discover the powerful but little known maxims of Balthasar Gracian.

Find out the single most important insight in Think and Grow Rich.

Get the key themes from Tara Westover's masterpiece Educated.

Explore what NFTs or Fractional Reserve Banking are in 500 words or less.

Read a Tim Ferris guide to note-taking in only ten points.

Learn this simple shift than can transform your work and love relationships.

.... and many many more.

There are over a thousand Memos, and we're still in Beta (not officially launched). In the last couple of weeks, 12,766 Memos were read with hundreds of likes, saves, and shares.

By the way, if you create an account you can share or save any Memo. But you don't have to create an account to see all the content - we didn't want to put up any barriers to learning or inspiration.

Memo d

Click for short video on what Memo'd can do for you

Anyone can sign up and start writing and publishing Memos, and there's already a bunch of active creators.

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

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

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

TomBB-Money- personal finance, Bitcoin etc

What's fascinating is that I now feel I don't really know anything unless I've written a Memo on it. For me, retention of knowledge is a key to the platform, because the issue nowadays is not the volume of information, but making sense of it.

Btw if you're interested in the thinking behind Memo'd, check out:

What is the future of writing? - I look into the history of the paragraph, and how text has evolved from blocks of uninterrupted script, to the point form that Memo'd takes.

... and also
Memo'd White Paper, which goes into more depth. Any comments welcomed, just reply to this email.

Memo'd is a natural extension of my work as a writer. It's basically the same mission – enabling people to make intellectual or spiritual leaps forward – just in a different medium, and hopefully reaching more people.

I'm also considering a weekly digest of the best or trending Memos, that I will send out to subscribers.

Would you be interested in receiving this? If so, just reply to this email by saying "Best Memos" (or just let me know what you think of the whole Memo'd project).


Screen Shot 2021-07-23 at 09.16.02

Click to watch or listen


In other news...

Enjoy this interview I did with YouTube book influencer Michael Knight of the popular Best Book Bits.

Michael did his research, and asks lots of good questions about the thinking and process behind the 50 Classics series, and what life lessons can be drawn from them.

Screen Shot 2021-07-23 at 09.19.12

Click to watch or listen

Best Book Bits also provides a free 40 minute summary of my book Never Too Late To Be Great: The Power of Thinking Long. Listen to it now.

I also recently did an interview with ThinkGrowProsper's host Ruben Chavez (2.6 million Instagram following) - will post that when it goes live.


Click to listen on Apple Podcasts

Book Insights

Finally, some recent Book Insights podcast episodes for you to enjoy.

Each book is selected by me for summarization and discussion, and in the Book Lounge episodes we chat more informally about each title:

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

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

Episodes here on YouTube.


I leave you with a possibly strange quote, but one that resonated:

“Freedom is not chucking of one’s weight about, it is the disciplined overcoming of self… it is selfless respect for reality.”

Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good

i.e. any attempt to reduce the ego helps you to see things more clearly.

That requires work, daily practice, reflection etc. But so very worth it.

All best wishes,
Tom Butler-Bowdon


Click to learn more...

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Capstone Classics

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Book Insights & Book Lounge

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