To tag on to the above article a little bit. Here are a few example articles and the editorial reasons we liked them.
A lot of people approach personal improvement as if there is one universal truth. So you’d probably think an academic is the perfect author.
However, the real story of that piece is that our community of coaches (we often draw from Coach.me for testing and context) had used his ideas for years. I personally created exercises from his research for my coaching group of four hundred people.
So when we went to publish an article from him, we also had several people who could articulate the software tools and mindfulness techniques that would help a reader put Tim’s procrastination research into practice.
To me, that was the perfect way to cover a topic: one great researcher, with an editor who had tested the research, and then a collection of authors writing practical tutorials for the universe of possible applications.
In diet there are so many competing studies. For every study you see, there’s a study saying the exact opposite. On top of that, Jason’s work is so confident — I often read that as a sign I’m being scammed.
So we packaged his articles with simple tutorials based on personal experience, for example this story of what it took to lose 50lbs.
Authors with just personal experience are the complete other end of the spectrum as authors like Jason. On Jason’s end you have people with data points on hundreds or thousands of experiences. And then the personal experience author has just one data point: themselves.
But these personal experience authors bring two helpful things. One, they can bring a level of trust to popular advice for the simple reason that they don’t have a reputation on the line. And two, they’re much more in tune with the kinds of mistakes you might make if you follow the advice of a renowned expert.
When it comes to personal experience authors, we try to only publish them if they are giving information about an already popular technique. Intermittent fasting above is one example.
There’s a whole world of productivity inventors who are writing about techniques that they just made up and tested on themselves for a week. We avoid those . These ideas may be provocative, but they haven’t been tested well enough for us.
Occasionally, we’ll run into a truly original personal experimenter who happens to be a fantastic teacher. For example, Sílvia Bastos’ piece on Reciprocity comes from a trick she used while traveling.
But more often we like personal experimenters for the way they filter the advice of the experts.
For example, Jason Shen was a TED fellow and is engaged to a TED Women speaker. He’s a fantastic amateur speaker and his How to Dramatically Improve Your Public Speaking piece explains the TED way of public speaking through the perspective of the ambitious learner.
K. Markle does the same on this topic on dealing with sleep deprivation. She comes from Stanford’s Behavior Design program, but her piece is academic research filtered through her own experience with sleep deprivation as a new parent.
Lots more to come!