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September 9, 2019

Podcast #541: The Art of Noticing

Quick, name the president who’s on the dime. Or think about the letters and numbers on your license plate. Were you stumped for a moment? That’s the strange thing about our powers of observation: we can look at something a thousand times, and never really notice it.

Our struggle to notice what’s around us is even worse in our Smartphone Age, where we often have tunnel vision that limits itself to a little handheld screen.

My guest today wrote a book that aims to help us recapture the keen use of our senses. His name is Rob Walker, he’s the author of The Art of Noticing, and he argues that tuning into things normally overlooked not only provides fodder for art and business, but can make life seem more vibrant and engaging. Rob and I begin our conversation discussing what it means to notice and the benefits that come from noticing. We then spend the rest of the conversation walking through several exercises you can start doing today to strengthen your noticing muscles, including creating observational scavenger hunts and collections. Rob also suggests several ways to notice overlooked things at museums and why looking at the world like there’s a dramatic heist about to go down causes you to notice more in your environment. 

Show Highlights

  • What are the benefits of noticing things that are oft overlooked?
  • The empowering nature of being in control of your attention
  • Creating scavenger hunts for yourself
  • Why you should start an (unconventional) collection 
  • What does it mean to look slowly?
  • Taking inspiration from kids on the art of noticing 
  • Making the most of your visit to a museum 
  • Why you should draw what you see at an art museum rather than take a picture of it
  • Imagining a heist scenario in every environment 
  • Noticing what people are doing on their phone 
  • How to find things you aren’t looking for 
  • Noticing with our other senses
  • The power of solitude 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

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