Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Ali Abdaal for RoamFM!
Ali is a Cambridge university medicine graduate, a former doctor in the UK National Health Service and a prolific YouTuber, making videos about life as a medical student, productivity tips, tech, Roam Research, Notion and more.
For the full shownotes, click here
Norman Chella: [00:00:19] In this episode, we talk with Ali Abdaal, who is a Cambridge university medicine graduate, a former doctor in a UK national health service and a prolific YouTuber making videos about life as a medical student, productivity tips, tech, roam, research notion, all kinds of things. We talked about his workflow, how he uses Evernote and notion and Rome to do all sorts of information capture.
Defining creativity and content creation, as well as the value that we can provide to others who we are trying to help defining the perfect note taking app. Ali talks to me about the similarities between a note taking app and marriage. This conversation was really broad, so it's better than just sit down and relax and enjoy this roller coaster ride of a conversation. So without further ado, dive into my chat with Ali Abdaal.
Ali Abdaal: [00:01:09] Yeah. I mean, I thought I would be a lot more. I dunno, like I wanted to do productive things. It's an only been about two weeks now. Um, but it seems like the days just get filled up with stuff. Uh, like yesterday we've said that Tuesdays are going to be the hangout days. And so, um, I met up with four different people who wanted to come up to Cambridge just to have a coffee with me.
Then two of them ended up staying at my place afterwards for dinner. And that was really fun. And just like, get to hang out with people for several hours kind of at least once a week. And then there's an Instagram person who I know who's coming over tomorrow to hang out and I'm having dinner with someone on Friday and then visiting some friends on Saturday.
So some, somehow the time just gets used up and I, I don't know where it goes. I feel like, I'm no more productive now than I was when I had a full time job, which is a bit weird.
Norman Chella: [00:01:59] Okay. Now that even if you have all this time now, not that you have a job. Oh, okay. So it's not really affecting that. Oh, that's interesting.
Ali Abdaal: [00:02:06] Yeah, it hasn't really, we've done the same, same, same number of videos per week. Haven't really done anything new. Is this, I don't know. I it's, I think this is like Parkinson's law in action that work expands to fill the time you have for it. These days, like, like now I wake up and if I've got all day, then I'll kind of take my time in the morning.
I'll maybe go to the gym in the middle of the day, maybe go for a massage, maybe chill in a coffee shop in town for a bit. And ultimately in terms of kind of a creative output, it's pretty much identical to what it was when I actually had the job, which is a bit weird. Okay.
Norman Chella: [00:02:39] is it just as fulfilling because I know that you said that you have fun saving lives, being a doctor and actually making impactful work. And then after leaving now, you have more time for yourself and, you know, your social interactions and, your creative work. I view your YouTube channel as your creative work.
I'm sure. Uh, even though there's like a business element to it, but. It seems like you're doing just great in terms of how intentional or how meaningful do you want to make the most out of each day? But yeah.
Ali Abdaal: [00:03:09] Yeah, exactly. Like in terms of fulfillment, I haven't noticed any difference in my kind of fulfillment of life, pre employment and post-employment, um, I feel like even, even that most of my fulfillment came actually from the creative stuff, like the whole saving lives thing. Yeah. I, I kind of, I kind of talk about saving lives in a tongue and cheek fashion because it's not actually saving lives.
It's the system that saves the lives rather than the individual. Um, and so work was fun, uh, but funding I'm putting in air quotes because. It's not what I would choose to be doing with my time, but once you're there, you kind of make the best of it and you hang out with people and stuff. So it's, it's a different sort of fun.
Whereas now it's like, I can literally do what I want and kind of hang out with people in the middle of the day and it's just been quite nice. So I dunno, I think it's still early days and I'm still, probably in the unemployment honeymoon period. So maybe in a few months or in a few weeks, or even a few days, I'll start to get really bored.
But I dunno, I haven't yet.
Norman Chella: [00:04:08] it really does not look like you'll be bored anytime soon since you're just feeling, you're just filling up each moment of your day with something that you're creatively like you're willing to put in despite not being part of a system that can save lives or despite not being part of something greater, you choose to be part of something that you have created or manifested for yourself, like a little small corner of this world that other people are willing to come to, which I do want to get into.
But seeing as how this is a RoamFM, uh, episode, I think the cult will hang me for not really asking you anything about related to Roam. So
Ali Abdaal: [00:04:43] I don't. I feel like I didn't really have anything interesting to say about room, but I'm happy to talk about it. I love talking about apps.
Norman Chella: [00:04:48] Yeah, sure. a lot of people are asking really mainly about your workflow and use cases. I want to go about this a different angle because that is very, very expected and you know, that's going to come up and I know that you live talking about apps. That's perfectly fine, but. I do want to talk about your origin story from a different angle, your notetaking origin story.
Now we normally call, uh, the times before being introduced to Roam research the dark times, uh, before you get your mind blown from all this bi-directional awesomeness, but, uh, what is your note taking origin story? Where did you get the, uh, the obsessive. activity of note taking, um, injected in your veins when you were, you know, trying to be a doctor, a YouTuber and an aspiring gymshark athlete.
Ali Abdaal: [00:05:34] Exactly you've, you've really done your research. Um, I've kind of been doing the note taking thing since like, I think 2010 or 2011 was when I just come Evernote. And I think I probably found a Tim Ferriss article on his blog, where he was talking about how he uses Evernote. And I remember me and some of my school friends was super into like, Oh my God guys, you've got to check this Evernote thing out.
It's really cool. And so I sometimes look back on my notes from 2011. Like I was really big into closeup magic then. And so I used to sort of, uh, you know, export import snippets into Evernote. And I had like a magic folder. I was into improving my social skills. So I have like a social skills notebook.
From like 2011 where I copied and pasted tips that I've picked up from like courses and videos and books and stuff. I was also really into reading a lot about how to get girls. And so like, you know, the whole like seduction stuff and like reading The Game and all that. And I had notes on that and I sometimes look at those and kind of chuckled to myself.
Um, but that I suppose is my origin story of note taking. And then I never really took it seriously. Like, like proper, proper, like nerd seriously. Um, and then, you know, I got to go to medical school and then the note taking there was more about that. And in fact, it was entirely about, uh, sort of getting through medical school, but then I sort of dabbled with things like bear and Ulysses during med school.
And I, you know, I would take notes on because I was running a company. And so I used to have like a, a folder of like ideas and yeah, the things I started using Notability on the iPad pro quite a lot. Once I got an Apple pencil. Um, I quite like the handwriting note taking things, but it was only really kind of last year when I took the building a second brain online course that I'm sort of my note taking started to get supercharged.
And I was like, okay, this is some legit stuff that I should spend some time actively thinking about.
Norman Chella: [00:07:19] Okay. Oh, okay. I see that there's like different levels between. The surface level of just, Oh, this is interesting because you see this article and then from there, you find it to be a need seeing is how in your medical school, there's just a vast amount of information that you have to process to get through medical school.
And now with BSAB or building a second brain. Congratulations on being an alumni mentor, I'm really excited to see that happening. So let's, let's focus on that last bit because, uh, building a second brain, I've seen, especially not only with the guests on the show, but really just the general Twitter verse.
Um, building a second brain has been setting the foundation for a lot of people. When it comes to defining your own note taking system or define your own unique note taking system, how did building a second brain really overhaul your current outlook on note taking at the time?
Ali Abdaal: [00:08:09] Um, I wonder if, if, if I can find it cause this time last year, or like in, in, in summer 2019. I remember I discovered it for the first time. And I remember thinking, I remember feeling like my life was being changed as I was kind of reading Tiago blog posts. Where are we? Um, um, I would have, would have written about it.
Oh, March 24th, 2019. When I discovered it. Yeah. So, cause this is what I wrote in my email newsletter. This was issue number 50 in March, 2019. It says, um, so I quoted from an article by Tiago where he said, because you know, how many brilliant ideas have you hadn't forgotten? How many insights have you failed to take action on how much useful advice have you slowly forgotten that the years have passed?
We feel a constant pressure to be learning, improving ourselves and making progress. We spend countless hours every year, reading, listening, and watching informational content. And yet where's all that valuable knowledge gone? Where is it when we need it? Our brain can only store a few thoughts at any one time.
Our brain is for having ideas, not for storing them. And he goes on to say that building a second brain is a methodology for saving and systematically reminding us of the ideas, inspirations, insights, and connections we've gained through our experience. It expands our memory and our intellect using the modern tools of technology and networks.
Um, and then I wrote in my email on this side of that, when I read those first three paragraphs, my mind was blown. It was as if this guy was speaking to my very soul articulating problems that I've been thinking about for years, but never been able to. And so that was kind of the. Like, as soon as I read that blog post, I was like, damn, this guy, this guy knows.
Cause I think like pre discovering the building a second brain stuff. I had no idea that other people were also thinking about this stuff. And I had all these kind of disparate things in my head. It was like, yeah. You know, exporting highlights to Evernote. That kind of makes sense and stuff, but yeah. It was through seeing that there was a system for it, all that blew my mind.
And then I kind of started noting out sort of, you know, level about all of this stuff. And that was kind of how I got introduced to the, the personal knowledge management domain.
Norman Chella: [00:10:18] Oh, that's amazing. Okay. So I take it to your, your note taking system before BASB. Was really just sort of like a mini framework that you've developed with yourself thinking, okay, this works. It's just fine. It's okay. And after being mind blown by Tiago Forte's work, uh, which has really influenced a lot of people, uh, especially in the Roamcult, because it's amazing, like para is seriously fantastic in terms of it being a system.
Ali Abdaal: [00:10:48] is it? I don't use PARA at all.
Norman Chella: [00:10:51] Okay. So you, wait, you said you went into BHP and then you don't really use PARA at all.
Ali Abdaal: [00:10:55] Yeah. The a bit that I just didn't really, I don't know. Like how do you use you? How do you use PARA? So would, what are some examples of like a project versus a resource for you?
Norman Chella: [00:11:08] Okay. So this is interesting because normally I would, I would probe with that question, assuming that you would use para. I don't use para. So I, I also don't use PARA because I've tried, I've tried using it in Notion.
Actually, uh, using a variation of some of your YouTube videos, because I do refer to them for building my own system.
And then I heard about PARA initially it was using para in Google drive and I would have a hierarchy of projects. So, you know, those small projects that take more than a couple of sessions and trying to finish them, then I would just stick them into a folder once I'm done. What happened was that I'm on a free account for a Google or for a Google drive rather.
So I had many projects and it, yeah. Yeah. So storage became a problem. And also it also, uh, reading through the posts about, you know, how to set up your own PARA system. They forgot to mention keyword searchability. So. Trying to make that consistent was quite a big problem for me, because I would try to remember, Oh, okay.
This project was sort of about this. It's about a blog post, or it's about a video or it's about with this client or something like that. And then it was too much work. It became too much friction and I needed something more high touch. PARA to me became a framework that I look up to in terms of its impact on a lot of people who prefer that style of PKM. But it really did not fit me. And I had to do like a hybrid notion plus pen and paper until I found Roam. But yeah. Uh, so it just didn't work for you at all.
Ali Abdaal: [00:12:44] I think my, my problem, as well as like, uh, for me, what is a project? Like a project would be something like, for example, an area would be the YouTube channel or, you know, a project I guess, would be each individual video. But if I'm making like three videos a week, then creating a new project folder for each one and kind of doing, doing, and doing it like that just seemed a little bit excessive because just when you're doing three a week, then across a year, you've got like a hundred, 150 videos.
That's 150 projects. Yeah. You know, really the only thing that I needed for the project was a single page of notion where I could just organize everything. And it made more sense for that to be housed in a video's database, rather than any products, database, because the videos are a very specific type of project.
And given that videos were my main type of project, it seemed a bit silly to have kind of one project section and then a separate video section and then a separate blog posts section and a separate newsletter section. I don't know. I ended up getting, getting siloed into sort of. Yeah. And, and not really being able to work with that structure of kind of everything is a project or it's a task.
Um, and so, I mean, obviously I still have like a project list and I still use areas at, I still, I suppose, have resources in that. I've still got my Evernote notebooks for like, you know, everything, but it's, I don't specifically use the para system.
Norman Chella: [00:14:10] Okay. Wait. So do you still use your Evernote?
Ali Abdaal: [00:14:13] I still use my evidence. I kind of treat my Evernote as like the base layer. Longterm memory. So if, for example, you mostly to store resources. So if I come across something interest, so like, you know, I've been thinking of making like a membership site. Um, and so I've been looking at other people's membership sites.
I think, okay. Where would that get saved? The place I save it, yeah. Is a memberships notebook on Evernote and it just works. Cause you can set it and forget it. And I know that in a year's time, when I think about setting up my membership, I can just look in that folder and it will be there equally when I go to talks and stuff from YouTube isn't and things, you know, a friend of mine, uh, had, did a talk on Patrion and I was like, okay.
So I took notes on that talk and it went into that memberships folder. Cause that's sort of the same thing. Um, so I kind of use Evernote for that purpose just to kind of clip and store stuff that I know I can just come back to at a later date.
Norman Chella: [00:15:09] Okay. That's interesting. That I might as well just get right into your workflow then, because that, that brings up some interesting distinctions, my assumption. And of course I have a lot of assumptions when preparing for this is that you would still have your resonance calendar on notion and you would clip a lot of these into Notion.
And then from there you do like a high touch, um, summarize and process and understand. And then from there you bring it up to some kind of application or maybe back into your Roam, but now that you have your organization of resources into Evernote, what is your information capture workflow? Because this, I feel like there's a lot of apps involved in here and we're not even touching into Roam yet, but, uh, yeah,
Ali Abdaal: [00:15:53] Yeah. Yeah, it's pretty, it's pretty fluid. Um, I kind of wish it were more, I kind of wish it were more systematic. Um, because then it would be easy to say, Oh, this is my method for using notion, or this is my method for using rope, but it's, it's more fluid than that. It's like this. So for, so for example, when it comes to capturing.
Usually the app that I use for quick captures actually drafts. Drafts is really good. Uh, it's like by far the easiest thing for me to write anything on, on my iPhone, or if I'm listening to a podcast that will dictate something into drafts on my Apple watch and that works, um, then because it's so easy to export from drafts into Evernote, it's like a one click one click thing.
If it's, if it's kind of like a resource that I know I want to come back to, it goes, then it goes into my Evernote. But if it's relevant to a particular project, ie a video idea that I'm currently working on a Skillshare class, all of those detract to notion. And so I suppose the notion is for ongoing active projects, whereas Evernote is for general resources.
Norman Chella: [00:17:00] I'm writing notes on this. This is pretty fantastic. And with all this happening, you have to Evernote for one specific use case, which is your resources and your notion for anything project related. This is where we're going to get into the nitty gritty. How did you stumble into Roam?
Ali Abdaal: [00:17:17] Um, I mean, just to win, you know, as, as you know, w w when you follow a certain type of person on Twitter, you end up hearing about these things. And so I heard about Roam sort of early this year, and I, it took me ages to actually start using it. Um, And I was thinking in like January time, you know, I should start using Roam and then I can make a course in room and then fricking Nat Eliason gets there and makes it a quarter of a million dollars in three months.
And I'm like, ah, shit, I should have made it. Oh, that's okay. Equally for like notion last year I was thinking, you know, I should make a course on notion and you know, people are now starting to do it, but I feel like I could have done it and been way ahead of the curve. And now I'm kind of playing catch up.
Um, but yeah, that was how I discovered Roam just kinda through Twitter. And then it took me ages to actually start using it properly. They loads of bugs early on, you know, like I made, I made my workspace and it would just be stuck on the loading screen for three hours at a time. And then I just kind of gave up using it like February, March time.
Um, and it was only later when I, when I put out his course that I was like, okay, let me actually do this properly.
Norman Chella: [00:18:25] So, did you learn about using roam through Nat's course? Or was it, were you more exploratory in that once you actually got the, uh, once he got past the Astrolabe and the loading screen, you're like, okay, let me, let me just play with it and then just
Ali Abdaal: [00:18:36] Uh, no, I, I, I learned it through nuts course. I need that. I could just do it myself, but it was like, you know, there's a course. It's $50? That's just get Nat to teach it to me. And so I remember when I was driving to work, I would have it on the teachable app. Playing a double speed. Just so I could, I know it was kind of more hearing rather than watching, because I was driving and I could, I sort of, sort of, kind of absorbed it while driving across a few days.
And it was like, okay, this kind of makes sense. Huh?
Norman Chella: [00:19:04] Okay. Okay. Interesting. Okay. And from there, once you're past Nat's course, and once you've finished, it has your workflow in Roam diverged to, to create something that's really unique to what you're doing right now.
Ali Abdaal: [00:19:17] Um, I don't know, it's it, to me, it feels unsatisfying because, you know, as a productivity nerd, you know, like I said, I want to have a single system or like, I want to have like a defined workflow for doing stuff. So the thing that I actually used Roam mostly for is like book notes. Um, and okay.
And then kind of using the, that whole zettelkasten thing to create evergreen notes out of that. I still do that one road and I think Rome is nice for that sort of thing. Um, so kind of book notes and I sort of came up with the thing called the nibble framework that I made a video about, which is where every, whether it's a book or a podcast or a blog post, or it can kind of, and anything that I consume that resonates with me.
Becomes a nibble. So I tag it with hashtag nibble in Roam and then I have like a query, a filter query thingy that just tells me what all of my nibbles are. Um, and it's a nibble until, uh, until I digest it. And so once I've digested it, ie turned it into evergreen notes and sort of, you know, processed it, then it gets hashtag digested.
Um, and then it goes away from the nibbles, uh, query filter thingy and Rome. And so right now I've got. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. I've got nine books that I finished in the last few weeks that I haven't yet digested. Cause I keep on putting it off and I'm not telling myself, okay, I'm not allowed to read any more nonfiction until I get through my backlog of book notes.
I need to go through. So I've just been listening to loads of fiction now because I've just not been bothered to do the book notes thing.
Norman Chella: [00:20:53] Do you set a limit to how much you try to process each and every day? Like every nibble, is it like just five nibbles a day in like one hour? How do you prompt yourself to like, turn that into an evergreen note? Because I'm starting to see very interesting distinctions between the transition of a chaotic messy note.
To something that's considered evergreen or considered publishable or public or usable, but yeah, what's your take on that?
Ali Abdaal: [00:21:18] Um, I don't have a system for this. I need to make a system for this. I would love to have a system whereby you know, in the morning I wake up, I have my coffee, I do my morning pages and then I spend half an hour, you know, going through my nibbles. I think that would be a good system, but I haven't even looked at this list in the last like three weeks.
And then every day, I think, you know what, I'm going to spare time. I should go through my nibbles and digest them and then I just don't do it. Yeah, I think, yeah, once you make something, a system, it becomes easier to do, but. Um, yeah, I mean, I, I like to give this facade on the internet that I'm a productivity guru, but actually I spend wasting load time.
Norman Chella: [00:21:55] No, here's the thing that you bring up a great point because I feel like productivity gurus or productivity nerds, or those are just obsessed with productivity are really trying to teach people about productivity and all of that and creating all kinds of content about productivity to fill a certain, shall we say, I don't want to say void or gap where.
That 1% or that 5% increase in efficiency is just so important that it fills like a certain psychological desire. But I was actually gonna ask you about that because how productive do you want to become?
Ali Abdaal: [00:22:32] I'm pretty happy with my current levels of productivity. And if we're defining productivity as useful output divided by time, I think I do a reasonable amount of useful. output divided by time. In fact, now I tell a lie. I would, I would like to be, I would like to be more productive than I currently am, but.
I know that if I wanted to be that I would be. And the fact that I'm not means that I actually don't want to be. So for example, uh, I've, I've got like four classes on Skillshare right now and Skillshare is an absolute goldmine. Um, and so I know that like I could, I could, I shouldn't be making one at one skillshare class a week for the next year.
And it would still be a gold mine. And that just makes so much sense. But in reality, we only make one Skillshare class every six weeks or every eight weeks. And I, part of me thinks I should be doing it more frequently than that, just because it'll make a little more money. And then another part of me thinks, well, if I really wanted that, that I'd be doing it.
So it's, it's kind of like a balance. It's like how. Part of me wants to have a six pack, but I don't want it enough to actually put in the work. Um, so I think I'm relatively happy with like, I don't, I don't like self-flagellating myself for not getting as much done, but even so I would, I would like to do more.
So it's kind of that balance.
Norman Chella: [00:23:55] Yeah. Yeah, no, no, it does make sense. And I'm, I'm seeing it personally as well because we have a lot of goals and visions and really ideals where we want to be this future intended version of ourselves. And. You know, they come with extra Skillshare classes or more revenue streams, or, you know, a six pack or, you know, you're, you're on a, you're trying to be Mr.Olympia
Olympia or something like that, you know, something grand or something. Well, I'm just, I'm just wondering if it's like a projection of what we want to become because it's comparative to who we are right now. And that is essentially an alternative angle to, is my self worth being threatened or is my self worth being affected right now because of where I am right now.
It's, it's quite, uh, quite an insane balance. Really. I just thought that maybe from your years in doing YouTube from growing your channel to diverging from only students do space to notion to Roam, um, what is enough, but yeah, it's definitely a crazy, interesting thing.
Ali Abdaal: [00:25:02] Yeah, that's something I think about a lot. Like what is enough? Like 4 Skillshares classes than I is enough, but. 24 Skillshares classes would be even better. So yeah, I don't know. There's something that I really liked. Um, Derek Sivers take on this. Like, um, he, he recently released his book and he made like $250,000 from it and he gave it all to charity.
Cause he said, don't know, I don't need the money. And I was like, now that's good. That's very good.
Norman Chella: [00:25:30] Oh, no, I love Derek Sivers. He's great. I like hearing him talk on other podcasts. That's just amazing a really articulated person.
Ali Abdaal: [00:25:38] Yeah, he's one of my favorite like podcasts guests.
Norman Chella: [00:25:41] Yeah. Yeah. Oh no. If I could land him as a guest on RoamFM, they'll be pretty interesting. Also seeing Derek's take on Rome will be. Oh, on that note though, here's something I've always wanted to ask you.
And this is purely like, not even Roam related, but I remember watching your interview with Noah Kagan and there were a few moments in the talk where he would say something along the lines of, uh, that you tend to repeat. What other people say in terms of like either wisdoms or sources of knowledge that you've applied to your work your life right now, but you're always quoting something else.
And he wanted to hear the Ali Abdaal a sense of wisdom. I'm really curious about this. Do you have a lot of personal gained knowledge and experience? But you prefer to share that shared knowledge or experience that is proven by other people as opposed to thoseby yourself. Because the concept of originality as a content creator is very, very interesting topic to me.
And maybe Roam will play a huge part of that, but yeah, what's your take?
Ali Abdaal: [00:26:46] Yeah, so I feel like I'm not creative at all. I don't, I don't think I have any original ideas. Uh, I think everything that I do is just stolen from someone else or is it remix of someone else's stuff. And so. Yeah. I, I always feel like very occasionally I'll come up with something that's like, okay, this, this works like, you know, I came up with this like retrospective revision timetable as like a, an alternative way, a Just in time kind of way to build up a study timetable. And I thought that that was pretty novel. And I thought, okay, kind of this makes sense. This was an original insight insofar as anything was original, like in reality that someone else probably came up with it before I did, but I didn't know about it. So I consider it original, but I essentially, other than that, there were so few things that I've ever done that I felt you know, have come, come from from within.
But then, you know, people say that there's no such thing. Like what is creativity? Creativity is remixing stuff from one source and from putting your own spin on it in some way. So what I try and do is if I come across something or some kind of method, I will try and kind of make it my own by kind of reading, naming it, or you putting a weird label on it and stuff.
So like for example, a lot of people in the note taking space would have an inbox and like a content inbox, and then they would process their notes and then they would become evergreen notes. I was thinking inbox and processes a bit boring. Let's call it nibble and digest. Oh, that's just a bit more fun and a bit more playful.
Um, but it's not a, an original idea by any means. It's really just an inbox and processing. Um, and so, yeah, I've, I feel like anytime people ask me for advice, there's very little, I can say that. I haven't learned from someone else. And because I usually remember in my first brain, uh, where the source was, I can say, Hey, uh, you know, Gary Vaynerchuk says this, Derek Sivers say that, Noah Kagan says that.
And I don't know, I feel like in conversation, I've now stopped doing that, but when it comes to like long form podcasts, I will usually cite my sources because it seems like people care.
Norman Chella: [00:28:46] Yeah, I'm sure that like a small percentage of listeners that or a small percentage of people who would. You know, consume your content. What probably ask for either the source or, Oh, that was interesting. Do you have more information on that? Or what can I read up more about it? And you know, you can always provide the sources, but I'd like to push back on that, to say that you're not creative enough because you've injected your own interpretation of the inbox and processing because it's relative to one your character and two your lens on the world.
And a lot of people resonate with that because even one of the questions on Twitter was about nibble framework. I'm going to be honest. I didn't know what the hell they were talking about. And, and it makes sense now because you decided that having a nibble and a digest fits more to your workflow and, or your personality, and a lot of people resonate with that.
So, you know, I, I'd rather that I'd rather that you not question your self worth or your level of creativity because your creativity is now proven to be applicable, usable it just as the sources that have helped you right now, you're, you know, your first brain and Gary Vaynerchuk and all that have helped you as well.
So yeah, don't, don't bring yourself down so much.
Ali Abdaal: [00:30:01] Oh, it's like that then. So I think on the creativity front, I think overall it is better for me to say that I'm not creative because then if someone looks at me and says, wow, this is a creative dude, why is he saying he's not creative? Then they'll hear my spiel about how creativity is actually remixing.
And there's no such thing as original content. And there are no unique messages, only unique messengers. And then someone like me who is thinking, do I want to start a YouTube channel? I mean, I kind of do, but I'm not sure I have anything original to say. That person will say, Oh, okay. I don't need to have anything original to say.
Or like, all I have to do is just steal from other people in remix and then that I can be successful. And so that's, that's a big part of why I actively consider myself not creative because I think, yeah, you don't need original insights. You just need an original interpret. Well, just by virtue of the fact that it's your interpretation, it becomes original because you're you and you have a unique lens on the world.
Norman Chella: [00:31:06] I wonder if thinking about that helps us question the definition of creativity, and I know what we've just been talking about it as in remixing, but then it also questions the traditional definition of creativity, and that it must come from the foundation of originality.
Ali Abdaal: [00:31:22] exactly.
Norman Chella: [00:31:23] I, yeah., I honestly think that there's something really off about that because it means that you must be original to be creative.
Ali Abdaal: [00:31:30] Yeah,
Norman Chella: [00:31:31] kind of constraint or that kind of initial expectations. It really does affect people mentally.
Ali Abdaal: [00:31:36] exactly. Yeah. You've hit the nail on the head. Like that's, it's, it's, it's that traditional definition of creativity that I'm using. When I say I'm not creative. But now kind of we on the internet have redefined creativity to say it's a remix. And so I am creative by the new definition, but not by the old definition.
I feel like people who are just getting started with content creation, who haven't drunk as much of the Koolaid that you and I have, they will be stuck on the old definition. And so we need to fight against that and tell them that it's all good. You don't need to be original
Norman Chella: [00:32:06] Yeah, I know I'm more and more discourse on that will be fantastic because we sort of have a very strange, but not, not us, but like in general, there's a certain image or impression of a creative person, especially as, as it's been disrupted in the last 20, 30 years. Like if you look back at like creative people, a hundred years, 200 years back, they will be creating amazing art or amazing sculptures or designing something that was inherently aesthetically pleasing and or creative in its angle or in its uniqueness.
But we don't know to what extent is that original, because they had to have learned someplace like certain foundations, certain first principles, et cetera. But then now everything's accessible on the internet and people can get creative by just remixing things that are a blend of multiple fields that they put together.
And I like to call it knowledge synthesis or a field synthesis where you can create something unique to yourself. So like, Oh, what is. What is Ali's field synthesis, right? Is it like Doctor, youTubing, PKM and all of that? Yeah. Uh, the possibilities of that, uh, with Roam research as a tool, uh, is now honestly, very, very amplified and, uh, with that comes a lot of other by directional tools, but I'm just really looking forward to a time when the traditional definition is just completely gone.
And now creativity is held on not a lower expectation, but a more accepted expectation as in just a little angle is enough. You are great. Just the way you are. It's
Ali Abdaal: [00:33:40] hold on on that note. So everyone says that well, you know, by directional linking allows for emergent creativity and allows you to make these connections between things that you want to see before. Therefore Roam research is amazing. I don't think I've ever once had any of those breakthroughs. In terms of, I feel like for me, most of the kind of breakthroughs that I've ever had have actually been first brain or first brain processes, it's been me thinking.
Of, Oh, I read this thing by Naval, or I saw this quote from Sivers and, you know, that would apply here rather than spontaneously coming across something because it happened to be in the bi-directional link. I dunno. Have, have you found this in your life that kind of the Roam thing has actually had helped you have creative, creative, um, breakthroughs
Norman Chella: [00:34:28] okay. This is interesting because. I, I would say both. Yes and no. So on that, on that first point, yes. Through inspiration, through insight and or through wandering in our thoughts, can we think of something? And we're like, Oh, okay. There might be something connecting here or there might be something new here, or there might be something that I've never thought about before, or I should take some time and to think about that more often, already done.
That's of course that's, that's always been, that's always been the norm is that everyone has gone through that and we have different levels or different frequencies of that happening. Like not everyone has shower thoughts all the time and not everyone is in a state of non-doing where we can just allow thoughts to synthesize with each other
On Rome itself. I look at it as not as a tool to enable that to happen, but as a compliment. So the moments in which we gain insight, gain, inspiration, gain, whatever new thing that you're thinking of is when we have observed X, therefore we think Y right, so X can be pretty much anything, which is pretty normal in the real world.
Roam is when bi-directional linking or any other feature, or, you know, it doesn't matter what they do, but any of the features allow you to not create Y it allows you to create X, therefore you, the person create Y. As an example, if you have book notes on, say on the note, Motivation is a Myth and Range by David Epstein.
So let's just say you have notes on them and they have specific contexts, right? Because these two are their books on their own. You might have your own thoughts, whatever, whatever. Your smart notes on each book may be the Y as a result of your X, which is reading the book. But another level of X is when you connect notes between this book and that book, which will create another angle at which you can look at all of your relevant thoughts, all of your relevant, smart notes, which will allow you to create I have a feeling that all it does is it only allows you to create more interesting thoughts. But what you do beyond that is a reflection of your character is a reflection of your, you know, your obsession with your thinking, what can you do in between? So I do have to say a Roam does not help you think better.
Rome only gives you more moments to allow you to think better, but what you actually do from then on. It's not, it's not what Roam provides,
Ali Abdaal: [00:37:00] Oh, that's interesting. Okay. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Uh, yeah. I think that's kind of how I think of it as well. Like, so for example, like, you know, if I look through my.List of evergreen notes right now, for example, in the life category, we've got the four important things in life. I'd get life. What do we do with our lives?
Do what you find yourself doing. If it's effortlessly deciding what to do with your time, minimizing regrets, the simple pleasures in life, all of these are sort of related to life and what we do with it. But I've kind of made these evergreen notes off of different bits. Um, and right now, because I'm still, it's a relatively sort of, um, the fledgling type system right now.
There aren't many interesting bi-directional links, but you know, for me, the reason I want to invest more time in this is because over time, you know, in five years time, or even the end of the five months time when I've summarized my hundredth book, rather than my second book at that point, this would then have more of a possibility for interesting folds to spark.
Norman Chella: [00:38:02] Okay. So once you're a hundred books in. Oh, okay. I, I would, I would honestly just say start now and then just see what happens.
Ali Abdaal: [00:38:08] Oh, yeah. I mean, yeah, that's what I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm starting now and I'm seeing what happens, but like right now I haven't had any personal creative breakthroughs, but it's kind of only summarized like four books into Roam and I've been putting off all the rest.
Norman Chella: [00:38:20] We're seeing this a lot actually, with a lot of Roam users where, well, we call it the aha moment where you are writing something or doing whatever with Roam and you, you get the aha moment. Like you get the potential behind it. There's a flaw in Roam research and I'm, if I'm really going to call out the team here, there's a flaw in Roam research and the way that they market the tool, normally they will look at it as, Oh, is it tool for network thought?
Okay, I get it. It's also it as a note taking app. So it tends to get compared with note taking apps. There is some discussion, like, I don't know, like a few months ago about how Roam should just have its own genre of apps, because it just works better that way.
Ali Abdaal: [00:39:01] And then you wouldn't get those stupid debates of Notion versus Roam and Roam versus Evernote. Like, Oh god.
Norman Chella: [00:39:07] Do you get sick of it?
Ali Abdaal: [00:39:10] Like
Oh man, I made a video about, know about Roam and everyone was like, but bro, I, you know, I switched my whole life to notion because you taught me to and now you're making a video about Roam.
What's I have to switch my life to Roam now I'm like, guys, please, this is not the way.
Norman Chella: [00:39:28] Yeah, actually on that. Might as well talk about your channel, can you easily tell the difference between followers and/or subscribers who prefer Roam more than notion or is it just looked like all one big collective that always argues about which one's better, et cetera.
Ali Abdaal: [00:39:45] I feel like Roam is now more niche. And the fact that Roam has a price tag on it means that automatically more nerds are going to lean towards from. Uh, whereas notion is now free for all. And so notion is if someone's using notion, it's like someone's using Microsoft word. Like it's, it's nothing interesting anymore because it's just so popular and it's free.
Um, and therefore the Roamans are more, uh, have are more zealots for the cause than Notion is partly because I think they're paying for it. Well, um, one thing I was, I was going to get your take home. So I'm, I'm working on a video which was going to come out on Sunday, which is called, which was going to be called something like the perfect note taking up and kind of the point that I was going to make in the video is that there is no such thing as the perfect note taking app.
Um, you know, here are the things you should be looking for in an app and yeah, hear what it's about. And then. At some point I had thought and actually finding the perfect note taking up is kind of like trying to find a spouse. Um, and I think that there are four similarities and one key difference.
So I want to run these by you. And I wonder if you could add any more thoughts to the mix, cause then it'll help me for my video. Does that sound all right. Um, so let's bring this up on. Notion I know.
Norman Chella: [00:41:10] And, uh, also for any other, uh, listeners to RoamFM, if I'm right now, you can probably add in or tweet at Ali or me and anything that we talked about here, I'll be, I'll be transcribing it. So you can just copy it over from your Roam graph from the public room graph, but yeah, please run it through me.
Ali Abdaal: [00:41:27] Nice. So, um, four similarities, one difference. Similarity, the number one, there is no such thing as a soulmate and we get taught this thing of like, Oh, you know, there's someone out there that's perfect for you. Whereas in reality, there are millions of people out there who are good enough for you. And most of the success of a marriage comes from the effort you put into it, rather than from finding that one perfect person out there for you.
And equally it's the same with the note taking app. There is no such thing as the soulmate note taking app. Instead, all apps have the pros and cons. You find some or some that you find something that gels more or less with you, and then you make it your own. You sort of grow with it over time and there, then it becomes a successful marriage.
Does that sound reasonable as like principle number one?
Norman Chella: [00:42:12] Yeah, I can, I can agree with it. Uh, I'm seeing other perspectives where we have Roam workspaces or a Rome graphs to clone ourselves because each and every block represents. A thought or a note that we've been having ourselves and all the features. Yeah, sure. That can compliment with linking them. But what happens is that you are essentially putting into pen and paper, or rather you're putting into Roam a clone of everything that you've thought of throughout the timeline of your life.
Ali Abdaal: [00:42:44] Okay.
Norman Chella: [00:42:45] page. Hence, all of that. So another angle may be, since we were talking about dating and relationships and all that is. By having a Roam workspace, you are entering a relationship with yourself, your past self, to be clear because these are notes that you have taken, right? So as you are interacting with your Roam, you are currently interacting with your past self.
What have they written before and the connections and the serendipity, the, the Ybecause of X, you know, that, that, that analogy is the foundation for your future self that you aspire to be. It is also like dating. If you put it that way, like it is also like a relationship. So maybe take that, a take of that explanation of how you will, maybe you can implement that.
Ali Abdaal: [00:43:34] Nice. Okay. Yes. I've just written that down. That's a good idea. I'll try to integrate that. Okay. Um, so that was principle number one. There's no such thing as a soulmate principle. Number two, is that just like in the dating world? Um, so in the dating world, different people are attracted to different types of personalities.
Um, equally, there are different note taking apps for different kinds of people. And at this point, I want to re reference the ness labs blog post from earlier this week, where she references the quote from George RR Martin, where she talks about kind of the gardener versus the librarian versus the architect.
If you're a librarian, then Evernote is for you because it's a very librarian way of thinking. If you're a gardener than Roam is for you, because it's like, everything is connected and it's all, it's all about tending your digital garden and sort of, sort of finding connections at the time. And if you're an architect, like you'd like sort of a top level understanding and everything to be in sort of a nice with nice wall design system, then you're more of Notion as a person.
And so for those three types of people, the three different. So that's, and it's not to say that any one is better than any other, just like, you know, My girlfriend is no better than your girlfriend, apart from the fact that mine doesn't exist. Um, and so, uh, and so it's all, it's all good, you know, different noting different note, taking apps for different kinds of people.
That would be principle number two.
Norman Chella: [00:44:50] Hmm. Okay. I do agree. Uh, there, there is one point to be made though. Uh, this is on the assumption that the apps don't change in function and feature. So here's something that you should know about Roam. Once their API comes out, Roam is one graph with loads of information, which means that as an API, You can easily bring notes out to interfaces.
So interfaces can be like a different web app or an app or something like that. Imagine a world where from the Ali Abdaal Roam graph, you have personal apps on your phone that access the same Roam graph, but only contextually bring up the specific things that you pick it to be. So an app for CRM, an app for book notes, et cetera, et cetera.
Um, it means that if you're taking the analogy of different people are attracted different personalities or rather, uh, these apps are for these kinds of people right now that works really well. But once that API comes out, Gardener's would now evolve into say having side projects or having hobbies on the side, or they have specific kinds of plants that they want to grow.
Ali Abdaal: [00:45:59] Yes,
Norman Chella: [00:46:00] no, no, actually you don't really have to change that point. Like that point works really well right now. It's just that you might have to reconsider that later on in the future, once the API comes up. But yeah, I have nothing more to add to that.
Ali Abdaal: [00:46:09] Okay. No, that makes sense. Because like Evernote, for example, has an API and. Even though it's got an API. I don't think anyone is, does anything particularly interesting with that? Like the most interesting use case for the API we have is readwise integration, for example, which is sort of objectively a simple.
A simple use of the API. So I don't know if people are going to come up with very interesting use cases for them other than just a simple kind of querying a database. So yeah, to recap, there's no such thing as a soulmate as number one, and number two different people are attracted to different personalities.
Number three is getting divorced is messy and expensive. Just like if you're switching your life from notion over to Roam, that is messy and expensive. In terms of the amount of energy it takes and you have to really consider, is it really worth it? Are you so dissatisfied with your current wife, your current marriage, that you want to go through a messy and expensive divorce to find where in the hope that you'll find someone else?
Norman Chella: [00:47:06] Oh, okay. Yeah. I really do agree with that. Um, I switched from Evernote. From years ago in uni. And then I went to Notion and I was trying to set up all of these relational databases, which is fantastic. You know, it's been working a little bit, it was okay. And then I found out new Roam and I was like, wow, this fits me better. I guess it feels like. Like I found a better girlfriend or something
Ali Abdaal: [00:47:29] yeah,
Norman Chella: [00:47:30] Guess it's like that like, Oh, like I found a better marriage partner and I'm willing to go through the divorce or I'm willing to go through the, the transfer of notes to restart everything all over again, to go
Ali Abdaal: [00:47:40] from step 1.
Oh, okay. Yeah. So I guess the point is to understand that there is a switching cost and. Understand, you know, are you in the position where you want to pay that?
Norman Chella: [00:47:49] Yeah. And from the perspective of the person reading this or viewing this, I'm not sure if you're doing a video or an article. They would probably have to prompt themselves with. Is it worth the struggle to switch. like, um, yeah. And it also brings up like the micro bits, like, uh, going from a structured app to an structureless app is not a big thing.
Like if I'm going from Evernote to Roam, the process is a bit different, even though they have imports. Sure. That's fine. But like the thinking is the big one, but I think that's a different thing altogether, but yeah.
Ali Abdaal: [00:48:24] Okay. So the fourth and final seminar similarity is that, um, lots of people say that if you have meaningless sex with lots of people, that is ultimately not very fulfilling equally, if you use a new niche and a note taking up every month, because you're trying to find the perfect app. That's ultimately pointless because you're not actually accomplishing anything.
You're just having meaningless sex.
Norman Chella: [00:48:45] Okay. Oh, wow. Uh, I think we had this actually as a conversation on one of the episodes. Um, No, no, not meaning,
Ali Abdaal: [00:48:58] Can I say, what kind of podcast is this?
Norman Chella: [00:49:00] no, no, no. I know I'm very, I'm very open minded in whatever we talk about for every, RoamFM episode. So if anyone who is a sex guru, a sex educator, please contact me if you want to guest on the show.
But anyway, there was an, in of the episodes is, was with Mark Robertson and he talks about how his workflow was so integrated into Roam. But still with a certain level of skepticism, he would try out other apps. So he would try other apps. And after a while he's like, Oh, but it doesn't have this thing that Roam does, or, Oh, I'm so used to doing this, but I can't do it here.
I can do it better in Rome. So it's more like, like you're with this one main girl and then you go to somewhere else,
Ali Abdaal: [00:49:41] So just if I'm with a prostitute and you realize that actually, you know, my current marriage is actually pretty good.
Norman Chella: [00:49:48] Yeah, it wasn't worth it. I have a feeling that it's, it's an affirmation or it's you questioning internally, whether everything is working ri.Ght now
Ali Abdaal: [00:50:00] Yeah. Yes. And then you see, Oh, actually, you know, I now understand the hype about notion, but it's not for me because Roam has bi-directional thinking, for example,
Norman Chella: [00:50:08] Yeah. And I've always, I've always wondered if that is because we put ourselves inside of a box by sticking to one app and we need to know if we're going in the right direction. We need a different angle for that. Maybe Roam can provide that in some way, or maybe Notion can provide it in some way, or you will need some kind of affirmation from somewhere else.
So this is now veering towards more of a relationship between where you are right now, note-taking wise, instead of your satisfaction with your current app, because if things are working well with your current app, you are satified. Like you're doing perfectly fine. So, yeah. Um, maybe there's some.
Ali Abdaal: [00:50:48] Yeah. Something to be said there kind of is, is there something more interesting around the corner, even so it's, it's worth dabbling with some level of skepticism, just to see, because in case you find that bombshell of an app, you're like, Oh my God, this is perfect.
Norman Chella: [00:51:03] Yes. Exactly. Yeah. You won't know unless you're try, right? Yeah. And we, we tend to be very, especially PKM nerds or those in the productivity space. We want to see if we can get more serendipity. Regardless of what angle it is. Like there are other interesting note taking apps out there. I think this one called a Nototo, which is like a large visual map and I'm all about visuals.
So it really makes sense for me, but I'm not going to run away from Roam just because I'm going to try this for a few nights and then go back and be like,
Ali Abdaal: [00:51:32] Yeah, I don't really love her. Okay. So those were the four similarities. And I think there is one crucial difference between marriage and the note taking app and that in real life, polyamorous relationships rarely work out. But in the world of note-taking apps, Polyamorous relationships are totally cool.
It is totally fine for you to use Evernote for something notion for some things, Roam something else. There is no moral superiority for having one and only one partner, whereas in the world of marriage, you know, theoretically polyamorous relationships should work, but in practice, it's really hard to make them work.
Norman Chella: [00:52:13] It can work. Right. Uh, I'm not sure if I yeah. In practice, uh, I, I think I'm going to be a, there might be some people who might unsubscribe, but I was in a polyamorous relationship
Ali Abdaal: [00:52:25] Oh.
Norman Chella: [00:52:26] Yeah. Yeah. when, um,
Ali Abdaal: [00:52:30] Like how long have you been?
Norman Chella: [00:52:32] two, three years ago, Non-monogamous uh, with two partners, two other partners, sorry. It was the three of us.
Um, it, was very difficult yes. As you say, a very difficult part to make it work. Um, uh, ultimately it failed, right? There's so many different nuances and so many different avenues for self doubt and comparison and jealousy and all this like plethora of general negativity that really ruined it. Like really, really ruined it.
And I'm not, I'm, I'm not trying to detract people away from polyamorous relationships because I understand the rationale behind it. It really makes sense. And I, I do, and I do appreciate and respect people who are able to go beyond the conventional, when it comes to defining their own relationship. And we honestly don't have the right to question other people's relationships, as long as it's one consensual and two,
Ali Abdaal: [00:53:26] yeah.
Norman Chella: [00:53:27] Everyone's happy. Um, Uh, but yeah, it is very difficult to, so I, I can recognize the difference there. Uh, the, the thing about this difference though, is articulating that difference is one of the most difficult things ever because you are going to fight against the general public notion, uh, just that notion as a pun, but the general public impression.
That Notion, Roam, obsidian, Evernote, et cetera. They are all on the same playing field. You have a certain bias and that you've played with these apps. I, I'm not a pun as well. I mean, you're trying it out, right. You're trying it out right now, but like, um,
Spreading my seed.
you've worked with these apps and you've tried to have systems set up and you know what works right now. So in terms of your technical prowess and making them work, like you have the ability to have a polyamorous note-taking relationship work, you have these insights. It's just a matter of trying to convey that to people who prefer just one app.
So that's, that's, that's hugely important. And I really honestly think that's one of the biggest issues, why we are having trouble, trying to articulate why Roam shouldn't fight Notion.
Ali Abdaal: [00:54:43] Because society has stuck in its traditional views of marriage being a entirely monogamous thing. Equally, society istuck in it's views that if you use notion you can't be using Rome, that's cheating, you know, you adulterer, et cetera. But that's a good point. Societies, traditional, um, productivity nodes, understand what's going on, making the polyamorous relationship work
Norman Chella: [00:55:10] Yeah. Like, I would love to see, for example, a discussion between maybe Tiago Forte Connor and, um, who was it? The CEO of the cofounders of Notion or something like that, to talk about the differences between their apps, because. it is the functionality that is the commonality, but our relationship with them is what makes them distinct.
Ali Abdaal: [00:55:38] The functionality of the commonality is, is the functionality really that coming out to you? Because I mean, Rome is very different to notion. Yeah.
Norman Chella: [00:55:45] Uh, if you look at it in micro level, no, like there, they're not in common, but what I'm talking about is when you're trying to input information in. So normally when you were putting in data or you're putting information, you're putting in notes, all of them shared that base functionality. We only look at that as the surface level impression
Ali Abdaal: [00:56:02] Oh, okay. And then can we put into the same category?
Norman Chella: [00:56:05] Therefore we put in the same category. Here's the thing though. And maybe, maybe you have a, maybe you have some thoughts on this. Labeling is fricking dangerous to me. Labeling is the simplification of trying to understand something. So that we don't allow it to burden our minds more and more often.
And this is when we come to talk about, say people who are inherently polymathic, they have like five different things that they're working on. At the same time, they work on 10 different fields. They are experts in multiple things. How do you define them? We don't know. So we simplified by calling people polymaths.
And in this case, we don't really look at the deep functionality of Notion or Rome or Evernote enough. That we're like, okay. Let's just bunch of them all together. And to just call it, note-taking, because it's, it's serving the same. This is serving the same people there. They're all over there. Right. Uh, someone just call it a note taking app.
Uh, I honestly think that's super dangerous because it incites people to take sides
Ali Abdaal: [00:57:04] yeah.
Norman Chella: [00:57:06] and lucky, like you're, you'd like you're trying to articulate here. That difference is trying to go against that
Ali Abdaal: [00:57:14] Yes. Absolutely. So maybe that maybe that will be the final point in my video that actually this video shouldn't be called the perfect note taking app, because we shouldn't be calling like that's like saying Microsoft word is a note taking app, like fine. But it does. Or like it's like saying PowerPoint or Basecamp are note taking apps.
I was like, They, they, they happen to have word processing in like built into them. But the field of note taking ups is so large that it's not meaningful to lump them all in the same category.
Norman Chella: [00:57:46] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It's very difficult. And maybe a title maybe needs to focus more on not the perfect note taking up, but the pursuit of the note taking app, like
finding the note the taking app. Yeah. That's because we are now, we are now veering towards not trying to define the phrase. Perfect note, taking up, but going against the general thought of, I need to find that perfect app, right?
Yeah. So that's, that's a huge one. Which is interesting because most videos or at least most explanatory videos are really just talking about our relationship with something, right. Like, Oh, our relationship with Roam
Ali Abdaal: [00:58:28] Yeah.
Norman Chella: [00:58:29] a relationship with a notion. So yeah, I think you, I think you've got something here I'm really interested to see how that would be
Ali Abdaal: [00:58:36] Yeah. So I'll probably film it sometime tomorrow. Send it to my editor who
Norman Chella: [00:58:41] awesome. Awesome. Okay. Uh, sadly I don't think, uh, It'll be, it'll be hard to get this episode up in that timeframe, but,
Ali Abdaal: [00:58:49] Oh excellent that's good.
Norman Chella: [00:58:50] But,
Ali Abdaal: [00:58:50] That means that the video will look like it's original.
Norman Chella: [00:58:55] Yeah, I I'm, I'm backed up on a lot of episodes, so it's going to be very, very, uh, hard, uh, to get that out in the same time frame.
Ali Abdaal: [00:59:04] please don't get it at the same time frame, like actively better for me. If it's not in the same practice.
Norman Chella: [00:59:10] I love, I love this because now we're going into something a little bit more meta instead of trying to define our own system for Roam, instead of trying to define what app should I go for? It's more like, what system do I want? Not, it doesn't matter if it's app or whatever. It's more like, what system do I want?
How does it fit? What I'm doing right now? And how can I apply it immediately with as less friction as possible. So we see. 80% of it being conveyed in this app or this app and this app, these good enough apps that work well. And any gaps that you might have, you fill it into a different app for this one use case here.
Here's the thing, though, since you're, since you're building this for Sunday, what's the best way to test whether or not this app would go well in your polyamorous note taking relationship?
Ali Abdaal: [00:59:59] I feel like it probably depends on what we're optimizing for. Like, uh, for me, my ultimate, um, outputs form is YouTube videos. And there are other, other things like, you know, blog posts, online courses, blahdy, blahdy, blah, but really the YouTube video is my ultimate unit of output. And so if an app helps me to create my ultimate unit of output, then I think it belongs in the polyamorous relationship.
And if it detracts from me creating my ultimate unit of outputs, Then it probably doesn't. So like right now I don't use Ulysses and I don't really use Bear, but I use a combination of Evernote, drafts, notion and Roam, because all four of those in some way or another helped me churn out videos, which is the thing that I care about.
So I think it kind of depends on people. Like, what do you care about? Like,
Norman Chella: [01:00:51] Okay. Interesting. So it's more like the apps that you choose based on end goal first, and
Ali Abdaal: [01:00:55] I mean, yeah. It's yeah. All these apps are tools and tools serve a purpose. And if you have a purpose, then the tool is pretty good for it. Um, if your purpose is, I just wanted to synthesize my learnings from books that I read, then it's, it's, it's a, it's a different equation. You probably don't need drafts.
You could probably do it entirely in Roam, or entirely Notion or entirely in Evernote and having that you wouldn't need like combination, you wouldn't need like team functionality built in. You wouldn't need to be able to share links with other people and, you know, commenting and editing. You wouldn't need a lot of the features that you need to, if you're working with a team and you're trying to churn that content.
So I think it just depends on what you want.
Norman Chella: [01:01:32] Well, there's a, there's a revenue opportunity for you there. If you can make videos per use case. Now that will be great, uh, seeing as how you said that you could probably do a skill share a week, which is to me, mind blowing because at least my perception of, of premium content or a series of online courses.
May take a lot longer than one week of something like that. But I mean, you're a lot more prolific and you know more about this.
Ali Abdaal: [01:02:01] Like it's, it's surprisingly easy though. Cause I mean, if you want to make a quote on room, it would take you a single day to just fill it. And if you had someone who edited it for you and it's fairly trivial and cheap to find a freelance editor, they'll be able to edit in two or three days and you have an online course about Roam.
Norman Chella: [01:02:18] okay. Well, these are tips and tricks that I don't know myself. Yeah. Yeah. Um, does it, one of the things that like someone who might be aspiring to have a YouTube channel or have their own blog or whatever, uh, should know these shortcuts, are there differences between how you talk or how you communicate when you know that the person you're talking to is a fellow creator or a consumer of your content?
The reason why I'm asking is because I got in contact with Shu, OMI. And I I've, I feel that, I think that the, both of you have talked a couple of times before, uh, and, and you did bring it up in a note kicking interview that, you know, he is, his channel blew up. And ever since that, he started doing room specific videos and he expanded.
Sure. So he started from having a channel, talking about general things and then focusing on Roam essentially became a creator accepted by the PKM community or the roamcult Twitter. are there any differences between how you talk with those that, you know, are fellow creators and those, you know, are just consuming things all around the internet.
Ali Abdaal: [01:03:22] Yeah. Um, I think, yeah, it's more about if, for example, if someone is a creator, then they will have a very specific set of life experiences. For example, they will understand, they'll probably understand the Meta around content creation as a field, and they'll probably understand kind of the anxieties associated with it.
And they'll probably appreciate, you know, How you feel when you go on the YouTube analytics app and you see a video is performing poorly and you want to kill yourself. Like every creator will a hundred percent relate to that feeling and be like, Oh my God, tell me about it equally. For example, if I talk to someone and who is also, I don't know, a Pakistani living in the UK, that's a very specific set of cultural circumstances.
And therefore you have the same jokes, the same in inside jokes, the same terminology. And so that's why I, for example, really enjoy hanging out with other creators because you automatically have that thing that connects the two of you. You automatically have that commonality, but then equally, even if someone's not a creator per se, but if they're like a productivity nerd, again, we have a shared language that we can speak.
And so with you, for example, even if you didn't have your podcast, We'd still have a shared terminology because you're a nerd, I'm a nerd. And we know we talk about nerd things. And so the way I'm talking to you, you know, when I throw out there, Derek Sivers or you throw out Noah Kagan. Like we both know, we both know what we're talking about.
Whereas if I was talking to let's say a 13 year old school girl who only cares about studying for her exams, I wouldn't just toss out the name Derek Sivers because I know it means nothing to her. Um, cause I think that's kind of how it changes the relationship. And so I was really like hanging out with other creators.
All right. Basically anyone who's into the same stuff as I am, because you just automatically have that shared connection.
Norman Chella: [01:05:03] Is there a disconnect when it becomes really parasocial? In that you bear so much of yourself on your YouTube videos, on like, you know, life updates, et cetera. And once you meet up with say fans or followers or fellow creators, they would bring up something that is inherently relatively personal to you because you brought it up.
Uh, but, um, I'm just curious, like, how do you handle like parasocial interactions?
Ali Abdaal: [01:05:26] I don't really mind it at all. The only, the only thing that I sometimes worry about is because, because, you know, like I said, I feel I'm not very creative by our original definition of it. I've kind of feel like I have a set. A set spiel of talking points. And I've kind of gone through most of my talking points in videos or Instagrams or podcasts.
And so if someone, if someone has been, you know, masochistic enough to listen to all of the podcasts I've ever been on, they will have heard almost anything I ever have to say. And therefore, if they're coming in and coming to hang out with me and they're asking me. Do you have any tips, tips for starting a YouTube channel?
I'm going to be like, but no, cause you've, you've heard all of them and you know what my spiel is, or if I talk about sort of a, you know, optimising for things or treating myself video game or reconsidering victory conditions. And like a lot of these are like stock things that I would consider if someone's asked me for advice and if they've heard it already, and then I feel like, ah, well, I don't really have anything to add.
So that's the only circumstance in which. Uh, I don't like the parasocial thing because I feel like I am not adding value to this person, especially if they've, you know, gone out of their way to come to Cambridge, to visit me, to have a coffee, to pick my brain about stuff. I want to give them value.
And if all I'm doing is repeating stuff, I've already said in different places that they've seen, then I have no value to give them. And that's where I feel concerned, but they're not getting what they signed up for.
Norman Chella: [01:06:51] Hmm. That's okay. That's interesting. I would like to push back on that a little bit and I, out of respect because I do, I do understand that, um, especially when you're doing a lot of podcasts or a lot of videos where you're having conversations with people. To what extent will we get exhausted from saying everything that's on our minds?
Like sometimes I feel a bit lost as I'm trying to, you know, draft an outline for an episode or reach out to people for interviews. And I get worried about repeating myself because these are what make up the majority of my thoughts and the only way where we can find either a different angle to speak the same point.
Or a completely new angle is through conversation. Like as if someone would prompt where you prompt you with the right questions. And from there you might say, Oh, okay. I can say it differently, or, Oh, okay. Here's a new thought. Like, here's something that I have synthesized in my head. Let me share with them that can give them value.
The reason why I want to say, I want to push back is because I have a feeling that you don't put any weight behind repeated value. You think that value must be original or must be on top or additional to what they can consume from your public persona. This is coming back to the creativity thing, because I think that we have traditional definitions of creativity where by originality is the one, you know, one feet of what's the word for it though one aspect that lays the foundation for it.
But, but here's the thing we need to find a thousand ways to say the same thing. And if you need to find a thousand ways to say the same thing, a shout out to Jack butcher or visualize value, I'm going to quote that, uh, of course, uh, for this episode, repeated value is also just as valuable as original value or at least spontaneous value.
I think spontaneous value is when we really have to prioritize less as in it's the only metric of am I being helpful to you? Right. Like, as we're having this conversation and you know, you want to test out your video. I did to me, and I'm asking these questions to you though. The resultant answers and responses and reactions between the both of us is spontaneous value.
Ali Abdaal: [01:09:07] Yes. Even if the individual is spiels of both you and me, we've said before in different podcasts and
Norman Chella: [01:09:13] Exactly exactly. And the reason why is, because in the context of this conversation, it is spontaneous. It is additional, right. You are remixing value that is repeated because you know that it fits well in this conversation. So I really, really, yeah. So I really want to push back against your definition of value because I would like you to evolve that definition.
Ali Abdaal: [01:09:36] Nice. Okay, good.
Norman Chella: [01:09:40] Yeah. And if it really helps you, maybe I'll just say this right now. I give you permission to repeat your value because there's going to be, there tend to be other people who may ask you the same questions. Like, Oh, do you start a YouTube channel? Like personally, I would totally ask you how to start a YouTube channel, but you've already, you've already shared so much, so much wisdom.
And I might be one of the few people who, you know, went through all of your videos. I didn't, but like most of it, but like maybe there's something else that you could add on
Ali Abdaal: [01:10:04] Yeah, definitely. I think kind of, yeah. And in conversations, because obviously when, we're making content it's a very much a one to many relationship where I have to give as general advice as possible. It's starting you to time and be like, okay, well pick a niche and pick something you're passionate about and make a hundred videos and do it three years and then come and ask me.
Whereas if we're actually having a conversation, we'll be like, okay, it would be a lot more me asking you questions. Rather than me giving you advice. And even though the ultimate advice might be the same spiel of make a hundred videos and then come and ask me later, ultimately, the process that got us there was a valuable process for you because you were answering questions the process.
Norman Chella: [01:10:42] Yeah, and this is the same for books. If you think about it, right? The books have a certain structure where it's the title, which is normally the point of the book, the blurb on the back, which is what you can expect, the table of contents, which is like an overview of like what you will read and then the content itself.
Which is essentially just the same points, but remixed into long form writing. If you think about it that way, what that means is that a book is only a format where you send a point across multiple forms. That's it like, I, I can, I can actually, I can actually guess. What a book is trying to say from the table of contents, right?
If you, and this is something, maybe this is an experiment that you should try, like in your Roam. Um, the next book notes that you're gonna do a summary on, copy the table of contents over and write what you think will go in there
Ali Abdaal: [01:11:35] Oh,
Norman Chella: [01:11:35] then read the book. Yeah. Yeah. And the reason why is because if, and I'm sure you've, you've done lots of long form writing before in your own time or for your blog.
Um, These are completed products, which means that these titles, these chapters, these words are tried and true and they're accepted for publishing. So these are at the best that they can possibly be, which means that if you have your own interpretation or your own spin of what the table of contents could be.
It's another angle in smart notes. And you might already get to the point already just from reading the table of contents. Yeah. It's another X. Yeah. And that are X can lead to Y yeah. Rome notion, Evernote, all of these are just ways to enable X so you can get to Y right? Like without, without us, then there is no creativity. There is no serendipity. There is no new ideas, insights, inspiration. So
Ali Abdaal: [01:12:31] yeah.
Norman Chella: [01:12:32] Try it out.
Ali Abdaal: [01:12:33] good shot. I'm going to try that.
Norman Chella: [01:12:35] Yeah. Yeah. Cause I mean, I, of course, I'm going to be a bit biased as the host of RoamFM. I really want you to use Rome more often and I'm sure that you have more use cases for it later in the future. Once he started, you know, making connections between book notes, but on a more personal level.
it's interesting to see that a lot of us have very, very different interpretations of, you know, value, creativity, content creation. Are we worth it? Self worth and confidence or not? So, yeah. Yeah. Um, Oh, all the best for that. I really, I really want to see like what interesting things you'll create with Roam, but here's a question that, uh, is more expected for Romans, because I should be asking more questions about the tool itself. Um, is there any feature or anything in the future for Roam research that you would like to see?
Ali Abdaal: [01:13:29] Um, I would love for that. Honestly. I'd love, I'd love for it to have like more team based features for it. Because you can sort of invite other people to edit your notes and stuff, but it's, it's, it's not quite the same level of teamy teamness as you would have on notion, for example. Um, and I think there's a lot of interesting things that can happen when, and actually this is something I might experiment with with my team. Like when a team is using Roam as like their kind of shared notepad. Cause the other day I was, I was having a call with my guys and we were talking about book notes. Um, and like, because we're all like productivity nerds and personal development, junkies. We all kind of read a lot of the same books and we have our own book notes. So we were thinking, huh, I wonder how we can combine our book notes in an interesting way. And you've ruined seems like a good sort of solution to do that sort of thing where you combine different people's book notes for the same thing and create some kind of emergent sort of mega book note.
But I think kind of team features would be something that I'd like I'd like to see on it more. What else? I'm just trying to think, like, why do I, why do I use notion everything? Okay.
Mostly because of the team stuff really. That's kind of like a, and, and the fact that tables and Kanban boards work well in it. And we use a lot of those for kind of planning out videos and planning our content. Whereas I know that it's sort of a thing in Rome, but it like. I dunno.
I've never figured out how to, how to make one, or like, it would require me to put some effort into figuring out how to make a table that would come on board. Whereas the notion is just kind of out of the box. So just the ease of use of notion. That's probably why I stick with that.
Norman Chella: [01:15:23] Just a, just a note on that, uh, for, for a notion, uh, Kanban boards that are not exactly the most prettiest thing right now. So you might have to hold off on that, uh, feature for the time being, I know that Roam is they're really implementing a lot of team related or collaborative features rather once we start being able to reference blocks from other graphs.
So that's probably when you might be able to do sort of your own shared. Book notes. Um, I'm not sure if you've seen this, but uh, Roam Research is doing their own book club. So you might be able to see that as a use case for what you're doing
Ali Abdaal: [01:15:57] Oh yeah. I kind of came across this a while ago.
Norman Chella: [01:16:02] Yeah. Yeah. So it'll give you some ideas later in the future, if you want to like, actually get into that. So, okay. Interesting. So team-based stuff. Yeah.
Ali Abdaal: [01:16:11] Yeah, I think, I think also one thing I think I grew up about notion is that, so for, for example, I often use the same app for team and also personal stuff. But the nice thing about notion is that even though we have like a team workspace, I can create private pages. Um, and one of my concerns with Roam when I started using it initially is that I shared some of the pages with my team members.
But then had access to my whole graph. And if they didn't have access to the whole graph, they weren't actually getting the benefit of room because of all the bidirectional things that I also had, stuff that I wanted to keep personal. And so the separation between a personal note at a private note in a team note, I think notion does well.
And I haven't figured out how to do that in Roam.
Norman Chella: [01:16:53] Oh, no, no, no. There were cases of that happening when someone shares one. Page and a, sorry, one page and public on their private roam. And then it ended up making the entire thing public. Uh, so for the time being, uh, quite a lot of the users are a bit, shall we say, they're not confident in making any of their individual pages public, uh, because of that.
Uh, so it could probably hold off, hold off on that because notion is pretty good in doing that, uh, specifically
Ali Abdaal: [01:17:22] Yeah. So I think the point where I'm, I'm probably going to get to, and kind of a, with my, with my Roam use right now is kind of using roam as my personal sketchpad and using notion it's like the team's sketchpad. I think that's probably the direction that we're heading.
Norman Chella: [01:17:36] A team sketch pad. Okay. Interesting. But you've been using notion for so long per privately.
Ali Abdaal: [01:17:45] Yeah, but like, even then, like the vast majority of my stuff on notion is actually team stuff. Especially now that I've got an assistant, so kind of my personal project and personal like bucket list and stuff, it's kind of helping do bits of that. So it sort of makes sense to have that teamwork space.
And so apart from like more like my personal CRM, which is currently the only private privates and like my gym workout routine, which no one else gets to look at, those are the kind of the only private things that I use notion for.
Norman Chella: [01:18:13] okay. No, I was just about to ask, do you do you're a gym shark. Exercise routine in Rome or a notion, but okay. You got the answer for me.
Ali Abdaal: [01:18:20] Yeah. You know, the, the, the table and the ease of capture while I'm at the gym and I've got my phone and
Norman Chella: [01:18:28] Well, uh, it seems like, um, a lot waiting on the potential for Rome to be a lot more useful for you now because your system seems to be just working great. Regardless of whether or not Rome plays a part because you can also deal book notes in notion as well. Uh, but the possibility of Rome in the future, once you get to book number a hundred, uh, with all of your summaries coming up.
Okay. I would love to see this book notes, like. Linked together. I think that'll be pretty interesting, although that's kind of hard because he might have private notes on there that you don't want people to see, but yeah, having public booknotes in a room with bi-directional linking, and then you making the connection.
So you, as the curator are the connector of these ideas
Ali Abdaal: [01:19:12] Yeah, I think that would be cool. And so you've that? Yeah, I think this conversation has inspired me so tomorrow morning or tomorrow evening, at some point I'll start building other book notes in roam. Cause it's, it's, it's really fun when I do it. I just need to actually bring myself to do it.
Norman Chella: [01:19:30] You're you're a productivity nerd. So I'm sure that you can find some way to, you
Ali Abdaal: [01:19:33] Yeah. I'm sure I can hack motivation and sort of talk myself into doing that.
I don't really think about motivation. Yeah. I just think like, you know, this thing needs doing, can I be able to do it right now? Yeah. All right. I'll do it now. I'm I'm kind of, so, uh, when I, when I had the job. I a lot of the things I would base on kind of what I have to do. And so I would tell myself, I have to put up two videos a week.
We have to get the sponsored video at Tuesday. And so, but like right now, the only thing we have to do is get the sponsored video every Tuesday, everything else is completely optional. And so now I kind of basic a lot more on what I feel like doing. Um, so for example, last week I thought I had COVID and so it's not a fever.
I had a cough, I was feeling pretty unwell. And so we were going to get out three videos last week and I was like, ah, that's great. Let's just do the one sponsored video. And the other two, no one cares about anyway. Um, I think I'm okay. Quite lucky in that my default state is, so for example, you know, I'd finished.
I was, I was getting ready to wind down by around 8:00 PM this evening. And I don't remember now, but ain't this podcast at midnight. Right. So I'm going to do something before hours. And I was thinking I could watch TV. I could watch Netflix, but I would actually, I'd have more fun and find it more relaxing just to continue to write a script for like tomorrow's video.
Um, and so that's what I did. And I think I'm fortunate in that most day, even if I just do the stuff that I feel like doing that generally leads me in a generally productive direction.
Norman Chella: [01:21:02] Yeah, so that that productive direction is normalized for you, which is really fascinating because maybe there's a certain hump when you're trying to like grow YouTube channel where, you know, videos have to be edited, has to be scripted and it has to be created and all of that. And it sounds like work, but I feel like you've already viewed it as fun.
Like, it's just nice to do. Like, it's just nice pass, like passing the time. Oh, I really liked that. Like, I need to think of that more often whenever I'm editing episodes because staring at audition and then just seeing the timeline go past by and I'm editing out ums and AHS is really, really. demotivating, uh, over time as you get used to just editing,
Ali Abdaal: [01:21:41] why, why do you, why do you edit?
Norman Chella: [01:21:45] Um, if it's on a separate channel and the ums and AHS are, Oh, sorry. No, I meant to say Coffs, but like I only edit out certain ums and AHS if they detract from the main point, only in the beginning of the person saying the main point. If the ums and AHS or the filler words are in the middle, I don't take, I don't take them away because you know, the golden rule to any podcast is to humanize the guests or to humanize the cohost or whoever's talking.
Um, we're meant to keep that in. And not only that, the stuttering, the silence, the small back on noises, like if you're tapping away, because you're trying to find notes, I want to keep that in. Because it will tell the listener, Oh, he's at least checking out his road to see like what he's, what he's excited about.
Right. I want to add that because that's immersion to a certain degree,
Ali Abdaal: [01:22:37] So then why, why are you editing these episodes at all? Because for example, for mine and my brother's podcast, we put it through Auphonic which automatically noise cancels and everything. And then we run it through logic to district strip silences. And that's it. I w I wonder what the additional kind of, uh, alpha is of actually going through and bothering me bothering to edit the episodes.
Norman Chella: [01:23:02] it makes sense. Uh, I normally for, because this is not the only show that I do, I do a few other interview shows as well. Normally, whenever I edit for clarity, I always make the conscious decision of. If I'm editing stuttering, filler words, et cetera, for this main point set by this guest, will it make the guest sound better or will it raise the impact of that person's point?
There's a difference between you stuttering. When you're trying to explain something and you stuttering at the point where you want to make a point. There there's a huge moment there. And I think this is coming down to communication channels and, uh, articulation and having to refine that, just that one point out of the entire, let's just say two minutes, spiel of, you know, let, let, let's just say, you're talking about motivation being a myth and you're like, Oh, you want to make point 1, point 2, point 3, and on point 3.
It's like the most exciting point that you want to make, but then you're stuttering. You're making filler words. You're trying to find the best way to say it. You can do it in different ways because you can always say, um, uh, I ended the point is that, that the, or you take some seconds to silent yourself and then make the point.
Now I make the conscious decision. Do I want to keep that silence? Because here Ali is really wanting to make that point. And I say, no, I leave it in. But if your stuttering is ruining or weakening, that may point, then
Ali Abdaal: [01:24:35] I take
Norman Chella: [01:24:35] it out.
Ali Abdaal: [01:24:35] Okay. Okay. That makes sense. That's a very high touch way of approaching podcast episodes.
Norman Chella: [01:24:40] No, no, no. I respect that. Cause like, if, if you're not editing that much, you can pump out episodes a lot better.
Uh, I think I'm just too, too much of a perfectionist. I'm really worried about that. Like, if I'm like to be honest, a lot of these episodes, I can just leave them unedited and people will still get the point, right. Like for every RoamFM, if it's okay. Uh, especially for the show, which is pretty fascinating, I'm getting a lot more stuttering and filler words from people on the show.
And I'm starting to think, or I'm starting to craft this a theory in my head that guests that come on the show would stutter more and more and or would have more for their words because they are just that excited about Rome, either about Rome or about what they're passionate about, what they're thinking about, what they're researching about, what they're trying to create, as opposed to other shows, which are a little bit.
A little bit broader in their, in their field, but yeah, that's something for another time.
Ali Abdaal: [01:25:41] Yeah. The other thing I guess, is kind of a show like this. I feel like for someone being interviewed on it, it makes you think more than a kind of generic interview. I think, cause like when I get interviewed on kind of generic and TV podcasts, you know, I sort of know what sort of questions are coming up and I have spiels prepared for them.
But when you're asking me sort of what my process is for like Rome notion of it, I'm like, Oh, I actually have to think about this and I have to talk about it while I'm thinking about it, which automatically makes it less sort of packaged up as, than my usual spiel of consistency or motivation or whatever.
Norman Chella: [01:26:18] Yeah. I try my best to avoid that because I don't want you to repeat yourself, uh, easily. You can. Like I can easily just link a YouTube video where you explain your Notion process or something like that. Right. So why would I ask you something that is easily found on YouTube channel since you are so vulnerable that you would have videos about this, like all over YouTube, right?
Like, I don't need to redo that, uh, for you, uh, which is why my, I don't even want to say interview style. It's more of a conversational shift
Ali Abdaal: [01:26:50] Yeah, it's very much like conversation vibes.
Norman Chella: [01:26:52] Yeah. Yeah. Um, and I'm here to make you think and stop and stutter and, and think twice about what you're going to say, because coming from the position of trying to understand how you think through certain things is one, the mission behind RoamFM and the mission behind me trying to understand you better.
So, yeah. Uh, I, I appreciate that you, that you got that.
Ali Abdaal: [01:27:16] Yeah, this is something that my brother and I try and do it on a podcast as well. Like anytime we have a guest on. We don't want them to auto to operate on autopilot because that's just not interesting for anyone. We want them to actually sort of feel like they're in the arena, kind of doing battle and like actively using their brains and thinking and stuff and like a nonconfrontational way.
Um, one thing I was curious about, like, what do you do? Like, w what's your background? What do you, how do you split your time?
Norman Chella: [01:27:41] Oh, sure. Um, so I am a, Oh, I do multiple things. So this is going to be kinda weird. Uh, so I am a podcast Rainmaker, so I build shows for other people. I do the copywriting, the show notes though marketing and all that for other people like mostly companies who are trying to start doing podcasts. And I have five to six podcasts on my own.
So that's. That's a, that's a lot to do. Uh, so anything behind a mic? Uh, I'm your guy really? Um, three of them are interview shows. So this is room FM is one of them. And I am the guy to give talks about tapping into Asia's podcasting ecosystem because there really isn't any, so it's really undefined. and so I'm, I'm Malaysian in KL.
Yeah. Very, very close to Singapore. Yeah. And yeah, uh, just, just from a background and being in a remote FinTech startup. And then I, I went off to do my own freelancing and then I landed into podcasting. And then I just like talking to people. I'm the guy who just doesn't shut up. So I'm just there to really ask questions and just be the idiot.
I call myself like the fool because the fool comes from a position with the intention of trying to understand someone. Uh, so they ask the right questions. Sometimes it's provoking. Sometimes they are challenger questions and I will try my best to not ask yes or no questions because that stops the conversation right there.
So it's hard to transition to the next point. Um, and yeah, I understand. I, I do other things like memory speed, reading, coaching and stuff like that. So like podcasting is my thing. Yeah. That's pretty much.
Ali Abdaal: [01:29:16] interesting. So when, for example, you know, if you're at a dinner party and some like old auntie asks, so Norman, what do you do for work? How, how do you answer that?
Norman Chella: [01:29:31] I avoid that by not going to parties. No, no, no. Um, I, I normally just say that I make shows. And then, then they'd normally just stopped there. Or I just say that I work in radio or broadcast because it is easier to tell people about what, like they can understand broadcasting and radio as opposed to podcasts. Because they're like what is it?
What is it? Right? Is it just radio downloaded? And I'm like, no. And then I have to tell them about like the 20 year history behind fond cause India. Yeah. Yeah. And then I have to stop myself because I'm like, Oh no, I'm just like vomiting information on this person. So yeah. That's that is, um, It is, it is, it is an interesting career so far, and I'm trying to amp it up because I want to build like a, a podcast network with like a membership thing.
So when you, when you mentioned doing memberships for your own thing, I'm like, Oh, okay, cool. It's nice to see that, that you're also pursuing something very, very similar. So yeah. And since, uh, I don't want to take too much of your time because it is way past midnight and you need to sleep because tomorrow you'll be working on these, uh, on this amazing, uh, video, uh, to be released for Sunday, if it's a video or a course or something like that, that's a close off the conversation with the usual segments that I would like to ask you as a guest Ali, the first one is pretty simple.
How would you describe Roam to those who haven't started using it
Ali Abdaal: [01:30:59] I say it's, uh, it's sort of like a very simple note taking app on the surface, but under the hood, it's got a lot of powerful features. Um, the main one being actually, I think you say that there are two things that make Roam, what it is. Firstly is the fact that daily notes. So every day you write in the daily note and that's just the only thing that you're writing.
And secondly, there's the bi-directional linking. So when you create a page, a link to a page in Rome, it automatically creates a link back to its original source. And so, for example, if I'm writing a note and I tag, I don't know, Tim Ferris says like a page, um, and I happened to take him on like four other pages because I just have, have been writing notes, something to do with him.
It would automatically create a Tim page that automatically references the fact that I've tagged him in these four other locations. So it's kind of how we would like, like Wikipedia has somebody's bi-directional linking, but I'd say kind of the daily note and the bi-directional links. Uh, what, um, kind of gives the Roam, the super powers that it has as a note, taking app
Norman Chella: [01:32:03] All right. Fantastic. And final question. What does Roam mean to you?
Ali Abdaal: [01:32:09] Roam to me means a quarter of a million dollars in lost revenue for not getting to the course before Nat did But also it means to me, you know, it means to me is systematic creativity.
Norman Chella: [01:32:28] Systematic creativity. I love that. I'm also leaving in the notes for a quarter million dollars in lost revenue. If by some chance we'll get Nat on the show that I'll probably be asking him about this and see how he react to your answers. So, Ali, thank you so much. Normally I would ask, uh, if we want to contact you for anything and everything that we talked about, the conversation to, where can we find you?
But I have a feeling that Twitter and YouTube are, those the two best?
Ali Abdaal: [01:32:53] Yeah, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram pro probably not Instagram. I get too many DMS, but Twitter and YouTube are the other places
Norman Chella: [01:33:00] sliding into your DMS. Okay. And fantastic. Let's end that there. Ali, thank you so much. Oh, do stay on for a bit. Cause there's some on the fly notes. I would love for you to do some connections here, but thank you so much. And I will see you on Twitter.
Ali Abdaal: [01:33:17] Thank you.