Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Newly Discovered: Tricks of the Trade

[Editor’s Note: This is supposed to be an ongoing series that highlights new things I find. This is number two. I guess that only leaves the question of whether two counts as a series.]

Today’s newly discovered is a great blog called Tricks of the Trade. As you might expect, the site covers the various tricks of different trades (wow, that was fairly redundant). It’s like a clearinghouse for all those little secrets that can only discover if you’re doing the same thing day-in and day-out. I actually originally ran into the site’s author through his Morning News titled, appropriately enough, “Tricks of the Trade.”

That original article contained a few gems like these and I remember enjoying it quite a bit:


Every actor eventually is called upon to act drunk. Most do this by slurring their speech, stumbling around, and perhaps drooling a bit. This is what a freshman drama teacher calls “indicating.� A better way to appear drunk is to act very, very sober. Walk very carefully, and try not to let anyone see that you’re inebriated. This is much more subtle and will register on a level the audience won’t immediately recognize.


If you’re reading too fast, your brain can “correct� typos, preventing you from catching them. That’s why it’s sometimes a good idea to read a page upside-down. It forces you to pay closer attention to individual words out of context, and you can’t race through pages too fast.

Somehow in the last few weeks (probably via Lifehacker or 43 Folder), I ran across Matthew’s blog and since then I’ve picked up a number of great tips, including:


To chill a bottle of white wine quickly, put the bottle in a bucket with ice, water and a large handful of salt. The salt reduces the freezing point of water and will allow it to become superchilled, which will in turn chill the bottle of wine in six minutes flat.

And . . .


Most folks who bargain forget the cardinal rule: after stating your initial offer stop talking! Breathe normally, but wait for the other party to speak next. And after they make a counteroffer, continue to hold your peace for a bit — faced with silence, many will immediately start to sweeten the pot.

Anyway, it’s a great place to find some of those lifehacks that I talked about a few weeks ago.

The site also got me thinking about whether I have any “tricks of the trade” to share. I’m not sure I have any good ones for copywriting yet (after all, I’ve only been doing it for three months), however, one general rule I have found useful in business in general is: Clear the little stuff off your plate quickly. Not only does it give you a sense of accomplishment, but it also clears your time for the bigger projects that will be more consuming.

As for writing, the biggest lesson I learned while working at American Demographics Magazine was to not take criticism of your writing personally. Hold onto your thoughts, but don’t get caught up worrying about your words. Let people edit away and don’t ever be afraid to erase something and just start over. (For lots of great writing tips read this fantastic (and very short) essay by Paul Graham.)

So there it is. What are your tricks of the trade?

April 4, 2005