Tailor your mind: quick fixes to make you smarter

This article originally appeared in MR PORTER's Journal As a regular visitor to MR PORTER, you’ll no doubt have your appearance thoroughly down pat, but what about your brain? In this informative guide, Mr Anthony Teasdale provides the pointers your mind needs to stay as sharp as the cut of your trousers… The book that tells you why we are the way we are Guns, Germs and Steel by Prof. Jared Diamond

Professor Diamond is an unusual fellow, spending a fair proportion of his existence in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, studying both its wildlife and traditional societies. One day, a local politician asked him a question that went along the lines of: “If we agree you and I are as smart as each other, how come people from the West have so much wealth and power?” The answer Professor Diamond eventually came up with is the title of this tome. In the book, Professor Diamond charts the history of Western mankind’s rise, and why our privileged place in the world came about by a combination of geographical good fortune, communication links and proximity to animals that could be both tamed and eaten. The website that will make you the ultimate know-it-all Quora.com There are few more disheartening feelings than finding out that the “fact” you’ve been wowing your friends and colleagues with for years is actually an urban myth. Happily, those with a thirst for real knowledge would do well to check out the excellent Quora.com website. From the politics of Silicon Valley to the greatest steakhouse in London, ask a question about any topic on Quora and soon enough it’ll be answered by one or more experts in the field, beating Mr Stephen Fry’s illuminating QI programme at its own game. And unlike other user-generated sites, Quora is noted for the civility and manners of its contributors. The business magazine with a digital pulse Fast Company Forbes may be the in-house magazine of the super-rich, but for cutting-edge businesses keen to make use of our increasingly connected planet, then Fast Company is a must. Making sense of social media, new business thinking and mobile technology, the magazine mixes brilliant journalism with enlightening interviews from the leaders of the world's most innovative companies. The business world has changed – Fast Company helps you navigate it. The book that will help you cope with a chaotic world Mindfulness by Prof. Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman

When you’re in a position of responsibility either at home or work, having too many tasks to complete or even choices to make can overwhelm you and make you feel anxious and unable to make decisions. Messrs Williams and Penman’s book lays out a plan to combat this stress with the technique of mindfulness, which involves taking time out for just a few minutes a day to observe your own thoughts and feelings. Afterwards, you’ll feel happier, sharper and able to see things in their true perspective. And you’ll stop snapping at people, too. The DVD box set that redefines documentary film-making The American Civil War – Directed by Mr Ken Burns There are few documentary series that deserve the epithet “great” – Mr Laurence Olivier’s World at War is one – but Mr Ken Burn’s dissection of the American Civil War is perhaps the greatest of them all. Over ten hours of television, Mr Burns tells the story of the war that set North against South, brother against brother and completely changed America – turning it from a loose conglomeration of states to a unified country in its own right – but at the cost of 750,000 lives. The American Civil War took Mr Burns six years to make and garnered over 40 awards – it’s what DVD players were made for. The management book for the new breed of managers Quiet Leadership by Mr David Rock As much a manifesto as a management book, <Quiet Leadership> seeks to transform the way we think about management, basing its findings on scientific studies of the brain. With that knowledge, managers are able to work out how to make their teams happier and more productive. Which, if we have it right, should leave time for more post-work cocktails – a most civilizing way to reward collaboration. The podcast that brings history to life Hardcore History, written and presented by Mr Dan Carlin Can’t face the Kindle on the commute? Mr Dan Carlin’s regularly updated Hardcore History podcast is an excellent alternative, telling the story of the the great events of the past in exhaustive detail. Styling himself as a “history fan” rather than an “historian”, Mr Carlin brings passion and empathy to such subjects as Genghis Khan’s Mongol expansion, the collapse of the Roman Republic and most memorably, the horrific conflict between Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. The TED lectures that will make you look at the world anew Underwater Astonishments by Mr David Gallo Human beings have only explored three per cent of the ocean, and in this short presentation David Gall, demonstrates just what we’re missing. Truly illuminating – in both senses of the world – the lecture finishes with an astounding example of disguise by a most extraordinary octopus. Lessons From Death Row by Mr David R Dow In this speech, Mr Dow illustrates why murderers seemingly all have the same biography – and how that can be used to prevent killings happening in the future. Where Good Ideas Come From by Mr Steven Johnson For MR PORTER readers in search of inspiration, Mr Johnson’s talk about what sparks creativity takes us from the coffee houses of 1700s London to the physics labs of 1950s America and the invention of GPS. The indispensable style manual The MR PORTER Paperback by Mr Jeremy Langmead

From style icons to essential modern manners, Mr Langmead provides a guide on how to dress, and more importantly, how to conduct oneself in modern society. Ideal for when you’re facing those “Do I wear brown in town?” conundrums.


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