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Big Ideas

Best of 2014: Top Tips, Insights, & Tricks

The most popular insights from 99U's army of writers, thinkers, and speakers.

In 2014, we learned how to battle burnout, stretch (both literally and figuratively), and use The Force for the creative good. Every week we invited the smartest people we know to share their insights from the creative and entrepreneurial process. After nearly an entire year, we gathered up the most popular ideas from 2014 to get you supercharged for the year ahead. 

Feature Posts

1. 7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People

In our day-to-day lives it is easy to miss the forest for the trees and look over some of the smaller, simpler things that can disproportionally affect our happiness levels. Luckily, we can go off more than just our intuition; there are lots of studies that aim for finding the right behavior that leads to a happier life. 

2. 10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal

Sustained creativity doesn’t come from a flash of brilliance or a single afternoon of inspiration. It comes from a consistent routine that serves as the bedrock for getting things done. At 99U we’ve spoken with dozens of entrepreneurs, researchers, and creatives about their unique routines. Here are some of our favorites.

3. Nobody Knows What The Hell They Are Doing

But there’s a huge problem lurking here. We’re comparing apples with oranges—or, as the saying goes, comparing our insides with other people’s outsides. That guy on stage who’s giving a super-smooth presentation, while you wait nervously in the wings until it’s your turn? He might well be a panicking wreck inside. You could never know. 

4. The Stoic: 9 Principles to Help You Keep Calm in Chaos

The goal of Stoicism is to attain inner peace by overcoming adversity, practicing self-control, being conscious of our impulses, realizing our ephemeral nature and the short time allotted—these were all meditative practices that helped them live with their nature and not against it. It’s important that we understand the obstacles that we face and not run from them; it’s vital that we learn to transmute them into fuel to feed our fire.

5. Yoga Hacks: How to Undo the Damage of a Desk Job

If you spend an average of eight hours each day in front of a screen (and that’s not counting browsing in your free time), that’s well over 2,000 hours a year. While a little slouching now and then isn’t so bad, drawn out over thousands of hours our bad work habits can cause serious harm.

6. 7 Pieces of Wisdom That Will Change the Way You Work

Wisdom, in the words of Maria Popova, is knowledge that matters; it has both a practical and moral component to it that enriches our lives and inspires us to act wisely. Because the path to creativity is fraught with uncertainty, fear, and self-doubt, we naturally look to the wisdom of others to stop us from getting off course.

7. You Can Have an Easy Life or an Awesome One. Choose Wisely.

Which brings us to my point: Everything you desire in life has a price and you have to be willing to accept that price. If you desire to do great work, it will cost you. Likewise, security and comfort will cost you. If you want a luxury apartment with a wrap-around sectional couch in leather with stainless steel legs, it will cost you.

 8. 11 Ways to Avoid Burnout

There’s no one-size-fits-all cure for burnout: Some people reach for junk food when stressed, while others may find themselves unable to sleep properly. At 99U, we’ve long explored the best strategies for coping with, treating, and preventing burnout. Here are 11 of our favorites to help you create your own escape plan.

9. Answering the Dreaded “So, What Do You Do?” Question



What holds us back from answering is often a disconnection from our narratives—the story that tells the listener where you’re from, who you are, and where you’re going. Your narrative is not just a powerful source of connection for strangers over drinks, it’s also an effective tool for personal growth.

10. 7 Things “Star Wars” Taught Me About Productivity

I saw the original Star Wars when I was seven years old and it changed my life. We all have faith in something; usually a mixture of some personal beliefs with modern science. I am like that also. Mostly, I just believe in what works. Which, for me, is The Force. I admit it.


1. Cal Newport: “Follow Your Passion” Is Bad Advice

Allison Johnson: We Have Enough Companies Like Apple

Gretchen Rubin: The 4 Ways to Successfully Adopt New Habits

John Maeda: Fall in Love with Technology through Great Design

Robert Brunner: What All Great Design Companies Know




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