BERLIN, GERMANY DECEMBER 01: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives on the red carpet for the … [+]
The brain is not wired to process multiple inputs at the same time.
You can certainly try, but if you have 17 different notifications on your phone at once, we wish you the best of luck managing all of the notifications.
This is why it was so interesting to have a long, complex, but brilliant discussion with Elon Musk about the Clubhouse drop-in audio app.
Immediately admit that I listened to the taped chat later because it would have been well after midnight for me when it recently went live with a group of over 5,000 listeners.
Aside from that late night audio chat, I’ve tested the Clubhouse app countless times now, created my own rooms, and come to definite conclusions about its value. More on that in a moment, but back to Musk and what he said.
I am as fascinated by this brilliant thinker as anyone. If you listen to the entire chat, you can almost imagine the wheels spinning. Sometimes they spin quickly and he spits out an answer. Sometimes it’s like the processing chips are overloaded and he pauses to articulate what he really means.
I really noticed one particular comment. Musk made it a spontaneous comment that almost seemed like a father’s joke (he’s a father, after all). “Fear isn’t the mind killer, context shifting is the mind killer,” he said. You could put that on a poster.
What he means is that constantly changing contexts and tasks is nerve-wracking. One moment we’re talking about Tesla electric cars and the next we’re talking about Mars. One minute we’ll be commenting on Twitter and the next we’ll be answering emails.
Musk playfully answered questions from the clubhouse gallery, and if anyone can switch context, it is, but there is also a feeling that technology and innovation have turned us all into context-switching machines. At least with this new audio app, you can turn off notifications and learn something new.
Musk made another in-depth comment on how we currently communicate with around 100-bit phones, typing as fast as we can, or talking to them occasionally. He advocates a future in which we can work much faster, mainly by establishing a physical connection with machines. (I think that’s a little scary.)
Interestingly, the clubhouse is tailored to the salience network in our brain (e.g. the part that controls focus). In my countless audio chats, both as a moderator and as a listener, I was able to concentrate on one topic at a time. You can’t listen quickly. You can speak a little faster, but actually the entire forum is designed for one-to-many interaction, each focusing on one topic.
It’s monumental to hear Musk (and other high profile people) this way. You feel like you are in the same room. I recently took part in a chat with Guy Kawasaki, the famous Apple marketing guru and book author. I didn’t raise my virtual hand to ask a question, but I did in many other chats. The clubhouse is like an interactive podcast, or more like a panel discussion, only that you can choose to take the “stage” and become part of the panel.
Here something new becomes something useful.
During this time of work at home, those who manage to focus the best are the ultimate winners. Whenever I hosted a clubhouse chat to ask people about innovative new gadgets and ideas, I always had to focus. Under no circumstances can you check your e-mail at the same time. If you do, you will miss what people are saying.
That’s how we’re wired. Our brain wants to switch off the garbage and adjust to the important issues. We are constantly determining what is valuable and important. Our brains are also amazingly good at ignoring things that are not worthy of our full attention. This is useful when you are browsing Netflix and trying to choose a show to watch. It’s a problem when you visit the ice cream parlor because they all look great.
This ability to focus creates new products and new businesses. It helps us to write books. It will determine the outcome of the pandemic.
With the focus comes resolution, success and improvement.
Musk proved one thing during his long clubhouse chat: if you focus, you build great things. We hope the clubhouse itself will be great.