Stacking the Bricks Podcast EP6 - "The Life-changing Magic of Shipping"
30 min

In this episode…

Right now I'm reading a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo.

It's amazing. I can't recommend it enough. Already, I'm feeling an increase in lightness, beauty, and joy in my home. But that wasn't the reason I started reading it to Alex during one of our Skype calls last week. Nope, I shared it with him because of a deeper truth, and its masterful presentation.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up isn't just about tidy homes, it's about life.

The book itself is so good because it throws out every traditional piece of advice. Marie proves it: Little by little won't solve the problem. Storage won't fix the problem. Fancy boxes and shelves and "one thing a day" won't get you there, ever.

You have to do something radically different to get a radically different result.

Most startup advice is on the day-to-day level: the little tactics. Try this, try that. Pivot. Split-test. But like tidying, the problem occurs upstream. These tactics will never fix the broken strategy.

The lessons from this book? Virtually the same lessons we have learned ourselves in business, and what we do our damnedest to teach our students. The previous failures, the negative self-talk, the self-perpetuating cycle, the backsliding that terrifies our students… it's all exactly the same as Marie describes in her students. Only the implementation details change.

Sound at all familiar? It sure sounded familiar to me.

Listen to part one of our 2-part conversation to learn the revolutionary approach Marie teaches for tidying, and how those lessons apply to your startup, too. Bonus: life (and business) wisdom from ancient Chinese philosophers, 500-year-old French noblemen, and the Bible.


Links mentioned:

This recording originally appeared at:


Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: He’s great. He’s not proper. He’s snarky. He doesn’t like people.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So he’s you from 500 years ago?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: That’s not true! Maybe a little bit!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So you were telling me about this book you read and you’ve been picking some really interesting correlations to our work out of it, but it’s not obviously related at all.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: No. Not obviously related, but you know, me, I read all kinds of really weird stuff and draw conclusions from it that seem to be universal to what we do as well. That’s what I do.

The book that I’m reading, I’m only about a third of the way through it is called The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by this Japanese organizing expert named Marie Kondo. She apparently is the world’s biggest organizing nerd. But unlike all other organizing nerds, she doesn’t talk about storage, in fact.

Her whole line is that you already have all the storage you need and that talking about storage, putting things in storage and organizing things by color or whatever is not going solve the problem. She says, in fact, that the idea of tidying up a little bit every day is toxic and it’s the reason that you have to tidy up every day, because it doesn’t work.

I just wanted to share some excerpts with you, because I was reading this in the bathroom. I was like, “Yes, this!” because I’m a nerd. Oh and also I’ve been applying it to my house and it really, it makes perfect sense and it works and I feel so much better about it.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Apart from the obvious, what made you pick up this book?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I read several blog posts about it and it sounded kind of crazy and different, and I just love that kind of stuff. Everyone said it was a really good book and so I thought, well, even if I don’t use it, I always like to read good books to see how people persuade other people to do stuff.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I got you. And the obvious like, you’ve got a lot of stuff.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I do. I have a lot of nice things and we have a part-time housekeeper and we still can’t keep it all straight. It’s not that I’ve got junk, as you know, but just too many things everywhere and it’s stressful to look at them.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Well, I’m thinking about this too. I’m getting super excited about it in the context of Indy Hall, because Indy Hall sits in that realm of stuff that makes it look nice and feel cozy, but there’s that fine line between stuff and clutter, and we’re always butting up against it. And because – to the point you were saying before, a little bit of daily tidying doesn’t fix the problem. We just end up having to do these deep purges and that doesn’t fix the problem. So, maybe you’re about to teach me something we can apply to Indy Hall too.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: That’d be great, and I think the core of it is it’s about love.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Well, that’s Indy Hall through and through, so bring it on.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Right. So I’m going to read you some quotes. I’ve got all these thoughts noted down between them. When I started reading this book, I expected it to be about habits, right? It’s not, it’s so not about habits. It’s like, if you have these habits, you’re doing it wrong, which I thought was amazing.

The book starts off like this. She’s very persuasive. She talks to the house. She used to read home organization and housewife magazine’s – she called them when she was a little girl, because she had nothing else to do when she would obsessively tidy the whole house and throw other people’s stuff out, it’s crazy. When she was a kid, not as an adult.

She said that she found that was all wrong and then she pivots into the conversation of what is right. She says, “When you finish putting your house in order, your life will change dramatically. Once you have experienced what it’s like to have a truly ordered house, you’ll feel your whole world brighten, never again will you revert to clutter. This is what I call ‘the magic of tidying’ and the effects are stupendous. Not only will you never be messy again, but you’ll also get a new start on life. This is the magic I want to share with as many people as possible.”

That’s amazing. Stupendous! She uses the word stupendous which I think is just stupendous.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It’s so charming!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I love it! I love it. The thing is, she doesn’t oversell it. This sounds like overselling but she backs up every one of her points as you read through the book and I was really in awe of the way that she breaks down people who have these incredible emotional attachments and also shame and embarrassment and just years of bad habits.

She just slowly, lovingly, - but no bullshit – takes them along this path where they’re like, “Oh, that actually doesn’t sound extreme at all. That makes so much sense.” And then they trust her and follow her advice. This is how we feel about having our students ship stuff, which is the amazing thing.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yeah. This sounds really familiar in many, many ways.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Right! How many times have we seen our students resist, resist, resist, resist? Then something happens to them that they’re like, “Fuck it. I’m just going to do what Amy and Alex said, what I learned, what I paid to learn, I’m going to do it”. And then they do it and then they get their first stranger who signs up for their mailing list, or their first stranger who writes them an email, thanking them for their work, or better even best of all the first stranger who actually buys their product. It changes everything.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Even before that, it’s the folks who were so deeply entrenched in their self-loathing of having tried and it just not going the way they wanted it to and well, maybe just one more tweak and there seems to be no way out of that, other than to do the simplest thing, which is the thing that we’ve put in front of you.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Absolutely. It makes complete sense and it’s the same. She calls it, what does she call it? A negative spiral, which it’s not like she invented that term, but it makes complete sense.

Tidying something that everyone says is the thing that you should do, and there’s so much advice about it. Tidy is a negative spiral that keeps you untidy forever. The startup world is full of advice like that. Like pivoting and customer interviews, it seems so logical and smart, but it actually makes you stuck and then it makes you feel terrible, which gives you less energy to change.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So pivoting is tidying in this analogy.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I think so.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Wow! Alright. Let’s keep going.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Okay. So when you first do things right, and you see through all of that bullshit, how that doesn’t work, and then you get the effects of doing it the right way, the single thing that you do great – it is stupendous and life changing.

We’ve heard that from our students. That it’s changed their relationships. It’s changed their consulting. It’s changed the way they interact with other people. When they’re trying to persuade them that doesn’t involve selling, it changes everything. It can change your whole life. It really does.

She writes also something that’s deeply true about everything, I think. She writes, “It’s true that while instructors in schools offer courses and everything from cooking and how to wear a kimono to yoga and Zen meditation, you’ll be hard pressed to find classes on how to tidy. The general assumption -in Japan at least – is that tidying doesn’t need to be taught but is rather picked up naturally. How many times have we heard that entrepreneurs are born, not made?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: it’s that “I am an innate genius” at tidying or business or creativity or whatever, or “I don’t even have it in me, so I never will. “

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: That’s the fixed mindset at its very purest form. Yeah, it’s totally the same. It’s amazing. When people who have something are too lazy or incapable, it’s called expert blindness. They cannot explain how they do what they do. They then say, “Well, I can’t teach it.” It’s an excuse for their inability to teach it. They’re saying I can’t teach it. Or they’re flattering themselves by saying, “Well, I was just born this way.” It’s a cop out and a toxic self-aggrandizement at the same time.

When people who can’t do something say, “Oh, well, you’re born that way or not.” They’re excusing themselves from doing it. Fixed mindset all the way. You know, “I can’t do it, therefore I can’t do it.”

But she goes on, the story about the teaching for a little while, because obviously she here is trying to teach people how to do something that everyone assumes is a natural ability or inability.

She says that, “As an organizing fanatic and professional, I can tell you right now that no matter how hard I try to organize another space, no matter how perfect a storage system I devise, I can never put someone else’s house in order, in the true sense of the term. When it comes to tidying, we are all self-taught”, which I was like, well, gee, because I read absolutely everything I can come up with like five or six parallels to this, just from the history of philosophy and self-help – doesn’t have to be in our industry. It’s true.

There’s a Yiddish saying that “You can’t chew with someone else’s teeth.” “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” “You can’t have an epiphany for someone else.” No matter how much instruction you give them. How many examples, how many good models, how much coaching, they have to learn it for themselves by experience.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So in that they actually take the steps, feel the motion of those steps, whatever they may be, including the full sense of gratification when there’s a result.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: It changes them internally. She’s not saying that she can’t organize your house, put your house in order – which I think is a great phrase. She can’t put your house in order, not because she doesn’t know which spoons are your favorite or where you like to put your socks, but because it’s not an act of changing your house. It’s an act of changing yourself that has to happen.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Right. So this is like the folks who would point to saying, “I can’t learn that because that’s not in my industry.”

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Right. Absolutely. Also, people who think that someone is going to “steal their idea” or that they can make a product business, they just need the right idea and people ask us for that, right?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: That’s absolutely true.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: When I wrote that blog post about event scheduling, I said to you “Now how many people are going to email me telling me that they made this event scheduler, and do I like it?” And several did – five or six. I occasionally get an email, like months and months after I wrote that, someone’s like, “Here, I made this way, you try it.” That doesn’t work. That’s, you know, me coming in and organizing your spoons, right?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yes, but they feel they get the feeling of accomplishment, but it’s sort of an empty sense of accomplishment that doesn’t actually carry them forward.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yes.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Because it doesn’t actually change the way they were thinking or feeling.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Exactly, running a business isn’t about what box you put your papers in. It’s not about storage, more metaphorically. It’s about the way that it changes you and all of the things you have to do from now until forever.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I wonder how this ties into just the mental shift in coming from a job where ultimately you’re tidying someone else’s spoons.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: It’s true. I like that we’re talking about spoons now.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yeah. So, when you have a job, your job is to basically do someone else’s chewing for them and it doesn’t actually change you. This also goes with the essay you have about how running a consultancy that builds startup products doesn’t teach you how to start a company.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Right.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It’s the same thing over again.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: That’s a very good point. I hadn’t thought of it that way. It’s like you’re being paid to tidy for someone every day. It doesn’t make you a tidy person. It means that you show up and you do a job and then you leave. Although the best employees go far beyond just doing what they’re told.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Oh, without a doubt.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: But it’s still not the same. It’s not the same.

So I have a bunch of other quotes in my notes here. Everyone’s heard this and then it’s attributed to Ben Franklin, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn. There’s a better phrasing of it that involves “and helped me do it” or “do it with me and I learn and remember”, but it’s not Ben Franklin and it wasn’t Confucius. It actually seems to be…but it’s not like something someone invented last year and then stuck a cool name on it, like that happens a lot. It actually is really old. It actually predates Ben Franklin by a ton.

So I did some research. It turns out the man who wrote this originally was Xun Kuang, a Chinese philosopher who lived from 312 to 230 BC.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Well, that’s old!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: His works were collected into a set of 32 books called the Xunzi in about 1880. The phrase that I found written translated from his version was “Not having heard something is not as good as having heard it, having heard it is not as good as having seen it. Having seen it is not as good as knowing it. Knowing it is not as good as putting it into practice.” Which is actually way better.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: That is way better!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Way better, way better.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Putting it into practice is more than just doing it once, but doing it with repetition. I mean, again, that’s how we build. That’s what we’ve learned we have to teach. We can’t just tell someone, “Here’s a skill. Here’s a concept.” The first 30x500 was full of awesome concepts that didn’t get anybody to do anything.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: It was so wrong.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: We were tidying for them!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: We were.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Organizing their spoons!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Oh God. I have a lot of different spoons. I just want to put that out there!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Okay, so we have an attribution for this quote. That’s pretty awesome.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah, it’s really awesome. I wasn’t actually expecting to find an actual historic source. I thought I was one of those ones that got invented recently. Like maybe it was William James adulterated or something, I don’t know.

But no, no. It has ancient history on it’s side and I love this stuff because it just shows humans don’t change. People all throughout history have faced the same exact problems that we have, and so many of our problems are due to our innate psychology and not what year we live in, which is freeing because it means that you can look 100, 1000, 2000 years back in time and find solutions. You don’t have to figure it out all yourself.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It also sort of debunks all of the craze about innovation.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Oh God, don’t get me started!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: But the idea that we can look to the problems that we’ve been dealing with throughout time, we can do pretty deep amounts of understanding into where people are and use that to solve problems for people.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Very good point. I also have to work Michel de Montaigne in here because I read his essays when I was, oh, I guess 20, and they were very life changing for me. Michel de Montaigne, in case you guys don’t know, was a sort of French nobleman in the 1500s. He was credited with inventing the essay – which is kind of cool. He wrote a lot and he was awesome. You should read his essays – they’re amazing. They’re so accessible and they were published in 1580, so almost 500 years ago. He wrote among other things “On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.”

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I love that.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Less prosaically he said, “Learned we may be with another man’s learning. We can only be wise with wisdom of our own” – and he’s right. You can’t know something until you own it and the only way to own it is to do it for yourself. So you can read all of our blog posts and watch all of our videos and listen to all of our podcasts like you’re doing right now, but if you don’t do anything with it, it’s never yours. You’ll be the same forever.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Who again was that? That was Michel?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Michel de Montaigne. If you just search for Montaigne you’ll find his essays.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Awesome! That’s new for me.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: He’s great. He’s not proper. He’s snarky. He doesn’t like people.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So he’s you from 500 years ago?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: That’s not true! Maybe a little bit!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Come on, I could imagine , what was the line? “On the highest throne, we still only sit…” That could have been from Just Fucking Ship, “On the highest throne in the world, we still only sit on our own ass.” – Amy Hoy.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah, it’s true. I’m just a puppet for the wisdom of the ages.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: That’s awesome. So back to our tidying book though.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Back to our tiding book, I’ve got a lot of quotes to run through you guys. Marie wrote, “People often tell me, ‘I’m disorganized by nature’, ‘I can’t do it’ or, ‘I don’t have time’, but being messy is not hereditary, nor is it related to lack of time. It has far more to do with the accumulation of mistaken notions about tidying”.

She, a little bit later is again quoting, basically taking the words from the mouth of her clients and these are objections, obviously, and she’s just shattering them. “I clean up when I realize how untidy my place is, but once I’m done, it’s not long before it’s a mess again”. This it’s a common complaint and the standard response, by magazine advice, columns is, “Don’t try tidying your entire house all at once. You’ll just rebound. Make a habit of doing it a little at a time.” And then she says that she used to follow this advice religiously and kept tidying everyday forever until she realized that was wrong. She said, “If I had a time machine now, I’d go back and tell myself ‘that’s wrong’. If you use the right approach, you’ll never rebound.” That makes so much sense to me because we never question the systems we use. We only try to prop up the systems and make them work better.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I just want to point out that we haven’t even talked about what the right way is yet.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: No, it’s true.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: We’re just talking about the mental mindsets and the mistakes that we make systematically every day, whether it’s in keeping our houses clean or starting a business and how parallel they are. That’s incredible.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I think it’s really persuasive. I mean, our copywriting formula says “Pose the problem first” and she does that with the book too. She says from the very first page, “But the trick is you have to discard just about everything first”, but no one is ready to receive that advice then, it just kind of fits in the back of the brain as she slowly, over the next a hundred pages breaks them down.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So she she’s preparing them for whatever the solution is going to be?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah, she’s like “At first you won’t believe this advice, but this is my advice.” Then every step of the way she breaks down your old systems and repeats it. It’s brilliant. Yeah, I tell you what, I hope Marie never decides to go into the brainwashing for evil business. She’s really good at it.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: What else could she solve with this stuff?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: So in my notes for the show I said that systems perpetuate themselves and structures perpetuate themselves. So, we have on our on our website, I wrote that…what was the title of the blog post, where I lay out the seven steps of failure?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Oh, I mean, we’ve done it a number of times.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah. We’ll put it in the show notes. I say, well, here are the steps, it’s like, come up with a great idea, step one. Step two, build the great idea. Step three, launch the great idea. Yay, launching and shipping is great, but then it’s step four, wait for the sales to roll in. Step five, wait for the sales to roll in. Step six, try to figure out why the sales aren’t rolling in – product market fit, pivot, et cetera. And the hidden step seven is give up. But all of the startup methodologies out there try to get you over the hump from five to seven, they don’t actually solve the problem. They’re like, all right, well, you built your great idea. Now let’s pivot and do interviews and look for product market fit until you find people who want to buy it – and that’s exactly the same as tidying every day.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Versus going back to the beginning and avoiding the first six steps entirely.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Correct. So, if you have nothing in your house, which granted is extreme, you do not need to tidy. No one can live with nothing in their house, but there has to be a happy medium. Tidying every day is a symptom, not a cure. It’s like people splashing in a pool, right? The harder you struggle, the more likely you are to sink. It’s quicksand. Have you ever been on a committee that dissolved itself because the committee wasn’t important and needed anymore?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yeah, no, I mean, the institutions are designed to protect themselves. That is a function of what they do and they not just protect themselves, but they protect their cause. That’s where things go really haywire, right, is when the problem that an institution set out to solve never quite get solved because the institution knows that should that problem go away, they would become obsolete.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: And this is not an isolated event. People who are in the charity foundation circles who pay attention, know that this goes on quite a lot.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It’s everywhere. So I’m curious, you had mentioned that at the heart of the solution is love. Are we getting somewhere near that?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yes.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Okay.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: We’re getting near love. But let me draw it out the way that she does. You really want to hear the tidying advice!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It’s the most bizarre thing, but it’s so true!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I can just imagine the look on your face, the struggle, you’re like, “I don’t want to like it, but I really do.”

So Marie writes, along this vein, “When people revert to clutter, no matter how much they tidy, it is not their room or their belongings, but their way of thinking that is at fault. Even if they are initially inspired, they can’t stay motivated and their efforts, peter out”. Sound familiar anybody? “The root cause lies in the fact that they can’t see the results or feel the effects.” Sound familiar, anybody?

“This is precisely why success depends on experiencing tangible results immediately. If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter, thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space order ever after.”

Oh, that one hit me!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Big time! Well, and it makes me think about even when we redesigned the 30x500 to the bootcamp. The biggest shift that we made when you came back from Kathy Sierra’s workshop at Webstock, was strategically shortening the period of time between introducing someone to the potential for action, and actually having them do it. Then also very strategically shortening the amount of time between them starting it and when they feel the wind.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: And ever since then, we’ve actually gotten tighter and tighter with that.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So like the first time someone does painstorming that they’re actually able to do it. They’re not great at it. That’s they’re not supposed to be, otherwise they shouldn’t have signed up for the class, but they come in, they do the exercise the first time and they sort of get it and they’re like, “Five minutes ago, I couldn’t do that. Now I can do that. That’s really cool!” Then you paint a picture of where that sits inside of a world of doing even more things and the motivation to do more with that skill they just learned is huge, compared to if you were to just teach them that skill in a vacuum where it’s like, “Oh, this is just one tiny, stupid little skill. Why do I have to move the spoon from this drawer to that drawer? Why, who cares?” It’s the same tactical steps, but the order matters because they’re able to have that sense of win projected forward from small win to slightly larger win, to slightly larger win.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I also think that, so I’m going to reveal what the technique is, and you’re not going to believe that this is the core of the book.

It is to discard EVERYWHERE that does not bring you joy, or you absolutely require. I’m sure she wouldn’t say “If you don’t like your medicine, my medicine doesn’t give me joy, but I have to keep it.” No, one’s like really, I really love that Apple power brick, but there are things you have to have to maintain your home and whatnot.

Among the things that she says is to back this up, so it’s like discard everything that doesn’t bring you joy. And you’re like, “Well, I need this and I mean, I don’t know. I kind of like the way that looks and blah, blah, blah.” She eases you into it. She says that “When you discard the things that you don’t love, all the things that you love can actually be visible and you can enjoy them.”

So you have things you feel lukewarm about, or don’t absolutely love, and they are literally hiding the things that you love, because they’re piled up on the things you love, because you feel like you have to wear them because they’re in your closet and there’s piles of stuff, or they’re at the back of a bookcase or whatnot.

You can’t see them through all the crap because when your home is cluttered, you can’t relax. You have to actually tune out the clutter, which means that you can’t see the things that you love, even if they’re right there. So it’s really, she makes it more eloquent than I just did, but that’s the way I took it out, which considering I have a lot of things I love really impacted me.

At various points she writes, “Are you happy wearing clothes that don’t give you pleasure? Do you feel joy when surrounded by piles of unread books that don’t touch your heart? Now, imagine yourself living in a space that contains only things that spark joy, isn’t this the lifestyle that you dream of? Seeing stored out of sight or dormant. This makes it much harder to decide whether they inspire joy or not.”

I never thought of looking in my closet and getting rid of everything I don’t absolutely adore, but thinking about it, how many little micro frictions is it when you’re like, “Oh, well these are the only pants that have clean. I don’t really like them. They pinch at the waist a little bit and they’re baggy elsewhere, but they’re the only ones that have so I’m going to put them on.” That little moment, that takes energy and it zaps the joy out of life. Little by little. Stupid, it’s small, but…

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It’s the little thing that perpetuates that self-reinforcing structure. I mean, this really just highlights how deeply wrong tidying would be if and when you have to entirely recalibrate the goal. The goal is not to have a tidy house. The goal is to have a house full of things that bring you joy, the result of a house full of only things that make you feel good should be a tidy house.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Exactly. Because the reason that we hate clutter is because of the way it makes us feel. It all comes down to feelings. Now to bring that back to the very first Safari exercise, I think what makes the Safari exercise so amazing is not just they get to try it themselves, but that they feel what it feels like to pay attention to something they never noticed before.

Marie says you have to handle every item and ask yourself in the first second, “Does this spark joy?” She goes you physically have to touch it. I think this is the physical touching of things, people ignored. It’s different. You look at something, you’ve had it for a long time. You don’t only pay attention to it. You don’t appreciate it. You don’t dislike it. You don’t anything. When you pick it up and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” you have to pay attention to it. Something you’ve been ignoring.

I think that same thing is true when people do Safari for the first time, they’re surrounded by tweets and IRC and blog posts and forum threads, and email lists and stack overflow questions and on and on and on, people ask them questions in their inbox and they never stopped to consider it. Not whether it brings them joy, but whether it can teach them something, we just kind of deal with it and move on.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: All right that seems like a good place to stop for the first part of a two part episode of Stacking the Bricks with Amy explaining to me what she’s been learning from a Japanese organizing expert and how she thinks it might be able to teach us something about our businesses.

You’re going to want to come back for part two, I promise you that, and there are two ways that you can make sure that you don’t miss the next episode. The first of them might be the easiest. You can subscribe to this episode right in iTunes or Overcast or wherever it is that you like to listen to podcasts.

The second is a tiny bit more work, but we’re going to be able to send you a whole lot more good stuff. That’s by going to unicorn, and that’s getting on the exclusive mailing list for Amy and I, and we’re sending all of our updates, all of our behind the scenes stuff from the launch of the new 30x500 and a whole lot more.

So go ahead and check that out and we’ll look forward to seeing you back for part two.

Latest Stacking The Bricks Episodes