I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark McKinnon while I was in Austin not too long ago. A friend of mine Megan Hundahl, who heard great things about Mark from her days at CNN, recommended I reach out to him for an interview.
As I started to research Mark, it was clear he would be a great interview. He seemed like a real humble guy with a range of interests and some incredible successes. Breaking it down for you, he’s one of the most respected political analysts and consultants in the world. And he also used to write songs with Kris Kristofferson which is pretty cool. Oh yeah and he ran the Ironman twice.
But what drew me to Mark was that he actually uses the term “quality of life” in his professional CV. “Mark’s quality of life is exceptionally enhanced by the enduring love and patience of his wifeand his daughters.”
How cool is that… Well, we knew he would be a great interview and we were not disappointed. Here are the highlights and further below is a link to the video.
Living in the moment and actually having a daily practice to reap the benefits
Mark has a jar of beads on his desk in his office that contains an approximate count of the number of days he expects to live (assuming relatively good health less unexpected accidents). Next to this jar is another container. Every morning, Mark takes out a bead, holds it, reflects upon it for a minute or two, and then deposits it in the other container. This is one of the most interesting practices I’ve come across in my interviews. What is evident is that Mark is reaping the quality of life dividends of living in the moment, not just because he has a great perspective, but because he is actually doing something about it. But it’s more than that. It’s the method. A lot of people “do something about it” but it’s about using a practice that brings the best results that counts. In his case, he has jars that sit right in front of him on his desk.
More communication is not necessarily better communication.
Mark wrote an article at the Daily Beast on this subject and cited Twitter as a good example. In the interview, Mark emphasizes that as a society our quality of life can be diminished if we buy into the notion that more communication is better communication. “I’m giving it up [Twitter]. I know I’ll get roasted for being anti-tech. But, what I really am is pro-meaningful communication. And somewhere along the Internet highway, we fell under the spell that more communication is better communication. Sometimes more communication is just noise.”
You can only have so many friends
This is related to the above point. Mark’s take is that one of the best contributors to quality of life is the quality of your friendships. And the quality of your friendships can be diminished if you have too many. Simple as that. Some of this is driven by social networks. But also email and cell phones makes it much easier to maintain friendships that in the past 3000 years you simply would not have had time for.
Here’s the video clip broken down into segments using tags. We hope you enjoy the interview, and please do share your thoughts with us via comments…