Margin, Dinner Parties and The Art of Gathering

Margin, Dinner Parties and The Art of Gathering


In this episode, we continue to discuss the difficulties of recording a podcast each week and look at Taimur's highlights from the book - The Art of Gathering.

Table of contents

In this episode, we continue to discuss the difficulties of recording a podcast each week, which turns into a conversation about margin & keeping afloat vs optimising for the long term. We then talk about a dinner party that Taimur hosted, which turns into a discussion about The Art of Gathering, a book that explores these issues in much greater detail. Enjoy!

Some of the highlights of our discussion:

Given the logistical friction of arranging hangouts, social events begin to fall by the wayside when you have very little margin in your life. Margin is about taking on too many things and not being able to explore the more long term benefits. Giving yourself the margin to think about what you are doing, enables you to develop more of a long term focus rather than simply keeping head above water.

Below are some of Taimur’s highlights from The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker:

“As much as our gatherings disappoint us, we tend to keep gathering in the same tired ways, most of us remain on autopilot when we bring people together following stale formulas hoping the chemistry of a good meeting, party or conference will somehow take care of itself, that thrilling results will magically emerge from the same stayed inputs. It’s almost always a vain hope”.
“Gatherings crackle and flourish when real thought goes into them, when invisible structure is baked into them and when the host has curiosity of spirit to try".
“Inviting people is easy, excluding people can be hard. The more the merrier we are told from childhood…at the risk of dissenting from millennia of advice along these lines, let me say this, you will have begun to gather with purpose when you learn to exclude with purpose, when you learn to close doors…thoughtful considered exclusion is vital to any gathering”.
  • In modern society, there is currently a culture of indiscriminate inclusivity and it's seen as bad to be exclusionary in any way shape or form but when it comes to the art of gathering it’s equally about exclusivity. This is not an exclusivity in the sense of discrimination or ‘inner ring’ exclusivity, but more in the sense of thinking about how different group sizes mean different things or how different combinations of people create different environments and open/close spaces or topics of discussion. In a sense, purpose and shared experience require a degree of exclusion.
“People who aren’t fulfilling the purpose of your gathering are detracting from it even if they do nothing to detract from it – this is because once they are actually in their presence, you and other considerate guests will want to include them which takes time and attention from what and who you are there for”.


The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters

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What is this? Not Overthinking is a podcast about happiness, creativity, and the human condition. We talk about things to help us think, do, and be better. Things like social interaction, lifestyle design, mental models...things that are hard to examine, but important to explore. And hopefully, things that make for a fun and interesting chat every week.

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Who are we?

Ali is a junior doctor and YouTuber working in Cambridge, UK. He makes videos about medicine, technology, productivity and lifestyle design. His links: YouTube, Blog, Newsletter, Instagram

Taimur is a data scientist and writer, working on his own startup Causal. He writes on his blog and as a columnist for Medium. His links: Blog, Twitter, Medium, Instagram

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