The Uncomfortable Truth About How Trump Won the Election

It’s time we took an honest look at the ugly, multi-faceted nature of the historic upset.


There was a lot of misinformation, and a lot of simplistic, angry reductionism during the election about Clinton, Trump, and their respective supporters.

Now that Trump won, there’s been the same kind of simplicity, reductiveness, and misinformation in our reaction. We’re pointing fingers and jumping to simple explanations: some have blamed the outcome on racism of the working class, others have joined the chorus in condemning coastal elites for abandoning middle America.

I was angry and confused at first too, so I took a break from social media and all the simplistic/emotional takes. I wanted better answers, so I decided to spend time poring over long-form, patient, serious-minded journalism.

My search for answers taught me that this upset wasn’t the result of a freak combination of a few random factors, but of many significant and interconnected forces. We need to recognize not just the hatred, but the surprising combination of widespread misinformation, real economic problems, and other contemporary and historical factors that led to this result. Only with a full, honest picture of the troubling state of America can we tackle the scary challenges ahead.

Here’s my analysis of how Trump pulled this off. I cite my sources extensively throughout this document, so I encourage you to use the links in this piece as a launching point for an even deeper pursuit of answers.

Read the rest of the post here.

This is my advice after one year in the real world

Be ready.
Before you worry about going above and beyond, first make sure to approach your work with a good attitude and baseline readiness. Show up on time. Be present in meetings. Express openness to feedback and willingness to grow. Be a person of your word. Meet deadlines. Proof-read your emails. These rules are basic, but they set you apart, even at the highest levels.

Relish in life's unpredictable nature.
Instead of cowering away from the uncertainty, embrace the ambiguity and complexity of the world. Most of your peers are at least as confused as you. Putting yourself out there, showing up, and trying new things prepare you to confidently face the world. Date out of your comfort zone. Demo different CRMs. Hear out an opposing viewpoint. Send an email to someone you admire. Your life takes on infinite possibilities when you take initiative.

Six month checkpoint: 5 things I've learned in the real world

      Attitudes should be treated as skills that are cultivable through repetition.
      We tend to view repetition in the context of improving a first serve, memorizing principles of organic chemistry, and perfecting the dance move. It feels natural to practice task-oriented skills. But we don’t talk about how to be more passionate, more empathetic, more persistent and more of a thousand other attitudes. 

      We should.

      Cultivating an emotional state is no less rewarding than learning C++ or knitting a sweater, and the rewards have deep intrinsic value. One attitude I’ve focused on recently is being more present in my day-to-day. I’ve been working on notice the small things around me (e.g. the curious design of the Chelsea Market, the way the sun hits the New York skyline) and live more purposefully (e.g. I’m going to listen to this Mixergy podcast because I want to learn how entrepreneurs solve problems). Another attitude is being more grateful for what I have. Practicing a more appreciative mindset has helped me shed negative thinking and improve my overall well-being.

      How to be Editor in Chief and uphold the highly problematic status quo of the Duke Chronicle

      This is my response to the June 2nd editor's note below. It is directly adapted from a post of mine on Facebook. Excuse the language informalities. 

      ______

      Just graduated college, so I decided to thank the high school English teacher that changed my life

      CONTEXT: Ms. Margaret Cain was a legendary English teacher at IMSA, who retired in 2014 while I studied at Duke University. This is a copy of the letter I mailed to her, thanking her for all that she did for me while I was a high school student. She taught for decades at IMSA, touching thousands of students' lives.


      Dear Ms. Cain,

      It’s been four years and counting since I last stepped foot in one of your classes, but I remember you — your lectures — vividly.

      I remember stepping foot into your Literary Explorations I class the first day of my sophomore year with my head tilted a little too high. I remember hearing your explanation of the first project of the class. I remember you describing  the introductory assignment as something along the lines of a micro-length story, and inwardly scoffing: “This class is going to be so easy."

      I remember expending a cursory effort into that assignment. I remember handing that assignment in feeling too cool for school. I remember thinking that just like clockwork, I would effortlessly receive another high mark on a writing assignment just as I did at my pre-IMSA high school.

      But you handed me a C-. The first grade below an A- I had received on a writing assignment in years. Indeed, I had only spent about 15 minutes on the micro-story. And objectively speaking, it wasn’t amazing. But likely in the eyes of most other teachers, the writing was good enough. For the first sixteen years of my life, I had taught myself to put forth my minimum, while still expecting to be rewarded like the best.

      But you were not going to let me get away with bullshitting through your class.

      This is why the Duke Class of 2015 is outraged that Paul Farmer spoke at our commencement ceremony

      TLDR: This is a long post that 1) articulates why those affiliated with Duke felt outraged by Paul Farmer's speech to the Class of 2015 during Duke University's commencement ceremony on Sunday, and 2) clarifies to those who saw the speech what Duke has meant to me and so many others.

      The speech can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQhagn_DuB0

      Why Kendrick's latest masterpiece is the most important album of 2015

      For one reason or another, I woke up at 7 AM and was incapable of falling back asleep. 

      I decided to check out a song or two on the new Kendrick Lamar album. I really didn’t expect to listen to the entire thing. Then once more. And then one more time after that because there’s just SO. MUCH. THERE.

      And while I’m definitely not going to be happy later today about running on four hours of sleep, listening through To Pimp A Butterfly again and again this morning has been one of the most emotionally and intellectually stimulating experiences of my life. So exhilarating that for hours this morning, I sat at my computer jotting down notes on the messages and themes he explores, and tried to unpack it here.

      I actually haven’t read a single review of this album before listening to it and don’t plan to. In a world at a million crossroads that has taught us to grow jaded to the evil that plagues it, I’m confident that this will be the most important, relevant album of 2015, and I hope you'll listen through this masterpiece in its entirety at least once.

      Here's a link to the album on Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/album/7ycBtnsMtyVbbwTfJwRjSP

      10 things I learned from my wise sage and badass of a brother Tony

      A few days ago, my brother Tony texted me asking what I wanted for my birthday. Given that HIS birthday (WHICH IS TODAY) is a day before mine, three things crossed my mind: 

      1. Is it weird to ask your brother to buy you car insurance for your birthday?
      2. Oh, no. I forgot to get him something for his birthday — I’m the worst.
      3. What would be a good present for someone who seems to have everything he needs?! 
      After futile attempts to think of something material to get him, I decided to instead write a little piece about my incredible brother and share a small subset of the things I’ve learned from his direct advice or just being around the dude over the years.

      … before we get to business, here’s a picture of Tony clearly stoked for his violin lesson and wearing a Scottie Pippen jersey.

      Step up your Spring Break music game with this sunny 50-track playlist (and a bonus playlist)

      I've been obsessing over this blanket genre I consider "Sunshine House" for the last few months, and I'll go so far as saying my life has improved significantly after incorporating it into my daily music listening routine. Sunshine house is a pseudo-genre that hasn't picked up huge momentum yet in the States, but has been the center of the young people's attention in Western Europe for at least a couple of years.

      Check out the 15 best up-and-coming producers you need to follow right now

      Thanks to the steep decline in the music industry's barrier to entry and the rise of digital audio workstations, more original music has been recorded in the past month than the entire 20th century. The line between indie and mainstream has never been blurrier as the most creatively groundbreaking producers and artists are also some of the most popular among young audiences. High-quality music production nowadays is nearly costless relative to the hulking capital investment required during the pre-Ableton era. Artists are now capable of spending just a few hundred dollars on mass-market production software and equipment and producing sounds that were simply impossible to fabricate before. MacBook-wielding teens are now capable of somehow conjuring some of the lushest and most colorful tracks you've ever heard, all from the comfort of their bedroom. It's an unbelievable time for music. 

      Along with this revolution in digital audio production comes the mish-mashing of songs and sounds, old and new. These days, it's not hard to find the voice of Notorious B.I.G. resurrected in a young producer's remix. Or the legendary croon of Marvin Gaye weaved into a futuristic house mix. Or the spirit of a played-out chart topper finding new life through a talented DJ's mashup.

      These producers aren't just churning out remixes and mashups, though. They're inventing entirely new genres. Tropical House. Dubstep. Trap. Industrial Tech. Moombahton. Glitch. The list goes on and on. It can be daunting to sift through this eclectic diversity of genres and wealth of young hopefuls, but I hope the following playlist will make your life a little easier.

      I've compiled fifteen of the best up-and-coming (and fewer than 100k followers) producers you can find today on SoundCloud (roughly sorted by genre) and hand picked two songs from each artist. I predict a huge 2015 from each of them.

      Happy listening.