Tiffany Shlain, Filmmaker


Cool Tools Show 251: Tiffany Shlain

Our guest this week is Tiffany Shlain. Tiffany is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, founder of the Webby Awards, and the author of the national bestselling book 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, which was the winner of the Marshall McLuhan Outstanding Book Award. This year, the Museum of Modern Art in New York premiered her one woman show “Dear Human.” She has won over 80 awards for her film and other work has been writing weekly newsletters, giving online talks, working on a film for the election and is hosting a #ZoomChallahBake with special guests. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @tiffanyshlain.

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Show notes:

Clara, an AI Scheduling Bot with Human in the Loop
My AI scheduling bot named Clara has completely changed my life. She schedules around 300 plus meetings. She’s amazing. I loop her in on an email with “Oh, Clara will help set up a time.” And if she ever gets confused, she has a human assistant. I used to have a full-time person on my team that would just schedule meetings for me and figure out time zones. And no one should be doing that if they don’t have to. They should be doing something more with their brain. When we got Clara, it’s been a game changer for me to immediately loop in via email someone that has access to my calendar, figure out time zones and always says the best things. I can’t tell you how many times people are like, “You have the best assistant, Clara.” And then I feel like I’m breaking their heart when I’m like, she’s a bot. It’s made by Clara Labs. And if you pay a little bit more money, you can change her last name. Mine is Clara Parker.

The Five Minute Journal ($25)
I am a big journaler, but this is the journal for people that don’t journal. It’s called the Five Minute Journal. In the morning I use my phone for my alarm clock. It’s on airplane mode and I walk downstairs, I get my coffee and I open up my Five Minute Journal and it has interesting quotes at the top, which I sometimes read, but I really normally go right to the three things I’m grateful for. And through all the research I’ve done on gratitude and how great it is, don’t write the same thing, be very specific as possible and make it always different. And then you’ll be appreciating a lot of different things. There’s three lines, you have three lines of what you’re grateful for. And then it says, “What are three things that would make today great?” You have to sit there and instead of being stressed by the latest New York Times headline or getting some stressful email or looking at social media, I think what is my day? How would I like it to unfold? What do I hope to get done? What connection points do I hope to make? It’s this really wonderful little moment of thinking about my day and that’s it. I’ve had my cup of coffee. I haven’t looked at my phone. I have set the tone for my day instead of the screens. And it’s incredible how much I look forward to it, how it kind of balances me.

A black Sharpie ($7, 2ct)
I’m a filmmaker and when I studied film, when I was learning filmmaking at NYU, we made films on celluloid and the only ink that would stay on was a Sharpie. It really was a filmmaker pen, but I’ve just found now that we’ve all moved to digital, I just love this. I love writing in a Sharpie and even during my day, I have this big sketch pad and each day, even though I have my Google Calendar and even though I have it on my phone, I write out my schedule for the day. Just whatever appointments I might have. And then I list the three to five things I have to get done that day, no matter what. And I write it all in Sharpie and sometimes it makes me commit to that thing. And it’s so big and bold and dark and I just love it. I love the smell. I love writing with it. I love the way it absorbs on this thick sketchpad. I just love a black Sharpie.

Glue Gun
We have in our home what we call the art closet. It has all of our things you could create anything with, but I’ll tell you that glue gun is used more than anything. It can build anything. In the last week, Ken and our daughter Blooma, they glued together this fairy house for outside our house for the little kids in our neighborhood. I glued a stone to a ring back on. I glued the side of this wooden thing that wasn’t sticking. You can do anything with a glue gun.

About 24/6:
Do you wish you had more time to do what you love, think deeply, and focus on the people and things that matter most? By giving up screens one day a week for over a decade, Internet pioneer and renowned filmmaker Tiffany Shlain and her family have gained more time, productivity, connection, and presence. Shlain takes us on a thought-provoking and entertaining journey through time and technology, introducing a strategy for flourishing in our 24/7 world. Drawn from the ancient ritual of Shabbat, living 24/6 can work for anyone from any background. With humor and wisdom, Shlain shares her story, offers lessons she has learned, and provides a blueprint for how to do it yourself. ”Bolstered with fascinating and germane facts about neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and the history of the concept of a day of rest” (Publishers Weekly)24/6 makes the case for incorporating this weekly reset into our 24/7 lives, issuing a call to rebalance ourselves and our society.


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