Self Development

#14: Tools for Better Thinking with Google Engineer Juvoni Beckford

Hosted by Josh Gonsalves
1 HR 43 MIN
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Episode Description

Josh and Juvoni talk about the bleeding edge of productivity and knowledge management tools and how to use these tools more effectively, ideas around combining multiple skills, better thinking & tools for thought, personal development ideas and habits, entrepreneurship and nocode tools, and discovering how systems in the world affect us during COVID-19.

About Juvoni Beckford:

Juvoni Beckford is Software Engineer at Google currently working on Google Maps, previously on Google Docs. He's a Community Builder & Writer in areas around Productivity, Personal Knowledge Management & Personal Development. He helps people explore ideas around combining multiple skills, better thinking & tools for thought, inner engineering healthy habits, and discovering how systems in the world affect us.

Connect with Juvoni on Twitter:

Join the Personal Development Nerds Facebook group:

PDNerds discord server:

Juvoni's Book Recommendations on his site:

Contact Juvoni at

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Stalk Josh on the Internet

  • Juvoni worked on the Google Docs team
  • Juvoni currently works on the Google Maps team
  • Google's internal search and apps for employees
  • Google Earth VR
  • Juvoni talks about Google's pivot during COVID-19
  • Juvoni's story about growing up in tough conditions in the Bronx
  • Starting out as a tool-user across natural objects before electrical technology
  • The White-belt to Black-belt progression of tool usage
  • Evernote as an example of the blackbelt progression
  • Notion
  • Saving and filtering different types of content from the internet
  • Thinking of yourself as less of a "note-taker" and more of a "thinker who uses note-taking to help with the thinking process"
  • Better tools for thought
  • Taking notes in multi-media forms (text, audio, photos, video notes)
  • Having multiple notebooks around the house to make it accessible wherever you are in your home
  • Physical vs. digital note-taking
  • Drafting emails and social media responses in Evernote so you don't get distracted by incoming emails
  • Notion is great with structured information
  • The PARA Method — organizing your work in projects, areas, resources and archives.
  • Database normalization — reducing duplication across databases and making sure your tables don't get too wide or too deep
  • Collaborating / brain-syncing
  • Solo-user vs. collaborator tools
  • Tiago Forte's Building a Second Brain Course
  • A level beyond black-belt — the red belt
  • Red belt = building the tool with software development skills
  • Nocode tools = abstractions around code
  • Josh learned the database model through Webflow's CMS databases
  • Juvoni recommends looking into introductory computer science courses to learn more about databases
  • Database Schema Design to learn more about data management, fields, properties and attributes
  • The theatre metaphor for understanding databases
  • Connecting tools
  • Juvoni sees picking a a productivity app like dating
  • Connecting Nocode tools to build an MVP, find product-market fit, and lower the barrier to entry
  • The downsides to Nocode tools
  • The categories of Nocode projects currently being launched
  • CRUD apps — Create, read, update, delete
  • Expontential growth in Software as a Serivce (SaaS) apps
  • The Millionaire Fastlane book by MJ Demarco
  • Mind Meld episode with James Jani
  • Being competitive by building a portfolio of products
  • Startup School by Y Combinator
  • Juvoni was able to get into college because of the [HEOP program]( Higher Education Opportunity Program,as African Americans and Hispanics.) that funded his schooling
  • Juvoni worked at S&P on Wall St.
  • Juvoni runs a Burning Man camp
  • Junvoni runs a Personal Development community called PD Nerds
  • Juvoni is a facilitator for a software engineering mastermind called Dev Color
  • Juvoni's website and blog
  • How Juvoni uses his software tools:
  • Notion to organize his projects
  • Roam Research to organize and connect sporadic thoughts
  • Evernote to capture written notes and emails
  • Pocket to save articles to read later and highlight
  • RescueTime to track his time online
  • TickTick to manage his tasks
  • The Hedgehog and the Fox fable
  • The paradigm shift during COVID that accelerated digital technology
  • Juvoni predicts the world will have another big Great Depression before the end of the year
  • The Stock Market being its own game with its own rules
  • Juvoni says you cannot use the economy to predict how the stock market will move
  • Juvoni categorizes himself as a rational optimist
  • Juvoni predicts a few key areas in the world that will be accelerated in the next 5-10 years
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a spiritual opportunity to people at home
  • Mindvalley
  • Daily journaling practice
  • Empathy Journal — writing about other peoples' stories to train yourself to become a better listener
  • Morning Pages
  • The Artists Way book
  • Daylio app for mood tracking
  • Micro-journaling
  • Personal annual performance review / audit where Juvoni asks himself: What went well, what didn't go well, what am I working on improving, what am I reducing or doing less of, and what am I working towards?
  • Juvoni goes through Google Photos and picks two photos per month that describes the month
  • To work on his vulnerablity, Juvoni ended up sharing his journal entries publicly on his blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Juvoni describes his experience going through depression in 2016
  • Juvoni binged the Berserk Manga during his depression
  • Juvoni share his wisdom on how to navigate depression and find the sunshine among the clouds
  • Personal Development Nerds Facebook group
  • We talk about the Self-Development Culture and Industry
  • Tim Ferriss
  • Tony Robbins
  • Juvoni's approach to personal development
  • Stoic Philosophy (Stoicism)
  • Zen Buddhism
  • Mindfulness
  • Zettelkasten Method of Note-taking
  • How to Take Smarter Notes book
  • Evergreen Notes
  • Check out Juvoni on Twitter to see who he follows
  • Hacker News
  • Community-building tools will be the next big frontier
  • The Future is Faster Than You Think book
  • Bold and Abundance books

Thanks for coming this far! if you're reading this, it is no accident. The universe brought you to this corner of the internet for a reason, and you're on the right track. I already know that you're an amazing person and I can't wait to connect with you!

— Josh

Episode Transcript

Josh Gonsalves
Mind Meld Podcast Host

Hi, I'm Josh Gonsalves, the host and producer of Mind Meld. I'm also a Canadian Academy Award-nominated director and Co-founder of Contraverse, an immersive media company. I'm a multi-media experience designer living and working in Toronto, operating at the intersection of design and exponential technologies to develop solutions that change the world for the better.

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