Paying attention is important. Unfortunately there is a lot of junk out there. We need to discern signal from noise. Noise is stuff that looks important but actually isn't. Signal may or may not look important but it is important. Social media and the news have surrounded us with constant noise. Little of what is said on a day-to-day basis actually matters. One's judgement as it relates to what they pay attention to can make the difference between a gold and fool's gold.

What is important to listen to and read are the things that don't change. This is the Lindy Effect. Focus on information that has remained relevant for thousands of years. Learn skills that have been relevant for thousands of years. Sales is a great example of a skill that will never go away. You're selling yourself whether you're in a job interview or trying to please a cute girl.

In this sense you're better off learning the fundamentals of the areas you operate in, rather than whatever the latest info is. The only exception to this may be tech since it's so new and things get outdated rapidly.

An easy way to test signal vs. noise is to watch the stock market. Each day the market will go up and down slightly, with variations in volatility. If you pay attention to it every day you will become emotional seeing the prices go up and down and you get focused in on the prices. But day-to-day prices don't mean anything. Look at it from a faraway point of view. What trends are effecting the market on a quarterly or yearly basis? What might be happening now or in the near future that will impact overall stock prices? Information like that is a signal, it has a concrete impact on prices.

To bring it back to books, don't read whatever is on the NYT bestseller. 99% of books on there are noise. They will be irrelevant in a year or two since what they talk about is only applicable to this time period. That is noise. What the ancients wrote 2000 years ago on human behavior is still relevant. That is signal.

Think back on your life. What are the greatest or worse memories you've had? Are they the day-to-day of regular life or some tragic event? The day-to-day represents noise, the outlier event represents signal. Chances are an outlier event has impacted you more than the noise.

Stay aware of what you're doing, what you're watching, and how you're living. Pay attention to signal instead of noise. Look at what truly matters.