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Tam's Jam (February 2021)

Tam's Jam is a monthly email series where I share new essays that I've published along with the best articles that I've found around (1) finding more meaning in your life and (2) building deep friendships with awesome people. Enjoy!

Tam Pham
Tam Pham
5 min read

Heyo! Tam here. 🙂


You might remember me from my books on how to network or how to land your dream internship. You may have listened to my old podcast, Outside of The Classroom, or found me from one of my blog posts on Medium.

Regardless of where we connected, I'm grateful to be chatting with you again and I genuinely hope you are doing well during this crazy pandemic. It's been 4 years since I sent my last email and I apologize for being away for so long.

The truth was that I felt very stagnant as a creator. I was writing about the same old things because that was all I really knew at 21 years old.

I loved helping people and telling stories but I thought I just lost the passion for writing. It wasn't until I came across a fantastic blog post called So You Want To Be A Writer? That’s Mistake #1 by Ryan Holiday, one of my favorite authors.

He writes,

"There are two types of writers, Schopenhauer once observed, those who write because they have something they have to say and those who write for the sake of writing.
If you’re young and you think you want to be a writer, chances are you are already in the second camp. And all the advice you’ll get from other people about writing only compounds this terrible impulse.
Write all the time, they’ll tell you. Write for your college newspaper. Get an MFA. Go to writer’s groups. Send query letters to agents.
What do they never say? Go do interesting things."

I realized that I have spent too much time writing and not enough time doing interesting things.

It was then when I made the tough decision to stop blogging and simply go live life.

Over the last four years, I lived as a digital nomad in places like Cape Town and Chiang Mai. I worked with my entrepreneurial heroes on amazing projects. I landed my dream job and moved from San Francisco to Toronto.

I quit my job to study chess for 7 months and beat a national master. I learned how to dance salsa and bachata. I learned how to freaking pole dance!

I faced my fears around dating and went out with someone new in a dozen cities around the world. I finally went to therapy to help me heal my body image and self-worth issues. I hired a life coach to help me find clarity in my career.

and so much more...

Ryan Holiday was right. He continues his piece,

"All these things gave me something to say. They gave me a perspective. They gave me a fucked up writing style that makes my voice unique. They gave me opinions that tend to piss people off."

In hindsight, I didn't need to be so dramatic and quit writing altogether. But I'm grateful that I did something because all of these experiences have made me a more knowledgeable, opinionated, and empathic human.

I feel like I have so much clarity on who I am, what I care for, and who I want to surround myself with. I'd love the opportunity to share stories and lessons that I've learned along the way with you.

If you're still reading... I'm introducing a new monthly email series called Tam's Jam where I share new essays along with the best articles that I've found around living a more meaningful and interesting life.

If any of this speaks to you, go ahead and read the first edition of Tam's Jam below. (Subscribe here if you haven't already)

Tam's Jam is an experiment so the topics may change. The frequency may change. But my hope is that every issue gives you new ideas or perspectives that will help you live life with more clarity and community. Enjoy! 😊

How to Have Deep and Meaningful Relationships When You Can't See Anyone In-Person

It really sucks to not be able to see friends and family in person. But surprisingly, the 2nd best option of seeing people remotely has given me a lot of joy.

Instead of feeling lonely and isolated, I surprisingly felt connected with my friends and even closer to my family.

I just published a new essay to share everything that I did to build community in 2020. This includes starting a workout group, forming a relationship mastermind, and doing yoga with my mom. I would be curious to learn more about how you've connected with your loved ones too. 🙂

The Difference between Compassion and Empathy


I've had several friends and family members suffer big losses over the quarantine. I wanted to learn how to best support someone I loved and read the perfect book to help me with this that's titled, There is No Good Card For This by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell.

I'll share my book notes in the next issue of Tam's Jam. One section that I loved was when they explained the distinction between two words that I use frequently but never truly understood until now.

❤️  Compassion = Notice + Feel + Respond.

  • Notice: Pay attention to notice someone's pain or fear. It sounds simple because it is.
  • Feel: Have emotional resonance, which is when you feel enough to be concerned, but not enough to require getting your own support, too.
  • Respond: When you notice and feel for someone's pain, you respond with a supportive emotion or gesture. A compassionate response is something we do, not just think about.

❤️  Empathy = Compassion + Imagination

Empathy is the ability to extract the core experience of a situation we know and then to use that information to imagine and feel what it might be like to be in a situation that appears entirely different.

I share these two definitions first because the more we practice empathy, the easier it is to access feelings of compassion for people in situations that appear far different from our own.

We don't need to walk a mile in another person's shoes to realize when another human being needs support. We simply use our power to notice, feel, respond, and imagine what someone might be going through.

Best Video That I Discovered In 2020


OFF BOOK: The Improvised Musical - LIVE from The Curious Comedy Theater

I just discovered Zach Reino and Jessica Mckenna, the creators of an improvised musical podcast called Off Book. They take a word suggestion from the audience and create an entire musical production from scratch.

The content is super nerdy and simply brilliant. They masterfully weave every part of the show together and leave me speechless. I've watched this production several times already and have recommended it to friends who also fell in love. Highly recommend!

Thanks for reading. Got any feedback for me? I would also love to hear how you have been doing. Hit reply and say hi. 👋

Tam's Jam

Tam Pham Twitter

I'm a writer and bachata dancer currently bouncing around Latin America. Trying to make the most out of my one wild and precious life.

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