#32 Reading can seriously damage your ignorance
On work from margins, professionals vs amateurs, companies on a mission & unfinished dreams
Seth Godin shared a brilliant post titled “Perhaps it’s worth throwing it out today” last week. It’s an insightful read, and relevant for all of us. I could not stop myself from sharing it as-is (highlights are mine).
If you’re considering putting an unmarked key into a drawer filled with keys, you’re better off simply throwing it out instead.
Not only won’t you be able to find that unmarked key when you need it, but you’ve just made it more difficult to sort the other keys as well.
We hesitate to embrace or announce failure right now, preferring to put it off to some indeterminate date in the future. But postponing the announcement isn’t the same as not failing. It simply makes things worse later. And being clear about the failure we’re about to cause someday makes it more likely we’ll do the work to avoid it.
If you don’t have time to do it right, you’re unlikely to have time to do it over.
No sense wasting tomorrow as well.
Indeed, a great lesson captured in very few words. But that’s not the only learning for today, I’m really pumped up for the finds of last week. Brace yourselves, a lot of good content is on its way.
In “The power of marginal”, Paul Graham starts with an observation - “great new things often come from the margins, and yet the people who discover them are looked down on by everyone, including themselves.”. He goes at length exploring the behind the scene - the internal structure. And answer the questions - “Why do great ideas come from the margins? What kind of ideas? And is there anything we can do to encourage the process?”
Written in 2005, this is a timeless classic. I’ve read it many times already and had a few new “aha moments” every time I read. Here’re a few of those insightful nuggets to entice you...
On the disadvantages of insider projects - the selection of the wrong kind of people, the excessive scope, the inability to take risks, the need to seem serious, the weight of expectations, the power of vested interests, the undiscerning audience, and perhaps most dangerous, the tendency of such work to become a duty rather than a pleasure.
On tests to distinguish between insiders and outsiders - Tests are least hackable when there are consistent standards for quality, and the people running the test really care about its integrity.
On tests becoming anti-tests - If it's corrupt enough, a test becomes an anti-test, filtering out the people it should select by making them to do things only the wrong people would do.
The essay goes on to elaborate further on some dimensions - risk, delegation, focus, less, responsibility, audience, hacking and inappropriate. Each of these sections is a highly condensed piece of wisdom. I highly recommend giving this one a good read (or two).
I must warn, this one is a really long read. It will cost you almost 30 minutes of your time to read & much more to absorb it properly. But trust me when I say this - you’re going to come back to get more out of this post.
Mario Gabriele has done a phenomenal brief covering Level’s journey. For the uninitiated, Level offers a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) based solution to improve metabolic health. If you’re active on Twitter, you might recall the cyborg play from Ultrahuman. Something like that. In fact, Ultrahuman has borrowed some elements of Level's playbook very well.
Some companies have radical org principles and cultural tenets. I remember Netflix’s example as narrated in the book ‘No Rules Rules’. Level joins that list, clearly. A place like Level is not meant for everyone. But for those who can strive in such an environment, it can be the ultimate destination for creating unimaginable. Level's obsession for product experience, async communication, deep work and documentation is worth emulating.
Clearly, it is an outcome of Sam Corcos’ approach to work and life. I'm going to dig more into his ideas & borrow some of them in my work in the coming days. For those of you who are keen to know more, here is the link to his recent popular post for first round review.
“Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance” uses the game of Tennis to highlight the difference between the professionals and the amateurs. Here’s the core argument from the author:
The amateur duffer seldom beats his opponent, but he beats himself all the time. The victor in this game of tennis gets a higher score than the opponent, but he gets that higher score because his opponent is losing even more points.
It goes on to highlight and connect to one of Charlie Munger’s most famous quotes - “It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”
A really good read from Farnam Street, made interesting in the way the author has connected dots between the world of tennis and investment.
I love Amul chocolates. Their dark chocolate variants are simply amazing. They have really cool packaging and their price points are quite reasonable as well. They should do much better if they improve their distribution & shelf presence.
This story traces the origin of Amul chocolate. And, it shares some perspective on why it is not ruling the Indian chocolate market today. If it interests you, there is a bit of history of the world of chocolates as well. It’s a story of a dream that we did not pursue sufficiently.
Image source: Twitter @Target80s
They might not have the market share. But, I'm confident they have a great share of the heart of their fans. Give them a try if you've not tasted Amul chocolates yet.
Some random goodness from the internet:
Twitter thread: Wes Kao shared 7 simple tips for effective writing. I commit most of the mistakes she has highlighted. Should fix these in my writing starting now.
Web: Teardown via CT scans. I just got my Airpods Pro. It’s fun to see what is inside those tiny pieces of magic.
Videos: A couple of visual treats built using the magic of physics, meticulous planning & a lot of curiosity - energy, engineering.
Longreads: If you’re up for some mystery & drama - Why milk crates are the perfect container, Story of death of Pope John Paul 1, The most amazing bowling story ever.
Before we sign off, here's a snapshot of a tweet worth saving.
That's all for this week, folks!
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