#42 What a tragedy just to pass through and get nothing out of it
Movies, comics and some nice stories worth knowing
Seth Godin suggests inventing a new holiday. Why? He goes on to say this:
It’s a symbol, a marker, a chance for conversation. It can amplify culture, give you a chance to have a conversation and allow you and the people around you to focus on something for a short while.
And it might catch on. This is the way just about every widespread holiday came to be.
I loved this idea. But, I prefer to replace ‘holiday’ with ‘ritual’ there. Simple and lightweight. I’m also adding a bit of ‘how to’ to make it work more often.
Rituals are good examples of habits that can transcend a long distance & time. Rituals that last long, have the necessary “cue, act and reward” baked very well in them. They don't happen to become so, though. Passionate folks would have put in their heart to create and refine them over a long period. They kept at it, because they connected with something - the promise, the joy or maybe the process of creating something that can last long . For the rest of the folks, it may be a momentary distraction or a quick dose of fun. But, if they see it happen often enough, they might start to enjoy it and make it part of their life.
So pick up a ritual that excites you, keep at it as long as it gets you going (and a bit more). You will be surprised (and proud) when you look back.
As I wrote today's post, I realised that I've a new mix of offerings today, a little different from the usual stuff. Let me know if this worked for you.
I’ve been talking to some insurance folks on a couple of things. It has not been easy. I don't understand everything. I wanted to understand what I was getting into. The product in themselves, or the transactions are just too difficult to understand. Those conversations did not help much either. Folks on the other side seemed more focused on getting the things done. And this is not a bug, this seems to be the design. Tough game!
It was coincidental, I found this post from Tone Knob covering Lemonade insurance. Nick Parker takes examples from their communication to highlight how Lemonade stands out in the crowd. It's a tough act. You can not fake it with flowery and empathetic language. You have to build your product & culture around it. Communication, then, becomes the way to bring out the core of your product. Anyone building Lemonade in India?
For an impactful tone of voice, consistency is another key pillar. How do you take your tone of voice and brand persona to be consistent every time? You live the core of your brand in everything you do. A lot of it may not give you immediate ROIs, but will aid in the long term. Amongst the brands in India, Dunzo has done a good job on this front. This brief interview with their head of brand covers some inputs on how they do it. Good stuff all along.
I watched two movies this weekend.
Whiplash is based around a talented drummer, a ruthless teacher and the pursuit to become great (one of the great). Those practice sessions are intense, reminding more of competitive sports like setting than jazz music. No wonder this movie was Kobe’s favourite. Here’s one of the most memorable dialogues from the movie:
Terence Fletcher: There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”.
Terence Fletcher: Parker’s a young kid, pretty good on the sax. Gets up to play at a cutting session, and he f***s it up. And Jones nearly decapitates him for it. And he is laughed off stage. Cries himself to sleep that night, but the next morning, what does he do? He practices … And a year later, he goes back to the Reno and he steps up on that stage, and plays the best motherf***ing solo the world has ever heard. So, imagine if Jones had just said, “Well, that’s okay, Charlie … Good job.” And then Charlie thinks to himself, “Well, sh**, I did do a pretty good job.” End of story …
Andrew: But is there a line? You know, maybe you go too far, and you discourage the next Charlie Parker from ever becoming Charlie Parker?
Terence Fletcher: No, man, no. Because the next Charlie Parker would never be discouraged.
Rush is based on the intense rivalry between two F1 greats - James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Both the racers had a distinctive style, often at cross with each other. They both knew of their strengths and played to it very well. A good watch if you are into F1 and sports genre. Here’s a bit from the movie.
James Hunt: I feel responsible for what happened.
Niki Lauda: You are... but trust me: watching you win those races, while I was fighting for my life, you were equally responsible for getting me back in the car.
Niki Lauda: Happiness is your biggest enemy. It weakens you. Puts doubts in your mind. Suddenly you have something to lose!
I’m neither into drumming or racing, but I had my goosebump moments. I could not have asked for more. :)
I must admit, I’ve not read Isaac Asimov. Actually if I make a list I will end up adding a lot more notable authors & classics, so let’s not go there.
This Zen Pencil comic is my first glimpse of his work. And I am tempted to read more from him. If there is just one of his works that you’ve to recommend to me, what would that be? Comment or write to me.
Coming back to Zen pencil comics, it’s such an engaging form of storytelling. Here’s the snippet of Asimov’s work on which this comic is based.
“People think of education as something that they can finish. And what’s more, when they finish, it’s a rite of passage. You’re finished with school. You’re no more a child, and therefore anything that reminds you of school - reading books, having ideas, asking questions - that’s kid’s stuff. Now you’re an adult, you don’t do that sort of thing any more.
You have everybody looking forward to no longer learning, and you make them ashamed afterward of going back to learning. If you have a system of education using computers, then anyone, any age, can learn by himself, can continue to be interested. If you enjoy learning, there’s no reason why you should stop at a given age. People don’t stop things they enjoy doing just because they reach a certain age.
What’s exciting is the actual process of broadening yourself, of knowing there’s now a little extra facet of the universe you know about and can think about and can understand. It seems to me that when it’s time to die, there would be a certain pleasure in thinking that you had utilized your life well, learned as much as you could, gathered in as much as possible of the universe, and enjoyed it. There’s only this one universe and only this one lifetime to try to grasp it. And while it is inconceivable that anyone can grasp more than a tiny portion of it, at least you can do that much. What a tragedy just to pass through and get nothing out of it.”
It’s just over 250 words, but able to beautifully narrate the whole idea. The comic, on the other hand, takes just a few dozen frames and adds a lot more dimensions and relatability to it. I have seen my 7yo enjoy the books with visual elements a lot more. Now I know why!
By the way, if you’ve some time, do check the world, steve jobs, and ayn rand (well those were the first three that their random post feature recommended to me). Really enjoyable stuff.
For 4 days a week, Now I know shares an interesting story everyday. Friday is the day for a weekly summary plus some other recommendations. From bizarre trivia to stories of random acts of kindness - it gives a chance to see the world from a refreshing angle. And I must say, it is good. I have not missed a single story for over a year now!
Last week Dan shared a bunch of heart touching stories. Before I share the links, here's the snippet from his Friday post talking about the same stories.
This week, I shared two stories -- Wednesday's and Thursday's -- about ordinary people who found extraordinary ways to help others in their communities in need. The hero of Thursday's story isn't nearly as extraordinary as the one in Wednesday's, so it isn't surprising to me that only a small handful of you wrote back about that story. The Wednesday story, though, I was inundated. A dozen people wrote in to say this was their favorite Now I Know to date, a few people saying it even brought them to tears. I didn't mean to make anyone cry, but I do appreciate that it resonated!
And without further ado, here're the two stories that we are talking about. Just go for them, you will feel positive.
Some random goodness from the internet:
Youtube: You might have tried music & sounds for some relaxing time. Add to it some stunning visuals by Studio Ghibli, and you are up for a treat.
Twitter: Hire great people and get out of their way? This thread by Jean-Michel Lemieux suggests otherwise. If the former CTO/VPE of Shopify & Atlassian says so, you should at least give it a good read. (Thanks Swati for sharing this with me)
Newsletter: Subrahmanyam KVJ (Twitter: @SuB8u)’ s Curated Commons is a weekly newsletter and promises “No big analyses, bunch of good links on tech, biz, science, algorithmic future, Internet weirdness, & more - hand curated.” I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it every week.
Long reads: The Hare Krishnas of coal country (why do all such stories about these spiritual ‘movements’ have the wild wild country kind of vibe!), The bounce (Indian basketball, Punjabi giants and a Tamilian man on a mission)
Short reads: How to get your house tidy (efficiency lessons from waiting tables applied to bring order to your home)
Game: “Dino game” was a side project in one big browser product (Chrome). It came to life when there was “no internet”. What a feature to keep someone sane at that glitch! The developer has decided to branch it off on its own. You can play and compete against the whole world here (works only on chrome browser).
Before we sign off, here’s a tweet worth saving.
That's all for this week, folks!
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