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#48 There’s no rush to get started early on a never-ending task
Speed & velocity, career advice, titles and more inputs for a great team & you
Saying no is a tough act.
We're culturally tuned and professionally trained to say yes more often than we should. We are warned of the repercussions if we don't show the 'courtesy' and 'good manners' of helping everyone.
But does it always help?
“Understanding Speed and Velocity: Saying “NO” to the Non-Essential” by Shane Parrish offers great advice on how to create more impact. He warns, doing more isn’t always moving you ahead. When you’re at work, you need to know what you need to do to keep your job. You need to know the table stakes. Then you need to distinguish between tasks that offer a lot of speed and those that offer velocity.
Accepting that not all obligations are good is a life changing discovery. We don't need to finish all the books we started, we can skip podcasts or movies midway if they are not fun. Once you get to be ok with this approach, your life will be different. You will not just save time, you will start putting it to good use as well.
So if you feel like skipping anything today in this newsletter, please do so without any guilt. Your time and attention is precious. Please put it to the best use.
Let's get started.
I spent the last 5 years in a setup where we did not give any titles to anyone. We were owners for specific charters and that's it. We encouraged everyone to expand, change or even reduce charters often.
It was not an easy setup to operate in. In general, incoming talent has a natural attraction to fancy titles. Offer discussions were difficult sometimes when we did not have fancy titles to give. External partners always wanted signals to suggest if I was the right authority for a particular call. Internally as well, it took effort to operate well in the world devoid of hierarchy & titles. How do you identify who to listen to and who to tell?
Gokul Rajaram suggests CEOs should try & delay “titles” as much as possible; ideally, forever. He agrees that titles can serve some specific benefits. He is concerned about how titles lead to several challenges that lead to suboptimal behaviours and undermine the culture and values of a company.
He then goes on to propose a system that solves most of these. His proposal is based on how they have done it in Square and is worth a consideration.
I'm in the early stage of a startup myself, and trying to navigate these challenges. Time for some new experiments, I say!
Moxie Marlinspike wrote this essay almost a decade ago. Its title - “Career Advice” - is self-explanatory. But, his advice is not something you will hear too often or from most 'career coaches' you will talk to. Here's a glimpse of some of his ideas:
1. You are your job. Your job will change you.
2. To know the real impact of a job, observe the older people working there. Do not think that you will be substantially different. Look carefully at how they spend their time at work and outside of work, because this is also almost certainly how your life will look.
3. Be careful not to discover a career before you’ve discovered yourself.
4. There’s no rush to get started early on a never-ending task.
He has shared good as well in this essay in case these ideas sound too absurd to you.
I found this post in GV Ravi Shankar's “Connecting the Dots” newsletter. He writes insightful commentary on startups and the business world. You can subscribe to him here.
Eponymous Laws is a series of posts on the same theme and more. It’s a super fun read compiling a comprehensive list of eponymous laws/effects/principles.
Why do these tick? According to the author - they are often funny (and memorable because of it), but many of them speak to very fundamental features of our psychology and the human condition more generally.
1. The Law of Exclamation – “The more exclamation points used in an email (or other posting), the more likely it is a complete lie. This is also true for excessive capital letters.”
2. Cunningham’s Law – “The best way to get a correct answer to a posed question is to post the wrong answer and wait for someone to correct you.”
3. Streisand Effect – “The phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.”
4. Brandolini’s Law - "The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than to produce it."
5. The Law of Go FAQ Yourself – “People will repeat a question answered in a given forum’s FAQ at least once a week.”
It's been some time since I covered 99% invisible. My commute to work used to be the most effective time for listening to Podcasts. I lost that slot in the WFH times. Now that my office has reopened and Bangalore traffic has come back to the old normal, I am back to listening to my favourite podcasts as well.
Here's two amazing episodes that I heard recently:
1. Art imitates art: Story of Dafen village in China's Shenzhen province. It’s an area known for mass-producing copies of the most celebrated works of Western art, all painted quickly and by hand. You will be mind-blown how art is mass produced.
2. Rock paper scissors bus: Two brilliant stories in one episode. Using rock paper scissors for a $20 million deal and a SFT bus operator's expert commentary on the famous bus scene from Shang-Chi.
I love the diversity of topics this podcast covers!
Some random goodness from the internet:
Twitter: A delightful thread answering what is a fact that sounds like a shitpost but is 100 percent real? Some weird, some fun trivia.
Fun read: Dev Dad Jokes (may not work for all, but then iykyk)
Short reads: Should a self-driving car kill the baby or the grandma? (using a version of “trolley problem” to reveal how much ethics diverge across cultures), Grand unified theory of buying stuff (“object -> accessories -> entertainment” is not a guarantee), Why do East Africans dominate long distance running events? (an amazing ‘when life throws you a lemon’ story)
Tools: Remove unwanted things from images in seconds using Magic Eraser. It’s browser based and free to use. You can download only a low-res output, but the developer has promised to add high-res downloads soon.
Games: Fast Flood - A fun puzzle game. You have to make all the squares the same colour in 16 moves or less. You can try 3 times per day to solve the puzzle. My best score is 19 after a week or so of effort. Is anyone doing better?
Before we sign off, here's a lesson worth remembering.
That's all for this week, folks!
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