#57 When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything
Lessons from Tim Ferriss, Prof Akin, Alexey Guzey and the last dance
Every company has a small list of Golden Rituals. A few criteria:
(1) They are named.
(2) Every employee knows them by their first Friday.
(3) They are templated.
He goes on to ask “How do you turn a value, a principle, an idea into a concrete form that can be exemplified and practiced regularly?”
Yes, that’s a role of a golden ritual.
I’ve worked in teams where we were able to build some such rituals. They were/are living testimonies to some of the values we stood up for.
I’m working hard to recreate them and build some new ones in my new team. I will tell you more when I am successful to term them as golden rituals, as defined above. If you know of any rituals that you have built and admire, do share. It will be really interesting to exchange notes on how to build & sustain them amidst all that’s happening.
And with that, let’s get to today’s finds.
1. Akin’s law of Spacecraft design
In the words of Prof. Dave Akin - “I've been involved in spacecraft and space systems design and development for my entire career, including teaching the senior-level capstone spacecraft design course, for ten years at MIT and now at the University of Maryland for more than three decades. These are some bits of wisdom that I have gleaned during that time, some by picking up on the experience of others, but mostly by screwing up myself. I originally wrote these up and handed them out to my senior design class, as a strong hint on how best to survive my design experience.”
That’s that for the intros and here’s jumping straight to the Akin’s law of spacecraft design.
My favorite ones:
3. Design is an iterative process. The necessary number of iterations is one more than the number you have currently done. This is true at any point in time.
10. When in doubt, estimate. In an emergency, guess. But be sure to go back and clean up the mess when the real numbers come along.
20. A bad design with a good presentation is doomed eventually. A good design with a bad presentation is doomed immediately.
31. (Mo's Law of Evolutionary Development) You can't get to the moon by climbing successively taller trees.
35. (de Saint-Exupery's Law of Design) A designer knows that they have achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
2. Testing the impossible
Tim Ferriss talks about a chapter from his book “Tools of Titans” -
“Reality is largely negotiable.
If you stress-test the boundaries and experiment with the “impossibles,” you’ll quickly discover that most limitations are a fragile collection of socially reinforced rules you can choose to break at any time.
What follows are 17 questions that have dramatically changed my life.”
These questions stood out for me.
If I could only work 2 hours per week on my business, what would I do?
What if I could only subtract to solve problems?
What might I put in place to allow me to go off the grid for 4 to 8 weeks, with no phone or email?
Am I hunting antelope or field mice?
3. Twitter threads
So I got super fed up with all the listicles that were hogging my twitter feed and brute force filtered them out. And it felt good! My feed is much cleaner now and I am able to discover better content. Here’re three amazing finds from this place.
Chana Messinger’s suggestions on things you can say to people in ten seconds that sometimes produce insanely outsized effects.
Wes Kao’s advice on how to on-board yourself when starting a new job
Julie Zhuo’s advice on two completely different ways to influence someone on a decision
4. How to make friends over the internet
Alexey Guzey shares simple tips on how to make friends over the internet. Here’re two key lessons.:
90% of meeting people is reaching out, so, unless you’re already very well-known, most of your network building will consist of actively initiating conversations
Any platform that allows you to send private messages to people is a platform where you can make friends.
I’m not really good at this, so making a mental note of things to do in coming days.
5. The Last Dance
I’m super late to the party, but I finally did it. I started and completed The Last Dance. A docu-series spanning 10 episodes and run time of almost 9 hours. I know nothing of the game of basketball, have never played or watched it even the slightest bit. But this series was enjoyable. What a character and what a team!
Here’s some of MJ’s words that stuck out to me.
“If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would never want to be considered a role model. It’s like a game that’s stacked against me. You know, there’s no way I can win.”
“Winning has a price, and leadership has a price. So I pulled people on when they didn’t want to be pulled and I challenged people when they didn’t want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates came after me. They didn’t endure the things that I endured.”
“You ask all my teammates, the one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn’t fucking do.”
6. Write to excite
It’s not very often you come across a beautiful presentation (yes a ppt or google sheet) that makes you pause and pay your attention. In “Write to excite”, Wolff Olins promises it to be a deck full of emotions, references and exercises to get you out of your head and writing with feeling. And he does that in style! Some really good examples from brands that you & I know.
And this masterpiece from Gary Provost at the end is a surprise bonus.
Ref: David Perell’s tweet.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Instagram: @wakuneco makes cat portraits from wool felt. Absolutely stunning!
Interesting reads: The adorable love story behind Wikipedia's 'high five' photos (I love such wild sheep chases), The Weird World of Gigantic Roadside Attractions (you love them, you hate them, but you cannot miss them)
Visual story: A Messy Table, a Map of the World - you’ve to see this to experience it!
Before we sign off, here’s a simple life lesson from the game of Tetris (Tobi & his love for video games!).
That's all for this week, folks!
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