#70 A world of abundance creates a poverty of focus
Learning around PMF, money, books & high performers
In “focus to win” Shane Parrish briefly touches upon a talk where John Ive describes what focus meant to Steve Jobs. This quote summarizes it well.
What focus means is saying no to something that you, with every bone in your body, you think is a phenomenal idea and you wake up thinking about it, but you say no to it because you’re focusing on something else.
It was so much about the sacrifice that one did, ‘no’ that one had to say that defined the intensity of focus. It’s always fascinating to read more about Jobs & Ive. If you come across anything interesting, pass it on.
And with that, let’s get to today’s finds.
1. Socratic approach to PMF
Here’s how the author Prasanna K summarized his post - “A socratic approach to product-market fit”
TL;DR: Founder-market fit, Problem-value fit, Product-solution fit, Market-scale fit are steps on the way to complete Product-Market-Fit. Keep yourself honest on the path by finding answers to the questions that define each step.
You don’t need to worry about the jargons, he has done a fairly good job in explaining each one of them. He shares a set of questions to evaluate each of these phases. Why does he call this approach Socratic? Here’s the gist:
The most important point to note, as you read the questions below, is that the journey to find these answers is important. It’s not about the specifics of the answers! It’s about being honest with yourself, searching for these answers from your customers, partners, and then formulating them in a way that is a logical, coherent whole that can be communicated succinctly with your team and stakeholders.
While the post is written with B2B startups in mind, the framework can be tweaked easily for consumer products as well. I’m bookmarking for reverting again every time I start working on a new problem or product.
2. How money works
Paras Chopra’s “How money works” is a summary of the book “What Has Government Done To Our Money.” It’s an excellent read. This is the kind of content I wish we give our youngsters (and even adults) to understand the topic of currency, banks, central banks & all things related. In about 111 tweet sized parts, he has done a phenomenal job in explaining the topic in width & some good depth.
I highly recommend this and urge you to share it with whoever you think needs a 101 on currency & banks.
3. Hire people who give a shit
Alexandr Wang has shared some really thought-provoking posts in his newsletter. This one really stood out for me - Hire people who give a shit.
Wang talks about two critical things he looks for in his screening process. In his words:
I mainly screen for one key thing: giving a shit. To be more specific, there’s actually two things to screen for:
they give a shit about Scale, and
they give a shit about their work in general.
He goes on to explain his approach and it makes 100% sense. I highly recommend it to those who are building teams.
Over the last few years, I have added checking for ‘passion’ as one of the key things in the screening process. If one has a passion and puts in hard work to chase it, the candidate stays much longer in my hiring process. It’s been amazing to stay around such people and work with them no matter the problem statement.
4. Learning from Reid Hoffman
Ben Casnocha worked as Chief of Staff for Reid Hoffman. He had a ring side view of all the things Reid got involved in as well as collaborated closely with him in helping run the show. He wrote a long post listing out the key lessons from this stint. Here are my 3 takeaways from the list:
Reason is the steering wheel. Emotion is the gas pedal.
Trade up on trust even if it means you trade down on competency.
The people around you change you in myriad unconscious ways
It’s a great read for two reasons:
The lessons are highly relevant for a lot of us. They contain practical advice and are useful for any operator.
While listing these lessons, he has shared stories from their work. They surface snippets of Reid’s thinking & way of working. I’ve read his books, and have listened to a bunch of podcasts. But, the stories here are more personal and connecting.
5. Non-obvious traits of high performers
Sahil Bloom has built an incredible followership on the back of his writing. He has done some really good posts listing multiple ideas or insights on a specific theme. This one around “non-obvious traits of high performers” is one of those. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and so sharing a couple of snippets for you to check out.
Here’s how he defines a high performer: High Performer (noun): A person who consistently executes their craft at a top-1% level over an extended period of time.
Here are my top 3 key takeaways:
Focus on Questions (Not Answers)
Expert Advice Filters: Advice is often a double-edged sword…Winners have learned how to filter and selectively implement advice..
Enjoy Being Wrong
I highly recommend subscribing to his newsletter.
“Thus we never see the true state of our condition, till it is illustrated to us by its contraries; nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it.”
I found the above quote from Danial Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” in a book that we had got for our 3yo. Clearly, the message was not for the kids but for us parents who will be reading them aloud to their lil ones.
We’ve been visiting Hippocampus for 5-6 months now and getting our kids to pick new books to read. It’s been a really fun activity. Our kids are enjoying reading a lot more than what they did earlier. They are asking for more books.I did not do a lot of reading when I was their age, nor did I have access to the kind of books we are seeing now. The variety of books in their collection is amazing. Each visit is as much fun for me as it is for the kids. The joy of finding a fun story that is beautifully illustrated is unmatchable!
Here’s a bunch of books that we discovered during these trips. Highly recommended if you’ve a kid around you.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Yulia Brodskaya makes beautiful paintings ‘with paper’ instead of 'on it'.
Ronny Tertnes creates stunning Liquid Sculptures by dripping water and time the collisions using high speed photography with timers and speedlites.
Story of Sameer Chopra who interviewed remotely and got a job offer from Microsoft without telling his employers he was blind.
Twitter thread about early products from some well known companies. Almost all of them are playing a different game altogether now.
Yo-Yo Ma and Anna Clyne’s calming sound for The Birdsong Project. Hear it, watch it.
Clair de lune (Debussy) with a gravity-defying performance. 4:26 minutes of pure bliss both to ears and eyes. Any guess on where I found the recommendation for this one? Comment and all correct guesses will get a surprise. :)
Photographs of Roadside America and then some more. A beautiful effort in preserving images of what would otherwise be lost to time.
Before we sign off, here’s a quick reason for staying curious and always learning.
That's all for this week, folks!
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