#82 Complexity is like energy. It cannot be created or destroyed, only moved somewhere else.
Lessons from Paul Graham, FS blog, Adrian Hon & more
I took a small break this week and went to Goa for a long awaited vacation. There were a lot of new things - beautiful villa stay, self-drive car, new restaurants & a museum. But the most exciting of them was to just chill doing things that I really enjoyed - kids playing around freely, our own (temp) pets, time in the swimming pool, reading a book. These are small joys, but were highly energizing.
I missed taking such short breaks this year. That’s a mistake. While these short trips don’t replace the benefit & joy of a long vacation, they do provide a well timed refuel option. Hoping to become regular at this in the coming months.
How do you plan your vacation & other small breaks? Any good approaches that have worked for you? I would love to know and try some new ideas.
And with that, let’s get going to today’s post.
1. How not to die
“How not to die” by Paul Graham summarizes a talk he gave in 2007. He was addressing the YC batch, warning them of some patterns to watch out for. There are some simple (yet not so intuitive) tips as well. I’ve captured some of the most useful snippets below:
About startup deaths… We don't know exactly what happens when they die, because they generally don't die loudly and heroically. Mostly they crawl off somewhere and die.
Early signal of startup death… For us the main indication of impending doom is when we don't hear from you. When we haven't heard from, or about, a startup for a couple months, that's a bad sign. If we send them an email asking what's up, and they don't reply, that's a really bad sign. So far that is a 100% accurate predictor of death.
Cause of startup death… the underlying cause is usually that they've become demoralized.
His tip.. Startups rarely die in mid keystroke. So keep typing!
Traps to avoid… The number one thing not to do is other things. If you find yourself saying a sentence that ends with "but we're going to keep working on the startup," you are in big trouble.
A startup is so hard that working on it can't be preceded by "but."
These inputs are applicable to every startup, no matter the season. I see the signals as well as suggestions are equally applicable to those “cool new ideas” and “projects” we start in our teams every now and then. Fairly actionable ways to keep an eye on the health of any project.
(via Read something great)
2. Conservation of complexity
“Why life can’t be simpler” from FS Blog is a great read on the topic of design and how simplicity comes in many forms (and trade-offs). It references Tesler's law of the conservation of complexity. Here’s the snapshot to understand the same.
The post further goes on sharing lessons from conservation of complexity. Some useful ideas to think about when you’re thinking about building any product or service.
3. On gamification
Gamification is an overused product solution today. Some products like Peloton, Duo Lingo etc claim to solve a real use-case using their badges & streaks. For most others, gamification is just a poorly designed feature bloat of levels, badges, challenges & tonnes of cute push notifications.
This conversation between Adrian Hon & Anne Helen Petersen touches some unspoken dark patterns in the way gamification has been used in many products around us. Some good food to help think differently on user engagement & driving user behavior.
In “Attention”, Morgan Housel shares non-clickbaity tips for gaining and maintaining someone’s attention. This snippet is the highlight of the post for me. I can go back and see this happening in my favorite bloggers.
Transform gut feelings into words, explaining something people intuitively know is true but haven’t yet put into words. A new way of explaining something the reader already knows can be more powerful than teaching something new, because it generates an “ah-ha” moment without asking them to strain their brains too hard.
5. Standup up comedy
The Pudding did a beautiful post titled “Structure of stand-up comedy”. It decodes Ali Wong’s standup special Baby Cobra to decode the magic in her style.
You may not have seen this special show (or her other work). Still this post will make a lot of sense and give you a sense of deja vu with some of your favorite artist’s (or performer) work.
Here’s the magic recipe, in case you want to skip all the fun.
You get the same feeling when reaching the end of a great Seinfeld episode or any multi-plot story—the delight in seeing all the plotlines converge into one (and realizing that the storyteller was crafting a deeper idea all along)
6. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Are you a parent of a toddler or an assistant to a male CEO of a tech startup? (via Storythings)
Well-behaved bubbles often make history. (via Read something great)
The blind men, the elephant and the 3 data mistakes. (via Twitter)
A twitter thread recollecting trivia from the movie Swades. (via Twitter)
Jacob Collier creates some new kind of magic with his music and fan engagement - audience choir and 100000+ voices. (via Storythings)
David Squires covers the Qatar World Cup. (via Storythings)
Beautiful 3d model art by Piccopoly (via Instagram)
Today’s post title is from the FS Blog post on Conservation of complexity.
Before we sign off, here's a quick tip on how to buy gifts that are truly thoughtful (you can visit “an ode to that coffee friend” for some more tips).
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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