Discover more from Stay Curious
#90 Data can’t give you a purpose
Extreme questions, how to talk & give feedback
In “The power of indulging your weird, offbeat obsessions”, Clive Thompson pushes us to stay curious and obsessed. He argues on the back of the following two ideas:
It’s enormously valuable to simply follow your curiosity—and follow it for a really long time, even if it doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere in particular.
Surprisingly big breakthrough ideas come when you bridge two seemingly unconnected areas.
I agree with it 100%. There is only upside of being curious, and if you can afford to be obsessed about something that’s even better.
I’ve some good things to fuel our curious journey. Let’s jump right away.
1. Extreme questions
Jason Cohen starts his essay “Extreme questions to trigger new, better ideas” with a simple question - “How do you come up with fresh, transformative ideas?”
He is right to ask this question as most of our ‘brainstorming’ does not really wield life-changing ideas. He says:
We’re blinded by our daily work: No forest, all trees. It’s too easy to glom onto an idea that’s been knocking around for year, its importance undeservedly increased by the familiarity of repetition.
He shares specific prompts to push our thinking towards extremes in that specific dimension.
Sometimes the extreme is surprisingly appropriate. Unique business models emerge when at least one dimension is so extreme that it defies critics and competitors to even conceive of its possibility
I highly recommend reading and bookmarking this one. Each prompt & suggested questions can help break the monotony of our mundane incremental ideas and open our eyes to the possibilities that we are not able to imagine currently.
2. Manifesto for the data-informed
Julie Zhuo had recently shared the “Manifesto for the data-informed”. I could not ascertain details of this project, but found this manifesto highly relevant for anyone delving in data backed decision making. Their articulation on ambition, ways of working & how to build the right culture for ‘data-centric’ decision making is simple and challenges many wrong notions that plague our analytics & data functions.
This one has helped me shape my thought process better, for sure.
3. Core skills
In “Conversation skills essentials”, Tynan has done a good job in articulating 101 level ideas in a crisp manner. He has specific inputs, explains them in simple terms and gives memorable examples. This one is my biggest takeaway from this piece.
“When to give verbal feedback — and when to do it in writing” by Sarah Gershman and Casey Mank covers another critical challenge in the feedback process - how to deliver.
Together, these two pieces cover two of the most critical but often overlooked skills for any professional.
My book consumption has been completely through audiobooks in the last couple of months. Luckily, Audible has a fair share of good listens to keep me engaged and discovering new ideas. Here’re two recent picks.
“The cold start problem” by Andrew Chen is an ok read. It does a fair job describing the challenges in the early stages of a product journey. His core ideas & examples have been shared & discussed in some of his other writings and podcasts. If you’ve not followed him much, then the book can be a good curation around the core theme of ‘cold start problem’.
“Dead in the water” is a gripping tale from the world of international maritime shipping. Pirates, fraud, murder and much more - this one is a thriller of the best quality. Authors Kit Chellel, Matthew Campbell are business reporters & investigative journalists. Their insights into the inner workings of shipping industries are highly useful to make sense of the events. I’m yet to finish this book, but can vouch for it 100%.
5. Art & Entertainment
The style guide for America’s highways - Driving across America, you will encounter a wide variety of cultures, landscapes, people and animals. But the one consistent thing that will stay the same from Maine to California are the signs you pass on the highway. That is because America’s roads and highways have a big, fat style guide.
Philosophy bro explains complex topics & ideas from philosophy in simple ways as a bro will do for his bro. Pardon the language that will get colorful from time to time (it's a bro talking to another bro, afterall). But the explanations are fun & actually easier to understand than many other takes you would have read. Want to give it a try, check out “trolley problems”.
Call sheet - Unlike the status hierarchy of communication formats in most industries (like emails or memos with their carefully curated cc lists), the call sheet works because it’s democratic—everyone on set gets the same printout, regardless of whether you’re the A-list star or the person making the sandwiches. The call sheet has to work for everyone, as without it, no-one can do their job. In an industry predicated on money and egos, it’s a surprisingly egalitarian tool.
6. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
The popcorn scene - a crazy story about a movie based on a crazy story. Hats off to those folks who put so much effort into making something worth enjoying. (via Now I know)
Beeple's Mosiac - Worshiping perfection leads to stasis, but worshiping the clock leads to exploration, iteration, and ultimately, growth. (via Write of Passage)
Portable record players from Japan - we’ve come a long way today - our technology is much more involved, but our designs today are not as distinctive. (via Rest of World)
Why does Morgan Freeman wear two earrings? (via Storythings)
Middle school party games, revised for thirty five year olds - some hard realizations here. Served at McSweeney level humor.
The letters "ough" can be pronounced at least 8 different ways in English. How did that happen? (via @culturaltutor on Twitter)
And, here’s a random post from the past.
Title of today’s post is inspired from Julie Zhuo’s manifesto.
Before we sign off, here's a quick suggestion courtesy John Cutler.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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