Discover more from Stay Curious
📚 Amplifying intelligence, Lenny’s newsletter, Business acumen, Power words
Ideas from Michael Covington, Lenny, Stoa blog, Patrick McKenzie and more
Hi and welcome to the post #124.
I am not a research-what-you-watching guy, so I had no clue that this series was based on a Japanese Manga. No wonder, those characters and world building are top class.
I want to try more of these. If you’ve to recommend just one TV or Print series to get started in the world of Manga, what’ll be your pick?
Here’s a quick glimpse to the lineup:
🤔 Write, Think, Learn
📰 Lessons from Lenny’s Newsletter
🪜 Evolution of Business Acumen
⚖️ 12 Power Words
🥕 Decoding Instacart IPO
💳 Credit card Debt collection
🖼️ Museum of Lost Memories
And much more…
Let’s get started.
1. Amplifying your Intelligence
Amplifying your intelligence requires how to
Write more clearly
Think more clearly
Learn more easily
And these are connected!
This is the central claim of Michael A. Covington's presentation titled “How to write more clearly, think more clearly, and learn complex material more easily”.
Sample his example on revising:
Draft: One of the best things you can do for yourself to improve your writing is to learn how to cut out words that are not necessary.
Edit 1: One of the best ways to improve your writing is to learn how to cut out words that are not necessary.
Edit 2: One of the best ways to improve your writing is to learn how to cut out unnecessary words/
Edit 3: One of the best ways to improve your writing is to learn how to cut out unnecessary words.
Edit 4: To improve your writing, learn how to cut out unnecessary words.
Final: To improve your writing, cut out unnecessary words.
If you can read only one thing today, let this be the one. These 125 slides are filled with beautifully articulated ideas on writing, thinking and learning. I wish I had found this earlier.
2. Lessons from building Lenny’s Newsletter
Lenny Rachitsky’s newsletter & podcast are one of the biggest success stories of the creator economy in the substack side of the world. He recently reached 5,00,000 subscribers milestone and wrote a small post covering ten lessons learned from building this newsletter.
Here are the three I would like to highlight:
3. Follow your energy
Writing consistently is a grind. Best-case scenario, you’ll be thinking, writing, and learning about this topic for years. To continue to do this work at a high caliber, you need to be genuinely curious about your topic area. Otherwise, you will create a job for yourself that you will hate.
6. Contribute something new to the conversation
Most writing is a rehashing of something that’s already been said, or a superficial pontification that people don’t need. What are you adding to the conversation? What new ideas, insights, and concepts are you contributing? This is what people want.
8. Get started by just getting started
Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” I write not to share a crystallized thought I have in my head, but instead to mold a rough idea into something that makes sense.
His lessons are not anything out of the ordinary, and that’s the brilliant part. It is just about the sheer hard work of delivering quality consistently and doing it to create value for the subscribers. That’s it!
3. Evolution in Business Acumen
Most people measure their career in wrong yardsticks - designation, size of their team, geography and what not. I have been lucky enough to work with mentors & in culture where I’ve understood how useless & misleading these approaches can be.
I found this essay on the Stoa blog very relatable. It talks of 4 stages that one goes through in his/her career as a business professional. Here are the stages that it talks about:
Thinking in Tasks
Thinking in Functions
Thinking in Strategy
Thinking in Culture & Change
It is easy to think of these as scope of the role as you grow in the ladder. I prefer to think about it in terms of mindset & the levers you use to create the desired impact.
4. 12 Power words
It’s brilliant when someone compares and contrasts things like this. It needs a lot of clarity & an uncanny ability to distill your insights beautifully.
I found it in STRAT_SCRAPS newsletter by Alex Morris.
Alex’s curation skill is a source of inspiration. It’s one of the best I’ve read - densely packed in great ideas, served in a beautiful way.
5. Decoding Instacart IPO
If you’ve not done your reading on the Instacart IPO, Alexandre's “Unpacking Instacart's IPO” is a good one to get your fix.
These three lessons stand out for me:
“On a long enough timeline, everyone sells ads.” When a platform business (e.g. a marketplace, a social network, a physical or digital store) reaches a sufficient scale, it can add advertising as a revenue stream to boost its revenues and more specifically its bottom-line as advertising is a high margin business model. Instacart has fully understood this mantra and generated $740m in advertising revenues in 2022 accounting for 29% of its total revenues.
Focusing on the hard things. Instacart’s core moat is to be a “unique translation layer between the digital world and the physical world” transforming a digital order on a mobile app into a real grocery bag delivered 2 hours later. It implies building the technology to connect to the retailers’ infrastructure and to empower shoppers with tooling to process orders.
Celebrating cents. Like DoorDash, Instacart has become a successful business because it obsessed over unit economics. In 2015, it was losing $14 in gross margin per order. Today, it makes $7 in gross margin per order.
Below is one more thing that’s worth highlighting.
Affordability to increase Instacart’s addressable market of North American consumers: Instacart started as a service mostly for affluent and digital savvy households. In recent years, it launched multiple initiatives to attract more price sensitive customer segments which is key because price is the main purchasing factor in grocery. It started to accept Electronic Benefits Transfers for people benefitting from a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It refreshed its membership program to offer more savings (e.g. no delivery fees on orders over $35, 5% credit back on pickup orders). It also added a Deal Tab on its app to showcase promotions from retailers and coupons from CPG brands.
6. Light reads & videos
Some interesting blogs & videos from not so usual topics of interest.
A Conversation with Wylie Dufresne by Timothy Cooper (via James Clear’s 3-2-1)
"Jean-Georges Vongerichten showed me the value in taking away, taking things off of a plate. He always talked about two, three, four elements on a plate. That's it. The more you put on the plate, the easier it is to hide. The more you take away, there's nowhere to hide—it has to be good."
Credit card debt collection by Patrick McKenzie (via Founding Fuel)
Most defaults are small. This fact drives everything about debt collection; it has to be done scalably, by the cheapest labor available, with a minimum of customization or thoughtful weighing of competing interests.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Fish doorbells! Historic sandwiches! 50 of the weirdest, most wonderful corners of the web – picked by an expert.
Museum of lost memories - Preserving and returning lost photos, videos, and more. This is one of the gems that I discovered from the list above.
There are “weather influencers” in India and globally now!
The quest to pick up the lost lifting stones of Ireland.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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