Discover more from Stay Curious
📚 Fundamental forces at scale, Exceptional talent, Meetings you hate, Mario’s mustache
Ideas from Michael Lopp, Wes Kao, Jason Cohen, Bill Gurley and more
Hi, this is post #129.
I binge watched Kaala Paani on Netflix this weekend. It’s hard to believe that this is a TVF product and the creators are the same folks who gave us “Panchayat”, “Kota Factory” and “Ye meri family”. Their storytelling is evolving and adding more flavors. Worth a watch!
Let’s take a quick look at today’s ideas:
🗓️ Meetings you hate
📜 Onboarding yourself
🐘 Fundamental forces at scale
🧠 Exceptional talent
🐸 Sum threshold effect
🍄 Marios’ mustache
And much more…
Let’s get started.
1. Meetings you hate
Whenever I feel burnt out at work, my calendar is able to give me the simplest answer - too many meetings. They mentally and physically drain me out - with no guarantee of a better work output.
When I read “the seven meetings you hate”, it instantly connected. I’ve been in all of those recently and longed to get out. In fact, some of them were initiated by me. :(
Now I’ve to find ways to kill most of these meetings from my world!
2. How to onboard yourself
New employee onboarding is as much the manager’s responsibility as the employees. And yes, HR may have an operational or administrative contribution to this, but that’s that.
I’ve experimented with a bunch of iteration of onboarding plans for my team members. Its core design follows some basic building blocks.
Get all the administrative hassle out of the way on day 1.
Build the context and reach a minimum required level of common understanding of the team's goals.
Build clarity on your immediate deliverables and what success looks like.
Have all relevant access - data, systems, tools, people.
Get to know relevant people, and be known to them. When you get to your deliverables, you should not be stuck waiting for leads and introductions.
Get to do your bit, taste success and contribute to the team’s success journey.
This follows you building your point of view, sharing & influencing the further decisions & roadmap with this. And then deliver. Rinse repeat.
Wes Kao’s “How to onboard yourself” shared some good pointers to improve this. She has written it from the point of view of the employee. You can forward it to the new folks who are joining your team for some good pointers. I loved the part about “Pick up on unspoken rules.” Most new employees struggle to fit in the new ‘culture’ and no deck on culture can prepare them to operate confidently. This may have some better answers for them.
3. The fundamental forces of scale
The fundamental forces of scale talks of forces make larger companies slower and more difficult to execute, but also more effective when harnessed and leveraged.
Jason Cohen talks of two fundamental challenges that every organization faces.
Rare things become common
Complexity beyond human comprehension
He, then, expands how these play in various different actions & events of an organization’s journey to different scales. His approach to outline the challenges & how they come into action is highly useful to think better.
Sample this part about communication.
Read this one as good food for your thoughts.
4. Omens of exceptional talent
Alexey Guzey suggests to take his post - Omens of exceptional talent - as more of a no-filter brainstorming exercise rather than a list of requirements or anything of that sort. He explains further.. It’s called “omens” for a reason & there’s a good chance I’m going to wake up tomorrow feeling embarrassed for half of it (unfortunately I’m terrible at interpreting omens and don’t know which half yet!).
If this qualification works for you, go ahead and check out the list.
A few noteworthy mentions…
drop everything and work non-stop on a single thing if decide on the right thing to do
exceptionally clear writing
fast when it matters, slow when it doesn’t
ask questions that make people they talk to smarter and more specific
delivered a ton of interesting projects that weren’t helpful for anything in particular (whether it’s writing, coding, leading or anything else)
use first principles when there are no priors & use priors when there are priors
5. Why didn’t they say No
John Cutler shared a list of reasons a team might knowingly commit to work they couldn’t feasibly get done. It’s aptly titled - Why didn’t they say no?
As he called out, this is not just specific to his workplace. I agree. The challenge is to acknowledge and act in spite of these when it is required.
A couple of them worth highlighting.
Lack of experience. Only after many years do you realize how much more you can get done when you do less at once. With experience, you know that starting something later can often be the best way to ensure success.
It's an organizational habit. Because everyone always says yes, nothing happens as expected, and the organization is caught in a perpetual act of denial.
6. Light reads & videos
Some interesting blogs & videos from not so usual topics of interest.
Bill Gurley’s 2,851 Miles talk covers an interesting perspective on regulatory intervention in business & technology expansion. You can watch it on youtube here. I found it in this super long twitter thread by Kevin G.
Sum-threshold attacks by LessWrong. How do you affect something far away, a lot, without anyone noticing?
Not for a light read, give it a shot if you’re up for some high quality storytelling. I got sucked in by this warning “Note: you can safely skip sections. It is also safe to skip the essay entirely, or to read the whole thing backwards if you like.” and by section “The frog's lawsuit.”
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Knife sharpness chart. Now you know something about your knives beyond “it works” or “it does not work”.
Why does Mario have a mustache? Now I know.
Milwaukee Public Library on Instagram. Crazy stuff. I wonder how an institution like a public library builds up the energy to do stuff like this. I find some posts as forced attempt to stay on trend, but still hats off!
What's special about this number? A math nerd’s trivia repository. Some cricket broadcasts use a similar approach to create cool stats for any situation.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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