Discover more from Stay Curious
📚 Removing the legend, Digital public goods, Loneliness economy, Beautiful products
+ Lessons from Lijjat Papad, La Sagrada Família, Kungfu Panda & how to exclaim!
Hi & welcome to the post #131.
Here’s what we’re going to cover today.
📈 Remove the legend
🎙️ Building beautiful products
🪙 Understanding digital public goods
💑 Loneliness economy
🌮 Lessons from Lijjat Papad
⛪ World's longest on-going construction project
And much more
Let’s get to it right away.
📈 Remove the Legend
I am a sucker for good storytelling. Teachers who can combine their lessons with a great story make an oversized impact. Remove the legend to become one is one such lesson for me.
Eugene Wei’s post talks of his time as the first analyst in Amazon’s strategic planning department and some magical thing called ‘analytics package’ that he was responsible for producing. He brings out interesting observations of why, what & how in the process to give some hints of Amazon & Bezos’ obsession for data & detail.
My interview loop at Amazon ended with an hour with the head of recruiting at the time, Ryan Sawyer. After having gone through a gauntlet of interviews that included almost all the senior executives, and including people like Jeff Bezos and Joy Covey, some of the most brilliant people I've ever met in my life, I thought perhaps the requisite HR interview would be a letup. But then Ryan asked me to explain the most complex thing I understood in a way he'd understand. It would be good preparation for my job.
Nowadays, companies hang flat screen TVs hanging on the walls, all them running 24/7 to display a variety of charts. Most everyone ignores them. The spirit is right, to be transparent all the time, but the understanding of human nature is not. We ignore things that are shown to us all the time. However, if once a month, a huge packet of charts dropped on your desk, with a cover letter summarizing the results, and if the CEO and your peers received the same package the same day, and that piece of work included charts on how your part of the business was running, you damn well paid attention, like any person turning to the index of a book on their company to see if they were mentioned. Ritual matters.
For all the painful memories that cling to the Analytics Package, I consider it one of the formative experiences of my career. In producing it, I felt the entire organism of our business laid bare before me, its complexity and inner working made legible.
But the post is not just about that. Eugene takes a turn to talk about a very peculiar element that powered these ‘analytics packages’ - line graphs. And then goes on to teach how to make this beautiful. He learnt from Tufte’s philosophy on data visualization and has showcased a lot of it in practice through his post.
A brilliant essay, I highly recommend reading this one.
🎙️ Building Beautiful Products with Katie Dill
Katie Dill has led design teams at Stripe, Airbnb, Lyft. Her conversion with Lenny on Lenny’s Podcast has some good insights on building beautiful products. Here’re some topics that were covered:
What makes a design great
Stripe’s focus on quality and how it’s tied to growth
A formula for removing organizational friction: Performance equals potential minus interference.
It’s a conversation focused on basic building blocks. Katie has shared a couple of examples of rituals that she has built in her teams to build focus on beauty & quality. If you have any interest in these areas, this episode is worth a listen.
🪙 Understanding Digital Public Goods with Pramod Verma
Aadhar, UPI and now ONDC - these are some of the game changers in the Indian tech & financial space. Those who have experienced these have an intuitive understanding of their offering. But to understand their true potential & impact, it’ll be important to understand their core philosophy & design approach.
Pramod Verma ex-Chief Architect of Aadhaar, UPI & India Stack, and this video of his talk at World Bank gives a very good overview of these frameworks. He defines these as Digital Public Goods and takes the first principle approach to do his explanation.
I love his presentation style - high on energy & focused on explaining in the simplest possible manner.
💑 The Loneliness Economy
This report is based on startups in the US market, but offers a good structure to think about the loneliness economy.
Hugo Amsellem covers 6 core categories in this space: Religion, Family, Neighborhood, Friend Group, Couple & Company.
I’ve seen products & services in each of these categories, but may not have thought of them as catering to the ‘loneliness economy’. Some good food for thought to think about a whole new set of business opportunities.
🌮 Lessons from Lijjat Papad
So this is a story of the product most of us have tasted - Lijjat Papad. We know some trivia about their journey - It was started by 7 women who wanted to utilize their free time to do something productive. It started with a small investment of ₹80. IN 60 years, it has become a global brand and now clocking revenues to the tune of ₹1600 crore annually.
In “Don’t solve management problems, avoid them”, Stoa blog has done a fair job in decoding their approach to business and quality. The following snippet does a fair summary. Read the blog post to understand their practices better.
🎁 Light reads & videos
Some interesting blogs & videos from not so usual topics of interest.
The murky math of the New York Times bestsellers list by Katherine Laidlaw
“Sometimes before a book has even sold a copy, it’s deemed a bestseller, just by virtue of the expectations that are placed on it.”
How to Exclaim! by Florence Hazrat
Around 700 years ago, in the small town of Urbisaglia in central Italy, the scholar and poet Alpoleio felt moved to introduce a punctuation mark that flagged up emotion rather than simply syntax. Annoyed that people were reading exclamations like statements or questions, he suggested appending an emotional sentence with a dot plus apostrophe dangling from the line above. He called the new sign the punctus admirativus, the point of admiration or wonder. That was the birth of the exclamation point, and it’s precisely what writers know: A strategic ! (or several) can make your readers go “wow!”
Sculpting ourselves. Trung Phan on 141-year old La Sagrada Família (and why it's worth studying the world's longest on-going construction project).
🪄 Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Let's get creative with this collection of high quality free creative tools. I loved Townscaper. There is so much that goes behind such tools/games. There’s a fascinating read Townscaper here. (via Storythings)
Everybody was Kung Fu Panda fighting. A case of plagiarism, or sincere inspiration or something else?
The company that's been making balsamic vinegar for over 400 years.
Finally, I had to take a screenshot from the Strat_Scraps post to get you this one 👇
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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