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🎁 The proof you can do hard things is one of the most powerful gifts you can give yourself
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Welcome to the post #116.
This snippet from Krish Ashok’s Masala Lab is my opening act for you today. It touched chords on multiple levels and has got me excited to pick this book again!
By treating our culinary tradition as something sacred, artistic and borderline spiritual, we are doing it a grave disservice. Let me take music as a metaphor here. Indian classical music, one of the most sophisticated artistic traditions in the world, has, I would argue, suffered from the lack of documentation and archiving. In fact, the insistence on purely oral traditions of transmission of knowledge have ended up making the art a very elitist affair not accessible to the wider population.
I will share more from this book soon. For now, here’s a quick glance of today’s post:
🎯 Highest-order bit
Men and Rubber - Firestone story
🎧 Lessons from Noah Deasi Weiss
🥇 Doing hard things
✋ Five dysfunctions of a team
🏀 Unwritten rules from sports
And much more…
Please leave a comment or send a message with your feedback. It’s highly helpful & encouraging. If that’s too much of an effort (or not required), at least hit the ❤️ at the start or end of the post to show your love.
And with that, let’s dive in.
1. Highest-order bit
The highest order bit implies that you want to always be working on the most important thing. Almost by definition, the most important thing is the thing that moves the needle for your work, not necessarily the thing that is most tractable right now.
At this level of detailing, it’s a fairly straightforward idea. It can be that on most occasions, it still may not be an easy one to live by. It’s these nuances that we often ignore or confuse and end up operating in sub-optimal ways. Loved the way Cedric & Dinesh have expanded this detail.
Here’s one snippet around how you can reimagine the startup decision making in this lens of highest-order bit framework.
2. Men and Rubber
“Men and Rubber” is the autobiography of Harvey Firestone and describes his journey of building Firestone as a successful brand & business. This book was published in 1926 (and was never updated).
I chanced upon this book in the signature section of one of the posts by the FS blog. I found it on audible as a short listen (2hr 44mins) and put it to my playlist right away. And I’m glad I did that.
Firestone’s business & leadership philosophy offers many timeless lessons and are worth exploring.
Here’re a couple of bits that I found relevant for us.
Quick decisions that have not behind them a long train of thought are exceedingly dangerous. Personally, I do not want to have around me the kind of man who can give me an instant decision on anything I may bring up, for, if he has not had the opportunity to give the question serious thought, then he is only guessing. And I can do my own guessing!
The only danger in mapping the future lies in making the plans inflexible.
This post by FS Blog covers the first chapter from the book, in case you want to explore.
3. Lessons from Noah Desai Weiss
In Depth podcast episode with Noah Desai Weiss offers a lot of great advice on decision making, product-led growth, and taking big swings. Noah is currently CPO at Slack and has worked with Foursquare & Google before that.
I love Brett Berson’s approach of extracting actionable advice. It makes the conversation go beyond the headlines & helps uncover more tactical details.
Here’re some of my favorite bits:
What we used to actually say early on was, you know, data can help solve easy problems, but it doesn't actually solve the hard problems. And hard problems are ones where you can't actually just experiment your way, you know, down an incremental path. You actually have to figure out, here's a big swing I want to take. How do you know that's the right swing? It's intuition, it's data informed, it's product sensibility, it's understanding where the market's heading. Those are the really hard strategy problems that I don't, I don't think you can just rely on data as a total crutch for.
I mean, this is maybe my, my new dad brain thinking, but my honest kind of feeling is that almost everything can be taught. That teaching may be more informal, it may be more observational. You know, product design, product intuition, I think is really about seeing what great looks like and being part of the process of creating something that is great over and over and over again. Working with lots of different types of people on lots of different teams and lots of different problems, spaces to like build up that intuition yourself. so I think you can definitely build it a hundred percent.
There is a lot more packed in this 76 mins long conversation. I found it totally worth it.
4. Doing hard things
Why do we need to learn Calculus?
Nat Eliason has used this question to share a fundamental life lesson with all of us - “Prove you can do hard things”. This is a two line summary:
The ability to do hard things is perhaps the most useful ability you can foster in yourself or your children. And proof that you are someone who can do them is one of the most useful assets you can have on your life resume.
This is one piece of advice that I wish I had gotten earlier. But its beauty lies in the fact that it's never too late to follow this.
Calculus is a great way to prove you can do hard things if you have no other proof to show. But if you’re learning programming and building apps in your free time, or winning soccer championships, or writing a novel, then you are doing hard things. Probably harder than Calculus.
Proof of the hard work is a signal of your potential unlike anything else. We don’t realize it for a long time, and that’s fine. It’s always in retrospect that you will get to see this magic.
Five Dysfunctions of a Team
This week has been great on the book reading front. I picked up Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” and could not put it down.
Here’re the five dysfunctions that Lencioni narrated using a super engaging fable.
Absence of trust—unwilling to be vulnerable within the group
Fear of conflict—seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate
Lack of commitment—feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization
Avoidance of accountability—ducking the responsibility to call peers, superiors on counterproductive behavior which sets low standards
Inattention to team results—focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success
These symptoms sound familiar? They did to me. I had read about this about 5 years back, but could not appreciate its message then. But it’s a different world now, and I know what it means to be part of such a team. I am lucky we have been able to uncover, accept & address some of these dysfunctions.
Glad I found this one now, it should be very helpful to use this structure going forward.
6. Unwritten rules
This post lists down 103 official, unwritten rules of sports and games. Ignore them at your own risk. Some of my favorites:
Football: If kids are playing football and it happens to roll to you, don’t use it as an opportunity to fire a bullet pass into their chest and show off.
Basketball: The person who brings the ball ALWAYS plays. As long as they want. They never leave the court. Deal with it.
Soccer: If you don’t know what you’re doing: Play defense.
Video games: Talk like a normal person unless you know the other players know your language. Yelling “215” doesn’t mean anything if your teammate doesn’t know you are using the nav bar numbers to call out opponent locations.
Watching sports: It’s absolutely fine to call for a high-five from strangers after a big play, especially if they’re matching your energy.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
An amazing advert featuring the French National Football Team. Hats off to the creative teams that can pull off ideas & execution like this!
Join Dan Amira in his quest to find the restaurant with the highest number of brothers.
Story of bezoar from Harry Potter, or Goa Stones as they were called in real life till very recently!
The title of today’s post is from Nat Eliason’s post. I will never get tired to use it!
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.