Monthly Rounds (January 2021) - A New Year Begins

Hi friends,

Below is my favorite content from January.

(1) https://hbr.org/2010/07/how-will-you-measure-your-life

Most people know Clay Christensen for his frameworks on disruptive innovation (i.e. Innovator's Dilemma) and "jobs to be done." However, I've been most moved by this article (and the book which shares the same title) "How will you measure your life?" In it, he demonstrates how common business frameworks (e.g. deliberate vs emergent strategies, resource allocation, core capabilities, etc.) can be cross-applied to examine one's personal life. But before he embarks on this journey, he first makes as compelling case for why this sort of examination even matters.

"For me, having a clear purpose in my life has been essential. But it was something I had to think long and hard about before I understood it. When I was a Rhodes scholar, I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth. That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it—and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.

Had I instead spent that hour each day learning the latest techniques for mastering the problems of autocorrelation in regression analysis, I would have badly misspent my life. I apply the tools of econometrics a few times a year, but I apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life every day. It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned."

(2) https://distributed.blog/2020/12/16/episode-26-jack-dorsey-and-remote-collaboration/

I loved this transcript of a recent podcast episode between Matt Mullenweg and Jack Dorsey. The conversation touches on several interesting topics ranging from how to be remote company without a bias toward the "San Francisco clock," the three fundamental jobs of a CEO, and why "video on" for meetings isn't always a good thing. They also discuss a question that I've pondered often since re-entering the business world -- what is the purpose of a meeting? If any of you have frameworks to judge the necessity of a meeting or techniques to improve the efficacy of them, I would love to learn more.

"I think meetings are great for when a debate really needs to happen and certainly text mediums are not. But I think it’s kind of enumerating the list of like what is the job of a meeting, why are we having this in-person meeting? What do we expect out of it? Just to borrow Clay Christianson’s Jobs To Be Done framework, like, why (do we hire in?) in-person meeting? And what are the hiring criteria and what are the firing criteria?

It just asks the broader question, whenever I have to have a meeting, of is this necessary to be synchronous right now? And what is the asynchronous equivalent and why didn’t we do that?"

(3) https://ryanholiday.net/how-does-it-feel-to-get-everything-you-ever-wanted/

I have not gotten everything I've ever wanted, but I have gotten at least a few things that I have wanted and the result rarely feels as good as the expectation. Ryan Holiday insightfully dissects why this occurs and how to overcome it.

“In the new Taylor Swift documentary she talks about that moment where 1989 came out and utterly dominated the music industry. “Oh god that was all you wanted,” was the only thought in her head as she won Album of the Year for the second time. “That was all you wanted. That was all you focused on…. You get to the mountaintop and you look around and you’re like, ‘Oh God, what now?’

Ten years ago, I probably would have scoffed at that, whether I was hearing it from a  mega-famous mega-millionaire or a grandparent.

But today, I get it. I understand that existential angst. You work so long and hard to accomplish what feel like crazy pie-in-the-sky dreams, then when the opportunity knocks, you answer, and success comes flooding in, you expect the high to last. You expect it will feel wonderful and exciting, but it doesn’t. In fact, it doesn’t really feel like anything at all.”

(4) https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/01/kobe-bryants-tragic-flight?utm_source=pocket-newtab

This past week was the 1 year anniversary of Kobe Bryant's tragic passing in a helicopter accident. This chronological account of that shocking last flight is so gripping that it had me wishing that the outcome would not be what I already knew it was.

"The helicopter had now ascended some 500 feet and was more than halfway into its climb through the clouds. At this rate, Zobayan would be in the clear in about 15 seconds.

But for whatever reason, he failed to stay focused on his artificial horizon. The helicopter began to lean to the left—first gently, then steeply. Unable to see the ground, Zobayan must have misinterpreted the cues his inner ear was giving. It felt like the aircraft was banking to the right when it was actually turning to the left. The more he tried to correct it by shoving the stick to the left, the worse he made it. Soon he was in a steep bank."

(5)

Jim Kwik is a "brain coach" for the elite. In this video, he shares some basic advise about how digital technologies are ruining our brains. The claims themselves are nothing new, but his delivery is excellent -- so much so that I'm now convinced to implement a few of the changes that he suggests, including the one below:

"The worst habit you can have is to pick up your phone in the first hour of the day."

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As always, I would love to hear updates about your life and what you have enjoyed reading, watching, and engaging with over the last month. If you are free to catch up or reconnect, please reach out. And if you know anyone who else would enjoy receiving these content, feel free to direct them here.

Regards,

Muthu