Issue #323, 1st February 2019

This Week's Favorite


How to Be Successful
11 minutes read.

Sam Altman with some powerful observations on what it takes to extract more of your time here on this planet, maximizing your potential impact. The three I took with me are "Be willful", "Learn to think independently" and "Be hard to compete with" -- I think a lot in the last few years on what I want to accomplish 10 years from now as I'm turning 35 next month. This community of SWLW and being consistent with delivering my thoughts in writing for the past 6 years is part of it. So maybe what I'd add to the list is "Help others with things you enjoy doing." It's often what helps me continue to push this side-project, remembering that it could help others in their journey.

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Culture


A Better Definition of Burnout I Have Yet to Read
1 minutes read.

My humble effort to help you start the weekend with a smile on your face.

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The Value Is in Dealing With the Messy Stuff
9 minutes read.

"When faced with ambiguous problems like the “multi-VP problem” above, first recognize that you need to disambiguate the problem, restructure the complexity of the problem, and influence the organization to instill change.[...] You will stop blaming the organization for its silo culture once you recognize that existing silos are optimized to run the status quo efficiently, but not to lead a change." -- Great tips on how to solve such problems by Subbu Allamaraju, by taking responsibility and shifting the structure to better align incentives.

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Zero to $1B: 8 Lessons Scaling a Startup
10 minutes read.

So many great takeaways in this post by Jonathan Swanson. This one really made me think whether or not I got it right: "To purposefully design your culture I recommend these steps 1) Determine what attributes the winning company in your space will need to have. [...] 2) Determine what cultural values will produce those winning attributes." -- Putting it like that makes it easier to think about the values we celebrate, stories we share and questions we should use during interviews to find our future employees.

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Deep, Dark Thoughts on Being Different
7 minutes read.

Dharmesh Shah shares his personal story, dealing with the feeling of him being "different" since he was born. Do we know how to leverage "different"? How to celebrate it and appreciate it? Can we deal with the biases and look past it? This statement says it all: "We did it [start HubSpot] because we wanted to create a company that had impact and that would grow beyond us. And, diverse teams and diverse thinking (can’t have one without the other) endures."

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Peopleware


How to Make Effective Decisions by Comparing Alternatives
4 minutes read.

I love this framework suggested by Alon Kiriati to review (and collect, if needed) the requirements and come up with a few alternatives to measure against: "Reviews are made offline.[...] The decision maker chooses the 3–4 most important open questions that are critical to the feature’s success and composes an alternative table [...] The meeting then turns from a monologue that is focused on “stamping” a solution to an open conversation about the best approach. The audience turns from being approvers to being advisors."

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How I Choose What to Read
9 minutes read.

One of the best tips you can find if you want to develop a reading habit: "However, there’s an even faster way to improve the quality of what you read: start writing publicly. Feedback loops and forcing functions are powerful self-improvement tools. Open your ideas to public critique and the quality of your inputs will improve."

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My Life Is an Example of Starting From Absolute Zero and Getting to Decent Across an Array of Skills. Many Times It’s Been 20 Years in the Making. (Thread)
4 minutes read.

"At Justin.tv, we didn’t even have 1:1s because I thought they were a waste of time. Finally our VP Eng took me aside and told me I had to start doing the basics. (He also has to tell me what the basics were). [...] Used whatever hack I could to force myself to exercise. I’d use Snapchat to hold myself accountable to getting on the exercise bike. I made a game of it & I’d try to do something every day, even if it was just for 5m. I built a gym in basement to make working out an easy default" -- Justin Kan shares the mental tricks he had to pull to change habits and learn or optimize his skills. Inspirational thread (to my taste) that shows we can push ourselves a bit further in many directions.

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Inspiring Tweets


@danielgross: Writing, the REPL for Thinking.

@lopp: The Only Job Security You'll Find in the 21st Century Is Within Yourself - Your Own Ability to Adapt to Dynamic Market Conditions.

- Oren

P.S. Can you share this email? I'd love for more people to experiment and improve their company's culture.

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