Can meetings be more productive? The BBC’s Sean Coughlan wrote a piece entitled “Pointless work meetings really a form of therapy” and it struck a chord. I shared that out on Friday, November 15, 2019. It’s a short press summary of what Patrik Hall co-authored in a book. The press doesn’t say what that book is. So I wrote Patrik. The book is called Mötesboken : tolkningar av arbetslivets sammanträden och rosévinsmingel. His co-author, Malin Akerstrom, wrote a related paper – The Merry Go Round of Meetings: Embracing Meetings in a Swedish Youth Care Project. It is worth a read. I have a few thoughts. There are (at least) two forms of technology: physical technology and social technology. Physical technology[…]

There are many calls to break up tech. Break up what, exactly? Regulate tech? Regulate what? There’s a lot of polarization about what to do about Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google. That polarization is in part driven by anger. Dig a bit deeper and see fear. Maybe you’re feeling it. Here’s how I see it. The Assumptions People are heterogenous. Peoples’ beliefs are heterogenous. Peoples’ willingness to believe are heterogenous. Peoples’ inventiveness and imagination are heterogenous. Peoples’ willingness to tell or repeat stories are heterogenous. Peoples’ susceptibility to stories, and to storytellers, are heterogenous. Peoples’ need to belong are heterogenous. People form networks because they need to belong. Information (Gossip, facts, stories) is transmitted along those networks. These variables (information,[…]

What do you think causes the demand curve? Mechanically, it’s pretty easy to describe the laws of demand. The way pretty lines shift to the right or the left from shocks. It’s possible to deduce the real, rough, shape of the demand curve for a product (It just takes a lot of courage!). We can import all the knowledge about demand, segmentation and price discrimination. We can describe a demand curve just fine. Why does it exist? What causes it to exist? If intelligence didn’t exist, demand wouldn’t exist. It’s fun to think of a machine generating it’s own preferences, independent any human input. Most of human trainers of such machines seem to keep them on a short leash. Monkeys,[…]

Previously, I asked what kind of leader you wanted to be. In it, I struggled with the question of the tradeoffs of misrepresenting ground truth. Suppose you work at the WWE and you need to make a business decision. Somebody literally believes that it’s all real. You need to make a business decision about a contract renewal. What kind of harm are you doing to them, and to yourself, in going along with their belief, something that you know yourself not to be true? Absurd? Yes. Beliefs are absurd things. Later that month, I was asked why I was so sure that WWE wasn’t real? Why was my version of ground truth any more legitimate than somebody else’s ground truth?[…]

What causes conversion? Demand. It’s a simple answer and worthy of unpacking.  You could thank Claude C. Hopkins for the simple answer. Hopkins wrote two books towards the end of his life – Scientific Advertising and My Life In Advertising. He seemed to regret his experiences as an agency president, and left some direct advice on how master marketers should think of their choices. In his last decade of life, Hopkins marketed his marketing expertise. Instead of continuing to take on all the risk of marketing product on behalf of somebody else (and maybe getting paid if the product sold), he set up a system where products would be pitched to him. If the product was good, he’d take a[…]

What a fantastic read from Camuffo, Cordova and Gambardella! If you haven’t read A Scientific Approach to Entrepreneurial Experimentation, you’re missing out. It’s a great read. And not only because it reinforces my own preexisting biases, but also because there are challenging bits in there. The core finding is “We find that entrepreneurs that behave like scientists perform better, pivot to a greater extent to a new idea, and do not dropout less than the control group in the early stages of the startup.” The authors focus on a key behaviour that scientists exhibit. A scientist has two types of skepticism – skepticism that something is true, and skepticism that something is not true. Those represent two types of error, helpfully[…]

The whole thing, all of it, depends on optimism. Optimistic expectation is a natural force generated by humans and amplified by the networks that humans create. At the core of the entire traditional liberal paradigm, since the enlightenment, is the expectation that things will be better in the future. If things get better at a rate of just 2% per year, compounded annually, things get twice as good in just 35 years. If things get better at just a little bit more than that, 3.6%, things get twice as good in just 20 years. We’ve come to expect things to become better, dependably, and predictably. The enlightenment is an important event to call out. It’s way easier to shrug ones[…]

You build three machines when you build a startup. Your ability to build these three machines is the Great Filter to your life in the business universe. This post is an effort to describe why some startups fail, why some are small, and why others grow big. The Great Filter The Great Filter refers to a concept that Robin Hanson came up with to explain why we don’t see any evidence of intelligent life in the Universe. One can get a better sense of different scenarios when one considers how many things need to be true for intelligence to emerge, and assigns probability to them. If it’s the case that the coincidences required for life to occur are exceptionally rare, then[…]

Here are some notes from a Canadian on visiting Lisbon. We visited Lisbon Sept 20 to Sept 28, 2018. The flight I booked an Air Transat flight. I weighed the option against TAP and Air Canada, and I still chose Air Transat. A few things to report about the Thursday flight. It departs from a remote gate at Pearson’s Terminal 3, in a concourse for discount airlines. Plan extra time for the walk out as it’s around 90 meters to the tunnel, 230 meters through the tunnel, and another 90 meters to Gate 2. I was amused by it because I had planned plenty of time to grab water. We flew in an Airbus 332, with a 3-3-3 configuration. The[…]

Ikigai represents a pretty basic segmentation. So of course I love it. I love it so much I want to share. And you might love it too! The word comes from Japan. It means a reason for being. The segmentation recognizes four attributes of activities and jobs you could do – What You Love, What The World Needs, What You Be Paid For, and What You Are Good At. Combinations of two represent Mission, Vocation, Profession and Passion. Combinations of three segments represents Delight/Poorness, Excitement/Imposter, Comfortable/Empty, and Satisfaction/Uselessness. Doing something at the intersection of all four is called Ikigai. It’s a very elegant segmentation. It can also represents a surface. Assume a 2 dimensional plane representing all the activities and[…]