Monthly Archives: March 2022

Email: Don’t Fire & Forget

Reading Time: < 1 minute

I don’t like to be heavily managed.  And therefore, I try not to heavily manage others.

However, I realized that I had a bit of blind spot in trusting folks to follow through on their commitments.  I would send an email requesting an update or a response to a question.  But never receive a response.  And, I wouldn’t realize that for some time.  And, I didn’t have a good process to track these.

So, here’s what I found works for me.

  1. Create a folder called Follow-up.
  1. Create an Outlook rule that moves any message from me to the Follow-up folder.
  1. BCC myself on emails that I want to make sure I get a response on.
  2. Check the Follow-up folder as part of my weekly planning routine.

Three Take-Aways: Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you.  Everyone progresses at a different rate, so don’t let anyone else make you feel behind.”  – Range (pp. 290)

This book was talking my book, and since I agreed with most of what was being said, I liked it. There were some interesting sections on teaching and learning, sports and athletics, and career trajectory.  

The sports one hits pretty close to home right now since our daughter is nine.  It seems like kids are being required to pick a sport very early these days.  I was glad to see some research suggesting that’s really not a good idea to specialize early.  By the way, I sat next to a three time Olympian on the chairlift the other day, and she told me the same thing.

The book also had a lot of overlap with a couple of my other recent reads – Superforecasting and Principles.  It even referenced Young Men and Fire (pp. 245) – a book by Norman Maclean (of A River Runs Through It fame) which has stuck with me since I read it a few years ago.

Three take-aways from the book:

  1. Learning Should Be Hard

“Desirable difficulties like making connections and interleaving make knowledge flexible, useful for problems that never appeared in training.” (pp. 96)

“All forces align to incentivize a head start and early, narrow specialization, even if that is a poor long-term strategy.” (pp. 119)

If learning is easy, then you are probably doing it wrong.  Or learning in a way that will help you utilize that knowledge in the future.  Learning should be somewhat difficult.  Early wins might be a bad sign.  

  1. It’s Not People vs. Computers, It is People + Computers

“But the centaur lesson remains:  the more a task shifts to an open world of big picture strategy, the more humans have to add.” (pp. 29)

“Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization.  It is the ability to integrate broadly.”

As the world becomes more digital, you should think about where people spend their time and where computers spend their time.  Each is a tool.  And like every tool, it has its strengths and weaknesses.  This felt extremely applicable to both individual careers choices as well as managing people, processes, and companies.

  1.  Identify & Solve Problems

“Like Kranz, Von Braun went looking for problems, hunches, and bad news.  He even rewarded those who exposed problems.” (pp. 259)

“…successful problem solvers are more able to determine the deep structure of a problem before they proceed to match a strategy to it.” (pp. 115)

This one had a lot of overlap to Principles.  Solving problems is one of my best strengths or at least that is what I tell people in interviews.  And it seems like a good area to focus on going forward, as it is a place where people add a lot of value vs. automation.  In order to creatively solve problems, you need broad perspective.  

A few other recent book reviews:

  1. Principles
  2. That Wild Country
  3. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction
  4. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
  5. Fortune’s Formula

Bears Watching

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Update on these two. The trend is not your friend.

Muni debt. I found this one surprising – I thought Ukraine might have caused this to pause. Apparently I was wrong. Which is why I don’t offer financial advice.

And probably more importantly, mortgage rates. Mortgage Rates Explode Higher

Relative change (percent) and velocity are both concerning.

Housing is getting more expensive – due to input costs and now rates.

And re-fi activity just completely stopped…

Influential Reads – February 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“One of the most practical life skills that no one talks about is turning discipline into consistency. Discipline will only take you so far. It’s hard to be consistently disciplined.” – Farnam Street

The impact of recent world events can be seen in my article count for February.  My hope is that something good eventually comes out of the situation in Ukraine – regardless of the near term results of the conflict. 

A united world is better than a divided world.  

Watching Putin’s 20+ year reign is the definition of slippery slope.  Hopefully that translates into other arenas.  

Watching an embattled Ukraine fight for their freedom is heart wrenching.  Hopefully people can connect the dots.  Like connect them to recent events in this country, when an armed group of insurgents stormed our Capitol building while full of our government leaders.  

Colbert is right.  

But I digress.  I am also reading books.  I am just not finishing reading books.  Enjoying a biography on John D. Rockefeller, Sr. – but it is long.  It does seem that history rhymes though.

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. Wretched Excess…Flirting With Trouble – “Charlie also talks a lot about envy and how it drives people which was my favorite part.”
  2. Addition by Subtraction – “You size your positions based on how much risk you’re taking. I don’t buy more of the ones I can make the most money on. I buy more of the ones that I can’t lose money on.”
  3. Down Round – ” But private markets inevitably come in line, and just like the tail of a whip, the smaller market can deliver greater pain.”
  4. Is the Bond Bear Market Over? – “But with the market pricing in 7 rate hikes and inflation showing signs of topping it’s worth asking if the worst is behind us? “
  5. Forget About Inflation. Contrarians Expect a Recession and a Drop in Bond Yields – “Shilling expects the tightening on which the Federal Reserve is about to embark having the same impact that tighter policy has had in almost every other previous instance.”
  6. Putting Ideas into Words – “Putting ideas into words is a severe test.”
  7. If You Had $10k to Invest, Which Stock Would You Buy? – “The rapid halving of software multiples has disjointed the valuations between public and private companies, and between growth and value companies.”
  8. How To Negotiate Your Salary – ” You don’t owe it to your employer to get paid less than what you are worth.”
  9. The Professionalization of Startups – “Whatever you’re going to spend on sales, just put it into the product to make the product better. Anytime a customer needs to talk to a sales person, that’s a bug you have to go fix.”
  10. How I Approach the Toughest Decisions – “But Joe’s willingness to go against the grain and ask tough questions was invaluable”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

Top clicks across the site last month:

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  3. Influential Reads – January 2022
  4. Excel Template: Football Field Chart
  5. Family Mission: Solamere Loop Trail

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