Sunday Wisdom No. 51

No matter how smart or confident you (think you) are, it would be foolish to assume that everything is in your control, and nothing would go wrong.

Happy 74th Independence Day to my fellow Indians!

Hope you’ve had a nice week.

It’s time for your weekly dose of multidisciplinary reading to upgrade your thinking and decision making skills. If you’re enjoying Sunday Wisdom, share it with a friend! And if you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time, you can subscribe here.

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📝 What I Wrote

In the last two editions of Sunday Wisdom, I wrote about how much is enough and effective mentorship . In this week’s essay I talk about an important mental model.

Margin of Safety: An Antidote to Risk, Uncertainty, and Ignorance

No matter how smart or confident you (think you) are, it would be foolish to assume that everything is in your control, and nothing would go wrong. There are unknown unknowns lurking around. Always!

If you are required to build a bridge that can support 2,000 tonnes, you would need to build a structure that supports at least 10 times that. Because a lot of things can go wrong. And if they do, the downside is just too high.

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💡 Little Bit of Wisdom

To win you have to avoid losing. The first thing you have to do after an opponent makes a move isn’t to think about a strategy, but to ask yourself: what’s the threat? Avoid stupidity before trying to be smart. It goes a long way.


📑 I Enjoyed Reading

I Started Khan Academy. We Can Still Avoid an Education Catastrophe. — “Pure distance-learning is suboptimal, but we have to do it out of necessity because of the pandemic. I have been working with teachers over the last several months and together we have realised that lesson plans designed for in-person classes don’t work in this coronavirus world.”

How Entrepreneurs Who Hate Selling Close Sales — “For many entrepreneurs, myself included, we’d rather have a series of root canals than pick up the phone and face the possibility of someone we don’t know laughing or swearing at us.”

WORKZONE: Amid WFH and Lockdown, a Hidden Crisis Looms — “My sleep cycle was the first to feel it. For someone who crashes out at 10 pm, my bedtime began stretching well past midnight. Plonked on my bed, at first it was a deadline story. And then the reasons for my elusive sleep kept shifting.”


🎙Sunday Meets

This is the second episode of Sunday Meets. We had a tonne of fun recording this one as well. We had initially planned to keep it under 30 mins, but like the previous one, even this one got overboard. But only by 30 mins instead of 60 (like last time). Improvement!

In this edition of Sunday Meets, we talk about why beginners should teach, and why India’s New Education Policy is so awesome that it makes us want to go back to school again.

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📚 A Book Worth Reading

Creative Selection by Ken Kocienda is a love letter to software development. I would recommend it to all aspiring (and even experienced) software developers. It does paint a rosy picture (because not every company is Apple) but it surely does highlight the sheer joy of building software—the challenges and the breakthroughs.

The writing is straightforward and simple, and it would be equally enjoyable for non-software developers as Kocienda uses quirky analogies to explain the software development process.

Kocienda breaks down Apple’s organic process of building revolutionary products—which he calls Creative Selection. It has a lot of nifty ideas on building a creative culture in an organisation—though none of them are mentioned explicitly. That’s the best part.

We mixed together our seven essential elements, and we formulated “molecules” out of them, like mixing inspiration and decisiveness to create initial prototypes, or by combining collaboration, craft, and taste to give detailed feedback to a teammate, or when we blended diligence and empathy in our constant effort to make software people could use without pulling their hair out. As we did all this mixing and combining of our seven essential elements, we always added in a personal touch, a little piece of ourselves, an octessence, and by putting together our goals and ideas and efforts and elements and molecules and personal touches, we formed our approach, an approach I call creative selection.

It’s also a delicious book for all Apple lovers. I found myself fanboying when Kocienda narrates stories behind the development of the iPhone and the iPad.


📹 I Enjoyed Watching

How Pixar uses Music to make you Cry — “Have you guys noticed how Pixar does this? I managed to find this pattern in a lot of Pixar films, even though they aren’t the only (or the first!) ones to do this.”

Cicada 3301: An Internet Mystery — “In this video I explore an elaborate cryptographic internet puzzle orchestrated by a mysterious individual or group known as Cicada 3301.”

Hammock Driven Development — “When was the last time you thought hard about a problem for an hour, day, month, year? When have you confidently sat down to implement something for the first time? If you think long and hard about a problem, and write down what you’ve thought, you will most likely find a solution on your first attempt—in programming and in life.”


🤔 Worth Thinking About

Your business is not your life. Your business is something apart from you, with its own rules and its own purposes. An organism that will live or die according to how well it performs its sole function: find and keep customers. The primary purpose of your business is to serve your life (not vice-versa).

— Michael Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited


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Best,
Abhishek