Bad coffee is good

High-end coffee doesn’t usually lend itself to such moments. Instead, it’s something to be fussed over and praised; you talk more about its origin and its roaster, its flavor notes and its brewing method than you talk to the person you’re enjoying it with. Bad coffee is the stuff you make a full pot of on the weekends just in case some friends stop by. It’s what you sip when you’re alone at the mechanic’s shop getting your oil change, thinking about where your life has taken you; what you nurse as you wait for a loved one to get through a tough surgery. It’s the Sanka you share with an elderly great aunt while listening to her tell stories you’ve heard a thousand times before. Bad coffee is there for you. It is bottomless. It is perfect.

Harbinger Households of Doom

Certain neighborhoods and zip codes excel at buying products that will discontinue, investing in real estate that will go upside down, and donating to political candidates that will likely lose. (#)

Using data from multiple sources, we have shown that the phenomenon of harbingers is surprisingly widespread. We begin by showing that harbinger zip codes exist. Households in these zip codes are more likely than households in other zip codes to purchase new products that fail. Their adoption of a new product is a signal that the new product will fail. We interpret this finding as evidence that households in these zip codes have tendencies that are not representative of households in other zip codes. We then show that the evidence of unusual tendencies extends across retail product categories and across retailers.

Software is eating the individual

We know rely on software to do many things: who to date, where to hike, what to eat, when to sleep, etc. A lot of individual decision points have been outsourced to algorithms. (#) ($)

journalists vs twitter users

Slow news

Fast news used to be tomorrow’s paper. Then it used to be the article on the website. Now it’s the tweet.

Fast news prioritizes the creation of emotional reactions, like all social media. It’s optimized for visceral, emotional reaction — optimized for likes and shares. A lot of times fast news is also fake news. The fast, fake news goes viral like wildfire and the apologies and retractions go unread.

Fast news is instant gratification news. Fast news confirms biases.

Slow news is reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee in the morning. It’s getting the emotionless facts after they’ve been peer-reviewed and edited.

Slow news is reading, consuming and thinking at your own pace. Slow news means it’s ok to read about something and not have an instant reaction.

Slow news makes you think about new things and from a different perspective. Slow news is deliberate. It’s made for the masses yet still personal. Slow news requires discipline by writer, editor, and reader.

Slow news is how information is meant to be consumed. Slow news allows you to digest and learn.

Lessons from Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday joined us at work in June 2020 to discuss The Obstacle is the Way, life after COVID-19, and other tips for success. We got to spend around 45 minutes listening to a lecture from him followed by Q&A. My notes are below.

In life we don’t control what happens but we do control how we respond.

Accept reality unflinchingly. Accept that you have a lot of power over everything else.

Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies are muddled by crisis. Great companies are improved by crisis.

Andy Grove

Two main reasons for his success:
1. Develop mentors – find people who have done what you want to do. Attach yourself to them. Put up with anything. Do any job. Play any role to get into a position to learn from them.
2. Read widely and learn from history and those who have gone before you.

Most people have been doing modern marketing for 150 years. Tactics change but you can learn a ton from people like David Ogilvy in 2020. People focus too much on tactics instead of principles.

Paid media can be boring and earned media has to be interesting. Do things that are so interesting that others want to share them. Boring media is expensive.

As the world becomes crazy, it necessitates normal order within ourselves. If you have more time on your hands, use it to create more order and structure. Structure creates presence and focus.

We tend to think of obstacles as one-time occurrences. The reality is more of Murphy’s Law, we are always bouncing into new problems each day.

Obstacles are bigger in our imagination than they often are in reality.

His morning routine: wakes up early and first thing he does is avoid phone for a minimum of three hours. Don’t let outside noise interfere with your day.

Make before you manage.

Tim Ferriss

Do your most important thing of the day first before you get sucked into the world.

If you put off the things that require focus, concentration, and clarity, you have a million excuses to not do it later in the day.

Stillness is primarily about owning the morning.

Stoicism isn’t the absence of emotion, it is the absence of destructive emotion.

You pick each day if you want to have alive time or dead time. Dead time: Sit back and watch time tick away. Alive time: you do everything you can to be successful. You can waste years as Dead Time.

Are you using your days or are you watching them waste away?

Ryan Holiday’s 2020 Book Recommendations