Shorts

Shorts are small essays that I publish every day. They usually only take 2-5 minutes to read, and touch on all the same topics that my blog covers.

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Otherwise, enjoy below!

The Simple Rule for High-Quality Inputs

The online world is becoming harder and harder to keep up with.

The world produces an infinite amount of content, and it gets harder each day to sort the signal from the noise.

The quality of our output is only as good as our inputs.

As a result, it’s become more important than ever to filter what we consume.

Enter the Lindy Rule.

The Lindy Rule says: we can predict the future life expectancy of some non-perishable things like a technology or an idea based on its current age.

If a book has been popular for 100 years, we can predict that it will remain for at least another hundred.

As technologies like Bitcoin remain relevant, their future life expectancy increases.

To choose a movie, look at those which have remained popular for 20 years. You're much more likely to find a classic there than you are in the new releases section.

The same applies to books, online articles, podcasts—the list goes on.

Consume what has persisted.

You will see a dramatic increase in the quality of your inputs.

Disconnecting Means Distance

In our always-connected world, disconnecting is becoming harder than ever.

This also means the benefits of disconnecting have never been higher.

No notifications to distract us from deep thought. 

No comparisons to others to cause us anxiety. 

No distractions from being present with others.

But closing our computer no longer guarantees disconnection.

More than ever, disconnecting requires physically leaving our devices behind. 

Going for a walk and leaving our phone at home. 

Leaving our phone, tablet, and computer in our home office and spending time with our family.

Turning our phone off for the work day and leaving it in a drawer.

It’s no longer enough to say we’ll disconnect. 

We have to leave things behind.

Start at the Beginning

When we start a project, or a meeting, we do a lot of preparation.

The problem is when we forget that others haven’t.

They come into the project with little context or understanding.

If we fail to bring them up to speed, we handcuff them from the start.

They have to ask questions and probe and create their own context. 

Or they have to play along, and hope they understand later.

This is a recipe for miscommunication and misaligned expectations.

When we do the preparation, we need to finish it.

That means clear communication of the context and goals.

Why we chose this project, and the process for choosing it. The other projects that didn't make the cut.

A concise summary of the prep work will help you get the best out of everyone.

Failing to do this will bring misalignment, wasted time, and misalignment.

You’re already doing the work to prepare. 

Make sure you share that work with the team.

Start at the beginning.

First Say Yes, Then Say No

Common advice from successful people is to “say no” more.

That’s good advice for people who are already successful. Their opportunities outweigh their time.

But it’s terrible advice for those starting out.

The problem with saying no in the beginning is that you don’t know what you’re saying no to

Sure, if you get an opportunity in a field that you know you’ll hate, say no. 

But most of the time, our choices are among a small set that diverge slightly from our current path. 

Whether to focus on product management or paid marketing when we start working in tech. 

If we should focus on domestic or international markets when we start working in finance. 

Whether we should work in tech or finance or consulting in the first place.

In the beginning, we have to try as many things as possible, so we can learn what we do and don’t like.

David Epstein makes this point in his book Range: “We can maximize our fit with our work and our life by sampling activities, social groups, contexts, jobs, careers, and then reflecting and adjusting our personal narratives. And repeat.”

First we need to find out what we like, and the best way to do that is to sample a lot.

First say yes to everything.

Once you’ve earned some success, or learned what you DON’T like, then you can start saying no.

Taking Feedback Well

“Truth —more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality— is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.”

Ray Dalio cites this as his most fundamental belief in his book Principles.

We understand reality better when we get feedback.

In our work and our lives, if we’re lucky, we have people who will tell us what we are doing wrong and how to correct it.

A trait common among high performers: they take feedback well.

Our natural reaction when we hear feedback is to argue. 

This reaction is a way of preserving our ego. 

If we can find fault in what they are saying, we won’t have to adjust our picture of reality.

But this is the wrong reaction.

First, this deters people from giving you feedback in the future. That hurts your learning.

Second, they see you as uncoachable and obstinate, which will hurt your reputation.

The right way to take feedback is to act like a third-party observer. 

Be curious. Ask questions about specific points, or for elaboration. Listen well. Repeat things back to them so they know they’re being heard.

There is always something to learn from feedback, even if it’s poor.

The highest performers know that feedback is critical to improvement, and work hard on taking feedback well.

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