Sunday Reads #148: What a British rowing team can teach us about relentless execution.
And other dispatches from the Twitter-verse.
Hope you're staying safe and sane, wherever you are.
Before we go into today's reads, a quick announcement.
And so, I'm doing one more next Saturday!
Tarun has built an INR 400 cr. skincare brand from scratch, with no previous sector experience at all! And he's an absolute straight talker. There will be no bullshit, no "D2C brand" hype. Just what's required to build a consumer brand. No more, no less.
This will be awesome, and I hope to see you there. Just click on the button below, and set a reminder.
And now, on to this week's newsletter.
1. “Will it make the boat go faster?”
This is a great thread from Shreyas Doshi, on the power of having a "North Star" metric.
What is a North Star metric? It's the one target, one aim, that you rally your entire company around.
For an ecommerce website, it could be number of transactions.
For a social media platform, it could be Daily Active Users (DAU).
For Uber, it could be rides per week.
A North Star metric is a simple metric. But it harnesses the entire company's focus.
As Shreyas says, being aware of your North Star gives you immense clarity and focus. The right North Star metric makes thing simple.
Growing the North Star Metric = Making your company stronger
There are always a thousand things to do. But the North Star question is a sharp knife, to cut right to the important stuff.
"Will this get us to product-market fit faster?"
"Will this increase purchases per month?"
"Will this make the boat go faster?"
This focus is what helped the British rowing team win an Olympics gold meal, coming in as firm underdogs.
This focus is what created today's biggest tech behemoths.
Now, having a strong North Star is a great first step, as you marshal your team towards your next big milestone.
But... it's only a first step.
Because very soon, you'll have a task list with hundreds of items. You’d cut out some of them, but ALL of them will make the boat go faster.
What do you do then? You can’t humanly do everything, can you?
You then need to move from an ROI focus ("Will it make the boat go faster?") to an Opportunity Cost focus ("Is this indeed the best thing I can do, to make the boat go faster?").
OK, that's a mouthful. But Shreyas says it well, in a different thread.
[PS. Trader Joe's is a great example of the power of a North Star. Joe had a North Star too - "I will have the highest paid employees in retail". And that one decision sprung up a lasting legacy of success. More in One simple decision: The secret of Trader Joe’s lasting success.]
2. "Fighting the last war".
The world has been watching aghast over the last weeks, as Russia attacked Ukraine. I wish safety and security to the folks under attack. War sucks. Whether in Europe or in the Global South.
But this war, fought square in the social media spotlight, has shown how much things have changed.
As I said on Twitter:
david phelps (🐮,🐮)(🃏,🃏) @divine_economyrussia is fighting a 20th century war of tanks and warships. ukraine is fighting a 21st century war of social media. and that's created what might be the first great user-generated army of the century.
This isn't the 1970s, and this isn’t the good old war of attrition. It’s different, in ways big and small.
Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Whitney Merrill is keeping a running list of the different ways in which social media has played a defining role in this war.
3. Golden Nugget of the Week.
JJR of Elsweyr @LeonTigris@ESYudkowsky Oedipus: Tell me seer why my city afflicted by the gods with this plague? Tiresias: If I told you you would stab you eyes in rage, tear your cloths in grief, and run away in shame. Chorus: and so Oedipus stabbed his eyes in rage, tore his cloths in grief, and ran away in shame.
Shane Warne's sudden death on Friday was sobering. He was only 52!
Life is indeed short. Better start acting like it is.
4. How to change your mind - Crypto Edition.
I loved reading Vitalik Buterin's tweets about how he has changed his mind over the past decade.
It's a masterclass in moving from a soldier mindset ("I must defend my beliefs at all costs. I cannot be wrong!") to a scout mindset ("If my beliefs are wrong, I want to change them").
It’s also a primer into how much the crypto space has changed over the last decade.
That’s it for this week.
I’m going home next weekend! Visiting Mumbai for the first time in 2.5 years. Excited to meet family and friends at long last.
I will likely not send the newsletter while I’m there (couple of weeks). Let’s see how it goes.
Until then, as always, stay safe, healthy, and sane.