Postcard 2: Incentives
Hello again from New York, and welcome to the second edition of the weekly postcard.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about incentives this week and tried to set up some for my personal life. After finishing Atomic Habits by James Clear, I set up a database where I record each habit I'd to be doing long term. Each record in that database is a vote toward the person I want to become. Recording each writing session, gym session, or coding session into that database might seem silly, but it turns out to be a reward of its own, a great form of instant gratification.
"Show me the incentive, and I will show you the outcome." – Charlie Munger
I've got a few articles and tweets I've thought a lot about this week.
The top 3 articles:
Self help 16 by Stephen Elliott
Stephen learned some great lessons selling a show in the red light district of Amsterdam. The article is a great read and has some good lessons for the rest of us, especially those promoting products or thinking of starting our own thing.
A few highlights that stood out to me:
"I'm not a great salesman but I'm a great evangelist. Though an evangelist is just a type of salesperson. Evangelists are notorious suckers because they believe in their own product, like the people working on political campaigns for free"
"I wasn't the best sales person but because I refused to lower the price, and was excited about the product, I outsold everyone, by a lot, and was promoted to the night shift at the main theater. It was more money than I'd ever made in my life,"
What Every Successful Person Knows, But Never Says by James Clear
Speaking of James Clear, I ran into this article from him covering Ira Glass's success about what it takes to become great at something.
What they don't tell us, beginners, is that if we don't put in a huge volume of work, we will never close the gap between our taste and our ability
From the article:
"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it's like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good. It's not that great. It's trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it's not that good.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.
Read the rest in the article.
Jump in cancer diagnoses at 65 implies patients wait for Medicare. by Stanford Medicine
"Researchers analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of patients who were 61-69 years old and were diagnosed with lung, breast, colon or prostate cancer from 2004 to 2016."
"If this were true, and patients were delaying screenings or treatments for cancer, it could impact their survival"
It turns out it is true.
The article highlights that the way we design incentives has a huge impact not just at the companies we work at or run but also on society.
The top 3 tweets:
A big reason I've fallen in love with Twitter lately is how high quality the ideas are if you follow the right people.
This thread by Julian, it goes over the mental models and decision frameworks that Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos say they use. We all make decisions all the time, we can all benefit from making higher quality decisions in our day to day. Read the whole thread to get the maximum value. It is a long thread (many tweets, click to read through them)
Ana Lorena Faberga is at the company trying to rethink modern-day education for young children. She's a former teacher turned entrepreneur.
Some great insights in this thread about the common questions we ask kids.
As evident by this newsletter, I am an adult, and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, never mind kids.
Chris teaches us how to reach out and connect with strangers that might be able to help us in a non-awkward way. In the modern world of Zoom, this skill set is more important than ever.
As an engineer, this tweet hits close to home, and I share his sentiment about being awkward when meeting strangers; his tips teach us how to avoid that.
My most recent article
This week I wrote about Rage Driven Development. In it I talk about some observations I've made about certain people being driven by something different than the rest of us. It is my first attempt to pin down the pros and cons of rage or outrage as a driver of your work.
Thank you again. Don't forget to reach out if you want to discuss any of these articles, ideas, or any of my other writings. My inbox is open, feel free to reply.