KAIZEN CH.77 - Embrace Your Weird

Thoughts on embracing your weird, outlasting opponents and on being prolific

Hey friend 👋,

Welcome to the 77th edition of the Kaizen Newsletter ⛩, a weekly newsletter where I share my thoughts, new ideas I learn and make weird connections between self-improvement, productivity, product, tech, sports, anime.

I have a small ask for you guys before we get into today’s newsletter. I’ve noticed in the past week that many of my favourite emails are being directed to spam on Gmail. If you guys are reading this from a folder that is not your inbox it would be amazing if you could: 

  1. Add alexhughsam@substack.com to your contact list

  2. Move my welcome email from the “Promotions” tab to the main tab

  3. If it’s in the spam folder, mark it as “not spam”

Thanks so much 🙏

I’m still working on the last video of the year (which I promise will be uploaded by the next newsletter). I took two weeks off to end the year on a good note, but I’m obviously not really taking a break! I actually have quite a few projects that I am working on and can hopefully talk about them soon. I’m also working on my annual review that will be a part of the first Kaizen edition of the new year! Hope you will also be enjoying the holidays as well :)

(if you got referred to this page by a friend or are simply visiting you can subscribe here👇)

Now, on to the newsletter.


Growing up, the only thing I wanted was to fit in.

It's funny because I thought that the less "weird" you were, the easier you'll fit in.

If you were smarter than the rest of the class, you were a nerd, if you were fat, you were picked on. The more you were different, the more problems you seemed to attract.

So I tried to hide every weird part about me that I could and tried to replicate everything the "cool kids" were doing.

If the cool kids would listen to 50 Cent, I would also listen to 50 Cent. If the cool kids would wear baggy clothes, I would also wear baggy clothes (picture a scrawny 14-yo Asian kid that wore a medium or large pink polo).

But now that I'm an adult, I feel the opposite way.

I realized that what makes you weird is actually what makes you cool.

It's the combination of my love for anime, my hate for small talk, my interest in philosophy, my past of playing competitive TCGs and my appreciation for sports analytics that make me unique and different.

So be proud of who you are, share what you love with confidence and most importantly, embrace your weird.


🤔 Thoughts

🧠 Thoughts on Creativity

You’ve probably never heard of this Airbnb story before, but right after finding product-market fit, it was announced that Wimdu, an Airbnb clone, announced that they just raised $90 million to hire hundreds of people.

At the time, Airbnb only had 40 full-time employees.

Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO then said this to Wimdu:

My biggest punishment, my biggest revenge on you is, I’m gonna make you ruin this company long term. You had the baby, now you gotta raise the child. And you’re stuck with it for 18 years.

I knew he wanted to sell the company.. I’m like, “No, no. You’re running the company.” And I knew he maybe could move faster than me for a year, but he wasn’t gonna keep doing it.

And so that was our strategy. We built the company for the long term.”

And since you’ve never heard of Wimdu and that Airbnb just IPO’d a few weeks ago, I guess you can guess who won in the end.

This just shows how "outlasting" your opponent can be an effective strategy.

The Airbnb founders clearly loved what they were doing, so they didn't care if they had to struggle for a few years before succeeding.

That's why you should find what is play for you but seems like work for others.

If you start working on something that is fun to you, then in 2-3 years, you can become top 10% in pretty much any field that you choose to, because it's very rare that people are going to last as long.

Not only will you be constantly improving your skills in that particular domain, but others that have either started before you or started at the same time will likely be gone by then if they consider what they're doing as "work".

If you can afford to be patient and what you’re doing feels like play, then go for the long-game.

Read More

🎨 Thoughts on Creators

People (including myself) often confuse being busy with being productive.

Linus says that when he's at his best, he feels momentum.

Having momentum is different than simply working a lot. Busy-ness, what some people think of as “productivity”, comes from volume of work. A day spent answering 100 emails and a day spent publishing one great blog post could feel equally productive. Momentum isn’t really about volume of work, but about rhythm of work.

He gives two ways to build this creative momentum that he talks about:

  • Try to get one meaningful thing done every day.

  • Leave a trail when you stop working on something unfinished

The first one is simple, but I often forget to do this.

Instead of having ten tasks on your to-do list, choose one task that if you do it, then it will make your day feel complete even if you don't accomplish any other task.

Usually, this would be a blog post, or a tweet-storm, or a portion of my video. It doesn't need to be big either. But the more you're able to ship something, the more you'll be able to carry on with the momentum.

The second is something I never do but will start doing more of (if I remember).

What happens when you leave unfinished work is that it takes time to get into it. Instead, leave yourself a note so that you can mentally pick back where you left off.

Read More

🐦 Tweets

When starting a new skill. You’ll have to do them at least 100 times until you become good.

Something I’m starting to believe in more and more.

Insider view on my creative process for my newsletter.

🙏 Shoutout

Shoutout to Topa, James, Daniel, Nate and Michael for the amazing calls I had in the past week. It’s crazy but each call had its own different energy and learnings. It’s also just fun overall to be able to catch up with older friends or make new ones.


👋 End Note

If you want to know what I'm up to now, you can check it on my website here.

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See ya next Tuesday,

Alexander ✌️