Kaizen Newsletter #3 (06/11/2019)

Feedback Loops & BJJ

I took my first class of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) on Friday and damn was it HARD! Just during warm ups, the teacher is already asking us to do front-rolls, which seemed pretty daunting for someone who's just starting out. However, by the end of it, I learned how to shot (wrestling take-down), how to sprawl, how to defend against a sprawl, how to land a rear-naked choke and how to get out of it. Which is really cool for just the first class. The thing that surprised me the most about BJJ was how technical and how fast the feedback loops are.

Now, what exactly are feedback loops? It's basically information that you receive from an output that you can analyze and use for your next input. For example, in the context of school, you would write an exam (output), receive a grade based on how well you did (feedback) which will then affect how you study for your following exam (new input based on feedback). In this case, I would consider this a pretty slow feedback loop since you have to wait until you get your grades back, modify how you study based on your grade and then wait until the next exam is corrected until you know if you adapted correctly, or not. Instead, imagine if you had exams every week, but each had a lower percentage (I know, this may not be the most popular option, but just follow my thought process for a sec). Yes, you'd constantly need to study, but don't think your understanding of whatever subject your studying for would be MUCH MUCH better. Instead of waiting until the midterm to know if you actually understand or not, you'd know RIGHT AWAY and will be able to adapt.

Now let's analyze the feedback loop of BJJ. Your output would be the effort you put in your technique and combat mechanics against your output. Then your feedback would be every time you finish sparring with your partner. And based on how you performed versus your partner, you would be able to adapt for next time. For example, if you're practicing on how to avoid being choked, the first time you can try putting yourself in the bridge position to get out of the choking position. Let's say that didn't work and you tap out. The next time you go, you can try something different and see if that would work. Or maybe you try the bridge position again, but you change your leg or arm positions. Basically, you have lots of opportunities to get feedback, since BJJ is putting things into action, getting information and then modifying your previous actions to get to the results you want. Which is why you get a very fast feedback loop.

Now why is it good to have a fast feedback loop? Simply, you get more information that you use to improve your future actions.


  • M.A.T.E, a framework I found that describes the characteristics of the "ideal" entrepreneur. Magnestism, Authenticity, Tenacity and Evolution. Magnetism is mostly confidence in yourself and sales skills. Authenticity is being unapologetic of being yourself. Tenacity is finding a project that you are passionate about and don't consider as "work" and evolution is the will to constantly improve.

  • If I'm being honest with myself, I'd say I'm missing the magnetism and the tenacity characteristics. Magnetism can be improved with better sales skills as well as just overall confidence in yourself and Tenacity is mainly finding a project that you are passionate about, which I have yet to find. I feel that all 4 characteristics can be learned if you are willing to put in the work. And that's a BIG IF.



  • I love podcasts, but I always found it hard to share specific snippets from a podcast that I found interesting. I finally found an app that would do this. I haven't tried it out yet, but it looks very promising!


  • Discovered a new podcast where artists breakdown one of their songs and tell the story of how it was made. Kinda sad that there's only a few hip-hop/rnb artists that were feature. Really enjoyed the Empress Of (has two songs with Khalid) podcast though.

  • Naval on the Joe Rogan Podcast - THE podcast of the week. For those who don't know who Naval is, he's basically a computer scientist who owns an angel investment company (AngelList) and is famous on Twitter for his philosophies and views on life - especially his popular tweet storm (How to get Rich without getting lucky). A must listen.

🎧 Music

🐦 Tweets

🙏 Shoutouts

  • Shoutout to my friend Hai Ha for asking me to try Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Loving it so far and looking forward to improving and getting better!

👋 End Note

Quick update: Yeah I admit I slacked off a bit on this newsletter, but I'm trying to make it a habit of reading and summarizing an article every day. That way, I have lot's of interesting stuff to share the following week!

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

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Feedback is always appreciated, so let me know what you liked and what I can improve on by replying to this email.

If you see any cool articles, links, tweets, stories or podcasts that you think are interesting, feel free to share as well at alex@alexhughsam.com

See you next Tuesday!