The Kaizen Newsletter #22 (11/05/2019)

I'm back!

Flashback two weeks ago. It was 11PM, my hockey game just finished and I realized that I still haven't written ANYTHING for my newsletter. By the time I would get home, it would be almost midnight and I also had an early meeting the next day.

So I had to choose.

Do I just power through my newsletter in a few hours, or do I finally kill my writing streak, go to sleep and not be a zombie for my meeting?

Fast forward to today and we all know what I chose in the end. But at the time, it was a very hard decision. Mostly for my ego, but I decided that it would be unfair to myself, unfair to you guys and unfair to my colleagues the next morning if I chose the former instead.

So I went to sleep and after 21 consecutive weeks, I killed my newsletter streak.

It stung at first, but in the end, I know it was a good thing.

Taking a break on newsletters allowed me to really take a step back and remember why I started doing this:

  • I wanted to improve my critical thinking and writing

  • I wanted to have FUN

And I want to take the time and expand on the second point because I definitely wasn't having fun anymore. I'll be honest and admit that my past 4 newsletters haven't been the best. Not only did I always send them super late, but I felt like I was forcing myself to read articles that I thought you would want to read, instead of just reading stuff that I liked reading. And I think you feel when someone is excited by an article or not.

I know it's getting repetitive, but if there's ONE thing you should be reading during your week, it's definitely these articles. I mean, even Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify agrees. This week he reviews that we have basically have two minds: 1) the primitive mind and 2) the higher mind. And that all of our beliefs and thoughts are scattered on what he calls the "Thinking Ladder".

I feel that it's very hard to effectively plan ahead, especially when you have multiple stakeholders and you're in a growing company. You often have different ideas from different departments, so sometimes it becomes chaotic. This articles proposes a good way to solve this and effectively plan for the year ahead.

I mean, it's pretty obvious which article I liked and which one I didn't put that much effort in, no?

The beauty of the internet gives you the possibility to write and talk about whatever you want and ALSO find like-minded people that vibe with what you say.

Which is why I'm tweaking the format of my newsletters a bit. The two sections that I enjoy the most writing are the main story (this section here) and my weekly favourites.

Basically I didn't want to force myself to always have a certain amount of articles a week. If I had ten really awesome articles, then I'll share them all, but if I only had one, then that's fine as well!

This would give me the opportunity of expanding on these mini-articles, but still keeping the fun links at the end for people who don't like reading as much (yes, I know a lot of you skip this first section ;).

And what can you take away from MY failure?

I say it all the time, but failure is GOOD. And I don't even see it as a failure. It's just a setback, and setbacks are there for you to re-assess what you're doing, why it happened and course-correct so that it doesn't happen again in the future!

Now, on to the newsletter.


📄 Articles

  • Don’t Serve Burnt Pizza (And Other Lessons in Building Minimum Lovable Products) - One of my favourite things I've learned in the past few weeks was the concept of Minimum Lovable Products (MLP) instead of Minimum Viable Products (MVP). People shouldn't build for something that just works. If you really want to give value to your customers and for them to be excited, then you should be building something amazing! You should be asking yourself the following question to know if you're in the right direction: "Wouldn't it be amazing if this product could...?"

  • NCAA Clears Way for Athletes to Earn Endorsement Money - This article was shared with me by my good friend Shanu. I always felt it wasn't fair that the NCAA and associated schools were able to market and take almost all the profits made from these college athletes and although they still can't be fully sponsored by say, Nike, it's still a step in the right direction. Some examples that were shared were that athletes would be able to give paid lessons, start monetizing a Youtube channel or be featured in a video game.

  • 324 Days of Meditation, Almost Losing Myself - The timing of this article was WAY too good since it came out the day RIGHT after I ended my writing streak. Basically, Micah went through a similar experience I went through (although I'll admit his streak is way more impressive) when he ended his 324 days of meditation streak. Although our conclusions are different, I think we can definitely make a parallel between us both failing, taking a step back, looking at the bigger picture and adjusting from there. And also, numbers are not everything!

✏ Newsletter

  • The Next Brand by Justin Mares - Justin Mares is the founder of Kettle & Fire and Perfect Keto (which will make ~$100M in revenue this year) and just released his first newsletter yesterday! He talks about health, wellness, and building brands. Really enjoyed his first edition, and definitely looking forward to the next one.

🐦 Tweets

  • Probably the most important tweet I saw in the past few weeks. I really loved that Obama spoke against cancel culture.

That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change,” he said. “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.

  • Kanye released his new album a week ago and although it's definitely not his best, I still really enjoyed it. However, the vibes I'm getting from the live version of Use This Gospel is insane.

  • If you're somehow a Zelda and Kanye fan like me, then you'd definitely enjoy this.

  • I'm definitely not a big gamer, but I LOVED Maple Story when I was younger. I really sucked and never actually went through all the grind to get to 60, but still spent a lot of hours on this. This is definitely something I'd enjoy although I'm neither a designer or a developer. Product Managers x Maple Story fans where you at?

👻 Halloween

  • Halloween is probably the holiday that I dislike the most (yes call me boring). But one thing I learned about this week is that there's a thing in Japan called mundane Halloween, where people dress up like a normal person and have to explain what their costume is. Now that's more my jam! Check out some of the costumes here and from this Twitter thread.

New thing I learned about this week is that there's a mundane Halloween costume party in Tokyo, where people dress up as normal people and have to explain what their costume is. Definitely vibing with the "Guy who got woken up by an Amazon delivery" costume.

🎧 Music

Albums

Songs

🙏 Shoutouts

  • Shoutout to my friends Jackie and Kit who decorated and cooked for the Halloween party I hosted this weekend! 🎃


👋 End Note

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

If you enjoyed the Kaizen Newsletter, then it'd be cool if you can share it with your friends. They can sign up here.

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