The Kaizen Newsletter #40 (07/04/2020) - Speed Is Everything

I may not look like the most athletic dude, but one thing that may surprise a few people is that speed was (is) my competitive advantage in any sports that I played.

I never had the best dribbles in basketball or the best dekes in hockey or soccer, but I always compensated by being faster than others.

So even if I wasn't as technical as most, I would still be able to speed past through them which gave me the extra second I needed to do something (score, pass or set up a play).

My go-to play in soccer was when one of the midfielders would just blast the ball from mid-court all the way to the offensive zone and I would just run past the defenders to be the first one to get the ball and then score.

In hockey, I use my speed as an advantage to be the first on the loose balls (I play ball hockey) and maintain ball possession.

What I'm trying to show is that speed can sometimes compensate for your lack of technical skills in sports, but this can also be applied in business.

However, what's weird is that when it comes to these other areas in life, I'm mostly the opposite.

I would have this really cool idea and would write down everything that I need to do for it and theorize on what needs to be done.

But when it actually comes time to do it - I freeze.

I get hit with analysis by paralysis and my usual thought is always "oh, but this doesn't seem right, or I should be doing this, and that, and that before doing this" and in the end, I just wouldn't do anything or abandon the idea.

So if speed has always been one of my advantages in sports, why would I not use this to my advantage in my everyday life?

It's a question that I've been asking myself for the past couple of years and in the following paragraphs, I want to explore how to apply speed in business terms and try to convince you and myself why speed is so important and that we should be prioritizing speed as much as possible.

What is speed?

Before trying to define what speed means in a business context, let me try to demonstrate what I mean through another sports analogy (I promise, it's the last one).

Let's take my soccer example earlier. Whenever the ball is kicked through the field and you start using your speed, what exactly are you doing? Yes, you're going faster than others, but it also means that you made a decision. You saw that the ball was kicked and you chose to start running as fast as possible to have the possibility of scoring a goal. During that microsecond where you see the ball flying in the air, that's the moment where you decide where you're going (in the direction where the ball is going to land) and what you're trying to do (to get the ball first and score). Does it mean you'll accomplish your goal? Not necessarily, but you committed yourself towards that goal. You committed to SOMETHING.

And what's exactly what speed means when you use it in a business context. Speed means committing to a decision and taking action. It's making something right away.

Instead of just sitting there and thinking about all the what if's, using your speed means taking an action that will bring you from a point A to a point B.

Why is it important?

So now that we defined speed, why is it so important?

Speed is important because timing is important.

Whenever you have a really good idea, realistically, you only have a certain window where your idea will make a lot of sense to build and sadly if you're too slow, either that window closes, or worse, someone else executes on it and "steals" your idea and releases something to the public before you!

As I mentioned in my previous newsletter, my friend KP created, a way to virtually grab coffee with people on Twitter, a month ago when COVID-19 just started to appear in the States. He saw an opportunity and seized it right away.

And guess what? Two days later, a very similar app called Grab Chai also got created.

If you put an importance on speed, it will force you to act on your ideas as soon as possible and make them a reality.

One would think that because you use speed, you also tend to leave some quality on the table - but that's what prevents you (and me) from actually acting fast!

But you know what? The best way to find out how you can improve whatever you're working on is actually creating something and releasing it to the public to receive actual feedback.

To quote the book I'm currently reading "at least half of our ideas are just not going to work".

So it's much better to release something to the public and even if it's a complete failure, then it gives you a better idea of how you can make it better afterwards.

The faster you ship, the faster you can iterate.

Speed is something that I know very well in sports, but I never apply it when it comes to my personal projects. That's why I wrote this piece as a reminder to myself to stop thinking way too much if this project will succeed or not. Just start doing something and eventually, things will fall in place.

If this is something you also suffer from, then hopefully this also helps you to take action.

If this reminds you of someone you know and you think this would help that person, then feel free to share this piece!


Now, on to the newsletter.

Weekly Favourites

📃 Article

  • Designing the Perfect Practice Loop - If ever you want to learn something or improve in something, I've always felt that the best way to do so is to have a good feedback loop. In this article, Scott breaks down what makes a perfect loop and how you can improve your own. As you may or may not know, I've been trying to improve my writing (the main reason I started this newsletter), so my current loop is trying to write every day. A good way of improving this loop would be to actually post some of my writings online (on my blog). This would force me to improve my writing since it will be public and will improve my feedback as well since others would be able to see it.

  • Marriage and Finance - I'll be honest and say that I'm the first person to be totally against merging finances together. I've always believed in having a shared bank account, but still keeping some money separate. This piece gives really good arguments on why you should actually merge your finances together.

  • What Makes For A Good Product Manager? - Stumbled on this article from some Twitter rabbit-hole, but really insightful article. It highlights the progression of the foundational skills you need to have as a PM all the way to the skills you need to become an exceptional PM.

🐦 Tweets

  • Bill Gates is just amazing.

  • Interesting visualization that shows what happens with and without a mask

  • Good thread on what makes a good product strategy

  • One of the best TikTok's I've seen so far!

🎧 Music



🙏 Shoutouts

  • Shoutout to Cheetah for always sharing new sick songs to vibe too during this quarantine and just being an overall bro when needed.

👋 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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