The Kaizen Newsletter #53 (07/06/2020) - Those who can't abandon anything can't change anything

Thoughts on success, design space, identity and naming

Welcome to the 53rd 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.


What if I told you that in three years’ time, if you follow exactly what I tell you to do, you'll be making at least 200K+ a year, would you do it?

Raise your hand if your answer is yes. 🙋‍♂️

Now, how about if I tell you that for three years straight, you won’t be seeing your friends that much, you won’t be travelling to exciting places, and you won’t be making any money (or only barely to survive), but by the end of the third year, you’ll be making 200K+ a year.

Is your still up? 🤷‍♂️

If I had to guess, then I would assume that not a lot of hands are still up.

The reality is - a lot of us (yes, myself included) want to have life-changing moments, but aren’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices for that moment to happen.

I've been re-watching Attack on Titans (if you've never watched it - what are you waiting for?) for the past few weeks and this quote has stuck with me for the past few days.

Those who can't abandon anything, can't change anything

- Armin Arlert

It made me realize that if I want to succeed in life, then I need to do things differently then what I’m doing now.

Maybe I need to cut out Netflix, maybe I should stop drinking, maybe I should waste less time on social media, maybe it means staying in and working on my own things and not going out with my friends.

So the next time you think of success, think about what are you willing to abandon to get it.

Now, on to the newsletter.


🤔 Thoughts

👤 Thoughts on Identity

The reason why some people get so attached to their ideas and opinions is that people associate these ideas to their own identity.

As Paul Graham stipulates, it's almost impossible to have a civilized conversation about politics and religion because these are part of people's identity. When you say something bad about a person's religion or political view - they feel personally attacked.

The only way we can have an actual conversation about something is if we discuss topics that don't engage the identities of anyone involved.

What does this mean for us? Well, the best way to have better discussions is to make sure that you identify with fewer things.

The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you

- Paul Graham

One way to avoid identifying with external things such as politics, religion, sports, etc. is to think like a scientist.

🛰 Thoughts on Design Space

Although I've never been a huge gamer, I've always been interested in how games are designed. Learning how a game is created is a good way to learn how to build products because you put so much thought when building a game.

One of my favourite streamers, Reynad, is making a deck-building game called The Bazaar and started a series where he explains decisions he has made to make his game.

In a recent video, he breaks down the design space in The Bazaar.

In this specific case, the design space dictates the number of different variations for possible cards to be created in the game.

And you can define the design space by breaking down all of the components that make the game. For example, a card game like Magic, the Gathering can be defined by the number of card types, card colours, game timings and card effects in the game.

The more different components you introduce, the more design space that you create, and the more cards that are possible to be created.

Where the design space becomes interesting is when you apply it to product management.

For example, the way Reynad breaks down the design space into different components is similar to how a product manager would break down the problem space to analyze a problem.

In product, you want to break-down the problem space into different components to understand all of the different levers that make your product. You can then decide which levers you should focus on to have the biggest impact on the end-user.

Another way of using design space in product management is thinking about constraints. The fewer constraints that you have, the more verticals you are able to add to your product.

An example of how this can be useful is that for your MVP, you want to target a specific audience. In this case, your problem space is constrained to only one vertical. However, as your product grows, you will want to target different verticals and audiences and thus your product will have fewer constraints.’

And that’s why it’s important to think of your design space when creating your game. He wants to make sure that his design space is big enough so that when his game expands, he’s able to introduce novelties in the game.

🔤 Thoughts on Naming

I have to admit it.

One of the parts that I hate the most about building a product is actually finding a name to it. And the reason why I hate it so much is that I don't think it matters that much (what your product is and does is way more important) and I honestly just suck at naming products.

But today, I discovered that there are naming processes that exist.

He then referred to this onym - which is a website that has tools and resources for naming things.

There's even a guide from Jake Knapp, author of Sprint called "How to Name a Company in 8 Hours".

This gives me hope that I will be able to improve my "name game" eventually. Although I don't believe it's that important for a product, a good name can really give that extra oomph to the product.

An example of a recent good name is hey, the new email service created by the team at Basecamp.

If you have any good name processes, please let me know!


🐦 Tweets

Small communities >>>>

Coolest TikTok I've seen. Bob Iger, the Chairman of Disney even commented on this!

🤯🤯 Can someone tell me how you actually think of doing that?

🙏 Shoutout

Shoutout to my friends Mai and Julien! Invited us over for dinner last week and got to eat some excellent burgers with brie and avocado 👌.


👋 End Note

Hope you enjoyed this newsletter!

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

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

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter as well.


See you next week ✌️,

Alexander