The Kaizen Newsletter #7 (07/09/2019)
Embrace the Suck
My usual BJJ trainer partner had to leave earlier so I rolled with someone who was bigger and had much more experience than me.
I got destroyed.
The above gif is a very good representation of what happened during our rolling session (I was the guy getting beaten up).
Every time I was on the offensive, I tried pushing, pulling, knee sliding, which resulted in not much more than an annoyance for my partner. 30 seconds later I was tapping out. I was able to defend a bit longer, but it still wasn't pretty.
This whole rolling session lasted not much more than 10 min, but these were ten LONG minutes for me. I literally couldn't do anything and any attempt of doing something resulted in me being submitted again and again and again.
And when we finally finished our session, I was actually... happy?
I guess happy isn't the right word, but I was definitely motivated. I felt so powerless during those rolling sessions that I wanted to make sure that I never felt the same way again.
One thing I realized was that I didn't have a goal in BJJ. I just went there for fun and when I just do things for fun, I feel that I don't apply myself as much and I don't take things as seriously. But now? Now I'm in competition mode. I want to learn and practice and become better so that the next time I roll against the same guy, I won't get destroyed (as much). I guess I'm just not a fun guy 🤷♂️ (insert Kawhi meme here). I want to win.
But to be able to win? You have to embrace the suck. So next time you face a very difficult setback. Think about how you felt in that moment and make sure you take action so that you never feel that way again.
Now, on to the newsletter.
Toronto, the dream is over. Kawhi is officially out of Canada and is going back to his hometown in LA. No, not with Lebron and AD, but with the Clippers.
To make that happen, he pushed the Clippers to get his good friend, Paul George from the OKC Thunder. The deal with OKC included a total of FIVE draft picks from the Clippers. FIVE!!!!! That's insane. In the NHL, even giving 1 first round draft pick is considered a lot.
That's where the NBA and the NHL are different though. The NBA is a superstar sport where having 1-2 guys can take you from being bottom feeders to championship contenders (hi Raptors). Where as in the NHL, you still need that superstar, but you also have to have a very very good supporting cast.
For the first time in nine years (since Lebron signed with the Miami Heat), there will be no super team in the NBA. All good teams have a maximum of 2 superstar players, which means the NBA should be VERY interesting this summer. The Clippers, the Lakers, the Rockets, the Sixers, the Warriors, the Bucks, the Celtics, and the Nets all have good chances to win the championship. My personal take? I think it depends where Westbrook goes, but for now, I would go in the West with either LA team. Although I'm very excited to see a Kyrie-less Celtics team with the addition of Kemba Walker.
West African countries plan to hike cocoa prices - Africa has always been the global leaders of cocoa export, but sadly child labor is also involved. Ghana and the Ivory Coast are planning to increase their minimum price by 10%, which they are hopeful will help the farmers that produce the cocoa and reduce child labor at the same time. Personally, I believe it's a good step forward, but there is obviously a lot left to be done to reduce child labor even more.
Adding 1 billion hectares of forest could help check global warming - Putting more forests all over Earth, would definitely reduce the amount of CO2 in the air, but my question is where would we do this? I'm guessing Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify, read the same article since a few days later he posted this tweet. He then suggested the following Shopify app called One Tree Planted. Basically, whenever you checkout, you can add an extra $ to your purchase to then plant one tree. Maybe Tobi will just add 100K to his next purchase to plant them all 🤷♂️?
How Looker Turned a 216-Word pitch email into a 2.6 Billion Acquisition - This was a LONG read, but oh so worth it. Especially since I'm also working in SaaS, I feel that a lot of what was said can be applied to my company. There was a TON of insight from this article, so I took out my favourite quotes and broke it down to what I felt was important.
I’d been an engineering manager before, but this was the first time I was going to lead the org. Lloyd always said that Jim was the best engineering leader he’d ever worked with, so the ability to lean on him was incredible.
In the first few paragraphs, both co-founders of Looker talk about how important it was for them to have a mentor that they can rely on and guide them in this new role. I think this already demonstrates that both founders know they both are eager to learn and demonstrates their coach-ability as well.
All tech businesses are IFR. You can't see your customer. But the problem in 2011 was that most companies didn’t have instruments. So they were trying to fly, but they couldn’t see very well. And our bet was that if we could bring them tools to see, their businesses would take off.
This talks about how important Looker was for customers, but it just shows in general how important it is to have data for your company. It gives you the tools to see things that you wouldn't normally see so you can course-correct when needed.
We built monitoring tools into the product incredibly early on to make sure that we could tell if they were using it. I’d only try to close the deal once we saw the product starting to catch on around the organization — I’d never go ask for money until there was clear momentum of usage
This is a really cool way of thinking about sales. You use monitoring tools in your product to see how your customers are using it and can also determine when is the perfect time for you to come in and close the deal. On the other side, if you see that you're customer is not using the tool as often, you can then call them and provide them with help and understand why they aren't using it as much.
Tabb’s willingness to give away his role left Trenchard impressed. “Very few founders are willing to let go of the CEO reins at their Series A. The ability to see your own weaknesses, recognize the import of something and make changes so quickly is really rare. Lloyd made a very rational decision and it changed the whole trajectory of the company,” Trenchard says.
This takes so much self-awareness and lack of ego to do this. How hard must it be for a founder to just give "control" of YOUR company to someone else? The ability to see your own weakness and compensating it by hiring someone else is such a power move.
In SaaS, focusing on making your customer successful is everything. You can't skimp there at all. It’s a retention strategy, not a cost center.
For a SaaS company, your customer is EVERYTHING. Without them, you should definitely be doubling down on giving your customers as much love as possible.
Everybody cares about their career and wants to be successful. But people who do that at the expense of others are poison.
This is like the anti-trait to have. Even if you're brilliant and super good at your job, if you only care about your own career and your own success, I would never want to have you in my team.
If you’re bogged down in the operations and you don’t have a chance to reflect, then you won’t be strategic. You’ll do better work if you take time away from it.
As a product manager, this is something that I'm still having difficulties of doing. You should remove yourself from executing tasks at least once a week and just dedicate that time to think and strategize. My goal is to dedicate at least 4h per week to strategy and slowly increase that to a day.
Michelle Phan on the Off The Pill podcast with Ryan Higa - I never followed Michelle Phan, so I had no idea who she is. But after listening to the podcast, one thing I can definitely say is she's SMART. The first woman to get a million subscribers on Youtube built a 500M company in Ipsy and is an early investor in Bitcoin. She's definitely impressive. What I loved was her realization that she had to find another stream of income other than Youtube and that's what prompted her to build companies. She compared producing videos to driving for Uber or Lyft. If you want to make money, you have to continue producing videos / keep driving. Instead, you should focus on building your own company so that you have a passive income. Two tips that she tells entrepreneurs that you should set intentions first instead of goals and to identify market gaps.
Revenge of the Dreamers 3 - Dreamville - This album is 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥. I might be biased because it's Cole and all of Dreamville but so many good songs came out of this album. It's crazy that all of this was made in 10 days. TEN DAYS. Few of my favorites are Got Me ft. Ty Dolla $ign, Dreezy, Ari Lennox & Omen, Down Bad ft. JID, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG & Young Nuddy, Under the Sun ft. J.Cole, Lute & Da Baby, Self Love ft. Ari Lennox, Bas & Baby Rose, 1993 ft. J.Cole, JID, Cozz, EARTHGANG, Smino & Buddy. Honestly I was going through the whole track list and I could've listed at least 3-4 more. Really vibed with this album.
Dreamville Presents: REVENGE (documentary) - I watched it after listening to the album and it was just so cool seeing all of these amazing artists, producers, and musicians coming together, looking like their having the time of their lives and creating amazing shit. I wish we saw more build up of the actual songs that made the album. That would've definitely made the documentary next level, but it was still super sick overall. My dream would be to do something similar but for companies or products. Imagine a room filled with creatives just brainstorming and coming out of a 10-day retreat with a new product, crazy marketing, and amazing video content?
Lights - BTS - This is like the second k-pop song in like 3 weeks. Which is crazy. I'm still not a big k-pop fan, so I think these were just outliers, but I liked it so 🤷♂️. Very different vibe then Revenge of the Dreamers, that's for sure.
Best Part of Me ft. YEBBA - Ed Sheeran - Continuing with the soft songs, you can't get more soft than this. This is pure Ed Sheeran, but I like pure Ed Sheeran.
Goodbyes ft. Young Thug - Post Malone - I've been on the Post Malone / Juice WRLD vibe for the past few weeks, so was pretty happy to see Post release a new song. Any recs for similar artists?
ERYS - Jaden Smith - Revenge of the Dreamers took most of my listening time this week, but I've heard really good things about Jaden's new album, so I'll add my thoughts for next week's newsletter.
As a product manager, I try to keep myself informed on any cool product stuff I see. I WISH I had this for my shower right now.
No idea this was a thing. But at the same time it's Donnie Yen, so 🤷♂️. Just enjoy.
Applied this trick in my main story. Think it's better?
🙇♂️ Random Thoughts
Using this section to keep me accountable on my tweet game.
There are only a few newsletters that I make sure not to miss, and David Perell's Monday Musings is one of them. In his latest newsletter, he talks about "Learning like an Athlete" and how you can apply it as knowledge worker. Here is a a small tweetstorm I made summarizing my thoughts on this concept.
Shoutout to Alex Trinh for sending me the Looker article. If anyone else has cool articles they find interesting, I'd love to read them!
👋 End Note
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See you next Tuesday!