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.

So this past Sunday, after having a very nice brunch, I opened my laptop and started watching a bunch of BJJ videos. "Fundamentals of BJJ", "What to focus on as a beginner in BJJ", etc.

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.


🏀 Sports

  • 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.

🍎Health

👨‍💻 Tech

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.

🎙Podcasts

  • 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.

🎧 Music

🐦 Tweets

🙇‍♂️ Random Thoughts

🙏 Shoutouts

  • 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

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!

PEACE ✌🏻

Alexander