The Kaizen Newsletter #9 (07/23/2019)

Turning a bad situation around

I truly believe that being a positive person in the face of adversity is one of my superpowers.

Some people would say TOO positive.

But in general, I'd argue that being positive or more optimistic about a situation has its advantages and here's an example that demonstrates it.

So Nancy is finishing her internship in early August and we decided to go do a small Cali road trip. We would start from SF and go all the way down to SD. πŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

Super cute and romantic, right? πŸ’‘

Well, it turns out that two of our friends were also free around that time and wanted to join us. A bit less romantic obviously, but still was super excited! The more, the merrier, right? πŸ’‘πŸ’‘

But we had only one constraint (mine 😬). I had a wedding on the 24th of August which means I would only be able to take the two weeks off before that.

Obviously, one of our friends, Andre, wasn't able to take those exact two weeks off and was delayed by a week (my second week was his first week).

Ugh. πŸ˜’

So already some complications. But again, not too bad. In the end, we decided to still continue the road-trip together, but we'd do it a lot shorter, and I'd stop in LA instead of SD. My only condition? I wanted to have at least two days in LA to explore a bit (I've never been to LA before).

So for me to be able to still have a really good road-trip AND also stay in LA for two days, we had to leave on Sunday.

And that's when I see on messenger "Well we wanted to spend the first two days (they arrive on Saturday) in SF before leaving".

🀬🀬🀬🀬🀬🀬🀬🀬. The dream is dead. "Fuck it, we're not doing this trip with them anymore". "What am I going to do for seven days in SF?" Were the very first thoughts that I had.

I mean we went to two whole weeks doing this road-trip to one week + sometime in LA to only one week now without any LA (I'd basically arrive in LA and leave right away).

* Say this were in an anime, this is the moment where you have some really epic music come on becomes you know the protagonist is going to turn things around. I highly suggest listening to this song while you finish reading the story *

So instead of replying anything stupid, I just said. Ok, let me see what is there to do in SF for seven days.

So I go to google and literally type in "What to do in SF for 7 days reddit". This is the first thread that I open. And my eyes go wide open. πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€πŸ‘€

"Wait, so I'm basically trading LA for Yosemite????" 🀩🀩🀩🀩

I was SO excited to go to Yosemite.

I ask Nancy if she's down and obviously she says yes cause she's the best.

So that's how I turned things around. I went from being sad and angry to super happy and even MORE excited than before (and trust me I was already pretty excited).

The lesson here?

Honestly, think about how you can turn bad situations and turn them to a positive. Obviously, it doesn't always work out like it did for me, but if you actually practice doing this when things go shitty and you try to highlight positives, it'll help you a ton.

Tried something a bit different this week. Liked the emojis? Like the story? How epic was that music though? As always, would love to get your feedback. πŸ’ͺ

Now, on to the newsletter.

πŸ’ Sports

It's officially summer time in the sports world. Nothing interesting happening in the NBA or the NHL in the past week.

However, I really enjoyed reading this article summarizing Mike Gillis', ex-GM of the Vancouver Canucks, interview at the TeamSnap Hockey Coaches conference.

The state of the NHL is widely known as pretty stale. It's a very conservative league and doing things differently gets a lot of media attention and scrutiny.

Like anything, if you want to be good at something, you need to take risks and you need to think a little differently about every possible opportunity, and you have to push the competitive boundary, no matter what it is. - Mike Gillis

Some interesting suggestions or thoughts he made were the following:

  • The GM usually has a very big role in the NHL team and is often stretched thin. One suggestion GIllis' provided was to increase the number of assistant-GMs to four (up from the usual 2-3) and give them more power to contribute. This way the GM can really focus on what he needs to do. This is what they do in many soccer clubs in England.

  • There is a big opportunity to disrupt the scouting system and the draft. It's become A LOT better in the past few years, but there are still a lot of teams drafting in the top 10 and missing out on a good player. There's just not enough analytics and a lot of groupthink.

  • Gillis also mentions how the interviews at the combine are useless, since it's more of a "how many good answers can you memorize" instead of actually having a discussion with a player. I'm not sure what questions these hockey teams actually ask, but I'm sure there's a way to make these more efficient.

πŸ€‘ Business

  • Notion’s New Round And The Optimism Of Hot SaaS Valuations - I've been using Notion for a couple months now and I've been loving it. I'll be honest and say that I'm definitely NOT using as optimally, but I do enjoy it a lot. It's just a nice interface that I use as a note-taking tool, idea capturing, lists and I prepare all my newsletters in there too, but you can use it for literally anything. I was super happy to hear that they raised a small 10M from Daniel Gross and that they are now valued by a crazy 800M. What's cool is that they had the opportunity to raise a lot more than that (I'm sure A LOT of Silicon Valley are drooling to throw some money at them), but only decided to raise this amount. Will be cool to see how they progress in the near future.

  • Talking about Notion, Otis, a company that allows you to invest into art, shoes, and collectibles, created their career page all in Notion. What's cool about this page is that they tell you exactly what is their interview process. And each interviewee will have to provide a written memo so that you can share your strategic-thought process on the position you are applying for. We all know that writing is becoming more and more important, so it's a good way to see how the interviewee thinks and communicates.

πŸ“Ί Media

🧠 Productivity

  • What to Work On - This article gives you a good framework to use if you're like me and you want to do a 1000 things at the same time. The summary of it is to list all of your values and rank them. Then go through all of your current projects that you're either working on or want to work on and then for each project match the values to the appropriate project. Another framework he gives is to project yourself in 80 years and see which one would you regret the less if you wouldn't do it? In my case, I definitely would regret not being a product manager a lot more than not being a copywriter, so once again it's an easier choice for me.


  • Jane McGonigal on Invest Like the Best - Very insightful podcast. Really love how she tries to gamify as much as possible. One of her most interesting takes is that games are usually good for the children IF the parent incentivizes the kids to use the skills they learn in a game, in real life and that saying stuff like "stop playing these games, and do something real instead" are actually more harmful. An example of this is whenever your kid is playing a game, to ask them how would they solve this problem or why is this hard? And then when there is a real life situation where they can apply to this, then tell them "Remember in this game where you used this solution or you found this was hard but you persevered" so they can start associating these skills that they learn in game with real life.

  • Turn Short-Term Games into Long-Term Games on Naval's podcast - Love these, since these are always <10 and usually <5 minutes of listening time. In this podcast, Naval talks about transforming short-term interactions into long-term ones so that you create a better cooperative environment. The example he gave was if let's say you hired a contractor to do renovation at your house. The first instinct of the contractor would just to do the job quickly and then leave and that's it. However, what if at the beginning you told him that you knew a few other friends also looking for someone to renovate your house? Or if you told them that you had a second project for him to work on if this one goes well? Well I'm PRETTY sure the contractor would be doing a way better job if he knows that he'll be hearing from you again.

🎧 Music

Not a lot of new music this week. But next week should be crazy with Chance's new album coming out.


  • Summery Lofi & Jazzy Hip Hop Live Radio 24/7 - What I've been listening to for the around the past month when I'm either at work or just writing up my newsletter (listening to this as I'm writing this out). Love the vibe and it's great for concentrating on your tasks without distracting you with lyrics.


🐦 Tweets

  • Would love to try this. The main reason why I tend to procrastinate is because I have too many things I'm thinking about, and I just need to sit down and break them down. Journaling or just writing down your thoughts would definitely help.

  • I love learning about random things and Twitter is really good at this. Ever thought of how did people survive 35 degrees (that's around the 90s for any Americans reading) thousands of years ago? Reading this tweet storm would tell you how.

πŸ™‡β€β™‚οΈ Random Thoughts

  • Using this section to keep me accountable on my tweet game.

  • I'm currently transitioning from a project manager to a product manager at work and sometimes that means that I have a million of things to do at once. This week it got to the point where I just didn't know where to start since I everything was a high priority and had to be completed RIGHT AWAY. This is what I do when I get overwhelmed.

πŸ™ Shoutouts

  • Shoutout to Rob, Stanley and Dana. They are members of our dev and QA teams working on one of the products I’m overseeing and we had a pretty tight deadline last week, but they managed to complete everything and we shipped to the client on Monday morning.

πŸ‘‹ 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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See you next Tuesday!