Shopify, Advisors, Beginners, Raj Chetty
Issue No 38
Hello and welcome to the 38th edition of the newsletter. I talk about what caught my attention this week. You can subscribe to it by clicking the link below. Thanks for doing so.
Have a panel of advisors
To lead in a crisis, Shantanu Narayen, the CEO of Adobe said that managers must give people permission to stop doing projects not deemed essential for the moment, while also changing how work is done. Adobe has made efforts to not host meetings before 9 a.m., for example, and to regularly give employees additional time off on some Fridays so that they can relax and spend time with their families. “These are different times,” he said. “It’s not business as usual.”
Who does Shantanu Narayen turn to for advice? He has his own sounding board with Brad Smith of Intuit and John Donahoe, Nike’s CEO. What do they consult each other on? They talk to each other on everything from strategy dilemmas to workplace culture issues. Read more
You should also have a personal Board of Advisors. This group of advisers has been shown to help professionals achieve greater career success, including promotions, raises, and increased opportunities. Your advisor or Board of Advisors should have four kinds of people:
I also find it useful to have someone from the performing arts in my Board of Advisors. They can provide a perspective that corporate fellows miss. Most corporate fellows tend to have the same sources of information. Diversity of perspective matters when you think of advisors.
Is e-commerce saturated
I confess I have been totally bowled over by the raw unfiltered learning opportunities I have experienced on the social site - Clubhouse (still available only for iPhone users). In particular, the CEO (Tobi) and President (Harley) of the Canadian e-commerce site Shopify was illuminating and inspiring.
Some more ideas from the chat
On entrepreneurship: "Entrepreneurship is working 100 hours for yourself so you don't have to work 40 hours for someone else"
Is e-commerce saturated: "It's hard to build an ecommerce brand, but the cost of failure is as close to zero as it's ever been." Tobi says we are on line number 1 of Chapter 2 in the book of e-commerce.
Spotting opportunities: "Be where your competitors aren't" [like new social apps & community groups]
Building a brand, "But the web browser is the one place on the internet you can truly own. No middle men. You can really tell your story & it will outlast every channel."
Can you think like a beginner?
While I was working at Wipro, my team and I ran The Novice Conference. We wanted to understand what makes people learn something new where there is no immediate payback (eg promotion or increase in pay etc). We met someone who had taught herself Korean, Japanese and Mandarin languages by learning to sing songs in that language. Someone took up flying on weekends after being posted in Dublin for two years on an assignment. “I missed my family. Flying took my mind off that feeling of loneliness.” She earned her private pilot’s license in the process. Having a beginner’s mind triggers curiosity which is the foundation of all learning.
I have just started reading the book Beginners byTom Vanderbilt. The book tells us about the author trying to learn to play chess, surf, sing and juggle as he tried to keep pace with his six year old daughter’s learning journey.
I was fascinated by the section on juggling. Psychologists have found that learning to juggle is a good way to check how we learn. Have you tried juggling?
You can see some notes I have taken and you could additionally read this review of the book
Deepak Jayaraman is a leadership coach. he also knows how to juggle. Here is my interview with him.
I will post my own review of the book. But the book sounds promising so far.
At the Human Edge
I spoke to Dr Marcus Ranney who besides being a medical doctor, also served in the Royal Air Force, NASA and holds a record in running backwards (it is in the Guinness Book of Records)! I joked with him and asked him what he was running away from! He has studied about what happens to the human body in extreme situations.
From Mt Everest to the South Pole, from a journey to Mars to the bottom of the Mariana trench, the book explains how the body first deteriorates, then adapts and finally excels when faced with running a marathon, summiting Everest or going to Mars. I spoke to him about some key ideas covered in his book At the Human Edge.
Don’t miss the segment where he talks about the six supplements when added to your daily diet can have miraculous impact on your health. And his advice on how to deal with the mental health crisis that is going to be the next big challenge we will face with months of isolation.
Factors that determine children’s FUTURE success
In my book Dreamers & Unicorns I wrote about the rise of “Pin-Code based jobs” (read more here).
The neighborhood (read pin-code) where you grow up can make a significant difference to the probability of success in later life. Harvard Economist Raj Chetty defines success as the probability of someone born in the bottom 20% of earners to the top 20% earners.
Here are five factors that can improve chances of success in later life.
Like a hundred other people I am certain that Raj Chetty will win the Nobel Prize in Eco. The question is when. Here is a video where Raj Chetty explains how he has applied Big Data to Social Science to arrive at his recommendations
Are hiring mistakes inevitable?
Let me summarise everything I know about hiring in one sentence - Talent is personality in the right place.
There are all kinds of myths, superstitions and unscientific methods used by people when they hire. Here are two that someone told me last week.
“People who play team sports are team players. I have another important test. Will I feel like having a beer with this person after work, is my greatest deciding factor.” Team sports have their own share of squabbles. Working in a team on a task in an organisation needs different skills which need to be assessed.
“People from small towns are more loyal.” Just ask people in the BPOs to know that this is not true.
Have you been the victim of poor hiring practices? Leave a comment
Live chat on 17 Feb 2021 at 7pm IST
On Wednesday 17th Feb 2021 at 7pm IST, join me for a live chat with Sandeep Sinha, the co-founder and Managing Partner of Lumis Partners. Like me, Sandeep shares a belief in Human Capital. His firm has invested in startups in this space. He also has deep interests in Supply Chain and Healthcare sectors.
You can read their blog to know how Lumis looks at investment.
That is all for this week. I am loving the many conversations on Clubhouse that I have been a part of. I think it truly revolutionises the way people can learn. I am just so bowled over.
If you liked the newsletter, do tap the heart below and let me know that you liked it.
Stay curious and stay connected.