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P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #189

👋 Welcome back to P.S. You Should Know… probably the best newsletter published on Sundays between 6-7
November 8 · Issue #189 · View online
P.S. You Should Know...
👋 Welcome back to P.S. You Should Know… probably the best newsletter published on Sundays between 6-7am CST, and definitely the best one published by me. Now in its fourth year!

my story 🚀
🎂 Happy 1st birthday Daphne!
🎂 Happy 1st birthday Daphne!
I’m thinking about habits because I’ve been off course for a few weeks in my work and I finally managed to get back on track. Ruts persist because feedback loops are powerful. Habits are a feedback loop consisting of cue, routine, and reward.
Credits: Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit
Credits: Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit
In my example, I kept finding it harder and harder to dedicate time to work I’d committed to. While optimism carried me forward early on, I lost steam as the day-to-day metrics appeared to worsen over time. I’d roll up my sleeves, look at the metrics, become discouraged, and find a distraction with a shorter and more certain feedback loop.
Finally, I committed to breaking free from the negative cycle. I started by zooming in, analyzing a single segment of our work, and finding that the metrics looked surprisingly good. There’s a core effort that was, in fact, working. Then I zoomed out, changing the period of analysis, and found even more encouraging news. Daily and weekly results were volatile, but monthly results were much more consistent. Our efforts were working when seen through different lenses. I broke my negative loop by checking my feedback for noise. I had been holding us back with too narrow a focus on a somewhat arbitrary measure.
Especially in entrepreneurship, there’s a fine balance between persistence and pragmatism. When to persist and when to call it quits? This week’s episode taught me that the question is premature if we can back up enough to see that we’re already succeeding.
someone else's words 💬
fun facts 🙌
World Ocean Floor Panorama, painted by Heinrich Berann, based on 25 years of Marie Tharp's work throughout the oceans.
World Ocean Floor Panorama, painted by Heinrich Berann, based on 25 years of Marie Tharp's work throughout the oceans.
Marie Tharp’s seafloor. “She was given a large dataset of echo-sounding data - profiles of depth to the seafloor collected by research vessels traversing the oceans. The data were presented on rolls of paper, tens of meters long, and Marie was given the task of figuring out how to represent these data meaningfully.” | learn more
Lack of democracy a key component of Hong Kong’s economic miracle. “To be blunt, it looks like the lack of democracy under British rule was a key component of Hong Kong’s ascent. The policies worked wonders, but they never became democratically self-sustaining.” | learn more
An instrument that measures the happiness of large population in real time. “The hedonometer is based on people’s online expressions, capitalizing on data-rich social media, and measures how people present themselves to the outside world.” | learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
“The Future of Work” startup & investor ecosystem. Pietro Invernizzi: “I thought I’d dig a bit deeper, to come up with a big list of unique companies & ideas for everyone interested in the wider space, adding a couple categories to Merci’s & CB Insight’s maps and adding investors to the mix.” | learn more
The biotech startups pitching at IndieBio’s demo day. “Next-gen skincare, silk without spiders and pollution for lunch.” | learn more
How Tim Cook made Apple his own. I’ll take this opportunity to publicly admit I was dead wrong about Apple’s business prospects when Steve Jobs died. Oops! “The industrial engineer has turned Steve Jobs’s creation into a corporate colossus, delivering one of the most lucrative business successions in history.” | learn more
better doing 🎯
Never say no, but rarely say yes. “So… how are you supposed to explore other ideas if you’re also supposed to be saying “no” to anything that diverges from The Plan? Here’s what I do: I never say “no.” But I carefully qualify “yes.”” | learn more
to your health ⚕
How Michael Holick sold America on Vitamin D. Yep, I’m still here learning more about Vitamin D. Another interesting side to the supplement is how it was popularized, though I think it’s not as nefarious as the author would have you believe: “The doctor most responsible for turning the sunshine supplement into a billion-dollar juggernaut has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the vitamin D industry, according to government records and interviews.” | learn more
Oregon votes to allow psilocybin for mental health treatment. Psilocybin is the magic in magic mushrooms. Research keeps showing encouraging results when psilocybin and other psychedelics are used for mental health treatment, including the newly-published Hopkins depression study. This may be a big step toward acceptance of a new class of effective therapies. Oh, and Oregon voters also decriminalized all drugs. | learn more
retail therapy 💸
The rise and fall of billion-dollar jewelry empire Alex and Ani. Please forgive me for not being familiar with this brand until last week. They came up during a conversation about digital marketing because of their pioneering work with data. “Well before it became standard industry practice, Alex and Ani began scooping up all the clickstream data it could — every tap and swipe on the website, every email opened or ignored — and combining it with whatever social media behavior they could identify to build highly detailed profiles of each customer or prospect. Adding third-party data, including anonymized geolocation signals, provided further insights about a person’s other purchases and interests.” | learn more
Malls dragged into bankruptcy by carnage at retail tenants. “America’s ailing malls suffered a pair of body blows over the weekend as two major landlords followed their ever-growing list of bankrupt tenants into Chapter 11 protection.” | learn more
under the microscope 🔬
AI model detects asymptomatic Covid-19 infections through recorded coughs. Wow! “In a paper published recently … the [MIT] team reports on an AI model that distinguishes asymptomatic people from healthy individuals through forced-cough recordings, which people voluntarily submitted through web browsers and devices such as cellphones and laptops.” | learn more
Microscopic sponge turns dirty cooking oil into biodiesel on the cheap. Will we solve our energy challenges with one big innovation, or a series of small ones? Cooking oil alone won’t do the trick globally, but incremental gains can stack up. “Scientists at Australia’s RMIT have developed a tiny sponge with big potential, and say the micron-sized material can be used to convert discarded cooking oil into biodiesel in a very cost-effective manner.” | learn more
thoughts of food 🍔
The original nachos were crunchy, cheesy and truly Mexican. “Ballpark and Tex-Mex nachos are both ubiquitous in the United States. But the original version is deeply rooted in the borderlands and Mexican home cooking.” | learn more
teaching the kids 👩‍🏫
Unschooling + math. “Almost every parent is horrified by the idea of unschooling. Even most homeschoolers shake their heads. Advocates insist, however, that unschooling works. Psychologist Peter Gray defends the merits of unschooling with great vigor and eloquence. According to unschoolers, the human child is naturally curious. Given freedom, he won’t just learn basic skills; he’ll ultimately find a calling.” | learn more
big ideas 📚
The ingredients for innovation. From Farnam Street: “Inventing new things is hard. Getting people to accept and use new inventions is often even harder. For most people, at most times, technological stagnation has been the norm. What does it take to escape from that and encourage creativity?” | learn more
How Egypt is growing forests in the middle of the desert. “Amid the success of the Serapium Forest, a massive plantation in Egypt, the country is now looking to plant more desert lands with trees as part of plans to fight climate change.” | learn more
on the blockchain ⛓
Taking Harvard and Stanford along for the crypto ride. “An aggressive Bitcoin trade got crypto VC shop Paradigm flying out of the gate. But Fred Ehrsam and Matt Huang aim to do more than just generate outsized returns for their blue-blooded backers — they want to take alt-currencies into finance’s mainstream.” | learn more
calls to action 👇
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