Efficiency and effectiveness

Efficiency is washing your floor with a hose. It works, but it does a terrible job.

Effectiveness is taking the time to get a mop and soap to do it properly.

Efficiency and effectiveness together is calling a cleaner to do it for you.

Efficiency costs quality.

Effectiveness costs time.

Combining them costs money.

Milk vodka

I like when I see companies really lean in to what makes them different.

Take Dairy Distillery for example.

They could have easily said ‘we make vodka, oh and we happen to use unused milk sugars in the process.’ But they didn’t, they leaned in and created a very unique product. It caught my attention for sure.


My grandma turns 95 today.

It’s a staggering age when you think about it. I would have to live my life almost two more times in full in order to get there.

She’s been openly joking about her time to ‘go up the hill’ since she turned 90.

She’s probably the most selfless person that I know. She deeply cares about others.

I asked her a few years ago if, looking back on her life, she would have done anything differently. Everything she mentioned to me had to do with another person.

I’ll share one here.

She wishes she had had more time with her brothers, both who passed away when they were younger from different circumstances.

Life is short, even when your 95, make sure to spend time with the people you care about.

After this is over

Now that there is light at the end of this pandemic tunnel I’ve been thinking about what I don’t want to go ‘back to normal.’

  • Masking up when you’re sick (or just staying home). In Asia it has been normal for quite awhile to wear a mask when you are even a little bit sick to protect others. And just staying home in general when sick, I remember a friend who had flawless attendance in high school. But he quite often would show up sick to maintain his streak. I wonder how many sick days of others resulted because of this.
  • More outside time. The pandemic pushed a lot of us to spend more time outside, including myself. Let’s keep it this way, it’s good for us after all.
  • Proper hygiene. It’s always a shock when you’re in a public bathroom and someone leaves without washing there hands. And it used to happen more often than you would think.
  • Less shared snacks at events. See above on proper hygiene. Nothing like someone diving with their hand into the shared popcorn bowl.

That’s it for now, I’m sure there are more.

4/5 Stars

I wrote awhile ago about the context of reviews and how online reviews are sometimes not aligned with the context of the businesses being reviewed.

Recently I’ve been thinking about other types of reviews. Reviews for books/movies etc. Let’s stick to books to keep it simple.

When we review a book we are unconsciously biased to how people will perceive us. It has a lot to do with social-desirability bias and our need to look good by others.

For example, if I read a book that everyone else in my social group likes I’m much more likely to give it a higher rating than I would have just based on the fact that I want to conform with the group.

Of course this isn’t universally true, there are people who will actively fight this bias. Perhaps going to the other extreme and rating the book extremely poorly if it didn’t live up to the expectations set by the group.

But it isn’t always that simple. Another example:

Let’s say I read a classic novel. I really like it. 5/5 it was great.

After that I decide to read a mainstream, page turning, thriller. Also I really enjoyed. 5/5.

Or wait, can it be? What will my peers think? I just rated a classic novel 5/5, I can’t possibly rate this mainstream thriller that I picked up at Costco a 5/5 as well. Better knock it down to a healthy 4 or even 3 out of 5.

Not caring what other people think of us is hard.

Trusting online reviews also hard.

Google it, or don’t

If someone asks us something that is easily ‘Googleable’ (and we know the answer to) maybe it’s less about the question and more about the opportunity to connect with a fellow human being.

I’ve been guilty of this before. Sending people pre-populated Google search queries for their questions. Even recently.

I’m going to stop doing that.

Thanks S.R. for making me a better person.

Constantly difficult

It’s easy to be kind, but it takes effort to be cruel.

Or is it the opposite?

It’s hard to be kind, but it takes no effort to be cruel?

Actually it’s both. It depends on the situation.

What’s constant is the difficulty it takes to think about the result that our decision or indecision might have.

Learning to skate

The more scared we are, the harder it becomes. We become rigid and our ability to balance becomes impossible.

Eventually, we just have to let go and let it happen. We can’t force it. We can’t overthink it. We have to accept that we will fall, and not worry about it (perhaps prepare for it, with a helmet, for example).

This past week I learned that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to teach someone to skate (that someone being my daughter). We can prepare them to learn. But, yelling ‘bend your knees’ or ‘lean forward’ doesn’t really help (it adds pressure and fuels the fear, see above). At the end of the day they have to fall, get up, and keep trying. Then they learn.

Boy by Roald Dahl

Bryan, why are you reading children’s books? 

Well to my surprise this wasn’t technically a children’s book (although I have been working through the Roald Dahl collection with my oldest daughter). This is, in fact, Part 1 of Roald Dahl’s autobiography. Which, in my opinion, was really good. And it’s why I’m sharing it here. 

Picture of the book 'Boy' by Roald Dahl

Growing up I was always a fan of Dahl. Especially ‘James and the Giant Peach’ which I read at least a few times. So it was nice to pick up his autobiography and learn more about his life. 

To start, as a kid he gets into a ton of shenanigans. 

Dahl and his friends prank the owner of a local candy shop by putting a dead mouse (as seen on the cover) into a jar of candy. An interesting section to read because while it was funny, I had to remember that my daughter was reading along with me. I made a point to ask her what she thought about this part of the story (she thought it was funny) and wether or not she would do the same in real life (she wouldn’t), and why it wouldn’t be nice to do this to someone. 

In general, I’ve found it difficult to manage these types of inputs with my kids. It’s surprisingly a reoccurring theme in children’s books. Humour at the expense of others that shouldn’t be replicated in real life. 

The book also provided a good view of what public schools in England looked like in the 1920s/30s. Let’s just say that corporal punishment was a recurring theme and my daughter is happy that they don’t do this in her school. 

Alas I don’t want to focus on every story that is shared in the book. If you want that I suggest you pick up a copy and read it. What I did enjoy the most was this quote near to end: 

The life of a writer is absolute hell compared with the life of a businessman. The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him. If he is a writer of fiction he lives in a world of fear. Each new days demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not.

Roald Dahl in Boy

You might know that I’m a fan of Steven Pressfield’s book ‘The War of Art’. This quote above really resonates with the same idea presented by Pressfield. As writer, or anyone in a creative profession (artist, entrepreneur, etc) the hardest thing to do is to sit down, consistently, and work. And yes, you live in this constant world of fear and pressure. You have to get used of showing up, doing your work and having nothing to show for it.

Somedays you can give it your all and feel like you’ve done nothing. Other days the work will just flow out of you without any effort. It’s showing up every day that counts. 

Taking the stage

Two weeks ago I attended Kochava Summit, an online event for the AdTech industry.

The keynote speaker on the first day was Kai Kight. Kai is a violinist and keynote speaker “who uses music as a metaphor to inspire self-realization.”

His talk was about how companies can flourish today in our ever changing society. Kai distilled this back to a three step process:

  1. Looking inward, towards mastery.
  2. Collaboration with your ensemble.
  3. Taking the stage and making an impact with the audience.

There are a few things that really stuck with me.

First a “conductor cannot guide a performer who has not attempted to guide himself.” I think this is true in many aspects of lives, we can’t be helped unless we first try to help ourselves. Just the act of looking inward serves as a bridge between the first and second step.

Secondly, when Kai spoke about ‘taking the stage’ he mentioned that sometimes, despite all effort put forth by the performer and ensemble, something doesn’t click with the audience. The performance falls flat. This is of course true in other aspects of life. We follow the process and unable to achieve our desired outcome.

Recently, I’ve been struggling to detach outcomes from processes. I thought I was good at this, but as I moved into the world of ‘solopreneurship’ I am now challenging those assumptions.

During the Q/A period I asked Kai. ‘How do you detach the outcome of the audience reaction if your performance falls flat?’ I thought his answer was elegant so I’m sharing here.

There is no outcome. Only a chance to learn.

I like this mental model. Rather then teach yourself to ‘detach’ from the outcome. Convince yourself that there isn’t one. Outcomes are simply opportunities to learn and are part of the ever-flowing process.