Archive for the ‘Required Reading’ Category

  • Inspired

Reads & Feeds | Sep 5

Great minds don’t think alike – they challenge each other to think again. The clearest sign of intellectual chemistry isn’t agreeing with someone. It’s enjoying your disagreements with them. Harmony is a pleasing arrangement of different sounds, not the same ones. Creative tension can make beautiful music. – Adam Grant

💡 Hybrid working isn’t the right frame to guide a workplace strategy – I keep saying it because I believe it. It focuses only on one narrow dimension of work – where we work – and then overemphasises it. What matters is collaboration, focus and outcomes. Then pick the best way to do one or all three against the priorities in front of you. If that means you’ll drive a better outcome working from Antarctica, go for it. This got me thinking about it even more. And where there is a collaboration chasm, we might all need to work together for a bit.

Quotes of the Week:

“Rule of 3 in conversation. To get to the real reason, ask a person to go deeper than what they just said. Then again, and once more. The third time’s answer is close to the truth.” – Kevin Kelly

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals to discovery. – James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

  • Connect

Creating an image with AI

User generated image using Stable Diffusion

Stability AI and its collaborators announced the first stage of the release of Stable Diffusion to researchers. In short, AI creates images based on parameters you enter – words, sketches, collages and more. They’ve been testing the model at scale with over 10,000 beta testers that are creating 1.7 million images a day.  That’s, well, staggering.

Does AI replace humans? Not at all. But it does amplify our ability to create and make at scale. And then there is this little gem where a person just won first prize (and the corresponding angst) at an art fair with a piece of AI-generated Art.

  • Connect

Better Note Taking with Notion

TD’LR: You don’t need to pick one note-taking app, but you do need to choose your master app. Define a workflow and set rigour around it.

Angsty videos and medium posts on why folks selected a particular note-taking app mostly miss the real need – how to be productive, collaborate, and, well, forget less.

The answer is blindingly simple – take notes everywhere, anywhere, using anything. Just do it.

The tricks are:

  1. First: pick a master system – in my case, Notion – where all those thoughts and ideas can go to live.
  2. Second: define a simple workflow to get notes from wherever they were captured and into Notion. The tip here is to make it fast. So, I’ll drop a photo from a whiteboard into Notion rather than trying to recreate it.
  3. Third: establish a routine to get all your notes in one place. Every week I have a calendar block marked “download and clean” where everything goes into Notion. I even have a simple Notion checklist of everything I need to look at, from receipts buried in my bag to my notebook, Apple Photos and more.

So what about the notes capture? As I said, just do it.

Here are my big three:

  1. Old fashioned pen, paper and index cards. Scribble away, fuel that stationary fetish, and have fun. I use my iPhone to snag whiteboards, brainstorms and more.
  2. Use whatever digital app works best for you. Bear is an excellent app for catching notes on the go. Especially the voice capture on an Apple Watch. So, if I am driving home and recall something, I tap Bear on my phone and watch it automatically convert to a text note. Apple notes is OK but not great. But occasionally, I’ll sketch or punch a note in there.
  3. Notion is where everything goes and is shared. The point is not the storage in one place – that’s great and sometimes useful at a future date. The point is that through the process, I am creating secondary notes. So, I might capture notes from a team meeting that include a reference to check-in on headcount approvals – they sit in one Notion page for all my Day Notes. But I’ll also flow that action into my 1:1 Notes for the next meeting with our talent team. Equally important, Notion is the only place I share notes – so I have one place to collaborate from.

The underlying philosophy here is time to ingestion – the faster and more quickly you can capture a note, the more you’ll do it and the more productive you’ll be.

The leap in all this is the discipline and habit required. We’re defined by our routines and rituals. So for those struggling to do this, just do everything in Notion and work backwards.

  • Loved

Still Subscribed?

The subscription economy continues to boom.

For many, driving subscriptions has become the core of their businesses, fueled by platforms like Substack.

There is a lot to love. Recurring revenue. A lower pricing decision point. The ability to make money from micro transactions with little capital outlay.

But at what point does it become easier for the consumer to end a subscription? Ideally, this could be done from anywhere. Say, the account credit card screen of your bank. A simple API connection would notify the provider of your decision.

Having just spent more time than I’d like trying to unravel a recurring subscription from Peloton (still not resolved) that AMEX won’t cancel or block for me, there has to be a better way than simply cancelling the credit card.

I’m always surprised how many don’t do a thorough review of their credit cards. For many, it’s a treasure trove of lost cash on unused or unutilised subscriptions. But cancelling them is going to be interesting.

This could be made easier – every subscription should be cancelled from the financial account it is attached to.

  • Loved

Marketplace Accountability

Marketplaces as a platform and eCommerce channel continue to grow around us.

Their benefits are clear – rapid deployment using off-the-shelf Cloud-software enable new marketplaces to be stood-up in record time. They extend the reach of small businesses to a wider group of consumers. And they give consumers access to more products and services in one place, bundling them conveniently.

The flip side, a darker side, is they largely operate without accountability. So, you order you meal from Providoor, the meal doesn’t arrive as ordered, and you are instantly pushed back to the supplier on the site – say Supernormal. Supernormal is a great restaurant and small business – so can they scale to respond and sort the issue out? Ultimately you bought from or through Providoor – but Providoor operates without any accountability for the product delivered.

They appear to view themselves as an advertising medium, simply directing you to choices. But that isn’t what they are. They take orders, orchestrate orders, take payments, and clip the ticket. So, they are far from being, say, an online news outlet.

Having run into issues with both Providoor and Kogan, I wonder at what point a customer charter or something to that effect is needed. Hopefully this doesn’t need to mandated by the Government. But it might need to be to protect consumers.

Amazon is particularly good at this. When purchasing a product from Amazon, from a third-party and in their marketplace, Amazon does seem willing to step-in and sort an issue out. Much like Uber, their starting principle appears to be, “just make the customer happy”. And I’m guessing the cost of that happiness is ultimately just passed onto the marketplace participant.

Either way, we need new rules as Marketplaces rise. Or, we need much greater transparency during the purchase process of what you can expect in terms of service and remediating issues – including who is accountable.

Marketplaces are critical for SME businesses and vital to SME e-tailers. They should thrive. But they won’t if they disenfranchise and dissuade consumers from buying on them.

I’m not likely to buy from Providoor or Kogan again. But am likely to buy visit Supernormal.

Accountability starts where the purchase is made.