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3MinSB - Issue #48: T-Shaped Diet 🍽️

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3MinSB

February 4 · Issue #48 · View online

Thoughts on life and the everyday.


Hello world and welcome back!
In my first post this year, I noted a few of my desired focus areas, including documenting processes and experiments, determining when to explore the new vs. dive deeper into the known, and bring an agile, sprint-based approach to my personal life. For the most part, I’ve followed through on each of them, splitting my documentation between Day One, where I mark day-to-day feelings and thoughts, and Evernote, where I do most note-taking, tracking, and weekly/monthly reviews.
This past week, I read a newsletter post that explains a filtering mechanism that can be used for curating and consuming information. The ability to properly filter information in accordance with your own ambitions and interests takes active observance and thought. The sea of information and streams of content make it easy to find what is needed, but even easier to rely on the abundance of general daily news and politics. The Unbundling Effect that I have mentioned time and time again has broken down general catch-all buckets of information into digestible and targeted chunks. Not all chunks are meant for you, but there are others that are. The inputs you allow in strongly influence your perspectives and views, and dictate the time spent consuming or eliminating. Every second spent on one input is time away from another, and with time remaining our scarcest resource, I find this a topic that can and should be revisited often.
I linked Sachin Rekhi’s exploration and exploitation article above as it ties in closely to the article here. In the early phases, it’s important to spread thin - beyond just spreading across various topics and focus points, experimenting with new forms of information like podcasts, audiobooks, edutainment, etc. But the consolidation and filtering efforts are often overlooked, which create stagnation. For one, this eliminates our ability to check in on our likes/dislikes and determine the content that is truly best for us. Second, this eradicates the want to expand further into new ideas and interests with the overload of information we’re passively taking in.
The article linked, named the ‘T-Shaped Information Diet’, reverse engineers the process and proposes the following: define the roles we play in life and determine the building blocks that enable success in those roles. These roles act as the roots from which domains and subjects can be defined. Of course, the greatest prerequisite here is understanding and tracking oneself - narrowing the focus from general news to a well-defined scope and sub-field that would enable us in certain areas. I’ve been explicit about my filtering and experimentation this year. I’ve taken notice of all incoming emails and news and blocking anything outside of my specific, active interest. Yet I’ve also been liberal in subscribing to new content. I’ve laid my net wide, and in keeping true to my goal of documentation, have taken notes on the core of each stream of content and whether it’s something to keep.
The article goes a step further. Selecting sources that are right for us is not as simple as defining topics - information is broken apart by gates, each that we can actively choose to open or close based on preference. These gates act as a basis for the information - for example, a paywall for certain articles - we determine whether that is a gate we want to open. Another example might be specific industry knowledge of a topic. The knowledge acts as a locked gate that can be unlocked through further research or left closed. The tradeoffs of choosing such gates are deeper than just sourcing for topics - it involves carefully processing the breadth and depth of the information we want, and iteratively tuning it so it fits with our routine and roles.
I love the article’s analogy to diet. Our bodies are built by what goes in, and as obvious as it is that we are faced with an information overload, it’s all too common to accept that as an unfortunate reality rather than an enabler for curation.
If you get a chance, do read the article and take some time to process it in regards to both information consumption and other areas of life. The process of defining the horizontal ‘breadth’ of the T is as equally important as finding sources that construct the verticle ‘depth,’ and the concept plays out in most endeavors. Nick deWilde gives steps for putting the ideas into practice, and much like everything else, even if the outcome doesn’t change, the exercise will force some sense of reflection and recognition.
Give it a read here.
Round 48!

What I'm Watching
The story of Instagram is a fun one. The app began as Burbn, a location-sharing app for ‘check-ins’ at various locations and events. Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger realized that the true value came from photo/video-sharing, where they doubled down and focused attention. The origins of any startup often follow the similar T-shaped experimentation model noted above - there is the initial period of building and experimenting, before realizing when and where to either deep dive or pivot into a new T altogether.
Attaching a video below that captures the key decisions and moments for the team - defining the right product, technical considerations for upload, and finding/sustaining growth. Simplicity is a result of making very difficult decisions, and the video touches on a few, including how to determine an optimized ‘feed’ for the user, and how they would construct ‘stories.’
Short video by the author of The Observer Effect, Sriram Krishnan.
How We Took Instagram To A Billion Users | Instagram Co-Founder Mike Krieger
What I'm Reading
I was hit with a slap of consulting reality this week as the project I was primed to work on lost its bid, wiping out all pre-work and initial development we had been sweating over. I had a bit more time this week to start planning next steps, both long and short term. I re-read one of Sam Altman’s posts on life and purpose.
Have to say, you get a true sense of your interests and time allocation when work is suddenly put aside.
My favorite one:
Minimize your own cognitive load from distracting things that don’t really matter. It’s hard to overstate how important this is, and how bad most people are at it. Get rid of distractions in your life. Develop very strong ways to avoid letting crap you don’t like doing pile up and take your mental cycles, especially in your work life.
The days are long but the decades are short - Sam Altman
Bye Bye CEO Bezos
It’s extraordinary to see a founder take a vision and not only masterfully execute on it, but continue taking on seemingly impenetrable industries. Bezos has done that and more, making bets that have tranformed industries and changed the methods of conducting work and life. He’s taken core competencies of Amazon and expanded on them while also applying them across complementary industries, all while continuing to take bets on the potential game-changers.
While Bezos’ stepping down from CEO may not change the day to day, it will allow him to further expand on this vision to broaden his focus and continue to look towards those moonshots.
Wanted to share Bezos’ letter he sent to employees upon his departure:
Fellow Amazonians:
I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO. In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives. Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.
This journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name. The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, “What’s the internet?” Blessedly, I haven’t had to explain that in a long while.
Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognized as one of the most successful companies in the world.
How did that happen? Invention. Invention is the root of our success. We’ve done crazy things together, and then made them normal. We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime’s insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more. If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.
I don’t know of another company with an invention track record as good as Amazon’s, and I believe we are at our most inventive right now. I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am. I think you should be.
As Amazon became large, we decided to use our scale and scope to lead on important social issues. Two high-impact examples: our $15 minimum wage and the Climate Pledge. In both cases, we staked out leadership positions and then asked others to come along with us. In both cases, it’s working. Other large companies are coming our way. I hope you’re proud of that as well.
I find my work meaningful and fun. I get to work with the smartest, most talented, most ingenious teammates. When times have been good, you’ve been humble. When times have been tough, you’ve been strong and supportive, and we’ve made each other laugh. It is a joy to work on this team.
As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition. Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions. I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.
Amazon couldn’t be better positioned for the future. We are firing on all cylinders, just as the world needs us to. We have things in the pipeline that will continue to astonish. We serve individuals and enterprises, and we’ve pioneered two complete industries and a whole new class of devices. We are leaders in areas as varied as machine learning and logistics, and if an Amazonian’s idea requires yet another new institutional skill, we’re flexible enough and patient enough to learn it.
Keep inventing, and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1.
-Jeff
In one of my first issues I wrote about Bezos’ minimization regret framework, which I continue to see as a guiding principle. Regardless of what you feel about him, his grit and determination to keep reaching is quite profound and highly inspiring.
Thank you all for reading! Until next week.
-SB
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