Deep in the trenches: September 7th 2020
Should you go wide or deep?, Paul Graham and Brian Chesky, and why I love my Kindle.
Good morning everyone, busy week last week so sending this a few days late.
For new subscribers, I share every two weeks:
1) Resources I've learnt from
2) A tool I'm enjoying
3) 1 thing I've learnt building actiondesk
4) What's on my reading list
Some interesting resources I’ve checked out lately:
David wrote a book called Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.
He explains in the podcast how we’ve misunderstood the famous 10,000 hours rule. Looking at sports specifically, he compares Tiger Woods to Roger Federer.
Tiger was trained very young to become a professional golf player by his dad.
Roger, on the other hand, practiced a wide variety of sports and activities, without any pressure from his parents, and decided to specialize in Tennis pretty late.
Epstein explains that there are way more Roger than Tiger.
Really enjoyed this discussion and it led me to finally pick up the book (it’s been on my to read (virtual) shelve for quite a while)
I always enjoy seeing this kind of behind the scene things. Also a good reminder that even the most successful companies were at some point only a few people focusing on getting that next user.
I liked two ideas from this podcast
About evaluating a product, Sahil said it’s pretty simple. Does it do what it’s supposed to do?
As absurd as it may sound, sometimes you can forget this as a founder
If it does what it’s supposed to do, then the next question is “Does it do it very well?”
Secondly, Sahil said that if he had to redo it again, he wouldn’t raise from VCs, he would only raise from many angels / founders.
While I wouldn’t go as far (ie not raise from VCs at all), if I could redo it again, I would definitely get more founders and smaller angels to invest in our seed round
I think the more people you have rooting for you, the better.
Usually, people who invest small checks (founders who are illiquid) haven’t invested in lots of companies. As a result, they’ll tend to follow what you’re doing more and be more available / helpful that bigger checks.
A tool I enjoy
In the 7th August edition of Deep in the trenches, I talked about how Amazon built the Kindle. A friend and reader (👋) told me that he preferred reading physical books.
My Kindle is probably one of my favorite products ever. I read all my books on it + many long form articles. Here’s what I like so much about it:
Portability: I pretty much always have my Kindle with me. Not having to carry 3-4 books when you’re travelling is an obvious plus as well
Accessibility: If I finish a book at 9pm, I can just buy a new one and read it. It takes 10 seconds.
For physical books, you could definitely buy books in advance. Now, I don’t know about you but I’m not good at knowing what book I want to read after my current book
When I was reading physical books, I’d buy books in advance, end up not reading them, and feel guilty about it
I much prefer a just in time approach
Highlighting: While the experience could be honestly much better (Kindle’s keyboard is terrible), being able to highlights text, takes notes and then being able to reuse this in your favorite note taking software is an absolute game changer vs reading a physical book.
Now, all that being said, it’s not the same feeling as holding a paper book, I totally agree, but the trade off is well worth it for me.
Some tools I use with my Kindle:
Kindle chrome extension: This under the radar extension is amazing. You can send any article to your Kindle.
Readwise connects to your Kindle and helps you manage your highlights
It can send you random highlights to you every day, so that you re read them and retain them better
They have a very good integration with Notion that syncs your highlights with Notion.
One thing I learnt while building actiondesk
In an early stage startup, being flexible with how you get to your vision based on what you learn with your users is key. At the same time, changing all the time and having no clear roadmap can be hard both for founders and for the team.
Finding the balance between these two is really hard
We haven’t cracked it but with the help of some of our investors, we’re implementing some things to get better
Having a clear plan for the next few quarters (ie which features to build, which marketing channel to work on, etc)
Acknowledge that this plan is not set in stone and might evolve
Reassess the plan frequently. A change to the plan should be based on something you recently learnt.
On my reading list
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