21: Procrasti-nation

April 11, 2023


I’d stopped writing weeknotes because I felt they took up a lot of my precious writing time. But without them, I found myself completely unable to put any semblance of weekly records together over the past few months. So, back to square one. I’m sure there’s a Kannada proverb about this exact situation out there. There always is.

In no particular order, some updates:

I finished reading Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel, and I really liked it. It struck me as quite Erin Morgenstern-meets-Becky Chambers at first, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. The writing was so soft and lyrical, I would often forget that I was reading a descriptions of the insidious effects of a world-changing pandemic, much like we experienced with That Which Must Not Be Named in the last three years. I am for sure coming back to this book in a year or so.

I’m finally catching up on Shadow and Bone S2. I loved the Six of Crows and King of Scars duologies — but despite how they’ve turned two storylines separated by 50 years into one glorious rubber band ball, I still find myself enjoying the show. The casting is impeccable, every other show take notes. What I don’t mind having less of, though, is Alina and Mal — I really wish they’d just get on with it.

At work, we’re reprising Pause, which means I’m dusting off volumes of knowledge in my brain library that I didn’t think I’d need for a while again. I will admit, without going into details, that’s it’s been gruelling on the mind and the body. It is incredibly challenging to run a startup, even in (or because of?) a red ocean market with proven successes. And here’s a tangential issue: I’m hearing a lot of new information everyday, but because of the speed at which we’re moving, I end up deprioritising note-taking and record-keeping in favour of some Other Urgent Task. I’m considering subscribing to Otter for calls, and keeping a little notebook or voice recorder on me to at least have notes in spoken form.

Speaking of spoken form, I was featured in a podcast: The Ken’s Cost to Company! It is absolutely my first-ever time being on one. True to form, I went and walked into one of the most controversial topics out there: the defence of Gen Z. The questions were interesting, though (hat tip to Shreevar) and I thought about them long and hard before answering them during the recording. I’m proud of myself for doing it, but I do have some speaking-related points that I’d like to work on:

  • I use way too many filler words and verbal hiccups like “um” and “uh”

  • Off-script questions throw me completely off-kilter and for no reason

  • If I’m going to be on more podcasts, I’m going to invest in a better microphone. AirPods just didn’t cut it, even though I used the sweet little podcast room we have at the Obvious HQ

I’m thinking about ambiguity, because Stanford d.school’s Guide to Navigating Ambiguity just made clear a distinction I’d never seen all my life: ambiguity ≠ uncertainty. A longer essay on this is forthcoming, but here are some notes from the book.

  • uncertainty implies that there is something to be uncertain about, so it's more black and white because an absolute truth exists.

  • ambiguity has no single correct answer, no absolute truth.

  • our brains are programmed to crave certainty over ambiguity. They bias towards certainty even if the best outcome right now is to remain open.

  • Premature certainty can reduce the richness of complexity, lead to drawing faulty conclusions and oversimplifying problems.

  • Example:

    • "Will I finish this book in a few months?" = uncertainty

    • "What shape will this book take in a few months?" = ambiguity

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