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.
"Will I finish this book in a few months?" = uncertainty
"What shape will this book take in a few months?" = ambiguity