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Taking a look back at 2020
"Everything Starts Out Looking Like a Toy" (No.27)
This week’s toy: I was surprised to learn that Nintendo once considered creating a work-ready version of the Game Boy called the Workboy. Smash Bros would look different for sure in a work context. Edition No. 27 of this newsletter is here - it’s January 2, 2021.
The Big Idea
It’s do over time. Happy New Year. A time to start fresh. But what really changed since last year?
Taking a Look Back
This week is my annual review for the previous year. I did some things that I thought were great this year. I also missed the mark on some others. One thing I do at the end of the year is to start by making a list of all of the things I can remember about the previous one. These might be accomplishments, successes, and failures. Usually there are surprises when I find a record of something I didn’t remember.
When I have that list of items I look for themes.
What went well? Quantifying an achievement by noting that something (a metric) moved from x to y by a date is a great way to measure concretely. For example, I’ve published this little newsletter 27 times in a row on a Saturday this year. I don’t think every week has been great, and I am quite proud of maintaining the streak.
What didn’t go well? There are a few work projects that I started, and then didn’t complete. I am revisiting at least one of those projects soon, and setting different goals to complete this year.
Looking Forward to a New Year
A new year is an opportunity to try something new. It’s also a good time to acknowledge that some things are going to be quite similar. I know that to succeed I need to be more specific about my goals to know whether I reach them.
For this newsletter, I’d like to up my frequency of writing so that I always write two times a week instead of one. I’d like to have 500 subscribers by the end of the year. And I want to turn these writings into a coherent manuscript that will either drive 2-3 long form posts or a book proposal.
These seem specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and time bound. Ask me how I’m doing on these as the year goes on!
What will change?
Change is constant. In 2021, I hope to advise more companies, help more people, and write more. I want to be more present at work and at home. I also want to be more honest with myself and to say “no” when I don’t want to do something instead of always saying “yes.” Just writing this won’t make it happen, so I want to use affirmative, clear goals to make it easy to measure.
What’s the takeaway? Holding yourself accountable by writing specific plans is the first step to a different future.
We’d like to know …
Your Year in Spotify might have looked pretty weird if you don’t listen algorithmicly. Do you curate playlists, try to listen to artists, or embrace your inner random by streaming whatever your music service recommends?
Click the tweet to tell us how you’re voting.
Links for Reading and Sharing
These are links that caught my eye.
1/ If you need to validate, just do it - Jason Fried writes that testing your idea is the best way to validate it. Trying to understand all the possible outcomes is much harder than testing and understanding a real-life outcome.
2/ Why you might need to learn about Blockchain - Even if you don’t have any bitcoin, you might need to learn about Blockchain. This is a great introduction to the idea of immutable information and how it can open up new frontiers in the data world.
3/ Success happens after the sale - this chart from Jamin Ball at Redpoint does a great job placing public cloud companies on the same playing field. To excel, land and expand.
On the Reading/Watching List
It’s not what I thought I would be watching this weekend, but Ratatousical is charming, witty, and an interesting blueprint for crowdsourcing creative development, especially among character properties that already exist. It started on TikTok with a joke, and ended with a Disney-sanctioned benefit to out of work actors. Read more about how this came to be here.
I love time travel books. So I’m excited to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue about a woman who seamlessly visits many places, until she is recognized by someone who knows her name.
What to do next
Hit reply if you’ve got links to share, data stories, or want to say hello.
I’m grateful you read this far. Thank you. If you found this useful, consider sharing with a friend.
The next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.” - Chris Dixon