"Everything Starts Out Looking Like a Toy" (No.29)
Streaks are more important than doing things perfectly
This week’s toy: a library of toy faces. Use this the next time you need a friendly face. Edition No. 29 of this newsletter is here - it’s January 16, 2021.
The Big Idea
I’m on vacation this weekend and I realized I didn’t want to miss writing this note, because I had committed to the habit of writing. Building a habit feels especially important in the time of COVID, perhaps because it’s something to control.
Habit building - creating muscle memory to allow your brain to activate while you get stuff done - is key to improving productivity. By moving the things you do well to an almost automated state, you expand what’s possible.
But habit building (and doing) doesn’t happen in an even curve. BJ Fogg, a researcher at Stanford, speaks of the difficulty of the task, your motivation to get it done, and the trigger (how you know you need to do it) as the key parts of a behavior model.
I believe the trigger itself is the most important part of completing each instance of your habit. Your body knows how to do the task. Your motivation can be tied to the loss aversion of not missing the trigger. But the trigger sets items in motion.
What’s the takeaway? It’s more important to do something than nothing. Try it the next time you get stuck.
Links for Reading and Sharing
These are links that caught my eye.
1/ AI can bake - Recipes made by machine learning are able to determine: cookie or bread? Seriously, if you train a model on recipes, it can predict what kind of baked goods you’ll end up with.
2/ what’s in a brand - 2021 has seen new brand images from Burger King, Pfizer, and now General Motors. GM’s new battery platform is also a big development. So why did they all change their logos? It can’t just be a desire to break with the past. They must really feel that consumers need newness and change after a year of stagnancy.
3/ Ai has vast national security implications - Ian Hogarth explains how AI is changing almost everything about geopolitics by moving the goalposts on what’s possible. The country with the best AI might have a new superiority that’s hard to overcome.
On the Reading/Watching List
WandaVision is the newest release from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, dropping on Disney+ this week but only two episodes at a time. Taking the form of an homage to classic sitcoms, it’s opening by setting the scene for finding out exactly what has happened to the Scarlet Witch since Avengers: Endgame.
I’m also reading Tom Hanks’ compilation of stories: Uncommon Type. This is a fun way to peer inside the mind of an actor, by seeing how he envisions a scene.
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.
Want more essays? Read on Data Operations or other writings at gregmeyer.com.
The next big thing always starts out