Tesla bot, Unicorn birth rate, RescueTime, Timeboxing explained, Facebook water consumption & Building accountability
29th August 2021 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“Do you know what we call a child that reads two books a year? Slow. Do you know what we call an adult that reads two books a year? Normal.” – Nic Peterson
Hope you’re Thriving!
I’ve had a good week, buoyed by rewriting a chapter in my new book about Onboarding. I’d finished the chapter, it was broadly good, but I didn’t feel it was great. And that sat with me for weeks and weeks, unable to move forward or back. So I rewrote it. It reminds me of the Ernest Hemingway quote, “I rewrote the ending to ‘Farewell to Arms,’ the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.”
So once isn’t thirty-nine times, but I appreciate the feeling.
Also, this week I was talking on the podcast with Kevin Lawrence, and he shared an excellent question for a leadership team. “If we had $100m in the bank, what would we do differently?” He shared that the CEO who posed the question spent an hour discussing it with the team, and importantly, they came up with at least a dozen ideas for things they should potentially prioritise. The point is not to dream about spending money but to challenge your team’s beliefs about the current importance of certain strategic areas of your business.
In this week’s podcast, Kevin and I talk about how the best leaders hold people accountable; more on that below, but first.
Tesla bot – a PR absurdity
On January 9, 2007, at the Macworld 2007 convention, Steve Jobs released the first iPhone stating to the delighted audience, “So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls. A revolutionary mobile phone. And a breakthrough internet communications device. An iPod. A phone. And an internet communicator. An iPod. A phone — are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device! And we are calling it iPhone.”
We subsequently learned that the demo iPhones Jobs used on stage weren’t quite ready, and one hour before the presentation, the engineers still couldn’t get the phones to complete a full run-through. The iPhone could play a section of a song or a video, but it couldn’t play an entire clip reliably without crashing. It worked fine if you sent an email and then surfed the Web. If you did those things in reverse, however, it might not. Hours of trial and error had helped the iPhone team develop what engineers called “the golden path,” a specific set of tasks performed in a specific way and order that made the phone look as if it worked.
The iPhones at the launch were buggy and crashed, but they were real and kind of worked, being ultimately complete and ready for sale within six months.
Imagine you were about to release a new product. You are excited to promote it and share the great work your team has done. You’re proud to demonstrate the features and benefits because it’s an actual product.
Yet this week, the ridiculousness that is tech demonstrations reached their logical, absurd conclusion when it was conceived that the Tesla Bot was actually just a PR stunt and that Elon Musk’s girlfriend was allegedly inside the robot suit. From the article above, “After first appearing stiff-armed and arthritic, the robot broke into dance. The fan fiction came to a fast end. Only a real live human could do the Charleston with such fluidity. The fabric of the robot’s all-white jumpsuit, with its accidentally stylish boat neck, creased as the robot danced. The human-robot was having fun. Too much fun.”
From the early days of showcasing tech that may have contained bugs but still functions, tech demos have evolved into storyboards of imaginary products held together with duct tape.
Unicorn birth rate
An interesting statistic I saw this week was about the Unicorns birth rate. Unicorns are defined as private companies with more than $1 billion in valuation. So, when a firm passes a $1 billion valuation, it becomes defined as a Unicorn. In Q2 2020, there were 23 unicorns born, and then in Q2 2021, there were 136 unicorns born. At this rate, 2021 will see more Unicorns born than the total of the past three years. So, the question is, are we getting more innovative, or is there a bubble around market valuations?
RescueTime the Deep Work coach
This week I came across an app that’s perhaps best described as a robotic Deep Work coach. Imagine a robot that watched what you were doing, and when you were performing focussed, deep work, and prompted you to get back on track. I love it because it knows when you’re having meetings and where you have opportunities in your calendar for deep work. And it knows when you’re distracted, prompting you to remove distractions and become focussed again. See the screenshots below for a couple of examples.
Note – I have no affiliation with and gain no compensation from Rescue Time; it just looks like a helpful tool.
Two years of timeboxing explained
A few weeks ago, I discussed the concept of Timeboxing and why timeboxing — migrating to-do lists into calendars — was ranked the most useful of all productivity efforts.
This week, I came across an article on the same subject written by Sam Corcos, the co-founder and CEO of Levels, a biowearable company that shows you how food affects your health using real-time biological data. Corcos was shocked after installing the RescueTime app mentioned above, which revealed he was spending more than three hours per day on social media and several additional hours consuming news – where he would have guessed at the time around 20 minutes.
That was two years ago, and between the RescueTime app and then the subsequent Timeboxing in his calendar, he transformed his productivity and measured the entire process. This article is detailed with many takeaways; for example, here is his takeaway number 1;
“Takeaway #1: You should primarily be an information router, and you need to make communication a top priority. Block off recurring blocks of time every day to process email. I know that I need to process 3-4 hours of email every day in order to stay on top of communication, so adding these blocks to my calendar forces me to stay realistic about how much other work I can actually do in a given week. Don’t treat communications as an afterthought. It’s your main job.”
I hope you gain value from the article An exact breakdown of how one CEO spent his first two years of company building
Facebook consumes the same water each year as around 37,500 people. This week, it announced it would restore more water than it consumes by 2030 when it’s aiming to have its entire supply chain produce net-zero emissions.
A US lab achieved a significant milestone this week in the goal to create a successful Nuclear Fusion reaction, with 70% of the energy delivered being released. Harnessing fusion, the process that powers the Sun, could provide a limitless, clean energy source.
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
Many leaders want to know how to hold a team accountable. Often they will look at team members and wonder why they aren’t accountable. In order to build accountability in a team, you need two things, the tools and the environment.
In this part one of two, we discuss the tools required to build accountability in your team.
How the best leaders hold people accountable (part 1 of 2)
Listen to The Growth Whisperers
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