The First Letter 💌

Happy Monday!

Welcome to the first edition of Wisdom Mining newsletter. This week’s findings are sourced from:

  • Articles 🗞

  • Books 📚

  • Poetry 📖

  • Quotes 💬

I’ve added source links after excerpts. Book links refer back to Goodreads profile so they are not affiliated. The overall theme of today’s letter is two-dimensional: (a) Growth-mindset, and (b) leadership.

Without further ado, let’s jump on to it.


How to secure competitive advantage consistently?

..is a million-dollar question, particularly in the era which is defined by the emergence of populism, black swan events, technological and AI disruptions, and competing new players in the global arena. Morgan Housel wrote this excellent a couple years back on his reflection on “Ideas that change the world”. The whole article is highly readable (reading time < 6 mins) but the following excerpt is of particular importance:

The only truly sustainable sources of competitive advantage I know of are:

  • Learn faster than your competition.

  • Empathize with customers more than your competition.

  • Communicate more effectively than your competition.

  • Be willing to fail more than your competition.

  • Wait longer than your competition.

Everything else – intelligence, design, insight – gets smashed to pieces by competitors who are almost certainly as smart as you.

Source: Article 🗞

Building a radically candid culture of excellence

…is not easy but Kim Scott’s Radical Candor does a great job in talking about both the philosophy and tools to achieve that. The first half of the book focuses on the meta of the organizational culture and debunks several popular assumptions about both being a leader and expectations from leaders. The key thing is to have a culture of radical openness and encouraging positive criticism where the entire team (and not just a leader) feels and owns a drive towards achieving success. But what if a team leader makes a mistake? In the second part of the book, where Kim focuses on the tools, it is suggested for team leaders to ask (and implore) team members for criticism. This criticism towards a leader servers two purposes: (a) course-correction, and (b) building an open culture that values growth over opinions, titles etc. Kim writes:

Once I figured out who on my team was most comfortable criticizing me, I would ask that person to do it in front of others at a staff meeting or an all-hands meeting. They were always reluctant at first—“What about ‘criticize in private’?” But when you are the boss, that rule doesn’t apply to you. When you encourage people to criticize you publicly, you get the chance to show your team that you really, genuinely want the criticism. You also set an ideal for the team as a whole: everyone should embrace criticism that helps us do our jobs better. The bigger the team, the more leverage you get out of reacting well to criticism in public.

My 2c: The book is a must-read if you are in any leadership position.

Source: Radical Candor by Kim Scott 📚

The Road Not Taken

Over the years, I’ve returned to Robert Frost many times and have always enjoyed his work as the first reading. Here to those who take the toad less travelled...

Source: The Road Not Taken 📖

On the ‘meta’ of reading

The goal of reading, and generally of life long learning, is to think and do better. However, sometimes I tend to focus too much on metrics instead of goals (Cobra effect) e.g. measures such as “# of pages ready / day” or “# of books read/year”. It is good to be focused on productivity and being goal-driven but if that drive is not resulting in realizing value, then perhaps a reminder to the original goal may help (thanks to Epictetus):

“Don't just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.”

― Epictetus, The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness

Source: Epictetus Quotes (via Goodreads) 💬

Thanks for reading the first letter. See you next week! Stay tuned and feel free to forward to your friends.

PS. If you have any suggestion, ideas or want to contribute, please share with me, I would love to hear back from you 🙏🏼.