So Good, Matters

10/14 - What's Next

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So Good They Can't Ignore You

The first idea is that ‘follow your passion’ is terrible career advice, and people who say this should be shot don't know what they're talking about. Cal Newport calls this idea of following your passion ‘the passion hypothesis’.

The second idea is that instead of believing in the passion hypothesis, you should adopt what Newport calls the ‘craftsman mindset’. The craftsman mindset is that you should focus on gaining rare and valuable skills, since this is what leads to good career outcomes.

The third idea is that autonomy is the most important component of a ‘dream’ job. Newport argues that when choosing between two jobs, there are compelling reasons to ‘always’ pick the one with higher autonomy over the one with lower autonomy.

The fourth idea is that having a ‘mission’ or a ‘higher purpose’ in your job is probably a good idea, and is really nice if you can find it.

Prosperity, Not Upward Mobility, Is What Matters

The head of the Statue of Liberty on view in Paris in 1878

So, rather than comparing how one’s income ranks relative to others all across the country, it would be wiser to focus on an absolute measure of social mobility, one that describes an individual’s changing level of prosperity over time. After all, average citizens are typically unaware of whether the rate of relative social mobility has gone up or down; they do, however, have a keen appreciation of whether their material standard of living is better than what they experienced as a child under their parents’ roof.

In this regard, America is doing quite well. According to the Brookings Institution, 67 percent of Americans born in 1968 had higher levels of real family income between 1995 and 2002 than their parents had a generation earlier. The overall proportion of children who were better off than their parents increased to 81 percent when incomes were adjusted for family size; most of those who were not better off than their parents were born to families with the highest incomes. When broken down into upper and lower income groups, four out of five children from the bottom fifth of the income distribution had higher family incomes than their parents. The median income for this group was twice as high as that of their parents. Moreover, the U.S. remains one of the only places in the world where the children of immigrants regularly go on to achieve a socioeconomic profile mirroring that of the general population—as adults, they have similar median incomes, college graduation rates, rates of homeownership, and poverty rates as the nation as a whole.

Ayn Rand on Why Philosophy Matters

She suggests we need philosophy to help develop our values, and to defend ourselves against manipulation and control. Rand posits that everyone has a personal philosophy.

[y]our only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation—or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self-doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind’s wings should have grown.

How Kirkland Signature powers Costco's success

Costco sells Kirkland Signature in everything from meat to golf balls.

Costco's house brand, Kirkland Signature, is even bigger than you might think.

Last year, it raked in nearly $40 billion, an 11% increase from 2017. That's more than JCPenney and Macy's combined. Kirkland's sales also beat out Campbell Soup, Kellogg, and Hershey put together.

How college admissions offices rank prospects before they apply

Before many schools even look at an application, they comb through prospective students’ personal data, such as web-browsing habits and financial history.

Records and interviews show that colleges are building vast repositories of data on prospective students — scanning test scores, Zip codes, high school transcripts, academic interests, Web browsing histories, ethnic backgrounds and household incomes for clues about which students would make the best candidates for admission. At many schools, this data is used to give students a score from 1 to 100, which determines how much attention colleges pay them in the recruiting process.

Which Way Do You Run?

When you found a company, it tends to get wired into your nervous system. I used to become physically ill whenever there was something wrong in the company — even if I didn’t know what it was. Even if I couldn’t see it, I could feel it. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling. Most good founder/CEOs that I know have this same, gnarly experience. Unfortunately, feeling it turns out to be the easy part of the job.

The hard part is what do you do when you feel that dread? Do you run towards your fear or do you run away from it?

Which way you run is often the key differentiator between effective and ineffective CEOs. Almost all CEOs know where the problems are, but only the truly elite ones run towards the fear.

Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan

Bezos loves the word relentless—it appears again and again in his closely read annual letters to shareholders—and I had always assumed that his aim was domination for its own sake. In an era that celebrates corporate gigantism, he seemed determined to be the biggest of them all. But to say that Bezos’s ultimate goal is dominion over the planet is to misunderstand him. His ambitions are not bound by the gravitational pull of the Earth.

To climb Amazon’s organizational chart is to aspire to join the inner sanctum at the very peak, called the S-Team (“the senior team”). These are the 17 executives who assemble regularly with Bezos to debate the company’s weightiest decisions. Bezos treats the S-Team with familial affection; its members come closest to being able to read his mind. The group has absorbed the Bezos method and applies it to the corners of the company that he can’t possibly touch. According to James Thomson, a manager who helped build Amazon Marketplace, where anyone can sell new or used goods through the website, “At most companies, executives like to show how much they know. At Amazon, the focus is on asking the right question. Leadership is trained to poke holes in data.”

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