But What For Newsletter - No. 004

History, Compounding, Hard Work, Easy Things, and Marketing

Latest from But What For?

Knowing History and Knowing Who We Are: “Standing where you are today, your future can only be seen through an appreciation for the past – through an understanding of the history of who you are. And you are much more than your own story. Without an understanding of this complicated, tangled path we have collectively taken to get to today, we have no roots…”

Others to Read

Success Comes from Daily Disciplines Compounded Over Time: “Ultimately, this comes down to a commitment to small, smart decisions performed on a regular basis. Over time, these decisions compound into effective habits and routines, the true drivers of discipline, confidence, and ultimately, success.

Your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time. Of all the high-achievers and business owners I’ve worked with, I’ve seen that, along with good habits, each has developed routines for accomplishing necessary daily disciplines. It’s the only way any of us can predictably regulate our behavior.”

People Who Say “Work Smart Not Hard: “The smart-hard thing isn’t and either or - it’s an ‘and’… The people who say you should work smart, nto hard, pretty much always fail… there are counter examples, but those are more people who benefited from luck.”

Obvious Things That Are Easy To Ignore: “‘The world is full of obvious things which nobody ever observes,’ says Sherlock Holmes…

It’s not that the simple things are hidden. It’s that our attention is drawn to things we assume make the biggest difference, and the idea that obvious equals ineffective is more powerful than the reverse.”

Surfing the Right S-Curve: “ Since the industrial revolution, US growth has been eerily stable over long periods, but the nature of that growth has completely changed. Economic growth is one S-curve stacked on top of another, ad infinitum, and as the economy gets bigger and more complex, the law of large numbers gets stronger.

Inside that fitted-exponential-hugging trendline is an endless series of stories of daring, ambition, hubris, and stagnation, all occurring at different timescales. For the most successful people and companies, success is a matter of identifying when the plot will get depressing, and switching stories before it does.”

Moonshots and Marketing: “I think with Starbucks, and this might be replicable for anybody who's looking invest, I think if you only sell one thing and you're all about one thing, you can charge more for that one thing than you can if you sell coffee as a side item. If you're a cafe which also sells coffee, people will pay $2 for a coffee. If you make your brand all about coffee, and of course there's an element of signaling that people walk into work carrying a branded cup.”

Stoic’s Corner

“Now since everyone, whoever he may be, is bound to deal with each matter in accordance with the belief that he holds about it, those few who think they were born for fidelity, for self-respect, and for the sound use of impressions will never harbour any mean or ignoble thought about themselves, whereas the majority of people will do exactly the opposite.

'For what am I? A poor wretched man,' they say, or 'This miserable flesh of mine'.

Miserable, to be sure, but you also have something better in you than that poor flesh. Why do you neglect that, then, and attach yourself to what is mortal?”

-Epictetus, Discourses, Book 1, 1.3, translation by Robin Hard

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