Business moats, Visualizing time, Asimov on Creativity, B Corps

Happy weekend, during the last two weeks, I was a bit busy with personal commitments, plus that I was busy working on some of my other projects. Two weeks ago, I was taking a writing class (gifted to me by my wife), following that, I started investing more time into writing, just for fun, and for the sake of clearing my mind. Generally, writing seems to help me understand myself better. I can even claim that it's a meditative exercise. 

A few days ago, I decided to publish one of my short reflective stories; it was about my childhood memories as a young boy in Egypt going out every morning to buy fresh bread and falafel for breakfast. I have received very positive feedback from my network. So I will try to publish more of these short stories in the future. Check it out and let me know if you liked it.


 Table of contents:

  1. Moats and defensibility for startups

  2. Visualizing time

  3. There is more to life than profit

  4. Isaac Asimov's "On Creativity"

  5. Yuri Veerman's Art


1. Moats and defensibility for startups

Recently, the topic of business moats and defensibility came up during one of my product management mentoring sessions. The question was, how do startups define their moats? 

The question reminded me of this article by Jerry Neumann. If you're not familiar with this term, a moat is whatever tactic or tool a business can use to stop the competition from eating its market share. 

A lot of VCs like to talk about the importance of moats, but if you try to look around for startups that have strong moats, you will find it hard to name many. The reality is that most startups start as a very fragile organization with some idea about a problem they can solve for some market segment. The only way for that startup to survive is to move fast to acquire more customers and delay any confrontation with the bigger company until the startup is strong enough to withstand a direct fight. That’s exactly what Clayton Christensen described in his book, The Innovator's Dilemma. 

Delaying the confrontation can be done by either choosing to start focusing on a niche market segment that the big competitor doesn't pay much attention to (at least on the short term), or by trying to focus on a different geographic market. If the startup and the incumbent are both operating in isolated bubbles that never cross, the startup will have a better chance to grow its muscles without interruption. 

Most moats are a side effect of being a bigger, stronger company with more cash reserves, more powerful relationships, and more human resources. So a startup should focus first on defining the maneuvering strategy that can help it acquire more cash, and more customers, before worrying about all other kinds of moats. For a list of all possible moats, check Newmann’s article.


2. Visualizing time

Time is precious, we all know that, but maybe you never tried to visualize it, or look at it in this way. This blog post from Wait But Why blew my mind. It was published in 2015, but its content will be forever green. Tim Urban (the author) shared some visualizations and simple math about the average human life, not measuring life by years, but by events, memories, and experiences. If you live till you're 90, how many more tacos would you be able to eat? How many family trips would you be able to have with your parents or with your kids? How many more books would you be able to read? 

This logic is a great way to keep us aware of how finite our time is and how careful we should be when defining our life priorities.


3. There is more to life than profit

I came across this podcast interview with Yancey Strickler, the co-founder and former CEO of Kickstarter. If you don't know, sometime in 2015, Kickstarter switched its business entity structure from being a C Corp (Inc) to being a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC). During the interview, Yancey talked about what does that mean, and why it was necessary. 

I was surprised then to learn that C Corps are legally required to mainly and only maximize the value for their shareholders regardless of any negative impact on society or the environment. The law gives shareholders the right to sue the C Corp if it decides to take any action that serves the community or the environment at the expense of profits. That's why Kickstarter and many other companies decided to register their organizations as a PBC/B Corp. A Public Benefit Corp is a new kind of business structure that grants businesses the freedom to be both focused on profit and the public good at the same time. 

That structure doesn't only provide legal protection for the business, but it also creates the kind of internal culture that has its priorities and values clear to everyone. It's a good interview, listen to it, you will learn about why we need more companies that set delivering a positive social impact as one of their top priorities, and really mean it.  


4. Isaac Asimov's "On Creativity"

I was having a discussion recently about creativity, and it reminded me of this essay by Isaac Asimov, the great science fiction writer. In this essay, he put his thoughts about how to get the best ideas out of people. First, you need the right people, the ones that can make connections between two or more different topics. Second, you need to give them time to think about the problem in isolation. Third, you need to provide them with a safe space where they can share their thoughts with each other. 

Asimov's approach is very different from how most organizations run their creativity/brainstorming sessions. Maybe more of us should adopt Asimov's approach and document the experience. 


5. Yuri Veerman's Art

I can't claim that I'm a big follower of the Art scene, but my wife showed me this website of the Dutch artist Yuri Veerman, and I found many of his art projects interesting. The kind I wish I would have worked on myself. His Koppie Koppie project was a website that sold coffee mugs with prints of photos of random babies and children found on the internet. It was an awareness campaign about privacy and the risks of putting your children's photos online. Putin a Rainbow is another one that makes fun of Putin's anti-gay policy and his strange banning of rainbows in Russia. There are many other projects that you can check out on his website.


That’s it. Did you enjoy reading this issue of the newsletter? please forward and share it with your network. Also, subscribe, if you’re not subscribed already.

PS: Reply to this email if you have feedback, or shout at me on twitter.

Till next time,
Shreef

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This year's Nobel Prize drama, Human workers in Asia are still cheaper than robots

Google, all the things! and Greatest Events of WWII in Colour

I hope you had a good week, My gift to you today is not to cover anything about Disney+, but I can’t promise that I won’t cover it in future issues. If you really can’t wait, I recommend that you listen to this podcast episode from Recode Media.


This year's Nobel Prize drama

Do you have a very smart friend that never gets a haircut except for once a year by the end of September? If yes, I’m afraid to tell you that your friend is an aspiring Nobel prize winner.

Every year around that same time, the new Nobel prize winners get announced to the world, and according to the old tradition, at least one of the prize winners should be the subject of an internet fight.

This year’s internet fight was about 3 of those winners: A. Banerjee, E. Duflo, and M. Kremer won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty. The 3 economists have been strong contributors to the increasing adoption of RCTs (Randomized Controlled Trials, A/B tests) to tackle poverty problems.

The award divided the economists on the internet into 2 groups:

The first, happy for the winners and excited about the increasing use of RCTs in development economics.

The second, angry about that choice and undermine the value of RCTs. Their argument against RCTs is that they are hard to implement accurately and that they drive solutions that are hard to replicate under other conditions. This group is instead in favor of tackling the harder problem that will have a bigger impact, which is developing economic models that can help solve the root cause of poverty.

Does that sound familiar?
The whole thing reminds me of the same debates Design & Product people get involved in about the use of RCTs (A/B testing) when building products.

Some groups usually blame RCTs for being focused only on solving measurable problems and for being short term focused. While this is not always true (it depends on how you use the tool), this group’s recommended approach is to go after big daring projects that are high in risk, but higher in impact.

I don’t personally believe that one approach is always better than the other, but both approaches should get used whenever and wherever it makes sense. Actually, both approaches can be used in parallel with each other.

In the context of tackling poverty-related problems, there is nothing wrong with running small and focused RCTs that try to find effective solutions for specific problems like, how to get more babies vaccinated? how to get more children to not drop out of school? how to get more poor households to benefit from government-sponsored programs?

While answering one of these questions for the residents of one city in a poor country is not going to solve the root causes of their poverty, still, this answer would help introduce a small incremental improvement to the quality of their lives while they wait for the big high impact solutions to be discovered.

If you have some time to learn more about the use of RCTs to reduce poverty, watch the following talk by Esther Duflo (one of the winners). She gives some examples, and honestly they look very similar to RCTs I run with my teams at work but in a different context. I’m happy to share my learnings with others who work in the field of development.


Google, all the things!

This week, Ben Thompson wrote three times about Google. The first 2 times were about their travel & shopping ad products and the third was about their newest payment product. (Everyone is doing payments now)

Add to that, some news leaked that they have built a search engine for medical records that already has access to the medical records of millions of US citizens. Also, the week before they acquired Fitbit for $2.1 Billion (just 1.7% of Google’s cash reserve). The Fitbit deal gives them access to the health data of 28 million active Fitbit users, which seems to be like a good amount of data to start training some new health-related machine learning models.

While there is some chance that Google is going to use this health data to advertise consumers something sooner or later, most probably the first thing to happen is that Google will start utilizing consumer’s search queries and other information they know about them to enrich the medical records they have, and based on that deliver better health predictions about consumers to their doctors and to the health insurance companies.

I really think that Facebook is getting too much attention from everyone just because of their impact on politics, but the real big unstoppable machine is Google.


Human workers in Asia are still cheaper than robots

We'd be a bit nervous if we saw this in the park (MIT)

If you thought that the robots are about to take over all the jobs in factories, it seems like you’re wrong, at least about some of the robots. Adidas announced this week that they are going to shut down their brand new robot factories located in Germany and the USA.

The new plan is to move the production back to Asia where Adidas indirectly employes 1 million workers through its contract factories. While this is not good news for the American or German factory workers, it’s amazing news for the Asian workers that would have struggled if the robots were ready to take over their jobs.

Considering the rapid development in the robotics industry, I would not be surprised if Adidas decides to give the robots factory another shot in 5 years from now.

While robots are not that efficient when it comes to making shoes, they are still very capable of handling a lot of other tasks.

Job losses due to automation

Oxford Economics shared recently its analysis and predictions about the impact of automation on factory workers. The big prediction they have is that by 2030, around 20 million factory jobs will disappear across the world, but they expect that each new robot will increase the economy’s productivity and as a side effect will increase the demand for new workers in the job sectors that can’t be automated yet.

Considering that the average career for workers is 45 years, this means that the low end of workers (the ones with the highest risk of losing their job to a robot) will be changing careers 2 to 4 times. One time for every new significant improvement to the robotics technology, with the assumption that the robots are not going to accelerate their learning speed over time.

What’s the take away for the young people entering the job market for the first time? look for jobs that are hard to automate. Most probably the ones that are very unstructured, and require a lot of emotions, and human connection.


Good Ads

While I don’t sell ads on this newsletter, I want to use this section to advertise good causes. This time I want to persuade you to consider using Kiva to lend money directly to people in need of microloans that can help them get clean water, buy a new cow, or start some small project to feed the family.

This is not a donation, your money will come back to you in installments over a 1 to 2 years schedule. If you have read the previous issue of my newsletter, maybe you remember the article I shared about the negative interest rates. Maybe this is a better way for you to stash a few of your millions without suffering from the negative interest rates. [This is not financial advice, I’m just throwing ideas].

Do good on Kiva, now!


Image result for Greatest Events of WWII in Colour

Greatest Events of WWII in Colour

What am I watching these days, you ask? I’m watching this documentary about WWII on Netflix. As an Egyptian, I didn’t learn much at school about the wars that happened outside Egypt and the Middle East. Sorry, we had our own long list of wars that filled all the time during our history classes.

After moving to Europe, I thought that it might be a good idea to start learning about these other wars I didn’t know much about. Luckily, Netflix and youtube have a rich library of war documentaries that can keep me busy for years.


That’s it for this week. If you enjoyed this issue of my newsletter, forward it to your friends, and ask them to subscribe to the newsletter, and follow me on twitter (@shreef). Also, send me your feedback.

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Have a good weekend!
Shreef

Don’t call yourself a programmer, Negative interest rates, and ..

The grandfather of Silicon Valley venture capital, and The Zombie Campaign

It’s 2 weeks already into my 3 months parental leave. I can’t deny that I’m enjoying it. Our newborn son is taking some steady steps towards recovering from a health issue he started to have a few weeks after he was born. Which means that there are decreasing stress levels on me and my wife, with more free time for both of us to relax a bit and work on our own personal todo lists.

My personal todo list is full of books/articles to read, movies/documentaries to watch, side projects to work on, and more working out. All the things I keep adding to the list but never had time for.

I’m even back to coding. It’s 2.5 years already since I transitioned into product management. Since then, I didn’t write any code beyond some basic python in Jupyter to analyze some data. I’m really happy to be coding again. I’m getting my hands dirty building something with Django on top of AWS, and it feels like a rollercoaster.

Coding is fun until you hit a roadblock. That bug that comes out of nowhere, the error message that makes no sense, and the StackOverflow question with no answers. I had one of these yesterday, and it took me 24 hours to figure it out. I was a bit angry about that bug, but here I’m happy again and proud of myself after finding out how to fix it. Coding is really a Goddamn rollercoaster, but that’s what makes it interesting for a lot of creative people, and I think I miss that rollercoaster.


Now let me share with you some of the interesting stuff I came across during the week.

Negative interest rates, the mystery!

Negative interest rates have been alive and kicking in Europe since 2014. It’s a very interesting phenomenon that even economists and finance professionals have no idea how it works exactly. That was Howard Marks’ (famous investor) reaction when he was asked to write about this topic.

"I can’t. I don’t know anything about them” and then I relaized that’s the point. No one does.

So he wrote this memo in a try to answer these questions:

  • Why do negative rates happen?

  • Why do investors buy negative yield bonds even though they know that this will make them lose money? Are they crazy?

  • How do consumers react to negative interest rates? spend more or save more?

  • What can you do in response to the negative interest rates?

Howard raises more questions every time he tries to answer one of his questions, but this makes it an interesting read. Read the full memo here.


The grandfather of Silicon Valley venture capital

Don Valentine, the founder of Sequoia Capital, passed away couple weeks ago. As one of the first VCs in Silicon Valley, he has been involved in a lot of the technology innovations that came out of the valley. Starting from semiconductors and personal computers; to e-commerce and digital entertainment.

While going through my twitter feed, a video of one of his old talks (2010) given at Stanford’s Grad School of Business, caught my attention.

Here are my notes for you if you have no time to watch the video.

  • Storytelling is a critical skill, but we (Sequoia) deal with a lot of smart people who don't know how to tell a story. So we make it our job to come up with the right questions that can get the right answers out of those people.

  • When one of our companies fail, we conduct a post-mortem to understand what questions we should have asked to be able to see what we couldn't see back then.

  • Creating new markets is very expensive. We look for existing big markets to invest in. After we find the big market, we try to find out how we (Sequoia) and those founders can build a big company in that market.

  • We teach our founders the power of outsourcing. As a startup, you have to be very good at very few things, mainly the technology. The rest should be outsourced.

  • We have a search function that keeps looking for the right talent. Not like other investors, we don't wait till founders knock on our door, we knock on their door first.

  • We don’t care about balance sheets. Cash is all that matters. So we hire CFOs for our startups that are wizards when it comes to generating cash flow. That’s how to build resilient companies.

  • As venture capitalists, we survive by being able to connect the dots today to see the future. Technologies and dysfunctions that exist today can help us visualize how the world will look like in a few years.


Do you want to know what data companies have about you?

Kashmir Hill published this article on the NY Times and it’s an understatement to say that this article caused a big headache for the companies mentioned.

Kashmir used her GDPR rights to ask for a report with all the data stored about her. She received a 400 pages report that included detailed information about her interactions with different companies, like Conibase, Yelp, Airbnb, and others.

No, she was not asking these prementioned companies to hand her her data. Actually, she asked 3rd party companies that collect this data from different companies to be able to build fraud detection products and other products that can classify and predict the behavior of specific consumers (the data is not anonymized).

Do you want to get your report too? follow the instructions she provides near the end of the article. Also, use this GDPR template when asking companies to send you a report about your data.


The Zombie Campaign

Olivia Nuzzi wrote beautifully about Joe Biden’s campaign for president. I don’t usually read very long articles about American politics, but this one was worth it.

The future of this campaign is not so bright, but the fact that it has been that strong for so long, says a lot about how the average American decides on who is worthy of being a president or not.


Don’t call yourself a programmer

I’ve been following Patrick McKenzie for some time on Twitter, but I never noticed that he has a blog until recently. His writings appeal mainly to people working in technology.

If you’re starting your career as a “programmer”, check out this blog post. It explains why you should not call yourself a programmer, and many other tips that will help you have a better career. Some of the things you should learn about your job are

  • Engineers are hired to create business value, not to program things

  • You are not defined by your chosen software stack

  • You radically overestimate the average skill of the competition because of the crowd you hang around with

  • Networking: it isn’t just for TCP packets

  • Modesty is not a career-enhancing character trait

  • All business decisions are ultimately made by one or a handful of multi-cellular organisms closely related to chimpanzees, not by rules or by algorithms

  • At the end of the day, your life happiness will not be dominated by your career

It took me many years to learn these lessons, and I still struggle acting on some of these learnings. Your career in tech can benefit a lot from reading this blog post. Once you are done, check more of what Patrick wrote on his blog.

One last thing, I really like how he describes himself in the about page.

Who are you, anyway? A great question! I write well and prolifically, generally on the intersection of marketing and engineering. I’m not the best marketer or engineer in the world, but I’m a better engineer than almost all marketers and a better marketer than almost all engineers. Tactically abusing this combination prints money in a very intellectually interesting way; this site is mostly war stories from doing that. You can read my brief bio for the highlights.

I think that’s how I see myself too, not the best engineer, or the best marketer, or the best product manager. Just the fact that I can mix these skills together gives me a new superpower. Also, his focus on good writing resonates well with me. I get compliments about my writing, but I want to improve it more, and even work harder on improving my speaking skills. As Don Valentine said, storytelling is a critical skill.


That’s it for this week. If you enjoyed this issue of my newsletter, forward it to your friends, and ask them to subscribe to the newsletter, and follow me on twitter (@shreef).

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Have a good weekend!
Shreef

Mentmento, Validating the problem, and making it to #2 Product of the day on Product Hunt

My reflection on 2 days of work trying to validate a problem through an MVP

You don’t know that, but I’m a bit late to send this newsletter!

My plan was to send it on Friday night so you can read it on Saturday morning while you are still in your comfy pajamas. Things didn’t go as planned for the newsletter, but it was going better for another side project I’m working on.

Mentmento, that other project

Since the time (2011) I’ve been working on my first startup back home in Egypt, I learned that having a mentor (or a network of mentors) is essential for accelerating my learnings and growth. Over the years, I continued to maintain my network of mentors, and always reached out to the right people to get their advice on whatever problems or decisions I’m facing.

I have been trying since then to pay it forward by always taking phone calls or meetings with people that ask me for career or personal advice. I have a long list of failures (and occasional successes) that can help me put a list of options in front of them, with the pros and cons of each, and my recommended option.

Recently, while enjoying my parental leave, I started to think about how to make it easier for others to grow their network of mentors and at the same time introduce more new people to mentoring others.

First, before jumping into defining how to do that, I wanted to get some signal about the problem and the demand for mentors. I first asked my twitter network to answer a short poll about whether they have a mentor or not? and if not, then are they looking for a mentor?

Based on the answers from that small group, it seemed like there is some demand for having a mentor. Also, the question itself triggered some interesting discussions about the topic.

My next step was to try to get more detailed answers from a bigger sample. At work (we’re hiring), I would have defined what questions I want to answer and the target demographic, and then go ask our amazing research team to help me get some people to answer my questions, but now I needed to depend on myself. I just needed a way to recruit people that can answer my survey.

The Survey

Google Surveys was the first option that came to mind. I heard about it 2 years ago when it was first launched, and I was curious about how it works. In a few minutes, I was able to build a short survey with a couple of screening questions, and then defined the criteria of my target demographic.

Before publishing the survey, Google demands that they first run a test version of the survey for free on a small sample of their traffic to get an estimate for how much they would charge me per completed survey. I had to wait for a couple of hours for the test survey to run, and then Google came back to me offering to execute my survey in exchange for $3 per answer. The minimum number of survey answers to collect is 100, so this meant that I would need to pay $300.

Actually, $300 is not that expensive considering that I was targeting people working in tech. If I was conducting this research as part of a for-profit project, I would have gone for it. This time for my side-project, I decided to pass on Google’s offer, and find another cheaper approach to reach my target audience.

I thought about using Mechanical Turk to get some answers, but considering that my first target demographic is people working in tech, I decided not to go for it. This would work better for typical consumer research.

Another approach

After giving it a little bit of thought, I decided to come up with the smallest version of a possible MVP ever, and utilize my network and Product Hunt’s community to reach my target audience.

I decided then that my MVP’s value proposition would be:

We match mentors and mentees together on-demand based on interest and availability and then schedule a 30 minutes phone call for both to chat.

A mentorship on-demand model

After working for a marketplace company (Booking.com) for 5 years, I can see my bias towards turning everything into a 2 sided marketplace. Anyway, that model seemed to be good enough.

The 30 minutes phone call part is inspired by the mentorship setup I’ve with the great people from Knowledge Officer. They have training programs for Product Managers, and depending on my availability they book 30-minute phone calls for me to mentor some of the students. I like that setup and find it efficient.

Based on that idea for an MVP, using my humble design skills and Webflow, which I also wanted to give it a try someday, I put down a simple but neat looking landing page for my MVP, with a couple of forms for the mentors and mentees to signup. It didn’t cost me a lot of time, but I had to pay $15 for Webflow’s hosting service, and $10 for the domain name.

When mentors and mentees signup, they see a message informing them that they will receive an email once they are matched to someone. I decided to do the matching manually for now. My priority was to know how much demand would this product get before wasting my time building something that maybe no one would use.

With this simple implementation, it was time to list the product on Product Hunt. I just needed to have some banner to explain the concept. I put on my lousy marketing copywriter hat and my tasteless graphic designer hat on top of each other and hacked up some simple banner using Google Slides.

Yeah I know, Google Slides! I didn’t need a fancy tool to put up this simple banner together. It just took me 10 minutes to figure out how to turn the photos of these girls into circles.

The first 24 hours of being on Product Hunt

I published Mentmento on Product Hunt during the first few minutes of the 3rd of November (Amsterdam time).

I thought that the moment I publish the product I would see a stream of votes and signups, but this didn’t happen right away. It turned out that Product Hunt starts its day around midnight New York time, which happens to be the morning time in Europe. That’s when Mentmento made it to PH’s home page, and I started seeing more activity.

The launch day went well, nothing broke, and I received a lot of positive feedback. Even with that very simple product setup, everyone was excited and looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen next.

To share some stats, by the end of the first day, Mentmento had 200+ Signups and votes on Product Hunt, which made it rank as #2 Product of the day.

Considering that this is my first time to list a product on Product Hunt, it was interesting to watch the dynamics of their product and their community. If I learned one thing during that day, it would be that..

People will vote up your product based on their excitement about the problem you’re solving for them, regardless of the implementation details.

I watched other good products get fewer votes in comparison to Mentmento, while it seems that the makers have invested bigger effort in building their product and making it perfect and shiny. So I’m happy with my decision to go with something extremely simple. Also, imagine if the launch of Mentmento was a failure, I’m sure that I would have not been happy about the $300 survey and the hundreds of wasted hours.

What’s next?

So now that I’ve 200+ early adopters signed up, I need to work on making the promised solution happen, and craft it in a good way that makes them enjoy the mentor and mentee experience. Most probably I will have to arrange the matching semi-manually and find a cheap but reliable way for them to make the phone calls without exposing their email addresses to each other to maintain privacy and avoid spamming as much as possible. I will then collect feedback again, and see what should be done next.

Wish me luck, and remember to invite your friends to Mentmento!

PS: Sorry for the long story today. I wanted to reflect on that project in writing as fast as possible. I thought maybe some of you would enjoy following my thinking process.

Next week

Next week, I will do my best to mainly share the interesting reads I’ve collected for you. For now, if you’re into Silicon Valley history, check out this documentary about a company (General Magic) that you never heard of before. It was the birthplace of both, the iPhone, and Android. Things didn’t go as planned for the company, but the innovations they built continues to live with us today. It’s especially a must-watch for startup founders and Product Managers.


Cheers,
Shreef

* If you have comments or feedback, reply to this email, or reach out to me on twitter (@Shreef)

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#1 Talking to strangers & Perception

First issue of Shreef's newsletter

Hey, thanks for signing up to my newsletter!

Every week, I will have one main topic to cover in the newsletter. I will also include links to some interesting articles, videos, and products I came across during the week.

While I’m usually known for being a tech guy, I will try to cover non-tech topics that you might also find interesting.

Next to that, in this newsletter, I want to have a Q&A section mainly about building products. If you happen to have a question, send it to me by replying to this email, or @ me on twitter, and I will get back to you next week with the best answer I have.

Now back to this week’s newsletter …

Talking to Strangers (Book)

It’s a long time since I read a book written by Malcolm Gladwell, but I heard a lot of good feedback about his new book Talking to Strangers (Goodreads).

The premise of the book is that we humans are really really bad when it comes to understanding other humans.

The book starts and ends talking about an American black woman called Sandra Bland and her interaction with a police officer on the road. This interaction might have started in a kind of normal way, but things escalated quickly because of a series of misunderstandings. 3 days later, Sandra Bland committed suicide while still in prison. After investigating that incident, it had been decided that the police officer should get fired.

It’s easy to attribute this story to racism, but Gladwell tries in the book to dig deeper to find the root cause behind how both of them behaved, and what changes should be introduced to how police officers operate in the US to avoid having more of these incidents in the future.

The book is not only focused on this story. There are many other amazing stories about humans failing to understand that the person they are interacting with every day is a liar or a con. We, humans, are designed to trust everyone else.

My favorite story in the book is about how the American CIA failed to spot double agents in their ranks, and how Cuba was able to trick the CIA that they have everything under control, while actually Cuba was the one in control.

Tip: Listen to the audiobook version. They produced the audiobook in a format similar to the format of podcasts. Production-wise, It’s the best audiobook I have ever listened to.

The Perils of Perception (Research)

I came across this Ipsos research exploring the gap between people’s perceptions and reality.

For each of the 37 countries covered in the research, they asked people from these countries to answer a set of questions about their population, and then a comparison has been made to see how accurate are the answers given.

It’s no surprise that most people gave inaccurate answers, but it’s interesting to see this comparison done across countries.

Speaking of people's wrong perception of the state of their countries, it’s worth it to mention Hans Rosling’s amazing book Factfulness (Goodreads). If you didn’t read this book already, then you should read it soon. It will correct every wrong statistic and facts you know about the world.

The cool product of the week

Do you watch HBO’s Silicon Valley? you might like this. (not really a product)

TV show of the week

Living With Yourself is a new light comedy series by Netflix. I think you will enjoy it.

That’s it for this week

This was the first issue of this newsletter. I’m looking for feedback. share it with me by replying to this email, or on twitter (@shreef).

Also, remember to send me questions for the Q&A section.

Till next week

Shreef

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