Welcome to the 45th edition of ‘The Lighthouse’!
Last week I shared one of the many lessons we’ve learnt from running a business. This week, I share another one that has helped us stay ahead of the competition and focus on adding value to our customers and our product. Also, it’s one of the best lessons we’ve learned so far.
It’s great to be back on a publishing routine! There’s some incredible and touching stuff in the links, and I hope you find as much value in them as I did.
Alright, let’s dig in!
Do you remember that time in school when you learned a novel approach to solve a problem? Do you remember when your teacher presented a puzzle in class, and you had to give out the answer the next day? You figured out the solution on your own and didn’t want to share the process with others. We’ve all had our own moments where we held on to a secret and won.
But does it always matter? To hold on to secrets? Will it always help you stay ahead of the competition? Will the secret help you get better tomorrow? What about the day after? And then the day after that? You have one secret to protect, and when that is out of the bag, what will you do?
I believed that having a secret and safeguarding it would keep us ahead of the competition. Over time, I have realised that holding secrets are not what will keep us ahead, but throwing them out in the open will. We never even revealed stuff to our customers—a process optimisation, ideas to bring down costs, etc. But now, we share these with our customers freely. I’m pretty sure some of them will leak it to our competitors too, but I’m no longer scared of that. Why? For these reasons:
When we let these cats out of the bag, we make room for more. It helps keep the fire alive. It keeps us on our toes and helps us zero in on the next idea or the next avenue for improvement.
Also, we don’t have to worry about safeguarding the “one secret” that keeps us ahead of the competition. There’s always the risk of the secret getting out, and we end up losing all the time and energy put in to keep it secret. Instead, we can expend the same energy to improve the product or service and satisfy customers! Win-win for everyone!
Here’s something interesting stuff I came across the past week:
Daniel Schmachtenberger’s talk at Emergence: For a long time, since I was a student back in high school, this question always intrigued me - why the combination of the same elements that made us humans when put together in some mishmash recipe would never bring that mishmash to life? What makes us special? Or, in other terms, what makes the Earth a special place - for life to exist. For the first time, listening to Dan talk here, I get some pointers to maybe look for answers to these questions. This was a belter for me, and I must’ve exploded in joy listening to this. As he says, there’s a perfect elegance to the organization of almost everything in the Universe. Tada! I wish you a happy read/ listen. “This is a key thing to understand about the nature of the universe. It’s also the case that if you bring the same thing together with a bunch of the same things, you don’t get very interesting synergies. You get very interesting synergies when you bring different things with different properties together in the right format, where then you have the properties of each of those things, and then the properties of the relationship between those which is the new stuff. And you get emergence. You’ve got hydrogen and you’ve got oxygen which are different things, and you bring them together you get water and the basis for life. But neither hydrogen or oxygen at room temperature are liquids. And so this is a fascinating thing.”
The Simple Principles of Good Management by Farnam Street Blog: “The most important things can’t be taught, they must be learned. Just because you can’t be taught what you need doesn’t mean you can absolve yourself from learning. You can learn the principles but you can’t learn patience. You can copy the answer but not the understanding and confidence. These you need to learn on your own.”
Losing Your Freedom by Ross Ulbricht: Ross on what saved him in prison - “It may sound strange but what saved me was gratitude. But what could I be grateful for in that little cell? Well, I had to start small. I had air, right? Maybe it was stale and foul but I had air.”
Also, this tidbit is sneaking in at the last moment. Yesterday we watched the academy award winner “Nomadland”. My wife suggested we watch it, but I was keen on reading Tolkien’s Hobbit (re-read of sorts), but boy am I glad I watched the movie and then got back to reading the Hobbit. It’s one of those movies that shakes you to the core and wakes you up in life. So if you’ve some time this Sunday, do give it a watch. The Great Recession left behind in the aftermath of the 2007/ 2008 financial bust wreaked havoc on so many levels for many people. Watching stories of how people held on and made it through to the other side reinforces the will of the human spirit to endure. Stories of survival from the recession, from the holocaust, appeal to the human spirit - how even at the lowest point in life, the flame to survive could not be extinguished. It serves as a beacon every time I myself go through a challenging situation or through some turmoil. Back in December 2019, on a flight back from Macau, I vividly remember reading The Tattooist Of Auschwitz - just before the pandemic hit and everything came to a standstill. It is the story of a tattooist inking prisoners with their prison numbers at concentration camps and his freedom from them. These stories are what unite us. Suffering is what unites us. In that sense, Nomadland tells a beautiful tale of life, of purpose, and reminds us there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. While watching the movie, I was also awestruck by the background score, only to suddenly realize it was Ludovico Einaudi weaving magic with his notes. Gave me goosebumps!
The background score itself has a fantastic story behind it. Compiled from Ludovico’s Seven Days Walking, the album is a culmination of a seven-month-long inspiring journey. Ludovico walked the same mountainous path in the Alps for seven consecutive days and composed his feelings into seven albums released over seven months in 2019. The compositions and the movie are a match made in heaven. This track, Petricor, is an ode to the unmistakable scent coming off the soil after the first rains. It is, to me, perhaps the second most beautiful smell of my life. The first one is that of a baby - or, more specifically, my daughter bundled up in my arms.
Here’s a thought I’m ruminating on:
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Till next weekend, take care.
If you would love to discuss anything I’ve written about and shared, please reach out to me by replying to this email or sending a direct message on Twitter 🐦 @iam__prashanth. The tribe there is over 2400 members and continues to grow.
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