Good morning, and happy Monday!
In this edition of Idea Surplus Disorder: the Persuasion Paradox, digit-centered pricing, afternoon caffeine, two great questions, weak ties, why annual planning fails, paper folds, black dots, trees, underwater photos, and more.
New Skills For Work
Tuesday (January 30th), we'll explore creative ways to identify your organization's "why" at New Skills For Work.
Ideas + Insights:
Is revenue-centered annual planning a waste of time?
Companies get into serious trouble when they take a purely tops-down approach to producing a revenue target during annual planning and then try to back into the work that will get them there bottoms-up. They end up both overestimating the probability of success (most bets won’t pay off) and then baking them into their financial plan as a sure thing.
We see the Persuasion Paradox in our work from time to time:
Have you ever noticed that the most argumentative people rarely persuade anyone of anything? Persuasive people don't argue—they observe, listen, and ask thoughtful questions. Argue less, persuade more. Persuasion is an art that requires a paintbrush, not a sledgehammer.
Perhaps it isn't the amount of the price, but the average of the digits?
Researchers tested a variety of sale prices: $3,111, $3,222, $3,333, $3,444, $3,555, $3,666, $3,777, $3,888, and $3999. For each price, they showed an original price that was $895 more. Sale prices with low digits (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4) consistently performed better.
Should you stop drinking caffeine in the afternoons?
Caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours, but a quarter-life of 12 hours. If you have a cup of coffee at 12 PM, a quarter of that caffeine is still circulating in your brain at midnight (this is the equivalent to drinking a quarter cup of coffee right before bed).
I love this insight from Julie Gurner on the power of better questions:
When asking"Why am I not successful?" you'll get answers that berate you. But by asking "How can I succeed here?" you'll get answers that push you.one
Speaking of questions, here's a great one from this Twitter thread by Dickie Bush:
17. What are some things I could start doing today that would guarantee an absolutely horrible year? And how can I avoid doing those things?
When looking for a job, weak ties trump strong ones:
The strength of weak ties theory is based on the idea that weak ties allow distant clusters of people to access novel information that can lead to new opportunities, innovation, and increased productivity. The author of this theory, Mark Granovetter, argued in 1973 that weak ties are particularly helpful in delivering new employment opportunities because they introduce novel labor market information to a broader social network.
OpenAI's Sam Altman shares a list of things he wishes people had told him. Here's a favorite:
It is easier for a team to do a hard thing that really matters than to do an easy thing that doesn’t really matter; audacious ideas motivate people.
Forget losing weight. Perhaps the most healthy choice you can make in the new year is to go on an information diet:
Information is a drug. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense: the more information our ancestors had, the more likely they were to survive. But this is the first time in history that humans have been exposed to such a constant flow of information. And in the same way the superabundance of high-calorie foods has led to obesity, this new information overload encourages overconsumption. We’re not just seeking relevant information to increase our chances of survival anymore. We are addicted to information. We fall into rabbit holes, scroll our feeds mindlessly, watch video after video by clicking on the algorithmically recommended links. We have lost control over the content we consume.
Coordinated action is impossible without agreeing on tradeoffs:
An organization that does conventional goal-setting will have agreed on shared goals but not on the acceptable/unacceptable tradeoffs in achieving those shared goals.
In such a situation, it comes as no surprise that organizational stakeholders with autonomy choose different tradeoffs in achieving the same shared goals. This is because different parts of the same organization have different resources and constraints. But more than that, the leaders and members of different parts of the organization often have differing values as well. Consequently, driven by different tradeoffs, the various parts of the organization take actions which work at cross-purposes to each other. And malign purpose isn’t even necessary; this happens even when everyone involved has the best intentions of pursuing agreed-upon shared goals.
Warning: This is a bit off-topic, but I found Nick Cave's profound meditation on grief worth sharing:
It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves. We are tiny trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief’s awesome presence. It occupies the core of our being and it extends through our fingers to the limits of the universe.
- How many times do you need to fold a piece of paper in half so its thickness reaches the moon? 42!
- After 20, 30, and 40 folds, the paper becomes over a million, a billion, and then a trillion times thicker than the original.
- This Minimal phone with a grayscale e-ink screen and real keyboard looks interesting.
- The easiest way to capture a screenshot on an iPhone is to say, “Hey Siri, screenshot this.”
- Frits are the black dots at the edge of your windshield.
- Wow, I'm old! The first release of Internet Explorer (1995) is closer in time to the Apollo 11 moon landing (1969) than now.
- Vintage space-race playing cards from General Dynamics.
- Tree.fm lets you listen to a random forest. Best with headphones.
- The Mac(intosh) turns 40. Here's a site with pics of every model.
- Beautiful underwater photos.
Words of Wisdom
"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." - Epictetus
“The experience of being understood, versus interpreted, is so compelling you can charge admission.” — B. Joseph Pine II
"Our great mistake is to try to exact from each person virtues which he does not possess, and to neglect the cultivation of those which he has." – Marguerite Yourcenar
"Talent without character is like an expensive, fast car with no gas. It is useless without the fuel that drives it." – John Gordon
"The answers are within you—you just haven't asked the right questions yet." – Sahil Bloom
“The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.” – Carl Jung
"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." — George S. Patton
“Never forget that your unconscious is smarter than you, faster than you, and more powerful than you. It may even control you. You will never know all of its secrets.” — Cordelia Fine
“You should not be depressed by the enormity of the problem. If God has created the world, his primary worry was certainly not to make its understanding easy for us.” – Albert Einstein