Turn the phone off

A simple idea to greatly improve the quality of this weekend – turn the phone off for 24 hours.

Every time I do this, I appreciate the power (both positive and negative) of convenience. As I write every day, I get to the bigger screen to write my post for the day and check email, But, it is amazing how the absence of that little bit of convenience can change our behavior.

Inconvenience has its benefits.

Newton’s 3rd law applied to ideas

For every insightful idea, there is an equally insightful opposing idea.

“Many hands make light work” and “Too many cooks spoil the broth” are a great example of this. They’re both insightful in their own right and are a great example of the fact that the opposite of a good idea is often a good idea.

Their merit just depends on our context.

PS: Internalizing this idea would change the nature of online debate. :-)


On occasion, I find myself becoming aware of a feeling that I can only describe as “disjointed.” Things lack the usual amount of coherence and I find myself feeling unsettled more often than not.

Over time, I’ve realized that the first step to dealing with such feelings isn’t getting into solution mode and mapping out everything I need to do to feel better.

Instead, it is to start by acknowledging both the feeling for what it is and the fact that it might take time to resolve the knots I’m dealing with.

That acknowledgment tends to precede calm and stillness that, in turn, provide the space to explore the solutions I’m seeking.

Implicit value of our time

When we spend 20 minutes of our time trying to save $5 by availing a painfully hard to avail deal, we implicitly value our time at $15 per hour.

We also neglect the opportunity cost of that time – time we could have spent relaxing, exercising, conversing with family, and so on. As the saying goes, penny wise, pound foolish.

For those of us who grew up in circumstances where money was relatively tight or for whom the desire to optimize everything to the best possible outcome takes over when dealing with money, it becomes particularly important to set an explicit value of our time.

It makes it easier to stop ourselves from spending one more hour to save a few bucks off the price of that table.

And, most importantly, it forces us to focus our energy on the areas that will actually move the needle on our happiness and productivity.


In the 1960s, the team of researchers at Vicks Corp. were tasked with finding medication for cold and the flu. They came back with a solution that worked well except for one major drawback – it caused drowsiness.

Just as they were about to go back to the drawing board, someone (presumably a smart marketer) suggested that they change nothing about the product and, instead, advertise it as a medicine to be taken at night.

Now, it would deal with your sickness while giving you a good night of sleep.

Thus, Nyquil was born. And, the rest as they say, is history.

Shifting the narrative can be very powerful.

(H/T: Alchemy by Rory Sutherland)

Time to do it twice

A friend recently shared a quote – “How come we don’t have the time to do it right but always have the time to do it twice?”

It has my vote to be framed and put on the wall of any room where folks get together to plan their product roadmaps.

In these rooms, we often find ourselves in positions where we need to make trade-offs that benefit the short term over the long term.

But, these decisions almost always result in rework in the medium term. And, when it arrives, rework doesn’t allow for any other option.

So, for the next time we find ourselves in such a discussion, here’s to remembering that they’re better off being the exception rather than the rule.

Giving good driving directions

I was attempting to give someone directions over the phone recently. We had three attempts at it but weren’t making progress.

By now, we realized that we didn’t have a shared understanding of their starting point.

As I was on the verge of giving up, my wife decided it was time for a different strategy – she asked them to head to a place they were familiar with so we could start all over again.

And, voila! The reset worked and the directions worked great.

The first step to giving good driving directions is understanding where the recipients of our directions are. Only once we understand that can we help them with where they want/need to go.

That principle, it turns out, applies just as well to our attempts to drive/inspire change.