Pandemic Legacy

One of our favorite activities on a trip with friends is to spend hours on an engaging board game. While these nights have become fewer (and, thus, more precious) as our locations have become distributed over the years, we’ve been fortunate to have access to a wonderful array of board games when we meet.

Over the past year, we’ve been on the lookout for cooperative games. As we’re all rather competitive, it is nice to channel the energy to battle the game. We tried “Forbidden Island” last year and found it a touch too simple.  We then tried Hanabi – but found it a touch too stressful because a single mistake can undo an hour of game play.

This month, however, we found a keeper and the game has a story.

Matt Leacock, the creator of the Forbidden Island game, had created another great coop game called Pandemic. In Pandemic, where you work together to solve virulent diseases around the world.

Separately, over the past decade, Rob Daviou, another talented game designer, had created a new kind of board game – “Legacy.” A Legacy game is designed through various mechanics to change permanently over a series of 10-12 sessions. Imagine a 12 part mission where the objectives and challenges keep evolving.

And, in a blessing to all board game fans around the world, Matt Leacock and Rob Daviou teamed up to create Season 1 of  “Pandemic Legacy.” To nobody’s surprise, this combination board game has been rated among the best board games of all time.

We’ve been having a blast giving Pandemic Legacy a shot and hope to complete it in our next reunion in a few months.  If you enjoy playing board games, this game comes highly recommended.

PS: If you’ve never tried board games and are interested, I’d suggest starting with Settlers of Catan and then trying Puerto Rico.

Yelp and Tripadvisor

We wrapped up our holiday traveling over the weekend. And, throughout these travels, Yelp and Tripadvisor were constant companions.

We looked to both these services to tell us what we should do and where we should eat. Both services are amazing in their ability to help us add memorable experiences to our lives.

Thank you to folks who work on Yelp and Tripadvisor for all the good work. And, a big thank you to everyone who takes the time to contribute reviews that, in turn, helps everyone else.

It makes a difference.

Cost over value

A reminder for every time we choose cost over value –

1. If our use case is important/high frequency, we’ll inevitably need to undo it and tip the scales back.

2. We’ll end up spending a lot more than we might have if had just chosen value in the first place.

The Joys of Compounding and How to think about investing

Jana, a colleague + wiser friend, conducted a learning session on personal finance and investing for Executive Admins at LinkedIn. He shared these presentations on his blog and I thought I’d share them with you.

I love the simple presentation style and was grateful to him for reinforcing 3 important lessons –
1. Compounding is both magical and backloaded
2. The hedonic treadmill is likely getting in your way of saving for the future
3. Keep investing really simple – after paying off your debts and setting aside an emergency fund, max out your 401(k), and invest in low cost index funds.

Checks in spreadsheets

A simple tip for when you perform calculations (SUM, SUMIFs, etc.) on a spreadsheet – add checks.

Here’s how it works –

1. Keep the “master” data separate from the calculations – this ensures you never pollute the original data.

2. Once you complete the calculations, ensure you periodically check your math. You can do this by using “=”. For example, it might be =SUM(all cells in calculation)=SUM(all cells in source data)

This is harder to explain with an abstract example. So, here is an example of how you might add checks to a spreadsheet when you are attempting to split costs after a trip with friends. I’ve highlighted the check cells in yellow.

As we work through details on spreadsheets, it is easy to get small details wrong. When that happens, you can rely on these cells to immediately become “FALSE” and save you the trouble of dealing with flawed math.

Checks in spreadsheets are simple mistake detection investments that pay off in a big way.

Just as in other areas of our life.

Roulette skill

I spent a couple of hours at a casino recently and was intrigued by the behavior* of a few folks at a Roulette table.

They first placed their bets with pursed lips and frowns, muttered phrases of encouragement to themselves (and got encouragement from a watching friend in one case), and reacted with shock and disbelief when the outcome wasn’t in their favor.

If I didn’t know the roulette game was all about luck, I might have mistaken this show to be about a game that required a high level of skill.

It made me wonder how often we end up mistaking luck with skill in games (both real and metaphorical) we play.

*I didn’t have anything to compare their behavior to – so, this may be normal.

A growth mindset equation

Growth mindset = Fixed Mindset (default) + a deep commitment to the process of learning + a disregard for failure / a love for challenges + a faith in the outcome working out in the end.

We start with a fixed mindset. We then need to cultivate a deep commitment to and appreciation for the process of learning.

That, then, helps us disregard failure/embrace challenges thanks to that deep commitment.

And, underlying all of this is a faith that the juice will be worth the squeeze.