Ormie the pig and immigration

As we head closer to election day in the United States, changes to immigration rules have been coming thick and fast. Naturally, it is a frequent topic of conversation amongst those of us who are impacted.

One friend described it nicely when he sighed and said – “Let’s add this to our growing list of immigration related things to stress about.”

We then made a few jokes made about the fabled green card – a multi-decade process for most Indian immigrants. Those jokes reminded me of a video of Ormie the Pig trying to get hold of a few cookies on top of a fridge.

It sums it up nicely.

The first time parent advice question

I’ve spoken to many first time parents since we had our first kid four years ago. First time parents, as is their wont, typically ask for advice. I say the same thing to all of them.

When we were expecting our first child, the one idea that helped us the most was – “expect it to suck.” Go in expecting the first couple of years to be a nightmare. No sleep, no rest, no husband-wife time – the works. Definitely avoid any expectation of the fabled “miraculous” bonding experience.

It inevitably ends up being better than that. :-)

Our day-to-day happiness is a function of reality over expectations. Expecting a better reality means saddling your poor new born kid with the pressure of being a good sleeper, healthy eater, etc.

Just lower your expectations and embrace what life presents.

It works. Beyond parenting too.

Things we’re afraid to do

There’s a learning curve involved with habitually doing things we’re afraid to do.

My reflection from taking such plunges in the past is that their value is often misrepresented. When we hear folks speak about this, we only hear the positives.

We hear folks encouraging us to embrace our fear and step into the unknown. They tell us that it is always worth it to take those uncomfortable steps. Fear is overrated, carpe diem, etc..

Interestingly, such narratives implicitly assume that the reward at the other end always makes the discomfort worth it.

However, that is only true some of the time. Many a time, we learn that we were uncomfortable for good reason. And, sometimes, such failures can be costly.

So, if habitually doing things we’re afraid to do doesn’t always pay off, why should we do it? (or should we?)

My learning is that the reason to take such plunges habitually is because they’re good for our soul. By habitually removing any chance of regret, they change how we see ourselves. We go from passive observers to active changemakers. And, we find ourselves embracing more discomfort and, eventually, more growth.

So, it doesn’t always work out in the short run. But, in the long run, the learning and growth it inspires counts for a lot.

Eyes on cars around us

It occurred to me recently that spending time comparing ourselves to others is a lot like driving with our eyes focused on cars around us.

(Aren’t they better than us? Look how fast they’re moving)

Of course, it turns out to be a horrible way to drive because it is both unsafe and unproductive.

We’re always better off a) being clear about where we want to go and b) staying focused on the road ahead.

It is a better and safer way to drive.

It also turns out to be a smarter way to live.

Pete’s white shoes

There’s a great song/rhyme for kids about Pete the cat and his white shoes.

Pete loved his white shoes and sang “I love my white shoes” as he took a walk.

But, he soon stepped on some strawberries and turned his white shoes red.

The narrator then asks the kids – “Did he cry?” To this, the kids say – “Goodness no. He kept walking along and singing his song. I love my red shoes.”

These shoes then turn blue thanks to stepping on some blueberries. Then, they become muddy and wet.

But, Pete the cat rolls on.

At the end, the narrator shares the moral of the story – “No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song.” Just like Pete did.

I thought it was great product management, career, and life advice. :-)

The problem that appears

We’re always better off starting with the assumption that the problem that appears in front of us is not the problem that needs to be solved.

It is almost always just a symptom. And, treating symptoms does little good.

We need to either swim upstream to understand the root cause or do the work to figure out the question behind the question.

Reacting to the problem at hand instead of responding to it by going upstream is what separates the amateur from the professional.

Excuses to reset

The end of a week.

A periodic haircut.

The 2 minutes before shutting down the laptop at the end of a day.

The last day of a quarter.

A random day off to take a break.

It turns out there are plenty of excuses available to reset.

To recommit to the things that matter.

To begin again.

I just need to become more aware of them and seize them more often.

Animals 101

Over the past weeks, we’ve enjoyed watching Nat Geo’s “Animals 101” series on YouTube with our kids. Each video is around 4 minutes long and they share five cool facts about each animal.

Watching these videos spurred two reflections.

Each video shines the spotlight on just how special and beautiful animals are. We’re lucky to share the planet with them.

And second, every video ends with a warning about the vulnerability of these creatures to hunting and climate change.

Thankfully, we’ve done a better job with protecting species against hunting over the past three decades (even if there’s more work to be done).

Climate, however, is a different matter.

Each video manages to generate amazement and appreciation while also reminding us of the amount of work that lies ahead of us.

Thank you, National Geographic. A job well done.

Testing a gratitude app idea [would you be interested?]

2020 has been rough on many of us. In times like this, it is more important than ever to take the time to appreciate the folks who make our lives better and take stock of the many things to be grateful for.

But, it is hard to do that without building a daily habit.

We’ve been working to build a product to help do just that and we want to make this available as a mobile app.

But, building a mobile app is a lot of work.

And, in the spirit of learning quickly/understanding if this idea resonates, we’d like to start out with a 4 week “Alpha” test on a web app that we’ve built.

We’re looking for volunteers who’d be willing to commit to 2-3 minutes every day to give this product a try (we’ll send a daily reminder).

It won’t be “easy” – at least not in the stare at the screen and watch a fun video sort of way. But, we think it’ll be WELL worth the 2-3 minutes or so you invest every day. 

If you’re willing to give it a try, please just let us know on this form and I’ll follow up. 

A few rules – a few excerpts

I’ve shared Morgan Housel’s posts a few times over the past year. He shares notes from time to time that really hit the spot. And, the most recent post that hit home for me was one from last week titled “A few rules.”

Below are a few excerpts that resonated deeply.

The person who tells the most compelling story wins. Not the best idea. Just the story that catches people’s attention and gets them to nod their heads.

Tell people what they want to hear and you can be wrong indefinitely without penalty.

Being good at something doesn’t promise rewards. It doesn’t even promise a compliment. What’s rewarded in the world is scarcity, so what matters is what you can do that other people are bad at.

The world is governed by probability, but people think in black and white, right or wrong – did it happen or did it not? – because it’s easier.

Most fields have only a few laws. Lots of theories, hunches, observations, ideas, trends, and rules. But laws – things that are always true, all the time – are rare.

Simple explanations are appealing even when they’re wrong. “It’s complicated” isn’t persuasive even when it’s right.

Don’t expect balance from very talented people. People who are exceptionally good at one thing tend to be exceptionally bad at another, due to overconfidence and mental bandwidth taken up by the exceptional skill. Skills also have two sides: No one should be shocked when people who think about the world in unique ways you like also think about the world in unique ways you don’t like.

Reputations have momentum in both directions, because people want to associate with winners and avoid losers.