Hat tip – Mukesh’s vaccine app

As of today, every adult in California is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. As amazing as this is, the path to finding an appointment means navigating 8+ health systems/vendors. Anything but straightforward.

In response, Mukesh Aggarwal – a software engineer – spent the past month building and refining an app idea. This app looks for appointments across all of the provider websites in the SF Bay Area and sends an hourly update on a Telegram channel (details here). Over the past few days, the number of people subscribed to the channel grew from a few thousand to tens of thousands.

I am one of those subscribers. I turned on the app and my notifications on Wednesday. Within a couple of hours, I had booked an appointment for Friday morning. Smooth.

San Jose Planning Commissioner Rolando Bonilla contacted Mukesh and requested him to add East San Jose – an area with among the highest infection rates.

In a CBS article, Bonilla later said – “To me, Mukesh is a hero. This is the time to rewrite the rules and aggressively partner up with people like Mukesh in the private sector, to see how they can actually help. Because they’re wanting to, they’re willing to, but counties have to open those doors in order to make that a reality.”

Indeed. Mukesh has done a wonderful service to the community. He’s also offered his code for anybody who wants to build it for their area.

And, Bonilla’s notes on rewriting the rules resonated. Seeing ideas like this come to life do point to the potential of government organizations partnering with individuals willing to pitch in.

I hope we’ll see a lot more of this.

Dan Goodman’s patient

Morgan Housel has been on a blogging tear over the past months. So much so that I was reflecting on why I love his posts so much.

I realized that it was came down to his penchant for telling captivating stories. He had a great post on the idea the importance of telling “the best story.” He clearly walks the talk.

Today, he had another great collection of stories. The one below stood out.

Dr. Dan Goodman once performed surgery on a middle-aged woman whose cataract had left her blind since childhood. The cataract was removed, leaving the woman with near-perfect vision. A miraculous success.

The patient returned for a checkup a few weeks later. The book Crashing Through writes:

Her reaction startled Goodman. She had been happy and content as a blind person. Now sighted, she became anxious and depressed. She told him that she had spent her adult life on welfare and had never worked, married, or ventured far from home – a small existence to which she had become comfortably accustomed. Now, however, government officials told her that she no longer qualified for disability, and they expected her to get a job. Society wanted her to function normally. It was, she told Goldman, too much to handle.

Every goal you dream about has a downside that’s easy to overlook.

Thank you for sharing as you do, Morgan.

Wake up calls

A common theme among folks who made major positive changes in their life is an incident that reminded them of their mortality. A “wake up call” if you will.

It may have been the loss of a loved one, a narrow escape, or a rough health diagnosis. But, something about the incident forced them to reflect on their lives and prioritize the things that matter.

A useful question for us, then, in our lives and careers is – how can we build habits that help us periodically reflect on our lives relative to our priorities without needing that wake up call?

When things go wrong

When things go wrong, multiple things tend to go wrong together.

On our worst days, they can generate a compound effect if we let it. That one thing may have been okay. But, combined that thing with a second and third thing and you’ve got trouble. And, that trouble could mean losing our cool and causing a fourth thing to go wrong.

If you’ve had one of those days, take heart and smile. Even this will pass. There’s no point getting frazzled and making it worse. Better to pause, regroup, and focus on doing the basics right.

Your luck often changes sooner than you think.

Financial freedom

“My only measure of success is how much time you have to kill.” | Nassim Taleb

One of the misnomers about financial freedom is that it is about buying whatever we want, whenever we want. It isn’t that.

Financial freedom is getting complete control over our time.

Calm at gunpoint

Someone I know was robbed at gunpoint recently. I reached out to him to check in.

It was nice to hear that he was doing fine. He explained that his philosophy of life is to live every day as if it were a bonus. That meant he was able to keep calm as he saw two guns pointing at him. He gave the two assailants what they wanted and they left without firing any shots.

He also said that he wished the assailants had asked him for help. He would have willingly given them what they needed.

But, my guess is that this is a result of an increase in crime after a year that has been especially difficult for many. The easy availability of guns compounds these challenges.

I’m glad nobody was hurt. I’m also glad for this friend’s calm at gunpoint. His philosophy made me think of my recent journey into stoic teachings.

The stoics would be proud.

Best of

I finally got to creating a “Best of” page – it is here and can be found on the sidebar on Desktop/on the overflow menu on mobile.

Now that I have a v1 shipped (below), I’ll continue updating this from time to time.

Over the years, a request I’ve gotten from time to time is to share a “Best of” page. After procrastinating on this request for over 5 years, I realized that I was getting stuck at defining what constitutes a “Best of” post. I’ve settled on a simple definition – a post that I would describe as a quintessential ALearningaDay post.

So, below are a few I’ve picked (grouped by year). I hope it helps.

v32 (2021)
Notes on writing for yourself (2021)

10 questions – Annual Review 2020 (2020)
Books that might change your mind – with links to older editions (2020)
3 career perspectives (2020)
First time parent advice (2020)

Simplifying personal finance (2019)
What is this blog about (2019)
30 hard won lessons from 30 years (2019)
Extenuating circumstances (2019)

Notes on Product Management – a series (2018+)
Motives vs. values II (2018)
Reason, season, or lifetime (2018)
v29 Release notes (2018)
Sources of learning (2018)

Training wheels (2017)
Principles of focus (2017)

Leadership in 1 page (2016)
4 core tech business models (2016)
3 phases of the job search process (2016)
Building a personal mission statement (2016)
16 Life Principles (2016)
The final MBA Learning – with links to 5 other key posts (2016)
Dealing with Death (2016)

Compounding learning (2015)
David Allen on Re-entry (2015)

Who owes you? (2014)
Observations about friendship (2014)

You don’t know if a good day is a good day (2013)

Success and happiness – Viktor Frankl (2012)

It’s my life – a few truths (2011)

Tune ups

The shop we bought our bikes from has an “unlimited tune ups for life” policy. I love that idea. It aligns incentives for the long term beautifully.

I availed this with our first “tune up” recently. One of the bikes had some visible issues that needed to be fixed. Another didn’t have anything visible but possibly had issues that weren’t evident as yet. And yet another looked fine.

Regardless, all of them got their tune up done. I’m sure this habit will help catch issues before they happen in the long run.

I could relate to these bikes. We all need tune ups from time to time. Sometimes, our problems are physical and we see it in our bodies. Sometimes, they are mental and a break from thinking about the problems we think about is what we need. And, in other times, we need an emotional tune up.

Different issues need different kinds of tune ups. But, they need that break, care, and attention all the same.

So, let’s take the time to schedule these tune ups for ourselves. We often need them more than we think.