The Logitech webcam shortage and Cx tweaks

I’ve been a regular visitor on Logitech’s webcam pages since early April. Every webcam has some version of the message below – “Out of stock due to high demand.”

I understand the high demand due to COVID-19. However, this is a pretty amazing failure to meet demand considering these products have been out of stock since end March.

Supply chain issues aside, my guess is that I’m far from the only customer who is frequently visiting the Logitech website for webcams. And, if this hypothesis is right, there are two tweaks that could significantly improve the experience.

1. An option to share my email in exchange for being notified when webcams cae back in stock would be the gold standard.

2. In the absence of that, an estimated ETA would have been great too.

Sometimes, small tweaks can result in significant improvements to the customer experience.

Focus, intensity, hard work, and inevitability

I’ve written a lot about productivity over the years. And, I’ve shared an equation that I think of when I think of Productivity – Focus x Intensity x Hard work.

Focus is the continuous, iterative, process of keeping the main thing the main thing. Intensity is being 100% engaged while doing it. And, hard work requires no further introduction.

When accompanied by some luck and accompanying privilege, this combination makes productivity and success inevitable.

I was thinking of all of this when I saw “The Last Dance” – a wonderfully well made mini series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

His relentless focus, unwavering intensity, and incredible work ethic made his success an inevitability. There were so many times in the series when there were just a few seconds left for one final shot and you heard opposing players say – “We knew who was going to get that ball” – and, yet, he turned out to be unstoppable.

Jordan’s familial support system (i.e. his luck/privilege) was incredible too. It had to be – to support a career like that. It takes a village.

The series delves beautifully into his intense commitment to win, to push – and sometimes to do so too hard – his teammates to join him on that commitment, and onto his desire to just let his game do the talking.

It also dwells into the many tiny margins that went into the six championships the Bulls won. The many margins that were either decided by a jump shot by Jordan or by his incredible teammates – many of whom admitted to having been pushed to overachieve by Jordan’s desire to win.

Jordan also does a great job speaking to the price of winning, to the price of leadership, and to the price of celebrity. It isn’t always pretty.

But, few things ever are.

At the heart of it, it is a story of a remarkable athlete who, during his years with the Chicago Bulls, combined focus, intensity, and hard work to win, entertain, and inspire.

It makes for a compelling story.

Intentions, belief, and actions

I was reminded of an incident from a while back when someone I knew said something about their intentions about a situation that I didn’t believe.

That initial reaction of disbelief led me to ask myself questions – was I being too cynical? Why was my first instinct to not believe these intentions?

A few days later, said someone acted in a way that made it clear that those instincts were right.

As I stopped to think about it, I realized that this behavior was not new. They were consistent to their behavior in the past. And, while I had temporarily been taken in by their words, their actions spoke a lot louder.

That’s the wonderful thing about actions. They render talk about intentions obsolete.

By taking actions, we reveal our intentions.

So, if we find ourselves repeatedly justifying our good intent, it may just serve us better to stop… and take action that reflects that intent instead.

Eating better – in 2 steps

1. Don’t buy food you’re trying avoid – it is easiest to avoid food that isn’t available.

2. Ensure the food we want to eat most frequently are easily accessible.

COVID-19 has resulted in a spike in sales of unhealthy food. While it is natural to crave junk food when we feel under stress, COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon.

And, while we’ll have to live with the pandemic for another year or so, we’ll need to live with our bodies (if all goes well) a lot longer.

Being at the bottom of things

Computer Scientist Donald Knuth shares this note about email on his website –

“Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration. I try to learn certain areas of computer science exhaustively; then I try to digest that knowledge into a form that is accessible to people who don’t have time for such study.”

While he wrote this about email, it could apply just as nicely to social media, the news, or the phone.

And, as part of my upcoming week off, I’m excited to test being at the bottom of things for the next 4 days.

This means a switched off phone, minimal time on my laptop (likely just to write here), slow to no responses to emails and notes on social media, and plenty of downtime.

It’s been a while since I’ve committed to extended time at the bottom of things. And, I’m excited for the change of pace.

Signpost, victory, and fulfillment

“A signpost stands at a fork in the road.
Pointing in one direction, the sign says Victory.
Pointing in another direction, the sign says Fulfillment.
We must pick a direction. Which one will we choose?

If we choose the path to Victory, the goal is to win.
We will experience the thrill of competition
as we rush toward the finish line.
Crowds gather to cheer for us.
And then it’s over.
And everyone goes home.
(Hopefully we can do it again).

If we choose the path to Fulfillment,
The journey will be long.
There will be times in which we must watch our step
There will be times we can stop to enjoy the view we keep going.
we keep going.
Crowds gather to join us on the journey.

And when our lives are over,
those who joined us on the path to Fulfillment
will keep going without us
and inspire others to join them too”.


A thought provoking start to “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek.

Dr Anders Ericsson

I came across a tweet about Dr Anders Ericsson’s passing last night and felt a deep sense of sadness. Prof Ericsson coined the term “deliberate practice” and his research was built around a simple thesis – expertise, particularly in fields like sports and music, requires a lot of high quality practice vs. solely because of some ambiguous notion of talent. His work was popularized (to his annoyance) by Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour” rule.

I got interested in Prof Ericsson’s work as I went down the path of understanding expertise myself. And, in graduate school, a close Professor friend and I found an excuse to have him join us for a talk (he had just published his book – “Peak“).

As is the case with these things, I don’t remember much from the talk. But, I remember his warmth, grace, and thoughtfulness.

His work helped significantly advance the conversation on expertise by moving us away from a blind focus on raw talent to one that weighted effortful practice. He sought to have us appreciate the importance of getting out of our comfort zone in our quest to get better at what we do.

For personal growth geeks like me, he was a hero… and he will be missed.

#OpenToWork

I work on the team focused on helping job seekers find jobs at LinkedIn. Our team shows up to work everyday energized to find ways to help job seekers with our products. So, we felt a great deal of pain as we saw so many posts on our feeds sharing news of layoffs as COVID-19 hit and upturned our lives.

While some of these stories looked ahead with optimism, others shared real constraints – money/tuition loans, insurance, visas running out, and so on. We also saw so many members on LinkedIn repeatedly reach out to members who’d come forward asking for help with referrals and support.

As we observed all this in our attempts to figure out what we could do to help, we realized that one way we might be able to help is to move quickly to enable those who needed urgent support share this request (with the help of a frame on their photo).

We made #OpenToWork available to all our members yesterday. If you know someone in urgent need of help/are in need of urgent help yourself, we hope they/you find this useful.

And, if you’re looking to be of help, please just make your way to the #OpenToWork hashtag and reach out to folks.

Personally, this product was one in the “this might not work.. but wouldn’t it be incredible if it did?” category. There are many promising early signs so far and I’m really hopeful it’ll help.

Product aside, this also was a deeply fulfilling journey. As a good friend and partner-in-crime on the project nicely put it, it was one of those rare times when wonderful people, meaningful problem, and an opportunity to make an impact came together.

Special.

Solitude and leadership – a few excerpts

A few excerpts that resonated from the speech of the week – “Solitude and Leadership” by William Deresiewicz.


So it’s perfectly natural to have doubts, or questions, or even just difficulties. The question is, what do you do with them? Do you suppress them, do you distract yourself from them, do you pretend they don’t exist? Or do you confront them directly, honestly, courageously? If you decide to do so, you will find that the answers to these dilemmas are not to be found on Twitter or Comedy Central or even in The New York Times. They can only be found within—without distractions, without peer pressure, in solitude.


Here’s the other problem with Facebook and Twitter and even The New York Times. When you expose yourself to those things, especially in the constant way that people do now—older people as well as younger people—you are continuously bombarding yourself with a stream of other people’s thoughts. You are marinating yourself in the conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality: for others, not for yourself.

You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice, whether it’s yourself you’re thinking about or anything else. That’s what Emerson meant when he said that “he who should inspire and lead his race must be defended from travelling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time-worn yoke of their opinions.” Notice that he uses the word lead. Leadership means finding a new direction, not simply putting yourself at the front of the herd that’s heading toward the cliff.


So why is reading books any better than reading tweets or wall posts? Well, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, you need to put down your book, if only to think about what you’re reading, what you think about what you’re reading. But a book has two advantages over a tweet. First, the person who wrote it thought about it a lot more carefully. The book is the result of his solitude, his attempt to think for himself.

Second, most books are old. This is not a disadvantage: this is precisely what makes them valuable. They stand against the conventional wisdom of today simply because they’re not from today. Even if they merely reflect the conventional wisdom of their own day, they say something different from what you hear all the time. But the great books, the ones you find on a syllabus, the ones people have continued to read, don’t reflect the conventional wisdom of their day. They say things that have the permanent power to disrupt our habits of thought.


But it seems to me that solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one. However many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself.

High signal reference checks

We see, ask for, and contribute to formal and informal reference checks often (“Hey, do you know x person? How are they to work with?”). And, while most folks who worked closely with a person can provide useful feedback, I’ve observed the following for the highest signal-to-noise ratio:

1) How well they communicate and hold a room -> their manager’s manager, an executive they reported into, or their manager (in that order).

2) Their ability to both lead and be a good colleague/teammate -> folks on cross-functional teams with no reporting relationship.

3) How good they are at their job -> peers, followed by the manager.

There are exceptions to these observations – typically folks up the reporting chain who manage to stay abreast of the detail. But, that aside, hearing strong positive feedback from a peer with close working experience is among the strongest positive indicators of a person’s ability to contribute on the job.