High signal digest #7
Takeaways from "The Score Takes Care of Itself" by Bill Walsh plus a few interesting links from this week
est. reading time 6 min
Today at a glance:
Notes from “The score takes care of itself” by Bill Walsh. Bill Walsh is considered to be one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. This book is about leadership.
Few intesting links: AI, multi-player tools, 2 cool gaming snapshots, a perspective on 15-20 year economic outlook
Why did I read this?
It’s on the list of Jack Dorsey’s books and I admire what he built. In 2012 I studied him for a class and wrote a paper about him. Winter of 2017 I was in SF on a friend’s sofa without a job and the success of Twitter/Square was much more “real”. I watched a few of Dorsey’s interviews on YouTube, googled his most recommended books, and bought ~50% of that list on the spot. This book was on the list.
Raw notes from the book (taken winter 2018).
Some are direct quotes and some is me paraphrasing.
You will fail →force yourself to stop looking backwards and dwelling on past → allow yourself some recovery if you fall down → fight again
Do not ask “why me?”, don’t expect sympathy, don’t blame others
#1 goal isn’t victory. It is the process of improving - obsession over execution, actions, and attitude
Ownership = victory and failure belongs to everyone
Winners act like winners before they are winners → building team, scaffolding, infra is winning and being in the fight. It will eventually show up in MAU or revenue
Set and enforce high standards: (1) recognize specific actions/attitudes relevant to team perf, (2) clearly communicate your expectations, (3) share your beliefs/values/philosophy, (4) teach connection and extension → camaraderie and teammates rather then mercenaries and contractors
“Like water, many decent individuals will seek lower ground if left to their own inclinations. In most cases you are the one who inspires and demands they go upward rather than settle for the comfort of doing what comes easily.” - Bill Walsh
Be bold. Remove fear of the unknown
What assets do we have right now that we are not taking advantage off?
Be obsessive in looking for the upside in the downside
Always praise the team and share credit
Control what you can control. Ignore the rest
Let go of those who are negative and/or not on board
Strength of will = common denominator of good leadership
Inexcusable = failure b/c you failed to admit that you are wrong
Proving that you are right or that someone is wrong are bad reasons for persisting
Select good habits: (1) be yourself - win via authenticity, (2) commit to excellence, (3) be positive, (4) be detailed-oriented, (5) be organized, (6) be accountable - excuse making is contagious, (7) be fair - treat people right, (8) be near-sighted and far-sighted - keep everything in perspective while simultaneously concentrating on the task at hand
Select bad habits: (1) paralyzing patience, (2) too much delegating, (3) too cautious, (4) become best buddies with certain employees, (5) stop evaluating tenured staff, (6) promote an environment that is comfortable
From time to time leaders must show hard edge
More good habits: (1) treat people like people, (2) make each person aware that his/her well-being is high priority within team, (3) give no VIP treatment, (4) care about people beyond work, (5) do not left differences or animosity linger
Praise > blame. Supportive approach > negative or downside-focused approach
Garden will die if I just pick out weeds and do not water flowers. Flowers need sunshine and water. People need feedback, but they also need positivity and support to blossom.
Be hyper clear about what is expected from everyone, especially when expectations are high
Humility = be a king without a crown
Stay composed under pressure!
Communication: (1) use simple language, (2) be concise, (3) think about others (diff levels of experience, tenure, background), (4) read the room, (5) don’t drone on, (6) encourage note taking
The most important attribute of any organization is the way it treats is people - it’s commitment to the individuals on the team
Small signs of love and genuine appreciation for people go a long way
Hiring checklist: (1) good at the fxn they will handle, (2) high level of energy/enthusiasm, (3) good comms, (4) unconditional loyalty
Success disease - how to fix: (1) formally celebrate and make sure everyone feels ownership for limited time, (2) get back into execution mode that produced success, (3) reflect and address mistakes, (4) be demanding - maintain high expectations, (5) use the time immedeatly after success to make hard decisions → when things are going best you have an opportunity to be the strongest
“Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize.” - Bill Walsh
Situational character → for some attitude is linked to results: good results=good attitude, things going poorly = bad attitude. Identify and remove them from the team
Place premium on people who push higher and higher, even beyond the standards you set!
Bitching from the bottom 20% may overshadow success of the team. Make sure they feel that their work matters
Never unravel mentally or emotionally in the worst circumstances. Stay composed
Tell people “I believe in you”
Okay to go against conventional wisdom to achieve exceptional results. That sometimes means being unpopular in the short-term and trusting your judgement
Process > prize. Focus on what will produce results, rather than results
Exhibit exceptional work ethic. Be seen. Do not be cooped up in the office. Your work ethic must be seen to be perceived if you want intensity to be the norm in the team.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Learn how to let things go. Sometimes it is wise to not have the last word
When you make a mistake, admit it, and fix it.
Re-reading my notes from 4 years ago, one macro thing is patterns. Similar to how there are parallels and patterns between poker and business or between art and engineering - there are clear parallels between building an elite sports team and building a successful company. At the most basic level - a lot of the same principles apply.
Patterns are everywhere.
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Few links from this week:
Generative text/img/video ecosystem continues to evolve daily. Check out rising art on playground or this advice on how to get first 1000 users I generated with openAI after tuning the model for a bit. It doesn’t even sound like a bot, right? In August I thought that prompt generation would be the next big thing. Before I could look into how to productize, there was already a marketplace selling prompts. Last week I learned about 3 different image to prompt tools. Prompt marketplace DOA? There will be pain, but from pain will come growth. Think this is all amazing!
Multi-player tools: Single-player video/img creation tools are now next level. Davinci Resolve is now on an ipad and allows Hollywood level fidelity. Runwayml is shipping new AI/ML features weekly. Production value of content will rise. New frontier is multi-player (i.e. figma) where you build with others real-time and it applies to everything (not just art or coding). What is figma/replit for X?
How I build my MVPs. Author is a famous in the nomad/0-1 community.
A perspective on 15-20 year economic outlook from a market strategist and historian