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P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #342
my story 🚀
i’ve been thinking 💭
[I’m going to talk about current events, because that’s unfortunately what’s been on my mind this week. This is unusual for P.S. You Should Know, but I am compelled to write because this time it feels personal.]
My birth certificate identifies my mother as Jew. My father is Jewish too, but he escaped that unfavorable label. You see, his father spent the 1940s in an orphanage (take one guess why), where someone did him the favor (truly, at the time) of changing his last name and calling him a Russian.
This morning I explained to my daughter that our family left the Soviet Union when I was her age. Why, she asked? Because we are Jews, I explained, and we weren’t welcome there. It’s not just that we weren’t allowed to practice our religion (nobody was), it’s that we weren’t allowed to forget that we were a people foreign to the land.
A week ago, the well-funded and organized terrorist group Hamas began a war by executing about a thousand civilians, young and old, and taking over a hundred others as hostages. Why did they kill or kidnap all these innocent people? Because they are Jews. It’s tragic, and it’s neither the first nor last time for such tragedies.
The world can be a cruel place, and my people are not the only targets of its cruelty. But this week we are the targets of Hamas and their terrorism, and this week the Israelis must defend themselves on behalf of Jews everywhere. This war brought by Hamas upon the people of Israel and Gaza is an impossible situation with tragedy in store for innocent people on all sides. The best we can all hope for is a quick end to the violence and the safe return of the hostages.
It felt a little weird going from the heavy commentary above straight to fun facts, so I added this sentence.
fun facts 🙌
9 English words borrowed from non-western languages. I was surprised to find brainwash and candy among them! ~ learn more
Omens of exceptional talent. Alexey Guzey lists 37 signs he’s observed that predict exceptionally talented people. The first one: “i’m scared that they might be better than me at everything and that i’ll be out of job if they try to do whatever it is i’m doing” ~ learn more
This private jet sales experience. I saw this video posted on LinkedIn as an example of an excellent salesperson and sales process. It’s worth the 8 minute watch time! Note that the “23 year old buys a $30M private jet” caption is just internet bullshit, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying. ~ learn more
oh, chicago 🏆
Tom Skilling, Chicago’s weatherman, is retiring after 45 years. He really is a local treasure! His brother Jeff was, for a time, a local treasure in Houston where he served as the CEO of Enron until he was jailed for … stuff. ~ learn more
oh, austin 🤠
Fire sale of 24 real estate projects by StoryBuilt. I had a very brief email exchange with them a couple years ago because they were building in my neighborhood and I was interested in investing. Luckily they told me, “We will be partnering with an institutional partner for our future development on S 1st so we unfortunately will not have an opportunity for individual investors there.” ~ learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
How startup bootstrapped its way to a $2.35B acquisition in less than 4 years. This is the story of Assurance, which sold to Prudential in 2019. The founders bootstrapped the company to profitability and never looked back. I think a big part of this was getting the timing right. “It’s an unusual success story in a tech industry saturated with startups that raise gobs of venture capital dollars with a growth-at-all-costs mentality and sometimes never become profitable.” ~ learn more
Is it wrong to buy a creator’s future income? Some seem to think so. “When Slow Ventures announced that it would set aside $20 million to invest in individual creators, GP Sam Lessin responded to onlookers’ confusion with a memorable quip: “it’s def not indentured servitude.” ~ learn more
What it takes to defy gravity. Applying for a VC job in 2018, Kyle Harrison made the case for Figma becoming a $19 billion company when it had only $4mm of revenue. “I talked about this idea of financial gravity; basically that a company's ability to just continue to grow exponentially becomes increasingly difficult as they scale. And that you can look for the things that could make a company capable of defying gravity.” ~ learn more
better doing 🎯
In defense of strategy. “For some reason … it’s a badge of honor in tech to shit on strategy.” This is a great counter to the position that execution is ee. “A strategy is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty, designed through recognizing the challenge (diagnosis), setting a direction to overcome it (guiding policy), and detailing steps to implement the policy (coherent actions).” ~ learn more
Remove the legend to become one. A long and enjoyable post about making excellent charts. “A good line graph is a fusion of right and left brain, of literacy and numeracy. Just numbers alone aren't enough to explain the truth, but accurate numbers, represented truthfully, are a check on our anecdotal excesses, confirmation biases, tribal affiliations.” ~ learn more
Never say “no,” but rarely say “yes.” An old lesson: rather than rejecting work you don’t want, price it so ridiculously high that you’ll celebrate if you get it. ~ learn more
retail therapy 💸
Best Buy will sell glucose monitoring systems. “Best Buy will soon begin carrying continuous glucose monitoring devices that require a prescription, opening the door to broader future healthcare product offerings ordered by physicians for their patients.” They seem to be targeting the diabetic market, which sadly just keeps growing. ~ learn more
under the microscope 🔬
Nanomaterial stimulates and regrows severed nerves. “In a move that echoes a sci-fi series, researchers have developed a super-small material that was able to not only stimulate nerves in rodents, but reconnect them as well. The finding could lead to injectable particles that take the place of larger implants.” ~ learn more
Fiber boost could combat 'chemo brain' drain. "Our study showed fiber reduced inflammation in the brain region responsible for memory by as much as 50%.” ~ learn more
big ideas 📚
How heat pumps became a Nordic success story. This started as a response to the 1970s oil price shock and was further aided by a carbon tax introduced in 1990. “Sweden, Norway and Finland also have the coldest climates in Europe. In all three countries, there are now more than 40 heat pumps per 100 households, more than in any other country in the world.” ~ learn more
staying thirsty 🚰
Solar desalination with a completely passive device. “That means that, for the first time, it is possible for drinking water produced by sunlight to be cheaper than tap water. This opens up the possibility for solar desalination to address real-world problems.” ~ learn more