One year of Lateral Thinking
Time flies when you're thinking
I can’t believe this week marks once year since I started this newsletter.
Based on extensive (personal) research, y’all are number freaks, so here’s what you’re all waiting for:
We’re at 2.336 subscribers
This is the 94th email I’m sending (so we have an average of about 1 email every 3.8 days)
In total, we had over 122.000 email opens/reads
Average open rate of 49%
For 41% of you, Lateral Thinking is the first Substack newsletter you’ve subscribed to (Substack, where’s my sponsorship 😤)
Oh, a 1-year birthday gift? That’s so nice of you. Yes, I’d love it if you subscribed.
Instead of the normal thinking puzzle, I’m going to lead with a story that had a profound impact on me when I was young:
The king of a wealthy kingdom was bored out of his mind, so he calls for his jester. After the jester fails to impress him, he thinks of a challenge that might lift his spirits.
“Jester”, the king says, “go to the beach and count all the grains of sand. Come back tomorrow and tell me exactly how many there are or I’ll have your head.”
What did the jester do?
An answer, as usual, at the end.
Twelve short thoughts for twelve months
If lateral thinking has taught me anything, it’s that we’re our worst enemy.
So in the hopes that this newsletter has helped you (or will help you) on a personal (or professional) level, here are twelve ideas that stuck with me over the past year.
If you’re stuck overanalyzing, just execute. Working consistently on a mediocre idea will always be better than trying to find the perfect idea.
The majority of people who appreciate you are silent. The minority of people who don’t are the loudest. Don’t let your availability bias detract you from working on something you believe in.
Spotlight bias is a curse. Stop caring that much about what other people think about you. Most of the time, they don’t even notice the things that you think they obsess about.
If you’re feeling down, start eating better and working out. So much of our mood is influenced by what we eat and do. The immediate improvement you can bring to your quality of life is just focusing on nutrition and exercise.
Eat less. Since I mentioned nutrition, one weird way for me to clear my brain fog is to just consume less calories. Links to some interesting studies on that here.
Have respect. The world doesn’t owe you anything. You don’t owe the world anything. That means that you and everyone else are on equal footing. You only deserve the respect that you offer. This mindset will get you far in life.
Create problems. Every startup founder tells you to solve a problem or human need. Sometimes, though, you need a shift in mentality. We started working on creating problems for archaic media agencies instead of playing nice and things suddenly started going our way.
Breaks can break you. If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know I despite the overwork/hustle mentality. At the same time, however, living your life waiting for the next break or weekend is just as bad. Built a lifestyle that doesn’t feel like a chore. Not there yet? Most of us aren’t. Keep building.
Work on your gut feeling. It’s like any other muscle - you have to train it until failure, let it rest, then go at it again. You’ll hurt yourself a few times, but in the end, you’ll come out on top. Try taking controlled risks and see where you land. I have yet to meet someone who isn’t in a net positive.
It’s not ok to fail. Gurus might say it is, but real failure is something few people come back from. It’s ok to make mistakes and not reach 100% of your/your company’s potential, but it’s never ok to outright totally fail. It means you didn’t manage the risk well enough. You should always set realistic milestones, otherwise everything will feel like failure, eating away at your motivation to get back into it.
Fear under-delivery. It’s often times better to postpone something than deliver something that’s not up to par. Will you sometimes plan too much and execute too little? Yes. But it’s up to you to thread the needle and figure out what your sweet spot is.
For me, the sweet spot is saying I’ll give you 12 tips, but only delivering 11. Is that failure? I don’t count it as such. It’s also because you should never give away all your secrets. Where’s the fun in that?
The jester came back and said “my king, there are exactly 987,734,534,879,124 (nine hundred eighty-seven trillion, seven hundred thirty-four billion, five hundred thirty-four million, eight hundred seventy-nine thousand, one hundred twenty-four) grains of sand on the beach.
The king was shocked and asked how he knew the exact number, to which the jester replied: “I counted all of them, of course. If you don’t believe me, send someone else to count them.”
The king laughed wholeheartedly and let the jester live.
Note: I’m paraphrasing the story from memory, I can’t find the original to save my life.
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Love the LT
Happy birthday LT! 🎉