In the last several months, I’ve had a significant number of
conversations, inside and outside of Google, about career (and
sometimes life) choices. People are either stuck and can’t
progress anymore, try to do too much and don’t do anything at
the end, or are simply overwhelmed by a plethora of options.
One of the leading causes of these symptoms is the lack of a
guiding principle. Every time I ask the people who are
struggling, “Why are you doing this? What do you want to
achieve? What’s your motivation?” I almost always get a blank
stare and silence. I acknowledge they are tough questions to
I’m learning more and more about business strategy lately.
I’m taking notes as I’m reading and practicing it. Here’s my
high-level summary as a reminder.
Strategy is a set of activities that ensure unique positioning.
- The essence of strategy is choosing to perform activities
differently than rivals do.
- Strategy should be sustainable. In other words, the goal of
strategy is to maximize profits over time, not through growth.
- Strategy is different from operational effectiveness.
Two days ago, I looked away from the screen and rested my eyes
on my bookshelf. I noticed a book that I had read more than
fifteen years ago when I was discovering my newfound love of
outdoors—Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and
Why by Laurence
Gonzales. It recounts “true stories of miraculous endurance
and sudden death” of people who found themselves stranded
after natural or human-made disasters, climbing accidents,
airplanes crashing in the mountains, and similar. I didn’t
realize it at the time, but the book has shaped my adult life
and me as a person.
- survive (verb): continue to live or exist, especially in
spite of danger or hardship
In the appendix, the author distills twelve points that stand
out concerning how survivors think and behave in the clutch of
mortal danger. I’ll list them here and add my thoughts that
are relevant to the current global situation.
May you live in interesting times, people say. And interesting
they are. Panic has gripped the public, and the global
pandemic is on everyone’s mind. The zeitgeist is such that
even considering discussing something other than the virus
feels wrong. So, let’s write about the virus, or more
precisely, the situation caused by it.
I read Cal Newport’s Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in
a Distracted World
back in 2016. I took some notes along the way and I recently
realized that I often come back to them. I published them here
for easy access and the ability to share with others.
If you want to read more, check out the