Things I have learnt this week

5 things I’ve learnt this week – week 45

One of the ways I am embracing the “Be 1% better every day” philosophy is by sharing a weekly curated list of the best articles I have read in the last 7 days.

The motivation behind it is twofold. On the one hand, it helps me reflect on the new ideas I am exposed to so that I understand them better. On the other, it helps reward all these authors that take some time to share their learnings with the world, making it a better place for everyone.

Past articles in these series

This is the recap for the week.

Growth and profitability trade-offs for startups

Source: Paul Graham/YCombinator and McKinsey Insights
Topic: Venture Capital / Entrepreneurship
Reading time: ~30′

The first article by Paul Graham, Co-founder & Partner at YCombinator, offers an interesting view on entrepreneurship from the perspective of a Venture Capitalist. I.e. why understanding startups is all about understanding growth. On the other hand, McKinsey’s article deep dives in the trade-offs between growth and profitability. That is, how different companies hold different growth strategies: from super-growers at any cost, with high growth rates and low margins, to cash-generators, with low growth rate and high margins.

Fat protocols, how value is created and captured in Blockchain

Source: USV
Topic: Blockchain
Reading time: ~15′

Fat Protocols is a theory developed by Joel Monegro that describes the difference between who is able to create and capture value (in other words, make money) in the Blockchain ecosystem. It’s interesting to note the contrast against 90’s internet protocols. Whilst 90’s companies responsible for developing the protocols made close to zero profit, applications ended up capturing all the value (e.g. Google, Facebook). Nowadays, most of the value accrues to the Blockchain protocol instead of its apps.

Pursuing less to achieve more

Source: Lifehacker / Harvard Business Review
Topic: Product Management
Reading time: ~10′

This original piece by Greg McKeown taps into the counterintuitive idea of success as a catalyst for failure. That is, how success leads to more options which undermines clarity of purpose, thus lack of focus. This can be an interesting idea to explore from the perspective of new product development.

Applying OKRs

Source: Dan North 
Topic: Human Resource Management
Reading time: ~10′

OKR – Objectives and Key Results – is a performance management HR methodology being adopted by a vast number of companies in the Tech industry. Their main benefit is to keep vision, goals and objectives always in front of employees. When set up and used regularly, OKR is really simple to use and does not take much time to implement or follow.

Getting your fronts right

Source: TutsPlus
Topic: Computer Skills
Reading time: ~5′

As an engineer, I have to admit I struggle when it comes to making my documents and presentations shine. Whilst content is king, presentation is important, and bearing in mind that “there’s life” beyond Calibri (or even worse, Comic Sans) can be transformative for one’s documents.

Have you come across any other articles you would like to recommend? Help the world be 1% better in the comments.

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