Why I miss Crazy Frog

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Photo: mariusFM77/Getty Images

Before the iPhone, Venmo, or Spotify, there were ringtones. You might remember them fondly as those lo-fidelity sounds we used to communicate our highly refined music tastes every time someone called our cell. But ringtones were so much more than that. A billion-dollar industry silenced seemingly overnight, ringtones laid the foundations of modern mobile consumer technology and set the stage for the app store and mobile commerce as we know it today. And they are proof that even silly-seeming products can have an impact long after their memory fades away.

The rise of the ringtone

The first mobile phone call was not made by a silk-shirted Miami cocaine dealer in the ’80s, but by a driver in St. Louis in 1946 from a heavyweight wireless system installed in an automobile. It took another 40 years to make mobile phones portable, reliable, and affordable enough (relatively speaking) to offer to the mainstream consumer. …

Consumers are increasingly skeptical of traditional businesses and looking for alternatives to exploitative or destructive practices

Tech workers and others arrive as Amazon Employees for Climate Justice lead a walkout and rally at the company’s headquarters
Tech workers and others arrive as Amazon Employees for Climate Justice lead a walkout and rally at the company’s headquarters
Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images

In the process of creating stuff people want to buy, businesses also create a vast medley of byproducts and aftereffects that are decidedly less good. They add to what feels like a pretty depressing state of affairs: the climate crisis is reaching intimidating, unprecedented heights, millions of people suffer daily from environmental health risks around the world, mental health issues are driving a steady uptick in suicide rates, obesity is on the rise, inhumane working conditions have been normalized for a nontrivial portion of the population, and so on.

It’s clear that something’s got to give. And I believe we are beginning to see a shift from enterprises scrambling to avoid responsibility for these issues to a new class of global business leaders seeking to actively identify and eradicate them. …

And how writing down one learning a day became my favorite growth hack (that’s not a hack at all)

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I don’t actually know this child. Thanks Unsplash!

Everybody talks about the importance of learning — from experience, from mistakes, from successes.

And there is no doubt we take away something of the many events tucked into our days. Based on the actions and reactions we observe, we develop mental models to navigate the external world.

The more seismic an event relative to others in our lives, the more likely we are to extract its lesson. Being frequently late to the bus sucks but rarely forces us to overhaul how we think about getting around in the way, say, being late to an international flight might.

For most of us, even those who claim to be serious about self-improvement, this is how we drink the coffee of our learning: passively, incidentally, splash of cream, bit of sugar. Hey some of this stuff will stick right?

And some reflections on my time at Uber

As I leave Uber and take on a new role, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on my time in ridesharing and on why I’m excited about what’s next.

On Uber

My last day at Uber was a few weeks ago, after a little more than a year and a half as an Operations Manager. I joined in August 2016 thinking, I can’t wait to skateboard around the office and shoot nerf guns for a living. That’s what startup life is all about, right?

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Turns out it mostly just people eating pie.


I had no way of knowing that I joined the ridesharing behemoth ahead of the most tumultuous year in its history — possibly even the most tumultuous one for any major tech startup since the Tech Bubble burst in the early 2000s. …

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This isn’t me. Also, that’s a newspaper. But hey, close enough. Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.

This year, like other years, I read stuff.

And some of it was pretty good. So I figured I’d share my favorite books of 2017 along with my strongly biased summaries of them. The goal is to give you another data point to consider when choosing what to read next, based on the opinion of either a stranger on the internet or, if I know you (hi!), based on how much you like me (or, more likely, don’t).

I won’t bore you with my struggle to become a persistent reader, or how becoming one made me, as Business Insider promised, one of the world’s most highly effective CEOs (I think? …

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Some dude in a city. May or may not be young and boujee. Courtesy of unsplash.com

Here’s why.

People love talking about millennials like we’re a single boy scout troupe and not millions of people covering vast geographic, cultural, socioeconomic and political tracts. So instead of making sweeping generalizations about millennials as a group, I thought I’d make some sweeping generalizations about a particular subgroup of millennials that I know well: the white-collar urban-dwelling millennials.

There’s one thing about these young professionals I know for certain: we love being in a constant state of stress. I wrote about this before: years of mental conditioning taught us to continually compare the worst in our lives with the best of the lives of others; that the only way to get ahead is to continue berating ourselves for our shortcomings like a stern father, bringing guilt to moments of idleness, beating ourselves up for not doing enough — never enough. …

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There’s more to it than unfollowing people on Instagram

My social media feed is full of ‘successful’ people. ‘Successful’ needs quotations around it because in the world of the young/urban/ambitious, it’s pretty narrowly — perhaps unfortunately — defined. It’s a high-flying job or a startup they founded; industry accolades and panel invitations; Forbes 30 Under 30, Techcrunch articles, TV appearances, and all the happiness that surely must come with it (right?).

What is unique about our social media feeds is not how well they cater to our interests, but how easily they cater to our insecurities. If you are worried about being single, the posts you notice are of your friends getting married, or going on a romantic getaway on some island. …

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Source: Unsplash

This article won’t inspire you.

Roughly 112% of the internet is devoted to porn. The remaining 27% (someone needs to check the math) is devoted to listicles promising to break through our mediocrity by offering the 10 Best Productivity Tips from Fortune’s 40 Under 40 or 30 Best Productivity Apps for Busy People or 8 Lifehacks Bill Gates’ Sister Once Learned from 2 Chainz.

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pictured: wisdom

When we read these articles, we generally feel a surge in motivation. Like, alright, we are ready to download some apps, read some tips and solve this productivity problem once and for all!

No more Netflix, no more sleeping in, no more wasted time now that I’ve found the ULTIMATE to-do/calendar/note-taking/alarm clock/project management app and am resolved to say YES to everything (or NO to everything, depending on the article). …

And it was no Alec Baldwin.

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Trump on the phone with (faux)-Putin on a secure line [presumably]

Either the bright ‘TRUMP’ sign didn’t make it obvious, or there’s a demographic in Russia that put a hard stop to news consumption on Nov 7, but a boisterous orange-tinted man found it necessary to explain that I am Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States of America.

He is met with applause that is as enthusiastic as it is pre-recorded. Just as the man begins to explain that he arrived as part of a surprise visit, he is interrupted by a phone call.

‘Ah, Mr. Putin, very happy to hear from you. Was just about to ring you myself’, stammers Yuriy Stoyanov, Trump impersonator and renown state-approved comedian. …

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It’s one hell of a place.

Gossip gets a bad rap — as it damn well should. Talking about others is a way to (1) assert our moral superiority, (2) avoid substantive conversation/kill time and (3) address interpersonal conflict in the shittiest, least mature way possible. Gossip is so rarely positive, that saying good things behind people’s back sometimes feels like grounds for canonization.

And if saying good things behind people’s backs makes us feel like saints, there’s one group that’s disproportionately responsible: the Good Vibers.

The Good Vibers does not refer to those who tag every Instagram of a corn field with #goodvibes, or those that went to Burning Man once and now can’t figure out why everyone won’t just, like, send positive vibrations into the ether. …


Gil Kazimirov

A Damn Optimist. Newslettering at damnoptimist.substack.com. Previously operations @Uber, @Lime.

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