Stardate S03E32

Sean K. Gabriel
Captain’s Log: Supplemental
3 min readNov 7, 2022

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Mood: 🙏. Regaining focus in the small wins. Que sera sera.

The gulls in action near Bel-Air, Genève

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

Day by day, I’m finding my zen again. It came in part from taking a dose of stoicism and focusing on the productivity I could achieve: commercial planning, supporting others, and value proposition work. As well as getting back on track with Letters (now 60% drafted for launch!).

Small wins translate to bigger ones over time — I know this, but I forget sometimes. Get the reps in and stay consistent, like the tortoise.

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

All the tech layoffs this past week were tough to see. I think we coined a technical term for it in a water cooler chat — “surprise fatigue” is catching up with us.

And though I’m still being consulted for some initiatives in flight, I don’t see the runway to kick anything new off at the moment. It stokes the avoider in me, because it’s hard to separate yourself from the situation you find yourself in. Quite the opposite from playing a defined role in, say, a user interview, where you’re professionally detached from the outcome because you’re purely there to gather information.

They call that channeling one’s inner sage in our PQ coaching program, but it still takes some effort to channel consciously. Again, with repetition I’m hoping it’ll come on demand more easily.

💡 What do I need to remember?

Gained loads of perspective while listening to an archive episode of Lenny’s podcast with Sanchan Saxena, hearing about how Airbnb survived the pandemic.

It wasn’t without some pain and downsizing. But coming out of it, it wasn’t immediately obvious that Airbnb’s product wasn’t its software & booking site. It reveals itself once you consider the intrinsic goal behind the booking: making memories through travel.

He then breaks down their focus on ‘content’ (i.e. someone knew what to do, when) over process. A failure mode to watch out for in young companies is when process becomes the product — process which then strangles the organization’s ability to execute as it scales. It could mean writing the greatest internal documentation but it failing to deliver any results. Or never even sharing it with the world, leaving value on the table. Or Conway’s Law taking hold.

Meanwhile, leaders can get comfortable in ivory towers and stop shipping vulnerable work. They become disconnected from the product, instead focusing on the systems above it all. But the system doesn’t function properly unless its subsystems remain in harmony — one must always optimize for the good of the whole, as systems thinking teaches us.

Systems with subsystems need to be managed together. Else you risk process becoming the product.

📚 What did I discover?

Courtesy Martin — I couldn’t agree more that “be the best” is a terrible strategy 😄. Don’t be better, be different!

Finally, a Good Strategy Bad Strategy kernel canvas! Where you have been hiding when I wrote all my previous weeknotes? 🤭

What a great manifesto for Lisa’s community — refusing to accept that we can’t do better. We can! And I love the relevance of that Einstein quote for today’s world: “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.”

🏠 AOB

Our ‘secret’ society was on top form this week, with several new recruits joining the debate about touchscreens and economics alike. A few favorites from recent months:

Plus rediscovering a boyish love for paper airplanes. Happy watching!

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Sean K. Gabriel
Captain’s Log: Supplemental

Aloha (🤙。◕‿‿◕。)🤙 big on team building & lean product dev. Author @ aspiringpm.com. Thinking aloud with #weeknotes. Works best when caffeinated ☕️