#26: meaningful scale

What's on my mind

When choosing what to work on, it's worth thinking about what scale is meaningful to you.

Do you want to impact millions of people?

Or perhaps building something that serves a thousand people is more fulfilling to you.

Another way to look at it:

Are you solving a big problem for a small group of people?

Or a small problem for a much larger group?

👋 Welcome to the 26th volume of Out of Curiosity, a weekly newsletter promoting ideas to help get 1% better everyday in work and life.

Every week, I go through nearly 100 pieces of content (from books and podcasts to newsletters and tweets), and bring you the best in this newsletter.

In this issue:

📚 Purple Cow (by Seth Godin)

🎬 Bill Gates answers common interview questions

👎 A roadmap for saying no

👋 Alex Gordon-Furse

📚 Purple Cow (by Seth Godin)

Notes on experimentation, finding sneezers, and fitting in:

You don’t need passion to create a purple cow, nor do you need an awful lot of creativity. What you need is the insight to realize that you have no other choice but to grow your business or launch your product with purple cow thinking. Nothing else is going to work. That means launching 10 products for 10 million dollars each is a lot smarter than investing a 100 million dollars in TV to launch just one product. It means that if all 10 products fail, you’ve just learned 10 ways that aren’t going to work.

Focus on sneezers: those who deeply need your product/service. Remember, it’s not about being weird. It’s about being irresistible to a tiny group of easily-reached sneezers. Irresistible isn’t the same as ridiculous. Irresistible for the right niche is just remarkable.

In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.

{126 pages}

🎬 Bill Gates answers common interview questions

In his new YouTube series (State of Inspiration), Stephen Curry asked Bill Gates to to role play a junior software engineering applying for a job at Microsoft.

Bill’s succinct, yet encompassing answers are fascinating. It made me think about how correlated conviction and experience are. Would the 20-year-old Bill give the same answers?

👨‍💻 Why should we hire you?

You should look at the codes that I’ve written. I write software programs way beyond any classes that I’ve taken. I think I’ve gotten better over time, so take a look at how ambitious I’ve been there.

I do think I can work well with people. I might criticize their code a little harshly, but overall, I like to be on a team. I like ambitious goals. I like thinking through how we can anticipate the future.

Software is cool and I want to be involved.

🏋️‍♀️ How do you define your strengths and weaknesses and how would incorporate them into a team?

Well I’m not somebody who knows a lot about marketing. I wouldn’t enjoy being a salesman. 

For a position where you’re actually creating the products and thinking through what those features should be, I’m fascinated by that. 

I followed the history of the industry, read about the mistakes that have been made. So product definition, product creation, very strong. 

If you have a team that understands the customers, the sales, the marketing, I’m not going to bring that, but I would enjoy working with them.

💵 What are your salary expectations for this job?

I hope the option package is good. I’m able to take risk and I think the company has a great future, so I prefer to get stock options even more than cash compensation.

I hear some other companies are paying a lot, but treat me fairly and emphasize the options. 

{23-min watch}

👎 A roadmap for saying no

Saying no sucks!

I don't wanna come across as someone who doesn't give a damn, but I also have other things to take care of!

It's a constant struggle for me. Sometimes I'm overcommitted, other times I'm not the right person!

Time is precious! How do you say no without feeling guilty?

1) Remind yourself that time is valuable and once it’s spent you absolutely can’t get it back.

Navel famously said: Trade money for time, not time for money. You’re going to run out of time first.

2) Ask yourself: Would I be willing to do this thing tomorrow?

3) Respond quickly. Don’t leave people hanging once you know you’re saying no.

4) Own your “no” if it’s not a priority (because something else is)

5) Reframe your “no” to minimize guilt

{2-min read}

📚 A line from a book that stuck with you

Instead of working back from a goal, work forward from promising situations...look at the options available now, and choose those that will give you the most promising range of options afterward.

Range (by David Epstein)

📰 A newsletter you look forward to


🐦 A Twitter account to follow


🎧 A song you'd listen to all day on repeat

Cumbia del Olvido (Nicola Cruz)

🤔 A question that's been on your mind lately

How to balance curiosity and specialization

👋 Follow Alex

Startup Grind | Twitter

Final Thought

Episode #5 of It's Gotta be the Mic went out last week. Nate and I talked about habits, books, and of course, writing.

On another podcast-related note, I've been interviewing some amazing individuals for the Out of Curiosity podcast that I'll be launching in a couple of weeks. We've been discussing their habits, careers, and life philosophies.

And one final reminder for this week... you don't need anyone's permission to start. You don't need to wait for someone's approval before you decide to lead. Life is too short for "It's not your time, it's not your turn." You can also try eating no for breakfast!

Reza 🍋


#23: your philosophy

#24: work that matters

#25: first step