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Library

Below is the visual library for all the books I have summarized
To access the searchable library, click here

                               9780943045092-us-300  jewel-book-cover-357f955151cf194549275a2106e6f18e7ba5313706ac343769e9da3e0c9e724b 517loszzml-_sx335_bo1204203200_  capture 51p5t5cw4tl-_sx302_bo1204203200_  2632830 51af4jqgawl-_sy344_bo1204203200_ 41uty3mqrvl-_sx319_bo1204203200_ 51lnqvt3ol-_sx328_bo1204203200_ disneywar 411pfl4nmzl-_sy344_bo1204203200_ 41dsslntrl-_sx316_bo1204203200_ 51qqnglcidl-_sx318_bo1204203200_ 51pna4itnjl-_sx334_bo1204203200_ 51j0aco1hol-_sx317_bo1204203200_ 41dkjoqvu-l-_sx321_bo1204203200_ 71zpp045ywl 6190ig5x2rl-_sx331_bo1204203200_ 51iwrjcuw6l-_sy344_bo1204203200_ 41ozgec8e6l-_sx331_bo1204203200_ 3 sync bak 51NNRZBJ+sL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51zvuHPCgoL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ les-schwab-pride-in-performance-keep-it-going-19 0060916575-01-_sx200_sclzzzzzzz_1 510aKu0sPTL._SX299_BO1,204,203,200_ 41KY2u4d4ZL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_1995421all_i_want_to_know41TGRwvg4YL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_  deep-work-cal-newport  16248196  51N7s0z8kXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 174713 Washington_A_Life_book_cover Power vs Force Softcover 510aKu0sPTL 41-eYMXLKqL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_  41ZDNyKoHlL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 9780805052534 16130 517oIyvrNDL 13533740 41rJVsU7tJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ download md184556324162688773851a9rND+uPL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 513dRdOldWL._SX329_BO1204203200_ 5143bEJRfqL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ 9780300216974 heroes-of-history-9780743235945_hr{488DB970-C6F6-4E88-AE18-11A93B255D66}Img400 41cmM6UedGL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ 41ElRO9ypBL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_ 41jeohotvgL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ 41qKdrO4wnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51zp+qPAe-L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ 511yBt6KhlL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_ 812rexUR0rL The_Power_Broker_book_cover 41jFVZL72YL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_ 41JvQj9sJAL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_ 41VatwrWCeL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_ 51dLDq5mkcL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_ 51gN-yGw5oL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51Mt5H5lX2L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_51YHqfdHJeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ 81aGCwitXcL 516qbIR3suL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_ 1305 LoyaltyEffectRevCover 516pEhuhDlL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_  41m0N7IIcsL 41rfAKBZVuL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51WnDA3RrUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51YE689GC7L._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_ 4144JvvbfkL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 5486 cover225x225  the-silo-effect-9781451644739_hr  51DWYZY76QL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_41+nfGp2AgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 41lz22fodhL._AC_UL320_SR212,320_ 41WrIQaCTBL 41Z3XNXTcHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51-j173j-LL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51jWkjTVbBL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_ 51l6k9k4HsL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ 51pBocD9LPL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_  Beyond-Training-Cover  cb6ef9e8fa38798e99972aaef7cdcc4d  david-goliath  FinalCover2 TheGraveyardBook_Hardcover What_do_you_care_what_other_people_thinkGEB Lindbergh The Innovators Obstacle is the Way Body by Science Bridgewater Education of a Value Investor The Loser's Game The Prince remains-of-the-day   Stroke of Insight   This is WaterBirmingham Jail  Lolita   Letters from a Self Made Merchant Peter the Great  Antifragile  Think and Grow Rich 48 Laws of Power What the Most Successful To Kill a Mockingbird I and Thou Influence  Manuscripts found in Accra  Ben Franklin Measure Your Life  How to Read a Book   The Small Cap Advantage My Own Life  Buddha Standard Time Decoded Checklist Manifesto The Outsiders Seeking Wisdom Bold Buddha Brain 10 Happier Cyrus the Great Hedonistic Imperative The Winner's Game Diary of Soren Adultery  Where are the customers yachts Education of a Coach Zen in the Art of Archery Moral Sayings of Publius Art of Stillness 51lPZw1WaOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51r0fm0Y82L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Killing Kennedy 5 Rules Brave New World Common Sense Investing The Little Book That Builds Wealth Never Eat Alone  Warrior Within  Poor Charlie's Almanack Killing Lincoln Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy A New Earth Tao Teh Ching Hurricane Startup of You Essentialism innoutAmerican Gods Do the Work Future of the Mind How to Love The Luck Factor Radical Acceptance   Nudge Eleven Rings The Hard Thing About Hard Things 33 strategies delivering happiness good to great monk and philosopher on china one click power of full story of philosophy thinking big way we're working zen and art 41z+F+i4C2L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51cvElYU7WL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_ 51fN0mD37nL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51nPvo5Su3L._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_ 51OVTLXoJ+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 61zkSQ8mjbL 81fncUPB6cL 518PbRACTQL 17859574 a curious mind Brain-That-Changes-Itself George-True-North-Authentic  power thebrainswayofhealingCapture 41ckYWIZtNL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 41HVo-Vf+zL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 41xs4vbcTPL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ 51BWHwWGCoL 51jCcKixK1L 51NcUB2HTxL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51NL4ze5EkL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_ 51o2zBoDItL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 71tHnQXwJtL 514Y9hUYhRL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 519MS8HD0CL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_  1152-2 0399139435 41SNnGFamQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_   51EOw3BYhrL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51fIjlYbsVL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ 51g8CrvBr8L._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_ 51pmlYf63+L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_ 51T7HIMnjvL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51y+hZEulnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Fooled_by_Randomness_Paperback  Steve_Jobs_by_Walter_Isaacson the-fountainhead  tumblr_mzf8b0ZtUv1tq3nx5o1_1280  WceGgDUNlCA8RPHOz66AbHHs4RI12Vqg+OoBRGBrKx2plCphEkAr3aizNSRpuGHkIoDZcS4gLRs3LNNbucM2tzHjr1b6gOv!JK2gG4iMspVQ5iDKyCBWtzAWMsmQ+7PK41cpg1ESArL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 41OLNqCiM0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 41ujSlRdt3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51dOQ2ytN-L._SX374_BO1,204,203,200_  51mF+0T9o5L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_  51oHuRxOgIL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ 51q71sE7c5L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ 51xwPegEzlL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_ 51Z6PrTDb4L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ 413fr2eoPPL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 416qS30-lQL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_ 830 23289992 Organized-Mind 9900241KHCQnx1EL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ 51aUygppA+L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ 51cx5AfHpZL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_ 51ETE8NqvcL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_ 51kbKLCazgL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ 51XkLHJz++L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 71ahJkud8uL 71X3Y9yRtlL 81wBzBcSclL 857333 littlebets  prophet-cover_1_op_397x548 Screen-Shot-2015-09-14-at-2.22.25-PMreagan-151fc0+DDh9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51iuMfmHHHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 51tkKRzS5YL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ 51xrAg9mceL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ FINDING-ULTRA-COVER-FINAL1  TheBoysintheBoat9780812993257 How_We_Decide_cover  OmnivoresDilemma_full  brothers k Happiness-Hypothesis unbroken-crjpg-ce0987f837463333  mans_search_for_meaning  simplicity  9781571745712 81B9+kACYLL BotanyofDesire_full 300x300 cn_image.size.swerve-book rise of superman  year-without-pants-752x1128  getting to yes 51V38NLW5zL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ TheIntelligentInvestor 51XcaFJirNL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Jesus  BP Diet  Zorba_book Flowers for Algernon  1776 Auto of Black Hawk Genghis Khan Making Onward God Delusion Moonwalking_with_einstein Stroke of Insight Einstein Isaacson Siddhartha Titan fooling super brain Lila Meditations Fahrenheit 451  On the Road   Cooked On the Shortness of Life What every body is saying Aleph Animal Farm Sports Gene Love WinsBorn to Run  Emotional Intelligence Cool Tools Sun also rises Inutition Pumps  Moby Dick  Free to Choose  Power of Positive Thinking Experiments with Truth Vagabonding Slaughterhouse Five Aristotle in Outline the social animal_3.indd Cat's Cradle Thinking Fast and Slow  The Alchemist  Walden  Art of War  The Charisma Myth  Flatland  Mr. Feynman Money master the game 51qwpkjNP7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_  7126 41ry6MoUc3L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ 51JNMx5G3iL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Berkshire 51K28NKVF3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 1984-by-opallynn-d4lnuoh 6596 17184 cover2 cvr9781451695182_9781451695182_hr Mastery_Cover movieposter PicofDorianGray-728143 Rye_catcher subliminal_seduction  TheJungleSinclair  The-Richest-Man-In-Babylon-George-Clason

March 2017

The Rabbit Hole by Blas Moros 
     
Jump In. 
 

My monthly newsletter covers the books I have read over the course of the month, the challenges I undertook as well as some other interesting articles, blog posts, interviews, tools, hacks, etc. 

 

Books

Full list of books read in 20172016, 2015, 2014

All great books should be immediately re-read

Teacher’s Reference Guides

  • Diving into platform businesses has been exciting and I’ve learned a ton. The fact that platforms increase in efficiency and power as they scale, that they expand markets by bringing on new demand and supply and that they take advantage of network effects are some of the more fascinating aspects that I came across. 

Monthly Challenges

  • Learning some basic dance moves – painful but making progress
  • Lunch time meditation – didn’t get to occasionally but even 10 minutes makes a world of difference

Other

Amor Fati

Blas

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” – Sigmund Freud

 
   
 
   
 
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February 2017

The Rabbit Hole by Blas Moros 
     
Jump In. 
 

My monthly newsletter covers the books I have read over the course of the month, the challenges I undertook as well as some other interesting articles, blog posts, interviews, tools, hacks, etc. 

 

Books

Full list of books read in 20172016, 2015, 2014

All great books should be immediately re-read

Teacher’s Reference Guides

  • Current rabbit hole is platform companies and network effects. Platform Revolution has been my favorite so far

Monthly Challenges

  • Quarterly 3 day fast – boring but getting surprisingly easy the more I do it
  • Psyllium Husk – 1 tablespoon with water after dinner. Didn’t notice much
  • Don’t eat within 2 hours of bed – failed some of the time but felt lighter the mornings when I did follow through
  • Kip up – failed miserably. No place to practice consitently and didn’t seek help from a teacher

Other

Amor Fati

Blas

“For the simplicity on this side of complexity I would not give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

 
   
 
   
 
To unsubscribe click here, to edit your profile click here.

Platform Scale by Sangeet Paul Choudary

Summary
  1. Choudary explains how technology, democratization of connectivity and rise of data-driven decision making systems are enabling a new type of business model – platforms. Platforms are so powerful because they enable efficient interactions, create excess value and are able to scale rapidly
Key Takeaways
  1. The Platform Manifesto
    1. The ecosystem is the new warehouse
    2. The ecosystem is also the new supply chain
    3. The network effect is the new driver for scale
      1. Platform scale is achieved by maximizing the repeatability and efficiency of the platform’s core interaction. Interactions must be executed smoothly and in a manner which kick-starts the next interaction organically
      2. Achieving platform scale requires the ability to scale value creation to scale value exchange – the ability to scale production and consumption simultaneously – and to repeat the two so that each reinforces the other
      3. 5 drivers of platform scale – minimal marginal costs of production and distribution, network effects powered by positive feedback, behavior design and community culture, learning filters, virality
    4. Data is the new dollar
    5. Community management is the new human resources management
    6. Liquidity management is the new inventory control
    7. Curation and reputation are the new quality control
      1. One of the platform’s main focus is limiting poor behavior and interaction risks
      2. Quality control (screening, curation) is vital. Can be done through an in-house editor, through algorithms or through social signals (rating, voting)
      3. 3 factors governing platform adoption – network effects (most important), curation of content, curation of participants (through ratings, reputation, incentives – indicating quality and reliability)
    8. User journeys are the new sales funnels
    9. Distribution is the new destination
      1. New focus on how to distribute its experience into multiple user contexts
    10. Behavior design is the new loyalty program
      1. 3 core principles to platform design
        1. Start with defining the value that is created or consumed, the core value unit
        2. The core interaction – the set of actions that enable the creation and consumption of that value – should be laid out around the core value unit
        3. The design of the platform’s features, functionalities and management should stem from the design of the core interaction
    11. Data science is the new business process optimization
    12. Social feedback is the new sales commission
      1. Platforms often create new behaviors and reward/reinforce the most beneficial
    13. Algorithms are the new decision makers
    14. Real-time customization is the new market research
    15. Plug-and-play is the new business development
      1. Platform as an enabler of interactions – plug-and-play business design, balancing value creation for both producers and consumers, strategic choice of what is “free”, pull/facilitate/match, layering on new interactions, enabling end-to-end interactions, creation of persistent value beyond the interaction
      2. At their core, platforms enable a plug-and-play business model. Other businesses can easily connect their business with the platform, build products and services on top of it, and co-create value. Platforms primarily benefit not from internal production but from a wider source of open co-creation and open market interactions. This ability to drive interactions through a plug-and-play infrastructure is a defining characteristic of platform scale
    16. The invisible hand is the new iron fist
  2. Business model transition from pipes to platforms
    1. Choudary calls traditional companies like manufacturing, “pipes.” Pipes build products or craft services, push them out, and sell them to customers. Value is produced upstream and consumed downstream, creating a linear flow of value, much like water flowing through a pipe. In effect, pipes were designed to enable the flow of value in a straight line
    2. Three forces today are driving a whole new design for business, platforms – increasing connectedness, decentralized production and the rise of AI. These businesses create a plug-and-play infrastructure that enables producers and consumers of value to connect and interact with each other in a manner that wasn’t possible in the past
    3. In this new design of business where the firm is no longer the producer of value, platforms perform two specific roles
      1. They provide an open, participative, plug-and-play infrastructure for producers and consumers to plug and interact with each other
      2. They curate participants on the platforms and govern the social and economic interactions that ensue
    4. Shift in markets from consumers to producers (both can and do add value on platforms whereas only one side typically did in the past)
    5. Shift in competitive advantage from resources to ecosystems
    6. Shift in value creation from processes to interactions
  3. The Broad Goal of Platforms
    1. Goal of platforms is to enable interactions between producers and consumers repeatedly and efficiently
      1. Build platforms with an interaction-first, not a technology-first mindset! Technology should be built only after understanding the interaction that needs to be enabled. Without this in mind, one often ends up with a platform that nobody wants to use.
    2. The movement from pipe-based, user-first view to the platform-based, interaction-first view is best captured through the following shift: We are not in the business of building software. We are not in the business of selling products and services. We are in the business of mediating and enabling interactions
      1. The importance of an interaction-first approach to building platforms cannot be emphasized enough. Focusing on the actions involved in an interactions helps us design the tools and services as well as the rules required to facilitate the interaction. Understanding the players participating in the interaction and their motivations helps us design the actions and rewards that create pull on the platform. Finally, only by focusing on the core interaction can a platform know what data it needs to capture
  4. The Core Value Unit
    1. The core value unit is the minimum stand alone unit of value that is created on top of the platform. It represents supply or inventory created on top of the platform and without this, the platform has very little value in and of itself
      1. For network/marketplace/community-dominated – goods, standardized services, non-standardized services
      2. Infrastructure dominated – apps
      3. Data dominated – data helps the platform become more efficient overtime, data itself is the source of value
      4. To increase platform scale, focus on increasing the quality and quantity of core value units on the platform. However, platforms are unique in that they don’t control this inventory as this is produced outside the platform
      5. All actions in the core interaction fall into one of the following buckets – creation, curation, customization, consumption. The keys to platform scale lie in simplifying each constituent action in the core interaction
      6. Information exchange has 3 components – The producer creates a core value unit, the consumer sets up a filter of some combination of overlap and data, the value unit that best passes through the filter is served to the consumer (based on good data and filters). Filter can be point in time (search) or cumulative (taking account of past history or behavior) or some combination
  5. 6 elements of execution
    1. Choice of the overall interaction space – connection, content, clout, coordination, competition, culture and code
    2. Production incentives – tools/access/both, simplify production process, great curation, clear, democratic and equal access path to the top, great conversion rates, good feedback mechanisms, removal of skill, time/effort/investment, resource, access barriers (removal of frictions)
      1. Frictions can sometimes be useful when trying to discourage the repeatability of undesirable interactions and can indicate quality, superior signaling or a barrier of some sort
    3. Building long-term cumulative value – reputation, influence, collections, learning filters
    4. Strong curation mechanisms and trust
      1. 7 Cs of Trust – confirmed identity, centralized moderation, community feedback, codified behavior, culture, completeness, cover
    5. Strong filters and relevance
    6. Ownable interactions – more difficult for platforms offering nonstandardized services (TaskRabbit) but in order to own the interaction, all platforms must create more value than they capture
  6. The Chicken and the Egg Problem
    1. All platforms must overcome the chicken and egg problem until they reach critical mass, the minimum network size at which there are enough producers and consumers of value on the platform to ensure that interactions spark off reliably
    2. Solutions to the chicken and egg problems have a few defining characteristics:
      1. Breaking the vicious cycle – platform should have standalone value, users to derive value even without other users
        1. The standalone mode, for producers, should encourage the creation of value units on the platform, which can then be used to pull in the consumption side
        2. Faking initial supply may often help kick start network effects (YouTube had pirated content early on) – seeding and weeding, seeding demand, seeding supply
        3. Identifying a group of power producers and providing them with tools and incentives to better “harvest” their following can solve the chicken and egg problem very effectively
        4. Get more difficult side on board through curation and incentives
        5. Often, the solution to finding adoption lies in providing backward compatibility with existing solutions
        6. Focus on value-creating interactions and then scaling those interactions instead of focusing entirely on scaling the user base. Small user bases with thriving interactions trump large user bases with low activity
          1. Solve a pain point for a niche segment, target a micro-market where small is good, leverage existing interactions in the micro-market, find a micro-market that encourages spread, find a micro-market that is representative of the final market, a micro-market may be a thin-sliced use case, make a two-sided market one-sided
          2. A platform can scale well only if it encourages interactions within a small user base before attracting a large number of users
      2. Positive feedback
      3. Maximizing overlap between consumers and producers
      4. Getting the harder side in first (through incentives)
      5. On-boarding of two distinct markets
    3. Five design principles for solving chicken and egg problems
      1. Finding a compelling bait to start the loop
      2. Ensuring there is no friction in the feedback loop
      3. Minimizing the time it takes for the startup to reach critical mass
      4. Incentivizing the role that is more difficult to attract
      5. Staging the creation of two-sided markets
  7. Scaling & Virality
    1. Scaling strategies
      1. Bump – non-sustainable exposure such as PR, advertising and events; important for initial traction
      2. Engines – an internal engine of growth and designed to grow as a consequence of usage
      3. Also needs to create the hooks and motivations that will enable and incentive users to expose the offering to others, every time they use it
    2. Misconceptions about virality
      1. Virality and word of mouth are two names for the same phenomenon – virality a consequence of users using the platform, not loving the offering. Virality does not need fans, it merely needs users who are encouraged to bring in other users
      2. Virality and network effects are the same and lead to rapid growth – open platforms like email do not benefit form network effects whereas closed ones do (but both can have virality)
      3. Virality is all one needs for a growth strategy – should be complemented with other user-acquisition models
      4. Virality involves manipulating users to send out invites to other potential users
    3. Networks spread like diseases do
      1. The sender – a user on the platform sends out a message about the platform
        1. Sender incentives – why will the sender send units out of the platform?
      2. The core unit – message is typically the core value unit
        1. Spreadable unit – what is the minimum transferable unit on the platform that one can move on an external network?
      3. The external network – units spread on an external network, connecting people
        1. External network – Where will the unit from the platform meet current non-users
      4. The recipient – recipient on the external network interact with the unit and is brought back to the original platform
        1. Recipient incentives – why will a non-user on an external network convert to a user on the platform?
        2. The recipient, if interested, then joins and becomes a sender and starts the process over
    4. Virality is a design problem, not an optimization problem. Take into account:
      1. Sender incentives, low friction in creating core value units, high percentage of producers, spreadable core value units (triggers an interaction on an external network), plays on the producer-as-sender dynamic, the spread of the unit helps to complete an incomplete interaction)
      2. External network – choice of network which takes into account relevant interactions, relevant connections, relevant look and feel, add value to users on this external network, create an unfair advantage and make integration as easy as possible
      3. Recipient incentives – unit should serve as a compelling pitch to the platform and a call to action embedded within the unit
      4. 4 key optimization priorities for achieving sustainable viral growth
        1. Send: maximize outflow of units from the platform
        2. Spread: ensure that units spread on the external network
        3. Click: maximize clicks on an external network
        4. Convert: minimize cycle time
    5. Producers never spread the word about the platform, they merely spread the word about their creations
    6. Platforms that succeed with viral growth reward users with accelerating social feedback
    7. Network effects can work against platforms if higher adoption gets in the way of interaction efficiency and repeatability, reducing interaction quality. To achieve sustainable scale, a platform needs to scale both the quantity and the quality of interactions that it enables
      1. A scaling strategy for platforms should involve scaling of production, scaling of consumption, strengthening of filters through ongoing data acquisition, scaling social curation, scaling community culture, minimizing interaction risk
      2. Lack of curation scaling is very common when platforms fail. Platforms need to ensure that access and creative control, as well as curation and customization, scale well as the platform scales
      3. Platforms must encourage cross-cluster interactions as well as cross-cluster incentives
  8. Other
    1. Platforms aren’t truly software but they are eating the world – efficient social and business interactions, mediated by software
    2. Value creation still dependent on aggregation, but not of labor or resources. Rather, the ecosystem is the new warehouse, supply chain and scale through network effects. Shift from culture of absorption to data absorption. Manage community incentives and governance
    3. Must ensure there is never unfilled demand
    4. While platforms can be incredibly different, the following three distinct layers tend to emerge repeatedly: data, infrastructure, network-marketplace community. These 3 can play varyingly large or small roles depending on what the platform wants to achieve, how to differentiate itself and what the key drivers of value are
    5. The single most important decision in testing is the choice of the hypothesis to be tested. Without clarity on this, one can waste a lot of time testing irrelevant hypotheses and optimizing poor design. Laying out the overall architecture of the platform helps us understand the key points of failure for the ensuing platform business and shows us what needs to be tested. All design decisions should ensure the repeatability and sustainability of the core interaction that the platform enables
    6. The platform canvas is a framework for makers to build interaction-first platform businesses and includes the value-creating interaction, the platform that enables the interaction, a mechanism for value capture, enablement of a plug-and-play business model  through channels (websites and apps) and access control for producers and filter creation for consumers. The platform must provide tools and services of creation, curation, customization and consumption.
      1. Value is derived from charging one side to access the other, charging a third party for advertising, charging producers and consumers for premium tools and services, charging consumers for access to high quality, curated producers and charging producers for an ability to signal high quality
    7. The TRIE Framework – tools and rules, interaction, experience
      1. Platforms allow the users to shape their own experience and not just accept the maker’s ideas
      2. Platforms must allow for emergent behavior to arise, some of which may redefine the architecture and lead the platform in entirely new directions
    8. Everything old is new again! The answers lie in using the old to interpret the new
    9. Platform strategy involves 3 primary priorities, aligned with the three layers of the platform stack – pull, facilitate, match
    10. Two critical factors will determine the success of a company in the on-demand economy: multihoming costs (ease of switching between platforms) and interaction failures
    11. Best way to launch a platform business at a conference is to ensure that the core interaction on the platform is organically embedded into the conference experience and that it fits in with the activity at the event
What I got out of it
  1. A dense and extremely insightful book on how to design, think about, build and spread successful platform companies. At the core of it, platforms must make sure they enable their core value unit to foster interactions which are as frictionless as possible in a repeatable, efficient and effective manner

Chapters in My Life by Frederick Taylor Gates

Summary
  1. Frederick Taylor Gates, the senior business and philanthropic advisor to John D. Rockefeller, recounts his life story and interaction with JDR
Key Takeaways
  1. Gates grew up in a relatively poor household but his parents were hard working and were never for want. Gates became a Baptist minister after graduating from Rochester and practiced for about a decade. He came into contact with JDR during his fundraising process for a Baptist university in Chicago. JDR was impressed enough with his acumen and common sense that he brought him on board, eventually to become senior business advisor for JDR’s business and philanthropic decisions
    1. While preaching in Minnesota, Mr. Pillsbury approached Gates on how to handle his will and was taken in by the suggestion that he required Gates to take a year off from being a pastor to spread the message of the importance of Baptist advancement in the state
    2. Joined the Executive Board of the American Baptist Education Society and was central in communicating with Rockefeller on the importance of establishing a great Baptist university in central Chicago, what would later become the University of Chicago. Gates was named by Rockefeller to be one of the Trustees for the University of Chicago which he helped fund-raise for and then help lead.
    3. Dr. Harper was the University of Chicago’s first president and had ambitious plans for the University. His expansion and spending put him at odds occasionally with Mr. Rockefeller but his vision helped make UChicago the incredible institution it is today
    4. Gates soon after moved to New York to help with Rockefeller’s other benevolences and it was at this point that he turned away from the ministry. Gates helped to direct Rockefeller’s fund and then lead and manage these companies, trusts or philanthropic organizations. Gates steered Rockefeller’s donations towards the principles of scientific giving and eventually laying aside retail giving to individuals and local charities and fully entering wholesale philanthropy to approved public agencies. Gates had little business experience but Rockefeller trusted that he would learn and put him in that position because Gates had a “great store of common sense.” Gates responds by saying that, “his excuse is valid in its implication that common sense diligently applied is usually the best possible solvent of difficult business problems. Gates helped Rockefeller sell out of many poor investments which a “syndicate” of old friends and acquaintances had looped Rockefeller into but ended up being reckless
      1. In his study of one of Rockefeller’s mining investments in Colorado – “My self-distrust proved my salvation. I would not rely at all on any examination of mine. If these consolidated gold properties were what they were represented to be, they would be well known. They ought to be well known throughout Colorado. There must be men in Denver itself who knew of them. I could and would find out what experienced and reliable men in Colorado knew of these mines.” He would come to find that Rockefeller’s investment was in a complete fraud with no gold by conversing with these fluent miners and engineers
      2. This was too much for Rockefeller and it was then JDR invited Gates to be the independent agent in charge of both his philanthropic and personal investing decisions
  2. On Children & Parenting
    1. Never underestimate the impression something can have on a young child – the years of early childhood usually fix the character and destiny of the man
    2. It is a mistake to think children need to be harshly rebuked. To raise gentlemen and women, one must treat them in childhood with courtesy
    3. The parent can force an apparent but wholly deceptive victory by fear, for no victory is complete that does not carry the child’s reason, and conscience, the victory of intelligent voluntary repentance
    4. Children should be taught to pray for what they crave and always in their own words or else the prayer rings hollow. Spent his entire adult life trying to erase his early religious training as he found it painful and stamped out his natural desire to do good. It is ideals lovingly cherished, not terrors, that educate the conscience and create character
    5. My parents talked over all their troubles with entire freedom in the presence of their children. I know no better way than free discussion in the presence of the children of the daily problems of the family, including its relations with others, if children are to be trained in such worldly wisdom as their parents have, and in the practical conduct of life
    6. I find that praise and encouragement work wonders and it gets students much more interested and self motivated
    7. My mother told me to do everything I was told to do, be it high or low; shrink from no duty however difficult or distasteful, and do it, said she, just as well as you can. Do it better than others. Though you may not have as much talent as some, your labor in this way will always be in demand
    8. Beyond mere physical protection of the very little children, we sought to train our children to govern themselves. We tried to make love only the atmosphere of our home. in this spirit it was not necessary to treat them as underlings , but as friends. We advised, persuaded, encouraged, commended, rewarded them, but we sought never to command or forbid. The last word of all counsel was: such is our advice and our wish, but make your own decision; do as you think best. More often than not they begged us to make the decision for them, for they found it easier to be governed than to govern themselves. But self-control can be attained only by the habitual practice of it
    9. We did not spare expense at any point, because we thought that the taste for good music would be worth more – far more – to our children in later life than the inheritance of the money it cost
    10. The mind of the child grows not by absorbing the contents of books, but by intense, spontaneous, self-directed, mental action, just as the body of the child grows by intense, spontaneous, self-directed physical action in his plays. The mind and body are inseparable. They share a common life. We supplemented the schools with twice as much self-directed work and play outside the school hours. We made it a rule to provide at home all the tools, and all the chemical, physical and electrical equipment, apparatus, and material that our children wanted…We had given a minor place only to the study of books but had kept our children busy sixteen hours per day in self-chosen, spontaneous activity, as intense as possible and furnished with all needed facilities and tools
  3. On Business & Philanthropy
    1. Every step a man takes in capacity to work, and to do better work will bring him into a higher plane – a plane in which there will be fewer competitors, greater demand and higher rewards
    2. I knew of course that no man becomes fitted for a new position of importance and responsibility, except by months or years. Of experience in the position itself and that in the process of becoming fitted there must be errors, embarrassments and chagrins
    3. Worked for a Mr. Smith who was Scrooge-like but Gates stood up for what he believed was right and earned this man’s trust. He learned the basics of banking and bookkeeping which would serve him well later in life
    4. You need to be educated enough so that you can bring your ideas down to the point that common people can understand them
    5. No man ever made such advancement in culture who did not early in life learn to save the minutes. Benjamin Franklin said “Time is Money.” To you time is more than money. It is mental culture; it is reputation. It is power over men; it is success.
    6. Doing much in a little time, the impression is apt to wear away. Don’t hurry, take time
    7. On fund raising – never tried to increase the subscription or even to get the last cent possible. We aimed to leave friends behind us, not enemies. It was up to them how much to donate and our job was to be grateful whether the donation was large or small
    8. Medicine had become full of charlatans and had fallen behind many other sciences because it was not endowed at colleges and universities and the research had been left to itself and dependent on individual innovation. It became clear to Gates that medicine could not become a true science until medicine was endowed and qualified men were able to give themselves uninterrupted to the study and investigation of medical research. This was where Gates had an immense influence on Rockefeller. “This idea took possession of me. The more I thought of it, the more interested I became. I knew nothing of the cost of research; I did not realize its enormous difficulty; the only thing I saw was the overwhelming need and infinite promise, world-wide, universal, eternal.
    9. On the Rockefeller Institute – The work of the Institute is as universal in its scope as the love of God. Other philanthropies are limited in their scope to individuals, to communities, to classes, to religions, to states, to countries, to nations. This philanthropy alone is as wide as the race. It knows no boundaries at all. Disease is universal and this is a healing ministration, to prevent or destroy disease…It goes to the fountains of life itself. It deals with what is innermost in every man. For what is health? Health is happiness; mere health itself is happiness…And while we think of the universality of its scope and its elemental character, let us remember its permanency. The work is not for today alone, but forever; not for this generation, but for every generation of humanity that shall come after us. Thus every success is multiplied by infinity
      1. The Institute soon became a “benevolent black hole” for world philanthropies and received appeals daily from every sort of agency of human progress and well-being the world over
    10. Gates was also responsible for pushing Rockefeller to give outside his Baptist denomination and outside his own country, to all worth religions and humanitarian agencies everywhere
    11. Gates became worried about the ever increasing fortune of the Rockefeller’s and the potential social demoralization it could bring to descendants. So, he spoke to JDR and JDR Jr. about setting up great corporate philanthropies for forwarding civilization in all its elements in this land and all lands, limitless in time and amount, broad in scope and self-perpetuating. “I knew very well that Mr. Rockefeller’s mind would not work on mere abstract theories. He required concrete practical suggestions, and I set about framing them.” Suggested endowments to focus on higher education, medical research, fine arts, scientific agriculture, promotion of Christian ethics, promotion of intelligent citizenship and civic virtue and more
    12. Rockefeller divorced himself from the philanthropic decisions in order to eliminate his biases and hopefully put the money to the best uses possible. “His satisfaction springs from deeper and more durable sources than human gratitude…His joy is the joy of achievement. He is after the end. He cannot sacrifice the end to the instrument, even when the instrument is himself.”
    13. Gates thought that some of the best and most important work of the whole foundation was through the Sanitary Commission which initially was set up to help eradicate hookworms from the South and eventually the rest of the temperate regions of the world
    14. It was not Mr. Rockefeller’s way to give words of praise to any of his subordinates. To others he sometimes spoke approvingly of me and of my work, and his words would reach me by round about channels. But to my face he never commended me…But just as I never consciously worked for salary, wealth, or position, so I worked not to secure but to deserve Mr. Rockefeller’s approval.
    15. JDR was never a “bull” or a “bear.” He always followed the market, and never directed it. In every one of our great panics he did everything possible to sustain prices and was always a heavy loser in them. His optimism was incurable, and when panics were on and the credit of banks and individuals exhausted, he unlocked his vaults and loaned his securities without limit to banks and stressed debtors
    16. Gates “combines business skill and philanthropic aptitude to a higher degree than any other man I have ever known.”
    17. Gates was the right man for the job because he believed deeply and irrevocably in the perfectibility of man and especially in the advancement of knowledge as the best means for reaching perfection
    18. Both Rockefeller and Gates agreed on the importance of finding the best men available and leaving them free to do the job in their own way
    19. As stated become more and more preoccupied with equality and uniformity, pluralism and excellence may increasingly become the responsibility of the private sector
  4. Other
    1. Never enjoyed or profited from school but he did come to find his love for natural wood and music in school. The art of teaching consists in following nature’s ways by study of the child
    2. One cannot afford to read a book that is not with buying. Read with pen or pencil in hand and read only useful books
    3. A man’s temptations lie mainly in the realm of his powers
    4. Genius is tempted to be original at the expense of truth
    5. Avoid friction. There is such a thing as moral and intellectual friction. Fretting, worry, envy, jealousy, disputes, quarrels – these are all in the nature of friction. Avoid them as so much waste. Make all your power tell, and waste as little as possible
    6. Avoid the habit of omniscience. Take suggestions. Take criticism. The man who is always right is either omniscient or a fool.
    7. The fact is I know less about the Bible today than I did 30 years ago. I thought I knew something about it then but I have learned that I knew very little about it
    8. The idolatry of general concepts – people bow down and worship general concepts such as church, nation, state, democracy. Pick these words apart, gentlemen, and find out what is in them
    9. I believe that the love and good-will exemplified in the Spirit of Jesus are the secret of human well-being and that in this Spirit lies the hope of the race
    10. None of the precious things in life can be bought with money and money, past a certain point, was more a burden than a gain
    11. Mr. Rockefeller’s habitual policy had been total silence under accusation
    12. Humanity, as I said, must always live with Nature, with her forces and their reactions on mankind. For what is human progress? Ultimately it is this, just this, and nothing else – an ever closer approach to the facts, the laws, the forces of Nature, considered of course in its largest meaning. Nothing else is progress and nothing else will prove to be permanent among men
What I got out of it
  1. Amazing wisdom – not only about business and philanthropic savvy, but on how to raise children, deal with people and lead a happy, fulfilling and successful life

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Summary
  1. Gaiman’s recounting of Norse mythology from the genesis story to details around the different deities.
Key Takeaways
  1. The Norse mythology most likely came from Germany and spread north to Scandinavia and later Ireland and England
  2. Odin – the oldest of the gods, sacrificed an eye for wisdom, the father of all gods and all mortals
  3. Thor – Odin’s son, a strong god, charismatic whereas Odin is cunning, protector of Askgard
  4. Loke – cunning and subtle, Thor’s friend and betrayer, can shape shift, good natured but has a dark side
  5. The story of the 9 worlds
  6. The story of how the gods got their gifts – Thor’s Hammer, Odin’s spear, etc.
  7. The story of how the gods got their wall
  8. The story of Loke’s children and the wolf/man
  9. The story when the ogres stole Thor’s hammer
  10. The story of the mead of poetry
  11. Thor’s journey to the land of the giants
  12. The apples of immortality
  13. The story of death and Frej
  14. Thor’s fishing expedition
  15. The death of Bladr
  16. Ragnarok – the final destiny of the gods
What I got out of it
  1. Fun to learn about some of the Scandinavian mythological stories and see some of the connections to various other foundational stories

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles that Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor

Summary
  1. Most of us are taught from a young age that if you work hard you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you’ll be happy. The only problem is that this formula is flawed and we know today that happiness is the precursor to success, not merely the result
Key Takeaways
  1. The 7 Principles
    1. The Happiness Advantage – because positive brains have a biological advantage over brains that are neutral or negative, this principle teaches us how to retain our brains to capitalize on positivity and improve our productivity and performance
      1. Meditate
      2. Find something to look forward to
      3. Commit conscious acts of kindness
      4. Infuse positivity into your surroundings
      5. Exercise
      6. Spend money on other people and experiences (but not on stuff)
      7. Exercise a signature strength (do what you’re good at)
    2. The Fulcrum and the Lever – how we experience the world, and our ability to succeed within it, constantly changes based on our mindset. This principle teaches us how we can adjust our mindset (fulcrum) in a way that gives us the power (the lever) to be more fulfilled and successful
      1. The trick is to stop thinking of the world as fixed when reality is, in truth, relative.
      2. Have a growth rather than a fixed mindset
    3. The Tetris Effect – when our brains get stuck in a pattern that focuses on stress, negativity and failure, we set ourselves up to fail. This principle teaches us how to retrain our brains to spot patterns of possibility, so we can see – and seize – opportunity wherever we look
      1. When we train our brains to constantly look for and focus on the positive, we profit from three of the most important tools available to us – happiness, gratitude and optimism
      2. This habit, like any other habit, takes time and hard work to make second nature 
    4. Falling Up – in the midst of defeat, stress and crisis, our brains map different paths to help us cope. This principle is about finding the mental path that not only leads us up out of failure or suffering, but teaches us to be happier and more successful because of it 
      1. There is always a “third path upwards” and your only task is to find it. Success is not about never failing, it is about getting back up, using our downward momentum to propel ourselves in the opposite direction. With this skill, you can capitalize on setbacks and adversity to become even happier, even more motivated and even more successful
    5. The Zorro Circle – when challenges loom and we get overwhelmed, our rational brains can get hijacked by emotions. This principle teaches us how to regain control by focusing first on small, manageable goals, and then gradually expanding our circle to achieve bigger and bigger ones
      1. Small successes can add up to major achievements and they all begin with focusing on one small, manageable circle/goal/task at a time
    6. The 20 Second Rule – sustaining lasting change often feels impossible because our willpower is limited. And when willpower fails, we fall back on our old habits and succumb to the path of least resistance. This principle shows that by making small energy adjustments we can reroute the path of least resistance and replace bad habits with good ones
      1. Willpower is ineffective for sustaining change because it gets worn out as it is a limited resource. Humans are energy saving creatures and will always tend towards the path of least resistance. What you have to do is lower the “activation energy” for habits you want to adopt and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The easier, more visible, more palpable the habit, the more likely you are to follow through
      2. The key to creating good habits is ritual and repeated practice until the actions become ingrained in your brain’s neural chemistry. And the key to daily practice is to put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as possible. Identify the activation energy – the time, the choices, the mental and physical effort they require – and then reduce them as much as possible
    7. Social Investments – in the midst of challenges and stress, some people choose to hunker down and retreat within themselves. But the most successful people invest in their friends, peers and family members to propel themselves forward. This principle teaches us how to invest more in one of the greatest predictors of success and excellence – our social support network
      1. Spend quality time with a group of people you respect, who push you and who can anchor you during difficult times. These relationships must be fostered even during your most stressful, difficult times
    8. These 7 principles are not only great for you personally but become multiplicative when their ripples influence others to change and adopt happier, healthier habits and lifestyles.
What I got out of it
  1. A good, quick read on some basic principles to achieve happiness. The importance of investing in strong social ties, especially when you’re down and vulnerable and how perception is your reality

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu

Summary
  1. A recount of the wars behind the rise and fall of the 20th century’s great information empires and examines whether this dynamic could repeat itself today, with one giant entity taking control of America’s information
Key Takeaways
  1. The Cycle – the transformation of industries from open to closed. Has happened with telephones, radio, film and other information industries and the author asks whether this can happen with the internet (he believes it is likely to happen)
    1. Information is fundamentally different from other commodities and if this cycle is inevitable rather than a trend, the practical consequences may be staggering
    2. The Cycle is a battle between those who favor open industries against those who favor closed – decentralized vs. centralized. Today is different in that the two sides are as evenly matched as ever before
    3. The Cycle is broken out into the following parts – genesis of the information empires, consolidation, technological innovation to breakthrough the powerful consolidated behemoths and/or federal government stepping in to reduce monopolistic powers
  2. Theodore Vail led AT&T during its peak and was an incredible leader. He did not believe in competition but rather monopoly as he had soon competition and the incredible strife and inefficiencies it brought
  3. Much like the idiom, “we are what we eat” it is equally true that the information we are exposed to shapes our thinking and behavior
  4. The grand monopolies tend to start with two lone inventors trying to solve a concrete problem – Bell and Watson with Bell Co., Wozniak and Jobs with Apple and the same holds true for radio and television. However, an invention is often “in the air” and many people in diverse parts of the world often come to the same conclusion at the same time – simultaneous discovery. The lone, outsider inventors are ever important because they have distance/perspective to disrupt that others within the system often don’t
  5. There is a difference between sustaining innovations (improvements on current technologies but don’t disrupt the market) and disruptive innovations (threatens to displace products altogether)
  6. Any new, disruptive technology brings with it the hopes that it will ameliorate all of a society’s problems. These open mediums grow so quickly and so profitably because they have some mix of entrepreneurialism, capitalism and humanitarianism at play
  7. Founder’s Myopia – the original founders don’t see the true potential of their invention or simply don’t take it all the way. Telephone was not simply a better telegraph like Bell originally thought. This trend is seen time and again through history
  8. The cost of entry, the investment it would take to reach a customer, is central in determining whether an industry is open or closed
  9. JP Morgan, the greatest monopolist in history, approached Vail wanting him to run what would become the greatest telephone monopoly ever built – AT&T with the motto: One System. One Policy. Universal Service. AT&T combined with Western Union and got a monopoly in long distance communication and rather than employing a scorched earth policy as before, he instead enticed competitors to merge with him. Like John D. Rockefeller’s motto – join and prosper or perish.
    1. Once under attack from the government, Vail took the unprecedented tactic of asking the government to regulate him but that they be just and fair. Their one big concession was to sell Western Union but WU was quickly receding and was able to side step being broken up and paving the road for AT&T to gobbling up competition and become a patriotic cause. The enlightened monopoly should do good as it does well
    2. Vail was a monopolist, but a benevolent one who believed in the good he was doing for the country
  10. Zukor became the founder of Paramount Pictures and was the first to bring over the classy, European style movie which the French dominated to America. It can be said that he was the founding father of Hollywood as well
  11. Outsiders alone have the power and/or the will to challenge dominant incumbents
  12. Due to the monopolistic film trust in the 1910s, LA became a hotbed for illegal filming because it was close enough to the Mexican border. It was in this era that Universal, Fox and Warner Bros. were founded. It was a long shot that Hollywood would succeed over the East Coast trust as the East Coast were led by Edison and other powerful Anglo-Saxon business magnates with money, patents and a first mover advantage whereas the Hollywood studios were led by scrappy Jewish immigrants. The independents in the film industry would succeed where those in the phone industry didn’t because they were able to see and invest in the next step in film innovation
  13. AT&T seemed likely to dominate radio too as they had a monopoly on long, transnational lines but Radio Company of America (RCA) was soon formed so that an American company would hold all the radio patents for national security reasons. The head of RCA, David Sarnoff, soon brought a lawsuit to AT&T saying that they were infringing on RCA’s patents and the courts agreed, barring AT&T from the broadcasting industry. RCA soon after founded NBC, becoming vertically integrated and owning both the radio devices as well as the content
  14. Zukor’s Paramount soon came to totally dominate the film industry across America in the 1920s, transforming the film industry from totally open to closed and controlled. They would become the most powerful broadcasting conglomerate for the next several decades
  15. As the industry trends towards controlled, the most dominant company or companies tend to become resistant to change and innovation because they are worried about altering the status quo.
  16. The best antidote to innovation is over regulation. Over regulation kept the electronic television, mechanical television and frequency modulation radio (FM) from becoming their own, dominant industries
  17. Bell Labs became an innovation hub and would come to win 7 Nobel Prizes – notably for the invention of the transistor and the discovery of the wave-like behavior of matter
  18. Monopolies tend to degrade as they age and towards the end of AT&T’s dominance, they even destroyed many very lucrative innovations in order to keep other entrants out of the market
  19. The Hush-a-phone ordeal wasn’t a worry for AT&T because of the success of the product (which ended up being limited) but because it represented their losing control of the industry and innovation
  20. The Catholic Church, the White House and the film industry all worked together and embraced a curation system to make films less obscene. There was nothing to challenge the status quo and the largest megaphone for social critique and communication was silenced for over 3 decades. Anything even remotely similar today would get voted down immediately for limiting free speech
  21. The situation with television was very strange in that the government and the FCC were effectively deciding when a product which was totally harmless to the public had reached an acceptable technological standard and was ready for sale
  22. An alternative definition to genius – smarts combined with capital
  23. Industry structure determines the freedom of expression in the underlying medium
  24. AT&T was particularly close and entangled with the government but in fact every dominant information empire has had close relations with the government – “communication is the foundation of democracy”
  25. Bell was finally broken up in 1984 to much controversy, disrupting the film and telephony industries and in the short-term the quality and service declined too
  26. One should never underestimate the power an entrenched industry has in resisting innovation
  27. Since being broken up in 1984, AT&T has largely rebuilt itself as the enticement of scale is almost magnetic. However, it lost its sense of civic duty whereas the old conglomerate held doing good for the nation in line with profits
  28. Ted Turner is of course known for founding CNN but his biggest accomplishment may be the opening up of cable television and creating an entirely new business model, a national cable network
  29. The close of United Artists in the 1980s was the second “closing” of the film industry and an important step in The Cycle
  30. Steve Ross was the CEO of one of the world’s original conglomerates, Time Warner, and set the standard for how to lead and run massive enterprises, later influencing Michael Eisner of Disney and Barry Diller at Paramount
  31. Movies are trending towards sequels and series as they tend to make money and add value to the underlying property. Batman, Shrek  X-Men, Harry Potter all spur people to consume ancillary products and merchandise
  32. Nearly 20 years after its break up, AT&T would become just as dominant a monopoly as it had previously been and this consolidation of power was likely helpful in the government’s attempt to spy on the general public
  33. The Cycle hit a bump in the road in the early 2000s as what was predicted by this model didn’t come to pass. Microsoft stopped buying media, Disney rebuffed Comcast’s merger and the AOL/Time Warner merger faltered badly. The Internet acts counterintuitively to how the media industry has always been rewarded – control of the customers. AOL/Time Warner was not able to block other media or content and once a user logged onto the internet, was free to access whatever they wanted
  34. Google could be considered the holder of today’s master switch with the internet. It turns connections into networks, helping to determine who will be heard. It is the open structure of the internet rather than overwhelming ownership which keeps Google dominant. Companies like AT&T succeed by being big and integrated, owning everything whereas Google succeeds by doing only one thing, but doing it better than anyone else (being the gateway to an organized internet). However, Google’s lack of vertical integration is also a vulnerability
  35. AT&T and other cable companies’ ownership of the broadband pipes is why net neutrality, providing access to content on the internet without favoritism, is such an important topic for Google and other internet companies. It is their sole access to the customers
  36. Today’s battle between open companies like Google and Verizon and closed ones, centralizers, like Apple, AT&T and Hollywood. Abundance and social revolution, self-expression vs. a controlled, curated, “best of everything” approach
  37. The author recommends a separationist view to the government’s role in information media as it is destructive to a free economy and the technological growth of these industries. Google best exemplifies this separationist tendency
  38. Believes we are towards the peak end of the information golden age and we may soon see a proliferation of integration amongst media and information technology companies. The internet, while espousing and showing the power of an open system, goes against the historical trends of The Cycle and we should therefore we wary of any “this time is different” thinking. The internet is not infinitely elastic as many think as it relies on finite, physical pipes and a few number of companies which control the switches, or our access to it and this may in fact lead it more prone to centralization rather than less
What I got out of it
  1. An amazingly in depth study of the media and telecom industries starting radio, film, telephony, cable and the internet. Information knowledge is ever important and benefits from economies of scale which is why consolidation has been so common in the past. The Cycle is an industry trend in the information industry which has seen early-stage, open industries transition to being closed

Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy

Summary
  1. A resilient structure or system is one which can bounce back to its original form after some stimulus. This book describes how to make more resilient systems and businesses in order to better deal with our increasingly volatile world. Resilience is a common characteristic of dynamic systems which persist over time which is why most organisms embody characteristics of resilience to varying degrees
Key Takeaways
  1. Volatility is increasing and here to stay. The details are different but they share certain common characteristics and are always the result of many complex interactions. Can’t control this type of disruption but we can build better systems by making them more resilient, having the ability to rebound and adapt. Continuity and recovery in the face of change
  2. To improve your resilience is to increase the effort it takes for a stimulus to force you off your baseline while also increasing your ability to adapt and bounce back once it happens. Preserving adaptive capacity. Truly resilient systems change dynamically to achieve its purpose as well as the scale at which it operates. Diversifying the resources in which the system operates makes it more resilient to change as it allows for modularity. Diverse at their edges but simple at their core – modularity, simplicity and interoperability vital
  3. The ways to adapt and the stimuli which force change are both nearly infinite
  4. Resilience is not robustness – robustness typically entails hardening the assets of a business. Redundancy is keeping a backup but is not resiliency either. Resilience is also not the recovery of a system to its initial state.
    1. Think of a tree which is strong but has no give. It can withstand a lot until it snaps. This is robust but not resilient
    2. Now, imagine bamboo. It is thin, flexible and can return to its original state given pretty much any wind. This is resilience
  5. Failures are often helpful to release resources and reset and trying to stop these small failures make systems more fragile and will eventually lead to a massive failure. A seemingly perfect system is often the most fragile and the one which fails often but in small ways may be the most resilient
  6. Psychic resilience comes from habits of mind and is able to be learned and improved upon over time.
    1. Optimism and confidence are some of the best traits to deal with depression and to become more resilient
    2. People exhibiting ego-resilience and ego-control are best at delaying gratification, being resilient and overcoming obstacles
    3. Hardiness – believe can find a meaningful purpose in life, one can influence one’s surrounding and events, both positive and negative events will have lessons one can learn from. People of faith tend to be more resilient partially due to their “hardiness”
    4. Mindfulness meditation is a great tool to improve our resilience as it helps us create a space between our events, thoughts, emotions – an external “witness observer”
  7. Strong social resilience is found in societies with a lot of trust, a translational leader at it’s core promoting adaptive governance
  8. Holism – bolstering the resilience of only one part of the system sometimes adds fragility to another area. To improve resilience you often need to work in more than one mode and one scale and one silo at a time. Take the granular and the global into account simultaneously
  9. 4 stages of adaptive growth – Fast growth (resources coming together), conservation (efficiency of resources used but less resilience), release (fall of system), reorganization (process starting over)
  10. Robust yet fragile – systems which are resilient to anticipated danger or change but not to the unanticipated. It is often thousands of small decisions which aggregate rather than one massive event which brings down a system
  11. Must be able to measure health of a system as a whole and not just its pieces to know if fragility is sneaking in
  12. In risk management, risks tend to be modeled as additive but in reality they are multiplicative. One failure makes future failures multiples more likely
  13. Signs of a system flip – becomes unstable near its threshold, too much synchrony or agents acting in union (over correlation and people must make similar choices to survive)
  14. The timing of force, change and its effects is often more important than its scope
  15. Real time data, better monitoring and isolation upon any sign of cascading failure are three important design features
  16. Protocols are the lingua Franca of systems
  17. There are universal scaling laws for biological organisms so that the larger the organism the slower the metabolism and the longer the average life span. The power of clustering comes from a similar phenomenon but in the case of cities, the larger they get, the “faster” they become and the average income increases but certain quality of life markers decrease – there are increasing returns to scale, super linear scaling. However, as this part of life increases, the pace of innovation needs to speed up too or else the city may spiral downwards. The increasing diversity helps with this
  18. Respect is the cheapest concession you can give in relationships and negotiation. It is also a positive sum trait where your dispersal of respect only increases the total
  19. Improving resilience is not about removing every possible disturbance. In fact, facing challenges which test you or your organization are vital. They show where improvements need to be made and can clear the path for creative destruction
What I got out of it
  1. A thorough overview of what resilience entails and many examples of both fragile and antifragile people, ecosystems, institutions, organizations and more

Modern Monopolies by Alex Moazed and Nicholas Johnson

Summary
  1. Platform companies generate value by using technology to facilitate exchanges between groups which benefits all sides and helps create new markets and expand old ones. Moazed and Johnson walk through how to build, spot and optimize platform companies in this new exciting technological era
Key Takeaways
  1. Platforms are a business model – a holistic description of the way a company creates, delivers, and captures value rather than simply a piece of technology. Platform business models often use modular modification and this leads to incorrectly use of “platform” – computing platform, product platforms, industry platforms and platform as a services are all examples
    1. They don’t own the means of production but rather create the means of connection
    2. Reduce transaction costs – search and information, bargaining, enforcement costs
    3. Encourage both sides to innovate into complementary services and consumers can also be producers
      1. Exchange vs. Maker platforms – eBay vs YouTube
    4. The complexity of the core transaction should be extremely low
    5. Commoditized industries have consistent and transparent pricing and a focus on increasing transactions
    6. Platforms do not equal technology; they have been around for thousands of years (bazaars)
    7. Platforms don’t even try to guess what customers want, they simply facilitate interactions
    8. Platforms allow groups to exchange value amongst themselves and therefore what a company owns is less important than the resources it can connect to. They create communities and markets that allow users to interact and transact. These characteristics allow platforms to expand at a pace unprecedented in human history, able to grow exponentially rather than linearly
    9. Platforms are partly so powerful because they bring hidden demand and supply into the market, therefore expanding the overall pie. Many more people use Uber than ever used taxis because it has become cheaper, more convenient and faster
    10. Most important aspect to get right is the core transaction – the set of actions producers and consumers must complete in order to exchange value. Facilitating the core transaction is the way that platforms create value
      1. At a high level, the core transaction has the same basic set of four actions
        1. Create – a producer creates value or makes it available to be consumed through the platform
        2. Connect – in every transaction, one user takes an action that sparks the exchange by connecting with the other party
        3. Consume – once consumers find the right match, they can consume the value created by the producer
        4. Compensate – consumers create value for the producer in exchange for what they consumed
          1. There is more than money to compensate – likes, reviews, ratings, shares, comments, follows, etc.
    11. 4 Core Functions – like the core transaction, the four functions evolve as a platform expands
      1. Audience building – build a liquid marketplace by attracting a critical mass of consumers and producers
      2. Matchmaking – connect the right consumers with the right producers in order to facilitate transactions and interactions. As the network grows, the task becomes exponentially more complex
      3. Providing core tools and services – build tools and services that support the core transaction by lowering transaction costs, removing barriers to entry and making the platform more valuable over time through data
      4. Creating rules and standards – set guidelines that govern which behaviors are allowed and encouraged and which are forbidden or discourage
  2. Risks
    1. It is incredibly hard to overcome the chicken and the egg network problem to reach critical mass. Until critical mass is reached, it is very hard to convince consumers to join and therefore producers in a negative cycle.
    2. Platforms don’t control the inventory
    3. Platforms don’t own their most valuable asset – their users
  3. Network Effect – present when the behavior of one user has a direct impact on the value that other users will get out of the same service. Networks are much harder to duplicate than features and many believe are the strongest economic moat of all
  4. Linear business – value flows linearly through the supply chain to the customer
  5. Battle of devices has become a war of ecosystems – generally winner take all
  6. When information processing and storage costs decline, the size of firms can increase as they can now manage much more information and make better decisions and further reduce transaction costs
  7. Connected Revolution – Four key changes flipped the world of business strategy in the late 2000s – the democratization of processing power, the declining cost of communication, the rise of ubiquitous connectivity and sensors and growing returns to scale on data analysis
  8. Loosely organized individuals can substitute entire organizations (i.e., Wikipedia)
  9. Today, often the most important resources are external to the organization, the ecosystem. Value has moved from creating products and services to facilitating connections between external producers and consumers, becoming the center of exchange. Key value add is the curation and management of the network. The firm no longer invests in production but rather in building the infrastructure and tools to support and grow a networked marketplace or community
  10. In essence, platforms are correcting market failures by more efficiently allocating resources
    1. Local knowledge is local no more and this leads to the improved possibility and efficiency of central planning
  11. Software alone is a commodity but the moat comes from a network of users, transactions or data
  12. Platforms tend to be more richly valued as they have faster growth, higher margins and higher returns on capital
  13. Platforms remove high fixed costs and bring zero marginal cost to the supply side. They become exponentially more efficient the larger they become as expenses don’t grow as fast as revenue does
  14. Finding the right market is even more important for platforms than for linear businesses because they need large markets to dominate
  15. Mostly winner-take-all but if users can switch easily the network effects weaken and the market can therefore support more than one platform
  16. Monopolistic because of usage and participation, not ownership like in the past. Platforms are natural monopolies as many platforms would lead to higher costs (of some sort) to users
  17. Regulation – it is important for government regulation to not limit the market power of these platform businesses – a move that would likely diminish overall consumer welfare – but rather to address the behavior of these businesses in specific areas of concern
  18. Biggest mistake for new platforms is trying to build multiple core transactions at once
  19. The importance of user-led innovation for platform businesses means that the traditional software company approach of building a complex, fully featured product before going to market doesn’t make much sense. Platforms should start with the simplest possible system and build from there
  20. Dynamic pricing can help create balanced, manageable growth
  21. Focus more on producers as they are more limited than consumers in a large market
  22. Find established networks to tap into
  23. Twitter is not a social platform like Facebook but a content platform
    1. Will have to solve for spam and harassment with better rules and policies in order to thrive
    2. All platforms must solve for the tendency for diminished quality as the network grows through ratings, rules, policies
  24. Important to replace individual trust with trust in the platform
  25. Tools and Services
    1. The distinction between tools and services has to do with what a platform chooses to centralize. Tools are self-service and decentralized. Anyone can use them and they don’t require ongoing involvement or assistance from the platform. Tools typically include much of the technology and software products that will help users create value connect with each other
    2. Services are centralized, and require continued involvement from the platform. Customer support is the most common example and it’s a service most platforms have to offer
    3. Tools or services that don’t line up with one of the four steps in the core transaction are often unnecessary and platform entrepreneurs often make the common mistake of trying from the start to add every tool that they think users might want
  26. Designing a platform is mostly about sociological insight and continuous behavior design
  27. Adding secondary transactions is a key way platforms scale
  28. Law of Chatroulette – when left unchecked, a network of sufficient size will naturally deteriorate in its quality of users and usage
  29. Facebook surround strategy – if a competitor had established a foothold in a certain school, Facebook would open not only at that school but on as many nearby campuses as possible
  30. A big mistake is to think that any new user is as good as any other but this is not true and means that not all growth is equally valuable and at times each new user can have a negative effect on other users. Not every potential connection in a network is relevant and some users are more valuable than you think. In other words, most network effects are local, not global
  31. A large network isn’t a moat if it is polluted with bad actors and largely removes first-mover advantages. While important, growth is not an end in itself and while incumbents have advantages over newer, smaller entrants, it only matters if it is sustainable
  32. Platforms are path dependent, the types of users your network will attract in the future depends on the composition and behavior of your network’s existing users. This path-dependent nature of networks makes platform design especially crucial early on. Who uses a platform at the start can have a big effect on its growth trajectory. You have the most leverage to shape your community and its culture when your network is still forming. A common way for new platforms to accomplish this is to limit participation to a high-value subset of users at the start. Quality begets quality
  33. Network effects ladder – the five steps on the ladder dictate the quality of a platform’s network: connection, communication, collaboration, curation and community
  34. Coordination problem – it is impossible to get everyone on each side of the network to all agree to join the network at the same time to benefit everyone. This problem is solved by incentivizing users to join via monetary subsidies, product feature subsidies and/or user sequencing (prioritizing the acquisition of certain user groups that others will want to interact with)
  35. 7 ways to solve the chicken and the egg problem
    1. Monetary Subsidies
      1. Provide security through a large, up-front investment
      2. Cooperate with industry incumbents
    2. Product Features
      1. Act as a producer – early on, platform produces own content
      2. Tap into an existing network – digital or otherwise (sororities, clubs, etc.)
    3. Monetary Subsidies and Product Features
      1. Attract high-value or celebrity users
      2. Target a user group to fill both sides
      3. Provide single-user utility – attractive enough for one side to join even if other side never does
  36. Trying to emulate the success of these types of businesses today without understanding the competitive landscape is a recipe for failure
  37. How to spot platform opportunities
    1. Look for technology that reduces transaction costs and removes gatekeepers
    2. Look for implicit or underserved networks – build on top of existing networks and behaviors; untapped sources of supply
    3. Look for large, fragmented sources of supply
  38. Potential industries where platforms will move next – healthcare (wearables especially), finance, Internet of Things
What I got out of it
  1. Great overview of what the platform business model is, how to solve the inherent chicken and egg problem and why platforms are so powerful and world-changing

January 2017

The Rabbit Hole by Blas Moros 
     
Jump In. 
 

My monthly newsletter covers the books I have read over the course of the month, the challenges I undertook as well as some other interesting articles, blog posts, interviews, tools, hacks, etc. 

 

Books

Full list of books read in 20172016, 2015, 2014

All great books should be immediately re-read

Teacher’s Reference Guides

  • On Bruce Lee – people’s fascination with Bruce Lee became apparent to me after learning more about him, his philosophy and his contributions to acting and the martial arts.

Monthly Challenges

Other

Amor Fati

Blas

“If people knew how hard I worked to achieve mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.” Michelangelo