Tag Archives: Charity

In Pursuit of the Common Good: Twenty-Five Years of Improving the World, One Bottle of Salad Dressing at a Time by Paul Newman


  1. Paul describes how he started Newman’s Own

Key Takeaways

  1. You can get straight As in marketing and still flunk ordinary life. —Newman to lee Iacocca after Iacocca’s Pinto caught fire
  2. One day the two of them ran into a friend of a friend, late of the restaurant business, now in shoes, who flatly stuck his finger in PL’s chest and said, “We were always filled to the rafters but no profit. I was skimmed to death, skimmed! Waiters in collusion with the cashier! [This is before computers, remember.] They saved up all the cash register chits in ten-cent increments from $2.50 up into the hundreds. Guy gets a check for $49.50, they go into the chit collection, get a chit for $49.50, guy pays the bill, nothing rung up on the cash register, they pocket the $49.50, and—which really frosted my ass—they get the tip as a bonus!”
  3. From the very beginning, we bucked tradition. When the experts said that something was “always done” in a certain way, we’d do it our way, which was sometimes the very opposite.
  4. It was Newman’s insistent desire to market the dressing that kept Hotch in motion. Scarcely a day passed but what Paul was calling from some unlikely place to discuss a newly discovered source for the perfect olive oil, the perfect red wine vinegar, the perfect mustard, and so on, which he constantly sought. He phoned Hotch from racetracks, in between his races, from mobile dressing rooms on location while shooting Absence of Malice and The Verdict, from airports on his way to make speeches on behalf of the nuclear freeze movement, and even, on one occasion, from where he was making a coffee commercial for a Japanese film crew, a background of cacophonous Nipponese chatter making it difficult to hear him.
  5. Paul had always been perverse about complacency. It was his theory that he had to keep things off balance or it’s finito.
  6. But to Andy’s surprise, after testing, his chemists concluded that since Paul’s dressing consisted of oil and vinegar and contained mustard, those elements combined to form a natural gum.
  7. “We don’t think you’ll get anywhere with Crowley. He already turned us down.” “Gentlemen,” Stew said, “I am Andy’s best customer—I sell more Ken’s than all his other customers combined. If your dressing measures up, I assure you he will bottle it.”
  8. “I think I’ll sleep on it,” Paul said. “Maybe I’ll dream something that will put me straight. I’ve had a lot of luck with my dreams.”
  9. We now needed a name for this sauce, and what we came up with—Newman’s Own Industrial Strength All-natural Venetian-style Spaghetti Sauce—horrified our brokers. “Industrial strength! They’ll think it’s for factories—they’ll never buy it to put on spaghetti.” As usual, we disregarded their “expertise”

What I got out of it

  1. Fun, easy read on Newman and how he got started with Newman’s Own, having donated nearly $250m!

Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and How You Can Make a Difference by William Macaskill


  1. Macaskill lays out some questions and reasoning for how to figure out how to best do effective altruism
Key Takeaways
  1. Play pump got a lot of hype and funding but backfired since it was less effective and didn’t take into accounts the native’s needs and wants
  2. Deworming kids in Kenya one of the most effective things to improve education. Allowed children to attend school more often and work more since not sick as much. The increased tax revenue from their work ended up paying for the entire deworming program!
  3. Must think about nonprofit donating like investing. Do what’s most effective and not what’s emotionally appealing. Helping the largest amount of people by the most effective means is what Macaskill considers effective altruism
  4. Doing what we can – pledge Macaskill set up to donate 10% of income to most effective charities which are hundreds of times more effective than merely good charities
  5. 80,000 hours – provides advice on how to choose a career that will make the biggest difference
  6. Americans so wealthy that additional income can help those overseas hundreds of times more than it helps themselves. The 100x multiplier 
  7. QALY – metric to help determine where your money is best spent
  8. Career – how satisfying is my job? How good can I become at this job and also relative to other people and other careers? How many people can I influence? How well does this job open opportunities for the future?
  9. Important characteristics of your work – independence, sense of completion, variety, feedback, contribution
  10. Following passion a bad idea, rather look for the important qualities in a job
  11. Interview questions – what are the most important traits to succeed? Why do people leave? How have similar candidates performed in the past?
  12. Early in career look to build skills, network and credentials in order to have greater impact later in life
  13. Overall theme is that help and money is multiples more effective in poor countries than US or other wealthier nations but still important to work with or donate to most effective charities
  14. Specifies Cool Earth, Deworm Initiative and Give Directly as great charities and recommends setting up a regular donation of even just $10 per month
What I got out of it
  1. A worthwhile reading discussing how we can be most effective with our time, donations and careers. The 100x multiplier is a powerful concept – the same amount of money can do 100x more good in a very poor country than a wealthy one