Digger or Shovel Seller?
Another quote that stayed on my mind for far too long this month was this one by Peter Thiel: “An important subquestion is whether, given a gold rush, you’d rather be a gold digger or the guy selling shovels.
” I stumbled upon a long list of Thiel quotes
, which started me on a journey towards his ‘Zero to One’
book on startups. There’s a good summary of the book here
. I read the summary before listening to the audiobook, a strategy that I’ve found to be really useful lately. Many books could have been a blog post, or the key points could be summarised on a page. We often read the abstract of a scientific article before deciding whether to read the full text, and the time investment is even greater for a book so why not extend that same approach.
The Amazon Way:
Another book I used this approach with is ‘Working Backwards’, an inside view of the strategies developed at Amazon over the years. I strongly recommend this book for anyone involved in leadership in any way, or who plans to be in the future. You can read a brief summary
or some longer notes
on the book first. If you go for the audiobook, then check out this video
for the benefits of speed listening.
“Blow your own mind
”. That is the take-away message from this incredibly detailed Twitter thread
of storytelling advice. I found that the tips and linked resources/ideas in this thread were useful for presenting and teaching, or at least making me think about things differently. Feel the surprise and emotions as if it were the first time, and the rest of the delivery will fall into place accordingly. It’s lengthy, but worth it.
The Structure of Academic Papers:
Whilst I’m not sure it fully changed my mind, this blog post
poses an interesting thought exercise. Why do we structure our Methods sections the way we do in scientific articles, and is it time to change that? Should we present information in the order that we did it, or in the order of information that is necessary to properly evaluate subsequent sections?
Writing and Punctuation:
Two great resources by Julian Shapiro, providing detailed guides with examples and explanations throughout. These should be useful for anybody trying to improve their writing, regardless of experience or audience. For more on scientific writing in particular, you can check out a list of related resources
on my website. You can also use these tips
to save some time typing common units or symbols.