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Ugly Moves

Throughout human history, high performers have been forced to make short-term decisions in order to s

The Seemingly Unrelated

August 30 · Issue #15 · View online
by Sean Newman Maroni

Throughout human history, high performers have been forced to make short-term decisions in order to survive ‘till tomorrow.

This edition of The Seemingly Unrelated highlights a few of these 'Ugly Moves.’ 

Crossing the Alps in Winter
In the Second Punic War, Hannibal famously pushed his troops (and ~37 war elephants) through the snowy Alps of Northern Italy.

Rome expected him to make this move.

But they did not expect it during wintertime. That is what makes this decision a brilliant (but ugly) move.

To traverse the snow and ice his forces built their own roads, blew up boulders with fire & vinegar, and faced starvation at sub-zero temperatures.

A lot of warriors died. 

But, the payoff for Carthage was non-linear. After exiting the Alps Hannibal’s forces crushed the smaller armies that were stationed in Northern Italy and ravaged Rome for the next 15 years. 

"You Shoot Like a Granny"
Fast forward 2,000 years to the 1970s NBA. There you will find Rick Barry missing way too many of his free throw shots.

That is, until he started shooting like this:
Rick Barry's Granny Style Free Throw
It didn’t look too pretty. He was ridiculed. He was laughed out of gyms when he tried to teach others to follow in his footsteps.

But, he had the best free throw shot percentage of all time (.900). Now his son is keeping the style alive.

Tesla Motors (a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc.)
The entire Tesla Motors origin story is unequivocally ugly.

It is mired with lawsuits, ‘death watches’, and a buggy product (the Roadster) that was ludicrously unprofitable to manufacture.

In Ashlee Vance’s bio of humanity’s lord & savior Elon Musk (which has been called out as fairly imperfect BTW), it is written that in 2013 Tesla was (again) days away from running out of cash.

Time for an ugly move. Elon shook hands on a deal to sell Tesla to Google. Simultaneously he instructed hundreds of employees to report to the sales department for smile & dial duties (including engineers).

Somehow these employees sold enough cars to post a profit to Wall St. These positive results allowed Elon to call off the Google negotiation.

How these connect: Ugly moves > death
Even the best long term thinkers will fall into unexpected hardships and crises. It will happen to you too. 

In these moments you must summon the courage and flexibility to temporarily discard the long-term thinking playbook. 

Instead, find the hidden ugly move no one thinks you’re crazy enough to make.

Read the blog post on ugly moves for more:
When to make Ugly Moves
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