Link: Jeff Bezos admits Amazon has ‘the weirdest meeting culture you will ever encounter’, Business Insider

In the letter, he explained that writing a brilliant, long memo requires the writer to understand the subject well. It also requires the writer to “improve results through the simple act of teaching scope.” By that he means doing a great job requires effort, not speed. “A great memo probably should take a week or more” to write, he said in the letter.

“We read [the memos] in the room. Just like high school kids, executives will bluff their way through the meeting as if they’ve read the memo. So you have to carve out time so everyone has actually read the memo – they are not just pretending,” he said.
Original source: Jeff Bezos admits Amazon has ‘the weirdest meeting culture you will ever encounter’, Business Insider

Link: The parent trap: can you be a good writer and a good parent?

“I had experienced being judged as a mother, when I periodically left my son with my husband from the age of six months – he is six now – to go away to write. I only departed for a week at a time. But who knows what I might have done had I lived in 1940s Southern Rhodesia, trapped in a life of coffee mornings and sundowners, worrying, as Lessing did, that the time when she could openly be herself might never come.”

Original source: The parent trap: can you be a good writer and a good parent?

When bored, work on something else

I don’t stare at blank sheets of paper. I don’t spend days and nights cudgeling a head that is empty of ideas. Instead, I simply leave the novel and go on to any of the dozen other projects that are on tap. I write an editorial, or an essay, or a short story, or work on one of my nonfiction books. By the time I’ve grown tired of these things, my mind has been able to do its proper work and fill up again. I return to my novel and find myself able to write easily once more. Isaac Asimov

This reminds of a Nassim Taleb idea on book reading: always be reading many, many books. If you get bored with one, just move to the other, and keep rotating.

Millions of words

When I was about nineteen, a professor in college sat me down once with a sad look on his face and said to me, almost like he was giving a cancer diagnosis, “You’re going to be a writer.” If you’re old enough to read this, you probably already know if this is your fate, too.The only rule is you have to write millions of words continuously until your death. If you have no problem with that, you’ll probably be fine. Conversely if you can imagine not doing that, you probably shouldn’t try to be a writer.

Source: Behind the Books with Matt Taibbi

Journaling at 750 words a morning

Hey, these little types of gimcracks are always fun:

Every morning, soon after waking, you must write 750 words—equivalent to about three full pages longhand. The idea is to start while your brain is too bleary to censor itself, so you can write more freely. In general, filling three pages takes about a half hour.

When asked if it’s really necessary to do Morning Pages by hand, Cameron says yes. She says the inconvenience of handwriting compared to typing is worth it because “we get a truer connection—to ourselves and our deepest thoughts—when we actually put pen to page.”

Morning Pages aren’t supposed to be high art, according to Cameron. You write whatever comes to you. You might grumble about the weather, confess to feeling nervous about a party that night or talk about how messy your living room is. Cameron says she wakes up grumpy and tired most days, so that’s how her Morning Pages start. Cameron writes about however she’s feeling, what she sees in front of her—nothing is too banal. And if her pages say “I’m tired and grumpy” when she starts each morning, that’s okay.

But Morning Pages also push you to go beyond the superficial, because three pages is a lot of blank space to fill. According to Cameron, “the second page-and-a-half comes harder, but often contains paydirt.”

Source: This simple morning ritual uses writing as a form of therapy and meditation

The media doesn’t know what they’re talking about w/r/t Yahoo, a study in i-banker rhetoric

The notion that some in the media – who usually have no specific knowledge about Yahoo – have recklessly put forward that Yahoo is “unfixable” and that it should be simply “chopped up” and handed over for nothing to private equity or strategies is insulting to all long-term public shareholders.

This presentation is an example of many things we discuss on Software Defined Talk around large, struggling companies and the way they’re covered. Among other rhetorical highlights:

  • Check out how they make their case
  • Use visuals and charts
  • The informal nature of their language, e.g., they use the word “stuff” frequently
  • Their citations, e.g., citing themselves (I always love a good “Source: Me!”) and citing “Google Images”

These things, in my view, are neither good or bad: I’m more interested in the study of the rhetoric which I find fascinating for investment banker documents/presentations like this.

Not only that, it’s a classic “Word doc accidentally printed in landscape.” The investment community can’t help themselves.

As another note, no need to be such a parenthetical dick, below, to prove the point of a poor M&A history, just let the outcomes speak for themselves, not the people who do them.

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They actually do a better job in the very next slide, but that kind to pettiness doesn’t really help their argument. (Their argument is: she’s acquiring her friends.)

This is a type of reverse halo effect: we assume that tree standing goofiness has something to do with the business: an ad hominem attack. But, I think most billionaires probably have picture of themselves in trees, wearing those silly glove shoes, roasting their own coffee, only eating meat they kill themselves, or any number of other affectations that have nothing to do with profit-making, good or bad.

In praise of “backup slides”

I knew that the creation of slides was important from a communication standpoint. However, it was only after being there for some time that I realized the importance of writing (and the creation of slides) for the analysis and thinking process. Each week we were producing decks to share with clients — however, I noticed that some of the slides we were creating never made into the client presentation. When I asked one of the partners on our project whether these slides were wasted work, he responded with what I would later hear from time to time as a McKinsey maxim: “Writing clarifies thinking.”

Sure, that’s a thing. You bet. And I think it frustrates people who don’t realize there’s a collaborative writing process going on when you’re “wasting time” on those “excess” slides. Or it’s just thrashing. That happens too and is built into the overall model that run the types of situations that most “decks” are created in.

Using writing to clarify your thinking is an excellent tool. As the author explains it can be helpful to just write purely for yourself to figure out what you’re thinking. I often do this for presentations, or after spending several days verbally spelunking through a complex problem. This written product can be especially useful in a group setting to basically say “so, is this what we all just agreed on?”

In praise of “backup slides”