A pilot and the traveller

My little sister is a commercial pilot and was about to get certified to be able to fly commercially as a paid employee. This was a decade long dream.

Another important woman in my life is my partner, my wife. She is a travel buff, but until now, being from the Indian subcontinent meant that very few countries allowed frictionless travel. You would need a visa, have to be present at the visa center; unnecessary fees, and extremely short duration of the visa. However, the most annoying thing was the amount of paperwork required for the application to be processed! You need your salary slips, three months bank statements, blah blah blah.

Both of them were looking forward to a beautiful future and lo and behold the Covid-19 pandemic hits! And the aftermath of it will be long-lasting. Both their plan come crashing. I am trying to understand how things would pan out when the lockdown is lifted. Will people go back to having holidays abroad? Will the demand be the same? For a decent number of years, the prices of holidays have been manageable and something which most of us can afford. Holiday providers had the demand and hence enjoyed the economies of scale allowed for affordable holidays which in turn increased demand— a virtuous cycle.

But now, there will be demand but not as it used to be. As a result, the prices will go up, which will result in fewer people going on holiday abroad. Thus a vicious cycle! I am happy to be proven wrong in this instance, and we go back to what it was pre Pandemic!

Account-based Marketing by Bev Burgess with Dave Munn

Cover page of book titled A practionaer's guide to Account based Marketing by Bev Burgess with Dave Munn

This is a fantastic book who want to deliver a marketing programme for their critical/strategic clients. If you apply Pareto rule to sales, it implies 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients.

So the question arises, how do you maximise your returns on marketing to these 20% strategic clients? We also know, client retention is way economical versus client acquisition. This book takes you on a journey from the why to how of implementing an account-based marketing strategy.

Germany is not a small Indian state, in fact, it would be the fifth-largest if it were part of India

Over the past few weeks, my relationships with my friends and family have become strained. I am a data-driven guy and I question almost everything. I like to think for myself. Being a Charlie Munger disciple, my toolbox contains few mental models. Below are the two fundamental tenets which form the basis of my belief and decision-making system.

Screenshot of a tweet
Tweet: The most common and popular opinion will always be the one that has the least amount of personal responsibility and accountability.
Second screenshot of a tweet
Tweet: True religion is rejecting all the teachines and thiking for yourself – Naval Ravikant

Usually, there is little overlap between my hobbies and the hobbies of my extended group of friends. However, during the pandemic, everyone is an epidemiologist. For some weird reason, the common belief is that India is at the top of the game and the way it has handled the situation is commendable. I beg to differ based on the numbers. My source of data is Worldometers. I think the only way to get better data is to test people. Test as many citizens as possible. India has yet to step up the game. For 1 million citizens, India’s tested only 393 people.

When I say this, the first counter-argument is India’s population makes it impossible to test so many people! Rubbish again. The population is the source of all evil has been the argument for as long as I remember. This argument, as shown above, is easy and takes away personal accountability. I counter the population argument by saying that the need is not to entire population, which stands at 1.3 billion but the densely populated cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru etc. should be on the priority list. And this is where I give Germany’s example, which has tested around 24,000 people per million citizens. The number is meaningful to then apply statistical models to it.

One of the silliest and ignorant comments to Germany’s numbers was that Germany’s population is that of a small state. With comments like these, it is hard to prove with evidence on the spot. We ended our chat and I tried to dig further. A few Google searches – population of Germany and Indian state population – were able to provide great insight.

  1. the population of Germany is circa 83 million
  2. if Germany was an Indian state it would slot between Madhya Pradesh with 72 million population and West Bengal with a population of circa 91 million! The numbers are based on 2011 census and the source is (click here)

Based on the data Germany would be the 5th populous state in India and hence it’s tally of 24,000 tests per million citizens would be a meaningful dataset to build the statistical models on. 393 tests per million citizens does not give enough statistical significance!

Amazon gets it right again

People assume branding happens overnight. It does not. It takes a lot of time effort and money to build a brand image. It takes even monumental effort for that image to be consistent with how you want the brand to be perceived. Apple is a default example of great branding but there are others as well.

Amazon gets it right most of the time. There are issues around the way it treats it warehouse teams and the conditions in which they have to work and all, but I do not think it is Amazon’s sole responsibility, as a consumer, we want everything cheaper and faster! Every conscious decision has a side effect.

I got a automated message from Amazon and what stood how is the rainbow! Each and every words is meaningful and the gratitude is genuine. Well done Amazon.

A brilliantly worded message and a heart felt thank you from Amazon.

To the doctors nurses carers and everyone on the front line

To the utilities workers keeping our country going

To the volunteers and helpers keeping spirits up

TO the pickers packer suppliers drivers

And the cleaners working at Amazon

To everyone staying at home

– Amazon

An elegantly written message.

Coronavirus and the microchip

I had a delivery yesterday of a Mesh WiFi set up. The Amazon delivery guy as on time, polite. As it was a high ticket item, I asked if he needed a signature. He said no, you have to maintain social distance. To which I replied “fair enough”.

I don’t know what was the trigger but he then went to share that he was an ex-soldier and had served in Iraq war. This social distancing was just a facade to scare people. They will not disclose that a vaccine is available and if you have to get out then you have to be vaccinated or else you will not be allowed to get out! And then you do get the jab, there will be a micro-chip in it which will alow the Government to monitor your movements!

An interesting perspective nevertheless.


Update – 21st April – This is the link (click here) that talks about how Bill Gates AMA running into the Microchip conspiracy and how the misinformation spread!

A period of reflection

We are in the 4th week of lockdown. The original plan was to do a road trip me and two other friends from high school has promised in 2002. This was going to be the epic holiday we promised ourselves 18 years ago. Nature had its down plan though.

So I ended up taking a week off which was the leftover annual leave from 2019. I have used these five days to do the following

  • Complete an online course
  • Read an four books
  • Connect with a couple of school friends
  • Formulated a trading strategy

I know someone who has found it difficult to deal with this situation. I know it is difficult, everything is, but whether you see the glass half empty or half full is completely under your control. Stoicism helped me a lot. You can only control what you can control, rest, should not bother you. The sooner to understand this, the better your life will be.

Jony Ive – The genius behind Apple’s greatest products by Leander Kahney

Jony is someone I like a designer. A minimalistic design that has inspired many. Millions of people use products which Jony has built! What an achievement. It was a quick read, the flow of the story is a little choppy, but the book is worth a read.

The philosophy around product design is amazing.

Highlights

  • ‘I always understood the beauty of things made by hand,’ Jony told Steve Jobs’s biographer, Walter Isaacson. ‘I came to realize that what was really important was the care that was put into it. What I really despise is when I sense some carelessness in a product.’
  • By the age of thirteen, Jony knew he wanted ‘to draw and make stuff’, but hadn’t quite pinned down exactly what he wanted to do. He contemplated designing everything – from cars to products, from furniture to jewellery and even boats.
  • Jony’s work was exceptional and his drawing excellent. His teachers recalled that they had not seen his standard in another student of his age before; even at the age of seventeen, his designs were often production-ready.
  • ‘There is a notion in Britain of a T-shaped designer,’ Milton said, ‘one with depth of discipline in a single area but also a breadth of empathy for other areas of design. So the British design school/art school vibe informs how Jony Ive interacts with service design, multimedia aspects, the packaging [and] the publicity.’
  • To the consternation of a lot of users and reviewers, at least at first, an on-off button was omitted. The idea of pressing any button to turn the device on – and then to have it turn itself off after a period of inactivity – was a stroke of minimalist genius. ‘As such a radically new product, the iPod was inherently so compelling that it seemed appropriate for the design effort to be to simplify, remove and reduce,’ Jony said.

The Tao Jones Averages – A guide to whole-brained investing by Bennett W. Goodspeed

This book came recommended by Mark Yusko of Morgan Creek Capital. I respect Mark a lot, and his thought process is something I admire. So I had to push this book right up the reading list. It was a pleasant surprise the book is a short read, yet the impact and nuggets of knowledge it delivers are life-changing.

I am a left-brained individual who loves data and logic; however, being a marketing guy, I also had to develop over the past seven years my right-sided brain, the more intuition-based decision making. The book talks about how both brains need to be involved in making the investment decisions and how it is a crucial concept to being a fully-fledged human too.

The book draws from the Tao philosophy and applies it to investing and general living. Below are some highlights.

Highlights

  • Let the mind go there it will
  • There is no greater evil than forcing others to change
  • Nature’s way is simple and easy, but men prefer the intricate and the artificial
  • By making a science out of an art, try are opting to be precisely wrong than generally right
  • . . .trying to understand running water by catching it in a bucket

Visual communication goes a long way

In the time of the pandemic, we are advised to follow social distancing. Most importantly when we are shopping for our daily essentials. Below is the sign from Tesco’s

The sign talks about maintaining a social distance of 2m. Reference to the most critical infroation i.e. being 2 meters apart comes in the third paragrah. The letters are bold to draw your attention. However, it could have done a better job of communicating this. 2m is not easy to visualise. 

There were markers like the one shown on the right which again shows that you have to be 2m meters apart. All well and good but the lack of clarity remains, how much is two meters? I am unable to visualise. Give me a context. Make it foolproof.

What these signs lack is how much is 2 meters? Please tell me! You also have the metric vs imperial system debate. The most important thing when communicating something critical is, it has to be evident and no room for ambiguity.

And along comes Sainsbury's for the rescue. The visual is strong! You need to be two trolleys apart. IT is easy to remember as well, 2 m = 2 trolleys. It may not be accurate but it gets the message across. And most of the people use trolleys, so it is full proof too!

Incredible design is intricate, but once you nail it, it can work wonders—no room for doubt. Good design is crystal clear. Well done the designers who worked on these visual for Sainsbury’s