On Spreadsheets and How They Changed The World

Recently, an old Steven Levy article from November 1984 re-surfaced on the web. Its topic: the origins of the now-omnipresent spreadsheet. Levy recounts that a Harvard MBA named Dan Bricklin was inspired while doing a project for one of his finance classes. The project required modeling the financial implications of one company’s acquisition of another;…

3 Questions To Test Contrarian Ideas

In the course of my work, I often think about what makes things insightful or compelling. Despite the nuances and complexity that necessarily go into making ideas truly interesting, I believe I’ve found a meaningful shorthand for determining whether an idea is truly new or fresh. I was mainly inspired by Roger Martin’s “The First…

An Effective Guide For Interviewers

Much of our society structures itself around perceptions of intelligence. This is why, for example, students around the world are required to take numerous standardized tests. Indeed, the role of intelligence in society is the premise behind academic and job performance grading at large. As Stephen Cave of Aeon puts it, “to say that someone is…

12 Techniques to Learn Charisma

Charisma is a personal quality that makes someone capable of influencing or inspiring large amounts of people. More specifically, it’s a compelling attractiveness, personal magnetism, or charm that can inspire devotion in others. Even so, charisma is a tough thing to pin down: our definitions are vague and fluffy at best. While we can easily…

How to Make Anything Interesting: Familiar With A Twist

At work, I’ve been working on a project for a major food producer and have gotten to learn about some fascinating trends in the industry. One of the most powerful of these trends is “familiar with a twist,” which refers to an old favorite that has one or two distinct changes. Examples include adding Korean BBQ…

The Doctor-Surgeon Spectrum: A Theory of Tradeoffs

While commuting every day, I’ve found myself with a lot of time to philosophize about the connection between work and value. Why is it that, in extremely similar professions, we sometimes see a huge difference in pay? For example, consider a doctor and a surgeon. Both spend years getting educated. Both are medical professionals who complete…

One Formula to Rule Them All: The Maillard Reaction

A friend of mine recently asked me a question that seemed simple at first glance: what is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation for some topic of your choosing? Though I took stabs at his question over and over, I couldn’t conjure up a fitting answer. Nothing I knew about seemed “deep, elegant, or beautiful” enough to…