The Modern Knowledge Worker is a Sprinter

In June of this year, Naval Ravikant (the founder of AngelList) tweeted an interesting insight: “Forty hour workweeks are a relic of the Industrial Age. Knowledge workers function like athletes – train and sprint, then rest and reassess.” That caught my attention because I regularly work anywhere from 45 to 80 hours a week, and…

Seeing the Eclipse in Totality

I’m fortunate that I was able to take some time off work this week to go see the eclipse. Coincidentally, I was helping a friend move down to Atlanta, so we easily drove just over 90 minutes to Clemson to get into the path of totality. Seeing the eclipse in totality was an awe-inspiring experience;…

Role Fulfillment: How We Play Our Parts Socially

I’ve noticed that some bloggers I admire, Fred Wilson and Seth Godin among others, will write very short pieces that elegantly encapsulate a single thought. As I find myself busier and busier, I’ve decided that I’ll try my hand at doing something similar. I don’t want to short-change my readership, so I don’t want to…

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;…

Our Failed Age of Exploration

I’ve been reading Jon Gertner’s The Idea Factory lately; it documents the history of Bell Labs, an R&D facility shared by AT&T and Western Electric that was directly or indirectly responsible for a number of innovations in telecom. Bell Labs researchers created transistors, signal extenders, and Unix, among other things. They developed the foundations of…

Request for Startup: Forum

I love Twitter, but the public markets do not. Like other consumer tech companies, investors have valued Twitter based on two interlinked factors: user growth and ad sales. Seeing as Twitter added zero users last quarter, it’s easy to understand why investors are a bit irked; in fact, they were so irked that the firm’s price…

Will We Need Sociopaths in a World Without Crisis?

One of my most popular articles ever on Thought Distiller was called “Are Sociopaths Good for Society?” and I think the time has come to dig into another angle on the topic of sociopathy. Last time, I determined that sociopaths (at least the higher-functioning ones) are genuinely good for society. This time around, I’m thinking…

Speaking the Right Dialect of a Lingua Franca

I’ve always had a fascination with “lingua francas.” Simply put, a lingua franca is a common language that enables communication between people or groups whose native tongues differ. For example, if businesspeople from England, India, the UAE, and Brazil wanted to negotiate a deal, the lingua franca would most likely be English. Indeed, English is…

Climbing the Magic Mountains

It’s graduation season and I’ve been able to go see a number of high school and college graduations. The thing that immediately sticks out to me is that the majority of people who give speeches at graduations have very little to say that is meaningful. In my view, the point of graduation speeches is to…

On Team Leaders as Benevolent Dictators

I’ve recently been doing some thinking about what makes a good team in the context of work. To me, a good team (as I’ve previously discussed) is one that can operate efficiently and without bottlenecks. A good team is based on mutual credibility, loyalty, and trust. Each teammate has a discrete task and no work…