Abhi’s Newsletter Vol 8: Ignore to focus 🧘‍♀️

Your ability to ignore non-value adding things, matters as much as your ability to focus on value-adding things. 

As we grow older, complexity of our life increases. This continues until retirement. We have to deal with peak work stress, caring for elders, 24×7 parenting, and more! At times this can feel like a game of whack-a-mole. 

At work, the curve is slightly different. As we grow up the ladder, the responsibility exponentially increases. You have to deal with diverse situations, challenges and stakeholders. Senior leaders often deal with many challenging situations every single day. How do we cope with this? The answer is, by doing fewer things really well and ignoring the right things. 

There is no better teacher than experience for honing this skill. Use your instincts, they are very good at separating noise from signal. If you have 6 meetings in a day, try to get out of the ones that you know are noise. Make a list of 1-2 top priority things you’d like to achieve in a day, a week or even a quarter! This can help you ignore, more brutally. 

Ps. Handle this with discretion! There are consequences to ignoring the wrong things!! 

Self-care is a stepping stone to self-actualisation. Self-care starts with the realisation that it’s not optional… 

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Reads of the fortnight 📖

Amazon ads as profitable as AWS 🤯?

This essay by Ben gives an interesting insight into how Amazon makes money. Amazon makes money primarily from 3 areas – it’s e-commerce business, it’s AWS franchise, and its ads business. It is well known that Amazon has for the longest period never shown profit on their P&L. In the last few years though we see modest net income shown. 

When we look under the hood, we see that Amazon’s ads business is pretty powerful. Best case scenario, it makes probably as much profits as AWS. This is not very well known. Its US business generates higher returns than the rest of the world. Also, it’s 3rd party marketplace business generates higher revenue / growth than its first party e-commerce business. Amazon turned over $ 450 Billion in 2019 if you exclude internal chargebacks. 

To conclude, Amazon is a bunch of businesses some profitable and some start-up and loss making but they all leverage a common balance sheet. Staying net cash flow positive, Jeff has leveraged profits from a set of business and used that to grow others creating a behemoth that we all know today. 

Click here

Create an alter ego 🦇

Refer to yourself by any name or character, and have a conversation with yourself. This technique improves our ability to self-distance. You might wonder haven’t we had enough social distance already? But this technique helps us be more dispassionate and actually achieve a better outcome. This can help manage stress, anxiety as well. Research upon research has shown that this technique is used by pop stars, athletes and is effective with adults and especially effective with children. Batman begins? 

Click here


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Abhi’s Newsletter Vol 7 : Pursuit of Motivation 🏋️‍♂️

Pursuit of motivation 💫

What makes you buy a fancy car? Is it the car itself, or do you find the prospect of researching it and bringing it home more exciting? Think very carefully. Does your excitement stay the same when you are using the car? The answer is, probably not.

Now think about getting rid of excess body fat. What makes you do it? Easy! Who doesn’t want to do it? As soon as you start working on it though, your motivation begins to dwindle. That is an understatement. It sinks. At this point you may think, speak for yourself. However, all of us have that something we really want to do, but we procrastinate over it for years.

Junk Motivation vs. Healthy Motivation

This is because of different motivation curves. Pursuits of possessions, and other self-indulgent endeavours are easier than constructive pursuits. Once we understand this psychology, we can begin to grow.

A quote from me 🍄

“You are entitled to nothing in life. You need to earn your place in the world, and it takes hard work, sweat and tears. If anyone did it otherwise they are just fraudsters”

Nothing upsets me more, than to see people that have a strong sense of entitlement. It shows that they have not endured enough setbacks in life. Learn to spot these people and avoid them if possible. They will not appreciate any gifts they have, and will probably not be loyal or worthy of your friendship. Sometimes it can be ignorance or simply pride of coming from a certain background. If they mean much to you, do give them a reality check. You would do them a favour.

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Reading of the fortnight 📖

Fintech scales vertical SaaS 💡

Vertical Software as a Service companies (e.g. Shopify, Zoom, Dropbox, Notion) are transforming the world around us. Just think about the number of subscriptions we are paying vis-a-vis 10 years ago. 90% of Fortune Cloud 100 have subscription-based business models. Vertical SaaS companies address an industry vertical and do it very well. Take Shopify as an example. If a business wants go online, Shopify is by far the easiest way to do it. They offer shipping, analytics, e-commerce, marketing, and Payments. Many such vertical SaaS are embedding fintech into their platform. This can be Payments, banking, foreign exchange, bank accounts, compliance, benefits, and payroll. This enables them to 2x – 5x their revenue. It also unlocks new verticals for them. 

For native fintech integrating services to these Vertical SaaS, the opportunity pool is very large, according to a16z. My key takeaway was that this presents more opportunities to incumbents than I previously thought. It is not only about just selling products, or forming strategic alliances. It is also about being the AWS of fintech for vertical SaaS.

Read more, here.

Facebook will make it easier to read your subscriptions, or will it? 🕸

Facebook plans to link your subs to its platform thereby avoiding any shares to hit a paywall link. Makes sense with regards to customer experience. I sense a business model. A walled garden for people to subscribe, Facebook payments, and more powerful data proposition. Genius and scary. I wonder if Facebook will ever consider a “ring-fenced” network approach where it de-centralises its user graph and provides services in different dimensions including publishing, social, chat, etc.

Read more, here.

Thanks for reading. Do share if you find it insightful. Suggestions are welcome!

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Abhi Shah


Abhi’s Newsletter Vol 6 : Switching Tasks & Contexts

Abhi’s Newsletter Vol 6 : Switching Tasks & Contexts

Hey Productive People! 
Has the WFH fatigue settled in yet? It certainly has for me! While praying for the world, let’s get into this editions’ highlights straightaway!!
Learning of the fortnight 💪
Master the art of switching tasks 🤺
We don’t truly appreciate how much inertia we have. when we are in the flow (or working already), it’s so much easier to get more of the same kind of work done. When we are not in the flow (or resting) it’s much harder!Arthur Doyle the creator of Sherlock Holmes once said, “change in work is the best rest”.  I agree! we must therefore switch from one kind of work to another. I can tell you from experience that it is hugely productive if the work you are switching from and to are complimentary. For instance, I switch from office e-mails to personal e-mails and then pick up any actions extremely seamlessly.

Another example is to pack your morning routine as related tasks together i.e. get up, straight to morning rituals e.g. that fabulous solo performance in shower, to yoga, and tidying up the room before you grab that phone! Now compare that with a undesirable morning routine i.e. get up, reach for that phone, see that office e-mail, you have already forgotten about Yoga, and without that solo performance in shower, you are having a poor morning already!Read here for more wonderful ideas such as habit stacking. 
A quote from me. 🔦
“Truth is always complicated. Lies are often laden with tempting simplicity” 🍦
Shaped narratives are very hard to spot. They are “designed” to play your mind. Take an example of political campaigns. Every political narrative has a plot, a story, a few characters, a moral and perhaps even more nuances.
“Coronavirus can be treated with hot garlic soup; an old Chinese doctor has proven its efficacy” Sounds familiar? 🤣
Narrative building is an art, it can be extremely useful to get the right message across, we just need to be aware of lies and deceit when we are on the receiving end of it.
Reading of the week 📖
Context Switching Penalty 🚓

Read more…

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To build on learning of the week, the principle behind effectiveness of habit stacking is that we need to avoid context switching penalty. First, it means there is a cost associated with every distraction. You are writing a document. A Gmail notification pops up. You pick up the phone, and do that enough number of times, and I bet the document will be of sub-par quality than it would have been if you had continued to concentrate. The key is to reduce distractions and be more productive! try that at work! 
Click here to learn more about context switching penalty. 

More power to you!!