Newsletter #2 - Back Pain, Hard Work, and Business History

Typewriter on a white surface
Photo by Florian Klauer / Unsplash

Hello everyone,

I hope you had a great weekend. During my weekend I went for my first longer hike here in Switzerland. I went to Baden, a town close to Zürich and from there walked across a ridge called Lägern to the town of Dielsdorf. It was great fun and I plan on going on more hikes. During my time in Switzerland I am trying to embrace going on more weekend adventures and getting out in nature has felt great. I highly recommend trying to find activities that make you excited and feel adventurous, it brings a lot of joy into my life.

In this week's newsletter I will describe how I have worked to overcome my back pain with some simple advice. Then I share a quote and an essay from Paul Graham, one of the founders of YCombinator and a great writer. Following this I recommend two episodes from the amazing podcast Acquired, a podcast that tells the stories behind some of the world's most influential companies. Finally you will find a short excerpt from my book summary of the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. I hope you enjoy the newsletter and learn something new.

💭Idea From Me

Nothing will get better if you don't put in the work to improve it.

This is may seem like an obvious statement to you. I agree it is simple advice, but it is something I needed to learn, so I figured maybe there is someone out there that needs to hear it too. Things will not improve if you don’t take action to change.

An example from my own life is that I have had back problems for the last 3-4 years. For a long time, I let this hinder me from physical activities. My thinking was that I needed to rest and let it heal, but it only got worse by staying passive. After a while, the back pain became part of my identity. I began accepting it as part of who I am and that I would have live with it.

But then something changed. I decided that I was too young to let a bad back stop me from being physically active. I decided to find a new physical therapist as the one I had been seeing was not a good fit for me (sidenote: cultural fit and chemistry with a care provider are important if you have the opportunity to find one that suits you). Armed with a new physical therapist and an understanding that I would need to put in the work to get better, I started getting back into the gym. Doing rehab but also the strength exercises I love at a lower weight. Today my back feels better than it has for years.

I have been training Crossfit consistently 3-4 times a week for a few months with no real issues with the back. I am finishing up this newsletter after having power cleaned 82.5 kg for a double. A year ago I was not sure I would ever be doing something like that again. Sure sometimes my back gets sore when I lift weights, but I have learned to identify and manage my pain signals so I don’t hurt myself. Maybe soon I will be able to hit some PRs in the gym. It would be awesome to clean triple-digits once more.

The lesson is that sitting around and waiting for something to change will often just lead to a worse outcome. Instead you should take action. So if you have something you are not happy with in your life, like I did with my back, take a hard look at what you could do to make it better. Identify what you need to do and then get to work. This approach might not solve all your problems, but it will definitely help in a lot of cases. So get to work!

🖋Quote of the Week

Here is the founder of YCombinator, investor and entrepreneur Paul Graham making a great argument for why hard work is more important than talent for success:

“One sign that determination matters more than talent: there are lots of talented people who never achieve anything, but not that many determined people who don't.” -Paul Graham

If you have not read Paul's essays, I highly recommend them too. He is a great writer. Here is a link to his collection of essays. One of my favorites is How to do What You Love if you need inspiration on where to start.

🎧Content I Have Enjoyed This Week and Recommend

Today's recommendation is a little bit of a multiple-in-one recommendation. To start off I recommend the Nintendo episodes of Acquired. There are two parts telling the entire company history of Nintendo, you can find Part 1 and part 2 in the links here.

Acquired is one of my favorite business podcasts out there. Ben and David break down the history of iconic companies. The episodes are well-researched, include great storytelling, and are full of nuggets of wisdom. They made two episodes on the history of Nintendo. It covered Nintendo's association with the Yakuza in its early days, how Nintendo at one point had a 95% global market share in video games, and how bug collecting inspired one of the biggest media franchises. The episodes were phenomenal.

Ben and David are fascinating in their own rights and make great recommendations for other content too. One of those was this interview with Michael Lewis. A three-hour-long interview with the author of Moneyball, The Big Short, and The Undoing Project (Which I am currently reading). If you enjoy Lewis' writing you will find the interview fascinating too I am sure.

✍This Week's Blog Post

This week I wrote another book summary as I finished Mindset by Carol Dweck. The book focuses on the concept of having a growth or a fixed mindset.

Growth mindset = Believing that it is possible for people to develop their abilities and improve through practice. This mindset will lead to success.

Fixed mindset = Believing that people can not change or improve their abilities. Instead believing people were born with a certain amount of ability or talent. This mindset often holds people back from learning and improving.

Here is my book summary in 3 sentences:

  1. Cultivating a growth mindset will help you to handle failures and challenges, and learn to view them as opportunities for growth.
  2. Praise people for their efforts and not their abilities, this will cultivate a growth mindset allowing them to keep improving because hard work leads to success.
  3. Never stop learning, nurture your curiosity, and always keep practicing to reach your goals.

If you want to read the full book summary you can find it here.

I hope you all have a great week and stay curious!