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Weekly Review #41: Turning 23, boring businesses, and leading by following

I turned 23 this week, but didn’t do anything special to commemorate the occasion. All day I felt like I needed to do something, but then I stopped and realized “I already enjoy my normal days – why should I change my routine just for a birthday?” Its a good problem to have. There’s a blog post in there somewhere – view every day like it was your birthday for higher joy, with the only downside meaning your actual bday is less special.

How To Build a Rocketship is a nice little podcast/book/blog that share startup scaling strategies I found.

Ryan Holiday is in perfect form as ever with advice on How to Market Boring Businesses – remember those Will it Blend videos? They don’t do much for the bottom line of the boutique blender company, but certainly worked at getting the word out.

The Significant Objects project proves that it isn’t the physical product that makes something valuable – it’s the story behind it. Artists crafted stories for identical objects that then sold for more on ebay.

Tunnelbear lets you experience the internet from another country, which is handy for sidestepping restrictive copyright laws. It also has some of the most clever and shareable content marketing photos featuring bears that I’ve ever seen.

The story behind Clinkle‘s perpetual non-start was an interesting read, to say the least. They still have no product, and have fired 25% of the team since last year, yet remain SV darlings. Possibly because the founder is ‘an investor’s wet dream’: white, Stanford CS, gregarious.

Homeslice is an app that helps you divide up roommate tasks and replenish house supplies – #duh.

The NYT article on the tech elite at Burning Man is an amusing look at what millionaires are doing on the playa. I wonder what’s the point in going to the desert at all if you bring civilization with you? But there’s nothing wrong with people using their own money the way they see fit.

HourlyNerd lets you hire MBAs by the hour for all your strategic needs. Great idea – sure paint the value of an MBA starkly, though, doesn’t it?

The Elio Motors car is a bold new look at automotive technology, at 84 mpg, tandem seating, and three wheels.

Lewis Howe’s interview with Simon Sinek on his School of Greatness (which is my new favorite podcast) was one of the best I’ve heard. Simon knows how to talk – there’s a reason his is the most viewed TED talk of all time. He expounds on his idea of leaders eating last:

  • Marine leaders actually do eat last, because they let their men eat first, which makes for a symbiotic relationship in that each takes care of the other
  • The best quality for leadership is vulnerability. If you can bare yourself to your followers, they will trust you more.
  • He calls out the vulnerability of the White House as an example (yes there’s security, but it’s not like a dictator’s razor wire encircled mansion). It’s an expression of vulnerability while keeping him safe.
  • Likewise, a leader who admits they don’t know everything curates stronger followers, because they trust that their advice is valuable
  • Eating last is a sacrifice based on trust, which makes you vulnerable to missing the meal, but expresses love to whoever you let eat first
  • Ego is someone who is confident in their ability, not necessarily someone who thinks they’re better than everyone else – thats conceit
  • Expressing your struggles makes it personal, and invites others to help – it does not mean weakness
  • There’s no such thing as a bad person – just bad environments that shape them. Wall Street encourages conceit and one-upmanship, while others like the Marines stress trust and companionship
  • The best leaders follow visions – something greater than themself. When authority figures channel something greater, they become compelling leaders, but when they don’t have something to live for, they end up doing what they’re told (in corporate matters, listening to profits alone)