News Bits
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News Bits

🗞 Introducing News Bits 🗞

I spend more than an hour daily reading tech, business, finance, and pop culture news from all around the internet. But just reading and moving on doesn't seem fun anymore.

Time to make it stick and spread the knowledge.

So every other day, I will post

  • one link to a news/tweet/article I read
  • a simple summary, and
  • any insights or questions that come from it

Let's see how long it lasts. I hope to make it a good habit that forces me to condense my thoughts and learnings.

January 2023

@January 11, 2023

Reading books is the most efficient way to absorb wisdom. If you don’t already read, well it’s never too late to do that. Read what you love, until you love what to read. If you are looking for your next book, here is something interesting I found.

This website that collects lists of recommendations by some of the world’s most successful people. And then they made this top 100 list of most recommended books.

The top 3 books are

1. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

2. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

3. Principles by Ray Dalio

Each of these has left a profound impact on me, and I would probably reread them multiple times in my life.

I’ve maybe read 20/100, what about you?

@January 13, 2023

Soon AI could help you automate things like filing complaints, cancelling subscriptions and fighting parking tickets…

DoNotPay has just launched a new AI-powered chatbot to negotiate bills and cancel subscriptions without customers having to deal with customer service. The chatbot is powered by OpenAI's GPT-3 API and will be open for testing in the next two weeks.

This marks the first time DoNotPay has used an AI chatbot to interact with a representative in real time, building upon its previous use of rules-based systems and templates.

I am curious to see the legal implication of this though

@January 15, 2023

Murphy’s law: If there is a test, there will be a way to cheat it 😂

  • Many Chinese students have been cheating on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (Toefl) exam since it became available for at-home testing in 2020.
  • These students have been aided by professionals who charge a few thousand US dollars to make sure students obtain scores high enough to get them into top universities.
  • This has turned into a multimillion-dollar industry in China, known as "baofen," or "guaranteed scores."
  • Some test-prep professionals have obtained test materials in advance, while others have sat next to students or remotely controlled their computers to take the exams for them. Some have even appeared on camera dressed as their student clients to pass spoken tests.

Im interested to see how the testing companies will use different types of technologies to tackle these problems.

@January 17, 2023

Some interesting insights from surveys done in 2022

  1. 40% of Americans are typically making cashless purchases throughout the week
  2. 30% of TikTok adult users say thats they primary source of news
  3. 50% of teens now use the internet constantly throughout the day (up from 24% in 2015)

@January 19, 2023

A primer on customer interviews - from the best in the business

Teresa Torres who is the author of Continuous Discovery Habits, recently wrote this post to give very straightforward tips on best practices while doing user interviews.

Some interesting things I read from this

  1. Who should be doing the interviews? - A product trio (PM, designer, SWE), discovery is a team sport, and the interviewer should rotate while others observe and synthesize
  2. How often should we do interviews? - Atleast once a week. I like this cadence and its actionable, and builds a team habit.
  3. How to find interviewees? - Automate this as much as possible
  4. Is an incentive needed? - Not always, and maybe a perceived reward is better than cash, also ask for shorter bits of time, instead of an hour
  5. What if there is beauraucratic wall and you are not able to reach your customers? - Start small, and use your personal network, befriend the business team and work together with them to open this channel

We immediately started following some of these as we build out our user research flows. If you are working on a tech product and not in close contact with your users. Who are you actually building for?

@January 21, 2023

A beautiful thread of 13 images that show very interesting things about our earth and history.

One such image that really struck me was a map of languages.

  1. Chinese (and its dialects) is the most spoken language, however its range across regions is really small
  2. Was surprised to see that Marathi, Telegu and Tamil, Bengali (Indian regional languages) are almost as widely spoken as Korean or German or more
  3. I never knew Arabic was spoken in so many different regions
  4. Spanish is spoken in the most number of countries it seems - It is a very useful language to learn globally.

Did anything in this picture surprise or inspire you?

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@Last Monday

Lenny’s Newsletter is hands down the best product newsletter out there. I like it because instead of just using theory or jargon, it gives us real life stories and case studies directly from the people who worked on them. It puts concepts in practicality, and gives highest signal-to-noise value.

I subscribed to Lenny for one year to force myself to be more actively engaged in his community and I have really enjoyed it.

Here is the best of 2022, choose your own adventure 😄

@Last Wednesday

Are you getting an intense amount of junk mail in Japan?

Within days, I could count almost 50+ pieces of mail that were completely useless to me, and what a blatant waste of paper and resources.

Then I saw this sticker on one of my friend’s mailbox and I ordered one for myself immediately. And it works!! My mailbox has been completely junk free since then. In fact its so empty now, I am a bit sad with the realization that I don’t get any meaningful mail at all 😄

Even though there is a big culture of junk mail in Japan, atleast I am happy that those who deliver it still care about our preferences - in typical Japanese omotenashi fashion.

Here is the link - It’s been one of the life hack purchases for me.

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@Last Friday

Show me a 10ft paywall, I’ll show you a 12ft ladder.

12ft.io is a site that removes most paywalls, ads and other distractions from online articles by showing the cached version that Google saves for its search engine. I personally think that its not the best user experience to hit a reader with a paywall after a few paragraphs.

While this industry is ripe for innovation and many sites like substack are helping writers monetize their content in more meaningful ways, most major new publications still follow these business models.

I think bypassing one or two paywalls should be completely acceptable, and so I use this shortcut on my iPhone to do so.

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@Yesterday

This thread could straight up change your life

@Tomorrow

2022 in search trends

  1. Interesting to see how NFT surged and then died down
  2. Wordle had been quite relevant all throughout the year
  3. Wow that whole Will Smith incident happened too, I almost forgot
  4. Seems like ChatGPT and Nuclear Fusion both are on the rise

How will 2023 be?

February 2023

@Wednesday

Some delightful easter eggs I found while using PayPay Corporation's app.

One of my favourite use cases of PayPay is that I can pay my utility bills directly through them by scanning the bill bar code and paying it off cashless rather than going to the convenience store, where they force you to pay in cash. (Yes that is still how a majority of people pay their bills in Japan!)

But, I actually look forward to paying my bills through PayPay because everytime I do, I add a tree to my forest. 🌲

Along with providing a great use case that solves a pain point, there is messaging and call to action about paying bills online to save paper and rewards me for doing so with further gamification by adding cute trees and animals to my forest on the app.

It was refreshing to see that this kind of delight-giving function made it into the app, when as a PM I know there is always a war of prioritization and urgency of other things to build.

So I would like to show my appreciation to the team that shipped this, its something that keeps me coming back.

Maybe Amit Bhasin can pass on my message 😁

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@Friday

Some simple tips that can elevate conversations, a skill that everyone could benefit from improving

  1. Don’t Interrupt - interrupting shows that you are uninterested in the other person.
  2. Gauge Interest - Sometimes the other person may not have a keen interest in what you are talking, always be on the lookout for cues to speak more or less based on their reactions
  3. Ask questions - Asking questions signifies interest and as we know everyone loves talking about themselves, so prompt them further
  4. Verbalize when you change your mind - If someone convinced you to change your perspective, tell them
  5. 50% talk time - Try to keep the conversation 50-50. It is your responsibility to keep this ratio.

Inspired by How to win friends and Influence People and this blog post.

@Next Sunday

Dopamine masterclass by Dr Huberman

This year I decided to fill up my commutes and idle time with podcasts. I wanted something that would be interesting and doesnt involve me looking at a screen.

And the title of this one made me curious so I put it on. And time flew by. Dr Huberman is a professor of neurobiology at Stanford and he explains the ins and outs of dopamine, the chemical responsible for motivation and drive. Most importantly, he does it without assuming his listeners have any scientific knowledge and starts from the basics as he builds it up. He actually makes this subject interesting.

This podcast has really rewired the way I think about my life an behaviour backed by science.

Some of the core takeaways

  1. Dopamine controls all our desires and motivations, and it is what causes happiness on doing something, but the more we stimulate ourselves, the lesser we will scientifically feel happy and motivated - so counterintuitively, its important to sometimes not pursue happiness. Love the process instead.
  2. Addiction is chasing the perceived effect of dopamine, but not being satisfied with the lower levels achieved - Someone addicted to smoking keeps smoking to feel a hit, but it never comes at the level they want, so they keep wanting more.
  3. Depriving yourself of things that give you dopamine is a healthy way to gain back motivation and enjoy those things later on. Example - A detox from social media is considered very healthy to increase motivation. A burger tastes really good when you have it on a cheat day. etc
  4. Cold water therapy - cold showers, cold plunges are scientifically tested ways of constantly releasing dopamine into the body and being present for a long time.

I really recommend taking a peek into this one if you have time to kill but still want to use it in an interesting manner.

@February 7, 2023

Pinterests 2023 predictions

People use Pinterest to plan for the future. That means they may on to what’s next. They also mentioned that, for the last three years, 80% of their report predictions came true.

There is a lot of interesting stuff that people are pinning more than usual, and it seems that these are the trends that may become popular this year.

Some of them are super interesting, for example

  1. Pool parties for puppies
  2. Mushroom and fungi shaped decor
  3. Old school date nights - bookstore, aquariums, picnics
  4. Sustainable travelling via trains
  5. Sea based superfoods like algae, seaweed
  6. Alternative therapies - like writing, art, music, journaling

Any of these interest you? 🐶  🚃. 📚. 🍄

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@February 9, 2023

If only I had access to this information in school and university….

Whether you are interested in being a veterinarian, pilot, product manager, chef, music composer, banker - answers to these simple questions is essential to know before pursuing any of these careers.

  1. What do I do and how much do I make
  2. How I got my job and where I’m going
  3. My budget and planning for the future

Khan Academy has an entire section dedicated to understanding different professions from those who work in them and knowing in detail what it entails to be someone in that field.

Access and exposure to this kind of information is so important, in order to inspire and prepare the next generation to decide how they would like to live their lives and contribute to society.

I am really happy that this kind of educational content exists, and I hope that it is more widespread in schools.

@February 11, 2023 (17)

An epic battle between the growth PM, the revenue PM and legal PM 😆

Growth PM - Pushing the user to download the mobile app, or create an account

Revenue PM - Showing ads on the site

Legal PM - Showing the cookie banner

Maybe the respective PMs also all closed the popups, so they don’t experience the first-time user’s journey anymore. Maybe these issues are not urgent for them. Could be many things.

But to be honest, these kinds of issues happen quite often and I have faced this too, all these elements are justified.

Legal requirements are often mandatory and there is not much you can do from a UX perspective to solve this. Most sites would like you to download the app or create an account, this gives the user more features and smoother UX, and gives the company access to more data as well as real estate in your notifications/inbox. Ads, well you gotta earn money somehow to fund all the other things haha.

These issues can be solved however, if there is a clear vision and end goal of what the experience for the end user should look like. And a north star metric to prioritize what is most important for product success. Additionally someone should be owning the onboarding or home screen experience.

How would you solve this kind of communication/product gap in your team? 👀

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