Sent on February 3rd, 2023.
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Here’s some exciting content I’ve been consuming in January 2023.
My First Million. MFM is a podcast that has been around for a couple of years. The co-hosts are entrepreneurs and investors who talk about starting a company, building and buying one, and how entrepreneurs approach life. The podcast’s title can be misleading since they have deep conversations about making businesses work. The bro-talk and humor are not for everyone, but I think the topics and insights outway the immaturity.
Here’s my favorite episode, which they did with Oculus founder Palmer Luckey in 2022. Also, the three episodes they’ve done with Andrew Wilkinson are amazing.
Deep Questions. I’ve mentioned this podcast previously in the newsletter. It’s the weekly podcast of author Cal Newport, who writes and talks about ways people can live and do their job without distractions. His book Deep Work is excellent, and the podcast continues what Cal talks about in his books.
A recent episode was great, where he shared some numbers from RescueTime, an app quite similar to Screentime on the iPhone, where the RescueTime team put together numbers from over ten thousand users. The revelation was that people check their email every six minutes on average. Insanity, but so true. Slack is worse; there, it’s every five minutes. You bring Slack up on your computer and spend time looking up messages on channels or DMs from colleagues.
Cal says that batching Slack and email into one or two moments a day is the end solution, but you won’t get there unless you follow three steps.
1. Write better emails, or as Cal calls it, process-centric emailing. You put more info in the email about how you will collaborate.
My example: This is an email I usually send to founders who are approaching me with a pitch:
Before jumping on a call, can I send you some questions, and we’d do some back and forth over email? I always first spend time over async to understand the company. We will do the call if it feels like a good fit and something where I could help. I hope that works for you.
I have this reply ready to be sent out and if the founder is OK with my process, I can eliminate taking calls and doing lots of back and forth as I try to understand the company.
2. Defer back-and-forth interactions to synchronous settings. Cal talks about real-time interactions a lot; you can resolve many items on a call or a f2f meeting, compared to sending six, seven, or eight emails to conclude and resolve something. Slack could be a great place for this, where you do office hours. Tell people that you are available from 2 pm to 3 pm to talk to people.
3. Deploy processes. Put in place how you want to collaborate with people. A VC fund recently asked if I’m on Telegram or if we’d set up a monthly call to discuss things. I suggested email and that we’d do monthly emails if it made sense to share something like having a calendar reminder to have the email go out if there were deals to talk about or share introductions to founders who were raising. Agreeing on emails is better than starting a group chat on Telegram or Whatsapp, which would always be on.
Just have to say that Last of Us is amazing. HBO is killing it. Besides that brilliant show, many gaming titles are being turned into movies or TV shows. Here’s a related Tweet that lays it out.
Nabeel Hyatt is a VC who used to be a games entrepreneur. His company was acquired by Zynga back in the Facebook days. Nabeel hasn’t been an active gaming investor, but his recent Tweet was unique.
He had spent the weekend with his family on a hobby project, where they’d created a TCG (trading card game) by using ChatGPT and Midjourney for the content. Check out this thread; it’s pretty mind-blown how much AI can help when developing games.
Finally, this Tweet thread from Frank Keienburg, Brawl Stars Game Lead, is fantastic. It highlights how Frank and the people at Supercell think about live service games.
There’s a gem of a lecture series from 2014 that the Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator Y Combinator did, where they invited all the legends to talk. YC founder Paul Graham, Founder’s Fund Peter Thiel, SV Angel’s Ron Conway, a16z’s Marc Andreessen, plus many others. These lectures are fantastic. Here are a couple of my favorite highlights from the talks:
Paul Graham. “You don’t need experience in startups. You need experience in your users.”
Marc Andreessen. “You can only invest in one category company. You did Myspace, can’t invest in Facebook.” Video.
Peter Thiel. “The counterintuitive idea is to go after small markets, too small that people notice them. That’s where you get a foothold, and if those markets expand, you can scale into a big monopoly business.” Video
Apps and plugins
I use One Sec to make social media apps less addicting. Heck, it could be used for Slack and Gmail as well. When I try to open Twitter, the One Sec plugin asks me to breathe in and out, and then it tells me how many times I’ve already been on Twitter in the past 24 hours. If I still want to enter, I must pick why I’m going there.
The free version gives the ability to make one social up dumb. The paid version allows more apps to be made dumb. I’ll try the paid version out soon to make Slack and Gmail less attractive. Check out One Sec and get back your time.
My favorite device of 2023, so far
I got this Beurer TL30 lamp which has been a significant game-changer. I’ve been keen to get into bright light therapy for ages and finally had a chance to start trying it out. I wake up at 6:30 am and go to the kitchen table to sit and plan my time blocks for the day. As I sit there, the lamp is on, and I soak in the light for about twenty minutes as I do my time blocking.
After three weeks of using it, the results have been promising. I’ve noticed I don’t get my traditional 2 pm tiredness anymore. Before the lamp came into the picture, I used to feel extremely tired in the afternoon and nauseous about continuing work. Now I can work till 6 pm and not feel an inch tired. I wasn’t expecting the lamp to give me such a boost for the entire day.
I did some research and found that the effect could be related to daylight being quite limited in Finland during the winter months and to the anchoring of my circadian rhythm to a fixed routine: I wake up at 6:30 am, I get my bright light signal that it’s day time and all is good. I’m going to try to remove the lamp for a week from my routine and see if I go back to feeling tired. Then I’ll know that the light is causing me to feel better and that it’s not something else.
Here’s the lamp on Amazon. It’s not an expensive experiment if you want to try it out.
Out of the recent books that I’ve been reading, I’d want to highlight ChatGPT for Non-Fiction Authors. It was an interesting take on how ChatGPT can help writers to craft books.
First, I have to mention some letdowns: The book was half written by ChatGPT, and based on the feeling that I got from the book, I think that an AI can’t come up with novel and insightful things. It can come up with “ChatGPT is great for coming up with book outlines because that’s a step where it does give ideas.” But it can’t pick examples from the real world. It can’t tell you which parts will feel off because of how AI presents things.
The book is available on Amazon, you can go here to get it.
Finally, other gaming content to follow
The final section is a shoutout to the people who create online content, newsletters, podcasts, etc., on gaming and the gaming business. I think Deconstructor of Fun is an excellent outlet for all games business related things, but there are many others that I follow regularly:
Simon Carless writes the GameDiscoverCo newsletter, which covers all Steam-related insights. Steam is becoming so relevant for all game developers as it makes more sense for everyone to build cross-platform games.
Joseph Kim’s GameMakers newsletter is an excellent source for insights into the games business.
Sophie Vo has excellent content, like her masterclasses on leadership. Check them out on the Rise & Play website.
Konvoy Ventures’ newsletter on gaming is excellent. You should check it out here.
Finally, a shoutout to Mastering Retention by Tom Hammond. On the podcast, Tom talks to a bunch of gaming people from all corners, focusing on live service games. You will learn a lot from these episodes.