Dear <<First Name>>,

A couple weeks ago, I tweeted about an exercise my Barrel partners and I did to celebrate Barrel's 14th year of being in business. We jumped on a Zoom video call, each popped open a bottle of wine, and each shared 14 lessons we learned from running the company. The tweet has screenshots of each of our 14 lessons.

One lesson that none of us mentioned but is one that we talk about almost every week is the topic of my blog post this week. It's a mantra that we repeat to each other whenever we face a problem with a team member, client, or project situation: set up to fail, failed to set up.

When we initially started using it, it was a funny little phrase we'd say to make light of a crappy situation. Over time, it's become a management philosophy.

Last week's newsletter got a 62.7% open rate. The most-clicked link was my post on client concentration which includes a Google Sheets analysis tool. The most-clicked link not by me was Eigenquestions: The Art of Framing Problems.

Two Hundred Fifty Things an Architect Should Know by Michael Sorkin
A whimsical list by architectural and urban critic, designer, and educator Michael Sorkin who passed away in March from COVID-19. Love the eclectic nature of the list as well as how specific some things get (10. The flowering season for azaleas;  66. The history of Soweto; 118. The capacity of white pine trees to sequester carbon)

8:46 by Dave Chappelle (YouTube)
Not the usual Dave Chappelle Netflix special. The way he's able to express the pain and suffering of the Black community in the wake of George Floyd's murder is really powerful. Related: a Twitter thread about the time Chappelle addressed a racist white audience member.

How to Provide Great Feedback When You’re Not In Charge (FS Blog)
We're in the midst of performance reviews at Barrel and so the topic of feedback is top of mind. This was a good reminder that there are different types of feedback (appreciation, advice/coaching, and evaluation) and it's very important to be strategic in the delivery with attention paid to how the receiver might take feedback.

Oh Snap! 👻The Next Great Platform Company Everyone Forgot About by Packy McCormick (Not Boring newsletter article)
Loved this in-depth analysis of Snap and its efforts to build a mirrorworld, becoming a robust platform for augmented reality and adding a digital layer to physical locations. I've been long SNAP for a couple years now and hope to add to my position. I agree that it's a sleeper tech giant in the making.

Set Up to Fail, Failed to Set Up
Even with a modicum of awareness, it’s possible to see patterns emerge if you witness enough instances. As we continued to see evidence that people who had “failed” at Barrel were doing just fine or excelling elsewhere, we began to question whether the problem was less about who we were hiring and more about what we were (or weren’t) doing to help these people succeed.


P.S. You can check out my list of books read right here. My hope is to get a good mix of challenging reads with some that are entertaining, inspiring, and instructive.

If you like what you've read, please share with your friends. They can sign up for the list here. Also, I always welcome recommendations of any kind–books, podcasts, movies, etc.

About me: Peter Kang is co-founder of Barrel, a digital agency in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, son, and dog.
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