Dear <<First Name>>,

I didn't include this under the Consumed section, but if you have 10 or so minutes, check out this piece by tech writer Kevin Kelly (he of 1,000 True Fans fame) titled 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice that he wrote to celebrate his 68th birthday. I promise you, it'll be time well spent.

I thought I would pick a few of my favorites to share here, but when I went back to revisit my highlights, I realized I marked every other one. You might as well read the entire thing on his site.

Last week's newsletter got a 63.7% open rate and the most-clicked link was my blog post on most common opportunities for growing ecommerce businesses. Note: my open rate is a bit juiced because I did a periodic cleaning of the list. Every few months, I'll remove folks who haven't opened the past 10 emails and do them the favor of unsubscribing.

Strategy and tactics for increasing conversion by Lenny Rachitsky (blog post)
Rachitsky formerly worked at Airbnb on the product and growth side. He shares some great examples of experiments and tweaks that helped Airbnb tighten their user flows and increase conversions. You'll recognize a lot of the features he mentions and appreciate how these product choices have made for a better experience while also helping the platform grow. Thought this "addition by subtraction" move was pretty interesting:

Neighborhoods: In late 2012, Airbnb launched a product called “Neighborhoods” which offered users incredibly rich and unique content about individual neighborhoods around the world. Visitors loved it. Almost too much. It turned out the content was so interesting that it distracted visitors from actually booking. When the team removed it from the home page, bookings went up.

How Issa Rae Became the Modern Mogul (Trapital blog post)
Love this breakdown of the empire that Issa Rae (creator/star of the show Insecure on HBO) has been building since her YouTube series back in 2007. The synergies that Rae has found between her show, her production company, her community, her record label, and even her coffee shop is really impressive and draws parallels with Disney's synergy map but at a smaller scale with a modern, Internet-enabled twist.

Here’s What We Learned About SEO by Brian Dean (blog post)
I've followed Brian Dean for several years now and have learned a great deal about SEO from his content and courses. This recently-updated overview of findings based on 11.8 million Google searches have some interesting takeaways. The mainstay SEO factors like domain authority, backlinks, and high-quality content/time on site were reiterated. Here are a few that caught my eye, especially since these relate to some of the technical SEO work that we do for our clients at Barrel:
  • The average Google first page result loads in 1.65 seconds. However, we found no correlation between site speed and Google rankings.
  • ...keyword-matched H1s have essentially no relationship with higher Google rankings.
  • Page size doesn’t appear to have an impact on Google rankings.
  • Using Schema markup may have its place. But it doesn’t directly correlate with higher Google rankings.
"The Practice of Value Investing", by Li Lu (blog post)
Loved this transcript of a speech given by legendary investor Li Lu (Himalaya Capital Management). Lots of great fundamental concepts of markets and investing. Here's one about investing vs. speculating:

From the beginning, the stock market had two types of people: investors and speculators. One type forecasted companies’ future performance; the other forecasted market participants’ short-term behaviour. What was the difference between these people? What is the biggest difference between investing and speculating?

The difference in their [approach] wasn’t large but it was in their results. [If you invest in a company with a proven track record, then your investment can grow along with its profits]. But if you focus on guessing people’s short-term behaviour, there can only be one outcome: everyone’s wins and losses will inevitably cancel each other out. This is a zero-sum game because if you aggregate the gains and losses of all speculators in the market, they will sum to zero. This is the biggest difference between investing and speculating: in the end, the net result of all speculation is zero.

The Discipline of Joy & More Thoughts on Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam
Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam is a worthwhile read that examines our relationship with time. My blog post from August 2018 is more relevant than ever because the concept of time, for many of us, has fundamentally shifted and become something very different than what we were used to.

Here's an excerpt that made me reflect on the mindset necessary to go through a strange and uncertain time:

"While your time is, mostly, a choice, parts of life aren’t going to be blissful. Sometimes this is because of past choices, or choices made about the future. Sometimes it’s pure circumstance. Dark moments are inevitable. On some days, time’s eternal ticking can be a blessing. Nothing lasts forever. But if it is possible to flip the switch from enduring to enjoying, or enjoying while enduring, this can change the experience of time. To do so one must become, for lack of a better phrase, good at suffering."


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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