Dear <<First Name>>,

The Barrel partners had our quarterly planning meeting this past Thursday. It was the first time we ran the all-day session virtually on Zoom. Overall, the day exceeded my expectations and was incredibly productive. A few things really helped:
  • No distractions: At the start of the day, we each took turns "verifying" via screen share that we had no other applications opened on our desktops except Zoom and Evernote to ensure there were no email/Slack/iMessage interruptions and that the planning session would have our undivided attention.
  • Virtual whiteboarding: We used Mural to post our ideas as we covered various themes and topics; rather than have everyone collaboratively post at the same time, I played facilitator and shared the screen while manning the board. By the end of the meeting, we could visually review, revisit, and rearrange the colored cards with ease.
  • Pre-meeting prep: One assignment coming into the meeting was for the partners to finish reading Les Schwab Pride in Performance: Keep It Going by tire service center entrepreneur Les Schwab. This book had so many amazing lessons, themes, and takeaways that it served as a great reference in many of our conversations about where to take the company and what to focus on in the next 90 days.
Investing an entire day to chat optimistically about our priorities and the actions we can take was energizing. As hard as the past month has been, I'm looking forward to how our company bounces back in the coming months. 

Last week's newsletter got a 49.3% open rate and the most-clicked link was my habits / goals report card from Q1 2020. People also clicked on the link to Scuttleblurb, the investment research website. I've enjoyed reading a few more posts from there including good ones on TransDigm and HEICO (I own some shares).

5 Signs of Bad Leadership (And How to Correct Them) (blog post)
  1. Leaders Who Are Morally Flexible
  2. Leaders Who Lack Self-Awareness, Fear Making a Mistakes, and Show a Propensity for Avoidance
  3. Leaders Who Misunderstand Their Authority Power and Are Narcissistic
  4. Leaders Who Promote the Wrong People
  5. Leaders Who Are Unaware of the Action Imperative
Stoicism and Tigers who come to Tea (blog post)
A thoughtful piece on why we shouldn't always shield our children from bad outcomes and things going wrong. I had never heard of The Tiger who came to Tea but will definitely have to order a copy. Article is worth a full read but I've excerpted the part where it talks about the story itself:
The most Stoic story in the history of children’s literature was written and illustrated by the German-born British writer Judith Kerr and first published in 1968. The Tiger who came to Tea tells the story of a little girl called Sophie who is having tea with her mother when there is a ring at the door. It is – as it can sometimes be in life – a tiger. A natural response would be to panic. It might be normal to scream. It would be extremely understandable if one lost all will to live. But Sophie’s mother appears to have read Seneca and perhaps Marcus Aurelius too and takes the new visitor in her stride. It’s not an ideal outcome of course, but it’s not grounds for complete consternation either. Stuff happens – and the mother might have expected something like this. So she sets about trying to appease the tiger’s hunger. She gives him all the food they have, he ransacks the cupboards, he swallows everything around, he bashes the kitchen about, he even empties the taps of their lost drops of water. And then, though it’s been a bit bad, he goes away. When Sophie’s father comes home from work, he’s rather dismayed that there’s no food left, but the parents decide this might be a great occasion to go out for a meal, and so they head off and have something delicious in a nearby cafe. The next day, Sophie and her mother restock the house. They find a big tin of tiger food – and buy it ‘just in case.’ But in fact, the tiger returns. It may have been terrifying, but it was a one off visit. Life goes on. Tigers come for tea – and then they go away again.

8D Audio: Billie Eilish - Ilomilo (YouTube)
My buddy Andy shared a link to an "8D audio" track. It's basically an effect where they do a lot of left to right panning and reverb so that it feels like you're in some kind of warehouse listening to a performance happening around you. You can find a lot of songs getting this treatment if you look up "8D" on YouTube or Spotify. Be sure to put on your headphones and you'll get the full effect. Pretty cool.

Themes from Our Partner Retreat (January 2018)
I thought this throwback blog post from early 2018 (more than 2 years ago now!) would be an appropriate share given the partner session from the past week described above. Revisiting the themes in here, I can see that there are certain things we were directionally right about (fundamental concepts, long-term perspective, embracing reality) but still had a ways to go in comprehending.

Re-reading the part about understanding fundamental concepts and ideas in this post, it's obvious that we lacked systems thinking and hadn't yet connected the dot of how new business impacted project management at Barrel. Always interesting to revisit earlier thinking to see how far we've come. I can only imagine how I'll look back on today with mild embarrassment years from now, but that's a good thing!


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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