Nerd Corner #38: Antifragility, keyboards and more! 😷

Hi All,

Some news this week! I just published a new article: "Antifragility and Skin in the game: Timeless lessons from Nassim Taleb". In it, I distill and reflect upon two ideas that changed the way I see the world. I hope you enjoy it! I'd appreciate any feedback or comments you might have. Please reply to this email or shoot me a Twitter DM!

What I am reading 📚

I just finished reading “The Score Takes Care of Itself”. It is about leadership lessons that Bill Walsh—one of the greatest coaches in NFL history—learned throughout his career. Bill uses examples from his long and successful career to explain and distill principles and lessons that are applicable to most professional organizations in and outside of sports (in fact, once retired, Bill taught leadership at Stanford’s Business School).

Two lessons stood out to me:

  1. Bill’s ruthless application of his "Standard Of Performance” during his ten-year tenure as head coach and general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. The Standard Of Performance can be thought of as a list of principles and rules that each and every member of the organization must follow. Bill’s philosophy was that if followed, this set of rules would create the right environment for the organization to thrive and the team to become the best in the league. Central to this philosophy was the idea that as long as the team was following the Standard and had a strong work ethic, “the score would take care of itself”. It did, under Bill Walsh, the 49ers won three Super Bowls.

  2. “Quick results come Slowly”. When Bill arrived at the 49ers he arrived at the worst team and organization in the league. It took three seasons for his Standard of Performance and work ethic to show any results (The 49ers were the worst team during the first two seasons), but when it did the results were Super Bowl level.
    This reminds me of another tenet that I always repeat to myself when I feel that I’m getting nowhere despite working hard, smart and consistently:

    Impatience with actions. Patience with results - Naval

    We can only control the quantity and quality of our work. The rest comes by its own accord.

I’m not a big follower of the NFL but I have to say that while reading the book I learned a lot about it and started to appreciate it more and more. Here are some awesome videos of the NFL during the 70s and 80s that blew my mind:

  • “The Drive”. The 49ers went the length of the field with under three minutes remaining on the clock to score the winning touchdown of Super Bowl XXIII. Even if you don’t understand a lot about football you can appreciate the perfection and focus of the 49ers during those last few minutes. Also, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that both Jerry Rice and Joe Montana, two of the best players in NFL history, started their careers under Bill Walsh.

  • Although not a 49er, Lawerence Taylor is considered the best defensive player in the history of the NFL. For a long time, he was the only defensive player to be named MVP of the year. Many players described him as a train or a bull charging in full force when they were sacked by him. Perhaps his most famous tackle is "The Hit That No One Who Saw It Can Ever Forget”, it ended Joe Theismann's career (warning: it’s a crude video).

Nerd Corner 🤓


Since I spend a lot of time typing on my computer keyboard, I spent a lot of time thinking how to type on it better and faster and in a position that prevents me to develop long-term issues like carpal tunnel. In a previous edition of Nerd Corner, I talked about the space-cadet keyboard and shortcuts, but I soon realized that a lot of users—even ones that spend lots of hours in front of a screen like myself—don’t even know the basics of typing: Which are the home keys? How do you position your fingers on the keyboard? So here are a few tips:

  1. You must learn the correct finger placing. Most keyboards have small bumps on the F and J keys, that’s where both of your indices should rest at all times (left index on the F key, right index on the J). By starting in the right position you set yourself to reach other keys faster and with less muscle strain. If you are a more visual learner, this video covers all the basics of typing.

  2. Learning the proper positioning is only the beginning your goal should be to be able to type on the keyboard without looking at it. This is easier to achieve than you think but it requires a bit of practice so your brain can develop some “muscle memory”. I recommend you use typing apps like keybr.com a start. Start slow and try to get to 70-80 words per minute with the least amount of errors possible. This should be possible with 3-4 hours of typings over the course of a few weeks.

  3. Once you feel comfortable “touch-typing”—typing without constantly watching your keyboard—the final step to keyboard mastery is to learn shortcuts. Shortcuts are just key combinations that help you perform actions faster: rather than moving your hand all the way to the trackpad/mouse to click on some menu, you should type a few keys and you’re done. You should spend time learning the basics shortcuts of your most-used apps. In particular, if the app has a “Find” or “search” function you should memorize that. It will save you lots of time! (If you’re on a Mac just try CMD + SPACE for easy access to the SpotLight 🔍).

Cool Finds 🤯

  • Speaking of leadership, this Twitter thread in which Slack’s CEO describes all that he and the company went through the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic is very insightful. I believe that all good leaders must be transparent and care deeply about their team and organization. This is certainly an example.

  • This video shows how micro-droplets that we emit can stay suspended in the air for long periods of time. While there might still be some debate regarding how COVID-19 spreads through the air and how effective masks are as a prevention mechanism, I’ll use masks whenever I go to close and crowded places.

  • Yosemite is one of California's (and the USA's) most famous National Parks. Like most things in the country it also has been closed. This might be bad news for tourists but wildlife is doing great, reclaiming the park for themselves. This video of an empty Yosemite valley makes me want to be there and appreciate the peace and silence.

Before you go 😎

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Until next week,

Alberto

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