Dinesh Kandanchatha

Dinesh Kandanchatha joined Aaron Watson to talk about books, conditions, and jobs. Start to finish this podcast episode had no dull spots. My notes cover these areas:

  1. A reading habit that involves rereading.
  2. Conditions for success.
  3. Kandanchatha’s strategy for employees.
  4. Deep understanding.
  5. Career freedom.

As always, unattributed quotes are from the subject, Kandanchatha.

A (new) reading habit. “Then what I’ll do every year is select one book, which is to me a book that I need to keep reading and I will reread that book over and over again.” “It’s not about the quantity of the knowledge you acquire but the depth at which you are practicing it.”

What I liked so much was Kandanchatha’s idea about understanding something deeply by revisiting it. When Tren Griffin launced 25iqbooks.com I was kind of disappointed becuase there weren’t surprises. Patrick O’Shaughnessy gets this too, on recent podcast episodes he asks people like Christian Rudder about books that are under the radar.

What if I’m looking at this all wrong? What if I should only re-read the really good books.  Griffin tweeted this to me:

I’ll be thinking more about this. All I know for sure is that reading is good.

The person and the situation. “I’m a firm believer that there are mostly no bad people and it’s just a bad situation or a bad fit and I try to reflect that in the conversation with the individual.”

It’s hard to fire people but Kandanchatha explains his system.“It has to be based on good reasons…most people don’t sit down and write them out and I did. I sat down and wrote down the list. The other thing I said was ‘what happens if I don’t do this?’ and write down that list.”

What I liked about this was his acknowledgement of the conditions. It’s the person and the situation, not only one or the other.

When we miss this duality we often fall for the fundamental attribution error. Sports are an easy place to see this. Michael Mauboussin says that wide receivers are dependent on the situation, kickers less so.

Strategy. Kandanchatha has a two part system for onboarding employees.

  1. Do they execute?
  2. Are they competent?

Execution is measured as a percentage. “Everyone does a direct report and it’s a five minute catch up. The priorities are listed for the week and what’s done or not done is captured….At the end of the week you tally them up.”

“It’s really important to me that you have a 90% plus execution rate.” At first I thought his number was kind of low. I mean, who doesn’t get most of their work done a regular basis? Of course I said this without measuring it.

“I have been struck by how important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal… this may seem basic, but it is amazing how often it is not done and how hard it is to get right.” Bill Gates

Competency is whether or not you can get things done. Competency in what Jocko Willink calls “extreme ownership.” Kandanchatha says,  “I don’t care how you get it done, just that you achieved the outcome in a way that’s consistent with the principles of the culture of the organization.”

If you need help, you ask for it. If you need to break things down and take smaller steps you do that. What matters is moving forward.

Deep understanding.  “The best way to invest is to actually run a business in the area that you’re investing in. I invest in technology companies because I understand what it takes to make a technology company successful. I invest in what I know…You want to invest in things that you know inside and out and are able to maximize your very slim odds.”

Speaking of rereading books, one of my favorites is The Five Elements of Effective Thinking, where deep understanding is like rock (the element, get it?) where knowledge is built on.

One tool for deep understanding is to tell good jokes.

Jason Zweig‘s book The Devil’s Financial Dictionary is funny because Zweig understands finance deeply. [The Lonely Island] (https://thewaiterspad.com/2016/06/15/lonely-island/) trio understand deeply. So do advertisers.

Deep understanding can be used for more than humor. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are notable because they ask for reports to learn from. Milton Hershey had a deep understanding of candy, cutting his teeth (figuratively) on caramel before chocolate. Tony Hawk said:

“The best advice I have is, you want to learn every aspect of what you’re getting into. I learned it by accident. I didn’t ever want to learn what point of purchase was, or net, but I embraced it because I wanted to be prepared for what was to come.”

The taxi driver and bank manager.  “Jobs are a form of short term security but you give up freedom. When you are an entrepreneur you have all the freedom in the world but you have no security.”

This is something Nassim Taleb writes about in Antifragile as he describes brothers, one of whom drives a cab (the entrepreneur) and the other who works in a bank (the jobber, pun intentional). Taleb writes about these two types of professions:


Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 7.18.42 PM.png

Kandanchatha appears to support this model. Note that he says “short term security.” The kind of security John has – or soon will have had – at the bank.

Thanks for reading, I’m @mikedariano on Twitter.

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