Language is a marker. It’s a symbol of our basic Bayesianism – the more we use some words the more important the ideas behind them are. Here’s our collection of interestingish words, so far. Here are some 2021 additions.
“Uncached questions.” When an interviewer asks an interviewee a question which may require longer thought for a more thorough answer. Per Wikipedia, a computer cache is a component that stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster.
“Dog in the race.” As in, I don’t have a dog in this race. Growing up it was dog in this fight. I suspect it will evolve further to dog in this pageant.
“Double click on that idea.” Even though the days of roller ball mice are in the past, this comment still pops up like an advertisement for Windows in 1995.
“FOBO“, fear of a better option. As in, I have FOBO and don’t want to decide now.
“Makes perfect sense”. This one is a caution flag. Some say it makes perfect sense that the hybrid immunity (Covid plus vaccines) is greater than vaccines or having had covid. I don’t remember this coming up ex-ante. Instances of MPS need to be more predictive than descriptive.
“Breakthrough”, something years in the making which gains distribution. As in, the Covid mRNA vaccine was a breakthrough.
Sometimes we just need the right word to explain an idea which leads to action. Having a name for a thing changes the way we think about it. These are some of my favorites from the Wharton Moneyball podcast.
Let’s be precise. For instance, what does herd immunity mean? Often we are not precise.
What’s the effect size? There are a lot of things we could do, but which matter most?
Short the narrative.In sports there’s a narrative that drives the stories. Often the narrative is overpriced.
The most parsimonious explanation. I can never remember if it’s Hanlon’s or Occam’s razor. This and ‘short the narrative’ pair well together, like the blades of a scissors.
Mean reversion. Outcomes are combinations of skill and luck. Skill mostly persists, luck mostly does not, hence the Madden Curse. But(!!) skill isn’t static. If one player has a great year, the next year they might have a better year because while their luck component contracts, their skill share expands.
Coin flip. Statisticians (and artists) fall in love with their models. The coin flip is a Zeckhauser-esque simplification. How often will a team win three-straight games? One-eighth of the time.
One way to notice change is to notice the words people use to talk about changes. The online shopping of the 90s became just shopping. The online banking of the 00s became just banking. The online dating of the 10s became just dating. The online communities of the 20s, well you see where it’s going.
“The Internet has just killed hobbies. They’re dead. They’re gone. The concept doesn’t exist. The concept of ‘having a hobby’ died at the exact same time as the concept of ‘going online’. This was a phrase you heard constantly from 1994 to 2005. You get home and you ‘go online’. The big company was AOL, America ‘online’. Around the mid-2000s people stopped ‘going online’. Why? Because we were online all the time. The idea of not being online is now the weird thing.” – Marc Andreessen, CSPI podcast, August 2021
I remember this! You got home from school and you signed into instant messenger and entered the Yahoo euchre room. Good times good times.
Having a modifier doesn’t mean something will become the new thing, but it does mean it’s different and may be worth our attention. A few others: autonomous driving, crypto currency, digital wallet, online learning, distance education, internet friend, gig economy.
The itty-bitty-shitty-committee is that voice in your head. It’s the chatter.
“The chatter is the zooming in really narrowly on a problem and getting stuck and spinning over and over in ways that are dysfunctional and destructive. We want to get rid of the chatter that gets in the way of your job, your relationships. and your physical health.” – @Ethan_Kross on Armchair Expert
I’ve been in that loop, in that cartoon whirlpool. I’m the bumbling sea captain. I see it. I try to avoid it. I can’t get out of my own way. Which is kind of wild, being the captain of this ship of one. Kross suggests reframing during rough seas.
It’s not a free bag, it’s a bag that’s been paid for. It’s not a free coffee, it’s a free coffee that’s been paid for. I used to advise college students that anytime they saw the word FREE on campus they could interpret that as “Your tuition pre-paid this for you.”
Time is also a good way to reframe a situation. Do I remember a situation like this from three years ago? No. Then I probably won’t remember this one three years from now. This kind of framing was especially good when my daughters were young. My wife used this too only her mantra was: this too shall pass.
Kross’s specific suggestions echoes Jenna Fischer‘s career advice. Fischer said she looks at herself as the CEO and the product. The boss Fischer said that headshots had to be done by a professional. The talent Fischer had to tell her photographer friend.
“Distance self-talking involves coaching yourself through a problem using your own name like you’re talking to someone else. We are much better at advising other people than ourselves…when we use a name to talk to ourself it changes the perspective, it’s a psychological jujitsu move.” – Kross
That’s incredible reframing. And it works!
If we remember. Usually when someone cuts us off on the road they’re an idiot. When we do it it’s because we’re late. Maybe that’s part of it. We see things differently when the information changes and a simple switch in internal dialogue can create big switches outside in our actions.
Dax Shepard and Kross talk about the IBSC around 31:20. The distant self-talk reframing is known as Solomon’s paradox.
The doctor solves problems by triage, prioritizing ailments.
The electrician solves problems sequentially, following the flopping electrons.
The athlete solves problems by focus, working on one-part of their craft.
The lawyer solves problems by history, finding the precedent.
The marketer solves problems by magic, directing the audience’s attention.
The banker solves problems contractually, creating a structure for future events.
The child solves problems novelly, doing without knowing.
The researcher solves problems by legibility, collecting and categorizing.
The engineer plays 3-D Sudoku, considering constraints of the world.
The artist solves problems via subtracting, removing what doesn’t move ya.
The sales agent solves problems with empathy, finding what a buyer wants.
The venture capitalist solves problems backward, asking ‘what leads to this?’
Most of these are speculative. Though individual answers may be wrong the broader point is not. There are a variety of ways to solve problems and sometimes a new point-of-view is worth more than forty IQ.
One tenant of jobs to be done is that people tend to be not great at articulating the scope of a purchase. For instance, in early June 2021 the lumbar support on my car seat broke. There are no plans to fix it, and this deficit will be some kind of non-zero explanation for when it’s time to get a new car. Will I reason with this later? Unlikely.
JTBD exists in these moments. One moment is when users hack a product. For instance 60 jail broken iPhone features became part of the iPhone. Or even Instagram, lauded for the design choices, drew from teenage boys taking screenshots of solid colors, adding text, and posting as the first polls.
🖼 When Systrom and Krieger looked at their data teen boys had been using polls and Indonesians were using it as a storefront.
Another according to JTBD father Bob Moesta is zombie revenue. Gym subscribers may make their model work but other businesses can find future fruitful funds in dead accounts. Basecamp, Moesta said, noticed that archived projects were zombie revenues. Customers didn’t need to manage something but they did need to access it and Basecamp created something for them.
“If you really study it”. (expression) a signal someone hasn’t changed their mind but is willing to capitalize on the current trend.
Assumption (noun): To make a theory into a law. This is not an issue because of Moore’s Law.
Middleman (noun). (1) the person who facilitates a transaction (2) the person screwing you in a transaction (3) the previous person who screwed you in a transaction, not this new innovator, no-sir not this new person, I will NOT ever complain about this new person.
Sludge Audit (verb). Evaluating the red-tapes, hoops, and frictions in a process. I’m going to batch these customer feedbacks and see if there’s a theme, then I’ll conduct a sludge audit to see how our processes can be improved.
Performance architecture (noun). The design of “structures to make better decisions and perform at optimal levels.” The last thing I do each day is write in my decision journal because it’s part of my performance architecture.
Crash (verb). A drastic change in the market with negative effects due to one’s time horizons. The market crash means Bob won’t be able to retire in two years. See also: Correction.
Correction (verb). A drastic change in the market with neutral effects due to one’s time horizons. The market correction means Alice will be buying more Bitcoin and hodling. See also: Crash.
Could: a verb used for clicks as in, this <insert news> could have these economics effects on your portfolio.
More: a pronoun used to show relative position, though the original may not be stated, as in, Laura got more for her money at Herr’s.
Deal: a noun used to show relative rather than absolute spending. As in, I got a great deal on my new SUV.
Largest increase or fastest growing: an adverb/verb combination demonstrating increase in a small group. As in, pickleball is America’s fastest growing sport. Antonym: Large N, small p.
The theme here is relativity. People are relative thinkers; see corporate greed or cheating college. Words matter because they frame our approach. Listen closely. Consider the focus. Do the words hint at who was at fault? If this were a movie why is this the script? Need to change how people understand something, or apply some extreme ownership?
Part of the reasons pickleball IS so fast growing is my participation. Thanks too to Tim for a conversation long ago that planted this seed.