Sari Azout

Transcript of a four hour speech given by Tencent executive Allen Zhang at WeChat

My favorite content genre is memos and speeches meant for an internal audience that shed light on how people really think inside institutions.

This speech delivered by Allen Zhang – a top executive at WeChat – reveals a deeply philosophical digital anthropologist and the kind of product thinker that is a rarity in today’s attention driven online landscape.

The 11 laws of show running

So much wisdom in this essay by television writer and producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach – on ego, managing people, communication, and creativity. It applies to anyone building anything.

“Your job is to communicate a shared vision with enough specificity that everyone understands it, and to then preach it, to the point of exhaustion until everyone - from the directors to the guy who embroiders the back of the chairs - feels it in their soul like a gospel.”

The cost of craft

Written by a former designer at Instagram, this is a great essay that explains why it’s hard to create quality at scale.

(Pair with this convincing plea to build less software)

Podcast: Joshua Kushner on Invest like the Best

A fantastic conversation between Joshua Kushner and Patrick O’Shaughnessy.

When Patrick asks Joshua how he reconciles participating in a $2b round for Stripe with a 2m check into a seed company, Joshua responds:

“They are equally concentrated – not in magnitude of capital but in emotional commitment to concentration. We don’t do a lot but when we do it we are deeply invested to be the best partner. We don’t believe in optionality. Especially when founders have a portfolio of one. So when we invest we are there and fully in.”

(Pair with this this Mario Gabriele interview of Rebecca Kaden from USV - where she explains why she’s obsessed with the idea of conviction)

Paradigm Shifts

The venn diagram between pioneers of paradigm shifts and intensely spiritual people has a lot of overlap, even though the spiritual aspects of their inspiration have been oppressed. This essay reveals that every great scientist is also a mystic.

“One does not get a jet engine by improving the propeller. One does not breed horses until they give birth to a car. Telephones did not come from research on mail. Where on earth did the inspiration for the transistor and these other "leaps" of innovation come from to begin with? Paradigm shifts come from the spirit world.”

(Pair with Age of Invention: Why wasn't the Steam Engine Invented Earlier?)

What does your stupid art even do for the world

An incredible piece of writing by the always hilarious and always relatable Alex Dobrenko, on overcoming the need to be exceptional.

“Maybe “what have you done for the world” isn’t even the right question. It assumes an acting upon, separate from-ness. What if the good stuff happens less when you act upon the world and more when you become one with it? Part of it.”

No good alone

This essay from Rayne Fisher-Quann – on the dubious side of self-help – hit so hard.

“The process of becoming yourself is not a corporate desk job, and it is not homework, and it is not an unticked box languishing on a to-do list. You do not have to treat your flaws like action items that must be systematically targeted and eliminated in order to receive a return on investment. You have no supervisor; you should not be punished when you fail. Your job is not to lock the doors and chisel at yourself like a marble statue in the darkness until you feel quantifiably worthy of the world outside. Your job, really, is to find people who love you for reasons you hardly understand, and to love them back, and to try as hard as you can to make it all easier for each other.”

*Just trust me

And finally - if you have to pick just one thing to read today – make it this story. It will make you feel good about the world.