I’m posting this very late owing to a busy weekend.

A pretty good week of progress on Xigxag: I mentioned a few weeks ago that we had started onboarding HarperCollins titles, and this week we added the first Faber titles. It’s great to have the new Ishiguro available (and a new Sally Rooney due later in the year) and on a personal level I was really pleased to be able to listen to the Beastie Boys book in the app. I already own the print book but the narration is so strong that the audiobook is an experience in its own right.

#

Xigxag’s CEO Kelli invited me along to an online Harvard Business School Alumni event, interviewing HBS Professor Tom Eisenmann about his new book, Why Startups Fail. It was a really interesting evening, but the thing that really stuck in my mind was a phrase Eisenmann used to describe a situation startups experience which I hadn’t heard before: “a cascade of miracles”, or when the success of the business depends on all of a series of assumptions being true. I’ve seen very similar dynamics in conversations about publishing and marketing books. As a species we’re pretty good at convincing ourselves of our exceptionalism, and I guess it’s particularly hard in an entrepreneurial setting where there’s a natural focus on the upside opportunity. Plus many people aren’t great at evaluating probability. I thought Eisenmann’s phrasing of the issue was a good way of addressing over-optimism: there’s a healthy level of implied scepticism without outright calling bullshit.

#

The other highlight of the week was an early start on Wednesday and driving into London to meet a client and have a walk around Richmond Park: it’s amazing how much more productive it felt compared to the equivalent amount of time on Zoom. This was the second consecutive week of outside meetings and it feels like a streak worth keeping to.

#

On the research front I submitted the first draft of the first written component of my DBA, a 1,500-word summary of the research topic. Now waiting for feedback from the academic supervisory team, and once they’ve reviewed it I will say more about it here.

#

Currently reading and listening: A Memory Called Empire, Beastie Boys Book, The Scout Mindset, Research Methods for Business and Social Science Students, The Foundations of Social Research.