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.