We built a new tool for thinking things through

The Superorganizers & Divinations weekly digest

Dan Shipper & Nathan Baschez

Welcome to the second edition of the Superorganizers & Divinations weekly digest!

Bundle subscribers got access to 5 new articles and 1 new app this week totalling ~10,000 words and ~650 lines of code ;)

Also, we’re trying something new! In this edition, we’re not just featuring our own work. We’ve also partnered with three talented writers who each have their own paid newsletters — Polina Marinova, Lenny Rachitsky, and Jacob Donnelly — to bring you content from behind their paywalls! We think you’ll love it.

Want to read these? Subscribe below.

(If for any reason, COVID or otherwise, you want a bundle subscription but can’t afford one — get in touch and we’ll work something out.)


Essays

⚡️Use a Zwicky Box To Solve Hard Problems in Unexpected Ways

You might not have heard of Fritz Zwicky, but if you’ve heard of supernovas and dark matter then you’re familiar with his contributions to modern science. What made Zwicky so successful? According to him, it was a problem-solving technique he invented that enabled him to think of solutions no one else considered.

Here’s how it works: first, divide the problem into all the component parts. Then for each component you list as many options as you can think of. Once you’ve done that, generate random combinations and consider how they might work together. This sounds simple, and it is. But sometimes the simplest techniques are the most powerful. (Superorganizers)

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🔮 Inside “Clubhouse” — the audio app that has consumed Nathan’s life.

About a month ago Nathan got invited to beta test a new audio app. It didn’t seem like much at first, but since then it’s grown to capture the imagination of many people in the tech industry. It’s compelling because it’s halfway between a podcast and a party. You can listen to interesting people talk, but also, you have the option to join them. The result is an experience that feels genuinely new, fun, and useful. There’s a good chance this could be the first hit social app in a long time. (Divinations)

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Tools

⚡️Introducing Superbox — a new tool from Superorganizers for solving creative problems

You know the “Zwicky Box” essay from above? We built a web app that makes the process much easier to use! (It’s the thing in the screenshot at the top of this email.) You can start from scratch by defining your own categories and items, or use one of our 6 built-in templates. It also keeps track of how much of the possibility space you’ve explored. (Superorganizers)

Use Now

Around Our Network

🤝 How to negotiate well? Control your emotions, and pay attention to the subtleties.

Chris Voss isn’t just one of the top hostage negotiators of all time. He actually changed the way the FBI understands the psychology of negotiation.  “The adversary is not the person across the table; the adversary is the situation,” he says. These principles aren’t just applicable in high-stakes hostage situations, or in major boardroom decisions — we all face negotiations every single day, whether we realize it or not. The key is to remain calm, genuinely care about the other side, and ask questions designed to not put people on the defensive. 

This post is by Polina Marinova, originally published in her newsletter The Profile.

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⏱ Five strategies for making the most of your time

  1. Block off deep work time, and defend it with all your might.

  2. Write down your todos so your brain stops worrying about them. And make sure every todo is crafted to be easy to start. (Nothing too vague or daunting!)

  3. Make it easy to get in the zone. Use noise-cancelling headphones, nootropics, distraction-blocking software, or any other tool that works for you. 

  4. Prioritize and communicate. The answer shouldn’t be “yes” or “no” when your boss hands you a new task. Instead, you should decide where the task fits on your priority list, and communicate your priorities to anyone who needs to know.

  5. Spend time preparing. An hour spent reviewing your calendar, anticipating obstacles, and consolidating notes will save you many hours of wasted effort.

This post is by Lenny Rachitsky, originally published in his newsletter, Lenny’s Newsletter.

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👯‍♀️ How media businesses can grow through cross-promotion

First, identify businesses that have similar but not identical audiences as you. It often makes less sense to partner with a truly direct competitor than it does a loosely adjacent one. If you’re a smaller publication, offer to take on the lion’s share of the production effort. Cross promotion via a newsletter or podcast works well, but it’s even better to co-create content. Best, if you can pull it off, is to offer a bundled subscription offering.

This (charmingly meta!) post is by Jacob Donnelly, originally published in his newsletter, A Media Operator.

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Best of the Bundle

⚡️ The Quest to Be Good at Everything

Henrik Werdelin has a system for balancing all the responsibilities in his life. And judging by the results, it’s working. He co-founded BarkBox, a business with 650k+ subscribers, and incubated Roman and Managed by Q.

So, what is the system? It’s called 8+1. He identified 8 areas of his life he wants to succeed in, and reviews them on a regular basis. They are: transact (short-term resources), invest (long-term bets), assist (help others), learn, health, family, relationships, and ego/self-kindness. So, those are the 8, but what’s the +1? It’s the time he spends to review these areas each week. (Superorganizers)

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🔮 The “Value Chain” is the DNA of Business

Every business has a set of value-creating activities it performs. These activities are the fundamental unit of strategy. When you zoom out, even beyond the boundary of a single company, you can see that all the activities every company performs in an industry fit together like a chain. Value flows through at each step from “raw material” to “finished product.”

Understanding this concept is the key to understanding how your industry works. It helps to create a map of all the steps. So that’s exactly what Nathan did when he first joined Gimlet Media. Creating a map of the value chain helps you spot critical choke points, potential new competitors, and opportunities for expansion. (Divinations)

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Thanks! And see you next Sunday :)