Sunday Snapshots (14th July, 2019)

Expectations, Uber fatalities, a personal milestone, and a modern curriculum

Hey everyone,

Summer finally decided to come to Chicago this week and it was a great week for events after work. It also meant a lot of weekend reading on the beach. Today, I will cover:

  • Societal expectations around marriage and kids

  • A counter argument to a paper I’ve discussed before

  • A generous gesture by David Perell

  • What a modern curriculum would look like

  • And more!

Book of the week

No One Tells You This by Glynnis MacNicol

I’ve really enjoyed the last few memoirs I’ve read. No One Tells You This by Glynnis MacNicol was no exception. The core positioning for the book is simple – what happens when you’re a 40-year old woman without a husband and kids? It’s a perspective that I’m extremely unfamiliar with. The book was so interesting that I practically finished it in one sitting. First, it seems that your lack of family and kids is what society defines you by. Second, this means that it’s often what you define yourself by. I found a couple of highlights particularly interesting:

On kids being a default choice:

“This is why people have babies,” I said, “because it’s exhausting not to know what you’re supposed to do next. A baby is basically a nonnegotiable map for the next two decades.”

On the realization that even good decisions can lead to bad endings:

It sometimes felt as though all the things a single, childless woman on the eve of her forties is supposed to be most fearful of never having attained—the right guy, the happy marriage, the babies, the not-dying-alone—had been lined up for my inspection and then, one by one, unveiled to reveal the worst-case scenario. It wasn’t that I was missing out on happy endings; there were no happy endings!

The book is a great read for people (especially guys) who want to get a perspective on societal expectations of women. Reading it is a great exercise in empathy.

Long read of the week

The Cost of Convenience: Ridesharing and Traffic Fatalities

I talked about how Uber helped reduce drunk driving accidents in my very first newsletter. The key argument was that people drink and drive less, so fewer accidents occur. However, there is a key part of the argument missing from that – there are more miles driven with Ubers on road. It turns out that leads to more accidents:

The pre-event trend for accidents is relatively stable at just over 2 accidents per 100,000 people. That rate trends upward, though, soon after the introduction of ridesharing, to roughly 3.5 per 100,000. Fatalities, a subset of accidents, increase about 3 percent, and that rate persists throughout the week, on weeknights, the weekend, and weekend nights.

I love it when I find information that directly clashes with my existing world views. This is one such example.

Gesture of the week

This is an incredible gesture from David Perell. He gave me a shoutout on his newsletter, Monday Musings.

He gives me more credit than I deserve! I’ve learned more from working with David than 3 years of college. I’ve never met anyone who has expanded my view of what’s possible as much as David. If you want to become 10x smarter, subscribe to his newsletter and podcast.

Personal update of the week

This newsletter hit 100 subscribers this week! It’s a small win but I want to share with everyone who has been with me since Day 1. I’m excited about the challenge for writing for a much larger audience that includes people outside my friends and mentors. It’s just the start – next update when we get to 1000 subscribers!

Business move of the week

Amazon Makes a Bet on Beauty With Lady Gaga Deal (WSJ)

I wrote about Shopify’s move to add third-party fulfillment networks to its platform a few weeks ago:

But they have a competitor that has outsourced this ability to elicit desire to others – Shopify. Most Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands started on Shopify, and the successful ones have done an excellent job of building the muscle of attracting customer’s attention.

It seems Amazon is plugging this hole as well. Lady Gaga’s new cosmetic’s brand Haus Laboratories will exclusively launch with the e-commerce giant. It’s a great partnership. Amazon gets major celebrity to elicit the demand for a product, and they control the pipelines. For Lady Gaga, she gets the operational expertise of Amazon:

The e-commerce giant plans to launch Lady Gaga’s kits simultaneously in nine countries on three continents, including the US, France and Germany, where customers can take advantage of Amazon’s one-day and two-day shipping. Hundreds of millions of additional customers from Singapore to Brazil will be able to buy the brand through its global store.

I think Gaga is getting the shorter end of the stick. If Amazon treats Haus as just another retailer on their platform, Gaga is not going to know who her customers are in order to inform future growth and innovation.

This is an evolving space, and I’d be interested to hear if any of you have strong views on this. Please reach out by replying to this email.

Random corner of the week

A Modern Vocational Curriculum

A lot of people riff on how “education is broken.” Few propose concrete visions of what they want it to look like. Rusty Guinn at Epsilon Theory does just that. My highlights were the Professional Writing and Modern Sectors, Industries and Trade module. Let me know which ones were your favorite modules.

Meal of the week

The last couple of years, I worked at a research lab at Northwestern focused on how teams form and communicate with each other. As a part of the program, I had a graduate student mentor assigned to me. I ran into him on the El train a couple of weeks ago and asked him what his favorite ramen place in Chicago was (he’s Japanese). He recommended High Five Ramen. It lived up to the hype. Their signature bowl should be your go-to order if it’s your first time there. Only downside is that you’ve got to get there at 5pm to get in line or you’ll be facing a 1-2 hour wait.


That wraps up this week’s Sunday Snapshots. If you want to discuss any of the ideas mentioned above or have any books/papers/links you think would be interesting to share on a future edition of Sunday Snapshots, please reach out to me by replying to this email or sending me a direct message on Twitter at @sidharthajha.

Until next Sunday,

Sid