Constraints

Three staples are the bare minimum needed when attaching fabric to a couch frame.

At least according to Jack White.

What is the bare minimum for a rock band?

Drums and a guitar.

Hence, why the White Stripes were a two-piece band.

Jack White is a master of working in constraints.

Guitars that are difficult to play. Touring with two bands. Forced 2-week recording deadlines.

All artificial constraints. But, his belief is that true creativity comes from constraints.

Our marketing also benefits from constraints.

A niche audience. Specific acquisition costs. Resources. Conversion rates. Time.

With abundance, constraints force us to focus.

What constraints are you putting on your work?

The Tonga Room

The Fairmont Hotel is a beautiful pre-war hotel in San Francisco.

If you walk in the main entrance, there is a piano player.

A marble staircase. 

And chandeliers they don’t make anymore.

But, if you take that marble staircase down, you reach The Tonga Room.

A tiki bar.

In the middle of the Fairmont Hotel.

Something you would only find in San Francisco. 

Now, The Tonga Room didn’t always exist inside the Fairmont. 

Before it was a tiki bar, it was the hotel pool.

Then, in some meeting in the mid-40s with hotel executives, someone raised their hand and suggested the Fairmont turn their pool into a tiki bar.

The Tonga Room was born.

A tiki bar, with a pool, rain, and a band that plays on a boat floating in the middle of the pool.

Seems like a crazy idea now. I’m sure it sounded crazier then.

The next time you have a crazy idea and are a bit nervous to mention it, just remember the person who raised their hand in a Fairmont Hotel meeting to propose The Tonga Room. 

Who knows, your crazy idea might just work.

You don’t need to refrigerate eggs

You don’t need to refrigerate your eggs.

I discovered this when I walked into my first supermarket in Germany.

I went to go buy eggs for the first time after I moved there. In the section where you pick up eggs, they are all just sitting on a table. Out in the open. Not in a refrigerator.

This concerned me a bit.

Not enough to not purchase eggs, but I was a bit concerned they weren’t in a refrigerator.

I assumed they would be bad. I would get salmonella.

After a bit of research, it turns out eggs don’t have to be refrigerated.

If, and only if, you don’t wash them.

Washing them removes a natural protective membrane on the eggs.

But, if your eggs are super dirty, you have to wash them. And, eggs get super dirty when chickens are kept in cages.

So, if you remove chickens from cages, making them cage-free, you no longer have to wash your eggs.

Then, you don’t have to refrigerate them.

What’s surprising here, is that if you tell egg producers they cannot wash the eggs before selling them, because of this protective membrane, they are forced to have cage free chickens.

And, we know that cage free chickens are more humane.

This brings me to a concept by Jim Collins called the flywheel.

The premise is, we do actions that force us to do a subsequent action that is desirable.

He explains this by saying, if I do action A, I can’t help but do action B. If I do action B, I can’t help but do action C. This scenario begins to gain momentum slowly, because a flywheel is difficult to get started. But, once it gains momentum, it starts to move itself.

In the flywheel scenario, we begin to choose our actions more strategically. We try to understand why we do something. And, does it build momentum that moves us in the right direction.

It is like deciding we are not going to wash our eggs.

What tiny action can you do with a positive subsequent action?

Getting your second wind

There’s a concept athletes are familiar with called the “second wind”.

You may be familiar with this through experience, or have heard some athletic friends discuss it.

Mostly, it’s a feeling.

But, a powerful one.

What is the “second wind”?

If you’re swimming a long-distance event – like the mile, which is 1,650 yards and 66 laps – you will start the event feeling fresh and rested. Then, as the event wears on, you will get progressively tired. This makes sense.

When you get tired, you have two options:

  1. Let the tired feeling consume you and win.
  2. Push through and overcome that feeling.

If you’re able to push hard enough when you begin to get tired, you can unlock your second wind. It only happens after you overcome being tired.

If you can overcome, you will feel better than when you started the race. It’s like a weight being lifted. Like you’re dropping shackles. It’s as if you could go at top speed forever.

The reality is, with this feeling you can continue at top performance for a period. This period allows you to effectively get in the zone. You want to use the second wind to your advantage.

In the mile, you hope this happens around the 500-yard mark. That gives you plenty of time to be in the zone and meet your goal.

The second wind isn’t exclusively available to athletes. It’s an idea. Anyone can get them and use them to their advantage.

You can get a second wind during a single day. A week, month, year, or sometime over your career.

The goal is to recognize it and lean into it.

Once you can recognize them, you want to be able to manufacture them. Time them such you can regularly leverage them.

Let it be your hidden overdrive button used for a burst of productivity or creativity.

Just like getting in the zone while swimming the mile.

When you’re tired, it may mean it’s time to stop or move on.

It could also be right before your second win.


P.S. This is not an endorsement for hustle porn. A second wind can only happen when you’re well trained and well rested.

Hustle porn

Throughout his presidency, Bill Clinton was known for sleeping six hours a night.

Sometimes less.

Obviously, the stress and amount of work that’s required of the President is going to limit the hours you can sleep.

But, a lot of the lack of sleep was by choice.

Clinton credits the idea of limiting sleep to a college professor who said successful men require less sleep than regular men.

Then, in 2004 Clinton nearly died and had to undergo quadruple bypass surgery. He had heart disease. Which, can be accelerated by long periods of sleep deprivation.

Needless to say, Clinton was a hustler. His hustle caught up with him and he publicly admits it.

That’s why he’s changed his sleep habits and is now vegan.

While the evidence is clear, sleep, rest, and recovery are paramount to our health, we can’t help but promote the hustle.

Hustle porn.

Working around the clock, trying to get ahead.

But, this can’t be sustained.

You can’t play the long game with this attitude. It affects creativity. You make poorer decisions.

It’s not cool.

Either, you mentally burn out, or like Clinton, you physically burn out.

There is plenty of scientific evidence to support all of this.

Sleep, rest, and sustainable work and creativity over long periods is cool.

Not flash in the pan hustle porn.