Astro Teller is the ‘Captain of Moonshots’ at X.

X is a company owned by Google. It’s projects are aim for “moonshot” breakthroughs that could have a major positive impact on society.

X emphasizes the importance of rapid prototyping, experimentation, and failure.

In Tackle the monkey first, Teller outlines their approach to project development.

Let’s say you’re trying to teach a monkey how to recite Shakespeare while on a pedestal. How should you allocate your time and money between training the monkey and building the

Because the pedestal is easy, and we know what to do, many would start with designing and building a perfect pedestal.

Astro reminds us “Don’t use up all your resources on the easy stuff

Annie Duke explores this principle in her newsletter

Monkeys and pedestals tells us to attack the hard thing first because if we can’t solve for that there is really no point in doing the rest of the work. In fact, in project presentations at X, you’ll see #MONKEYFIRST all over the decks as a constant reminder to figure out what the bottlenecks are and to solve for those before building a bunch of pedestals.

She notes that this is the opposite of the way many projects are managed. “Let’s tackle the low hanging fruit first.”

By adopting a #MONKEYFIRST approach, you can quickly identify when a project is unachievable, before wasting time and resources.

Seth Godin also emphasises the importance of doing the real work.

In Godin’s view, the “real work” is the work that truly matters in making a meaningful impact, and often involves taking risks, making difficult decisions, and pushing beyond your comfort zone. However, many people get sidetracked by details, distractions, or tasks that may be easier or more comfortable, but ultimately do not move them closer to their goals.

For example, you intent to launch a podcast.

Don’t start by seeking the ultimate microphone, taking a course in audio editing, making your logo look pixel perfect. You know you can do those things.

#MONKEYFIRST reminds us that the real work is to record one interview on a subject that would be of interest to a minimally viable audience.

Do you think a #MONKEYFIRST approach is useful? Have you seen any classic examples of #PEDESTALFIRST?

Let us know in the comments.

What I Learnt On 21st April in other years

21st April 2011 Follow Up ThenFollow Up Then
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Jun 14 2021

Quokka Selfies

Quokka1In 1696, Dutch seaman Willem de Vlamingh explored and named Rottnest Island. (‘Rat nest’ in Dutch).

He was misinformed.

‘Quokka’ is the Nyungar name for the marsupial that is plentiful on the island and the star of so many #quokkaselfies.

There are about 12000 quokkas on Rottnest, and very very few anywhere else. They are all ridiculous.

I think it is best that you know nothing about them until you visit their island home, which I highly recommend.


What I Learnt On 14th June in other years

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It’s the first Monday in June, so it’s Western Australia Day, a public holiday here in Perth.

Western Australia occupies about a third of Australia’s land mass, one tenth of the population (2.6m), and produces about half of Australia’s exports.

It was first settled about 60000 years ago. The Nyoongar are the traditional owners of Perth and the South West.

Western Australia was claimed for the British crown in 1827 and the Swan River Colony was established in 1829 in what is now Perth. This is the event that is commemorated on Western Australia Day.

Some notes from our guides –

Everything is bigger and better in the West

‘Kings Park’ is the biggest park in the world, bigger than Central Park

Fremantle is one of the second busiest ports in the world.

Optus Stadium is the best new stadium in the world. I think this is correct

Don’t feed the Quokkas as they will die a slow, painful, horrible death. Jeez

Happy WA Day!


What I Learnt On 7th June in other years

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Travellers from ‘over east’ need a pass to enter both Western Australia and Tasmania.

I wasn’t aware of this till on the plane! If you are planning to travel to WA, be more organised than I am and apply for your pass before you set off.

The g2gpass is an initiative of the WA police.

Visit and complete the pages of questions about where you have been and where you are staying. Rather ominously, one of the questions asks where you will quarantine for 14 days if ordered to do so.

Upload an ID document (photo of drivers licence seemed to be sufficient). Verify your email.

The application form says it may take 4 days to process your g2gpass. Our approval was immediate (fortunately). I suspect it wouldn’t have been so smooth if we had been to Victoria.

Then download the g2gpass app. Log in, and voila, there is your QI code pass. Note that the web form has to be completed before you can log in to the app.

A friendly WA policeman will scan your pass as you get off the plane. I don’t know what happens if you haven’t followed the correct processes. I don’t want you to find out.

While on the App Store, download the SafeWA App so you can check in to venues. The Services NSW App won’t cut it out west.

My guess is that g2g stands for ‘Good to Go’. I couldn’t see any mention of this anywhere. Any alternative suggestion?

What I Learnt On 6th June in other years

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The practice

The most interesting flavours come from unexpected combinations.

Hybrid vigour.

A delivery today from my favourite magic shop containing a book – and a pack of magic cards – from my favourite author.

it doesn’t get more exciting than that!

What I Learnt On 2nd June in other years

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37 down. 888 to go.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear outlines the strategies for making good habits stick.

Ones of his ‘laws’ is to increase the negative consequences of not performing an action.

An accountability partner can create an immediate cost to inaction. We care deeply about what others think of us, and we do not want others to have a lesser opinion of us. A habit contract can be used to add a social cost to any behavior. It makes the costs of violating your promises public and painful.

Mat Buckley, our local exercise physiologist, is a fantastic coach. He may well be a disciple of James Clear.

Mat has signed us up as a team (Toned Up) for the push up challenge. This runs for 25 days beginning today, and our team of two has contracted publicly to complete 3318 pushups over that time.

Lucky for me, Mat will do 100 per day, and I have to do 37.2. That is 37.2 more that I have done each day for the last 10 years.

There are posters announcing the project all over Alstonville. I have a whole town as accountability partner.

You can track the progress of ‘Toned Up’ here

The aim of the push up challenge is to promote mental health. The target of 3318 represents the number of suicides in Australia in 2019.

Founded by Nick Hudson and a team of volunteers in 2017, the Push Up Foundation has more than 130,000 participants and has raised over $7 million for mental health organisations. If you want to join the 129,999 who are better at push up than I am, you sign up today at The Push Up Challenge

There are a number of organisations that benefit from the project. We have chosen Lifeline (Go Sally!), but I haven’t yet worked out how they get anything out of the deal. I suspect I will have to sponsor myself.

James Clear would be happy to see that extra bit of accountability – paying money for a habit – although he would suggest I have to pay more if I don;t meet my target.

Each day, when you log your push ups on the app, you receive a new message about mental health.

This is today’s mental health message

  • Day 1 – 130 push-ups
  • More than 1/10 Australians will consider ending their life: Over a lifetime, around 13% of Australians between the ages of 16-85 will seriously consider suicide. 4% of people will make a plan, and just over 3% will make an attempt.
  • Suicidality is the term used to describe the state of thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide. It affects more than 1/10 Australians, so it’s not uncommon. We know that suicidality is a strong risk factor for completing suicide, so it’s important that people experiencing suicidality receive assistance.
  • Even though it can be tough, the evidence suggests that asking someone about whether they are experiencing suicidality, including plans or attempts, does not increase the likelihood of them completing suicide. Asking your friends and loved ones about what is going on for them can identify those at risk and increase the chances that the person gets help.
  • You can get some advice on how to have a conversation about suicide here:

What I Learnt On 1st June in other years

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David Brookes, opinion columnist for the New York Times, wrote a university graduation speech for students unable to attend their graduation.

StjohnscollegeHe is worried about the future of your maximum taste. Is it true “that 70 percent of the people you know are more boring at 30 than they were at 20?

At University we are assigned hard things to do and challenging ways to think.

“After college, most of us resolve to keep doing this kind of thing, but we’re busy and our brains are tired at the end of the day. Months and years go by. We get caught up in stuff, settle for consuming Twitter and, frankly, journalism. Our maximum taste shrinks.”

David is fine with us watching Tiger King and Love is Blind, but he says we also need to extend the higher end of out thinking.

“The theory of maximum taste says that each person’s mind is defined by its upper limit—the best that it habitually consumes and is capable of consuming.”

“Because we don’t continue to put enough really excellent stuff into our brain, our reading-comprehension ability declines after college, and our ability to play with ideas. The upper limit of our mind becomes lower than it used to be.

“The “theory of maximum taste” is based on the idea that exposure to genius has the power to expand your consciousness. If you spend a lot of time with genius, your mind will end up bigger and broader than if you spend your time only with run-of-the-mill stuff.

We need to have a mixed mental diet.

What I Learnt On 31st May in other years

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Disclaimer : I own 0.0003 of a Bitcoin

What I Learnt On 30th May in other years

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