Life, the group project

Hey everyone,

It has already been a weird year and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Hopefully you can treat this newsletter as a brief pause from the noise and a chance to retrospect.

Quote of the week

“Cultivate a reputation for being dependable. Good reputations are valuable because they’re rare (easily destroyed and hard to rebuild). You don’t have to brew the most amazing coffee if your customers know the coffee will always be hot.”
Conor Barnes


When I die, I want the people I did group projects with to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time.” — Unknown

We all know the narrative around group projects. In high-school and college, they were generally a joke. Projects with friends would be blown off until the last second. Or I was wrangling together The Breakfast Club after grouping with strangers.

Even collaborative career projects can be challenging. People of varying backgrounds, roles, and opinions attempt to converge on a central goal (if there even is one). Not even to mention that career decisions carry real life consequences and require a great degree of confidence. Most people struggle with decisions.

That much is irrefutably true. Working with people is challenging, but necessary. And when a group is operating well, they are unstoppable. People that understand that group projects are not only essential, but also insanely productive, stand the best chance of creating incredible things.

And so where does that leave us? The current state of collaboration is in complete disarray. Fundamentally, we loathe group projects and love to work heads down.

If I were playing any part in redesigning education, I would double down on group projects. They are the most effective method of working fast. I’ve had the pleasure of working on teams that feel unstoppable.

A few random thoughts I had on doing great collaborative work:

— Teams are often all aware of the deficiencies but don’t ever think to talk about them. Instead, address issues as swift as possible.

— Openly discuss working styles: what may work for you will not work for everyone else. As long as a group (two or more people working together) understands how to best work together, you’ll mitigate a lot of potential issue.

— Clear and delineated responsibility is essential. If there is ever overlap, unclear deliverables, or an inane shared responsibility - you risk the effectiveness of your group. When you work together, split responsibility evenly.

The day you realize you can’t really go at it alone — that you in-fact do need your neighbor — is the day you unlock a lot of potential. Armed with this information, hopefully you can bring the best to interactions with your peers. I like to think the groups I work with are effective because we communicate often.

Life really is just one giant group project. Every day, we show up for other individuals. Partners, friends, clients, strangers. It’s worth thinking about how we work with one another. It’s worth improving that process, or risk doing ordinary work.


100 Tips For A Better Life

I recently read this post from Conor Barnes and it was one of the most agreeable lists I’ve seen in some time. You should check out the full thing, but here’s a few of my favorite tips from him:

48. Keep your identity small. “I’m not the kind of person who does things like that” is not an explanation, it’s a trap. It prevents nerds from working out and men from dancing.

79. When dating, de-emphasizing your quirks will lead to 90% of people thinking you’re kind of alright. Emphasizing your quirks will lead to 10% of people thinking you’re fascinating and fun. Those are the people interested in dating you. Aim for them.

87. Don’t punish people for trying. You teach them to not try with you. Punishing includes whining that it took them so long, that they did it badly, or that others have done it better. 

95. Some types of sophistication won’t make you enjoy the object more, they’ll make you enjoy it less. For example, wine snobs don’t enjoy wine twice as much as you, they’re more keenly aware of how most wine isn’t good enough. Avoid sophistication that diminishes your enjoyment.


The last week

This past week, I moved into a new place downtown Denver. It’s an absolute dream here and I’m excited to be living somewhere I’m actually proud of.

Wishing you and yours the best,

Cullin