What We’re Reading

Reasonable expectations:

During the Vietnam War, Vice Admiral James Stockdale spent seven years being tortured in a Hanoi prison. When asked about his experience, he noted that optimistic prison-mates eventually broke, as they passed one imagined deadline for release after another. Stockdale’s strategy, instead, was to meld hope with realism—“the need for absolute, unwavering faith that you can prevail,”as he put it, with “the discipline to begin by confronting the brutal facts, whatever they are.”


Projections only matter if you can hold conditions constant from the moment of your prediction, and even then, it’s not clear if projections and models matter much at all if they are not based on actual, real-world data. In the case of this pandemic, conditions have changed dramatically (e.g., aggressive social distancing), while our data inputs remain guesswork at best.

Young and glum:

Overall, just 13% of these younger Americans rate the current state of the economy as good or excellent, compared with 28% of Americans aged 35 to 49. They are less likely than any set of older Americans to think the economy will bounce back in the next few weeks. Among the population at large, almost three-quarters say the crisis is bringing out the best in America; only about half of those aged 18 to 34 feel that way.

Laid off:

For some workers, layoffs represented a break from work, giving them extra free time for hobbies or family life. But for many construction workers, especially men, a layoff was an emotional blow even if they had been through it before and were well aware that it was a universal experience in the industry. Many clearly saw their jobs as a key aspect of their identity.

“When I get laid off, I still feel bad,” one man told the researchers. “I feel like I swallowed a butcher knife, and I’m always trying to figure out why? Is it because I don’t have no skills… You know, I always feel like it’s me.”

Netflix CEO comments on Disney+:

“Over 20 years of watching different businesses – incumbents like Blockbuster and Walmart and all these companies – I’ve never seen such a good execution of the incumbent learning the new way and mastering it. … To see both the execution and the numbers line up, my hat’s off to them. Great execution, clarity around brand and focus really makes a difference.”

Overhead costs:

You start by thinking you’ll get one assistant and before you know it you’ve got biographers, fire eaters, jugglers, minstrels and lyre players all wandering around. They’re all saying they aren’t being paid enough and they all need assistants. Then one night you ask the lyre player to play for you and they say: “My lyre is all scratched up and I did ask for a lyre technician but you said not yet and if I had one I could come and play for you now.” So you’ve got to have a lyre technician and then you better get him an Uber account too.

Have a good weekend, stay safe.