03 August 20 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from July.

For those of us in the southern hemisphere, we find ourselves in the depth of winter. A winter unlike any we have experienced. Just as we were emerging from our pandemic-induced hibernation, we’re back in our collective rooms as the fear and realisation of a second COVID wave ripples its way across Australia.

This month, we have compiled a set of eight articles that balance the practical with the theoretical. The dogmatic with the pragmatic. The optimistic with the realistic. We have been using some of these articles to stimulate our conversations about what we would like our company, our work and our future to look like. We hope they do the same for you.

1. 1,000 true fans? Try 100.

 

You might be familiar with Kevin Kelly’s widely quoted essay ‘1,000 True Fans’. In this article, Andreessen Horowitz Partner, Li Jin, proposes that for some content producers, platforms and service providers, aiming for 100 true fans is a much more lucrative and effective strategy.

Based on data from her work with platforms like Patreon and Teachable, the author presents a model that suggests maximum benefit can be achieved by focusing on subscribers and high-value customers.

2.  How to make indoor air safer.

Over the past few years, we have worked hard to improve the air quality in our office. This has largely been achieved by increasing the number of air-cleaning plants, especially the hardworking but somewhat ubiquitous Spathiphyllum and Chlorophytum comosum. You might know these as the peace lily and the spider plant. If you haven’t heard of them, go look them up.

But COVID-19 has changed how we view air quality. Unfortunately, our plants aren’t likely to remove infected respiratory droplets from the air. This article talks about what you can do to improve the air quality, both at home and in the office.

3. Going our separate Waze.

Working on the brand identity of a company is always daunting. The prospect of working on the brand identity of a company with 130 million customers across 180 countries is almost mind-blowing.

Here, we learn from Natasha Jen of New York based brand studio, Pentagram, what it was like to refresh and extend the brand system for one of the world’s most popular navigation apps, Waze. The article shows how you can bring a sense of ‘play’ to a highly technical application with an incredibly simple objective: get me from A to B.

4. Working from home? Expect longer hours and more meetings.

A few months back—in what we now call Lockdown 1.0—I responded to a LinkedIn post asking for perspectives on how teams were coping with remote working and how likely they were to return to their office. Outside the occasional ‘like/thumbs up’, I don’t normally respond to posts like this because it can invite feedback from anyone with an opinion to express.

I explained that we have always been able to work from home, if we want, but we’d preferred to work from the office.

It’s a relatively simple concept: kind of like why some people prefer to workout in a gym, rather than at home.

Rather predictably and disappointingly, my reply triggered a contrarian response from someone who has no knowledge of our team or how we work. This article highlights some of the issues created when working from home and why it might not work for everyone.

5.  7 job search rules you should break now.

As you can imagine, the past few months has seen a bump in the number of people expressing an interest in working with us. The pandemic-induced recession and associated increase in unemployment has pushed many talented people back into the job market, some of whom haven’t needed to look for work for many years.

Although many of the myths listed in this article pre-date COVID-19, we hope that, by calling them out as fallacies, we can help job-hunters find their next gig. At August, we are particularly fond of a good cover letter. In fact, it is mandatory that you include one when you express an interest in joining our team.

If you’re interested in learning more about landing a job at August, check out Sarah’s checklist here: http://aug.ie/q

6. It’s 2022. What does life look like?

  • Read the full article here.
  • Article by: Patrick Robert Doyle.
  • Contributed by: Timocles Copland.

As I mentioned earlier, us Melburnians have found ourselves in the second lockdown of 2020. Just when we thought it was safe to go outside, COVID-19 reminded us of its pervasiveness and persistence. It also left us wondering when this cycle of ‘get on with life’ and ‘stay inside’ is likely to end.

In this article, NY Times author, David Leonhardt, explores what our lives—or, more specifically, American lives—might look like in a year or two. Peering into our future, he discusses how the pandemic will impact—amongst many other things—how we live, what businesses will survive and every changing political landscape.

7. Your ‘doomscrolling’ breeds anxiety. Here’s how to stop the cycle.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Article by: Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
  • Contributed by: Claire Grainger.

Last month, I decided to take a break from Facebook and Instagram. I had tried this before, but earlier attempts only lasted a day or two. I would delete the apps from my phone, telling myself that installing the app would be a sufficient obstacle to stop me in my social media tracks.

It seems for the first few times that I was delusional and, by cold-turkey attempt #14, I realised that delusion had given way to straight out self-deceit.

Then I came across Atomic Habits by James Clear. I worked out what I was doing wrong. I needed a bigger obstacle. And I found this obstacle was changing the password and not saving it. This meant that, if I wanted to access my accounts, I would have to go through the password recovery process. Fortunately for me, Facebook and Instagram make recovering your password more effort than I want to expend to access my feed.

8.  Why red means red in almost every language.

Over the past few months, we have used the downtime to get some maintenance done around the office. The carpet has been replaced, walls painted, new cabinetry installed. We even have a new coffee machine.

Then I was hit with a brilliant idea. What if we had smart lights in the bathrooms? We could adjust the mood of the bathroom throughout the day. We could even play music to reflect the changing colours: Purple Rain by Prince, Yellow by Coldplay, and Pink’s entire back catalogue.

After a few days of red light accompanied by Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’, I think we can agree that some things are better at the cooler end of the spectrum