It’s not as hard as you think

In 1800, the average person in the UK would have to work 6 hours to afford 1 hour of artificial light. Today, they would only need to work half a second. That’s a 43,200x reduction in the amount of time it takes for them to acquire artificial light.

This little fact stuck with me when I read The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley. The concepts in his book are covered by any good microeconomics course. In fact, I studied them in my economics A level. But I didn’t fully appreciate them until now.

Exchange

His core message is that human progress…


Book Summary and Review

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Nassim Taleb’s Skin in the Game is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read.

It’s full of insights about our world and daily life that seem unrelated but always end up rooted in the importance of people having “skin in the game”.

Note that “skin in the game” is not just about having a share of the upside. It requires you to have downside risk too.

The most enlightening parts of the book helped me understand my own feelings around risk-taking and entrepreneurship. Feelings I’ve struggled to grasp and articulate until now.

Learning

The first main topic is around the…


Nothing I’ve read packs so much wisdom into so few words as The Almanack of Naval Ravikant — a curated collection of Naval’s tweets, essays and podcasts. Here are my top Kindle highlights, categorized into themes (I know, a curation of a curation) —

The importance of decision-making and being the best at what you do in the age of leverage

  • Technology democratizes consumption but consolidates production. The best person in the world at anything gets to do it for everyone.
  • Forget 10x programmers. 1,000x programmers really exist, we just don’t fully acknowledge it. See @ID_AA_Carmack, @notch, Satoshi Nakamoto
  • Leverage magnifies those differences even more. …


Eliminating one of the darker sides of capitalism

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath

There’s no reason companies should keep salaries a secret.

If salaries are determined rationally, according to principles that everyone in the company would agree to, then there’s nothing to hide.

When salaries are hidden, employees can be paid much less than they’re worth. The underpaid employees won’t know they’re underpaid. So they won’t ask for a raise, and they won’t go looking for another job.

If salaries are public, employees will know their true market worth. More importantly, they’ll know their potential future market worth which lets them make informed life choices.

Your salary can have a huge impact on…


An Interviewer’s Perspective

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

You’re nervous. The phone interview is about to start. This could be your one chance to get the job you’ve wanted — at least until next year. It all comes down to this — 45 minutes of proving your problem solving and coding skills.

Suddenly the phone rings.

You pick up and feel your heart beating. After some quick pleasantries, the interviewer pastes the first question into your shared coding environment, and starts explaining the problem.

Your mind goes blank. The nerves have got to you, and you just can’t think clearly under the pressure you’ve put yourself under.

You…


10 Power Sources and Influencing Techniques You Should Know

Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash

A few months ago, I took a class at Facebook, taught to employees who need to influence others to be effective in their job.

The topic of influencing others is not often talked about. It feels a bit shady. Like you’re trying to manipulate people and get your own way. But people influence others all the time. If they didn’t, organizations would stop working.

Sometimes you need to influence others to move them forward in the right direction. …


Here’s the Story of How We Built “Uber for Photographers”

Photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels

In late November 2017, I met up with an old school friend, Ali Sarraf, for dinner in London. We’d both studied Computer Science at university and had been working on different startups.

I’d recently stopped working on Tripr, a social app to connect travelers crossing paths on their trips. And Ali had recently stopped working on his startup too.

Idea

Although I was working full-time at Facebook and he was working at Google, we thought it would be fun to work on a side project together.

One idea I had wanted to explore for a while was an app to book…


What Really Drives Entrepreneurs?

I work at Facebook as a software engineer but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what drives people to start their own startups. I have friends with good jobs at big tech companies that pay extremely well. But they are still obsessed with the idea of doing a startup.

I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t empathize with them. I’ve had side hustles ever since I started secondary school, whether it was freelance web development, dropshipping or affiliate marketing.

While I was at Oxford University, a couple of older grads approached me with their idea to make a…


As a manager you can make people miserable in the workplace. Here’s how to make them happy and productive.

Recently, my team at Facebook was joined by an intern who I’m managing for 12 weeks. As a new manager I had to take a class on how to manage people well.

I was excited to take the class as I’ve been on the receiving end of bad management a few times throughout my career. I had a vague idea of how those situations could have gone better, but I didn’t have a well-defined mental model of what good management was.

A good manager is often the difference between a happy and productive employee who is retained by their company…

Miraan Tabrez

software engineer at Facebook, writing at miraan.co.uk

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