Leftovers #001 - Welcome! Startups, Mindfulness, Energy
👋🏼 Hello! You're receiving this because you signed up for email updates at morgz.org. Thanks for reading!
Happy new year! It's been a while since I sent out an email update, so for many of you this will be the first one. Welcome!
Going forward, I'll be sending this out weekly. You can expect a mix of articles I've written, book notes, and curious things I've found from across the interwebz. My blog posts are usually about product management, personal productivity, and startup ecosystems. This year I'll also be writing more multi-part series, starting with one on climate change.
🚀 I'm often asked what exactly a startup is, and why startups usually want to raise equity. In Startups 101 I answer these, and outline the most common questions investors will have for startup founders.
🛠 I've written up a few templates that I use in my job as a Product Manager that you may find helpful:
- PRD template: This is the Product Requirements Document template (product spec) I use for every project. Even for minor features, I still start a doc and remove unnecessary sections.
- Decision journal template: Any time I make a decision, even in my head, I try to take the time to fill this out. Setting a reminder to review each entry 6 months in the future helps me improve my decision-making ability. In my mind this is the single most important skill I'm developing.
- 3P: Progress, Plans, and Problems. This is the format for weekly updates we use at Lyft.
- Growth PM resources: This is an email that I send to anyone who asks me for practical PM resources.
☯️ I've been meditating off and on for a few years now. My daily practice comes and goes. But my most valuable moments of mindfulness are when I realize I'm about to enter a stressful situation. Then I can take a minute to center myself before continuing. To that end, I recently read about five-finger breathing and found it surprisingly effective.
The technique is simple. You start by tracing up the outside of your pinky with your opposite index finger while breathing in. Trace down the inside of your pinky while breathing out. Continue with your ring, middle, index, and thumb, for a total of 5 breaths. Repeat a few times as necessary. The combination of multi-sensory and multi-location input fills up the thinking and planning part of your brain used for working memory. This displaces stressful thoughts, and centers you in the present moment.
⚡️ In preparation for my upcoming miniseries of climate posts, you might familiarize yourself with these energy flow charts. The left side of the chart shows sources of energy production, and the right shows energy uses. This chart is in "quads", which is quadrillions of BTUs (British Thermal Units of Energy). That's 1,000,000,000,000,000 - fifteen zeroes! Also known as a million billions. For reference, a gallon of gasoline is about 120,000 BTUs, and your toaster uses about 100 BTUs.
There's lots of interesting stuff in these charts. For example, you can see that electricity is an important part of the picture, as it converts energy from many resources into different uses. Conversely, Petroleum is only minimally processed before its used, almost entirely in industrial and transportation sectors. It's also fun to look at other countries, although the data is outdated. For example, Saudi Arabia is basically all petroleum, and in 2011 China was mostly coal. It's also interesting to look at usage over time. 2018 to 2019 was the first time U.S. energy usage actually went down.
They also recently released the first carbon dioxide flow charts at the end of last year. They also have water, but the most recent charts are from 2005.
👩🏽🔬 A new DAPRA project called AtmoSense is using the upper Atmosphere as a Sensor to detect events like earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, and manmade events like mining blasts, missile launches, and nuclear tests. Similarly to these events creating soundwaves in the lower atmosphere, in the ionosphere they jostle around electrons and ions. These changes can be detected by special types of radar, and by measuring changes in GPS reception (this is how the 2015 earthquake in Nepal was first detected). While existing radar can track the locations of events, AtmoSense may be able to measure how much energy an event releases, and even detect precursors to events like earthquakes that aren't detectable on the ground.
Another project funded by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is developing tiny magnetometers using synthetic diamonds that may supplement GPS for navigation, in the event of satellite downtime or jamming. While traditional compasses that point north rely on the earth's main magnetic field, there is a distinct pattern of fainter terrestrial magnetic fields all over the earth's crust that is unique from place to place. The trick is mapping said fields with aircraft, and then building sufficiently small and cheap magnetometers to be practically useful.
🙏 If you enjoyed this, how about forwarding to a friend or two? I aim to make this one of the few newsletters you truly enjoy opening every week. And if you find anything interesting you think I should include next week, let me know!