Ilya Sterin's Newsletter #4

20 Jan 2023    2 mins read.

Disagree and commit

Very frequently, I hear people say: “Let’s meet. We should all get on the same page.” Typically, what they mean is: “Let’s get together to make sure we are all in agreement.”

Why do we need to agree? So much progress is lost, and hours are wasted on making sure that all people agree.

In 2016, Bezos published an annual shareholder letter where he talked about empowering his people to make important decisions, without his explicit agreement. Instead of getting on the same page and all agreeing, Bezos says, “I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most successful decision ever made.”

This really stuck with me over the years.

Instead of saying “let’s get on the same page” or “let’s make sure we agree,” we should say: “Look, you own this decision. Here is my point of view, but when all is said and done, I will commit to you even if I disagree.”

As a result of this, all the smart people from different backgrounds who we hired can feel empowered to make decisions. They won’t be afraid to take a risk or feel like they need to reach consensus or be agreeable. You’ll make more progress and fewer people will leave feeling discouraged.

Now, you can use these meetings to learn and make progress instead of focusing on reaching a consensus. It allows you to uncover as many spots as you can before making a decision. But this doesn’t mean that we all have to leave on the same page or agree.

What I’m reading

I’m currently trying to consume as much information about Natural Language Processing (NLP) as I can. We recently released a product, PubHub, which strongly depends on processing natural language conversations and then optimizing our search. It’s a niche search engine, for customer support teams.

I’m reading a few books at the same time, as I’m trying to triangulate various sources to improve my understanding. This is called syntopical reading. If you’re interested in improving the way you consume information, read a book literally called “How to Read a Book”.

So in my pursuit, I’m currently reading:

All of the above books are unique in their own way. I’m hoping to gain a more complete understanding of the field.

Product I’m using

We’ve been using the Alen Breathesmart Purifier for the last 2 years. The purifier is quiet and can clean up to 1100 sq ft. It’s one of our top purchases, not only because I love the product, but also because I love the company. Their support is unparalleled.

We recently realized that Max was stuffing coins and other small items in the purifier, which eventually broke it. Alen’s support immediately sent a new one out and picked up the old one. It comes with a lifetime warranty.