The Price We Pay—Weekly Wisdom

Also, the odd thing about familiarity, the problem with abstraction, and why sports truly do matter.

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💡Something I learned

Familiarity and its limits

The Mere-Exposure Effect is the name for the bias of familiarity. We tend to have a more positive response to things that are familiar, compared to something unfamiliar. Advertiser use this cognitive bias to justify blasting you with the same ads. However, this is not universally applicable. Long term familiarity to brands can turn your perceptions toward the negative.

📕Something to read

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🗣Some Quotes and Notes

Sweat Equity

For a consumer-based global economy, we don’t really consume all that much. Our treadmills become towel racks, our books shit on shelves unread and our hobby materials sit in storage, unused.

David Cain points out that we haven’t really paid the second price for these objects.

One financial lesson they should teach in school is that most of the things we buy have to be paid for twice. There’s the first price, usually paid in dollars, just to gain possession of the desired thing, whatever it is: a book, a budgeting app, a unicycle, a bundle of kale. But then, in order to make use of the thing, you must also pay a second price. This is the effort and initiative required to gain its benefits, and it can be much higher than the first price.

— David Cain, Everything Must Be Paid for Twice

Abstract Complexity

There is value in concision and clarity. There is no denying that. However making simplicity your sole goal abstracts all the complexity hidden your subject.

Or at least that’s what Simon Sarris posits.

Many concepts can be explained concisely, in simple language, and we should all strive for clarity. But the aphorism is a mistake, for a number of thoughts approximate the carpenter’s craft, and to meaningfully reveal them requires time and attention. Sometimes these cannot simply be told to another at all, they must be grown. For a topical example, we know that maturity itself cannot be imparted to a six year old, no matter how good a summary we might give. Despite our understanding, we know it is something that can only come to each of us in time. This pattern is more common than we think. True things are disclosed slowly.

— Simon Sarris, Long Distance Thinking

Selling Sand in the Desert

This is a great essay on selling products that are services. Any business following the Razor-Blade model is in reality a subscription business with extra steps. The Razor business itself was disrupted by a Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s by turning the subscription component explicit.

The piece goes into many aspects, but this quote is a great summary.

Good business sense is to do only what is reasonable for yourself but great business sense is to make others do what is not.

— Cal Paterson, It looks like a product but is secretly a subscription

Thank you for joining me this week. If you know some who might enjoy this, please forward this email to them. See you next week.

Mudassir Chapra

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