What I read this week – 29th week 2020

Another busy week at Nom Nom Not Dairy. This week I’ve been working on contract batch manufacturing – where a factory produces a fixed quantity of product for you on a specific date. These companies have very flexible manufacturing lines, and have a higher cost per unit than a continuous production line because they have to change the setup every time they change what they are producing. However, they can offer cheaper production costs than doing it themselves.

Also, on Saturday, I graduated with a 2.1 from Cambridge. Its been a weird term but I’m pretty happy with how my exams went, and I owe a hell of a lot to my professors and my directors of studies who let me change subject twice.

Sally Swatland, Summer Memories

What I read

This week some of my reading has been around some of the most fascinating and odd aspects of British and American culture. First is an article about shin-kicking, a game that happens as part of the Cotswold Olympick games, invented and reinvented to celebrate disorganized country fun. The second is a fascinating deep dive into the art of growing blueberries with fire. There are several reasons that blueberry farmers in Maine burn their field every spring, stemming from the fact that over 2/3 of a blueberry bush is underground. Burning the fields returns nutrients to the soil, removes and pests, and results in higher yields the next year. The final article is about the emergence of ice-cream trucks in the US, creating a taste of summer and revolutionizing food service through the invention of food trucks.

The second category is a loosely related pair of articles on being smart and understanding. The first is about habits that can increase intelligence. This isn’t some medium article on 5 Things you need to do now to be smarter, it is a thoughtful essay on the development of a property that many people wrongly think is fixed through habits such as looking for multiple proofs, asking questions, and proving something for yourself. The second article is more of a list of habits. Read it if you want, but the essence is that smart people read a lot, are happy to learn anything, are willing to make mistakes, work hard, and hang around other smart people.

What I watched

This week I watched an excellent series of videos from Simon Sinek on how to present. You might know Sinek from his TED talk, How great leaders inspire action, or his book, Start With Why. Sinek has an amazing energy on stage, and speaks very engagingly, and I think I’ve learnt at least a couple of things from him by watching these videos. (Sign up to Skillshare here and get 2 months free.)

What I listened to

This week I listened to a couple of episodes of the Strategy Skills Podcast. These podcasts are over an hour long, so they take some dedication to get through, but I think they are worth the time investment. The episode I’d like to mention is episode 108, with Tim Koller of McKinsey. In this episode they discuss coming out of the pandemic with a long term and a short term team working separately, as well as the returns on capital invested from major tech companies, which are sometimes better than they look due to the pile of cash that some companies are sitting on.

Let me know if you find any of these articles interesting at contact@callumacdonald.com, and let me know if you have any other recommendations.

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