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David has been writing and publishing since 2006.  

Issue 358 – 12/20/2019

Dec 19, 2019 | Fifteen on Friday

This week’s highlights: A Theory of Genius, From Sales to the C-Suite, and Reese Witherspoon.

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Issue 358

by David Wells – Nashville TN
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas,

This will be the final edition of Fifteen on Friday for the year.  I hope you are able to enjoy some peace and quiet as we conclude 2019 and start a new year and new decade!

Original Content I published this week:

  • The Four Steps to Expertise and Meaningful Contribution  Most people peak as “expert spectators” but those who make a significant impact in their field must become a “professional.” A professional is not someone who just understands that something happened, but can explain to you why it did. This understanding allows the professional to make an impact in their field.
  • Why I Read and Why I’m Reading Less in 2020  Thinking about the end of the decade, it made me wonder what other books I have been putting off reading due to their length but where I would be well rewarded for the effort. So I spent a couple weeks compiling a list of 12 books for 2020. Some are long ones, and others are classics that just never rose to the top of the pile.
All the best,

Food for Thought:

Top Read of the Week:  PG – The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius

Why It Matters:  “Everyone knows that to do great work you need both natural ability and determination. But there’s a third ingredient that’s not as well understood: an obsessive interest in a particular topic.”

Consider as well:  

  1. NYT – What Do Gen Z Shoppers Want? A Cute, Cheap Outfit That Looks Great on Instagram  Social media is dramatically changing consumption trends driven by the ease of e-commerce.  “I’ve worn it out three times, which is a lot for me. Normally I just wear a dress once.”
  2. Medium – 52 Things I Learned in 2019  A bunch of interesting facts here – “Each year humanity produces 1,000 times more transistors than grains of rice and wheat combined.”
  3. NYT – ‘The Far Side’ Is Back. Sort Of. Gary Larson Will Explain.  A website will feature some of the beloved comic strip’s classics and, Larson says, “I’m looking forward to slipping in some new things every so often.”
  4. Vanity Fair – The Ways of the Jet Cult  How the private jet became the singular fetish and status marker of the modern superrich.


Top Read of the Week:  Marketwatch – The No. 1 job billionaires and multimillionaires held before they got filthy rich

Why It Matters:  Spoiler alert – guess what it’s not finance or marketing – it’s sales.  Great sales talent remains one of the most challenging roles to fill in organizations.

Consider as well:

  1. II – The Truth About Private Equity Fund Size  Why bigger doesn’t mean better.
  2. Adventure.ES – New Fund, New Partners, Same Old Strategy  Brent Beshore’s annual letter for 2019.  Brent is one of the best thought private equity investors I have encountered.
  3. NewYorker – Suzy Batiz’s Empire of Odor  After making a fortune off Poo-Pourri, the serial entrepreneur is spreading her gospel of corporate mysticism.
  4. BusinessWeek – Silicon Valley Is Listening to Your Most Intimate Moments  How the world’s biggest companies got millions of people to let temps analyze some very sensitive recordings.


Top Read of the Week:  THR – How Reese Witherspoon Took Charge of Her Career and Changed Hollywood

Why It Matters:  Reese pulled an unintentional “Moneyball.”  When Hollywood did not have enough projects with strong female leads, she leveraged her extensive reading habit to acquire rights to best sellers like Gone Girl and the rest is history.  This is a great read – both for the powerhouse that Witherspoon has become (and a Nashville native!), but also for how she used the constraints of the power imbalance in the film industry as an asset instead of a liability.

Consider as well:

  1. FastCo – AIM was the killer app of 1997. It’s still shaping the internet today  In the late 1990s and early 2000s, AOL’s Instant Messenger introduced millions of people to the internet—and the idea that you were always online, even when you were “away.”
  2. BBC – Is the pub dead? What is happening to the old boozer  Since 2001 the UK has lost a quarter of its pubs. They’ve shut their doors for good. High taxes, high prices, supermarket competition, and even the smoking ban have all been blamed.
  3. Variety – Inside the Making of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’  “when Meryl opened her mouth and basically whispered, everybody in the room drew a collective gasp. It was so unexpected and brilliant.”
  4. Outside – This Is What Happens to Your Body on a Thru-Hike  The secret to ultimate fitness isn’t all that complicated—just spend a month outside, hiking eight hours per day.


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