Issue #1
#1: Career trajectory, crucial skills -- and (not) chasing accomplishments
December 17, 2021

Hi from New York and Karachi!

Usman and I are both visiting home at the end of the year here, but we’re so excited to get out the first edition of the TalentStories newsletter to you. Thanks so much for signing up!

This is how we thought about the newsletter, and what we want you to get from it:

  • We both consume a ton of content about the world of work, every week; we’ll be sharing the highlights we found most insightful, thought-provoking and/or important.
  • You’re busy, so we want this to be easy to digest, but high in value to you. We'll include just three bullets in every send.
  • We’ll share our take on those bullets -- what we think about what was written or said. What do we agree or disagree with? Why do we think it matters?
  • But we also want YOU in the conversation: we want to know what you think, and learn from your insight. So we’ll prompt you with a question for each bullet, and make it easy for you to engage on it with us.

We're sharing these goals so you can let us know if you're getting this from us. Please do!

Thanks so much, and all the best winding down the rest of the year!

Aki and Usman


Our take: I love the sentiment behind this. And I believe deeply and unequivocally in working with people aligned with my values and goals. But if you figure out how to drop the lifelong habit of seeking accomplishments and productivity -- will you let us know? Asking for a friend.

Our question: Have you succeeded in creating a definition of success that isn't a function of accomplishments and/or productivity?


Our take: Writing, writing, writing! Usman told me -- for years -- that I should be writing. He was, um, right. I wish I'd started those years ago and if there's one skill I harp on, it's the ability to distill one's thinking in writing. Most of us don't want or need to publish "think pieces" or run a blog. But in the age of the web, and of increasingly global, asynchronous, and remote work, the ability to articulate yourself clearly and persuasively -- even on email or Slack! -- is more important than ever.

Our question: Which work skill (not trait, or competency) do you think is going to be most valuable in the years to come?


Our take: Another way to put this: "Go where the growth is". But what I like about this version of that advice is that it applies this concept of trajectory -- to the industry we choose to work in. This is useful because over the long term especially, betting on the right industry can "smooth out" bad bets on specific companies within that industry.

I think working for yourself is a worthy goal, but that's not the right call for everyone, and also depends on timing. Short of working for yourself though, the more ownership you can have in something you're working hard on -- equity, carry, tokens, etc -- the better.

Our question: What's more important to you: being in the right overall industry, or the right company?

Thanks for reading! See you soon.

Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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