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Here you’ll find an archive of Nathanael’s weekly email. In it, he features an essay and curated reading on technology + marketing + simplicity.

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Finding real strategic insight in business - #357

Like many business schools, mine used Harvard's case studies. My early favorites were Benihana and Southwest Airlines. They showed the stunning and difficult simplicity of operational innovation. You'd expect an airline to make money when people buy tickets or a restaurant to make money when people pay for a meal. And in a transactional sense, they do. But these case studies showed the power of deeply understanding how a business operates: airlines make money when the planes take off; restaurants make money they seat another table of guests. To make more money, Southwest needed to make their planes take off more frequently; the whole airline focused on the time between touchdown and takeoff. Benihana's theatre of table-side grilling ensured that when the chef left, the patrons did, too. Faster turnover meant more seatings during lunch and dinner and thus more revenue.


How we are in the world - #356

As a parent, you spend most of your time on logistics. It starts when you need to keep the infant alive. Then, you aim the kid for compounding bits of self-sufficiency. Feeding himself, sleeping through the night, getting dressed, sitting still for twenty minutes: these are the little miracles of successful parenting. After these, you get to the stage of advanced logistics: school, camp, activities, classes, events. The minivan, color-coded calendar, and crowded weekend mornings aren't what you aim for, but they happen.


Remember when Romney was a villain? - #355

What should we make of Mitt Romney? In 2011 and 2012, the middle and the left saw him as "fiercely conservative." The right never quite bought into it: his conservative performances earned him support but distrust. During the 2012 general election, the Obama campaign successfully painted him as too rightwing for the times. Since 2018, as a Senator, he has been cheered by the left and the right's distrust turned to open contempt.


The Eye of Edna - #354

Twice a year, in Salem, Massachusetts, Christmas comes. It doesn't come for everyone: only for book people. These lucky few find Christmas in the Senior Center at the Salem Book Swap. (Longtime readers may recall my 2022 reference to this lovely event.)


Sunday Morning - #353

The rhythm of the week requires one day to be different. For the religious among us, that day is either Saturday or Sunday. It's marked by liturgical observance, for a few hours, but more so by a difference in the rest of the day's time. I've previously written about sabbath a few times, once calling it "a mode of leisure where we stand outside of time to put our minds towards what truly matters."


The internet is pretty great - #352

Imagine the world before the internet. Let's say you wanted to hear about some oldster's summer camp experience. Your options were pretty limited. Perhaps you could go to a Rotary lunch or hang out in the local diner or bar, hoping one of the people who drifted in had a story to tell. Or, you could subscribe to a magazine and trust that one of its editors would find and print a reminiscence. You'd spend a lot of time waiting.


How to see things - #351

A few months ago, my wife ordered several things from Target for the kids. Since they didn't fit, she went to initiate a return. Instead of asking for the items back, Target just refunded our money and told us to keep them. As a practicer of frugality, this free stuff caught my attention. Why is it the case that for Target it was more profitable to give us the stuff for free?


Fun with words - #350

My weekly email started as a way to make some use of my incessant online reading habit. Some fraction of what I read seemed interesting and worth passing along. Rather than only make social postings into the void, I thought some friends would find the good things from my stack of reading interesting. And so emerged "recommended reading" which morphed, as all online things do, into a pun, "Nathanael's Reading." But you can't give a fellow like me a platform without making him think you want a ted talk. Thank you for clicking the links and for reading the words at the top!


On spending time - #349

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've been a train commuter during the second half of this summer. First due to real construction in the basement; then due to reconstruction (and finally finishing?) the basement office. When I time it just right, the train and bike will take an hour each way. Commutes are a top driver of unhappiness, according to the social scientists, and it's not hard to see why: knowing you'll hand over two of your sixteen waking hours to repetitive travel isn't a good start to the day. While my train and bike are on the easier (and prettier) side of a Boston commute, I still end up, all those hours later, right where I started.


Nathanael's Reading

More than a hundred and fifty  people read the weekly email “Nathanael’s Reading,” which he’s sent every Friday since 2016. Nathanael includes original thoughts and curated reading on technology + marketing + simplicity. Subscribe by entering your email here