Hello there,

Happy New Year and welcome to the year of the Rabbit!

We celebrated the ball dropping and then celebrated again with an overnight trip on January 1st to Smith Rock for some rock climbing plus cold weather.

This is me at my happiest all year (because it was January 1st). And the fun will only increase from here on out!

** From last newsletter — I shared the Top 15 Fantastic Books of 2022! **

i. The Success in Amazon’s Biggest Failure

One of my favorite podcast episodes from the end of 2022 was a conversation with Ian Freed, who led the team that build the Amazon Fire phone. The product failed and Amazon lost over $100 million, but the way they failed amazes me.

From the ashes come multiple successful products, including the Amazon Fire Tablet, the Echo speaker, and even the maps used for their package delivery service.

The interview includes lots of lessons about how you can build from your failure.

One of the best stories comes from Amazon’s failures competing with Ebay that ultimately led to enormous success. Early on Amazon wanted to compete with eBay so they built an auction product.

That did very poorly so they pivoted and created something called Z- sellers, make your own storefront to sell a product on Amazon, such as “Jono’s Cedar Toy Store” – wooden you want to shop there??

The seller tool failed because with so many pages navigation proved difficult. And the biggest obstacle came in the need for Jono-the-toymaker to market their own page.

Ultimately that led Amazon to start the seller marketplace with a single page for any product. That meant that for one style of Levi’s jeans, different sellers could offer their product and whoever had the best price and customer feedback won the buy box. Today the seller marketplace products make up around 50% of Amazon’s sales volume.

This example has encouraged me to find valuable gems from each and every project, particularly the failures. What’s one past “failed” project you’ve done and how can you turn it into something useful?

Listen: The Failure of the Amazon Fire Phone (with Diana Kander)


ii. The Power of Positive Social Pressure

Instead of tackling an enormous pile of new books this year, I want to revisit the great ones I’ve already read. My team at Logitech is reading Atomic Habits this month, which means I can dive back into the wisdom of James Clear.

“One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.”

— James Clear

My word for 2023 is “CONNECT” and that does not mean I’ll be helping my neighbors improve their wifi routers, hah! I intend to spend more time interacting with successful marketers, writers, entrepreneurs, and musicians.

Surrounded by people with the habits you want, you’ll rise together!

iii. Top Brass Nuggets

One Thing from Me

I published the Things I’ve Learned in 2022 back in August including some fun infographics worthy of printing on an gigantic coffee mug.

For the past few weeks the article has received over 7,000 views on Google as people search “what I learned 2022” – give in to that peer pressure and peruse / reread my favorite advice!

Amazingly, I have more fantastic lessons from the final few months of the year. I read through all of them during my annual review (more on that below) - and here are the TOP FIVE:

  1. “Set your standards high; namely, do the absolute best of which you are capable. Focus on running the race rather than winning it.” — John Wooden
  2. It’s not valuable to read 52 books per year if you take zero steps to improve your life. Implement lessons from the most valuable 4 books. Re-read them. Double down on the resonant ideas.
  3. “Products are everything. You should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. your goal should be making something you believe in.” — Steve Jobs
  4. Most entrepreneurs have a graveyard behind them. Start something today and just get learning quickly.
  5. “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” — Zig Ziglar

I strongly recommend taking 15 minutes to think / write / talk through an annual review. Many templates exist but I enjoy Tim Ferriss' “Past Year Review”.

These two questions challenge me the most:

  • “What got you most excited this year?” (Sharing stories through writing and videos)
  • “What were your least favorite 5 things?” (Injuries; work meetings at night; not skiing enough!)

And then I brainstorm ways to do more / less of those things. Hopefully, this means I’ll have some more videos to share in the coming weeks.

Here’s to all the potential in the year ahead! 🥂


PS – the best way anyone could ever watch fireworks

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