4 min read

Breakfast Notes #37 (Convoy, Home, Books)

Breakfast Notes #37 (Convoy, Home, Books)
Photo by Scott Webb / Unsplash

Good morning friends.

Here is a confession.

Last week, I splurged USD 50 on a Notion template. However, I do not regret it a single bit, as it is fast becoming the most important tool in my creative pursuit. It has 1.3x-ed my productivity. Check it out here if you are into exploiting your digital tools.

The Promise of The Sharing Economy

Deadhead miles, also known as “empty miles” in the logistics industry, describe the situation where a truck is returning to its home base empty after delivering cargo. This can be a local trip back home or crossing the entire country. Empty miles for a truck driver means waste. Think about it - they have to pay for fuel, tyre replacements, and they don’t even get paid for their time driving the truck.

Thankfully, there is Convoy, America’s leading digital freight network that seeks to transform excess capacity into endless capacity.

In the ‘Sharing Economy 1.0 of Ubers and Airbnbs’ , the promise of sharing was half-fulfilled.

It turned out that the resolved challenge was information asymmetry and not excess capacity. Airbnb solved the problem of ‘how many apartments are available for a three-day stay?’ and Uber solved the problem of ‘how long would it take for me to get a cab ride?’

Here is a simple test. When was the last time you actually shared a ride with a stranger or lived with your Airbnb hosts?

I believe companies like Convoy represent the ‘true manifestation’ of the ethos of the sharing economy- where one person’s excess becomes his profit, and another’s discount.

The Power of Homes

I consider home to be a significant space in my life. It was where I celebrated Chinese New Year and Christmases with my friends and family, where I introduced my girlfriend to my family and where I returned for respite.

Only recently did I realise how powerful one’s home could be. If one (or more) wanted to dedicate themselves to a relentless pursuit of greatness, it might be wise to start from home. After all, it is the perfect mix of privacy, economy and function.

You could even argue that Singapore was born out of a living room.

In late 1954, a group of English-educated middle-class friends began gathering at the basement dining room of 38 Oxley Road on Saturday afternoons to discuss setting up a new political party which we would later know as the PAP.

The host? Lee Kuan Yew. His company included the likes of Goh Keng Swee and S Rajaratnam.

In his memoir The Singapore Story, LKY described these meetings:

Our small group - Keng Swee, Chin Chye, Raja (S. Rajaratnam), Kenny (K. M. Byrne ) and I - had meanwhile been meeting on Saturday afternoons in my basement dining room at Oxley Road to consider the feasibility of forming a political party. The room was in a hot, uncomfortable part of the house facing the setting sun, and even with three wide-open windows, two open doors, and a powerful ceiling fan whirring it could become extremely muggy. But if the atmosphere was soporific, we were not.

It is no wonder home is where many visionaries gathered to build a product, a company and sometimes even a nation.

Visualisations Of The Day

This is really just to prove my point in the above section.

Left to Right: Lim Chin Siong, Sandrasegaran "Sidney" Woodhull, Fong Swee Suan and Devan Nair (Mothership)
Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google (Google)
Jeff Bezos at Amazon (Amazon)

Why You Should Bother Reading Books

If you are reading this, your job probably requires you to alchemise money with your thoughts. To read is to invest in your future self and, hopefully, your future bank account.

I think the Chinese proverb captures it best, ‘读万卷书,行万里路’. In English, it means, ‘To read ten thousand books is akin to walking ten thousand miles.’ The idea is that by reading, we can absorb the compressed lessons from the arduous journeys of others for our personal benefit.

By reading, you can listen to Aristotle at the agora, chat with Dwight Eisenhower, and even test Lee Kuan Yew’s view of the world (all at the pleasure of your own home).

I see the chance to read not only as an incredible opportunity to learn and ask questions but as a safe space where we can grapple with ideas.

To quote the American theologian William Ellery Channing,

Books are true levelers. They give to all, who will faithfully use them, the society, the spiritual presence, of the best and greatest of our race.

Thank you for reading this, and truly, may the sun shine upon your face,

Keith