To Be And To Last #24

This week we explore my favorite author of the last 100 years, the path that led Airbnb to its iconic messaging, and the secret to Shopify’s productivity.

Power, and those who play with it

Robert Caro is the greatest author of the last hundred years and The Passage of Power is his Mona Lisa. The fourth book in Caro’s series on Lyndon B. Johnson, this masterpiece is more than a biography: it’s a look at the times of LBJ and the powers shaping those times. And through that historical lens, Caro manages to illuminate the political powers still influencing our world, and America particularly.

If you read only one book over the next few months, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. In the words of Conan O’Brien, “I’m a fan to a disturbing level.”

“Don’t Go There. Live There”

Of all the marketing campaigns I’ve digested in my life, Airbnb’s ‘Belong Anywhere’ message has felt the most meaningful to me. I’ve lived in one of Hong Kong’s famous micro-apartments; I’ve lived just off NYC’s Union Square, and I’ve lived in a cozy little apartment in Madrid’s suburbs, all thanks to Airbnb.

So I quite enjoyed Douglas John Atkin’s write up on how Airbnb found it’s Purpose (not just a brand).

(thanks to Studio D’s excellent newsletter)

How Shopify Works

Eight years ago, I reveled in Gawker’s ‘How I Work’ series (Tim Ferriss, Maria Popova), as they provided a small window into the working habits of different humans.

More recently, I loved this video from Jean-Michel Lemieux (Shopify CTO) that dives deep into how Shopify manages projects. I’m particularly eager to experiment with the real-time feedback exercise.


To Be And To Last: Thinker Nate Desmond’s weekly roundup of long reads, contrarian thoughts, and hidden jewels that aren’t getting enough attention.

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