To Be And To Last #41

This week we explore the perfect timezone app, a $900 million accidental money transfer, and Feynman’s story of fire.

💸 The day Citigroup accidentally transferred $900 million

If you think you’re having a bad day, just imagine being the person that accidentally wired $900 million.

Acting as a loan agent for a client, Citigroup intended to pay scheduled interest on various loans, but accidentally repaid the entire balance instead - close to a billion dollars in total.

While some of the recipients returned the money on request, many were happy for the loans to be repaid and aren’t interested in giving back the money: keeping $500 million of repaid loans.

This puts Citigroup in an awkward spot as loan agent who was only authorized to pay interest, and it puts the whole thing into the court system.

🌋 Stories make the world go ‘round

“The Uber map is a psychological moonshot because it does not reduce the waiting time for a taxi but simply makes waiting 90 per cent less frustrating.

It seems likely that the biggest progress in the next 50 years may come not from improvements in technology but in psychology and design thinking. Put simply, it’s easy to achieve massive improvements in perception at a fraction of the cost of equivalent improvements in reality.”

- Rory Sutherland in Alchemy

Telling stories or adding marketing to something can sometimes feel wrong: shouldn’t the product speak for itself? But while stories can certainly be used for evil - convincing us of lies - stories also hold unbounded opportunity for good - helping us understand a product, a concept, or even reality.

Richard Feynman (a brilliant physicist) demonstrates the power of stories to simplify the complex in this brief five minute clip about volcanos:

[h/t Morgan Housel]

🔮 UX feels like magic to me

I’m decent at coding or otherwise hacking things together, but the art of making those things human-friendly? It’s a skill I’ve long struggled to improve.

To that end, I loved this live 10 minute UX redesign that transforms an unusable lump of elements into the Tesla of timezone tools.

Best paired with Learn UI’s excellent four principles of intuitive UX.


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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