Astro Teller is the ‘Captain of Moonshots’ at X.

X is a company owned by Google. It’s projects are aim for “moonshot” breakthroughs that could have a major positive impact on society.

X emphasizes the importance of rapid prototyping, experimentation, and failure.

In Tackle the monkey first, Teller outlines their approach to project development.

Let’s say you’re trying to teach a monkey how to recite Shakespeare while on a pedestal. How should you allocate your time and money between training the monkey and building the

Because the pedestal is easy, and we know what to do, many would start with designing and building a perfect pedestal.

Astro reminds us “Don’t use up all your resources on the easy stuff

Annie Duke explores this principle in her newsletter

Monkeys and pedestals tells us to attack the hard thing first because if we can’t solve for that there is really no point in doing the rest of the work. In fact, in project presentations at X, you’ll see #MONKEYFIRST all over the decks as a constant reminder to figure out what the bottlenecks are and to solve for those before building a bunch of pedestals.

She notes that this is the opposite of the way many projects are managed. “Let’s tackle the low hanging fruit first.”

By adopting a #MONKEYFIRST approach, you can quickly identify when a project is unachievable, before wasting time and resources.

Seth Godin also emphasises the importance of doing the real work.

In Godin’s view, the “real work” is the work that truly matters in making a meaningful impact, and often involves taking risks, making difficult decisions, and pushing beyond your comfort zone. However, many people get sidetracked by details, distractions, or tasks that may be easier or more comfortable, but ultimately do not move them closer to their goals.

For example, you intent to launch a podcast.

Don’t start by seeking the ultimate microphone, taking a course in audio editing, making your logo look pixel perfect. You know you can do those things.

#MONKEYFIRST reminds us that the real work is to record one interview on a subject that would be of interest to a minimally viable audience.

Do you think a #MONKEYFIRST approach is useful? Have you seen any classic examples of #PEDESTALFIRST?

Let us know in the comments.

What I Learnt On 21st April in other years

21st April 2011 Follow Up ThenFollow Up Then
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Jun 14 2021

Quokka Selfies

Quokka1In 1696, Dutch seaman Willem de Vlamingh explored and named Rottnest Island. (‘Rat nest’ in Dutch).

He was misinformed.

‘Quokka’ is the Nyungar name for the marsupial that is plentiful on the island and the star of so many #quokkaselfies.

There are about 12000 quokkas on Rottnest, and very very few anywhere else. They are all ridiculous.

I think it is best that you know nothing about them until you visit their island home, which I highly recommend.


What I Learnt On 14th June in other years

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It’s the first Monday in June, so it’s Western Australia Day, a public holiday here in Perth.

Western Australia occupies about a third of Australia’s land mass, one tenth of the population (2.6m), and produces about half of Australia’s exports.

It was first settled about 60000 years ago. The Nyoongar are the traditional owners of Perth and the South West.

Western Australia was claimed for the British crown in 1827 and the Swan River Colony was established in 1829 in what is now Perth. This is the event that is commemorated on Western Australia Day.

Some notes from our guides –

Everything is bigger and better in the West

‘Kings Park’ is the biggest park in the world, bigger than Central Park

Fremantle is one of the second busiest ports in the world.

Optus Stadium is the best new stadium in the world. I think this is correct

Don’t feed the Quokkas as they will die a slow, painful, horrible death. Jeez

Happy WA Day!


What I Learnt On 7th June in other years

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Travellers from ‘over east’ need a pass to enter both Western Australia and Tasmania.

I wasn’t aware of this till on the plane! If you are planning to travel to WA, be more organised than I am and apply for your pass before you set off.

The g2gpass is an initiative of the WA police.

Visit and complete the pages of questions about where you have been and where you are staying. Rather ominously, one of the questions asks where you will quarantine for 14 days if ordered to do so.

Upload an ID document (photo of drivers licence seemed to be sufficient). Verify your email.

The application form says it may take 4 days to process your g2gpass. Our approval was immediate (fortunately). I suspect it wouldn’t have been so smooth if we had been to Victoria.

Then download the g2gpass app. Log in, and voila, there is your QI code pass. Note that the web form has to be completed before you can log in to the app.

A friendly WA policeman will scan your pass as you get off the plane. I don’t know what happens if you haven’t followed the correct processes. I don’t want you to find out.

While on the App Store, download the SafeWA App so you can check in to venues. The Services NSW App won’t cut it out west.

My guess is that g2g stands for ‘Good to Go’. I couldn’t see any mention of this anywhere. Any alternative suggestion?

What I Learnt On 6th June in other years

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The practice

The most interesting flavours come from unexpected combinations.

Hybrid vigour.

A delivery today from my favourite magic shop containing a book – and a pack of magic cards – from my favourite author.

it doesn’t get more exciting than that!

What I Learnt On 2nd June in other years

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