Author: Peter Kang

Revisiting Good to Great and the Stop Doing List

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I spent an hour or so last night flipping through and re-reading parts of Good to Great by Jim Collins, the popular classic business book about the qualities that make companies successful. I first read the book over 5 years ago. That was a time when I began to pick up books on business with the goal of extracting lessons I could apply to Barrel. I remember a specific part of the book that I […]

Avoiding the Effort Heuristic in Client Work

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The effort heuristic is a mental rule of thumb in which the quality or worth of an object is determined from the perceived amount of effort that went into producing that object. In brief, the effort heuristic follows a tendency to judge objects that took a longer time to produce to be of higher value. – Wikipedia When it comes to managing a team that’s producing work for clients, it’s critical that everyone working on the […]

11 Years of Barrel, Some Lessons

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Every June 1, we celebrate the incorporation of Barrel. Most years, it’s a simple toast at the end of the day. Last year, on our 10-year anniversary, we had a nice party at one of my favorite restaurants. This year, we had margaritas and ice cream. We also launched a brand new website. What I most cherish about June 1 is that it gets me thinking about lessons I’ve learned in the past year. Over […]

Pointing the Finger Inward

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This brief article in The New York Times on cognitive dissonance and why’s it’s so difficult to admit that we’re wrong got me thinking about an important lesson that Sei-Wook and I learned some years ago–that it’s always better to find fault with what we did or didn’t do rather than trying to blame someone or something else. Over the years, we’ve gotten better and better at developing a decision tree on how to handle […]

Basic Decision Patterns

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I’m grossly oversimplifying what author Venkatesh Rao puts forward in his book Tempo: Timing Tactics and Strategy in Narrative-Driven Decision-making, but I liked his part on Basic Decision Patterns so much that I decided to create a more graphic representation of his 2×2 quadrant to help me remember it for later. His quadrant shows “Information Location” across the x-axis going from Internal to External and “Visibility of Mental Models” on the y-axis going from Low to […]

Examining the State of Distraction

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Distractions–the things that prevent us from giving someone or something our full attention–are present around us all the time. If it’s not coming externally through notifications on our devices, it’s likely to come from within. Maybe you remembered that you have to make an appointment or you’re really curious about the score of a game. Maybe you’re not quite engaged or feeling bored. Either way, we succumb so fast and so easily that we don’t […]

Trying to Get Smarter with Mental Models

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I’ve benefitted a great deal from reading more in the past 2-3 years than I did during my entire twenties. Each month, I felt myself thinking more clearly, rationally, and creatively about various topics and issues. The formula that I told myself was: read more books, get smarter. Sounds simple enough, right? A couple sources have helped me to reframe my thinking on this. The first is Tempo: Timing Tactics and Strategy in Narrative-Driven Decision-making by Venkatesh […]

Breathing to Ten

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I struggle mightily to close my eyes, focus, and breathe to a count of ten. At around four or five seconds, I can find my mind trying its best to fend off the thoughts knocking violently at its gates. By six or seven, there’s usually a breach. By eight or nine, I’ve already been overrun with a half dozen thoughts. And this is after more than a year of using Headspace, the meditation app. There […]

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now by Gordon Livingston (Quotes & Thoughts)

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Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now by Gordon Livingston is a collection of thirty essays by a seasoned psychiatrist (he passed away in 2016 at age 77) who reflects on various lessons learned from his time with patients and also from the ups and downs of his own life. There’s a poignancy to his writing, especially when he mentions the deaths of his two sons over a 13-month […]

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (Quotes & Thoughts)

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I like to highlight sentences and passages when I read a book on the Kindle app. Over time, this builds up a nice collection of quotes that I can reference. Unfortunately, I haven’t been as disciplined about revisiting the highlights. So, in an effort to get myself to revisit books and ideas that I found useful, I decided to pick a few quotes and write a few sentences on why I found the material worth […]

2016: Habits that Stuck

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Last year, I wrote about new habits that I picked up in 2015 that impacted my life positively. Fortunately for me, 2016 allowed me to continue in my experimentation with new behaviors. I hope to make my habits recap an annual practice. 2016 New Habits Weekday Meditation I began using the Headspace app in early 2016. It was tough to get used to as I kept falling asleep during the 10-minute guided sessions. But after […]

Learning to Run Pain-Free

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I’ve been raving to my friends about Ready to Run, a book by Crossfit San Francisco founder and physiotherapist Kelly Starrett. As I start my training for a half marathon in March, the biggest concern I had was the fear of injury. Last year, when I trained for the Brooklyn Half, I had a couple of weeks where pain in my ankles and toes kept me from being able to run the full program. It […]

Memorable Fiction: Books I Haven’t Forgotten

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fiction books

I’ve been trying to work more fiction into my reading mix recently. I only finished 1 fiction book in 2015 and I’m on pace to read about 8 or 9 fiction titles this year, still less than one a month. I remember a time when fiction made up 90-100% of my reading. But I’m not so sure I’ve retained much from many of the books I’ve read. I think part of it is that I’m […]

Am I Getting Enough Protein Without Meat?

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Breakfast featuring grapefruit, blueberries, and dates with green tea.

After switching my diet to a mostly plant-based one, the question I continue to get asked the most is: “How do you get enough protein?” My standard answer would be: “Oh, I eat a good amount of tofu, beans, and nuts.” But the thing was, I actually didn’t know how much protein I consumed and if it was indeed “enough”. I assumed that with my weight and muscle mass in a pretty stable place, I was […]

Organizing Clothes

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I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing on and off for the past few months. I recently bought some new clothes taking advantage of a Black Friday sale on Bonobos and also a sample sale by our client Gitman Bros. I thought it’d be a good opportunity to reassess my wardrobe and get rid of some things. One thing that was immediately apparent to me […]


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I’m working my way through Toughness by Jay Bilas. It was recommended to me by one of our designers at Barrel. It’s an excellent read so far, and I decided to look up the article that inspired the book. Jay Bilas is an ESPN basketball analyst, and he wrote about toughness back in 2009 that became a very popular piece. The article is hidden behind the paywall, but you can check out a saved PDF here. […]

The Foundation of Growth Concept

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For our Grove Ave venture, Welton and I have been working through a concept that we’re calling “Foundation of Growth”. As we begin to build up the Grove Ave brand and philosophy, we’ve been looking for ways to articulate the company’s mission. I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts here and explain how the Foundation of Growth tie into the Grove Ave mission. Over the past couple of years, Welton and I have talked at […]

Escaping Bad Habits at Work

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This is a reminder for myself to reassess my day-to-day activities and to focus my efforts on areas that will have greater positive impact on the company. In recent months, I’ve had some difficulty prioritizing and identifying the areas where my efforts will have the greatest impact. As a result, I’ve found myself frustrated, scatter-brained, and also uncertain about a number of things. While this feeling has been on my mind, I’ve also been evasive […]

Inventorying Some Small Pleasures

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I just finished taking my 2-week antibiotic treatment for an H.Pylori infection. For over a month, I felt sharp stomach pains whenever I finished a meal or went running. I got myself checked out, got a diagnosis, and quickly started the treatment. Fortunately for me, the pains are gone, and I feel pretty good. I’ll have to start loading up on probiotics to build up the good bacteria that the antibiotics destroyed. My ordeal was fairly […]

Looking Back on an Eventful Month

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June felt particularly eventful this year. I jotted down some of the memorable moments over the past few weeks and thought I’d reflect on my favorite happenings. I can’t tell if June was actually more eventful than other months or if it was because I took the time to think about my experiences more so than usual. I wouldn’t mind if it was the latter. Too many months go by in a blur, one indistinguishable from the […]