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Unsure - Issue #1

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Welcome back. I’ve moved my newsletter to Revue and decided to restart the issue numbering since that’s what Revue clearly wants me to do. So enjoy Issue One. Again.
Over at my blog (I have a blog!*) I wrote about Flex Fridays, my favorite employee benefit that’s now gone away. 
It seems I’m often in the position of fighting for better employee benefits. Once I addressed the entire company on a retreat (with the CEO sitting beside me) about the poor health insurance it provided. As a staunch introvert, I hate making waves—especially audibly. But it feels like many employees just accept that what they have is what they get and don’t understand the power they have to improve things.
You can tell a lot about a company’s leadership (and therefore the company’s culture) by how they respond to criticism of the policies they implemented. In the case of the poor health insurance, the company improved it drastically the next cycle—and the CEO sent me a message to make sure I knew about it. From then on in interviews with potential new hires, I praised the leadership for listening to their employees.
Even we timid introverts can affect change at high levels. It can be overwhelming at first. But if you’re kind about it and do kick-ass work that makes the company want to keep you around, all kinds of things are possible.
So I’ll roll up my sleeves again and see what we can do about this Flex Fridays thing.
Nathan
*My previous newsletter issues (1-5) are archived on the blog.

Scott Jensen braves Tesla fanboidom with a short piece on UI design. And he’s right. 
The only thing I’d add is that frequently, even seemingly well known icons are not enough. Not everyone has the same experiences, not all symbols land the same with everyone, not everyone “learns” what a strange new icon does after the first—or 27th—time they use it (looking at you, VSCO). So throw some labels under those icons in the user’s preferred language and make them visible 100% of the time.
Better yet, have they considered physical buttons?
When I was introduced to Matt Mullenweg in 2011, I made a crack about how I’d wanted to use Tumblr for our company blog but our CEO insisted I use WordPress (our CEO sat on Matt’s board at Automattic).
Now Automattic owns Tumblr and isn’t slowing down. By all accounts, Automattic is one of those rare (private) companies that makes money, but not at the expense of doing good and taking care of their people. 
In a time when shaky ‘decentralization’ is the happening trend, WordPress continues to enable average people to create their own online space, hosted wherever they want. This is what the internet used to be before lock-in-for-ad-views, and the tech has existed for decades. It’s not shiny and new, but maybe we don’t need to burn the planet just to escape Facebook’s grasp. 
Maybe we should just embrace blogging—millions of personal, hosted databases instead of one shared blockchain. After all, your device’s (untrusted) browser isn’t even part of the [Magical Decentralized Web3 Starburst Badge]. 
Smarter people than I have thoughts. Read Moxie Marlinspike on the subject. And check out this in-depth piece on Matt Mullenweg over at Protocol.
Tech giants can’t be trusted. So when Google “grandfathered” me into free Google Apps (cum-G Suite-cum-Google Workspace) accounts, it was inevitable that it would end. A little surprising that it took a decade.
Due to the backlash, Google’s trying to come up with ways of transitioning people (read: people’s data) to free Gmail accounts. That’s an okay solution if there was only user on the domain. 
The thing that bugs me is that continuing to grandfather these plans costs Google basically nothing. It’s a free Gmail account with a mapped domain. And the little bit of generated income from people who opt to pay can’t be worth the PR backlash—especially considering that the real money comes from ads.
In my case, I opted to move my email (let’s be honest, these accounts weren’t using any other features) to iCloud+, which I already pay for as a deeply embedded Apple user (instructions here).
I didn’t know Apple offered this, or I would’ve done it sooner. Given that no for-profit company with access to my information can ever truly be trusted, I trust Apple more than I trust Google. Maybe it’s the lack of targeted ads beside my personal messages because Apple makes money on real products instead of by selling me. Seems at least marginally related to my trust level.
When you buy something, you’re paying for it twice. First when you lay out the dollars to obtain the thing; second when you devote time and mental capacity and exact a physical and emotional toll to use the thing. This is as true of a meal out as it is of that fancy new camera gimbal you just can’t seem to balance for use in a hobby you can’t find time to develop an interest in.
The key is the return on investment. Obviously, the best returns are from the things that cost the least in first and second costs but reap the biggest benefits. 
For instance, praising a coworker. There is no first cost and the second cost (going out of your comfort zone) is low, but the benefits include an improved relationship, joy for both parties, and respect earned. In other words, the ROI is invaluable.
Fast food carries a marginal first cost, but a hefty second cost paid in the form of physical wellbeing. The costs outweigh the benefit of satisfying a craving.
A failure to consider both costs leads to piling up books and toys, poor health, a feeling of being overwhelmed by our inability to pay the second cost at all for things we swore would be beneficial when we paid the first cost.
If we’ve dug into a hole of paid first costs without the capacity to pay the second, sometimes a clean slate is what we need. Give away those physical items we’ll never realistically use. Delete (gasp) those ebooks we’ll never read.
Or maybe we need to shift the second costs from those movies and streaming services we paid the first cost for to the books. In other words, pay the second cost for the things with a higher benefit return, let the other things go.
Since reading the article on Raptitude, I’ve been trying to think more about these costs. Almost everything we do in life can be viewed through this lens, and considering the return ratio of every decision will make us exponentially more happy.
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