Alexandria — Issue #008: Clinging to Conventional Wisdom

Adam Sadowski
6 min readAug 2, 2019


A bi-weekly newsletter dedicated to bringing you the best content related to design, technology, and entrepreneurship.

This edition’s feature provides a fantastic breakdown for how you can use various mental models to make effective decisions.

It’s great to see that writers are labeling and exposing dark patterns more and more, and the “possibility gap” is a great example of how products and services take advantage of what their users’ don’t know. We follow with several design-related articles, from how one should present to non-designers, next steps after graduating design school, becoming a self-taught designer, and finishing with an introduction to DesignOps.

The second half dips its toe in a bit of behavioral science and theory as we talk about clinging to conventional wisdom, the psychology of prediction, and coaching oneself through positive habits. To finish, a few product and entrepreneurial bits share the crazy ride that being apart of a startup is with lessons every step of the way.

For resources, the nomad list has been updated with new data for the best places to live and work remotely, printable device mockups to make sketching easier and faster, a library of free high-quality SVG icons, a stupid simple web app for taking notes, a handy little .ZIP file editor, and a new file transfer service launched by FireFox.

Thanks for reading!


Featured Article

Mental Model Examples

Mental models are frameworks for thinking. They simplify complex things so your brain can reason through them. They are shortcuts through the noise. You use them to make good decisions without needing to know everything about a situation.

More Amazing Reads

The Possibility Gap: It’s Time to Label This Dark Pattern
The Possibility Gap is a dark pattern that arises when a product takes advantage of unknown unknowns on the part of their users, as it relates to their understanding of what is possible in digital products today.

11 Tips for Presenting Your UI/UX Designs to Non-designers

As a designer, you spend a lot of time presenting and reviewing work with others. How do you get the best results? How do you ensure that you’re communicating to the best of your ability? I’ve been presenting work to clients and colleagues for a while now. Over the years, I’ve learned and employed some essential habits so that presentations go smoothly and I get the best from the group. In this post, I’ll share my best tips on how to pitch and present your design work to non-designers so you can walk away with quality, actionable feedback.

What To Do After Graduating from Design School?
The questions you should be asking yourself aren’t about whether you like the company’s product, but about whether you like their work environment. Do you really want to work for a huge company (read: do you enjoy cutting through red tape)? When you design something, how many departments will have to sign off on it? Do you want to be part of a big team, or a small team? And maybe most importantly, who are you actually working with day to day?

How to Become a Designer Without Going to Design School
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” ― Ira Glass

DesignOps 101

DesignOps is the glue that holds the design organization together, and the bridge that enables collaboration among cross-disciplinary team members. DesignOps cannot be an afterthought in a landscape where design teams continue to grow in size, UX work continues to be requested at an increasing rate, design-team members continue to become dispersed, and the complexity of our design processes skyrockets.

How we work together, how we get our work done, and how our work creates impact must be intentionally and intelligently crafted.

The 3 Psychological Reasons We Cling to Conventional Wisdom (and How to Break Free)
In our work, we simply can’t afford to make decisions when we feel helpless, nervous, or mindless, at least not if we hope to push beyond conventional thinking to be more creative. Three psychological barriers explain our tendency to cling to the general wisdom and favor absolutes, rather than act as we should: like investigators.

The Psychology of Prediction

#1. The distinction between “wrong” vs. “early” has less to do with analytics than the social ability to prevent listeners from giving up on you.

How I Coach Myself — Learning Lessons and Making Real Changes
The most career limiting thing you can do is to fail to grow. The skills and behaviors that lead to promotion and success early in your career are rarely, if ever, the ones that lead to success later in your career. Yet successfully developing over time can be incredibly difficult as it requires undoing old behaviors.

Ten Human Skills for the Future of Work

Whether it’s the emotional cues spinning by in a meeting headed for disarray, curiosity that could turn a business-as-usual day into an internal spark reminding you why you got into this darn job in the first place, or the art of making space for conflict resolution that’s going to save us all, here are ten ways to salvage our better selves and keep us from mutating into workplace monsters.

I Asked 100 Founders, CEOs and VCs About Career Transitions — Here’s What I Learned
A founder’s life leaves little time for pause. From the moment that the next big startup idea strikes, the tempo is set by the breakneck quest to scale. There’s always another hole to patch, another fundraise, another urgent priority that compels founders to be both masters of time management and of managing stress in a pressure-cooker environment. Pulling the brakes on the forward-barrelling train of startup life seems unthinkable — and if you do dare to halt the momentum, it can feel like pitching into a free-fall.

Why I Almost Walked Away From the $500k/mo Company I Founded

Today, I’m sharing the first part of a two-part story of some very grim months at Groove, the lessons they taught me, and how we turned things around to rebuild a company that’s never been stronger, more profitable or more well-positioned to remain successful for many, many years to come.

Sunsetting Sip: A Post Mortem
Whether you’re a solo maker or a multi-billion dollar company (like this), it’s always difficult to build something new that people want. With all the data and intuition, you’ll never really know if it works until you try. The key is making smart decisions and iterating quickly.


Nomad List — Best Cities to Live and Work Remotely for Digital Nomads
The best cities to live and work remotely for Digital Nomads, based on cost of living, internet speed, weather and other metrics. For startups that work remotely and digital nomads.

Printable Device Mockups

Printable device mockups to help you quickly sketch out ideas for the web, mobile devices, and watches.

Find, Customize & Generate Common SVG Icons
Simple tool to find, customize and generate common SVG icons for your project

Taky — Notes Web Application
Taky is a fast and no-frills note application for people who appreciate speed and simplicity. This note application comes from the need to have a web app that allows you to quickly write an idea.


Zipadee lets you quickly view the contents of a ZIP file, edit the files, then export an updated ZIP file.

Firefox Send
Encrypt and send files with a link that automatically expires to ensure your important documents don’t stay online forever.