How to Think For Yourself (Alexandria Issue #031)

Adam Sadowski
5 min readJan 7, 2021


The best content related to design, technology, and productivity. Sent every month.

Featured Article


“One of the biggest things holding people back from doing great work is the fear of making something lame. And this fear is not an irrational one. Many great projects go through a stage early on where they don’t seem very impressive, even to their creators. You have to push through this stage to reach the great work that lies beyond. But many people don’t. Most people don’t even reach the stage of making something they’re embarrassed by, let alone continue past it. They’re too frightened even to start…”

Photo by Halacious on Unsplash

More Amazing Reads

Martha Graham on the Hidden Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others

“…Martha Graham’s advice takes this concept a step further by explaining that not only are you a bad judge of your own work, it is not your job to judge your own work. It is not your place to compare it to others. It is not your responsibility to figure out how valuable it is or how useful it can be. It is not your job to tell yourself, “No.”

Instead, your responsibility is to create. Your job is share what you have to offer from where you are right now. To quote Pema Chodron, the Buddhist teacher, your job is to “come as you are.” (And then find your inner Sisu and keep coming.)”

High Velocity Questions

“One of the most effective ways to transform conversations and supercharge learning is to get in the habit of asking what I call high-velocity questions. A high-velocity question asks one thing but accomplishes multiple things. It can set a tone, make the guest think, and even add an element of surprise for the guest and the audience. By its nature velocity is urgent; it’s on its way somewhere and fast. Velocity does not rush, it simply moves with purpose. When an object moves with velocity and meets something on the end of its path, dramatic, often surprising things can happen. That’s the life I want crackling through my conversations.”

7 Cognitive Biases That Make Us Suck at Time Management

“In the 1970s, Israeli psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman turned the field of economics upside down by observing what, in hindsight, seems obvious: people act against their rational self-interest all the time. But where many people saw random quirks of human psychology, Tversky and Kahneman saw patterns.

Over decades of research and experiments, the pair found that we all tend to make the same mental mistakes, and we make them over and over again. Humans are irrational, yes. But they are, as psychologist Dan Ariely named his book on the subject, predictably irrational. Which is very good news for us.”

How to Think for Yourself

“There’s room for a little novelty in most kinds of work, but in practice there’s a fairly sharp distinction between the kinds of work where it’s essential to be independent-minded, and the kinds where it’s not.

I wish someone had told me about this distinction when I was a kid, because it’s one of the most important things to think about when you’re deciding what kind of work you want to do. Do you want to do the kind of work where you can only win by thinking differently from everyone else? I suspect most people’s unconscious mind will answer that question before their conscious mind has a chance to.”

Lessons Learned From Growing 27 Years Young

#6 Inversion: “Here’s a simple mental model that can make your life easier to navigate. Instead of looking for “how to be a good boss”, invert the question. Identify instead the reasons that come up when you research “how to be a bad boss”. Apply via negativa, by avoiding the attributes of a bad boss you already become a good one.”

Breaking Down What Makes a Great Product Designer

“To do strong design work, you have to be well versed in fundamental skills. It’s a prerequisite for the job. This is the raw ability to take inputs and transform them into something meaningful based on your technical knowledge of tools and concepts. Craft is your knowledge of the tools, methods, and techniques to get the work done. A good designer has a solid grasp of the fundamentals that are usually studied in school, but not everything will be or is expected to be mastered at an academic setting.

The most important skill of all? Learn how to continue acquiring new skills or renewing existing ones as product design changes rapidly.”

Defining Anti-Persona’s

“When you define an anti-persona, stating the obvious is not helpful. For example, if I’m a new SaaS tool for marketers, an anti-persona of VP’s of Finance is not helpful. The team knows that isn’t who they are targeting (hopefully). They all generally had the problem that led them to a tool to be more effective at marketing, but they had variations of the problem that the tool did not serve well and was not designed for. As a result, these anti-personas would be high sources of low converting leads, customer support requests, feature requests that didn’t make sense, and ultimately higher CAC and lower LTV.”

Super Practical (Non-technical) Guide to Color Theory and Perfect Color Palettes in UI Design

“There are a lot of great articles and videos about color theory and the color wheel and a lot of tools for generating color palettes out there. But sometimes you’ll find in practice that those articles don’t quite click, that the color combinations don’t match very well or that the generated color palettes just don’t work as well in the context of your project.

So what do you do? How can you start thinking about and seeing colors in a way that makes them easier for you to choose and tweak to your needs?”

Knowledge Building Blocks: The New Meaning of Notes

“Now that our notes are digital, they can become durable. They can last for the long term, supporting our long-term goals and ambitions without relying on our fragile memory. But to fully embrace this digital future, we need to flip the definition of note-taking on its head, and leave behind the outdated approach we learned in school. Here is my proposed definition: A digital note is a “knowledge building block” — a discrete unit of information interpreted through your unique perspective and stored outside your head…”



Sidekick — The Fastest Work Browser Ever

“We rebuilt the browser from the ground up, to make you brilliant at what you do.”

The Good Line-Height

“Have you ever needed to create a type scale following an 8 point baseline grid, or really any grid, and had to spend extra time figuring out what should be the right line-height for every text size in the scale?”

Roy — Tiny Color Picker

“The best color picker for designers. A tiny menu bar app that makes picking colors a breeze.”