January 13, 2021 (1 min read)

A better information diet

Technically speaking, a feed is just a stream of content that you can scroll through. The problem is not the feed as a format, but the feed as a model that can be used to hijack your attention.

And today, your attention is so valuable it is quite literally on auction 24/7. Reclaiming your attention and focus is then necessary to stay sane, keep control of your inputs, and be mindful about the ideas you're exposed to.

It's impossible to stay up to date with everything, and there's a lot of ego involved in trying to do it. The amount of incredible, quality content from smart and creative people…

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January 06, 2021 (2 min read)

You know more than you know you know

In a world ruled by data scientists and committees, being the person in the room that knows when to trust their gut can be your secret weapon, your competitive advantage.

Your intuition isn't just what you feel is right, right now. It should be informed by experience, first principles, good taste.

Example: Typefully wouldn’t have made it alive even after just a meeting in the average tech company, at least in my experience.

I can imagine the loud voices in the room, screaming:

  • This will take more than the 2-weeks allocated to this kind of project, pass.
  • We don’t know that Twitter won’t block this kind of API usage in 3 years, pass.
  • There are already 2 similar products, pass.
  • You should ask 100 Twitter users first if they think this would be useful.

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December 31, 2020 (4 min read)

20 things I've learned in 2020

I'm not a fan of retrospectives, but it's mostly because I'm afraid of being unimpressed with what I've achieved, or failing to remember what I've done. It's a weird kind of impostor syndrome I have with myself, which is doubly-stupid.

That being said, 2020 has been one hell of a year, a rollercoaster for both me and my co-founder — and I feel like it's been one of the years that changed me the most.

In fact, I've never spent as much time thinking and reading (for obvious reasons) as I did this year. This is an overused quote but it's so relevant here: All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. Well, this year I've spent a lot of time sitting quietly in a room, so that game me a lot…

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December 27, 2020 (5 min read)

Why we gave ourselves 6 months to make our company work

In 2019, my co-founder Francesco and I realized that to make our company work, we needed to focus more, and on the right things.

We left our day job in late 2018, and we started traveling and enjoying the new freedom of being entrepreneurs right away. But while we enjoyed this new lifestyle, we weren't really excited about the (very slow) growth of our company.

It was 2019 and our core business then was Boxy Suite, a Gmail client for Mac. It was paying the bills (and the plane tickets) but that ramen profitability was starting to linger a bit too long. Luckily, 2019 was also the year we started working on something new: a better way to get your favorite content, unplugging from feeds. Mailbrew

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September 07, 2020 (1 min read)

The Power of Defaults

The default effect states that people usually just accept the default option, even if better options are at arms’ reach.

In product design, it’s extremely important to keep this effect in mind, since giving wrong defaults could completely impair the ability of users to get value from the product, giving in some cases the wrong impression that the product doesn’t work or isn’t useful.

But we should think about defaults in our daily lives as well.

Having a certain breakfast every day, starting to work at a certain time, getting your news on some website, and taking a walk in a specific place are all things that can become defaults easily, making you completely ignore far better alternatives

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September 04, 2020 (1 min read)

Garbage In, Garbage Out

As Ryan Holiday writes in Stillness Is The Key:

There's a great saying: Garbage in, garbage out. If you want good output, you have to watch over the inputs.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the only way to live a meaningful life, nurture my mind, and cultivate good ideas is by ruthlessly eliminating sources of "garbage": useless news, noise, hate, uninformed opinions of vocal minorities etc.

As I've written before, I believe friction controls our lives, so it's easier to let the above garbage creep into your life (and mind) than to actively protect yourself from it.

I hope a new wave of mindful tech (borrowing the expression from Ali Mese during a call we had) will help us in this regard, filtering out…

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September 02, 2020 (2 min read)

Why we like MKBHD videos

The production quality of Marques Brownlee videos is stellar and Marques has developed through the years an incredible talent for visual storytelling.

But I'd like to get more into some of the specific reasons why I believe we love his videos. I'm a technologist, writer, and storyteller, so these things are often on my mind.

No unnecessary camera movements

Many people might confuse more camera movements as better storytelling, but 99% of the time it's the exact opposite. Think about how intentional David Fincher is with where he places the camera, and if it will move or won't. One emblematic…

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August 24, 2020 (1 min read)

The Rise of Slow Feeds

In a few years, they're going to be everywhere: slow feeds, one-off digests, highly filtered content from your favorite sources.

Fewer algorithms, less recommended content, more good stuff from people you actually care about.

We're already seeing it with Substack. How cumbersome is it to subscribe to a different newsletter from each writer you want to follow? Still, people would rather do this than get lost in yet another platform where the signal gets lost in a sea of noise.

The transition is also from synchronicity to asynchronicity. Staying home locked down for months helped us realize that…

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February 13, 2020 (4 min read)

I asked my users to explain my product to me

A few weeks ago I realized that while being deep down in building my next SaaS, I was losing touch with my product. Who's it for? What problem does it solve? It's easy to get lost in the details, and lack a true high-level vision of what your product does, and for whom.

So I had an idea to send all my users (automatically after a couple of weeks since signing up) a little survey asking for feedback, specifically to understand our value proposition in the eyes of the user.

This is the email I've started sending them:

Hi [user], can I ask you a few questions regarding Mailbrew?

It's a quick private survey only for early users, so your feedback is invaluable.

Take the 90-seconds survey here (link).

Thanks so much in advance. Mailbrew is improving thanks to people like you, and I'm excited to make the product even more amazing.

Fabrizio Rinaldi
Co-Founder of Mailbrew

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January 16, 2020 (1 min read)

How I've started sticking to new habits

I’ve tried many different “habit tracking apps” in the past, and the only thing they have in common is that they didn’t work. I might have stuck with a habit for a few weeks or months, but in the end, I always lost a streak, stopped using the app, and eventually abandoned the habit.

In the last couple of years though I’ve finally started building a few healthy habits without any external aid.

What worked this time? A simple shift in thinking.

For example, take reading.

My old rationale was: I want to read 10 pages per day. Or I want to read 5 days in a row. Or maybe I want to read 50 books…

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January 10, 2020 (2 min read)

There Are No Hacks

As a startup founder and software maker, I recently had a recurring thought while building multiple products at Superlinear: there are no hacks.

Sure, there are growth hacks, there are hackish things you can do to build a huge following, there’s an infinite amount of A/B tests you can do, there are shortcuts to rank on Google, there are techniques to get more likes on your posts etc. And sure, in certain cases, for example for businesses that have a lot of cash to spare, it makes a lot of sense to try these things.

But if you’re a small, focused company or even a solo founder, no amount of hacks can substitute creating things that people want, and putting your heart in it

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January 04, 2020 (1 min read)

Kill your ego

Want to kill your ego?
Imagine your life until now being something you read, not something you were subjected too, then start thinking about what the character should do. (source)

This is a very powerful statement. Most of us would know exactly what the character should do — to feel better, to be better — yet many of us would just go on and keep doing the same things that hurt us, or prevent us to move forward, grow, improve.

It’s easier to read the book, than to write it. We’re addicted to our hardships.

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October 14, 2019 (1 min read)

What makes Joker a powerful movie

Ever since I watched Joker I've been wondering why it resonates so much with audiences. The audience reaction in the theater where I watched it felt so different than what I've been seeing in the last few years, and it seems to go from interested to confused, amused, scared and so much more until the end, where a big applause exploded during the credits.

It would be wrong to feel the applause was just to the movie, it almost felt like it was to the character itself, but not for his (condemnable) actions, but rather for how genuine and true it felt. And that's when I realized much of the power of this film comes from one thing: its…

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October 07, 2019 (3 min read)

3 Advanced Workflows for "Things" Power User

I've been a Things user for around 10 years. I don't think there's another software I've been using so reliably, for so long, like Things, and it's pretty crazy to think about using any single app for more than a few years.

I love its slow and deliberate development cycle, its almost perfect feature set, how committed it is to a simple but powerful GTD approach, and the near-perfection of its user interface — as a designer, I love just looking at the UI, and its delightful interactions.

Even after all these years spent using it, I've recently fine-tuned a few Things workflows that have made me…

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September 01, 2019 (1 min read)

Friction

Friction is described as the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other — but there's a different kind of friction that I often think about: the friction to do something good when doing nothing is easier; the friction to change a routine; the friction to throw things out instead of just leaving them hanging around; the friction to go to the gym even if you're a little tired.

Friction permeates every aspect of out life, and reducing (or adding) friction can be an effective strategy to change things. The next time you do something that doesn't make you feel good, or you don't do something that would make you feel good, try to think if adding…

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April 30, 2019 (4 min read)

A new beginning

It's been a long time since I wrote anything on a personal blog, and I must admit I missed it. This is an important year for me, almost critical: I left my job a few months ago, started my own company with Francesco, I'm slowly getting back into filmmaking and I've got other projects ready to start. I'm also dedicating more time and energy to my mental and phisical wellbeing, which I somewhat neglected lately.

With so many things on my mind, and so many exciting projects going on (or about to start), I felt like it was time to start a blog again.

I also completely revamped this website. Lately I've been taking programming a bit more seriously and I'm having a lot of fun with React, so I've built this site with GatsbyJS, which is a super popular framework based on React. I've also built my company's website with this framework, and I'm pumped to launch that today as well: please welcome Superlinear

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