135: Vaccine Trials

Pandemic life is starting to get old, and I’d love to go back to normal as fast as possible. There’s good news on that front. Yesterday morning, one volunteer in Georgia got an injection that kicked off the first large-scale vaccine trial in the US. The study will test 30,000 healthy people at about 89 sites around the US to determine whether the vaccine (developed by Moderna) works.

Also, yesterday afternoon, Pfizer also announced that it will also begin a late-stage study of a vaccine, with the first shots to be given today (Tues). The trial will also include 30,000 people, from 39 states.

If all goes well and the vaccine is effective, Moderna said it should be able to deliver 500 million doses this year (2020), and up to a billion per year starting in 2021. I love the optimism. I had all but given up hope of anything happening in 2020.

An update about my Side-Effect statements: I talked with a pharma rep this weekend who stated that Stage 3 side effects in a drug trial is more akin to a bad headache than paralysis. Stage 4 means hospitalization, so it does encompass everything before before hospitalization but it usually means being under the weather. All that said, if there was a vaccine that knocked me out for a day – I’d be fine with that. I bet we all would. Continue reading “135: Vaccine Trials”

Coronavirus Log – Day 25: WFH

This cover is from the new NY Times Magazine cover article “What is life like right now on the life-and-death shift?” showing photographed workers on the front lines of Covid-19 in northern Italy.

What I’m thinking about: Working from Home

I’ve been working from home for the past year. One thing I noticed recently is that lots of other companies aren’t doing it very well. Over the past years, I’ve learned some modern work-from-home concepts. Specifically, there are 5 levels of remote work. The levels are:

  1. Thinking this is temporary, and waiting to get back to the office to do your work.
  2. Trying to recreate the office environment. This means trying to do things in-person, keeping all the interactions real-time, and making sure people are present and available during work hours. I saw a lot of companies here when coronavirus started. People were still expected to be online from 9 to 5, and in some cases employers installing screen-logging software on their employee machines so that they can play the role of Big Brother.
  3. Acceptance and adaptation. Here, companies and employees invest in their home office with better videos and possibly noise cancellation machines. Meetings move to shared docs and people start working asynchronously.
  4. Fully asynchronous. Getting to a place where you can actually get more done because you’re at home. This is where you want to be.

    Companies that truly practice asynchronous communication have stepped out of the industrial revolution, and no longer conflate presence with productivity, or hours with output, as one might on the factory floor.

  5. Nirvana. This is where your distributed team works better than any in-person team ever could.

The analogy I loved is that the Japanese 4×100 track team in the 2016 Olympics. They were massive underdogs. In fact, nobody bet on them to medal. Not one runner could run under 10 seconds:

But because they mastered the baton handoff, they shaved seconds off their race and came in 2nd. That’s right, the Japanese got the silver medal because they were better and the handoff.

The idea here is that, as a company, you can master how work and ideas are handed off between employees your company can be much faster, more efficient, and a better place to work than others.

True asynchronous working is the place you need to get to. We’re working on it at Onward and so far it’s been great. Using the tool Notion is a big piece of it. I love Notion and the fact that it’s worth $2 Billion with only 40 employees should indicate this is a popular trend. I could talk about this for hours, but here’s a good place to start: a good post that goes into this.

Other Items

At my house it’s Spring Break which means there are no lesson plans coming from school. Instead, our current project is for Hunter and Sasha to make 7 really nice cards to send to their grandparents and cousins.

Speaking of Sports (from yesterday’s email), the Rakuten Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (which is Taiwan) will play games in front of 500 robot mannequins dressed up as fans.

Also, the second episode of Some Good News by John Krasinski landed yesterday. Pretty funny and good:


The virus is starting to get out more and more in the US. I thought it was interesting to see that only 1 or 2 out of 10 know someone who has it. I know a few people.

New daily cases are shown below.

Thoughts on Rubio

The season starts tonight for the Timberwolves.  As part of that, this will be a defining year for Ricky Rubio.  


His contract is up at the end of the year and he has already rejected a 4 year $48m offer.  For the other positions they have:

  • Center: Pekovic and Deng – both above average centers in the league
  • PF: Thad Young – an above average PF in the league
  • SF: Andrew Wiggins – predicted to be the next Tracy McGrady
  • SG: Kevin Martin – pretty good 

Ricky is supposedly the leader of that group.  Looking at that lineup, if they don’t do well, it’s probably his fault and his inability to impact games.  If they do well, it’s likely because he has a great season.  As Rubio goes, so do the Wolves. 

They way I figure this goes is one of two directions: 

Direction ONE: the Wolves do well, i.e. approach 35 wins and compete for a playoff spot.  In this scenario, I think they pony up and pay Rubio more money

Direction TWO: the Wolves are a lottery team.  In this scenario, they don’t resign Ricky and draft a point guard in the lottery. 

That’s my guess.  Any thoughts?


Looking back at 2011

Some things i’ll remember about 2011:

Steve Jobs’ Death & Legacy. As Esquire says…

No one ever died the way Steve Jobs died. Other people have died of cancer. Other people have died in the public eye.  But no one has ever died with the inexorable logic of their mortality feeding into a logic of expectation that they themselves created and aroused.

Reading about Steve Jobs in 2011 was a terrific experience.  He inspired me to take my passion in products to the next level.  He was truly a special individual and will be missed.

Mavericks vs. Heat. The stage was set: a team of underdogs who lost to the Heat in 2006 vs. a team of selfish divas. Down 2-1 and nearly 3-1, the scappy Mavs fought back and took the title in the most exciting NBA Finals I’ve ever seen. Continue reading “Looking back at 2011”

Yes, I’m excited for the Timberwolves

I’m a big NBA fan.  Each year i get excited to see how the MN Timberwolves do and i’m especially excited this year.

The only way to become great in the NBA is through the draft.  It’s the only way to get the true superstar and you need the true superstar to win a championship.  You have no idea when you draft Dwanye Wade or Kobe Bryant if they are going to be All-NBA or out of the league in 5 years.  Some players fizzle, some grow to superstardom – you never know.  But one thing you do know is that if a player becomes an elite player, the Timberwolves will NEVER get them unless they already had them.

This year i’m especially excited because we have two new rookies that could be the next players that set the league on fire.  They are Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams.

Both were drafted high (Rubio at 5, Williams at 2) and both were touted to be one of the best in their class.  How they will actually perform, nobody knows.  But i’m pretty frickin’ pumped to see Rubio leading fast breaks with Williams and Wes Johnson on one wing and Kevin Love trailing for 3’s and rebounds.

Check out this video. Just a few years ago people were talking about Greg Oden as one of of the best draft picks in recent memory.  The number two pick – Kevin Durant – was considered risky.  Well, here’s a video of him taken yesterday when he went absolutely insane.  I’m hoping some of that similar draft luck comes to the T-Wolves.



Open Letter To Bill Simmons – Lebron Can’t Play Soccer

Bill –

Love the column and the podcast – read/listen religiously.

I used to play soccer in college. I’m just stating so you can see i have some credibility to what i’m about to say.

I had to write because one thing is driving me crazy. You and others keep claiming that Lebron James and other NBA stars like Dwight Howard would be amazing on the soccer field. See your recent podcast with Chris Collinsworth (here). These players are incredible athletes but this is just not the case, and anyone who has played soccer would know that if you see a 6′ 8″ guy playing against you, you would be psyched. There is no way, no matter how athletically talented they are, that would be good players. This is due to 2 main reasons: (1) foot size and (2) quickness.

To shoot or hit a long ball well, you need to hit the soccer ball with your instep, which is the top of your foot. People with big feet are notoriously bad at kicking a ball far and accurately. It’s possible, but if you’re huge (over 6’5″) it would be super tough. Quickness is another issue. Being fast on your first 3 steps is so crucial to a soccer player. You see it all the time at the top of the box, where a player is trying to get just a little bit of space to get a shot off. The bigger you are, the less quick you are. Think of Lebron trying to guard the quickest point guards all day. It wouldn’t go that well.

For both of these reasons, if you’re super small and really quick you can be the best player in the world. See Messi and Maradona (both 5’5″-ish). If you’re gigantic, you probably won’t be.

BUT, i do agree with your general idea that if the best players in America played soccer, we’d dominate. In fact, in 2006 i made up the US starting 11 if we had our pick of the best players and they were super fast, strong and quick dudes (Barry Sanders would have been ideal). That post is here

Anyway, please don’t say anymore how good of a soccer player Lebron would be. It drives me nuts.

Thanks and keep on kicking ass –

Mike Lewis

What People Will Do for Laker Tickets

I have a friend, let’s call him “HotRod” who had tickets for this Thursday’s Laker game. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go. So, he put the tickets up on Craigslist. He was expecting some nice cash offers as it’s game 5 of a big series. Here was his favorite response:

Whoa. You can guess what his response was. Of course we want to see pictures. Hotrod replied,

These are the 205 tickets. Hmmm…I’d need to see pics before deciding. I usually take cash.

to which the guy replied

i understand they’re good tix, but like i said, we’re HUGE fans

And then sent these photos

It is AMAZING what people will do for tickets these days

Jonny Flynn and the Timberwolves

jonny flynnThere’s been lots of talk about Ricky Rubio and all the he could potentially bring to the twolves.  And while i think he’s pretty special, I’m also very excited about Johnny Flynn.  What happened on draft day is that the the Timberwolves had ranked Flynn as #1 on their board of people they thought they could get (above Curry).  Somehow Rubio dropped to the number 5 spot so they felt they had to choose him.  Then with the number 6 they were faced with the option of choosing someone they believed was worse to fill the shooting guard spot or choose the best guy remaining which was Jonny Flynn.  At least that is the explanation that the GM provided.

I was skeptical but i just watched this video (below) of Flynn’s summer league play and he looks fan-fricking-tastic.  I’m very excited to see what he can do with KLove, Big Al and rest of the squad.

Also, i want to touch on the fact that Mad Dog Madsen was traded to the Clippers.  While not the best player in the league i think he’s done a great job of communicating with the public.  His blog is good read and he’s clearly a very smart dude (from Stanford). He’s missing Minnesota and I’ll miss him too.

Check this out:

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Basketball, David & Goliath, and Underdogs

I read a great article by Malcolm Gladwell last week called How David Beats Goliath.  It talks about a Silicon Valley CEO who has never coached basketball before and how he takes a novel approach towards basketball strategy when coaching his 12-year-old girl’s team.

Picture 6Realizing his girl’s team is lacking the talent needed to compete, he decides to change the rules.  Instead of falling back into their half to play defense, they do a full-court press each time.  Their number 1 goal is to steal the opening pass.  After that, they try to keep the team from crossing the halfway line.  This approach is never used and its unconventional nature results in great success. He also pulls in the former San Francisco 49er, Roger Craig, as his assistant coach which makes the story that much more entertaining.

If that was the end of the story, it’d be an interesting piece but he overlays into the piece other stories of underdogs.  He talks about the battle of David vs. Goliath and Lawrence of Arabia’s revolt against the Ottoman Army near the end of the First World War.  In both cases, changing the nature of the game was the difference.  Gladwell remarks:

David’s victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time. The political scientist Ivan Arreguín-Toft recently looked at every war fought in the past two hundred years between strong and weak combatants. The Goliaths, he found, won in 71.5 per cent of the cases.

He always jumps back to the basketball example and has interviews with amazingly successful NCAA basketball coach Rick Pitino who talks about the press and overachieving.

Great article, check it out

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