The space between your taste and competency in your craft is called “the gap”.
As your taste improves, you can begin to distinguish between bad to good, and good to great. Your ceiling rises and the gap increases.
Masters of a craft have supreme taste. Their ceiling is high, they see “the gap”, and work for a lifetime to reach this ceiling. But part of the journey is that your craft will never reach your taste. It’s asymptotic. Once your taste has reached your craft, you have achieved perfection.
Recently, I revisited Ira Glass’ timeless classic, “The Gap”:
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. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I
took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Right now, I can very much feel a gap between my taste and my craft. I have these ideas, these ambitions, but I’m limited by my craft.
It’s frustrating but this piece is a reminder that “the gap” is part of the journey.
I’ll keep going. Keep writing. And improve with every piece.
At Trader Joe’s the other day, I was checking out my groceries when I struck up a conversation with the cashier.
She told me her parents were from Haiti and she lived in Flatbush, an area where many Haitians live. I told her I just returned from a short trip back home in Toronto.
After chatting for a bit, I paid for my groceries and as I was walking away she said my shirt looked great on me. I left Trader Joe’s that day with a smile. That one compliment made my day. It was a reminder that I should be generous with my compliments, it might make someone else’s day.
There are two daily newsletters I subscribe to: Seth Godin’s Blog and Rohan Rajiv’s A Learning a Day. Both have been writing far longer than I have. Both are role models for me.
I’m joined on my daily writing journey by several friends, some of whom have moved on and others more recently involved. Two friends’ daily blogs I check often are Benedict Neo’s and my roommate Rishi’s blog.
At a party, I met a reader who said he’s been reading my blog for years. I joked that he might know me better than some of my closest friends who don’t read my work. Writing regularly requires you to open up and be vulnerable. Every post is a genuine reflection of my ideas and values. Writing daily is not about gaining readers or social recognition - it’s about expression, curiosity, and authenticity. This is why I love reading other daily writers.
I nostalgically recall my childhood, particularly the Friday evenings I spent watching Bionix, a Friday evening programming block that mainly featured anime. I’d watch some of my favorite animes accompanied by my mom’s freshly baked Pilsbury cookies. Those were the days!
Anime was a major part of my childhood, having taught me many important lessons. Here are the four Animes that defined my childhood:
I was at the airport this morning, laptop out, airpods in. A father and son sat down at the table next to mine to eat breakfast. The dad was dropping some old man wisdom to his son and I couldn’t help but turn off noise cancellation on my AirPods and listen in. These are a few of my takeaways:
How to act when you meet someone famous. Treat them like a human, not an idol. Tell them that you appreciate them and that their work has affected you.
You don’t have to live a great life to live a good life. Being famous is overrated.
Get into a little trouble when you’re young. They make the best stories.
When you use your phone you’re just watching other people live. Put the phone down and live your own life too.
The son said to his dad, “I like how you don’t get offended when I call you old.” The Dad responded that his own dad gets offended when you call him old. His identity was wrapped up in being strong, attractive and independent. However, as he got older, his strength was reduced, his looks faded and he could no longer do everything by himself. Without these qualities, he feels lost as he didn’t cultivate other elements of his identity.
If you’re going to work hard in life, you might as well work hard on something you enjoy.
If you’re a jazz musician you most certainly know who George Gershwin is. Gershwin is a renowned American composer and pianist. Many of his songs are jazz standards and have been featured in movies such as Disney’s Fantasia, covered by many other musicians including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s landmark performance in North Korea.
Gershwin is one of my favorite musicians. Yet, few people my age are familiar with him or his music. I appreciate that his music tells stories without words - it’s like reading a book or watching a movie, with well-defined beginnings, middles, and ends.
If you haven’t listened to Gershwin before, you need to. Here are a few songs to start:
Scared to death and scared to look, they shook’ Cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks - Shook Ones, Pt II - Mobb Deep
Mobb Deep’s memorable phrase from “Shook Ones, Pt II” suggests that those who boast lack courage when the situation gets tough. It’s a fundamental truth: one is either a gangster or not. It’s binary: you’re either with us or against us. There is no in-between.
My main takeaway from the book, Continuous Discovery Habits, is that product teams should talk to at least one customer per week. Doing this helps ensure that they make informed decisions, since they can better understand customers’ goals, needs, and desires. The longer teams go without customer interaction, the more outdated their understanding of these factors—and their decisions—will become.
Finding customers to talk to can be a challenge for those who build products. To ensure a weekly conversation, the author suggests:
Recruit Participants While They Are Using Your Product or Service
Ask Your Customer-Facing Colleagues to Recruit
Interview Your Customer Advisory Board
With some effort upfront, you can eventually automate the customer interview process, such that each week you have a call waiting on your calendar.
Krulak’s Law of Leadership states that the future of an organization is in the hands of the privates in the field, not the generals back home. This law is relevant whether it’s a military unit, sports team, or company.
In other words, the closer you are to the front line the more of an influence you have on the brand.
Milad Mirg, a Subway sandwich artist, is an excellent example. He gained millions of followers on TikTok and YouTube by uploading videos of himself creating sandwiches while telling stories. His success has likely done more for the Subway brand than any of their corporate marketing campaigns.
Today, I attended a Slam Poetry event in Manhattan. It was open to poets of all abilities and had an inviting atmosphere. Although it was a competition, the host repeated that the event wasn’t about the outcome, frequently saying, “Fuck the scores,” throughout the evening.
One girl was performing for the first time and the other poets showed their support with a warm and loud welcome. They understand the courage it takes to share their story and be vulnerable in front of an audience. They cheered loudly whenever the host said, “Fuck the scores,” because they know that doesn’t matter.
Regardless of skill level, having the right mentality is key: show up, do it with soul, and fuck the scores.
Back in Fall 2018, when I interned in San Francisco, there was a breakfast spot beside my apartment that I would go to every morning. I’d order the same thing: scrambled eggs and cheese with sliced avocado and tomato.
Every morning, the same Asian lady with a bob cut filled my order. She reminded me of my mom and always smiled and waved a friendly “See you tomorrow” as I headed out. In an unfamiliar city, this breakfast spot feels like home.
On my final day in San Francisco, I got breakfast there one last time. As I left, she said “See you tomorrow” as usual. I let her know that this was my last day in SF, and I was returning home to Toronto. There was an air of sadness between us. And she said, “See you someday” instead.
View of the Empire State Building from the Salesforce Tower
One of my older friends who lived in New York for a few years explained to me the progression of living in the city:
When you’re young and single, this is the place to be. You’ll find plenty of activities and attractive singles, plus numerous places to go out and socialize.
After you start dating someone, going out to meet new people is still fun but less appealing.
As your friends enter relationships, some may get married.
As life progresses, many people opt to start a family and seek larger living spaces. The high cost of living and lack of space in New York City make it an impractical choice. Moreover, the appeal of a fast-paced lifestyle no longer holds its allure.
Everyone begins to move away.
Living in New York has been an amazing experience so far, but I’m starting to notice the city’s drawbacks. Numerous friends I’ve met here have already left, as most aren’t from here originally. The friends that are here don’t intend to stay long-term, and I can see myself following suit.