Talent is overrated

Updated On: January 28, 2020

Today, the books that’ll help you live better. Plus, Currencycloud nabs $80 million. And the things we can learn from Kobe Bryant’s insane work ethic.



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The 2020 goals that matter

"Especially in difficult times, I think the goal should be to think more clearly, to be provoked less, to be kinder, to see the bigger picture, and to improve at the things that matter to us."

That’s what author Ryan Holiday is saying, as he drops his reading list that’s all about “what really matters.”

It may sound like a lot to take on, but Ryan suggests we start by turning to smart people who might know more than us in these areas—some still preaching, others from many moons ago. 

He lists 20 of them to help you attain the 2020 goals that matter. 

And we’re eyeing a few specifically. First up, a book called Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon. Staying focused amid despair, chaos, or personal woes can feel like climbing through the mud. But Austin Kleon knows that sitting down and getting to work—making good stuff—can add up in a big way. 

We're also curious about The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss. Lately it feels like the only thing we all seem to agree on is that there’s a lot to be angry about, Ryan says, so now more than ever, a book like this is where it’s at. It shows that what we need—whether it be in activism, in sports, in life in general—is restraint and resilience, not rage. 

I’m also keen to check out Marie Forleo’s Everything is Figureoutable. The book lays out the destructive thoughts that arise when we’re learning something new, and helps us view our potential through a different lens.

These are just three of the 20 Ryan's found, so be sure to check out the list for yourself—and send me a note at abby@recurnow.com with the books you’re digging this year (or the classics you’ve stood by all along).


Currencycloud + $80M

Transferring money from one country to another. We’ve all been there, we know it’s often not simple, and it can feel unnecessarily unsettling.

But the truth is, it’s big business. We’re talking $700 million annually big

And this past weekend, a London startup called Currencycloud has catapulted its way into that big business, announcing it has raised $80 million to help take on the Western Unions of the world

Currencycloud has built a set of remittance APIs that let any financial business integrate money transfer services into its platform.

But what we’re most interested in is how Currencycloud is sticking out from the crowd.

“No one is doing what we’re doing in terms of the model we have,” CEO and Founder Mike Laven said, referring to what he describes as an “embedded model.”

This means transfer is seamlessly embedded into its customers’ platform and workflow, and that although Currencycloud has 350 companies using its APIs and employs 230 people, you are almost certainly never going to see it—even if you’ve used it.

“I’m not competing with our customers. My brand is invisible. We think we’re still the only one that has that kind of solution.”

We've heard this time and time again: “Focus on your customers, don’t even think about the competition.” But what does the data say? We have a ProfitWell Report with data from 2,500 subscription companies to figure out if focusing on the competition is good or bad for the growth of business. Check down below for the details.


Life lessons courtesy of Kobe

Finally, a bit on Kobe Bryant

Tragedy strikes when you least expect it. And although it’s inexplainable, it’s painful, it’s tragically humbling—we must decide to learn something from those who serve as a beacon of strength for the rest of us. 

Back in 2015, Colin Robertson at Willpowered wrote a piece on “What We Can Learn From Kobe Bryant’s Insane Work Ethic.” And today, it still rings so very true. 

He tells the story of a trainer named Rob who worked with some of the USA basketball team. In the story, Rob attests to Kobe’s insane dedication—constantly conditioning and practicing to an exhaustive extent. 

Colin also writes about where Kobe’s work ethic originated from, and ends with a section on what we can learn from it. 

Number one: Talent is overrated. Too often, we want to credit the successful as simply having more talent than we do. But Kobe achieved what he did because of the willpower to outwork the rest.

Number two: Do not rest on your laurels. There were countless opportunities for Kobe to stop working so hard, but to achieve true "Hall-of-Fame" greatness requires that we’re always getting better—despite already being successful.

And lastly: Having a hero is powerful. When Kobe scored zero points at basketball camp at age 12, he genuinely considered giving up the sport. Instead he looked to Michael Jordan, following the lead of a fellow athlete who built his way from the bottom.

Our hearts ache for this hero, his daughter, their family, and all those involved in this devastating loss—but let this be a reminder to take a page from their book. Don’t wait for life to come to you. The power lies in your hands. Learn from these lessons and live them. 


Should you focus on the competition?

“Focus on your customers, don’t even think about the competition.” We've heard this piece of advice consistently for the past decade. Yet, when we question why, the responses are typically pretty lukewarm and appeal to a time of tech when there were only a few players in existence for each space.

So what’s the data actually say?

After studying two and a half thousand subscription companies, here's what we found.



And that’s a wrap for your January 28 subscription news. Recruit your teammates into the subscription know at recurnow.com.

If you have news to share or input on any topic we cover, send me a note at abby@recurnow.com and we'll collaborate.

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