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International Generalist #3: Logistics vs. Strategy, Generalists vs. Specialists, Sleep & Beer
The best strategy is worthless if you don’t get the logistics right. The best idea is worthless if you cannot execute.
Welcome to International Generalist #3! Today, we’ll take a look at logistics, sleep, generalists, and the hometown of the world’s best beer.
Let’s dive in.
 Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics.
Have you ever thought about what it took to move an army in before the invention of the railroad?
The typical Roman army consisted of 19,200 soldiers, along with 4,000 non-combatants, 5,000 mules and 4,800 horses. Here are some mind-boggling numbers about said army:
When marching, an army this size is approximately 6.6 km long.
If everything works perfectly, it takes about 2.5 h to mobilise the army and to get everybody marching
An army this size, on a good day, can cover an average of 16 km when marching before having to set up camp again through the night
This army needs to eat approximately 61,850 kg of food every single day (excluding water!)
Now, all that food needs to be carried, as there are no railroads available. But anything that can carry food will also consume some; so carrying more food with you means you also use more: every human or mule that carries supplies needs some themselves.
This is the tyranny of the wagon, and interestingly enough is a parallel to the tyranny of the rocket that we know today: the further a rocket needs to go, the more fuel it needs, which makes it heavier, thus burning more fuel.
Both tyrannies put a very limiting factor onto the range of the army and the rocket.
Now, the army moves at 16 km / day, and likely needs to take a rest one day per week to rest the animals.
Assuming the army has two weeks of supplies with them, and cannot forage as it is in enemy territory, this means that army has a range of approximately 96 km (!), assuming that it retains enough supply to also be able to return home.
As you can see, the logistics behind moving an army of this size are highly complex.
And only if you get the logistics right, you will even get to fight.
Without logistics, the best strategy for battle will fail every single time.
According to one of my sources, the main reason why Flink is still in good shape and Gorillas falters is: execution.
Flink executes much better, and gets the logistics right.
Gorillas - while, without doubt, did a lot things right during the pandemic - now falters due to subpar execution.
The best strategy is worthless if you don’t get the logistics right.
The best idea is worthless if you cannot execute.
So, focus on really getting the small things right and making sure the trains run on time.
“Running a tight ship” has been one of my main areas of improvement in my day-to-day job. If you have any resources on how to become a manager that runs a tight ship and gets execution right, I’d be happy to hear about it.
 Huberman Toolkit for Sleep
Sleeping well is arguably the most effective life hack.
In fact, if any medication had the effects sleep has, it’d be on the anti-doping list.
Partially thanks to applying the following principles, I’ve been able to both increase my sleep duration but also my restful sleep by 7% (approx. 25 minutes, which does make a huge difference).
Here are a few things that you can do - from Dr. Andrew Huberman - in order to optimise sleep:
Sunlight, sunlight, sunlight. The best circadian rhythm setter is, well, the sun.
Take magnesium (300mg do the trick for me) before going to bed.
Limit daytime naps to a max. of 90mins
Wake up and go to sleep around the same time every day.
For more, read his article on sleep toolkits here.
 Generalists vs. Specialists
My book recommendation of this newsletter is “Range” by David Epstein. In the book, Epstein argues that generalists are thriving now more than ever (music in my ears, for sure).
The world is becoming more and more complex, and just being good at one single thing is not enough anymore. Instead, you need to be able to adapt - and generalists do this much better than specialists.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get better at specific things. I believe that the best skillsets have the shape of several inverse T’s: you have a good baseline in most skills (or can get one reasonably quickly), and have a few skills in which you’re outstanding. Not best in the world, but top 2-5% of the population.
This allows you to crossover two specific skills and turn that into one specific profile that only you can match perfectly.
I’m not the best leader in the world
I’m not the best foreign language learner in the world
Nor am I the best entrepreneur in the world
But there are few people that have good leadership skills, speak a lot of foreign languages, and are great entrepreneurs.
So if a job needs this highly specific skillset (as mine as Head of International does), it’ll be difficult to outcompete me even though I’m nowhere close to world-class in either of these disciplines.
Double down on your strengths.
Get a decent baseline on your weaknesses.
Then combine this for a unique profile.
Nobody can compete with you on being you.
Question for you: what are things that you’re good at, and that you can combine into a unique skill set?
 Why you should never, ever go to Plzen, Czech Republic.
I just spent the weekend in Plzen, Czech Republic. My man Damian and I both love Pilsner Urquell, the original Pilsner, so naturally we needed to check out its birthplace.
We strongly recommend that you never go to Plzen.
The beer there is SO GOOD that we have serious doubts if we can ever enjoy a pint of Pilsner Urquell outside of Plzen. It just hits the spot so well.
I mean, just look at this:
The best beer in the world.
Their strategy was good: thanks to new ice-making technology, all the sudden it was possible to brew beer while storing it in cold temperatures. The first glass of Pilsner Urquell was served in 1842 and took the world by storm: everybody loved it.
This is where the logistics come in: Pilsner Urquell was exported to all places, and every day, a beer train left for Vienna. 30 years after founding the brewery, they exported to the US for the first time.
Today, they produce 160.000 bottles & cans per hour.
Strategy is good. Execution is better.
Get your logistics right first. Then, worry about strategy.
Sleep is such a powerful tool that if it was a medicine, it’d be on the anti-doping list. Go to great lengths to make sure you get this right.
Combine different strengths to create your unique profile. Find your niche that fits that profile, and become world-class in that niche.
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