Matthew Andrews
Product Manager ・ Software Engineer ・ Executive MBA Graduate ・ Tokyo Resident

Week Notes #1 ・Copying, Listening, Running, Emergency

Hello and welcome to my ‘Week Notes’. This format was inspired by copied from my esteemed colleague, Alice Bartlett.

Week notes will be:

  • Weekly. Except that some weeks will be too quiet or too busy and therefore notes will not be written.
  • Containing the kind of content I might tweet then wait an hour then retrospectively realise was not worth tweeting then delete.

In other words, what follows is unreliable low-grade content. Enjoy.


On the topic of copying, I’ve written a short note before about the value of copying competitors so I felt slightly vindicated to read it being advocated in the current edition of Harvard Business Review.

The practice of borrowing runs directly counter to the conventional strategic imperative of differentiation—which traditional strategists argue is essential to avoiding the negative spiral of competing only on cost. But trying to differentiate early on in a new market can lead a company down a blind alley. A more effective approach, we argue, is to treat other companies in the space as peers rather than competitors … Borrowing [enables companies] to develop working [prototypes] of its product quickly and cheaply.


It was an excellent read … or, in my case, listen. This latest issue of HBR was also available in audio for the very first time through their mobile app. I have listened to the audio edition of The Economist for years and absolutely love the hands-free continuous listening experience whilst commuting and going to the gym (remember those?) … so I was absolutely delighted by this new feature.


The gym has been closed since the declaration of an emergency in Tokyo but I’ve been pairing my audio editions with loops around Tokyo’s almost-built Olympic stadium instead. A jog around the stadium’s perimeter is an almost-flat uninterrupted 1.5km and since the Olympics has been postponed I figured someone may as well use it. On Thursday I passed the milestone of running 500km so far this year.


The state of emergency in Japan was lifted in most prefectures this week. We never had an enforced lockdown, only a polite request to shut businesses and stay home. Tokyo, which continues its state of emergency, has already started showing signs of going back to normal. More and more restaurants are open for sit-down meals.

This is good news. Not because I’m itching to eat out but because it’s being done because Japan’s COVID 19 situation seems truly heading a good direction. Tokyo is down in the 10’s of cases per day.

It’s also good news because I am rapidly approaching the inflection point where the danger posed by going to get my hair cut is less than the danger posed by constantly touching my face to brush hair out of my eyes.

Special mention

My dear friend and former MBA classmate Laura Martinez Oliveras has launched her business in Australia. I had the good fortune of working with her during my second semester, the work we produced together was the best work I was part of during the entire programme. I highly recommend anyone to work with her and her hugely talented associates!