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On a History Kick Lately

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. After "Titan" about Rockefeller's life, Chernow became my favorite biographer.

Washington: A Life is another masterpiece by him.

It's always good to go through the histories of founders of great nations, and this is no different. Of particular note is that Chernow is as thorough as ever, going through Washington's business dealings and carefully noting his dress, horseback riding style, and the routes he took when campaigning both militarily or touring as a political leader.

The book drags sometimes - Chernow's hyper-thorough, which is fantastic except when you want the pace to pick up - but some of the details are really fantastic. I got some great ideas on dress, presentation, ethics, communication, building intelligence networks, recruiting, endurance, and diplomacy from the book. Also, the ending of the book is probably the most interesting - seeing how Washington and Hamilton modeled the Federalist platform loosely on British Imperialism was amazingly insightful. The points about state debt, finance, and taxation were fascinating.

Enjoyed this one quite a lot and feeling much more intelligent about early American affairs.

The Hotel California of cancellations: Audible tries everything to keep me

On DROdio

Audible.com has a very mature customer acquisition and retention strategy. I originally signed up for Audible after they sponsored of one of my favorite podcasts, This American Life. Audible was offering a free audio book, just to try the service. I decided to try it.

Little did I know that I was entering the Hotel California of software subscription services. I'm not upset with them -- it's more that I'm in awe of their ability to keep me as a customer for a year longer than I expected.

The reality is that Audible is expensive -- around $15/month to be able to purchase one audio book per month. After using up my free month, and then paying for two additional months, I realized I wasn't going to use it enough to justify the cost since I'd only listened to one audio book in a three-month span, and I went to cancel it.

Audible then offered me a deal: Just $5 for me to keep my existing credits for the next year. Since I had two audio books I hadn't read, I took the bait. But I never used those credits so when the renewal came up, I knew I really wanted to cancel.

Here's what the process was like when I just tried to cancel the account:

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