Obscure and Interesting Memos

By Trevor McKendrick 👋 - Have you read my free newsletter?

The best memos I've found on the Internet. If you have suggestions for the list please contact me.


Winstin Churchill on brevity in government reports

"The aim should be Reports which set out the main points in a series of short, crisp paragraphs."

The 11 Laws of Showrunning

Javier Grillo-Marxuach (producer on Lost) on what it takes to run a television show.

See also: Javier's interview about this memo.

Steve Yegg's Google Platform Rant

Written in 2011. A Google employee meant to publish internally but accidentally posted to the public. Goes into detail on how and why Google was falling behind Amazon as a platform.

The World's Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud

An outsider wrote to the SEC multiple times explaining how Bernie Madoff's investment fund was a fraud. This one was in 2005, but he presented to the SEC as early as 1999. Madoff wasn't caught until 2008.

Elon Musk on internal communication

Elon trying to fight a war with acronymcs. I do wonder if this is the type of thing that the external world fawns at as insightful and interesting, and the internal employees roll their eyes at Yet Another Thing that will be mostly ignored.

Steve Jobs email to HarperCollins

Steve laying out what he thinks HarperCollins' options are w/r/t their ebook catalogue (this was part of a much longer negotiation with HC.)

Strategy memo written for President Carter as he went into the secret Camp David negotiations with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

What came out was the historic Camp David Accords, and Menachem and Anwar were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on how they'd hurt their brand and needed to make fundamental changes.

"Over the past ten years, in order to achieve the growth, development, and scale necessary to go from less than 1,000 stores to 13,000 stores and beyond, we have had to make a series of decisions that, in retrospect, have lead to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand."

Sam Hinkie's Resignation Memo as General Manager of the 76s

Sam created a famous system (fans chanted "Trust The Process" at the end of losing games) but ultimately wasn't given the time to turn the corner and be with the 76s during their success.

"It’s critical to making rational decisions over the long term. We are all so tempted to simplify when something is hard to think about, simply to get it out of our mind by treating it as impossible. This goes from academic sounding to life altering in basketball team building, though. Looking at a player with an estimated 10% or 20% chance of being a star over the next three or four years can’t be written to zero—that’s about as high as those odds ever get."

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