Ravishankar Iyer

The WW2 Story of Germany's Failed Rocket Program (3-2-1 by Story Rules #57)

Published about 2 months agoΒ β€’Β 4 min read

Welcome to the fifty-seventh edition of '3-2-1 by Story Rules'.

A newsletter recommending good examples of storytelling across:

  • 3 tweets
  • 2 articles, and
  • 1 long-form content piece

Before we begin, a small announcement: Yesterday I launched a self-paced e-course for HR professionals on Data Storytelling. In case you are interested, or know of anyone who might be, you can find out more here.

And now, let's dive in.

𝕏 3 Tweets of the week

"The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed." - William Gibson

('sus' in the tweet means suspicious, I presume)

Ouch, that hurts.

That's an attention-grabbing first line!

πŸ“„ 2 Articles of the week

​a. 'The West’s disregard for global norms is endangering the world' by Nitin Pai​

Nitin Pai (who's been on the Story Rules Podcast) is one of my favourite writers on geopolitics. In this hard-hitting article, he laments the tendency of the powerful rich nations to prioritise their own short-term well-being over long-term global gain.

Nitin relies on a quote from a classic text on geopolitics to set the context:

In Richard Crawley’s classic 1874 translation of Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War, the words are punchier. β€œThe strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

Or in the words of your Haryana-wale tauji, "Jiski lathi, uski bhains" (Literally: He who wields the stick, owns the buffalo).

Nitin argues that this is increasingly happening in world affairs currently:

We are seeing this in world affairs today as a rules-based international order crumbles under the blows inflicted by the United States, China and Russia.
The WTO is dead because the United States asphyxiated it. The UN has become a bit player because the West too has stopped caring for its niceties. Russia and China cannot escape their share of the blame, but neither country claimed to be promoting a rules-based international system.

This is especially true in climate:

The biggest question is the one concerning climate change. A lot of developing countries around the world are already making painful compromises and expensive investments in the hope that the West will keep its end of the bargain.

Nitin ends on a bleak note:

Global economic policies cannot be disconnected from global environmental policies. It is absurd to argue that it is ethical to be selfish in international trade while demanding others be selfless in environmental protection. Unfortunately, I do not see politics in Western countries throwing up leaders who can rejuvenate internationalism.


​b. 'Embracing motherhood in the world of sport: Learnings of a young mother' by Aditi Mutatkar ​

Aditi is an inspiring leader. After a super-successful pro badminton career (a five-time national champion, her highest world rank was 27th and she won a Silver medal in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games in the mixed team event), she now promotes sports at the grassroots level through Simply Sport Foundation.

In this article, Aditi opens up to the challenges to managing a career (that involves a fair bit of travel) while being a mother to a young child. The piece has a ton of useful advice for moms - and dads!

I liked Aditi's three priorities rule:

I love to read, listen to music, write, paint, travel, watch art, pursue art, and so much more. In the last four years, I have hardly done any of this. I do only three things: raise a kid, do my work, and be present for my family and friends. At this point, I can only do this. I never complain about not being able to follow my other passions. I try to look at these things from a long-term perspective. I know Agastya will slowly become independent and may not need me as much as he does now. But till then, I may not be able to devote as much time to my hobbies as I want to. My time will come, but it is just not now.

This is so wise by Aditi. I totally struggle with this. I'm constantly ruing that I have "hazaaron khwahishein aisi, ki har khwaish pe dum nikle" (I have thousands of desires and each one of them are dear to me), and not enough time to devote to them, partly because of parenting duties.

Listening to Aditi, I must learn to prioritise and keep saying - Apna time aayega (my time will come).

Aditi also advises moms to hear out everyone, but do what is right for them:

Every circumstance is different. Every mother is different. Every kid is different. Every profession is different. As a woman, and especially as a mother, you will be thrown a lot of advice. Listen to it all and then do what works for you.

Good advice for parenthood, good advice for life.

🎧 1 long-form listen of the week

​a. 'The Story of Germany's V2 Rocket' - Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford (3-part series)​

This series of 3-episodes is a fascinating cautionary tale about how big projects often overpromise and underdeliver. It tells the World War 2 story of the secret V2 rocket program that Germany sunk enormous resources into, hoping to gain a decisive advantage in the war. Instead, the project came a cropper.
I love Cautionary Tales for its (almost) full-stack storytelling. The content is great - with a visually evocative script, stirring narration (though sometimes Tim can be a wee bit dramatic), lovely music, sound effects, voice artists... It is like a well-produced audio documentary.

Unfortunately, the episodes don't have a transcript. So you'll have to just take my word for this one - and give it a listen!

That's all from this week's edition.



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Ravishankar Iyer

A Storytelling Coach More details here:

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