This Week I Learned #32

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger

2019-01-07

  • Wealthy: Great TEDx talk by Matt Walleart, the man bringing the Chief Behavioural Officer role into the spotlight. Change the conversation from making work about money but rather doing work worth doing. Disengage self-worth from being measured with salaries for that results in individuals feeling "worthless" if they don't make some socially spat out number. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEKgkK6bWsE

2019-01-08

  • Wealthy: Caught up with a high school friend who used to work a semi-conductor company I had researched for a possible investment opportunity in the past. The company's accelerating growth and acclaimed market-leading position had caught my eye. Though after trying to understand the business it didn't seem that simple and there just wasn't enough information provided in public disclosures for me to feel comfortable. He had recently left the company after many years and he told me how the company had numerous internal issues: 1) Employees becoming competitors by using the IP to start their own company 2) No patent or NDA to protect their IP 3) Poor internal control processes to detect any of this and other organizational processes 4) 2 CEOs were let go, one was for money-laundering. The stock had close to tripled since my time of research but now it's back down to being up about 70%. Researching a small company? Worth talking to employees who've left to see what they have to say about the management.

2019-01-09

  • Healthy: Sex researcher Debra Soh's insightful chat on Joe Rogan's podcast. Quite the thoughtful discussion on the impacts of simplistic adoption of gender-orientation and the disorientation much of society, especially Canada, has adopted with gender ceasing to be a biological fact but turned into a social construct as science was thrown out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zere8WRepGo

2019-01-10

  • Wise: “That which is most personal is the most universal” - Carl R Rogers; an insight into identifying whether a market exists for the problem you are looking to solve. 

2019-01-11

  • Wise: Chase Jarvis' interview with Harley Finkelstein of Shopify showcasing their purposeful culture cultivation. Harley refers to Dunbar's Law (the idea that we can only maintain relationships with about 150 people) and how as the company grew to 4000 employees they had to experiment with ways to continuously invest in the culture to stop it from disintegrating, as it happens in many rapidly growing companies. One solution is a bi-weekly internal podcast called "context" to preserve their internal culture where various management leaders talk about what is happening with the company and also try to shed light on who they are for all newcomers. They also do a monthly AMA so the leaders are always present and in tune with the company employees by answering questions that are top of mind for those in the company. https://www.chasejarvis.com/blog/startup-to-15-billion-finding-your-lifes-work-with-shopifys-harley-finkelstein/

2019-01-12

  • Healthy: Dr. Valter Longo noted a negative of intermittent fasting was on individuals skipping breakfast in order to eat in an 8 hour window. He said a negative of of skipping breakfast was that it increased the risk of cardiovascular disease. It seems a widely sought out study was done in Japan where they ran a test with 80K individuals from age 40 - 79 and found those who led a lifestyle of not eating breakfast had a higher chance of mortality via cancer and cardiovascular disease. What the study does not consider is whether these individuals who skipped breakfast had poor dietary habits, whether they exercised regularly or whether they were even fasting in general. Without such specifics I think it's hard to make a blanket statement that skipping breakfast when doing a time-restricted eating diet is bad for you. 

2019-01-13

  • Healthy: According to Dr. Valter Longo, fasting for 14+ hours in a day can result in an increase in gallstone production. Gallstone production can be produced from many factors like obesity, rapid weight decline, fasting, old age, gender (women are twice as more likely) etc.. There have been a few studies in the 70s and 80s that identified these but the findings were for a small number of women who had a rapid decrease in calorie intake by cutting out meals to induce a 'fasted' like state to lose weight. Bile sludge to gallstones seems most prevalent in the rapid weight loss factor and so without knowing the actual nutrition, diet (i.e. time-restricted or not) and exercise levels of the patients it's tough to conclude that time-restricted eating (i.e. what some people refer to as intermittent fasting) will produce gallstones if you ate in a 8-10 hour feeding window. Multi-day fasts will require medical supervision so that is a different ball game. The last few learnings were on challenging affirmative blanket statements because it stuck out as an opposing view to other research that yielded to the contrary and so far. Time-restricted eating is still in its infancy of research and I do agree that extreme change is not ideal but I also do see promise in maintaining a 8-10 hour eating window. 

 

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This Week I Learned #31

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger

2019-12-31

  • Wise: Netflix's Drug Cartel episode in the Dirty Money documentary showed a case of a "Too big to jail" scenario with the HSBC scandal in 2010. HSBC bought Bital, a bank with huge presence in Sinaloa (area for massive drug production in Mexico) and practically became the owners of a lot of the drug cartel bank accounts via merger. Of course, they should've rated the bank as being high risk but despite public email logs saying there were no anti-money laundering processes in place they rated Bital as being standard (the lowest rating). Solving problems by just hiring a bunch of unqualified compliance folks to just clear a backlog of alerts for breakages in their process. You also learn how easy it is for sanctioned off criminals to actually continue to wire money by bypassing simple filtering protocols. As expected, the US government made a deal with the bank instead of indicting the bank and decided to accept 5 weeks worth of profits for HSBC as a penalty. Even after having publicly admitted to all their crimes the bank was never indicted. 

2019-01-01

  • Wise: Watched Magnus, a documentary on Magnus Carlsen. Fascinating to learn about a young chess prodigy and his path to the world championship. What I loved seeing, and maybe this was the director's intention, was the power of intuition that rose out of Magnus and the creative process he seemed to embody. The fluidness to which he would play his moves when he did not feel the pressure and/or was mentally relaxed. It was also quite the story of how creative ingenuity of a human mind could beat a mind that was trained on mechanical preparation techniques of a computer. Sure, a pure AI can beat a human but this documentary showed me how in the world of humans, creative ingenuity will prevail any mind that relies entirely on data memorization. 

2019-01-02

2019-01-03

  • Wise: Podcast interview with Anil Dash on MIB. Learned that Apple and Google had colluded on their immigrant employees (those with H1B1 visas) to pay them lower than US counterparts and agree to not poach each other's engineers. With the risk of deportation if they were to get fired the employees had no leverage and many continued to live content with what they had and were given. https://ritholtz.com/2018/01/masters-business-anil-dash-making-tech-world-humane-ethical/

2019-01-04

  • Wise: Jim Chanos' interview with Barry Ritholtz. Chanos goes into what he is bearish on and the similarities he sees with the debt situation in between Japan in 1990s and China in the 2010s. The former went through a 20 year bear market after over-levering its corporations and using debt to fuel growth/demand. Chanos refers to the 2000-2003 period as the golden age for hedge funds and how may forgot to hedge and were since blown up from 2008. PE has continued to reap in their golden age and I wonder if the continued levered + high fee model will prosper and/or what triggers could bring a closure to its golden age. Everything runs in cycles after all. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/audio/2018-05-11/james-chanos-discusses-investment-driven-models

2019-01-05

  • Wise: Ryan Holiday's story on Gawker was fascinating, I had no idea that Peter Thiel practically bankrupted a company and its founder. Just seeing the darkside of media through this interview with Ryan Holiday and Barry Ritholtz. https://ritholtz.com/2018/03/transcript-ryan-holiday/

2019-01-06

  • Wise: Alex Banayan's interview with Tom Bilyeu. What I found fascinating were the stories he shared of Steven Spielberg's break into film and the story of Microsoft's Chi Lu. Both were insightful stories on the idea of creating systems to find your own opportunity, Alex's "third door". "Luck is like a bus that comes around every time. Your preparation is the fare and without the fare you can't get on the bus" - Chi Lu, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXoU5ItqlkM&t=1590s

 

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This Week I Learned #30

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger

2018-12-24

  • Wealthy: Every podcast starts out with a unique story of its own and the story of Radiolab as told by Jad Abumrad, Host + Creator, is one of continuous trial and error. When the show first started no one listened to it. Literally, no one. The show continued to try anything that popped into the team's mind and this continued for close to 2 years as the team continued to follow their gut. The more I do my podcast and hear stories of other successful podcasters, the more I feel a traditional business plan just isn't going to work for this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OH9p3hnWCY

2018-12-25

  • Wealthy: Interview with Jeremy Grantham of GMO Capital. A great overview on the current market economics with references to the environment in the 1920s and 2000s as Grantham describes the 'frothiness' level of the various markets and how it relates to today's environment. Tech stock valuations are high to historics but what seems to be missing in this current environment is intense 'euphoria' for its been a rather pessimistic 9-year bull market with people screaming for a drop since 2011/12. Grantham brings up an interesting point of required factors being large increases in deal flow and IPOs. With Uber, Lyft and Instacart speaking of IPOs in the new year this seems timely but there has been a large decrease in public companies since the high so.. who knows. I loved how he finished off with a lecture note by Ben Graham, the father of value investing, where Graham practically says you will be wrong a lot and to even think about predicting the market is foolishness. Graham himself continued to evolve his investing strategy and I think that's what is required to be an intelligent investor, not saying you're specialized in one school of thought regardless of the market environment. https://i3-invest.com/podcasts/i3-podcast-marketfox-interview-jeremy-grantham/

2018-12-26

  • Wise: Apple Inc. used to be called Apple Computers. Makes sense since they started off selling computers. Then, Steve Jobs announced the name change because the company was no longer about computers and it became known for the iPod and now it's all about the iPhone. Like a person, a company needs to continuously reinvent itself. So, what you name a company now doesn't limit what it can be in the future. You can change your mind later. 

2018-12-27

  • Wise: Learnings from a conversation with a friend who works at big tech in silicon valley. Many of the projects they decide to do because it's "rational" and backed with the most "data" have all turned out to be the wrong decisions. There is a common practice of tech folks shaming others who work in big tech like Facebook, Uber, Airbnb or Google with each other calling each other's company immoral. Unlike those who admire the many who work in big tech, the people who actually work in it don't go around broadcasting where they work like some pompous banker. They actually hide it because of an internal guilt they have for what tech is doing to the city and because it's not a point of pride for many of them but just a job that provides them a certain lifestyle. 

2018-12-28

  • Wise: Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crap.” In a world obsessed with getting more information less is more. It’s knowing the 10% that matters and what you do with said information. 

2018-12-29

  • Wealthy: Learned that real estate development projects in Toronto tend to have a 12% profit margin and projects in NY tend to get double that. Interesting to hear about two Americans make reference to potential real estate bubbles in Canada and they mentioned about how they think the Toronto bubble may be something of a development bubble given the boom in construction there. However, Toronto at least has a growing immigrant and economy supporting such development but Vancouver is slave to the whims of the Chinese government, which alone is on thin ice per what I've witnessed from my trip to Hong Kong and what my friends from Shanghai have said. https://player.fm/series/masters-in-business-1504411/francis-greenburger-discusses-real-estate-development-podcast

2018-12-30

  • Wise: Interview with Ryan Hoover, Founder of Product Hunt. What clicked with me here was on the need to know what you need help with. It seems obvious but I actually think it's hard when you're in the moment of things to stop and turn off the desire of self-sufficiency and decide to look to someone else for help. https://kadavy.net/blog/posts/ryan-hoover-interview/

 

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This Week I Learned #29

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger

2018-12-17

2018-12-18

  • Wealthy: a16z summit on the end of the beginning. a look into the evolution of the tech world. it's been a neat overview of the global ecosystem in terms of how large opportunities for ecommerce, real estate and healthcare is and how we may have just scratched the surface. Also neat to see a POV of how we went through a stage of having capital-light companies grow to take advantage of information arbitrage but now as the market evolves the need for capital-heavy companies come into existence.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF5VIwDYIJk

2018-12-19

  • Wise: Learnings from Shane's interview with Adam Robinson. I'm a big fan of Adam so this has been a big treat for me. Adam talks about the limitations of logic and how the greatest insights are actually from the unconscious, a viewpoint I 100% adhere to as well, but he is unsure if there is a why to be attentive to that. What is affirming is how he admits that each of his major accomplishments were not pre-planned notions but were inspired out of the blue and then he implemented logic/planning/doing to execute it. Adam also talks about the limitation of self-help books because it continues to focus on the self when one should focus on the 'work at hand' and/or how to help others. It's like the adage of not being able to find things that you are looking for. Whether it's happiness, success or understanding the self... constantly looking for it isn't the way to find it. There are  4-5 types of traders (equity, bond, metal/oil and currencies) and of them the metal traders tend to be the most far sighted with month/yearly time frames and they hence tend to be the most right (probably) compared to the rest and the 2nd best are the bond traders. Metal trader’s view on interest rate is shown by the ratio of copper price to gold. If that is low then metal traders think the rate will decrease. Bond traders will show their belief in increase in rates by buying treasuries. If they think economy will do well and rates will go down they will buy corporate bonds and sell treasury as a hedge. Bond traders are right but early so when they disagree with equity traders the equity folks will eventually follow. So look at corp bond movement + treasury movement to understand the bond trader stance on your company. There are also 3 ways stocks move: 1) sudden drop then recovery then long term drop, extrapolated exponential rise 3) long term sideways then jump as patient and convicted investors hole on and weak hands leave the pot. when bond traders are optimistic of the economy they will buy corporate bonds and sell treasuries and if they are bearish they will buy treasuries. then the whole learning piece on demographic impact on the child's ability to improve test scores is gold. you want the bread winner of the house to be born from another country (immigrant who has the perseverance to survive) and the caretaker to be born in the same country (native language/linguistic ability).It's about honing the ability/drive to be a hard worker who can persevere and communicate socially.  http://theknowledgeproject.libsyn.com/win-winning-at-the-great-game-part-1

2018-12-20

  • Wealthy: "Quantity has a quality all its own" - Joseph Stalin; Whether it's writing articles, researching companies, or training at the gym, quality seems to develop over a large quantity of practice. 

2018-12-21

  • Healthy: A TED talk on misfits. I thought this would be like the common view of non-conformists ruling the world but I was pleasantly surprised by something different. I don't know how this video only has 300K views. The talk just gave me a sort of positive perspective and coincidentally hit me in the right time whilst I was going through my regular period of self-loathing. Her story just had power and purity and it's been a nice perspective to balance out my extremes of narcissism and self-loathing that I switch between to survive. Stories like hers would be ones I hope to uncover with OMD Ventures in the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AgCr2tTvng&index=25&list=PL8kDDEoXpSRVMfI1G9bLIGIFOS5WAG_-B

2018-12-22

  • Wise: Patrick Collison's, CEO of Stripe, interview with Tim Ferriss. A major insight from this conversation has been a view on decision making. The question isn't whether you are making the right decision or not, you can't know that, but rather on whether the options you are choosing from are robust to begin with. So if you've gotten to the point where 2 options are both great, then the downside of making one decision over the other is minimal. If the decision turned out to be wrong then with that additional data point you can probably revert to the other option or get to a whole new decision making scenario too. In addition to constructing an environment that can lead to robust options, it's also about questioning the options at hand. For example, if the option is between 2 jobs or 2 colleges then questioning need you get a full-time job? Why not freelance or part-time or need you go to college? etc... It's also been valuable to get some new book recommendations from the chat too. I have added the book on Richard Feynman and the Inner Game of Tennis to my personal list. https://tim.blog/2018/12/20/patrick-collison/

2018-12-23

  • Wealthy: A rare interview with Bruce Flatt, the CEO of Brookfield Asset Management. This is a great interview to get some insights into the process of one of the largest asset managers in the world, grown by a Manitoban accountant. Like any good investor, real asset investing requires looking for value and that requires one to look somewhere capital is not looking. Capital meaning the lemmings. With trends of urbanization and creations of mega cities a likelihood in the future, this was a real fun interview to how the big boys in real estate operate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmt1Li1Rnes&index=2&list=PLGGpadyh0wS53HdovgrEgRwEqHcWrJwgP&t=0s

 

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This Week I Learned #17

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger

2018-09-24

  • Wealthy: In the world of venture money chasing unicorn companies there is a subset called 'zebras'. I found the article quite opinionated and inclusive of some biased views that are used to accentuate their point of view but the delivering message was worth reading. It's odd that people have to come up with another animal-based name for company groups. It's this incessant need by people to make a kind of social cult and following of their own. So far I've heard of elephants, whales, unicorns and now zebras. Zebras are practically any business inside the 30M - 300M market cap. It will include what the "tech" community has labeled "life-style" businesses. Putting aside how ridiculous it is to have the startup ecosystem be labeled as "technology" (FYI a car is a technology, your bathroom plumbing is technology, technology is a goddamn tool that enables) the zebra companies are practically denoting companies that focus on profitability, sustainable growth and providing value to elevate society. It seems ridiculous that an article about these companies must be written because that's what good wealth generating companies that Warren Buffet built his career off of does! We already have an entire world of value investors looking for companies like this and this article just shows how infantile this thought process is in the venture-stage of investing. Needless to say I am happy to see such an article written to bring upon this mindset shift but also shocked that this was not thought of as obvious.  https://medium.com/@sexandstartups/zebrasfix-c467e55f9d96

2018-09-25

  • Wise: It's a day to be inspired by Jeff Bezos: “We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details. In some cases, things are inevitable. The hard part is that you don’t know how long it might take, but you know it will happen if you’re patient enough.” The part that I bolded I think is key. I think Jeff put it so eloquently well. It's a concept I've wrestled to put into a well thought out statement but Jeff beat me to the punch. Knowing what you are willing to be flexible on and what is so crucial you have to be stubborn on is essential. 

2018-09-26

  • Wise: A review of a top notch essay by Paul Graham on the Maker vs. Manager's schedule. By his definition I am on a Manager's schedule at the moment. I'm continuously looking for ways to integrate the two and that has been a journey of various experiments trying to create "space" in my life to have a dedicated chunk of time to induce "flow state". The trick also comes with me constantly meeting different people for coffee to either break into VC or to come on my podcast. Though the podcast itself is part of my "maker - creative art" so maybe that is the time that I'm setting aside to do that which I love doing. My morning routine is now very much a check list of key items I should focus on doing but I think this article has brought on a new perspective to lay on my morning routine. My morning routine has a number of algorithmic tasks like cold showers, morning cardio etc.. and heuristic tasks like writing 300 words, reading etc.. and I think I can make a maker's schedule inside the routine. So not having a time limit to how long it may take me to do my morning routine to give me freedom of duration so if I hit the zone in my writing I can continue moving on while the creativity juices are flowing or cut it short at 300 words to move onto other tasks. http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html

2018-09-27

  • Wealthy: People are reaching for yield. We are matched with what is the one of the longest bull markets in US history but the caveat is that the recovery's pace is much slower than in pasts so a correction to match excesses may not be in sight for the near future, a possible outcome. However, something to stay vigilant of is how investor sentiment evolves after year 10 since the great financial crisis. How is every investment manager who started their career in the last 10 years structuring (or not structuring) for risk. Tons of examples of outrageous deals being performed by buyout funds, financial sponsors and other providers of capital. Just continued examples of imprudence in the market with people taking the approach of "risk-tolerance" over "risk-aversion". My current mental model has human psychology being pessimistic (sometimes cynical) to human achievement and optimistic (sometimes euphoric overestimation) to their own correctness and accuracy in decision making. There is nothing like this memo to give me a great taste of facts to calm my own optimism and consider the risk. I agree with Marks that I continue to see debt, rather than equity valuation, being a major source for concern here. https://www.oaktreecapital.com/docs/default-source/memos/the-seven-worst-words-in-the-world.pdf?referrer=email

2018-09-28

  • Wise: Instagram's co-founders departed Facebook. A wonderful article depicting how that was inevitable because when Instagram sold to Facebook there was a key distinction. Instagram was a product, not a business. Facebook had bought a product and it's creation team. Hence, the founders of Instagram had never been CEOs in the purest form of what it means to be CEO. Instagram had no monetization, no business model to speak of, other than VC funding, at the time of acquisition by Facebook. It definitely was the result of great work by a product team to pivot from a location check-in product called Burbn to a product that would be used by 30MM people when the team only had 12 people. Instagram had not proven its ability to become a viable business in the early days and selling to Zuck further removed the founders from ever taking on the business model strategy of Instagram. Zuck made Facebook profitable within first 2 months of launch and he continued to operate Instagram with the CEO mindset of continuously integrating into the Facebook business model and finding ways to monetize the investment. A product that cannot provide returns on the investment is a dead product. The founders of Instagram are amazing product visionaries and as such, it only makes sense they'd take on a new journey that will allow them the space to be creative to create yet another product. They were never in charge of Instagram once they sold. A fun analysis on the difference of the Product Leader and CEO. It's different.  https://stratechery.com/2018/instagrams-ceo/

2018-09-29

  • Wealthy: "Correct is fine but it's better to be interesting" - Seth Godin, out-sized gains happen only when you are non-consensus and right. Nothing happens when you are consensus. 

2018-09-30

  • Wise: "The great mass of human beings are note acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they abandon individual ambition - in many cases, indeed, they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all - and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives." - George Orwell, I think the greatest accomplishments come when people are determined to live their own lives. Because living your own life is not one of greed or narcissism but rather one of truth and purpose. Human connection is strongest and sustainable when its forges through honesty and purpose. Thus, by living a life true to oneself one can hope to build up connections with others to create large meaningful advancement for the whole. Like with physical health, our sense of individualism is beat out of us at an early age by society and acknowledging that and undoing the damage from that is essential. 

This Week I Learned #16

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger

2018-09-17

  • Wise: Your reputation is what other's perceive you to be and your character is what you are. It's great if both are good but I think character is much more important. John Wooden. I've read about Coach Wooden in numerous books but this was the first time I heard him speak. A neat talk on the difference of success and winning. Winning is the result but success lies in the process employed to get the result. Hence success lies in the journey taken. Coach Wooden doesn't talk about winning but rather focusing on the practice and allowing the work put in the from the week's practices to showcase on the basketball field. Fate is in our hands and we control it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MM-psvqiG8

2018-09-18

  • Healthy: Whilst recording a podcast episode with Conrad McGee-Stocks of Uken Games I learned about how games are designed to limit/reduce burnout. Conrad eluded to how many mobile games will force you to wait for a period of time before they let you play the game again. I personally thought this was a way for games to profit off of you because many have the option of letting you continue to play if you pay but it turns out it's a feature designed to give players a break so that they don't get tired of a game and builds a habit loop where their desire to return to play the game is maintained or increased. Just a fun insight to how game companies think about habit formation in their design. Stay tuned for the release of this episode on a future newsletter! 

2018-09-19

  • Wise: A cool interview with Shopify CEO, Tobi Lutke, on Shopify's culture, the journey and his approach as CEO. Toby is a Type 8 on his enneagram like I am. Shopify, like Dropbox, relies most on the enneagram test for their personality test. He also talks about how culture design is not a directive set by the CEO but that its more a result of the collection of people who work at Shopify. That's the culture. He takes the opposite view of Google where he doesn't want people to be "Googlers" for fear of forming some unified collective identity where people forget their own individuality. He wants people to be themselves. The true value of diversity can be cultivated by such an approach. He also speaks about the difference of operating a business in a non-primary location (i.e. Ottawa instead of SF). Most business books of successful companies have been written by people starting companies in primary locations like SF or NY. Starting Shopify in Ottawa was a strategic choice and thus growing it required different growth and operational processes for the company was forced to invest in people for the long term when they first started and that constraint has in effect become an advantage for them. All companies should invest in people for the long-term but many in primary locations don't have the same problem of "limited talent" and their ecosystem is different where people start developing different mindsets like "I'll hop between Google, Facebook, Apple whenever the other offers to pay me more etc..." https://fs.blog/tobi-lutke/

2018-09-20

  • Healthy: Interview with Srinivas Rao and Chase Jarvis. This interview gave me some new inspiration to update my morning routines and iterate my current habit base. Rao personally imposed a 1000 word writing habit daily. I personally experimented with 500 words in the past and had difficulty with that but I've reinstated the habit as part of a morning routine where I now write for 300 words. It's about making "creative processes" a habit because creativity is a muscle and it needs to become habit for it to compound over time. It doesn't hit you randomly and nor is it talent people have with no effort. It's also given me a different approach I can take with my public equity investing where I look at each stock analysis as a project with its own "sprint" and I force those constraints to streamline the research but also create an environment that is constructed to fit me. I know a weakness I have is information paralysis because I love seeking new information so using such constraints to put a limit on myself may be an effective tactic. Rao also eludes to what he learned from interviewing hundreds of high performers and he noted how many have an irrational optimism that is balanced with reality. That is what allows them to continuously grow. He also notes how to make a lot of money you can't be realistic. You have to think about the possibility and not rely on reality. He also starts his writing process with quotes to prime your creativity. It's the idea of building a box first if you wish to think outside the box. https://www.chasejarvis.com/blog/an-audience-of-one-is-all-it-takes/

2018-09-21

  • Wealthy: Learnings from Jerry Neumann’s interview on angel investing. VC is about people, product and market but what truly matters is the market. It rhymes with what Andy Rachleff said in my other newsletter. People are essential but market matters most. Product is the last thing because products change. Uber was not the product it started with. Same for Twitter. The product is useless if there is no market to sustain it. Jerry also talks about not taking advice on investing from people at Sequoia or other established VC funds because how you invest as an angel or VC will be very different and the strategy too may be different so you have to think about how you will build out your own competence area. You need a proprietary deal source. In regards to due diligence, you don't ask people in the market if they would use the product. They'll say they won't because people don't like change. This happened when Jerry asked his family members in the construction business if they would use these new construction products he was thinking of investing in. They said no but they ended up using those products later on as it became more commonplace and evident it solved a problem they had. As Ford put it "If I asked people what they want they would've asked for a faster horse". So you have to ask the market what problems they have because the product that addresses the problem will eventually be adopted because people hate problems more than changing their ways. https://radiopublic.com/venture-studio-GOJRol/ep/s1!00fc8

2018-09-22

  • Wise: An interview with Evan Williams. I did not know he was the co-founder of Medium, Twitter and Blogger. Per Chris Sacca, early twitter investor, Evan was considered the product visionary the early VCs were investing in and Jack Dorsey (who I thought was the key Twitter exec) was not a material factor. In the interview Evan provides a look into the digital publishing world and how we can think about evolution of information, how we receive it and how Medium is looking to build up a movement to increase paid informational content. He uses a few good analogies to represent the change in consumer behaviour. One is coffee where Starbucks practically started charging way more for "quality" coffee. Now, my opinion as an avid coffee drinker, Starbucks is the lower -end commodity product where I would go for cheaper coffee because all other coffee shops that stand for "quality" charge more than Starbucks. So Starbucks radically upped the cost of a commodity product and that changed the consumers appetite for what they were willing to accept over time. Another is for music. Apple looked to radically commoditize music and we moved from a period of people paying a lot for music (CD, records) to a generation where everyone downloaded music illegally (and free) to a generation now where no one downloads music for free but rather pays a few bucks to Shopify. It's weird to think that we moved away from getting free music to everyone paying for it but I think this shift consumer behaviour will become a possibility for informational content on writing platforms as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c05iBPFVZnE

2018-09-23

  • Wealthy: Rare interview with Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital. I am personally a fan of Chamath because of his constant focus on challenging the status quo and that definitely sings true to my own heart. The interview is focused on the "turmoil" at his own venture capital fund where he is transitioning into a technology holding company. I don't see anything wrong with this, building such a berkshire model is something I'm hoping to create and it's nice to see this forming by someone I respect. Chamath's grief seems to come mainly from fund of fund investors who are not happy with how he runs his VC firm and his non-traditional approach. What's interesting here is that there seem to be a population of fund of funds that invest in venture capital. This is a model I think will be truly valuable as more money flows into private capital and this is one more data point supporting my thesis. Chamath is going through a divorce with his wife, a Social Capital co-founder, and don't believe people, no matter how high-performing they may be, can be objective in such decision making when their personal life is so impacted. There is definitely something there with that. I actually fully agree with Chamath's new direction with his investment company. I do think the fees are unjustified and the reinvestment of the carry into the company for further growth makes sense. the idea of paying young VCs in the firm a paycheque akin to working for a company to align selves with the entrepreneurs they invest in. i get that. "The letters V and C don’t mean Stanford MBAs in fleece vests running around. Venture capital means money for ventures, he said." Have to love that quote. .https://www.theinformation.com/articles/social-capital-founder-gives-his-account-of-turmoil-at-firm

This Week I Learned #15

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”
— Charlie Munger

2018-09-10

  • Wise: "A book is a dream you hold in your hands." - Neil Gaiman

2018-09-11

  • Wise: An overview on the podcast industry from 2005 to 2015. Over the 10 years the lifespan of a typical podcast was 6 months with 12 episodes. Of the 200K+ podcasts only about 40% have been "active", meaning 1 piece of content per month. Of the categories with the most active podcasts Christianity led the way with 23K active podcasts with the runner up being Music at 13K active podcasts. I love how the category is Christianity and not religion. The trend of more podcasts launching is apparent with 2015 seeing 5000 new podcasts launch per month while the number was below 1000 pre-2008. Podcasts are becoming more global with 36% of History podcasts being non-English. This is a common trend I see in South Korea, a country that thrives on entertainment media, where celebrities are trying to take ownership of their brand in a highly censored and restrictive media environment. Podcasts are also getting longer with median minute per episode increasing to 42 minutes. So, 6 months will be the target to beat for me in the short term. But the growing market and opportunity continues to excite me to create more podcasts in the future. https://medium.com/@monarchjogs/how-podcasts-have-changed-in-ten-years-by-the-numbers-720a6e984e4e

2018-09-12

  • Wise: Whilst cruising through the Amazon Books store in New York I found Gretchen Rubin's book "The Four Tendencies". Turned out the book was a personality test so it was an easy-target for some "loiter in the bookstore and read without buying" situation. I quite enjoyed the test and my result from the quiz was "Questioner". After digging into this tendency more I did find it represented me quite well based on the feedback I had accumulated from my peers. It provided additional insight to how I may go about designing my career and life for the future and I hope you find it just as insightful. At the very least it's fun. https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/four-tendencies-quiz/

2018-09-13

  • Wealthy: Learnings from First Round VC Rob Hayes per Tren Griffin. In my quest to broaden my knowledge of seed-stage venture investing I found the various perspectives to assess the founders and business insightful. "First principle: the team you build is the company you build.", Keith Rabois on the importance of hiring and why 50% of the CEOs time should be focused on hiring the right people. "Missionary vs. Mercenary Founder", the founder with a purpose/"why"/"north star" will be the one who can traverse through the "messy middle"/"dip"/"catastrophic failure" that will be inevitable on the journey to build a company. Rob Hayes' edge in identifying founders => "My question is never 'is this the right time to build this company' but 'is this the right person to build this company given that this person will have to build the market'". "If you invest in something that doesn't work, you lose 1x your money. If you miss Google, you lose 10,000x your money. You must orient yourself toward the question of "what could go right?"", Bill Gurley on the importance of being an eternal optimist in the venture world.. a mindset that resonates well with how I invest in the public equity markets as well. https://25iq.com/2018/07/14/business-lessons-from-rob-hayes-first-round-capital/

2018-09-14

  • Wise: A look into Uber's business model, strategy and competitive landscape with Lyft. A holistic look at Uber's focus on bundling all transportation services to control demand. With multitudes of transportation related services (i.e. bikes, cars, food delivery) it creates a single source for customers. The single source increases demand and with that demand it would hope to find improvements in operating margins to turn that quarterly $1bn loss around. As with any marketplace business, this is a two-sided equation where driver captivity is also required but that captivity of demand from consumers should help with captivity of supply on the driver side as well. I don't think Lyft will go away and neither do I think Lyft won't apply a similar bundling tactic (especially if the bundling tactic starts to utilize third parties). It will inevitably become an oligopolistic market, unless Uber blows through it's finances on projects like pursuing a self-driving car technology better than Google's. With continued migration to mega-cities increasing the population density of North American cities that are ill-equipped on an infrastructure standpoint a transportation vertical stands to have great tail winds. https://stratechery.com/2018/ubers-bundles/

2018-09-15

  • Wise: Rare long-form interview with Joe Rogan and Elon Musk. Bypassing the worthless media-bait on Elon smoking weed the interview was a highly insightful view on numerous topics like infrastructure, flight, energy and politics. Really enjoyed the discussion on the need to expand transportation infrastructure underground as cities expanded upwards, the safety of tunnels in earthquakes, why Elon believes flying cars won't happen and how the gravitational force actually applies to airplanes. I'm personally not a fan of Elon as a CEO/operator but his vision and thought process behind his engineering designs was truly enjoyable to listen to. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycPr5-27vSI

2018-09-16

  • Wealthy: Interview with Scott Belsky, VC @ Benchmark + Founder of Behance. I'm a personal fan of Scott and continue to digest whatever interview he does. Scott's been able to build a system to allow him to evolve his angel investing to a role as a VC partner at Benchmark whilst also managing an executive role at Adobe where he focuses on products because that is what he loves and focused on when eh was building Behance. It continues to expand the creativity I should impose into creating my own system. In regards to investing, Scott brings up a great point on thinking about the present when investing. A lot of investing is predicated on forecasting for growth and/or the future state of the company given various factors but you just have no idea when exactly the thesis will play out. This can result in getting burned by your own future-based thesis. So invest considering the market conditions of the present. This does not mean have a short time horizon. But rather have a long horizon of a thesis predicated on the present conditions because the chances of dramatic change happening in the next 5 to 10 years isn't that probable. https://tim.blog/2018/09/13/scott-belsky/