This Week I Learned #21

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


  • Wealthy: In the spirit of reading Taleb's Antifragile, an article with his advice on money notably addresses a portrayal of his application of an antifragile system in his finances. It's about embracing risks and mistakes, as long as the mistakes will let you survive in the end. There is no way to achieve or succeed at anything without taking on risk. The nature of an antifragile system requires "survivable" and "recoverable" magnitudes of mistakes being made to create a stable system over the long run and this is not only applicable in the journey of an entrepreneur in building a company but also in one's finances. Making financial investments requires taking on risk. The difference is in the magnitude and the tradeoff for that risk. What is weird is how people are so willing to forgo taking small risks but would rather take on a huge risk like mortgage debt that will inevitably make them slaves to the bank. "I want to take  leap like you but now I have a mortgage so I can't" is a common excuse.. nay an acknowledgment of imprisonment of one's freedom I hear often and I heard that again this week. It's only indicative of what happens t those who are living beyond their means, following a social practice that is far from rationality and one where the risk/benefit trade off has been grossly miscalculated.


  • Healthy: I previously wrote of a learning in regards to sulforaphane. I dislike eating vegetables. I know I should eat them though and so in looking for the most effective option I focused on broccoli sprouts. Mixed it into my morning smoothie but it tasted rancid. Hence, the search continued and I learned that major health benefits for aging, immune system boost against cancer, clearing out benzene from air pollution/carcinogens was available in all cruciferous vegetables. Cabbage is listed there and I know that fermented vegetables also provide lot's of benefits in essential vitamins and probiotics and one of those options is kimchi, the korean spicy fermented cabbage. Now I can go back to eating something that is a cultural dish akin to me and get the benefits of vegetable consumption via this source. Continuing on the trend of creating a diet that works for me, one of least resistance.


  • Wise: Learning about the restaurant industry through Nick Kokonas' interview with Tim Ferriss. This interview is all round fascinating, ever-more so that it has seriously got me thinking about going back to school to study philosophy, but also on questioning defaults. Nick owns the world-famous Alinea restaurant with chef Grant Achatz. I learned about Grant on the Netflix documentary Chef's table and he was by far my favourite on the documentary series. I didn't know this but when you make reservations restaurants will overbook because they assume people won't show up. Seems obvious now but I definitely feel cheated to some degree. There is also the inefficiency of peak times on weekend nights whilst early weekdays being not so popular for business as well. Alinea has opted to fight such inefficiencies by allowing people to book exact tables online (so no more overbooking), implementing deposits (so people don't lie about reservations) and to have variable pricing so it's cheaper to eat on a Monday night instead of Saturday night (to adjust for peak times). It's about making an efficient market in the restaurant business (that is assumed to have a 95% failure rate). Great stuff.


  • Wealthy: "We changed our mind because the world changed". Munger and Buffet used to hate railroads, then the world changed and there soon were only 4 companies. So they bought out an entire railroad company. They used to hate airline stocks, then the world changed and the stocks took a beating and different companies came out to change the industry's makeup. They used to say the various tech stocks were out of their "circle of competence" but Apple was invested in because Warren believes it is a consumer goods company that he is able to understand now. It's the idea of continued learning. The world will continue to change and only a fool will hope for the world to conform around to him rather than change to the new facts that come about. Hence Warren still continues to learn. No one is all knowing and that is one example of one with humility and intellectual curiosity, the 2 factors I think are required to achieve success in any discipline. Also, technology is NOT an industry. It's a tool, I think anyone who considers it to be an industry has stopped questioning the obvious.


  • Wealthy: A presentation by Ian Cassel of the MicroCap Club on why investing is hard. Truly enjoyed the various examples he used to illustrate how hard investing is. One such example was Masayoshi Son's investment career where he grew up with a pig-sty (literally) to become a billionaire by growing Softbank, reaching a net worth of $76Bn in 1999 and losing it all in 3 years to see his net worth become $1bn, but also having made a $20MM investment in Alibaba in 1999 to have it return $120bn now. No one could've predicted this. No model or spreadsheet would have known. Same for Ronald Wayne, the 3rd cofounder of Apple that sold his 10% interest for $800. Given the facts he had at the time that was the decision he had made. This reminded me of when I bought Canopy Growth Corp at the IPO where I had an average cost of $1.30. I sold in the $30s after holding it for 3+ years, and it went to the $60s a few months later. A 30-bagger doesn't matter though when the principal is miniscule, I had not watered my flowers... which by the numbers did not look like flowers but weeds.... and I don't know if I'd do anything different with the same facts.


  • Wise: Turns out the "Business:Career" category is ranked 24th in terms of the number of total shows the category has. Based on the "hockey-stick" nature of the statistics though, anything not within the top 10 popular categories are an immaterial amount of shows. Also, the average "business:career" podcast has about 50 episodes per show, which puts it on the higher end. So either the incumbents have been there for a long time and or everyone collectively is diligent with production. My guess is that the former is more likely.


  • Wise: A short TED talk on decision making with Liv Boeree, professional poker player. Main takeaway is getting into the habit of quantifying decisions, either the probability of the expected outcome or the probability of me doing an action. I've personally gotten into quantifying engagement and energy level when evaluating activities and that has been a very informative process so applying a quantitative approach to my decisions would also prove to be an informative exercise (I think). So instead of telling my friend I may go to an event, I can think about it and say "there is a 30% chance" I will go to the event. By picking 30% I've already internally decided that the event is not a priority and it isn't something I care too much for. This may also alleviate the mental stress I may have on deciding to go to an event or not (this is a problem I personally have). The first step would be to be speaking in probabilities with everything and as it becomes habit the second step may be to keep as detailed of a record in a decision journal.


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