This Week I Learned #11

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


  • Wise: Read through Peter Drucker's Managing Oneself and the key insight from this small 50-page read was on the 3 questions to ask yourself: 1) What are my strengths? 2) How do I perform? and 3) What are my values? I agree with Drucker that the answers to such questions should be attainable once one is in their mid-late 20s. For those that are not in that stage yet I think it would be crucial to teach young professionals that the early years of their career should be focused on continuously assessing themselves and being able to answer these 3 questions. An understanding of these 3 questions will limit ineffective use of time and guide one to learn the skills that will aide the individual per their strength. They will also learn the skills in ways that will be most effective to their style of learning. Self-awareness is probably the most underrated quality of any professional but it should form the baseline for any career and life decision one makes. 


  • Wise: Learning from Khe Hy's interview with productivity guru Tiago Forte. Learned about the app "Instapaper". It allows you to save articles to read later so that you don't have 50 tabs open. Learned the concept of "prioritize locally". It is a task segmentation technique of grouping tasks by project as well as priority. I agree with the view of only doing 1 task at a time but if you segment out various tasks by related groups, the completion of the main task may lead one down the road where you could easily complete another "non-priority" task in the same group and that is an effective way to "hit 2 birds with 1 stone".  Apparently the average knowledge worker works on average 25-30 hours, not 40. I do believe this makes sense. If individuals adopted a method of actually timing how much time they spend focused on 1 task it would not amount to any more than 30 hours. I think 30 hours is probably on the high end and most knowledge workers in large organizations probably have under 20 hours of effective work.


  • Wise: You are not a creative. You are a shipper. It's the discipline of the creative artist to always ship. A wonderful interview by Seth Godin on the values of shutting off the limbic brain and why. I've generally viewed the limbic brain as highly valuable for it's ability to make decisions that our neocortex will have to learn to rationalize as being the right decision. But sometimes, the limbic brain will make decisions that will distract us from achieving what we set out to do. Back to Steven Pressfield's notion of "resistance". This resistance will actually be embraced by us because we will find ways to rationalize it. It's actually what I experienced earlier on with trying to launch my podcast in June. Pressfield spoke about how the resistance gets harder and harder as you get closer to finishing and you have to learn to overcome that. Godin recommends a different approach. He suggests incorporating a period of "thrashing" in the beginning of the project. A period where you practically let the limbic brain loose and idea generate and try to be as creative as possible and try everything. After a period of thrashing in the beginning you shut off your limbic brain. No more edits, no adjustments. You just ship by the deadline. That is it. You made all the adjustments in the beginning and now you will just ship. So you design the process to test various ideas quickly in the beginning. But when you've decided on it, you just plunge ahead. You don't give room for resistance. Just ship. That became the mantra I adopted for launching my podcast. Apple iTunes was down for the month of August. I could've postponed the launch but I decided to launch anyway on the date I had selected. Today. Guess what? iTunes Podcast portal came online just now, so I only missed a day of no iTunes subscribers.


  • Wise: Land in Hong Kong is owned by the government. This land is leased out in auction style for developers. I remember reading in the past that no one in China actually "owned" their property because it was leased by the government and I think that is the similar case here. Hong Kong utilizes these auctions to grab super-high prices from developers and that funds the government. Hong Kong boasts low corporate and personal taxes and high land prices have been the government's way of making that work. Found a neat housing price report that is actually the reference point for most news outlets. Some food for thought on the global housing market.


  • Healthy: On the quest to dig deeper into the effects of coffee on fasting I learned more about the relationship of coffee and insulin. First off, there is the weird relationship of how drinking coffee could improve ketosis when fasting. So I think from a fat burning stand-point there isn't a conclusive negativity to drinking black coffee before the 16 hour fasting mark is up. However, this article, like many others don't explore the fasting effects on the circadian rhythm and I will er to the side that drinking black coffee will start break the fast for that. So the plan is to do 16 hours water-only if possible but if I want my black coffee doing it after a minimum 12 hour fast window for the circadian rhythm benefit. Now insulin. So regular coffee drinkers see improved insulin sensitivity and higher tolerance to glucose over the long term. But it turns out in the short term insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance is actually reduced. For a guy who only eats pastries with coffee this is a goddamn tragedy. It's a good thing I've been slowly transitioning off of the sugary croissants to the butter croissants but still not ideal. But, what I've also learned about fasting is that even doing it 90% of the time will be more than enough to generate the benefits I seek from it. Just good to know and be mindful of it though.


  • Wealthy: Railroads. When Chris Douvos met Michael Porter at Monitor and asked him what he should do after his MBA he said go into Railroads. Everyone was obsessed with tech during the late 90s and Porter recommended going to railroads and becoming the CEO of Burlington Northern and have Buffet buy the company out. Well Berkshire did actually end up buying Burlington Northern out. But from a career perspective its looking at it again with the 2x2 that Howard Marks speaks about for great investments: the Y-axis is Right and Wrong and the X-axis is Consensus and Non-consensus. Most investors will be in the Right/Wrong and consensus and the few who are right and non-consensus will win. Same for your career. Don't get fixated on career risk. Look where you can be non-consensus and right. Even without the investing lens on the career thought examining the fund of fund space in venture capital made the interview fascinating as well. 


  • Wealthy: Interview with Michael Mauboussin and Ted Seides. A refresher on the value of base rates. Maubossin recited a story where a NY Times analyst believed Amazon would be able to grow revenues by 15% per year until 2025. Looking back to the 1950s, there have been 313 companies that exceeded $100bn in market cap and only 7 have been able to grow their revenue by 10%+ the subsequent year. That is 2% of the companies over a 50 year history. Now is it possible that Amazon grows it's revenue by 15% every year to 2025? 100%. It's a possibility. But given what we know of companies of such magnitude it's difficult to conclude that to be the base case. Understanding of such base rates can widen the sensitivity we perform for any forecast and even with that we can still be wrong. It just may limit the extent to which we are wrong.

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Daniel LeeTWIL