This Week I Learned #18

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


  • Wealthy: Learning about VC with Chris Sacca through the eyes of Tren Griffin. Of the 12 that Tren listed out, the ones that spoke to me the most were 1) Building out an area of competence as an investor 2) Yet focusing on building out a latticework of mental models and looking for such a mindset in founders you invest in 3) Placing the founding team's perseverance as one of the top qualities to look for 4) Watering the flowers and pulling out the weeds. 1) Chris knows his competence lies in the Seed and Series A round of a startup and once the company exceeds that phase he lets someone like Bill Gurley step in to work his magic. Like how investing in small cap stocks is different with large cap stocks, same applies for venture as well. Various stages of the company require different attention points and the place that aligns with you most as an investor is where you should focus. You have to be having fun. 2) Look for people who are obsessed with investing in themselves and have wide array of experiences because that will aid them in decision making. A specialized person with experience in one facet will only know how to solve a problem with a single hammer. 3) Perseverance is underrated. If the founder can't plow on through few years of shit then that's not a jockey worth betting on. Those are some soft-ass dreams. 4) Public and Private equity is not so different. Simple principles all round. Think of the price you pay for the value you get and look for long-term compounders that you can continue to invest more into as the company compounds its value. I don't see how this won't apply to VC. Focusing and concentrating bets over time is applicable in early-stage VC as well.


  • Wise: Amazing talk by NYU's Scott Galloway at the Code Conference on big tech and primarily about Amazon. Lot's of great learnings on the big tech ecosystem like: Breaking out over-hyped technology like 3D printing, virtual reality and AI: "Everyone went off about 3D printing in America and Europe, yeah it's going to be cheap and fast. Well we got that and you know what that's called? China." The distillation of "gangster moves" like Steve Jobs pouring billions to make 500+ retail stores in 2002 when people thought that was dead yet those stores created a brand worth billions, nay trillion now. Fast kills big. Recurring revenue bundles on platform is the battle for all retailers. Building the one stop place for everything you need. Amazon gets $1 of every $2 spent on retail, it became the second biggest media content company in a few years, it is the top 5 biggest media company (behind Google and Facebook) as a search engine with a warehouse. Regulators made a big deal of Rockefeller and Standard Oil, well Amazon is practically owning the entire continent in all industries. True capitalism requires Amazon and other big techs to be broken up.


  • Wealthy: Learning from my podcast operations. Have backup batteries but also have backups of backups! My backups failed me mid interview and I was thankful enough to have a guest who was patient throughout the 4 times of battery failure that happened during the 1.5 hour of recording. Just good practice to even test out your backup batteries. It's also odd that I had the George Soros moment of "tingling in my back" before heading out where I had a thought to check my backups but ignored it. Have to learn to trust my gut (i.e. lizard brain). 


  • Wise: Remember, it takes 2 data points to draw a line. It's funny because I said this in my morning meeting today and I realized this later in the afternoon. I had an interview for a venture investing role and I did not enjoy the conversation with the interviewer. I did not feel great and I felt the interviewer dismissed my journey. I felt horrible. Later on, I met another individual who is very well connected in the venture space and the individual warned me about working with the interviewer because of the person's negative brand in the space and questionable ethics. Funny because in my morning meeting the individual advised I should really focus on aligning myself with great mentors who are well respected teachers who will go out of their way for my success. Given all such learnings of the day I came out very positive to know that two people out of three were invested in my success and that I shouldn't let one bad meeting affect me. Also, I had a few data points to signal it may have been indicative of a bad fit long-term anyways. It's just so coincidental I would have had 3 such discussions in one day. I mean how was number 3 person supposed to have known about number 2, whom I had an interview with. Also I chose to mention I had an interview as well. Serendipity is up to you it seems. 


  • Healthy: Learned that MSG isn't as bad as people make it seem. I've always believed this to be overblown but to know there are actual studies that prove it doesn't have detrimentally negative effects on health is a new finding. The results of these studies is common knowledge in the food sciences field but are widely ignored and it seems to be socially applied only to Asian food to create a negative stereotype. I didn't know that most canned foods, sauces, chips and condiments all contained MSG as well but I guess that isn't widely advertised. Funny how advertisement of certain negative ingredients for certain ethnic cuisines can create a socially biased view on them.


  • Wealthy: Thoughts from listening to Leon Cooperman's interview with Barry Ritholtz on Masters in Business. I've been listening to Leon and the large cohort of value investors since 4-5 years ago through Youtube and podcasts and it's definitely to the point that 90% of the content is relatively similar. It's like when i speak to seasoned investment professionals who are looking to venture out from business books to other elements like physics etc.. to build out there mental model.... I don't think I've hit that point yet but I think i may have hit a point in my podcast repertoire where listening to old school value investors may have hit the declining point of utility. Leon's story dealing with the recent SEC suit is also quite interesting as well. SEC government lawyers suing affluent and famous hedge fund managers and forcing a quick plea deal to limit drawn out trials and tens of millions in legal fees whilst notching that as a win for their record to pad their resumes for a higher paying private law job for way more money seems to be a known practice in New York.


  • Healthy: "Complaining is stupid. Either act or forget." - Stefan Sagmeister, start with the mindset. 


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Daniel LeeTWIL