This Week I Learned #23

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


  • Wealthy: Podcast with Seth Godin & Tim Ferriss. 1) Think about niche-ing down to your customer segment by being ultra specific. The 500 people. It doesn't have to be demographic. It could be psychographic: this requires the use of empathy to reach that kind of audience and whats also important is to get great customers. 2) It’s fine to push away bad customers. You aren't trying to be a commodity that caters to everyone, then you are just a price taking freelancer that works for hours and gets killed in auctions. No competitive advantage what so ever. You have to fire your customers that suck and focus on only keeping the ones that are great and ones that get what you are offering. They will appreciate the price point. The $400 steak may not be great... but its for the audience that wants that experience and that psychological experience of paying up and feeling something internal. It's not what you want but what they want. An artwork, logo design, made by Milton Glazer may look like shit to the masses and only a few designers will love it regardless of the artist... the 1%... but the people that are told this is by Milton will make up all reasons to love it. This justifies the $200k vs $10 price tag difference. That's who your customers are. That's what they believe, what they want and that is what is promised to them.. not a design but a design by Milton. It's about leading with the intended customer. Who are you serving or intending to serve and have a product for those people. Don't build a product and then market to various different people. Focus on catering to a specific audience. It's scary to commit to it but that is what you need to do.


  • Wise: Just a learning on the PE industry. Long Story short: results are polarized to the top quartile firms where they outperform collectively. Though the likelihood of the second fund outperforming the first is only 30% for traditional PE fund and about 50% for a VC fund. Still, most funds that have invested since 2011 have yet to realize most of their investments so most are still "mark-to-market" returns with "predicted/smoothed" IRR numbers. Practically letting a child mark his own homework. PE as a business still is an AUM business of building scale through the "implied success" of the first few funds to raise more funds to feed off the AUM (about 20% in cash for management fees and 80% deployed) and most won't be beating the S&P. Though the market is continuing to grow with much less IPOs happening the public markets and companies essentially getting IPO like funds from the private side and with more money flowing into the private side with less public people being able to justify their fees I wonder if we'll see a kind of implosion in the private markets first before we see anything in the public markets...


  • Healthy: Short Netflix documentary series "Explained" on Tattoos. Neat learnings on the cultural play of tattoos in society and their design. Japanese style has a wholistic mythical theme based on a central subject with clouds and flowers creating a background whilst American style is more focused on memories and experiences of the individual. Japan's prisons used to tattoo prisoners with marks and prisoners who came out wanted to cover up those marks and have since adopted tattoos and it eventually made it's way to become the key mark of the Yakuza. Indigenous tattoo traditions signified the transition of boy to man and the growth of the person in their tribes but conquering Christians destroyed such traditions to kill the ancestral identity of these tribes to impose their own Christian belief into them. Christianity believed tattooing the 'clean/pure' body was wrong/evil so tattooing was seen negatively. Sailors used to track their experiences and naval feats with tattoos on their body, like surviving difficult journeys, nautical miles traveled or places visited. Just seems valuable to know the history and purpose of tattoos before just slapping one on.


  • Wise: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is." - Yogi Berra


  • Wise: I love Conan O'Brien and this commencement speech really touched me. He gave the talk the year after the 2010 tonight show conflict where he got screwed by NBC. Conan reflects over what it's like to get your dream job, no longer have it, and wander for 18 months. He describes how those 18 months were the best time of his life because he explored. He explored in a manner true to himself, no cheating to explore things others wanted him to, but exploring and doing all the things that he wanted to and that led him to take on various "risks". One such risk was partnering up with TBS, which was a no-namer compared to NBC but it led to the creation of his own show and he has definitely done well for himself. What I truly enjoyed was dealing with disappointment and continuing on 'pounding the rock'. I've constantly faced disappointment and this reminded me of my own journey, which will continue to give me more disappointments, and I'm hoping this video has given me one more data point to go through it and tell myself "it's okay. it's supposed to suck. shit doesn't taste good but gotta move on." My dream will change and that is okay.. because this is a certainty.


  • Wise: Jeff Bezos' short interview in 1997, 3-year after creating Amazon. In Amazon's first year they grew purely from word of mouth. That was the big takeaway for me. It's about studying what they did in the first 3 years compared to what they do in the last 3 years.


  • Wise: Interview with Jeff Bezos and David Rubenstein. First learning is a bit of perspective: David is the co-founder and co-ceo of Carlyle group but whilst he spends his day-time running one of the world's top PE funds he has his own interview show where he gets to be curious, almost like a journalist. This has been another data point to reinforce my vision for creating a media and investment company with OMD Ventures. Second - Jeff Bezos: "I believe in the power of wandering, all my best decisions in business and in life have been made with heart, intuition, guts. Not analysis. When you can with analysis you should do so but turns out the most important decisions in life are always made with instinct, intuition, taste and heart", just like how he bought the Washington Post with no due diligence, like starting so many of the various projects at Amazon, the decision to quit DE Shaw to start Amazon, the self-awareness to listen to the gut is so important. Third - Jeff's mom had him when she was 17. Her high school wanted to kick her out but his grandfather negotiated an arrangement to allow her to finish. Jeff also calls his current father "My real dad, not my biological dad. My real dad". Jeff talks about how he has the utmost respect for people who break out from tough childhoods and that he was lucky to not have a tough childhood but I strongly believe the resilience his mother had probably made a major impact on him to form the psyche of who he is today.


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Daniel LeeOMD VenturesTWIL