This Week I Learned #27 - Wise Revisited

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

After 168 days of daily learnings I’ve decided to go through the inventory to pick out the top 10 "wise" learnings I continue to apply in my everyday life and/or refer my friends to and share them again for a highlight reel. So, here they are! Enjoy!


  • Wise: The 1000 true fans article by Kevin Kelly. Just a staple in the blog article world for entrepreneurs and revisiting this for the 3rd or 4th time and still a gem. It's a reaffirming notion of how your 1000 true fans will be your marketing team. If you are that great they will tell others. Obviously you have to be your own chief marketing officer to start. But, they will be the marketers under your leadership. Especially with the barriers to entry for most businesses lowered it's the businesses ability to captivate customers that will make the difference. You can't captivate with price so you will have to captivate by doing something better or different. Better is relative so you have to be different. You get differet by focusing hard on a niche that aligns with you and you grow from there.


  • Wise: "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain. It seems so timely that I would learn about this quote in an interview Adam Robinson did on Tim Ferriss' podcast. Timely because I just finished the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek and also because it's been the question I've been wrestling with for the last 6 months. It's a tough question for anyone to answer but it seems to be the most important question to answer for me. I think life would be cut into 2 parts at this point. The first part being the search for your Why through various explorations and experiences. The second part being to live out your why and executing on it until death comes for you.


  • Wise: listened to a podcast interview with the co-founder of stripe, Patrick Collison. It’s a fascinating podcast on knowledge accumulation and a systematic way of thinking about designing life. From not finishing high school in Ireland to dropping out of MIT to creating Stripe. He is a proponent reader and avidly studies great businesses like Berkshire. It seems more the case that people who end up building great companies require such similar traits of being curious learners. He considers people who don't read a lot to be the ones to be weird for reading to learn is common sense. His tactic of skimming to middle of books to see if he would want to journey to that destination is something I should consider. It is the idea of killing many books quickly to see if they are worth the time. Much like how I would view stocks. He also recommends learning about the person that the person I admire admires. Getting to the source for your own interpretations. A key habit he had was reaching out to people who inspired him or excited him and thanking them. This turned into dialogue at times and built into mentee/mentor relationships.


  • 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: Recently reviewed Farnam Street's guide to reading a book. It's an important skill to practice and develop over time. My recent incorporations have been in only reading 1 book at a time and actually quitting books. There are just too many good books to waste time on reading one I won't get interested in or won't be excited to read further. The $$ paid for the book is sunk cost adn the author must continue to earn my time and attention. Time spent reading the book too is sunk cost so there is no need to finish it if it doesn't interest you. New tactics I plan to incorporate for my next book are: summarizing my learnings after reading each chapter (first without going back to my notes and then going back to my notes to see if I missed anything), summarizing the core learnings after finishing the book and then taking time off the book before doing another full review. Another key tactic to work on is being succinct with my reviews. I've found I think too many ideas are important so keeping constraints may actually be the important thing to consider.


  • Wise: "Action expresses priorities" - Mahatma Ghandi


  • 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.


  • Wise: Been binge-ing on James Clear's podcast interviews as he does his book tour and took note of some neat perspective on habit formations. First is the importance of making a habit that is so easy to keep that you will actually do them. With plenty of psychology studies showing that completing easy doable tasks over and over again being the way of keeping the habit whilst people who let ego get the best of them and overdo something (i.e. going to the gym for 5 minutes vs. doing an intermediate level at crossfit) actually inhibits the habit from ever forming. Once the habit is formed, then you reached the "80% sphere" and only then do the small incremental changes matter. For myself an example would be a 9 year powerlifting habit that continues to get tweaked by morning yoga, afternoon saunas, cold showers and all those "small habits" that I tack on to the keystone habit that set the tempo. Second important concept is the identity. Research has found that people who say "I don't eat chocolate" actually don't end up eating chocolate out of an option of food because of a self determined identification as someone who doesn't eat chocolate, whereas participants who said "I can't eat chocolate" ended up more likely to eat chocolate because of a resisting factor. That is just one example of how important setting your identity is to helping you become the person you want to be. Choosing the identity you wish to embody will hence allow you to seek out the social environment you would rather be part of for in that social environment the habits you are working on won't be considered weird and looked down upon (i.e. my aversion to alcohol & party craving folks and attraction to those who seek life-long learning while reading in coffee shops). 


  • 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: 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