This Week I Learned #40

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


  • Wealthy: "Progress always involves risk. You can't steal second and keep one foot on first base" - Robert Quillen, journalist.


  • Wise: "Money is like gasoline while driving across country on a road trip. You never want to run out, but the point of life is not to go on a tour of gas stations." - Tim O'Reilly. A wonderful metaphor for money. Focus on the road trip, the intended destination and the journey to there.


  • Wise: I learned about Montessori schools in my previous role at an investment fund. The company focused on doubling-down on our genius area and I got to work with one of the smartest group of people. Naturally, when the majority said their children went to Montessori schools my ears perked up. In theory I think it's the proper way youth education should be implemented. Then, when I learned Jeff Bezos, Larry Paige and Sergey Brin all went to Montessori schools it made me think there was more to it than just mere correlation. It's certainly not a causation but such ways of fostering thinking and encouragement of doubling down on your strengths can have material effects in the long run. Not only does decision making compound, but pre-teen years have been identified to be a crucial time for psychological wiring. So, naturally when Steve Kotler brought up this WSJ article I thought it was interesting. But here is the non-WSJ link if you don't have a subscription like me: link here


  • Wise: A wonderful essay by Sam Altman, late president of Y-Combinator, on "How to be successful". The essay held some wonderful perspectives I wanted to highlight and share with you all. Link here:

    • "I am willing to take as much time as needed between projects to find my next thing. But I always want it to be a project that, if successful, will make the rest of my career look like a footnote."

    • "I think the biggest competitive advantage in business—either for a company or for an individual’s career—is long-term thinking with a broad view of how different systems in the world are going to come together."

    • "Trust the exponential, be patient, and be pleasantly surprised."

    • "And unfortunately, the more ambitious you are, the more the world will try to tear you down."

    • "Truth-seeking is hard and often painful, but it is what separates self-belief from self-delusion."

    • "“I will fail many times, and I will be really right once” is the entrepreneurs’ way. You have to give yourself a lot of chances to get lucky."

    • "My best advice for communicating clearly is to first make sure your thinking is clear and then use plain, concise language."

    • "As in most cases, momentum compounds, and success begets success."

    • "One of the great joys in life is finding your purpose, excelling at it, and discovering that your impact matters to something larger than yourself."

    • "I believe that it’s easier to do a hard startup than an easy startup."

    • "If you are making progress on an important problem, you will have a constant tailwind of people wanting to help you. Let yourself grow more ambitious, and don’t be afraid to work on what you really want to work on."

    • "People who say “I am going to keep going until this works, and no matter what the challenges are I’m going to figure them out”, and mean it, go on to succeed. They are persistent long enough to give themselves a chance for luck to go their way."

    • "Most people do whatever most people they hang out with do. This mimetic behavior is usually a mistake—if you’re doing the same thing everyone else is doing, you will not be hard to compete with."

    • "The size of the network of really talented people you know often becomes the limiter for what you can accomplish."

    • "Learn how to evaluate what people are great at, and put them in those roles. (This is the most important thing I have learned about management, and I haven’t read much about it.)"

    • "I try to always ask myself when I meet someone new “is this person a force of nature?” It’s a pretty good heuristic for finding people who are likely to accomplish great things."

    • "The right motivations are hard to define a set of rules for, but you know it when you see it."

    • "The most successful people I know are primarily internally driven; they do what they do to impress themselves and because they feel compelled to make something happen in the world."

    • "Eventually, you will define your success by performing excellent work in areas that are important to you. The sooner you can start off in that direction, the further you will be able to go. It is hard to be wildly successful at anything you aren’t obsessed with."


  • Wise: With more friends entering the world of tech, many have gone in with the expectation of the "Google and Facebook" glory. Naturally, most go into the 'finance' roles of these technology companies and it's quite shocking to hear about how most companies have generated $0 for multiple years. They have 50+ people yet they have no product. Friends who go to meet their investors unshaven to provide the appearance of "overwork". They are working 100s of hours but the investors like to know that apparently. I've now heard of a "CFO" who has never gotten to see an actual paper trail of the companies finances. I've been told about entire executive teams leaving because of a delusional CEO. All encompassing this is all the ludicrous financial projections my friends make for their startups. All showing the wonderful hockey stick growth in sales forecasts. And obviously, most are venture-backed and have great swag. Investing is hard. Many don't realize it. 


  • Wise: I sat next to an influencer-status (i.e. the blue tick mark) Instagram model my friend knew. Some facts I learned in this world: She has upwards of 70K+ followers on Instagram and she focuses on posting fitness videos and partnering up with various beauty and athletic companies. Partnerships would involve a sponsored photo or video. She mentioned how she makes about $10K a month on these deals and the inflow of "easy money" in the market is huge. She also mentioned how for a workout video that she had to spray herself with water to make it look like she was sweating for the workout as well. It made me think of the ethics of such window dressing. I know most advertisers do it to sell "the experience" but I still don't agree. I don't think such superficial "influencer" marketing is here to stay. I do believe that niche markets will have 'leaders' who have earned the trust of their audience. Yet, I think the big dumb money flowing in from large organizations is rather a sign of FOMO.  


  • Wise: Learned from an entrepreneur who sold a profitable restaurant chain. The entrepreneur's broker advised on not listing the company for sale on small business broker sites because that's the graveyard move. Only the most desperate sellers go on there apparently. Also, most small/independent food chains get sold for 3-5x profit on average so you don't make "big bucks" off of it. Another major problem is theft. Theft from your own workers squeezing petty cash out of the cash register. The entrepreneur discussed how it was a year-long problem and it's something I had not even considered given naive assumptions that the people I employ would all be like my friends. 


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