This Week I Learned #44

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


  • Wealthy: Investor Paul Lountzis lecture at Ivey Value Investing. Don't settle. Don't settle professionally and don't settle personally. Most people do. 1) Mattel's CEO Jill Barrad was an amazing operator of the Barbie business line but not a great capital allocator. She purchased the learning company that generated $800M in revenue for $3.6 bn. A few years later it was sold off for $1. A good operator may ot be a good capital allocator and you should be aware of that difference and how when you find someone who is then that is special. 2) Lountzis operates 100% SMAs so that he can build customized portfolios for everyone 3) US Bancorp offered fixed + adjustable preferred shares that had a 6.5% coupon rate. That is phenomenal and can play the role of an amazing fixed income base. 4) You can't invest well being 100% bottom-up. Top down and bottom up have to be in unison. Interest rates or macro data will impact your perspective on an individual business so you need to be cognizant of of both factors.


  • Wise: Naval Ravikant has a podcast where he actually reads out his "tweet storms" of wisdom. I may sound too much like a fanboy but most episodes are only 3 minutes so they are worth listening to. 1) Learn to build first, then learn to sell. VCs are always looking for a founding team where one is a builder and other a seller but to be deadly and game changing you need to be able to do both. Building takes longer because its focused work so learn to do that first. Selling can scale though. Gates said he would rather teach an engineer sales than the other way around. Learn to build. 2) Specific knowledge is where your value lies. You can have all the leverage you want but what'll separate you is your specific knowledge. It's experiential and one of the best ways is through apprenticeship. It's something you can't learn from school or courses. It's the knowledge you develop from following your curiosity and interest. Not one you try to get from following trends because you'll lose. 


  • Wise: An average non fiction book is about 50,000 words. So, by 1 year I would've written enough to have made a book. 


  • Wealthy: Jean Moore, designer of Tiffany's window displays is aid to have been one of the innovators of modern day window displays. Moore would have displays where he would purposely smash the window and leave the hammer in the display or have a key backwards or something that was different or improperly placed. This was how he knew he was getting attention for his window displays because people would point out these errors. They would call him to say his window was broken or that he had "mistakenly" put something backwards. This was his feedback metric but also how he drew attention. The window display was a method of content marketing 50 years ago where people's attention was limited to the same amount today: 24 hours. 


  • Wise: Shane Parrish's Farnam Street podcast on mental models. Key learning was perspective that the power law is a convex model where the more people use something it gets better. Most believe in this because its optimistic. It also shows human hubris because the pessimist POV would be linear growth. But linearity is dangerous. It requires constant innovation of sorts. Most models are concave in nature. The more people use it or the more there is, it has diminishing returns. Like a fund that gets too big. Its ability to outperform will diminish but the more money it accumulates the more likelihood it'll get more money for future. Just easier. So there is that inverse relationship within a single business model.


  • Wealthy: A fun look at a real VC investment pitch process with Josh Elman of Greylock partners. What was eye-opening was how quickly Josh had already thought about investing in the company but by replacing the CEO. As much as investors may say they value the founders and are their partners, they cannot put aside their fiduciary duty to their LPs and that changes the dynamic once a VC fund invests in a company. Another revealing piece that continues to make me wonder "Why do so many founders want VC funding?"


  • Wise: Exploration of floating cities. One of my dreams is to create underwater and movable cities. This was an exciting piece to learn about the progress countries like Netherland are making to further experiment with the concept of "Oceanix". It's also fascinating to see that the Bjarke Ingels Group is involved in designing concepts for future floating cities. I've been a big fan of their architectural projects and this is definitely up their alley.


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