This Week I Learned #52

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


  • Decoy effect: When two options are not comparable, introduce a decoy to drive behaviour. If you want people to pick option A over option B, then introduce a slightly weaker option A equivalent to drive choice to option A. This relativity will make people believe that option A is better than the weaker option A as well as option B as well. People always gravitate towards relative comparisons. From Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. 


  • Step By Step Ferociously. In Latin it's "Gradatim ferociter" and it is a Bezos favorite. It’s the motto for Blue Origin, his space company. Basically, it means you can’t skip steps. You have to put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge that things take time. There are no shortcuts but you want to do those steps with passion and ferocity.


  • Seth Godin on how our job is to make art. 1) You are already prepared but you will never be ready. 2) Guttenberg made the printing press while only  6% of the world was literate 3) When Mercedes needed the king to sign off on his car invention because it wasn't legal to drive a car on the road yet. 4) Saulto Mortale => Italian phrase for taking the dangerous leap into the void. Nothing is more affirming and makes you feel more alive than leaping. You will never be ready and the world won't be ready either. 5) The question isn't whether you are successful, it's whether you matter. 6) Competence is no longer a scarce commodity. Anything with a manual or path or steps will make you into a mere copycat. No one cares about copycats. 7) We make art to instill one thing. Change.


  • "So you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long. For suppose you should think that a man had had a long voyage who had been caught in a raging storm as he left harbor, and carried hither and thither and driven round and round in a circle by the rage of opposing winds? He did not have a long voyage, just a long tossing about" - Seneca


  • “If we have a good quarter it’s because of work we did 3, 4, 5 years ago. It’s not because we did a good job this quarter.” - Jeff Bezos


  • "Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die." - Seneca


  • Podcast interview with Sports + Science writer David Epstein and Patrick O'Shaughnessy on Specialist vs. Generalists: 1) Sports analogies are skewed because many sports elements are fixed environments where you know the range of possible outcomes and many of the variables can be controlled to a certain extend. Most things in the real world are wild environments where causation and correlations are still vastly uncertain with tons of random variables 2) Tiger vs Roger: Tiger is the specialist case of learning to golf at age 1. The poster child for Anders Ericsson's 10k hours. Roger (Federer) didn't specialize much later and focused on playing all kinds of other sports and explored. His mother was a tennis coach who constantly pushed him away from the sport and advised he explore. 3) Most people who succeed in sports or other fields have had to go through periods of exploration early in life to understand who they are and what their strengths are. The 10k rule only really works for people who also have strengths aligned to that area of choice. 4) To learn effectively: i) test ii) space iii) interweave = i) once tested before we are ready, we are more likely to learn that stuff because its relevant and applicable ii) leave space between bouts of practice. Studying same topic nonstop can give sense of short term progress but spacing learning with at least a one month break can lead to 200%+ greater retention long term of topic; one spaced learning group remembered 250% more 8 years later than the group that did not do spaced.  iii) learn different topics to allow for conceptual weaving. Mix up things you want to learn and this can help build abstract models in your mind.