This Week I Learned #65

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


  • Book: Skin in the Game by N.Taleb: Taleb's POV on rationality: "What is rational is that which allows for survival".... "Anything that hinders one's survival at an individual, collective, tribal, or general level is, to me, irrational"..... "Not everything that happens happens for a reason, but everything that survives survives for a reason".... "Rationality is risk management." -> The avoidance of systematic ruin (i.e. ebola virus, terrorist attacks vs. a heart attack).


  • Book: Skin in the Game by N.Taleb: "In a strategy that entails ruin, benefits never offset risks of ruin." -> People think one must take big risks for big rewards. It's never the case. "one may be risk loving yet completely averse to ruin". It's about the asymmetric payoff of heads I win big and tails I don't lose much.


  • Fun short film to give perspective on overreacting to an immediate small loss. At the moment of loss, it may seem like the world is falling apart and an immediate reaction (sometimes retaliation) is necessary but that can result in a complete blow up. The key is survival. If you are pricked and you bleed a little, that's okay.


  • The famed dystopian novel Brave New World's author Alduous Huxley taught Eric Blair (who wrote under the pseudonym George Orwell). Huxley wrote his most well-known masterpiece at age 37 and despite a career with 50+ works, this sole novel has stood the test of time. What's also interesting is that he wrote it in just 4 months. The observation is not that masterpieces are completed in a short amount of time. It is that one needs to complete a large volume of work and that may translate into quality where your 1 month maybe equal to someone else's 4 years. That is the learning. It took Huxley long years of constantly writing and producing works until the speed improved and that led to a singular perennial work.


  • Real Vision interview with Miles Kwok (Exiled Chinese Billionaire) and Kyle Bass (Investor) on the secrets of China. Kwok could be a truth teller or a quack. He provides a number of contrasting viewpoints on the Chinese socio-political environment. While bearing the risk of speaking publicly against the Chinese Community Party (CCP), he provides quite an exciting and fun outlook on how the CCP forced Jack Ma to retire, how this trend may continue for other entrepreneurs, how they plan to control the currency wars, the financial corruption that exist in 'fake' banks and so much more (i.e. if you can overlook his poor English to decipher what he must be saying it's pretty interesting). I don't think his claims are outlandish. Given how a 'democratic' nation like South Korea is filled with corruption I can only imagine what may go on in a communist regime. One thing I continuously felt as one of the few investors of Asian heritage at my previous fund was the naivety to which Western investors looked at business operations in the East. They are always surprised to learn that a lot of motivation is driven by socio-cultural factors created from centuries old history. A greater thought I had from this interview is how Alibaba and Jack Ma's story could have been a pre-meditated story by the CCP. It doesn't seem that hard for them to have done so.


  • Scott Galloway's (NYU Marketing Prof, Author and Entrepreneur) hot take on WeWork's IPO. How can you not love this guy? I've been a big fan of his lectures in the past and this one is super fun read discussing WeWork's messiah-like obsession for its founder, Adam Neumann. There are also the various obvious business elements that scream red flags like the selling of $700M in stock by Adam, the obviously weak business model of razor thin gross margins that do not scale, and the near-term overlooking from the financial market on how real estate is a cyclical business that doesn't guarantee constant growth.


  • Lecture piece with Dr. Jordan Peterson on Circumambulation. Carl Jung believed we circled around our destiny and only by being conscientious would we recognize the various signs in our life to circle closer to the "center". In the beginning, this can result in lot's of "overshooting" where the path may not seem efficient at all. But value of overshooting is that one is still shooting. Most don't bother acting on fear of going off course from some "optimal" path. But only by constantly pushing down the path and being wrong will you learn to course correct and learn to refine further in the future. Besides, the inefficient journey may be the more interesting journey. The interesting journey may actually result in a life well lived I think.

Daniel LeeOMD VenturesTWIL