3 Things I Learned from @BFeld

Brad Feld published the post “OMG — I Needed That Vacation” at his blog Feld Thoughts. I like Brad’s posts because they range from technical to philosophical and he gives honest insights about how to live well. (read: he’s not selling anything).

I first found out about Feld when he was interviewed by James Altucher (my notes on that conversation are here). His most recent post however had three good takeaways:

  • Why to know thyself.
  • Why you should watch Groundhog Day.
  • Why to say no.

Know thyself

“I could tell I was super grumpy based on the tone of some of my recent blog posts, what was rolling around in my head, and Amy’s mildly concerned questions about how I was doing.”

When Feld talked to Altucher he pointed this out a few times as well. It’s important to know how you feel and why you feel that way.

  • Howard Marks said that emotions are the number one cancer for investment decisions.
  • General Stanley McChrystal said that they train to take the emotions out of situations.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk said emotional business decisions are the worst decisions.

The list goes on. What the best people realize is how to remove the emotions from the situation. It’s why investors like Ray Dalio meditate. Why Naval Ravikant aims for presence. Why Feld took a vacation.

Don’t feel guilty about watching Groundhog Day

“The most enjoyable book of the week was The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh. While it’s perfect for a teenager interested in sci-fi (the heroes are all kids), the concepts played around with are fun for any age. After bailing on The Girl in the Spider’s Web after 10%, I gave it another shot on the behest ofHoward Morgan and enjoyed it a lot. Ironically, these were both on my Kindle, as all the “good for me hardcover books” sat on the shelf, other than Kafka which was excellent.”

Feld, like many of us, chose to read teen-sci-fi rather than “good for me hardcover books.” This is natural.

In one study, people were separated into two different groups. Group A was told to pick a movie to watch each day. On Monday they would choose a movie to watch Monday night, on Tuesday a movie for Tuesday night and so on.

Group B picked a week’s worth of movies on Monday. Each group chose something lovely for Monday (like Groundhog Day) but then their choices differed. Group A chose lovely movies each night but Group B chose more serious films for later in the week.

Foreign language films and Schindler's List types filled their list. But, when Thursday rolled around, Group B members were given a chance to change their choice to Caddyshack, and nearly all of them did.

Does this mean that Group B was less sophisticated or more self-delusional? Probably not. More likely was the effect that Brad Feld noticed. In the moment we want something easy.

Avoid errors of commission

“And, as I return to Boulder, I’m more determined than ever to stop wasting my time on stuff I don’t care about or want to spend time on, which I know is just wearing me out in the midst of an otherwise extremely busy life.”

Feld is among the growing list of people who say that they regret the things they said yes to do, but shouldn’t have done rather than the things they didn’t to but said no to.

These errors, commission, are easy to correct. Say no. It’s hard though. Chris Sacca and Mark Cuban (who are both on the upcoming season of Shark Tank!) said that they only invest in things that they can make a difference in. They say no to everything else.

Many people can give advice to a company, but Sacca and Cuban get the best results from things they do their best work in. Naval Ravikant told Tim Ferriss this as well, noting that his biggest errors were things he did.

We can all figure out which errors we make more of, and begin to reduce those.


For more things I learned from smart people, check out The Waiters Pad where I summarize podcast notes from smart people like Tren Griffin, Michael Mauboussin, Barry Ritholtz, Seth Godin, Brian Koppelman, and many others.