No Mercy No Malice

Why Scott Galloway believes pessimists make better operators

Optimists are overrated. With Big Tech, Covid-19, or Putin, would we have been better off listening to the optimists or the pessimists? People think it takes optimism to be an entrepreneur. Not so — in my case, it just required the self-awareness to know I didn’t have the skills to succeed in a big company. Optimism is required to be an early stage investor, however. I typically invest in later stage growth firms, as my reaction to every startup idea is “there’s NFW that will work.”

I believe pessimists make better operators. I, no joke, sit awake at night and…

No Mercy No Malice

Much like an Etch-A-Sketch, Covid has presented an opportunity to envision our lives turned upside down, powder redistributed

While the fires of Covid-19 continue to rage around the world, here in the U.S. we’ve turned a corner. The intensity of an emergency doesn’t register until after it’s over, and many of us are still trying to wrap our heads around the events of the past year. Inevitably, our pause turns to curiosity … what happens next? What will be different, what will be the same?

I took some time this week to look back at where we were a year ago: reeling from the initial shock of the pandemic; facing the long grind of a summer in isolation…

Meet the executives who burn millions daily and enrich themselves while creating no real value

The Daily Benjamin Burn™ (DBB) is how much money an executive lit on fire per day during their tenure.

I’ve lost a lot of other people’s money. The most stressful times in my life have been when people believed in me and invested tens (if not hundreds) of millions in my company or idea, only to see their capital go up in smoke. I’ve also made a lot of people a lot of money — but only in America would someone with my (lack of) pedigree be given this many swings at the plate.

To be a truly great investor or operator or CEO, you need to be a bit of a sociopath: You have to be able to…

Ending a partnership — personal or corporate — is generally seen as an admission of failure

When Bill and Melinda Gates recently announced their divorce, people expressed a surprising amount of shock and disappointment. Seattle’s second-wealthiest divorcing couple will be fine as money is the modern world’s shock absorber.

Similar to its effect on so many other things, the pandemic has acted not as a change agent for marriage but as an accelerant: Inquiries with divorce lawyers heated up a third during the lockdown while 58% of surveyed Americans said the pandemic strengthened their marriage. The strong unions got stronger; the fractured split wide open.

It’s not just couples that are reevaluating their bonds. Last week…

How the $2 trillion crypto asset class taps into ‘scarcity credibility’

Any firm that approaches $1T in value has tapped into a basic human instinct. Consuming, signaling, loving, and praying have been the fuel of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google’s ascents, respectively. That the crypto asset class universe has reached $2T reveals, I believe, that it taps into two attributes we instinctively pursue: trust and scarcity.

No Mercy No Malice

The notorious co-working giant is the beneficiary of the ongoing remote work revolution

Real estate is an awesome gig.

For starters, the supply of fertile land (urban centers) is finite, but the source of demand keeps growing (more people/capital moving to cities). On top of that, we’ve granted real estate development such favorable tax treatment that it is nearly immune from taxation. Even Donald Trump, arguably the worst business person in U.S. history, made money in real estate development, despite the serial failure of the underlying business. As one tax law expert put it, the real estate industry “thinks of the tax code as a basket of goodies to feast on rather than…

No Mercy No Malice

The economic flood gates are about to open wide

A huge ocean wave breaks along the coast.
A huge ocean wave breaks along the coast.
Photo: Luis Ascenso/CC BYY 2.0

Post-crisis periods are among history’s most productive eras. London rebuilt after the Great Fire with grand new architecture, and Europe, after the worst of its plagues, underwent a commercial revolution. The Marshall Plan turned enemies into allies, fomenting peace and prosperity for more than half a century. Leaders also emerge from crises. Ulysses S. Grant was a washed-up soldier without prospects until war broke out, but that war created the opportunity for Grant to save the Union and advance the cause of freedom. This is all to say: In the next 36 months, I believe our economy will birth a…

No Mercy No Malice

When society becomes so enamored with individual success, it forgets, and even attacks, the very institutions that enable it

An illustration of a vintage-style plane with propellers flying through the clouds, with large coronavirus cells being “dropped” from the plane.
An illustration of a vintage-style plane with propellers flying through the clouds, with large coronavirus cells being “dropped” from the plane.
Illustrations: Scott Galloway

This week, I get to cross something off my bucket list: a byline in The Economist. Those familiar with the newspaper (how the firm refers to itself) know it doesn’t byline its writers. However, The Economist also runs an online “By Invitation” section, which has featured Madeleine Albright, Garry Kasparov, Arnold Schwarzenegger — people I roll with all the time. So, how did this happen? I. Don’t. Know.

Anyway, below is an excerpt. The full essay is available here.

American individualism and institutions

I grew up on stories of the second world war. During the aerial bombardment of London known as the Blitz, my…

No Mercy No Malice

And why Pinterest and Snapchat are leaving money on the table

“The task is… not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.”

― Erwin Schrödinger

Just as life is not about what happens to you, but about how you respond to what happens to you, insight is not a function of data, but of how you perceive the data. Plotting data in different ways is illuminating, even fun, and it can lead one to discover stories. And while “stories” often connotes fiction, stories can also be true, and can even create truth.

The best way…

No Mercy No Malice

Proof that kindness compounds over the long term

As the news keeps thrusting the CEO of Robinhood in my face, I have two thoughts. One: Is the Javier Bardem No Country for Old Men hairstyle back in vogue? And two: Investing in — and holding — stocks has changed my life profoundly. …

Scott Galloway

Prof Marketing @NYUStern · Founder @L2_digital @redenvelope @prophetBrand · Contributor @bloombergtv · Cohost Pivot podcast · Weekly musings

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