My short daily thoughts since 2003
When you deliberate for too long and have late kids, you don’t get to travel with them when both you and they are young, energetic, ready for adventure [12.09.2021].
A lot of families can afford and buy big houses around the time when the kids are turning 18 and leaving it. But it’s sad to live in a big empty house [11.09.2021].
It’s a global war for talent. Employers can no longer underpay amazing software engineers just because they are based in cities with low prices. These engineers (given English fluency) can get remote 6-figure jobs from anywhere in the world without relocation [08.09.2021].
Great insight about email newsletters by Alex Garcia — “Ask for a reply in the first automated email you send. A reply sends a strong signal to your email provider basically saying you trust me. This will help your emails land in the reader’s inbox and not in the promotional or spam folders” [01.09.2021].
Difficulties are objective. Problems are subjective [31.08.2021].
“The older you are, the more different ages you’ve been, so the more people you can empathize with. To most 10 year olds, adults are aliens, and their problems aliens’ problems. Whereas a 70 year old can remember first hand what each age’s problems feel like” -Paul Graham [30.08.2021].
If no one is applying to your job posts, roll up your sleeves and do this: 1) use Linkedin Recruiter to find qualified people matching your search criteria with “open to new opportunities” flag on; 2) don’t InMail candidates on Linkedin — no one responds to that; use RocketReach.co to look up their email and write a personal email to each candidate [27.08.2021].
The white cloud of support and divine protection from the Universe starts following you the moment you take Responsibility [26.08.2021].
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become” — James Clear [25.08.2021].
Merchandising in a supermarket can be very similar to early stage VC. You are always on a lookout for new exciting products incumbents don’t want to buy because they think these products don’t have a longterm volume potential. Being non-consensus and right! [24.08.2021]
When you’re thinking of a weekly or daily plan and don’t know what to focus on, ask yourself, “If we were to launch today, what are we missing?” [23.08.2021]
The reason why most attempts at adjacent businesses from big companies fail is because big companies can’t afford to start small, they start really big without any testing. Another business vertical might make or not make sense for company’s strategy, but it doesn’t automatically make it compelling for customers [22.08.2021].
When you’re experiencing low energy, instead of solely focusing on cutting your expenses (activities where you lose energy), prioritize finding time for your energy income statement — areas of life and activities which generate energy for you [20.08.2021].
It’s easy to accomplish more with more. It’s more fun to accomplish more with less. Constraints enforce creativity. Not everything should be solved with overpaying the competition [18.08.2021].
Have the bias for action. Done today is better than perfect in a year [17.08.2021].
If your competitor is mentioning your company in their interviews, independent of the message, you are winning [16.08.2021].
Being #1 is lonely and has the risk of the complacency and comfort zone trap. When you’re #100, you’re hungry and driven to learn from #99 [15.08.2021].
There is always a better way! Never settle with the status quo solution. Be open to tweak and improve it. Be curious to discover new ways [14.08.2021].
Pay attention to competitors, but obsess over customers. Spend 99% of your time improving the customer experience. Customer delight should be business as usual. We can all be fired the day when all of our customers decide to shop somewhere else [13.08.2021].
Operate at the Lowest Level of Detail. See the forest. But also see the trees. Be on top of things. But also be on the bottom of things. The closer you’re to details, the closer you’re to the truth [12.08.2021].
It’s still hard to build a business around solely the promise of saving the planet or living sustainably. People buy Tesla cars not because of clean energy or climate change (which is more of a nice-to-have), but because the cars are cool. Unique value proposition should come from the heart, not the mind [11.08.2021].
Build a protective opportunity cost box by taking your friends on a nature retreat. It limits optionality, picks depth over breadth, picks max function over sum, creates more meaning and leads to peak experiences [11.08.2021].
“Find a relationship where you, naturally being you, makes the other person happy. And the other person, naturally being the other person, makes you happy” -Naval Ravikant [10.08.2021].
OH on Twitter. The most important parts of a company are sales and R&D. Bad sales = your company dies fast. Not enough R&D = your company dies slowly [09.08.2021].
Why did German breweries stop generating their own electricity? Generating electricity does not make your beer taste better [08.08.2021].
Newsletter is the communication channel you own 100% whereas you own only 5–10% of your Instagram or Facebook following [07.08.2021].
Most companies offer ebooks, video or email series as a gift for leaving your email to a newsletter. Tesla has a different approach to lead-gen. Instead, they offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences. E.g. if you signed up for one of their newsletters, you enter a raffle for a chance to win a free test ride of a Tesla semi-truck [06.08.2021].
Most product referral programs are boring. They just give credits to your balance for every successful referral. What if instead you were unlocking secret products for every referral? [05.08.2021].
One potentially negative side effect of driving your colleagues too hard is they can develop a sense of insecurity that they are never doing enough. So, in between raising the bar and pushing for more, find time to share words of encouragement, compliment activities you want to see more of, start and invest in the positive reinforcement loop within your team [04.08.2021].
It’s easier to do a 10-min workout every day than a 20-min workout 3 times a week. It’s easier to take 500 IU of Vitamin D every day than to take 50,000 IU of Vitamin D once a week. Humans are creatures of a daily habit [03.08.2021].
The reason why Amazon can continuously lower the prices while improving customer experience is because they transformed much of customer experience (wide selection, extensive product information, and personalized recommendations) into largely a fixed expense [02.08.2021].
2 new KPIs to keep an eye on in your e-commerce startup: 1) cycle time, the amount of time taken by your fulfillment centers to process an order; 2) contacts per order — most sensitive measure of customer satisfaction [01.08.2021].
The next chapter for the planet is not pursuit of efficiency, but pursuit of sustainability. The former leads to a single point of failure and over-dependence on one country, one resource, one company. The latter is about wisdom and kindness towards Earth [31.07.2021].
If you can embrace it and sustain long periods of being bad at something, you will have success [30.07.2021].
Share the benefit, not the product. The most incredible online grocery shopping → Order groceries for delivery or pickup today. Tax credits for growing startups → Get $50K+ back from the IRS in 20 minutes. Users don’t care about your product, they care about what value they’re getting [website copy lessons from Matthew Maiale — 29.07.2021].
Advice when you’re pitching to VCs. Don’t show the slide deck in your first zoom call. Slide decks create distance between an entrepreneur and an investor. The goal of the first meeting is to get to know each other [28.07.2021].
One source of confrontational reaction to critical feedback is a deep sense of insecurity. Address that and the confrontation disappears [27.07.2021].
When you feel like selling your stock, sell some, don’t sell everything — let your winners ride [from David Sacks — 26.07.2021].
The more successful you become, the more your tolerance for things you don’t want to do gradually goes to zero [thought from David Sacks of Craft Ventures — 25.07.2021].
In a startup you make one step backwards every day for 5 days followed by one day where you make 6 steps forward [thought from David Friedberg of The Climate Corporation — 24.07.2021].
By sharing your funding data, you’re revealing the amount of oxygen left in your tank and indirectly sharing your growth plans and strategy. More funded competitors can easily use it to know exactly how long they need to be driving your prices down to run you out of business [23.07.2021].
Countries, just like companies, are in either growth, stabilization or decline stage. What is right for one country is wrong for another. Countries in stabilization or status quo maintenance might be pursuing 4-day workweeks. Whereas developing countries should not engage in these pontifications and must be working as hard as they can to reach progress. They are in growth stage [22.07.2021].
Higher UPH (units per hour) of a fulfillment center leads to a lower CAC (customer acquisition cost)! “To us, operational excellence implies two things: delivering continuous improvement in customer experience and driving productivity, margin, efficiency, and asset velocity across all our businesses. Often, the best way to drive one of these is to deliver the other. For instance, more efficient distribution yields faster delivery times, which in turn lowers contacts per order and customer service costs. These, in turn, improve customer experience and build brand, which in turn decreases customer acquisition and retention costs” [from 1998 Amazon shareholder letter — 21.07.2021].
Ask yourself the following 3 questions before making a hiring decision: 1) will you admire this person? 2) will they raise the average effectiveness of the team? 3) along which dimension are they a superstar? [from 1998 shareholder letter by Jeff Bezos — 20.07.2021]
Avoid adjectives and adverbs. Replace them with data. Adjectives are imprecise and don’t contribute to making a decision. Subjective: “Sales increased significantly in Q4, due to use of holiday promotions”. Objective: “Unit sales increased by 40% in Q4 2011, compared to Q4 2010, because of holiday promotions” [Source: “Write like an Amazonian”, 19.07.2021].
Being smart is a commodity. Being creative and imaginative is not [18.07.2021].
Meeting strangers is very energy consuming, but with every new interaction the level of comfort goes up, and inversely proportional go down the energy requirements [17.07.2021].
Despite a rational desire to run autonomous decentralized self-sufficient teams which make decisions on their own, when a new direct report joins, spend 3–6 months working closely together. The goal is not to micromanage, but to create alignment in goals, expectations, and styles [16.07.2021 — long hiatus due to an adventurous multi-continental trip to Denver, CO].
Whenever you have savings, put 45% of it in VTI index, 45% in VGT and for the remaining 10% — distribute it equally among 5 companies you love [11.07.2021].
Advice when you’re pitching to VCs. Prepare 1–3 sentence answers for the most frequently asked questions. Limit your answers to 30 seconds. Don’t go into long-winded explanations. Pause after every 30-second answer giving an opening for an investor’s followup [10.07.2021].
“Online selling (relative to traditional retailing) is a scale business characterized by high fixed costs and relatively low variable costs. This makes it difficult to be a medium-sized e-commerce company” [Bezos — 09.07.2021].
Don’t waste your interview time by letting candidates talk about themselves. Very little to learn there. Just jump straight to problem solving! Observing people at work tells you more about them than words [08.07.2021].
It takes a month of trial and error and starting a dozen of different promising books to find the book you can consume in a single day [07.07.2021].
Pessimists get to be right. Optimists get to be rich [06.07.2021].
The majority of best writers do not have journalism or writing degrees. On contrary, the majority of top computer scientists do have CS degrees. Keep this in mind when deciding the major to pursue in college [05.07.2021].
Dollar Store business model in a nutshell: price 0.8 oz Old Spice Pure Sport at $1. You can buy the standard 3 oz stick at Walmart for $3. Dollar store is a bet that the wages will remain stagnant and the American middle class is shrinking [04.07.2021].
Success = talent + practice + effort [03.07.2021].
“I can’t be sure I’m getting anywhere when I’m working hard, but I can be sure I’m getting nowhere when I’m not, and it feels awful” -Paul Graham [02.07.2021].
Believe in what you do and do what you have a belief in. Both strategy and conviction are important [25.06.2021].
“When a person with money meets a person with experience, the one with money leaves with experience and the one with experience leaves with money” [24.06.2021].
Annual performance bonuses inadvertently lead to short-term thinking (shortcuts to hit the yearly target, but can eventually bite you next year). The only type of compensation which aligns the team with longterm thinking is stock compensation [23.06.2021].
“If you’re going to change the restaurant, chef has to be onboard” [22.06.2021].
Maintain a list of active problems which you’re working on in the background. When you encounter something in the real world, see whether it maps to a solution to any of these problems [21.06.2021].
Physics was the go-to subject in the world of atoms. Computer Science and Stats are the go-to subjects in the world of bits [20.06.2021].
“Try harder next time” type of advice rarely works. If you don’t eliminate the conditions which gave the rise to the problem, the problem is likely to reoccur [19.06.2021].
What a great way to eliminate low-density & zero-prep meetings. If there is no document to read in the first 10 minutes of the meeting, there is no meeting [18.06.2021].
Putting down your company’s principles in writing is an obvious way to scale your culture from a dozen people to thousands of people [15.06.2021].
Lesson from the Acquired podcast. “If you invested $100 in the first year of the Buffett Partnerships in 1959, today you would have $26.2 million dollars” [14.06.2021].
If you don’t like reading, you just haven’t found your book. If you don’t like working, the odds are you haven’t yet found your work [13.06.2021].
The problem with joining a startup straight out of college is an experience with a high variance and a high chance of being negative. Working at a growing successful company can teach you things which work. The challenge there is not to go complacent [12.06.2021].
Advice from Marc Andreessen. Don’t be a “summertime soldier”. Summertime soldiers join successful startups and quit when things get tough [11.06.2021]
Innovation does not always mean value capture for investors. There were 1000s of car companies a century ago at the birth of automotive industry. Only few of them survived and returned capital to their investors. Another innovation is the invention of a plane and airline industry. If you sum up all P/Ls of all airline companies ever existed, you would get a negative number [10.06.2021].
“Capital goes where it is welcome and stays where it is well treated” [09.06.2021].
“Predicting the rain does not count. What counts is building the Ark” -Warren Buffett [08.06.2021].
Paradox of growth: growth leads to complexity which in turn kills growth. So to sustain growth, be a simplifier = killer of complexity [07.06.2021].
VCP. V = Vision. C = Capital to realize the vision. P = people to execute on the vision [06.06.2021].
“In the long term, the return an investor gets from a business will roughly equal the return the business itself earns on its capital” — Charlie Munger [05.06.2021].
Great thought by peter zakin: “I used to think that the main advantage of building for startups was a sales advantage: capture the big customer before they’re big. I didn’t appreciate the product oriented advantage: if startups live in the future, building for them is a shortcut to also living in the future” [04.06.2021].
A tip of career advice — produce results, show your work to the top management, be a customer centric servant leader who treats her colleagues as customers and don’t worry too much about who gets the credit [03.06.2021].
When interviewing for top management positions, follow the Amazon approach. Ask a candidate to write a six-page document explaining “the most innovative thing she’s ever done” and “the most customer obsessed thing she had ever done in her career” [02.06.2021].
Here’s how Amazon made their lengthy performance reviews more efficient. Now you just write 60 words about your colleague’s superpower (praise) and 60 words as a growth idea for next year (critique) [01.06.2021].
Despite numerous disadvantages, starting a company or working in early stage startups straight out of college teaches you to work hard, be resourceful, never settle on the ways of the past. Doing a startup after a big company experience requires you to unlearn a big chunk of what you’ve acquired in a large corporation. And unlearning is usually harder than learning [31.05.2021].
On the walls of your office, hang the critical articles about your company, not the admiring ones [30.05.2021].
Never settle on a half-ass effort. You are either doing it with full force or not doing at all. Amazon’s failure in China is very illustrative in this regard. Here’s an excerpt from “Amazon Unbound”. “Wary of the gathering red ink, Bezos decided to curtail Amazon’s investment in China and set out on a plan to become profitable there instead of accepting the additional losses that would be required to stay competitive in the country. An Amazon finance exec later described it as the equivalent of “shooting the business in the head.” Between 2011 and 2016, Amazon’s market share in China fell from 15 percent to less than 1 percent. “There was always the fear that if we invested a lot in China, we’d get screwed anyway and waste a lot of money,” Piacentini explained years later. “We were not bold enough to go head-on and compete. We always acted as a timid follower.” [29.05.2021].
Holding 2 opposing ideas in your head at the same time is a lethal combination. At one extreme, be like Warren Buffett, the best status quo investor in the world — bet on things which won’t change and win big. At another extreme, be like Sequoia Capital, the best venture capital firm in the world — bet on things which will change and win big [28.05.2021].
Amazing interview questions to test candidate-role fit: “What are you really good at, but never want to do anymore? What’s the difference between someone who’s great (A+) in your role versus someone who’s outstanding (A+++)?” [27.05.2021]
If you were to follow only one copywriting technique, here it is: write short snappy sentences. Break down long sentences into short ones. Customers have short attention spans, long blocks of text are hard to read, make it easy [26.05.2021].
Here is an interesting conundrum when you launch AI products. If you launch it too early, then customers will find how dumb it is and will never use it. However, you can’t launch when it’s perfect either because the very way it gets smarter is by customers actually using it. The common solution is to launch with a minimum lovable version where it has a limited functionality, but excellent at that. Then customers actually use it and make it smarter over time. That is where Tesla has an advantage over Waymo, in my mind [25.05.2021].
When you’re thinking about your first business, build something around a proven commodity demand. In other words, eliminate the market risk. Once you have a track record with a successful first business, only then start making experimental bets. First, success in your first venture will give you capital to afford bets. Second, as a successful founder, you will have more slack — society will see each of your failed bets as a sign of strength, not weakness. If, however, you start making experimental bets from the get-go with no success behind your back, you’ll be seen as a perpetual failure, not an innovator [24.05.2021].
“Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy” -Jeff Bezos [23.05.2021].
ML scientists never admit defeat because all their problems can eventually be solved with more data [22.05.2021].
Graham Moore on Thomas Edison: “His genius was not in inventing; rather, it was in inventing a system of invention” [20.05.2021].
Michael Mauboussin: “What is the #1 thing to improve an investor’s performance?” Daniel Kahnemann: “Go to a local drugstore, buy a very cheap notebook, and start keeping track of your decisions”. 5 steps for every decision journal entry: 1) what is the decision? 2) what is the desired outcome? 3) why do you believe the outcome will occur? 4) what are the consequences if the outcome doesn’t occur? 5) how do you feel at the time? [19.05.2021]
The reason it is better to pay top of the market salaries is what I call ‘top of the market salary flyhweel’: top of the market salaries → higher talent density → better results → more cash in the bank / more fundraising opportunities → ability to pay even higher salaries [18.05.2021].
My concerns these days: 1) sleep deprivation; 2) stopping my jogging routine; 3) not finding time for reading and writing. The leading domino solution is waking up at 6am. That will lead to feeling sleepy around 10pm and, thus, to a healthy 8-hour sleep. Good healthy sleep will lead to more energy which can be used for jogging, reading and writing which in turn will lead to even more energy [17.05.2021].
Starbucks incentivizes customers to preload their Starbucks cards by offering 2x baseline rewards. In 2019, SBUX held $1.6B in these cards with an average of 10% breakage — the value which will never be redeemed. So SBUX is effectively a bank which borrows from its customers at minus 10% interest rate. Genius! [14.05.2021]
Hyperlocal delivery startups enjoy an inherent flywheel motion: higher frequency leads to more visibility (more yellow/blue/red backpacks on the streets of the city) which trigger more new customers and even higher frequency from the existing customer base [13.05.2021].
Here’s how you promote both a night club and a dating app. Before you launch, you need to seed both with beautiful women. To accomplish that, you need to invest in their acquisition: free drinks for the night, promos, gifts. The critical mass of attractive women becomes a honeypot for everyone else. An alternative path is to seed both with men with deep pockets. But I doubt the latter can be before the former [12.05.2021].
Don’t iterate on the strategy, iterate on the tactics. Think hard, decide on the strategy. Once decided, be bold not timid, don’t second guess it, execute on the strategy and never look back. In either case, you will learn a valuable lesson along the way [11.05.2021].
Flywheels are more powerful than funnels. With funnels, you always have to drive more traffic to convert them into customers. With flywheels, the output of one stage is the input to the next phase. Perpetual motion. Inputs lead to more outputs leading to more inputs. Funnels give you linear growth. Flywheels make the growth compounding [10.05.2021].
You can reach extraordinary results by consistently doing ordinary activities [09.05.2021].
“Never measure water with both feet” [08.05.2021].
In business, earning without spending first is usually an illusion. Product people don’t allocate money for marketing and believe good products market themselves. Rarely the case. No matter how great your product is, you need to invest marketing dollars in telling the world about it [07.05.2021].
The tricky part is that it often takes 7+ light interactions (warm-up) before your customer makes a purchase: social media ads, friend’s recommendations, visible usage on the streets, billboards, you name it. And then it snows or rains (trigger), people prefer to stay home and order your groceries online. The trigger will not work without the warm-up. The warm-up will not work without the trigger [06.05.2021].
“People talk about the aging management at Berkshire. In 3 years, Charlie would be aging at 1% year. At that rate, no one is going to age slower than Charlie” — Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway 2021 meeting [04.05.2021].
Work with people who have done it before. This limits second guessing, you trust the process and persevere because you know that the plan is right [02.05.2021].
“Big opportunities come infrequently. When it’s raining gold, reach for a bucket, not a thimble” -Warren Buffett [01.05.2021].
You were not necessarily wrong if the result was negative. You were not necessarily right if the result was positive [decision vs outcome — 29.04.2021].
“Content that starts as video, can be downgraded to audio (in your pocket or as podcast), which can be converted to text (via transcription or blog). But content can’t flow in other direction. Therefore, to max audience for any content, start with video” -Sarah Tavel [28.04.2021].
Founders get their support gradually after 1000s of proof points. They signal qualifications. Heirs inherit their positions without proof of work. They signal legitimacy, but not qualifications [inspired by Balaji S. Srinivasan — 27.04.2021].
Have a weekly session with yourself where you write down what bothers you. Having poured your heart out, turn on your problem solving brain and think of ways to address each source of your anxiety [26.04.2021].
Panoramic articles lack a unique perspective. Zoom into a neighborhood on Google Maps and write about one particular aspect of that neighborhood. One small idea in high resolution > lots of ideas in low-res. What one idea your reader will take away from reading your piece? [h/t Aman Dhesi — 25.04.2021]
“Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science” -James Maxwell [24.04.2021].
Don’t give keys from your castle to an attractive incumbent no matter how tempting that is! [on partnerships and data integrations with large marketplaces — 22.04.2021]
Here are some cool takeaways from Jeff Bezos’ annual letter [h/t Chamath]. 1) 28% of purchases on $AMZN are completed in less than 3min (!!). 2) 50% of purchases on $AMZN are completed in less than 15min. 3) Research suggests going to an offline store to do the same task takes 1 hour. 4) $AMZN saves a person 75 hours per year through these kinds of efficient online purchases. 5) if you value your time at $10/hr, that’s $750/yr which means that subscribing to prime is free ($120/yr) and still leaves you with $630. 6) There are 200M Prime subscribers which means these consumers are re-capturing $126B of value for themselves each year. $AMZN Prime captures more value PER YEAR for users than most companies are worth. At $1.7T, $AMZN trades at 13x their annual value to Prime users [19.04.2021].
Lack of achievement comes from confusion of what you really want. You never take time to decide what you actually want, be it wealth, fame, recognition, social impact, power, etc. If you don’t decide, you will be like a little kid running after every opportunity passing by you. As a result, nothing significant will be done. Instead, pick 1, or maximum 2, objective functions you’re trying to maximize. They act like filters for incoming requests coming your way [18.04.2021].
By job hopping, you’re essentially interrupting compounding. So if you encounter a high growth company with exponential rate of learning, just stick to it. Give time to let your growth compound [17.04.2021].
To build a super app, you have to have one niche product which is the leader in its category (depth). Only having achieved that, you broaden your offering. Depth before breadth [16.04.2021].
You need to live it to truly learn it. Only experiential knowledge is real. Everything else is an illusion of knowledge — it’s more dangerous than self-aware ignorance [15.04.2021].
Until you get to a certain threshold of orders per day, things are not stable. One day you have 0 orders. Next day you have 10. That is not a business. Good businesses have a momentum. You never have a day of zero sales even if your entire team decides to take that day off. But to get to that level, you need to invest energy (in product, marketing, hiring) in pushing the flywheel until it has a sufficient momentum when less pushing is needed [14.04.2021].
Take away all profits from your business as dividends every month = small business mentality. Reinvest all profits in growth = big business mentality. You will never build a billion dollar company with the former approach [13.04.2021].
Costco’s limited selection (4k SKUs compared to 120k at Walmart and 600k at Amazon) is a feature, not a bug. Only one choice of ketchup, only one choice of shaving cream. With limited selection they’re not stocking more than one brand of any product → Costco is their supplier’s largest or second-largest customer → Costco gets the best prices. Second benefit of limited selection is more efficient operations. Fewer items → less time ordering from suppliers, coordinating shipping and receiving, paying invoices, stocking shelves, etc. Third benefit is happier customers — as according to many studies, fewer choices increases sales, and makes customers more confident in their selection [source: MineSafety, 12.04.2021].
Only 25% of Costco profits comes from merchandise. The remaining 75% comes from memberships. Very unique model for a supermarket: you make virtually $0 on actual products you’re selling, but charge $60/year for the right to access this selection at the lowest prices [11.04.2021].
Debt cycle is an example of a negative flywheel. One has to live up to an image of the past success → he keeps the lifestyle and consumption habits of the past → if his current income can no longer support that lifestyle, the worst thing to do is to take high interest loans or debt from friends and family → then he has to take more loans to cover previous loans → so his entire existence becomes a constant race of searching for money instead of building a sustainable business. In fact, they usually dismiss sustainable business ideas and because of desperation are only receptive to one-off quick-money schemes [10.04.2021].
If your employee does something dumb, don’t blame him, instead ask yourself what context you failed to set [‘No Rules Rules’, 09.04.2021].
During industrial era you had to minimize variation. In creative era you have to maximize variation [takeaway from the final chapter of ‘No Rules Rules’ — 08.04.2021].
When you have low talent pool in your organization, you have no choice but lead with command and control [07.04.2021].
“The inverse of your calendar is your creativity. Creativity begins with an empty calendar and it ends with a cluttered calendar. Once your creativity is demonstrated, everybody wants a piece of your time. The tradeoff is you can no longer be creative” — Naval Ravikant [06.04.2021].
Most startups started by fresh grads or college students are unlike Apple, Microsoft, or Facebook. They are more like a random walk where blind leading the blind in a dessert without a compass and a map [05.04.2021].
If you’re a conservative entrepreneur who prefers to have some knowledge of the market/industry before jumping head first and starting a company, then the upper limit to the scale of companies you can start is not bound by your imagination, but by the toolset available to you. If your past experiences built a limited toolset, then you can start small/medium enterprises without global scalable ambitions. You’re capable of building 1-story buildings, but not skyscrapers. You’re entrepreneurial, but the magnitude of companies you can start is small because the experiential knowledge is tiny. Then the best plan of action is to go work for a company which builds skyscrapers, accelerate your learning rate, expand your toolset. You’ll know when the time is right to start your global company [04.04.2021].
A few decision making heuristics: 1) if you can’t decide, the answer is ‘no’; 2) between 2 choices pick the one which brings short-term pain (because that is usually associated with long-term gain); 3) between 2 options pick the one which gives you long-term calm; 4) instead of making pros and cons lists, do risk-benefit analysis: pick the option with capped downside and potentially unlimited upside; 5) say ‘yes’ if all 3 parts of your body (head, chest, guts) say ‘yes’ [03.04.2021].
Motivation comes from the “and” statement between process and results. Process without results feels like useless work and is not motivating. Results without process is the equivalent of receiving inheritance from rich parents and doing nothing one’s entire life [02.04.2021].
There are 4 prerequisites to leading with context, not control according to Reed Hastings: high talent density, innovation over error prevention, loosely coupled system > tightly coupled system, highly aligned organization where everyone agrees on the North Star [01.04.2021].
Fed printing money → people who are not used to save and invest, consume even more → higher demand and prices for products popular among lower income segment (poultry, beef, not salmon) [29.03.2021].
Being sincerely happy for others is a superpower! [25.03.2021]
Doing a startup in the US/Europe is often times 1% improvement for 1% of people. The same money deployed in a startup in an emerging market is 50% improvement for 50% of people. Decide what you’re truly chasing: reputation of success in the West or area under impact curve [24.03.2021].
E-commerce tip: sell popular daily goods (diapers, milk) without any markup to build traffic. Now take these new customers coming through your door for free cheese and upsell them profitable higher margin products [23.03.2021].
A lot of entrepreneurs became ones due to one of 2 reasons: 1) strong ambition to succeed; 2) the need to exit poverty (or take a beautiful classmate to a movie date). Drive is more difficult to cultivate than the need [22.03.2021].
The ultimate SEO trick: 1) find a listicle article which ranks high on Google; 2) publish a longer and better list; 3) notify all bloggers who link to the original article about a better one [21.03.2021].
It’s hard to predict the short-term, e.g. weather, price of Bitcoin, or stock market in a month => it’s harder to make money as a trader. It’s easier to predict the long-term => it’s easier to make money as a long-term investor [20.03.2021].
The only real shortcut to a successful sale is the years of providing free value to your potential customers [19.03.2021].
Career advice from Naval Ravikant: “Pick what is play to you, but work for others”. Both parts are important. Hit the intersection. What is play to you — that’s where your competitive advantage is. However, you can’t pursue anything that is a play to you. Also make sure that it has some use in the market [18.03.2021].
You can game EBITDA, but you can’t game cashflows [17.03.2021].
Giving your fortune away is better for your family than leaving it as inheritance to members of your family. Inheriting wealth leads to too much optionality, apathy and lack of commitment [01.03.2021].
One simple explanation of why there are fewer successful women (than men) in chess, business, science, literature is nothing to do with innate talent. Up until the age of 18, women perform no worse (if not better) than men in all those races. But after that, life happens to them (family, birth-giving, taking care of kids and myriad of other responsibilities) and they have no focus and time of practicing their craft 8 hours a day [28.02.2021].
A few steps toward a better landing page : 0) study landing pages of top companies in the world independent of their industry; 1) cut out unnecessary text, then cut out some more; 2) use pictures with people looking in the direction of your call to action button; 3) the text in sign up buttons should restate the benefit: “Read for free for 30 days” > “Get started”; 4) your header can state what your product is and how much better it is than the competition; 5) your header can also state the benefit of your product (“email without typos”) and its implicaton (“so you don’t lose clients”) [h/t to Julian Shapiro — 27.02.2021].
Paid marketing (Google and Facebook ads) has a fast, but short-term positive effect. Organic marketing (content, blog, product, community building, etc.) has a slower, but longer-term positive effect. Use both [26.02.2021].
Product onboarding checklists are underrated. Once a user signs up, show her the checklist (with % complete): 1) verify email; 2) write your first tweet; 3) customize the product; 4) share the product with a friend; 5) enable notifications. Since users are conditioned to complete todos, they will happily complete yours as well [25.02.2021].
TIL Both Warren Buffett and Bernard Arnault started their conglomerates at the age of 35 [24.02.2021].
Polygamous relationships between supply and demand (passenger & driver, passenger & airline, visitor & restaurant, visitor & hotel, visitor & supermarket, client & courier, visitor & clothing/electronics/ticketing sales) — good idea for a marketplace. Monogamous relationships between supply and demand (client & barber, client & masseuse, baby & babysitter, patient & dentist, patient & psychologist, client & beauty salon master) — bad idea for a marketplace [23.02.2021].
Marketplace heuristic to figure out which side of the marketplace to focus on from Chris Dixon: “Which side is hard?” Airbnb: initially demand was easy, but getting hosts to list their houses was hard, so they focused on supply — getting more hosts. Night club: getting men is easy, attracting women is not — make the entrance free for women, then men will follow. At any point in time of marketplace development, focus on the side which is hardest [21.02.2021].
For consequential irreversible decisions apply slow, deliberate, thoughtful decision making process. For reversible decisions act fast without the need for additional information [19.02.2021].
The problem with performance-based bonuses (e.g. 10% of your annual salary at the end of the year if you sell the product to 100 customers) is an assumption that the world is static. If in the middle of the year the KPI of 100 paid customers becomes no longer relevant as retention is the priority, the KPI you set in the beginning of the year goes out of the window! [16.02.2021]
If there are no waves, don’t go surfing [12.02.2021].
In the beginning if you focus on fame, your reputation might outpace your knowledge and skill. But if you keep growing, the substance will eventually outpace the fleur [11.02.2021].
In a startup, you either improve the existing human behavior or create an entirely new one. The latter tends to bear more risk [10.02.2021].
If your business is built around selling the knowledge you acquired 15 years ago, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not growing and there is nothing there to learn. Any business offers unlimited learning opportunities: how do you streamline the processes, how do you automate them, how to get more paying customers cheaply, how to retain customers you acquired, how to delegate, ad infinitum. You can learn a ton from running even a trivial looking business [09.02.2021].
“Some of us are lucky enough to inherit the following balance sheet from our parents. Contacts: 0. Money: 0. Power: 0. Resiliency: ∞. Desire: ∞. Drive: ∞. Grit: ∞. How lucky were WE?!?!” -Chamath [08.02.2021].
Jeff Bezos on why docs are better than ppts: “The reason writing a good 4 page memo is harder than ‘writing’ a 20 page powerpoint is because the narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and better understanding of what’s more important than what, and how things are related. Powerpoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas” [07.02.2021].
Don’t drum up attention about your startup for no reason. Appear weak and attack when no one is expecting [06.02.2021].
The less information, the smaller the bet [05.02.2021].
Don’t be paralyzed by overthinking. Make as many ‘possibly correct’ actions as possible. Don’t be trapped by the lure and pleasure from staying in your head [04.02.2021].
Amazing way to instill radical candor in your company: “At Netflix, it is tantamount to being disloyal to the company if you fail to speak up when you disagree with a colleague or have feedback that could be helpful. After all, you could help the business — but you are choosing not to” [03.02.2021 — from “No Rules Rules”].
Policies and processes do minimize error stemming from sloppy employees. On the flip side: they also stifle creativity and freedom. So if you start with responsible high caliber talent in the first place, controls/policies/processes become less important and can be avoided [02.02.2021].
“I’ve done things because I had a strong compulsion to do the things I am doing. Like a rage demon in your skull to get something done. If you need encouraging words to do a startup, don’t do a startup” -Elon Musk [01.02.2021].
Two criteria to consider when launching a paid online course: 1) is it available for a wide audience? can any beginner take it? 2) does it quickly (8-12 weeks) unlock an in-demand career which doubles student’s monthly income after the course? [01.02.2021]
“The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient’’ -Warren Buffett [01.02.2021].
One benefit of assuming you’re wrong by default (and proving your idea or decision is wrong) is that you cut your losses early and don’t waste time on wrong ideas. Think in bets: the less information you have, the smaller should be your bet [31.01.2021].
If you don’t know what to write about, ask yourself: “What’s bothering you the most in life right now?” [30.01.2021]
OH: When you climb up the ladder, don’t forget to push it down [29.01.2021].
Citadel’s multi-PM model can be applied to IT outsourcing. You have 10 proven outsourcing companies in a rolodeck. You get a contract from the client. You don’t build it yourself. Instead you give it to one of 10 companies in your rolodeck while providing PM’ing and QA to ensure timeliness and quality. If a firm in your rolodeck stops performing, you replace it with another firm matching your high standard of quality [28.01.2021].
Warren Buffett earned 99% of his net worth after his 50th birthday. If he quitted back then, he would have been just an American with a few hundred million dollars [27.01.2021].
Be an optimist in ideation, be a pessimist in execution! Optimism in long-term, practical pessimism in shor-term [26.01.2021].
One fundamental obstacle for IT export development in KZ is the big budgets of local govt contracts. When it pays so much to serve it, why would you look for speculative opportunities in foreign markets you’re less familiar with? [25.01.2021]
Bitcoin uses bubbles as a go-to-market strategy. When bubble is formed, BTC attracts more users, more infra, more computational power. When it pops, most of the infra stays [25.01.2021].
One fundamental reason why all Google X’s moonshot projects are failing (apart from their audacious nature) is complacency from one of the best business models of all time (search ads) on top of ‘principal agent problem’ in corporate innovation [24.01.2021].
Take a month and ideate in talent (and distraction) dense areas (e.g. NYC). Then take a year and execute on those ideas in remote countrysides [23.01.2021].
Trust your team, state the problem, give them the entire context. But, no matter the temptation, don’t make the decision for your team, let them figure out ‘how’ on their own [22.01.2021].
Don’t schedule a 2-hour public facing webinar right after an intense 2-hour lecture! No matter how hard you try, your face will show fatigue and you won’t be beaming with positive energy [21.01.2021]
“In food delivery, you can compete on four things — price, speed, selection, and quality. DoorDash couldn’t beat Seamless & Uber on price. Uber focused on speed. DoorDash’s analysis showed there was limited marginal benefit to customer conversion or retention rates under 42 minute ETAs. As long as deliveries were sub 42min, customers didn’t really care how long they took. Uber focused on achieving sub 30min delivery times to their own detriment. DoorDash focused on having the best selection (all the restaurants you want to order from) and the best quality (making sure your food arrived on time, with everything, in the state you expected). That focus paid off. Selection & quality > price & speed” [cool insights from @michaelxbloch — 20.01.2021].
An obvious, but life-saving HR hack: don’t invite to an interview someone you have no plans of hiring [20.01.2021].
Once you figure out CAC, conversion rate and price of your course, it is easy to calculate the maximum amount you can spend on an ad while keeping acceptable profitability. Then the idea is to buy as many ads as possible while making sure they do not exceed your max amount per ad. In a successful process, more ads means more sales [19.01.2021].
It seems that the key to selling courses online is to buy ads to create interest and invite people to free webinars. Successful 2-hour webinars create desire within consumers to buy your course. It is much harder to create desire with an ad. That’s why ads are used to draw attention and create interest. Desire is created within a longer interaction when your potential customer interacts with your material for at least an hour. Then you become part of his top of the mind. Action follows the desire [19.01.2021].
If you invest in S&P 500 and your holding period is 20 years, based on 1871–2020 data the odds of earning a positive real return is 100% [h/t @BrianFeroldi — 18.01.2021].
To convince people to join your team, address the objections and figure out ways to make joining you a no-brainer. To keep best people in your team, proactively think of most likely causes of them leaving you in 6 months [h/t @Julian — 17.01.2021].
Skinner’s Law. If procrastinating on an item, you only have 2 options: 1) make the pain of not doing it greater than the pain of doing it; 2) make the pleasure of doing it greater than the pleasure of not doing it [h/t @george__mack — 16.01.2021].
Hofstadter’s Law. It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. Every project costs 2x as much and takes 3x as long — even when you factor this into your projections [h/t @george__mack — 15.01.2021].
“The first rule of compounding is to never interrupt it unnecessarily”. -Charlie Munger [14.01.2021].
If you are 1 year in your startup and genuinely think you have a moat, then it is not a deep moat. Deep moats and real defensibility take time to build [13.01.2021].
Chinese government spurs innovation among local companies by bringing in the world class competition. They brought Apple and Samsung, that in part led to to Oppo (Vivo), One Plus, Xiaomi. They gave subsidies, land and support to Tesla. The competition led to stronger local players: Xpeng, BYD, Nio. Absence of foreign competition leads to stagnation — just look at Baidu in the past 11 years since Google pulled out from China [12.01.2021].
Among Us has 500m monthly active users and 4 full-time employees: 1 programmer/artist, 1 artist, 1 programmer, and 1 community manager. Code, media and content are levers of very very long length [11.01.2021].
Instead of doing New Year’s resolutions, apply the ABZ framework. A = where you are now. B = a small step you can make in the next 24 hours. Z = big vision of the future where you ultimately want to be. Schedule 1-on-1 meetings with yourself once a quarter. First, rate yourself 1–5 along each of 7 dimensions of your life — this way you assess where you are now. Then, imagine 5-star vision of the future. And finally come up with a small step you can take today [10.01.2021].
First build the castle, then build the moat [09.01.2021].
Taleb’s Surgeon. If presented with two seemingly equal candidates for a role, pick the one with the least amount of charisma. The uncharismatiс one has got there despite their lack of charisma. The charismatic one has got there with the aid of their charisma [h/t @george__mack — 08.01.2021].
Scale matters! “I am at the Fed level, libertarian; at the state level, Republican; at the local level, Democrat; and at the family and friends level, a socialist” [from “Skin in the Game” by N. Taleb, 07.01.2021].
Derek Sivers: “Half of my effort wasn’t effort at all, but just unnecessary stress that made me feel like I was doing my best” [25.12.2020].
MrBeast’s (50m subscribers) advice on how to grow a YouTube channel: 1) Describe the video’s value in the first five seconds; 2) Ask a question you don’t resolve until the last five seconds; 3) With YouTube algorithm, 1 amazing video > 10 good videos; 4) Quick cuts don’t give people time to ask if they’re bored [via @Julian — 24.12.2020].
If you are money manager, first agree on allowed maximum (as a percentage of AUM) loss per month [23.12.2020].
The reason a lot of successful students forget their teachers is that they don’t want to remember how bad they were [22.12.2020].
If you made money being a businessman, don’t waste it all by being a scientist or an investor! [advice to my uncle — 21.12.2020]
Charlie Munger: “Whenever you hold an opinion, it’s a good idea to know the other side’s arguments better than they do” [21.12.2020].
Jeff Bezos: “There are two ways to build a successful company. One is to work very, very hard to convince customers to pay high margins: Colgate, Nike, Coca-Cola. The other is to work very, very hard to be able to offer customers low margins: Wal-Mart, Costco, AirAsia, Amazon, Asos” [21.12.2020].
Focus is a result of conviction, not discipline. Conviction is a result of exploring and studying your options [inspired by @thesephist’s recent post about focus — 21.12.2020].
Based on David Epstein’s “Range: Why Generalists Triumph In a Specialized World”. Kind learning environment — rules are clear, feedback is quick, skills are straightforward. Examples: golf, programming, chess. Unkind learning environment — rules are not clear, long and slow feedback cycles, skill overload. Examples: tennis, jazz, business, marketing. In kind learning environment, the best strategy is drilling — practice until you can’t be bad anymore. In unkind learning environment, the key is “to learn as many things as you can as broadly as you can, to gain a reservoir of ideas to use” [21.12.2020].
Let’s say you’re a part of an advisory board of a company. The board consists of experienced and impressive individuals. You feel unqualified and overwhelmed. Here’s the best strategy to be useful for this board. Don’t compete with experts head-to-head on their territory. Don’t try to out-finance the finance guy. Don’t try to out-strategize the strategy guy. Carve your own niche. Figure out the gaps among this group of people (blind spots, etc.) and work hard to fill up this gap [21.12.2020].
Some thoughts inspired by a tweet by John Cormack. A great way to bootstrap your career as a young entrant is to become a tool master — aka know one tool (e.g. git, Webflow, Notion, Figma, etc.) at 0.0001 percentile level. First, by being a go-to person for this tool you can immediately monetize it. Second, by learning all ins and outs of a single good tool you gain a fairly deep understanding of one niche which you can later reuse to improve it [20.12.2020].
If you don’t schedule time for solo thinking on a daily basis, then working alone away from your peers is detrimental to your growth [19.12.2020].
The motto of IDA (Institute for Defense Analyses) coined by mathematician Leonard Baum: “Bad ideas is good, good ideas is terrific, no ideas is terrible” [18.12.2020].
“There’s no upside in hating on someone’s idea. You come off as non-believer or ruin their confidence. Instead, just ask the questions that make you hesitate & let them come to their own conclusion. If you’re right, you helped them think it through. If you’re wrong, you’ll learn”. -Suhail Doshi [17.12.2020].
Mechanical work (e.g. sweeping floors, washing dishes, distributing newspapers) is a great way to make money for ambitious teenagers. You get paid to be alone with yourself and think! [16.12.2020]
Kids’ brains develop with every new problem you put on their plate. After certain age, that development of neurons slows down, some of them die and never come back to life. If they are not developed, they are gone. So keep feeding your kids’ brains with interesting challenges as ingredients for growth [15.12.2020].
If your idea is any good, why didn’t it already happen? [14.12.2020]
If you can’t start the next unicorn, invest in it. If you can’t invest, join it. If you can’t join, help them any way you can. If you can’t help them, write your thoughts about them. If you can’t write, read about them. If you can’t read, stop dreaming about starting! [paraphrasing the tweet I liked — 13.12.2020].
“I was glad to be able to answer promptly. ‘I don’t know!’ I said”. -Mark Twain [13.12.2020]
If so much of your time is spent at work, you’d better enjoy people you work with. So curate people ruthlessly. When making hiring decisions, based on little information you have, ask yourself, ‘Do I want to have that person around?’ [12.12.2020]
The only kind of company you can invent from a whiteboard or a conference room is a ‘me-too” company trying to copy a working concept from one country to your geography. The real breakthrough companies come from a deep customer insight which only happens outdoors! [11.12.2020]
Being Good > Looking Good! [10.12.2020]
Think hard about what your best competitors are saying ‘no’ to [via Paul Graham, 09.12.2020].
I agree with Julian Shapiro. People don’t have short attention spans. They binge watch 10 hour shows. They have short consideration spans — they need to be hooked quickly. Make sure the first paragraph, the first minute of your piece of content is amazing [08.12.2020].
Chase what matters the most. Then you’ll get what you’re chasing right now (almost) for free. As a business, chase paying customers and profits, then you will never have to chase investors. If you are an HR agency, chase great talent, not businesses who are hiring. If you are a writer, chase great content, not readers [07.12.2020].
Top voted question to have an answer for before YC interviews: “What is something surprising you’ve learned about your users?” [05.12.2020].
Number of iterations > practice time [05.12.2020].
“People’s motives for starting startups are usually mixed. They’re usually doing it from some combination of the desire to make money, the desire to seem cool, genuine interest in the problem, and unwillingness to work for someone else. The last two are more powerful motivators than the first two” -Paul Graham [05.12.2020].
Amazing product-led growth tactic which led to 20% increase in DAUs for Duolingo! Users could begin learning instantly without a sign-up. However, they faced sign-up ‘soft-walls’, optional sign-up screens, which users could skip and continue learning. After 3 softwalls, you lose your progress if you don’t sign up [04.12.2020].
“Be so good they can’t ignore you” is the single best advice universal to many fields. Business advice: “Be so good that customers can’t ignore you”. Dating advice: “Be so good that men or women can’t ignore you” [03.12.2020].
Today I learnt. We don’t really know the difference between millionaires and billionaires. A million seconds is 11.5 days. A billion seconds is 31.7 years [02.12.2020].
Summarizing an idea my friend (Aman Dhesi) shared with me. Here’s a path to become a millionaire by the age of 30 as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. 1) Graduate college at 22 yo. 2) Give yourself 4 years after college to find a tech company which is valued at $500m-$1b after Series C/D and has a potential to grow 4x in 4 years. Give yourself 3 attempts to find that company. 3) At age 26 yo receive $300k RSU grant from that company. 4) In 4 years (you’re now 30 yo) your RSU is fully vested and, assuming 4x growth, is now worth $1.2m. That’s it! [30.11.2020]
Most creatives first invent something and then look for ways to sell it. Mature businessmen reverse the direction of the vector: they first find the sales channel and ready-to-pay customers and only then build the product for this cohort [27.11.2020].
It’s impossible to compare world’s greats generations apart. Who is a better player? Pele, Maradona or Messi? It’s obvious that Maradona at his peak was objectively better than Pele. And Messi was better than Maradona. However, this discounts the fact that each next generation learnt and built on top of the previous one. The more fair comparison is to see how far #1 was from #2 and the rest of his era. The bigger the gap, the bigger the greatness [26.11.2020].
Your founding team in a startup should ideally cover the following 3 traits: domain expertise, salesmanship and determination. Note that you can sometimes get away without domain expertise [23.11.2020].
The best way to prepare for YC interviews is to have clear and concise 20-second answers for all possible questions. Short answers create space for follow-up questions [22.11.2020].
The trillion dollar company of the next 20–30 years will be a company in climate change [19.11.2020].
Powers to focus on depending on business life cycle. In origination phase focus on acquiring 2 powers: cornered resource (e.g. talent, patents) and counter-positioning (to compete with you, competitors have to hurt their existing business). In takeoff phase focus on 3 powers: network economies (value of network grows as n^2 of number of nodes), scale economies (every new unit sold has ever diminishing cost), and switching costs (it’s expensive to switch from you to a competitive product). In stability phase focus on 2 powers: branding (reputation, association with quality earned overtime) and process power (e.g. Toyota, kaizen, lean manufacturing) [finally finished reading Hamilton Helmer’s ‘7 Powers’ — 16.11.2020].
Mental model for generating world-class writing by Julian Shapiro. He calls it the creativity faucet. Visualize your creativity as a backed-up pipe of water. The first mile of piping is packed with wastewater. This wastewater must be emptied before the clear water arrives. At the beginning of a writing session, you must write out every bad idea that reflexively comes to mind. Instead of being self-critical and resisting these bad ideas, you must openly accept them. Once the bad ideas are emptied, strong ideas begin to arrive. Most creators never get past their wastewater. They resist their bad ideas. Neil Gaiman and Ed Sheeran share this exact same creative process. They respect the reality of human creativity: the brain has a rigid, linear pipeline for creativity, and it’s inefficient to fight it. In every creative session, they allot time for clearing the wastewater [15.11.2020].
There are 2 problems of focusing on making quick money today: 1) doing business purely for money not out of genuine curiosity and love leads to mediocre businesses; 2) quick money filter makes you think small and pursue small business ideas [14.11.2020].
If you single-purposefully chase money, it escapes you. In an effort to make small money today, you pursue small conservative ideas and big ideas escape you. Too much pragmatism kills thinking and dreaming big [13.11.2020].
Collection of cool quotes. 1) Excellent observation by @abarrallen: “If you want to Optimize things, work at a big company. If you want to Build things, work at a startup”. 2) “Stress comes from ignoring the things that you shouldn’t be ignoring” -Jeff Bezos. 3) “If you mix raisins with turds, they’re still turds” -Charlie Munger. 4) “You can’t teach drive. You can’t teach competitiveness. You can’t teach integrity. You can’t teach resourcefulness. Hire traits you can’t teach”. -Shane Parrish [12.11.2020].
If you’re lazy, you start late and then desperately make last-minute non-systemic efforts to save the show. The end result is terrible and you don’t have anything you can reuse! [12.11.2020]
Be patient. If you’re on the ground and have no ability to climb the trees, first, take the time to build the ladder [11.11.2020].
I’m associated with 3 things: training software engineers, on-demand software development, and placements of engineers to companies. I no longer have much curiosity towards those things, but still doing them due to inertia and lack of courage / energy to pursue new ideas I have curiosity for. Don’t be trapped by the past, follow your curiosity and be brave starting a new journey as a beginner [11.11.2020].
Great idea by David Perell: Having attention ≠ having an audience. Find your audience on public platforms (Twitter, YouTube), but drive them to your private ones (e.g. email lists). This way you are not letting public platforms control your audience. As Naval puts it, ‘Building an audience on a proprietary network is building an elaborate castle on sand’ [10.11.2020].
Interesting people are interested. Boring people are bored. Fascinating people are fascinated [09.11.2020].
If one of your sales channels (e.g. content marketing) works so well, it often leads to you succeeding without knowing why. Your strength becomes your weakness. One strength makes you blind to an area of improvement. Once this sales channel is taken away and stops working, for the first time you have to think about sales — an area you were completely unaware of because your accidental strength hid it from you [08.11.2020].
Non-systematic ways to do marketing: buying posts from influentials, asking a high school principal to send a promo text to their students via mailing list, doing a speed typing challenge where contestants have to tag their friends. These are like throwing paper to fire. Quick boost and quick fade-away. There are no shortcuts to building a working repeatable process of getting customers cheaply [07.11.2020].
When you have a high-quality product or service, but are not good at marketing to the masses, your only available option is to sell highly tailored service to a small group of people at a high price point [06.11.2020].
Good businesses give founders positive creative energy. Businesses founders do only to pay bills, set up all the processes and eventually find a CEO, or to exit, don’t have positive tailwinds behind them. Be fair with your business: don’t do it out of necessity. Do it out of love [05.11.2020].
According to Hamilton Helmer, there are 3 distinct paths to creating compelling value for customers. 1) Capabilities-led compelling value — translate some capability into a product with compelling value, e.g. Adobe utilizing its expertise in software and graphics to build Adobe Acrobat. The risk here: the customer need is unknown. 2) Customer-led compelling value — many players spy an unmet need, but no one knows how to satisfy it. The uncertainty here is usually technical: “The customer need is there. Can we build it?” 3) Competitor-led compelling value — a competitor has already brought to market a successful product, and inventor must produce something 10x better, e.g. Sony entering the video games market with PlayStation against formidable established presences of Nintendo and Sega. The risk here is 2-fold: will new features be differentially attractive enough to drive share gains? Will existing competitors be sufficiently delayed in their response? [04.11.2020]
Those who built anything of value know of the vast chasm between an idea and a final product. Before you draw a painting, you have to stand in line for a canvas, call your bank if your credit card is not working, look for the right type of brushes in a specialized store. But even once you have all the tools, you still haven’t started! [03.11.2020]
Great companies first agree on fundamental leadership principles. This saves a ton of time in debates down the road! [31.10.2020]
Immature founders are closed to partnerships, do everything themselves and want to keep 100% of anything they start to themselves. As a result, that “everything” starts small and usually stays small [30.10.2020].
Smart founders don’t start from nothing, they save a few years by building on top of an existing platform be it an existing customer base, source of cheap money, or existing technology [29.10.2020].
When you’re incapable of profiting from ‘knowledge’, you sell it for peanuts in the form of an online course [28.10.2020].
The Achilles heel of most apps is their strength — they are really good at one utilitarian thing they do, e.g. ‘buy now, pay later’, ‘order a taxi’, ‘order food from a favorite restaurant’. Consumers go to these apps when they have a real need. They don’t go there when they are bored. The utilitarian apps of the future will be solving boredom as well! [27.10.2020]
It is easy to seem smart in the world of startups. Whenever you hear a new idea, just say, ‘This will never work! And here are reasons why’. Most of the time you will be right, so if you have -1 for being wrong, and +1 for being right, you win on aggregate. However, in life the final score is not a majority vote, but weighted by outcome. By being a skeptic you will look smart, but your bank balance will look dumb [22.10.2020].
“If you overestimate the importance of what you’re working on, that will compensate for your mistakenly harsh judgment of your initial results. If you look at something that’s 20% of the way to a goal worth 100 and conclude that it’s 10% of the way to a goal worth 200, your estimate of its expected value is correct even though both components are wrong” -Paul Graham [21.10.2020].
Cool framework by Simon Wardley – pioneers, settlers, town planners. A bit similar to infamous EPAI by Adizes. Pioneers – they come up with new ideas, venture into uncharted territories, brave starters w/o fear of failure. Settlers – they turn ideas from pioneers into reality, study trends, improve the product, talk to customers, earn profits. Town planners – they take the progress made by settlers, duplicate what works and scale the product while increasing efficiency and turning a product into commodity or utility. All three are needed in an effective team [20.10.2020].
Big Mario Marketing by Shaan Puri. Small Mario is your customer. The fire flower is your product. A mistake is to talk about features of your fire flower. Mario does not care about the flower, he cares about himself. Instead — show how your flower will turn Small Mario into Big Mario [19.10.2020].
“Work like a lion, not a cow” -Naval. Working on high value projects in high intensity sprints > grinding every day on everything that comes your way [18.10.2020].
The lesson from Slack marketing by Shaan Puri. If your business is selling saddles, instead of directly selling saddles, promote the lifestyle of horseback riding. Once your customers are sold on the dream of horseback riding, they will ask, ‘What saddle can I use?’. And here you are selling saddles [17.10.2020].
When you’re hiring an executive for an existing small business, the most obvious, but overly simplistic compensation system is to give him base salary + 5% of annual profits. So if your business is already growing consistently 10% YoY, you have to give him 5% even if under his management the growth rate goes below 10%. A better compensation is a bonus if he keeps that annual growth rate, plus additional incentives for going above and beyond it [16.10.2020].
When you have a marketplace idea, how to test if the idea is good? Here’s the Bill Gurley test: “Does the consumer (demand side) experience improve as you have higher supply side penetration?” If the answer is ‘Yes’, it’s a good idea, ‘No’ — otherwise [15.10.2020].
The highest level of mastery is expressing your originality using the most basic tools and following the simplest techniques available to everyone [14.10.2020].
A professional sports club is also content business just like Disney. It’s just less attractive one business-wise, since athletes unlike Mickey Mouse tend to renegotiate their contracts once they get more popular [14.10.2020].
Lessons from Jeff Bezos. If you’re a reasonable person, you have no idea how to directly drive up a stock price. Instead of focusing on output measures you have no control of, focus on controllable inputs. What are the inputs to a stock price / quarterly earnings? Good return on capital invested and good cashflow. Then you work backwards. What are inputs to free cashflow? One of them is a lower cost structure. What are inputs to a lower cost structure? One of them is defect reduction. What are inputs to that? Making the picking algorithm more efficient. Now you have an input you can control! [13.10.2020]
Ubuntu Philosophy in the words of Doc Rivers, coach of Boston Celtics and LA Clippers: “I can’t be all I can be, unless you are all you can be. I can never be threatened by you because you’re good, because the better you are, the better I am” [12.10.2020].
The frequent root of depression is unutilized abundance of energy [11.10.2020].
Control freaks don’t like black box ML [10.10.2020].
Don’t wait for your next job to do your best work [09.10.2020].
“Being dogmatic about what trait is the most important for success is the worst dogma you can have” -Satya Nadella [08.10.2020].
Many public reports and papers with market predictions and analysis are useless because they will write whatever you pay them to write [07.10.2020].
Pressure is a privilege. Status quo and comfort zone thinking make you avoid competition, avoid pressure, avoid high stress. But if you reach some level of success, there will be expectations, there will be pressure to perform at the highest level from your past. Instead of running away from that pressure, embrace it, be grateful for it. Pressure is a shadow of success [06.10.2020].
As a manager, you sometimes wonder what you can teach your best players. They are so good individually that there is little you can teach them. You don’t need to teach them individual / solo contributor skills. You need to teach them how to be the best in the team you’re managing [05.10.2020].
Bayesian thinking in a nutshell by Aman Dhesi: the world is probabilistic, so think of the future in probabilities; we have (prior) beliefs about everything (thoughts, opinions, biases); our beliefs are always partially wrong; the world provides data, use it to update your beliefs [04.10.2020].
A few writing principles I follow: leave out anything that is not surprising; focus on ideas, not words and sentences (content over form); tell the story; add emotional touch to speak to both minds and hearts; have a continuity between paragraphs; don’t state the obvious; omit stuff to make the reader fill the gap [03.10.2020].
“You can hold a rock concert and that’s OK. You can hold a ballet and that’s OK. But don’t hold a rock concert and advertise it as a ballet” -Warren Buffett [02.10.2020].
If you work backwards from the desired output and keep asking, ‘What are the arguments/inputs to this function?”, long enough, here is the most likely conclusion. The ultimate controllable input in business is customer obsession [01.10.2020].
Lessons from Buffett: you don’t have to make it the way you lost it — stock has no emotions about its price; diversification is a protection against ignorance — there can’t be too many good investment opportunities + if you are good at analyzing businesses, it doesn’t make sense to take money away from choice #1 to give it to choice #50 [30.09.2020].
When fighting the lack of focus and dizzying life of an octopus with too many ongoing projects, don’t go to the other dangerous extreme — idleness, apathy and boredom [30.09.2020].
Writing raw cryptic thoughts only you can understand in Apple Notes is like hacking a temporary script you don’t remember how to use a month from now. Publishing fully fledged essays takes more time, but is like building a proper interface for your software. It’s not only useful for others, it’s also much more useful and reusable by you in the future [29.09.2020].
Everyone agrees that starting a company has an infinite upside. What most think, however, that it also has infinite downside. But the downside is capped: new knowledge and skills acquired in a short period of time increases the optionality, doesn’t reduce it [29.09.2020].
Staying in the same room and staring at screens for months is definitely mentally toxic and wrong way of doing remote work [29.09.2020].
It’s so easy to silently read and benefit from someone’s substack, thanklessly enjoy a podcast episode or get daily utility from a great piece of software for free. If you like someone’s work on the internet (essay, book, app), don’t be passive 99%, take a minute and show a sign of appreciation with a review/heart/comment/repost. Believe me, quite often just one positive comment is what makes creators to keep going [28.09.2020].
It takes so much glucose to process one page long sentences written by Tolstoy, that I think Tolstoy is indirectly contributing to climate change [27.09.2020].
The brilliance of The Walt Disney Company’s business model: consumers pay Disney money for the chance to be marketed more Disney products [26.09.2020].
In a moment of weakness, it’s easy for lifetime entrepreneurs who never had a ‘real job’ to fall into FOMO and thinking what it would have been like to join an industry leader after college, work there for 10 years, rise in the ranks and learn all the best practices and methodologies without entrepreneurial trial-and-error, and start a company with a map of the territory at the age of 32 [25.09.2020].
Premature desire to be unavailable, elusive, and selective about incoming opportunities (bias for thinking and inaction) can dangerously lead to one’s irrelevance [24.09.2020].
You’ll be surprised by how many people, who you always thought of as equal peers, think lower of you than you think of yourself. More often than not we’re much less important than we want to believe [24.09.2020].
External humility is often a mask to hide one’s desire to be universally likable [24.09.2020].
Very often we think that ego is enemy of many people, but not ours. Our external humility can fool us that we’re genuinely humble. And how surprised are we when we realize that ego has always been there, has always been a barrier to reach our true potential [24.09.2020].
Conversations between football club president, head coach, and a player who wishes to join a new team are so similar to those between an engineer (leaving for a new company) and their PM [reflecting on an episode of ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’ — 23.09.2020].
In venture capital, you have to make a lot of investments to catch a few black swans, thus, the optimal strategy is amazonian ‘bias for action’. In public stock investing, to be successful you should make a few, but large concentrated bets, thus, the optimal strategy is buffettian ‘bias for inaction’ [22.09.2020].
A big audience means new business opportunities plus free market research [21.09.2020].
To get good at hardware, you need to get good at manufacturing and supply chain management [21.09.2020].
Build a personal moat around what is easy for you, hard for others, and something you enjoy so much that you’re willing to do it for free for the next decade. Examples: build a following by writing unique and useful content, expand your knowledge and network by doing a weekly podcast, become an expert in EVs and self-driving by spending a decade at Tesla or Waymo [20.09.2020].
Key question during a job candidate reference check: “What rank would you give X among all the colleagues you closely worked with in your career?” [19.09.2020]
Introverts invite for podcasts. Extraverts invite for coffees [18.09.2020].
Interview question by Keith Rabois: “If you were a product, how would you describe your value proposition?” [17.09.2020]
The main threat to Zoom is not Google or Microsoft, but Agora.io — Stripe for video. They are arming the rebels optimizing for 1000s of use cases Zoom is the lowest common denominator for (education, gaming, telehealth, social, fitness, collaboration, conferences, sales/HR) [17.09.2020].
Hustlers underthink. Intellectuals underact [16.09.2020].
Here is a simple trick to reduce theft among construction workers. Don’t even bother looking for a thief. Just calculate the total damage and deduct from every worker’s salary at the end of the month. The problem solved [15.09.2020].
Lessons from Peter Lynch in my own words: 1) Selling your winning stocks to fund your losing stocks is like cutting your flowers to plant more weeds. 2) On average, the market is down 10% once every 2 years. On average, the market is down 25% once every 6 years. If you are going to sell your stock the day the market is down 10 or 25%, then you should not be owning stock. In the stock market, the most important organ is the stomach, not the brain. 3) A stock is. not a lottery ticket. It’s a piece of the company. If the company’s earnings per share grow 30x in 30 years, the stock price reflect that. 4) You can beat index funds by simply removing from the portfolio the companies which are stagnating (e.g. steel, textile or oil companies) [14.09.2020].
Who do you see yourself as? If you see yourself as a founder CEO, you can not be partnering with someone who will handle all finances and sales for the company and take half of the company. He who controls the money controls the company [13.09.2020].
Twitter is capturing less value than it’s creating because it thinks of itself as a classic social network (where ads is the only monetization), not a professional network where people share their ideas and monetize them through subscriptions [12.09.2020].
If all the meetings you’re participating in require no prep, you’re not pushing yourself and are in danger of eventual irrelevance [11.09.2020].
There is something primally satisfying to watch with others the movies you like and want others to see [11.09.2020].
It’s incredible how one feature of adding connections between notes can lead to infinitely many possibilities and useful side-effects [thoughts on Roam Research — 11.09.2020].
Taking care of your team is a competitive advantage [10.09.2020].
‘Never underestimate a man who overestimates himself’ -Charlie Munger [09.09.2020].
Writing is sales & marketing for introverts [09.09.2020].
Good people leave jobs because they stop growing/learning. To avoid this, graduate your best people by promoting them every year and completely redefining what their role is. It takes an effort on management’s part, but the dividends are well worth it! [09.09.2020]
The Keeper Test by Reed Hastings, co-founder of Netflix: “Would you keep the person if they wanted to leave?” If the answer is no, then you have to let them go [08.09.2020].
Reading non-fiction without copying good ideas and making notes is not reading! [07.09.2020]
Tencent’s capital + traffic flywheel. 1) Attract Chinese companies and foreign companies interested in launching in China with a huge userbase. 2) Open up the WeChat platform for these companies. 3) Observe the WeChat data, look at the emerging winners and invest in them. 4) Make the WeChat integration seamless and invisible for portfolio companies (e.g. Pinduoduo), thus bringing even more traffic to these companies. 5) All these mini-programs and integrations bring even more traffic to WeChat ecosystem and make it more attractive for a new generation of companies. 6) Rinse and repeat [06.09.2020].
“In job interviews and college admissions, we focus too much on what candidates have accomplished, and too little on what obstacles they’ve overcome. The true measure of people’s potential is not the height of the peak they’ve reached, but how far they’ve climbed to get there” -Adam Grant [05.09.2020].
It’s easy to perform at work when you have an inner fire. The real test is to show up at work even when you don’t feel like it. You don’t quit your education just because you don’t feel like going to school in the morning [04.09.2020].
To get closer to the real history, make an effort to study both history written by winners and history written by unknown losers [04.09.2020].
The well-known story of founding Square (popularized by Jack) is that Jack Dorsey came up with an idea when his long-time friend Jim McKelvey was unable to complete the sale of his $2,000 glass faucet because he could not accept credit cards. The lesser known version is that after getting ousted from Twitter, Jack was thinking of his next venture and was planning to compete with Tesla by building electric cars. He and Jim shared that idea with Washington University in St.Louis Prof. Robert Morley who dismissed that idea and shared his research on mobile magnetic stripe card readers. Startup founding mythologies is not a myth! [03.09.2020]
In this world obsessed with get-rich-quick schemes, time horizon can be your competitive advantage. Have the patience no one has. Be able to wait much longer than anyone. Instead of trying to be smart all the time, avoid being stupid, survive and be the last man standing on the battlefield [02.09.2020].
Decouple outcome from a decision making process. Sometimes you make a wrong decision, but get lucky, have a great outcome and everyone gives you standing ovation & wants to talk to you. Other times you make a right bet, have an unfortunate outcome for some other reasons and get labeled as a loser. Know when you’re right independent of the result. Long series of correct decisions will ensure that luck finds you [01.09.2020].
2 hour commute is getting a bad press in the world obsessed with remote. The upside of 2 hour work commute is 2 hours spent with yourself: reading, writing, reflecting. That’s how Khaled Hosseini wrote ‘The Kite Runner’ [31.08.2020].
If you invest $1M in a low-cost index fund, the market returns 9% over next 30 years, then in 30 years you will have $13.27M. If you invest $1M in an amazing fund manager who achieves a steady 5% alpha (annual fund returns being 14%) over 30 years, but charges you 2% in management fees and 20% of all profits, then in 30 years your end balance will be. $13.18M [summarizing a thread from @10kdiver — 30.08.2020].
“The first $100,000 is a bitch, but you gotta do it. I don’t care what you have to do — if it means walking everywhere and not eating anything that wasn’t purchased with a coupon, find a way to get your hands on $100,000. After that, you can ease off the gas a little bit” -Charlie Munger [29.08.2020].
Amazing game theoretic story from Ancient China: “Tian Ji and the king of the Qi Kingdom both like horse racing and race each other often. They frequently make bets. The king of Qi has better horses and Tian Ji loses every time. One day, Tian Ji’s friend says “take me to the race next time and I can help you win”. His friend learns that for every race, Tian Ji and the king both choose three horses classified as good, better, and best. There are three rounds, and the winner of the race is the one who wins at least two rounds. Both of them were using their “good” horse for the opponent’s “good” horse, “better” horse for the opponent’s “better” horse, and “best” for the “best”. The king had a slightly better horse in all three levels, and won every round. Tian Ji’s friend then brings up an idea: use Tian Ji’s “good” horse for racing the king’s “best” horse, then use the “best” horse against the king’s “better” horse, and the “better” horse against the “good” horse. As a result, Tian Ji loses the first round, but wins the second and third round, winning the race” [28.08.2020].
The main reason why our studio profits were eaten away in the past is super simple: we would agree on the general concept without finalizing the exact feature set and would be too shy to charge more for out-of-scope work which is unavoidable eventual request from any client [27.08.2020].
Gemba: decisions are made not based on hierarchy, but based on hands-on knowledge of people who are closest to what’s happening [26.08.2020].
Your profile picture is part of your visual brand. Don’t change it. Consistency in quality, consistency in branding [26.08.2020].
The downside of victories — you don’t sit down and analyze your mistakes. The upside of failures — you sit down and reflect [25.08.2020].
2 reasons why optimal holding period for stocks is forever: 1) the ‘float power’ of deferred taxes; 2) good investment ideas don’t come every day [24.08.2020].
“Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill”. -Warren Buffett [23.08.2020]
Produce content today to build your distribution in a few years. Once you have distribution, there is an infinite number of ways to monetize it: starting an investment fund, starting a product line, teaching an online course, writing a book, starting a newsletter, etc [22.08.2020].
YouTube and Netflix are index funds of content. Every additional unit of content makes their offering better. Unlike rollercoaster hit-based businesses of individual content producers, their success doesn’t depend on success or failure of any individual title [22.08.2020].
“Life is just an endless pursuit of trying to draw charts that go up and to the right” -@kevinkwok [22.08.2020].
Don’t blindly judge a messenger before reading a message. Ability to practice a skill in the wild is not the same thing as sharing and teaching it to the world. Some people are great in application of knowledge. Some are great at creating knowledge by strategizing, analyzing/refactoring the past, and training the next generation of practitioners. If Peter Drucker or Jim Collins are not billionaires, it does not mean we can’t learn business strategy from them [22.08.2020].
A lot of moments in business history happen only once. That’s why the utility of business stories from the past is not direct “ctrl + a → ctrl + v”, but rather pedagogical. You can’t just copy what worked for some successful company 20 years ago. However, reading the stories of the past is powerful if you uncover timeless general principles behind these examples. Quite often, the entire utility of particular cases is an illustration of general fundamentals [22.08.2020].
For Amazon in late 90s-early 2000s, competing with eBay by launching a separate 3rd party store was fighting with eBay on eBay’s territory following eBay’s rules. Directly attacking your opponent’s strength is usually not very effective. Placing 3rd party products next to products sold by Amazon on the same product page was brilliant move where Amazon capitalized on its strength and attacked eBay’s weakness. Avoid what is strong, strike what is weak [summarizing business strategy lessons from Jeff Bezos from the words of Dan Rose — 21.08.2020].
We used to pick up a phone and call. Now we text saying, ‘Available for a call?”, share a calendly link to book a meeting, and have a Zoom call in a week [20.08.2020].
Apple’s business model in a nutshell: use custom software to differentiate hardware [lessons from Stratechery — 19.08.2020].
Prolific creators can easily race into the future and come back to the present all within a few seconds. They combine and comfortably juggle vision and execution, optimism of a dreamer and pessimism of a realist, big picture and attention to details, strategy and operational excellence [18.08.2020].
Powerful brands can charge higher prices for identical goods for one or both of these 2 reasons: 1) affective valence — built-up associations with the brand elicit good feelings distinct from the good’s objective value; 2) uncertainty reduction — customer attains “peace of mind” knowing that the branded product will be just as expected (to protect yourself form potential negative tail events in medicine, food, transport, etc.). B2B goods typically fail to exhibit meaningful affective valence price premia since most buyers are only concerned with objective deliverables. Despite that, B2B companies can build powerful brands if their customers want to reduce their uncertainty [reading ‘7 Powers’ — 17.08.2020].
This is how interest graphs were built in the past —organic growth, ’come for the utility, stay for the network’ + explicit follow/unfollow actions. This was slow (takes time before you find people to follow) and did not perfectly reflect your interests, e.g. you follow a successful venture capitalist for his tweets on investing, not for his thoughts on politics. TikTok turned interest graph creation upside down. You don’t need to follow anyone. Your personalized feed is immediately useful (along the entertainment axis) constructed based on your implicit behavior: if you enjoy videos about golf and spend a long time watching them (even if the word ‘golf’ is not present in any meta-data), you will be served more videos about golf [inspired by Eugene Wei — 16.08.2020].
If you’re working at the intersection of 4 ikigai circles, your success compounds as you set the following interdependent flywheel in motion. Since you love what you’re doing, you will spend more time on it and will become even more skillful in this field. That craftsmanship will lead to more opportunities and will bring you even more money. External success will lead to even more passion to your craft. Ad infinitum [15.08.2020].
I’m not writing about what I know. I’m writing on things I don’t know. Less aphoristic version: I’m bored to write on topics I’ve known for a long time. I’m writing to learn, to find out, on topics I would like to explore and have little knowledge about [14.08.2020].
Don’t have an opinion on every topic in the universe. 99% of the time it’s not intellectually stimulating and is a waste of time [14.08.2020].
Bundling expands your market. Now not only superfans, but also casual customers can experience your product. If you’re not bundling several of your products into one, you’re cutting out your casual fans who don’t possess the desire to pay the a-la-carte price for a single product [learning about myths of bundling from Shishir Mehrotra— 13.08.2020].
If your customer is genuinely unhappy with your product and asking for his $100 refund, just give him his $100. No questions asked. Otherwise, you are at risk of losing a lot more than $100. Gladly fire customers who are unethical and annoying [12.08.2020].
Spend more time with people you can create with, not just consume with. Brainstorming on $1m small business ideas, building something together, or discussing future/books over poker is way more fun than silently watching Netlfix together [11.08.2020].
HP lost $160M in lost customer orders for servers when they decided to switch ERP systems. Switching costs can be considerably higher than costs for software you’re replacing. That’s why “no one ever got fired for sticking with SAP” [learning about switching costs from ‘7 powers’, 10.08.2020].
“When a manager with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, the reputation of the business remains intact”. -Warren Buffett [09.08.2020]
Rich people say that money doesn’t make you happy. But it’s entirely possible that it removes a few reasons of one’s unhappiness [08.08.2020].
Most of the time the way we explain why incumbents (IBM, Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster, Borders, McDonalds, Compaq) miss new entrants (Microsoft, Sony, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, In-N-Out and Dell respestively) is by their blindness to innovation and mismanagement. However, this is very far from the truth. Incumbents were not blind, they were well aware of the competitive approach. They had amazing management and operational excellence. But after a usualy long deliberation they chose to protect their existing business because following the competitive approach (which was contrarian to the very business model which made incumbents successful) would mean they would cannibalize themselves. They consciously and rationally missed new entrants to minimize the collateral damage [07.08.2020].
If you’re in education business and want to increase your revenue by expanding your market — you have no choice but target beginners by teaching material accessible to the masses. You will possibly have to teach what you’ve learnt decades ago and does no longer satisfy your inner curiosity. Most likely you won’t be learning anything new while teaching the course. Unlike Hilbert who used to teach seminars in new fields of mathematics in order to learn more about it. Very likely your friends and peers will be making fun of you. Here they are doing something cool (startups, VC, academia, politics, Wall Street, BigTech) while you’re stuck teaching basics of programming to the masses. But if your goal is to build a good cash generating machine without any outside investment in order to accumulate capital and let it compound — don’t get distracted, keep your heads down and keep earning. There is no shame in running a small business if it will eventually lead you to financial independence. Starting all the cool startups can come after that [06.08.2020].
Discord started as a communication tool for League of Legends subreddit. Here is one way to generate community-based startup ideas — slice and dice Reddit and build a bespoke niche tool for a single subreddit. This is similar to unbundling Craigslist to build niche on-demand marketplaces (Uber, Airbnb) which eventually become way bigger than Craigslist itself [05.08.2020].
“There is only one boss — the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else”. — Sam Walton [04.08.2020].
Chamath keeps a piece of paper on his desk that says, “Calm. Humble. Focused. Kind to myself. Vulnerable. Authentic”. Great reminder who you’re battling against and how to keep your eyes on the North Star [03.08.2020].
“Integrity compounds infinitely, and capability always decays”. -Chamath Palihapitiya [02.08.2020]
A lot of people are struggling to focus when working from home. Here is a potential solution for your team. Create a war-room or focus-room voice channel in your team’s Discord. When someone wants to focus intensely for 1 hour, they just join this channel, turn on their video, declare their goal for this 1-hour session and do the work. Other focused people in this room will make sure that you stay focused on a task at hand [01.08.2020].
A/B tests can pick the shade of blue to maximize clicks. Taste and experience can build delightful and pleasing products that feel like magic [31.07.2020].
A compelling reason by Zuck to majorly overpay for Instagram in 2012: “The businesses are nascent but the networks are established, the brands are already meaningful and if they grow to a large scale they could be very disruptive to us. […] There are network effects around social products and a finite number of different social mechanics to invent. Once someone wins at a specific mechanic, it’s difficult for others to supplant them without doing something different. […] What we’re really buying is time. Even if some new competitors spring up, buying Instagram, Path, Foursquare, etc. now will give us a year or more to integrate their dynamics before anyone can get close to their scale again” [30.07.2020].
In 2005–2015 AMZN invested $18B to turn every major cost into a source of revenue. Product costs (73% of revenue in 2005) led to their very own products: Kindle, Basics, Fire, Echo. Shipping costs lead to partnership with ATSG and a logistics business line. Fulfillment costs led to Fulfillment by Amazon for 3rd party sellers. Technology and content costs led to AWS which on its own became $35B revenue business in 2019. If you’re a global internet company, AWS is the internet tax you can’t avoid. Marketing costs led to Amazon Prime (150M subscribers by the end of 2019). Payment processing costs led to Amazon Payments. Pure genius! [29.07.2020]
Some periods are for execution. You no longer have much bandwidth to read high-level macro books and technology business strategy essays. You have to enter the arena to do customer support, customer engagement, track payments, and answer email [28.07.2020].
Selling products with high strike price (houses, cars, yachts, luxury watches, etc.) in volume is a mind-expanding experience. You become comfortable with 6+ figure balances. You overcome the trap of small amounts. You start thinking big [27.07.2020].
To build a massive business, sell something which doesn’t require discipline to consume [26.07.2020].
You don’t have to wait till you have a lot of money to emulate Buffett’s investment style. If you can’t own 10% of Coca Cola Co, become a coke distributor. If you can’t own entire insurance companies, hire a few agents to sell car/health insurance online. If you can’t own railways, sell train tickets [25.07.2020].
You can build a billion dollar startup in education by achieving scale through eliminating barriers along 3 dimensions: geography — offer your curriculum to anyone in the world irrespective of their location by making it online; ability to pay — offer your curriculum with no upfront costs through income shared agreements; skill level — offer your curriculum irrespective of student’s skill level by designing it for beginners. In a nutshell: teach beginners in-demand skills through ISAs online [25.07.2020].
It is so easy to run around Telegram, Instagram, Facebook, and Gmail answering all the customer questions, and feeling exhausted and completely unproductive at the end of the day. The key to customer support is one uninterrupted block of time, not random engagements here and there [24.07.2020].
The way to produce content on a daily basis is to lower the bar and ask yourself, ‘What would it look like if it were easy?’. Instead of planning to spend 6 hours on a well-researched blog post and never actually doing it, just post a link to an interesting article with a one-liner recommendation, publish a cool slide deck you found with 2–3 sentences summarizing it. Daily non-ideal execution is much better than irregular attempt at the ideal [23.07.2020].
Write on niche topics. Become the monopoly in the market of a few [22.07.2020].
The reason why Netflix is doubling down on Netflix Originals is to control their costs, and thus their destiny. When you’re buying rights for existing TV shows you’re at the mercy of suppliers. When you produce your own content, your costs are fixed [21.07.2020].
From Balaji S. Srinivasan: If the proximate purpose of technology is to reduce scarcity (any breakthrough is usually described as faster, smaller, cheaper, better ⇒ with this new technology, one can do more with less), the ultimate purpose of technology is to eliminate mortality (mortality is the main source of scarcity: if we had infinite time, we would be less concerned with whether something was faster; the reason speed has value is because time has value). [21.07.2020].
“The point of doing a startup after all is to build something you can’t buy” -@balajis [20.07.2020]
It might look like all your efforts and acquired skills sometimes go nowhere, but they do go into a deposit which will return compounded interest later on [19.07.2020].
Starting a small business making a few hundred Ks USD in profits is underrated. Sometimes you hit it big right out of the park and very first business in your career becomes a centi-million dollar venture backed story. But most of the time it doesn’t. So continuously starting startups and running for the fences failure after failure might not be very smart. On the other hand, there are many more ways to predictably make 6-figures of annual profit while running your capital efficient business requiring little to no outside investment. Once you have the war chest of cash from a profitable MSB, you can afford to take more risk and do something more ambitious! [19.07.2020]
Never end a conversation with a busy expert who was gracious enough to answer all your questions via direct message on Twitter/Instagram by saying, «Can I message you in the future when I need help?» That will make them feel like a free commodity whose value you don’t appreciate. Instead express gratitude and show them ways you can help! [18.07.2020]
Building your own thing is so much more rewarding than consulting! Having skin in the game makes the lows lower and the highs so much higher [17.07.2020].
When I was a teen, I started thinking when successful people had their first major success and compared what my current pace was like against their timeline. When I was 16, I remember thinking – Jackie Chan was 24 when he starred in ‘Drunken Master’ (1978) and became a movie star. Later on, I switched my benchmarking from martial arts actors to entrepreneurs. The latter tend to bloom later! [17.07.2020]
Great summary from Nikhil Basu Trivedi. 5 parts of venture investing: finding companies to invest, making investment decisions, winning the right to invest, helping companies, getting to exit. In short: find, decide, win, help, and exit [16.07.2020].
Status meetings is a waste of time. Hold meetings for brainstorm sessions, important demos or consequential updates. I don’t see any other reason for a group work meeting [15.07.2020].
Here are the elements which make up college experience according to Eric Torenberg: liberal arts, technical education, alumni network, credentials, summer camp, dating market, sports, co-living, salons, hedge funds, 4 year vacation, prestige, insurance policy, identity, becoming an adult. A lot of startups unbundle this package and attack along a single dimension [14.07.2020].
Universities teach you what types of weapons exist in the world. Bootcamps teach you how to use one of them well [14.07.2020].
If you want a life of success and optionality, you have no choice but be useful to people at scale. And being useful requires some daily creative effort for an extended period of time. No matter how much you just want to stay in bed, read books, watch documentaries and listen to podcast interviews, hard work is unavoidable [13.07.2020].
Done with “Hatching Twitter” by Nick Bilton. Reads like a script for a thriller. Having watched numerous interviews and presentations by Jack Dorsey, I’m still unclear how much of his extraordinary success is genius, ambition, luck, ‘fake it till you make it’, ‘comprehensive’ imitation of Steve Jobs, media, work ethic, daily rituals, focus, taste. Clearly everything is at play, but the proportions are unclear [12.07.2020].
Some people don’t follow ‘publish every day’ rule and only publish when they truly have something to say. Read them religiously [12.07.2020].
Cool idea from peter zakin: “’The sweet spot of mediocrity’: when you know enough to have some clarity about a particular skill-domain (i.e. glass half full of excellence), but struggle enough that you have empathy for those who have difficulty with the skill (glass half empty)” [11.07.2020].
Procrastination is information signaling that you have to make a change in your life since you have no intrinsic drive towards the one you’re living right now. If it happens repeatedly, instead of fighting your willpower and forcing yourself do something you have no drive for, change the activity, get a new job, move to a different city, start a new more fulfilling career [10.07.2020].
Jealousy occurs when you see someone just like you (plumbers envy plumbers, fishermen envy fishermen) doing simple things and achieving amazing results whereas you stay in bed till 11am and not finding focus/motivation to do even simple things [10.07.2020].
Definition of a Seagull Manager: “Top executive who is rarely around. Who flies in occasionally and unexpectedly from who knows where. Lands on your beach. Squawks noisily. Flaps its wings all over the place. Launches itself back into the air. Circles overhead. Drops a big poop on everyone. And then flies away. Leaving the rest of the team to clean up the mess, figure out what it all meant, and wonder what to do about the inevitable follow up visit” [from ‘Creative Selection’ by Ken Kocienda, 09.07.2020].
Anyone saying that math/CS theory/history/etc. is useless just never put in time to understand the subject and simply learnt to live without that knowledge. That doesn’t make the subjects useless. Those who learnt the key ideas from these fields have a different way of looking at problems and find ways to apply this knowledge directly (and more often indirectly) on a regular basis [08.07.2020].
When you’re starting a new project and don’t have a map of the terrain, don’t jump into water without the plan just to find yourself grinding for months without visible progress. That doesn’t improve your understanding of the territory. Take some time to plan, figure out multiple routes and pick the one which, with the highest probability, will give you something tangible within a week or less. I don’t see a point in blindly and randomly walking in a desert with no clear sight of the destination. But once you see the contours of your goal on a horizon, work as hard as you can to get there [07.07.2020].
Instead of arguing whose imaginary product is better, build it and present it. Demos win arguments [06.07.2020].
You can’t always A/B test your way to greatness. Develop a taste and learn to rely on it [05.07.2020].
Here is the autocorrection algorithm for the iPhone keyboard circa 2007: 1) arrange typed keys in a set of tumblers with their neighboring keys; 2) spin the tumblers to check every letter combination; 3) note the dictionary words found by spinning the tumblers; 4) calculate the pattern skew for every found word (distance between what has been typed and the dictionary word); 5) multiply the usage frequency value for each found word with the reciprocal of its pattern skew; 6) from all the found words, suggest the one with the greatest multiplied total of usage frequency and pattern skew [from ‘Creative Selection’ by Ken Kocienda, 04.07.2020].
Brainstorming sessions are creative endeavors, but often can turn into unproductive exercise in procrastination. Demos, on the other hand, focus on action, put everyone on the same page, avoid ambiguity, and can generate feedback and start productive discussions. Demos over brainstorms! [03.07.2020]
If you are solo entrepreneur with no full-time partners and, hence, no colleagues to do morning standup meetings with, do them (while walking) with a friend/spouse. Very clarifying and a secret productivity booster! [02.07.2020]
“There might be better traders than me and there might be people who know more about computers. But there’s nobody who knows more about both”. -Michael Bloomberg [01.07.2020]
We must have heard many times about the power of focus. But that understanding stays on the surface and doesn’t become a real experience until we hear a good example beyond cliches and then practice it. In the early days of Safari project, Steve Jobs set a goal of making it really fast. Don, manager responsible for the project, was able to translate that goal into a rule: never make the browser slower. The method of accomplishing that rule was Page Load Test (PLT). After every new feature, you had to run PLT to see if it slowed down the browser or not. The feature was accepted only if it didn’t slow down the browser. No compromises. With the single-minded focus on never making the browser slower, the promise of a fast browser was achieved. Good leaders can set one goal which is translated to one rule which is translated to one habit [30.06.2020].
There are so many false paths when you’re learning something new. You might be totally confused by Dynamic Programming technique for months until someone wise tells you that it’s just a CS version of mathematical induction. Now you can link a new concept to something you already know. This is how you get to ‘A-ha!’ moments more consistently [30.06.2020].
Why chase perfection if it’s not attainable? You chase perfection to reach excellence! [29.06.2020]
GitLab’s Handbook (7000+ printed pages) is the true blueprint of running a remote-only organization [28.06.2020].
I don’t like the pressure of goal setting. The style I tend to gravitate towards to lately is ‘process over outcome’. Just focus on inputs — your daily activities. Look at a single workday as a holographic representation of your entire life. Are you focusing on the most important things in your life on a daily basis? If not, put it on your calendar, schedule 1-on-1 with yourself. If it’s not on a calendar, it will not be done. If you focus on inputs, outputs will take care of themselves [27.06.2020].
Here is a problem with the ‘finishing every book you start’ rule. If you start a book, realize it’s boring down the road, you’re stuck and end up giving up on reading altogether, instead opting for time-killing on YouTube or Netflix. What you should have done is to start a new book. If you think you don’t like reading, you just never opened the right book [26.06.2020].
Most educational video games are not effective at ‘education’ because they are plain boring. All games are simulations of reality with fast feedback loops. But good games are also fun and good at teaching you concepts indirectly — all you want is to get to the next level and win, learning is just a nice bonus, side effect, ‘score which takes care of itself’ [25.06.2020]
If you have a deep understanding of a subject, you often have a n-dimensional feeling of it. Seeing a certain chess configuration after thousands of hours of practice gives you the feel of the state in the game. This complex pattern recognition happens when programming, doing martial arts, math, cooking, almost everywhere [25.06.2020].
Cool insight from David Yang. You need to have 3 crystals before starting a company: 1) unfair advantage in understanding the patient’s pain; 2) unfair advantage in creating the pill for a patient; 3) unfair advantage in delivering the pill to your patient [24.06.2020]
If you are looking for a project idea, stuck and can’t think of one, start a community of people looking for project ideas! [23.06.2020]
The Side Project Paradox: hackers don’t build side projects because it will get them a higher paying job. They build them because they genuinely like programming and seeing their products live and being used. And that’s the very trait which makes them the kind of engineers companies want to hire [22.06.2020].
Here is the structure of my cold emails. Important caveat: I only cold email people whose work I genuinely admire and, hence, am very familiar with. Paragraph 1 — short personalized compliment, expression of gratitude with sincere and specific examples, e.g, “I got interested in your investment approach and ended up reading your entire blog in one day in March of this year. Loved your density/frequency/pain framework among other things”. Paragraph 2 — short introduction of myself, e.g. “I’m Arman. Co-founder, X, Y, Z. Did A ,B, C. Studied at D, E, F”. Paragraph 3 — context of my ask + my ask + easy way out, e.g. “A decade ago I started to dabble in podcasting and recorded 25+ episodes. Guests were A, B, C, D. After a long hiatus, I’m restarting it under a new name and format. It is a long form Zoom Live with a mix of questions from me and the most upvoted questions from the audience (I have X readers on social). It would be an immense honor to have you on the show. Totally understand if too busy or not interested” [21.06.2020].
If you are utterly bored and want to add meaning to your day, launch something [20.06.2020].
Your personal side project is a new resume [19.06.2020].
My favorite interview question for developers is “Do you have a side project? Tell me about it”. Live side projects show creativity, ownership, unambiguous hard technical skills, curiosity, well-roundedness, ability to focus and make time to build stuff. Ability to conceive, design, execute and grow your app solo is a non-commodity skill [18.06.2020].
Example of cascading simplicity at Apple: 2 choices for an iPad keyboard (a: more-keys, but smaller buttons; b: bigger-keys layout, but fewer buttons) → remove one of the choices and go for bigger-keys layout → remove zoom button and animation to switch between keyboards → remove the potential confusion about which keyboard to show (e.g. should the software remember that you used the bigger-keys keyboard in the Notes app and the more-keys keyboard in Mail?) [based on example from ‘Creative Selection’ by Ken Kocienda — 16.06.2020]
Both watching trashy YouTube videos and reading good books are forms of entertainment — activities you do when you want to relax and take your mind off work. The former leaves you stuffed and disgusted as if after a big fast food meal. The latter leaves you light, inspired and energized. What is better form of relaxation? [15.06.2020]
Amazing quote from “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” (TV series we watched over a weekend): ‘It is not about convincing other people that you are capable of doing something great, it is about doing it’ [15.06.2020].
When you feel heavy due to success, start something new to feel light as a beginner [14.06.2020].
Reading “The Making of Prince of Persia” based on Jordan Mechner 1985–1993 diary is so inspiring. Now my hands are itching to build something. And I unfortunately haven’t felt that high of creative excitement since 2005 when I graduated high school and had to give up my web development practice to prepare for college [13.06.2020].
Build your audience before you start a business. Learn and teach through writing and podcasting to build an audience [12.06.2020].
Structure your work like a TV show. Every day is a new episode with a teaser for the next episode. The teaser (pleasant work which left unfinished the previous day) acts like a natural pull to do the work. Pull makes it all effortless [11.06.2020].
Here is a mistake I see entrepreneurs make when starting marketplaces. They call sellers one by one, convince them to join and agree to your fee structure. That’s terribly slow. Here is an alternative. Start by aggregating as much high-quality supply as possible. Make the supply side an offer they can’t refuse. Don’t charge any fees — you have no demand! Parse other sites to find more sellers to populate your website, create profiles on their behalf. They won’t mind as they are not losing anything. Once you have 1000 high-quality seller profiles, it’s time to aggregate and win demand! [10.06.2020]
I learn more by listening to other people’s podcasts than while doing my own. When I’m interviewing someone, part of my brain (despite my conscious efforts to focus) is busy figuring out the next question, a smooth transition, whether I will look stupid, and other noisy and unfortunate side-effects of social conditioning [09.06.2020].
Podcast is just like a Snapchat story. Both grab your full undivided attention when you’re experiencing each medium [09.06.2020].
Amazing analogy by Tobi Lutke. At any point in time you’re in a small box. Until one day when you find a crack in it (thanks to the help of someone who kneels to you to share advice) and you go out to the outer box where your initial box was just a tiny parcel in the corner [08.06.2020].
Bob Iger: “If you’re in the business of making something, be in the business of making something great” [07.06.2020].
Short intensive bursts of creativity > long low-energy monotonous sessions. Quoting Naval Ravikant: “Work like a lion, not a cow” [06.06.2020].
If you find yourself criticizing someone’s creative efforts due to imperfections in small inconsequential details (typos in a book, goofs in a movie, minor bugs in a piece of software), more often than not you are signaling that you have no big ideas to share [05.06.2020].
Ambition often does not have patience. Time your ambition with the right opportunities coming your way. Following ambition and taking your focus away from the present to the distant future can lead to poor results in the games you are participating today [05.06.2020].
Great point by Andrew Wilkinson: “What’s an easier path to wealth? Path 1: Venture Startup; 95% chance of $0; tiny personal income while building startup until IPO/scale; massive dilution (most founders end up owning 5–15%); $1BN market cap = $50-$150MM for founder. Path 2: Compound earnings over 20 yrs (Buffett style) — 50–80% chance of success; pay yourself whatever you want out of profits over time — if you can bootstrap a $250k/yr profit business and grow it/reinvest in new businesses at 20%/yr for 20 years = $59 million” [04.06.2020].
In martial arts, the best fight is the fight you did not enter. In programming, the best line is the line you did not have to write [03.06.2020].
The reason some people are upset with you is quite often that they simply want respect and want to be heard. The cost of giving them that is super small, but the benefit is disproportionately bigger [02.06.2020].
Learning area is the intersection of thinking and doing. So if you’re not doing, you aren’t learning! [02.06.2020]
If you have more than 3 priorities, then you have no priorities [01.06.2020]
Knowing 80% of every field can be easier and more fulfilling than knowing 100% of one [01.06.2020].
If you build a useful tool for creatives and build a community around it, you will peek into the inspiring future by seeing the cross-section of creativity in the world [31.05.2020].
I clearly keep gravitating towards ‘arming the rebels’, talent/creator empowerment space. However, so far I failed to generate a scalable product in this area and kept falling back to services type of businesses. Given 2 conditions (creator tools & need for a scalable idea), I can narrow down my search domain to ‘Shopify for X’. How would Shopify for podcasters/developers/teachers look like? [31.05.2020]
Dan Burke to Bob Iger: “Avoid getting into the business of manufacturing trombone oil. You may become the greatest manufacturer of trombone oil in the world, but in the end, the world only consumes a few quarts of trombone oil a year” [30.05.2020].
Divorcing your time & money by Jack Butcher: 1) Obtain experience; 2) Productize experience; 3) Sell product [29.05.2020].
False trend = a lot of people using the product a little. Real trend = a small number of people using the product a lot [29.05.2020].
Creating a new habit is hard work. You can do only limited amount of hard work per day. Hence, limit the number of new habits you create to 1–2 per month. On the other hand, thanks to your brain’s autopilot mode executing on an existing habit is easy. So when you see a productive, skilled & highly disciplined person, don’t get scared, see them as a collection of dozens of effective habits they accumulated over the years one habit at a time. You can get there as well [28.05.2020].
You do not have to be an asshole to be excellent! [27.05.2020]
From “The Ride of a Lifetime” by Bob Iger: “It is impossible to avoid mistakes, but it is possible to acknowledge them” [27.05.2020].
Something I learnt from Hacker News: “People buy 4 things and 4 things only. Ever. Those 4 things are time, money, sex, and approval/peace of mind. If you try selling something other than those 4 things you will fail” [26.05.2020].
Don’t be afraid to out-teach your competition. They can borrow your knowledge and ideas, but not execution [25.05.2020].
So true that the notetaker is in true control of the meeting. He is writing history. We will be learning based on what she decides to keep and leave out [25.05.2020].
When you are invited to speak at an event and have no idea what the topic should be, remember the following quote from Martin Scorsese: “The most personal is the most creative” [24.05.2020].
Here is the path to discover a business idea. Start with any business idea. It doesn’t have to be original. Write down all challenges you’re facing while starting this business. Now you have dozens of business ideas! [23.05.2020]
I want to build an interview podcast which combines the best of both worlds. Focus on learning, ideas, and producing content which lasts like The Knowledge Project or The Tim Ferriss Show. Serendipity, banter, free exchange of ideas, and the feel of 2 friends talking like Joe Rogan Experience or The Howard Stern Show [22.05.2020].
Paraphrasing Naval, it is better to be anonymous and smart, not famous and stupid [22.05.2020].
Amateur interviewers, like myself, take a note. Lessons learnt from the first episode of nFactorial Show: prepare hard, but do not be too rigid by sticking to your questions list, ask followup questions, dig deeper and have more natural segways between different topics. If you are doing Instagram Live, warm up your audience by connecting 5 minutes in advance! [21.05.2020]
OH: “Advertising is a tax on being unremarkable”. Avoid customer acquisition costs by building an amazing product which creates a free organic ‘advertisement’ every time your customer uses or succeeds with your product [19.05.2020].
Best decisions in life are so obvious in the moment so they happen in hours, not years [18.05.2020].
It seems that one of the traits of a successful angel investor is to rewire one’s brain to withstand 100 losses in a row, learn from each one, and survive till the 101st bet which will compensate for all previous losses many times over [17.05.2020].
One of many unexpected downsides of giving presentations entirely online is the lack of audio and visual feedback from the audience as everyone on the call is muted and has their video off. You can’t see the reaction to the core material as well as self-deprecating humor and off-tangent comments. Have one moderator with audio and video on to minimize the impact [16.05.2020].
Here is one way how online video lectures are better than physical classroom lectures. In the former, you have a group chat representing the collective consciousness of the class. TAs can respond to your questions while the Prof is speaking. It is more liberating to ask for clarifications without the need to interrupt the class [15.05.2020].
Do not waste too much time perfecting your first step. Inertia is the killer. Suboptimal first step will get you going and will lead to more optimal steps down the road [15.05.2020].
On one hand, conflict avoidance leads to a visibly more peaceful life and earns you a reputation of a nice guy. But the main danger of conflict avoidance is disagreeing silently and building resentment. All of that can add up and blow irreversible damage to your relationships. If you truly care about your relationships (be it family or business), it’s much better to be honest and straightforward, openly disagree, have minor iterative conflicts here and there if needed. Daily resolution of each of those small disagreements leads to yet another point of alignment, grows your intersection set, and iteratively leads to more anti-fragile relationships [14.05.2020].
Practical pessimism applied to startups. Look at all risks your company has and eliminate them one by one. People risk — will founders work well together? Technology risk — will it work? Product risk — will users care? Market risk — do you have any competitive advantage? Money risk — do you have enough money in the bank to get to the next gas station (24+ months of runway given the crisis)? [14.05.2020]
Benefits of starting an interview podcast: 1) learning in public; 2) homework you do before an interview is an amazing learning opportunity; 3) wonderful excuse to reach out to important people whom you have nothing to offer otherwise; 4) aside from a chance to connect to new people, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and ask them questions you would never ask them in an informal chat; 5) building an audience of loyal listeners; 6) building your diary to trace the evolution of your thinking; 7) if you are comfortable to share what questions keep you up at night, weekly podcast can be become your weekly personal board meeting [13.05.2020]
Lessons from Josh Wolfe: 1) to find a breakthrough band, go to underground nightclubs, not mainstream; 2) see what everyone is doing, find a white space and own it; 3) if you have a competitive advantage early on, you will be able to attract money, money means time, and time can compound that advantage; 4) failure comes from a failure to imagine failure; 5) I like to think of entrepreneurs not as risk-takers but as people who are trying to kill risks — risk killers; 6) it’s a universal challenge for people to pick a great partner — someone that you trust, someone that challenges you, and most importantly, someone that you admire; 7) chips on shoulders put chips in pockets; 8) no matter how much success you achieve in life, there’s always that burning fire inside from when you felt inadequate; 9) “I know something that the rest of the world doesn’t know, and they won’t know until I tell them” — Linus Pauling; 10) We think of value-creation partly as risk-reduction. If they hit the milestones, it means the company killed a risk. 11) Efficiency is the enemy of resiliency. Efficiency leads to tightly coupled systems with no slack. 12) Everything in the universe trends toward disorder unless you’re putting in energy; 13) People go where they’re welcome and stay where they’re well-treated [12.05.2020].
Distributed work’s 5 levels of autonomy by Matt Mullenweg. Level 0 — a job which cannot be done unless you’re physically there. Level 1 — no deliberate effort to make things remote-friendly. Level 2 — everything is still synchronous, your day is full of interruptions. Level 3 — being remote-first, or distributed. Level 4 — when things go truly asynchronous. Level 5 — consistently perform better than any in-person organization could [11.05.2020].
Enter the market where you have a longer-time horizon over your competition. Even you have no product/business model/pricing advantage initially, just having that mindset will eventually lead to a competitive advantage [10.05.2020].
On one hand, you want to have a really strong filter when starting a company given it is at least 10 year journey to see real fruits of your work. You want to make sure you’re tackling a massive (and growing) market at the right time (why now?), you love the problem you’re solving so much that you can’t stop thinking about it (it won’t be done if you don’t do it!). On the other hand, you will not learn to build companies if you are waiting for the right idea for too long — a lot of times bravely jumping on the locally optimal idea head first is the best way to kill inertia and start building momentum [09.05.2020].
Don’t start a company if you don’t see yourself working on this problem for at least 10 years. Don’t work on it for 10 years if you aren’t willing to work on it for a lifetime [09.05.2020]
Most people who start companies do not actually want to start a company. What they really want is financial independence. And starting a company is probably one of the hardest ways to reach financial independence if that is your only mission [09.05.2020].
If you want to minimize the effect of the first peak in the Dunning-Kruger effect graph when you have high confidence despite low competence, build your personal board of directors and consult with them before making irreversible decisions [08.05.2020].
When you assemble your upcoming presentation by picking slides from your previous presentations instead of creating something new and original — that’s a wasted learning opportunity! [07.05.2020]
Lessons from Michael Lewis: 1) maximize personal satisfaction or the private feeling of writing a kick-ass book; 2) if you are always busy doing stuff, you will never find time to do work worth doing; 3) waste hours, not years by backing away from useless uninteresting work; 4) wait till the material rises to such a high level of interest that you can’t help, but work on it; 5) the highest motive is the obligation to the material: would I be sad if this story is not told? 6) to remove a chance to complain, start a conversation by asking: what cool idea are you working on? 7) when you hear an idea, don’t say it’s stupid, build on it, improve it, ask yourself: what can it be true of? 8) show how smart you are by showing how smart everyone is; 9) if you drift your focus away from praise or criticism, your performance goes through the roof as you’re not trapped in self-consciousness [06.05.2020]
When you decide to move on and leave the company you started, don’t exit abruptly. Otherwise, you will have regrets that you didn’t get to see the fruits of your work and didn’t fully monetize it. Work super hard to put good financial governance and processes in place, make the transition smooth, don’t drop the ball due to emotions or mental fatigue, leave a great legacy. Then you deserve your dividends at the end of the year [05.05.2020].
Don’t partner with people who don’t follow golden/silver rule, limit your personal growth, are not straightforward, hide details, do not give you access to information you have the right for, value short-term gratification over relationships [04.05.2020].
Before going to sleep, before asking what you did towards your personal growth, ask yourself: what good did I do for others today? [03.05.2020]
One of the best ways to come up with original ideas is to travel to the future, from time to time come back to the present and build what you have seen in the future. One way of living in the future is to read science-fiction (watching sci-fi movies is much lesser experience as the director does all the work for you and your imagination is left without a necessary practice). The other way is to read PhD dissertations and scientific conference papers [02.05.2020].
Watching the series like ‘The Last Dance’ changes your understanding of what true excellence is. If you think you are constantly pushing yourself to the limit of learning, just watch Michael Jordan, and you will change your mind. Playing every game as if it is your last game because there is someone in the audience who has never seen you play — this is true excellence! [01.05.2020]
Amazing insight from Richard Hamming, “In a sense my boss was saying intellectual investment is like compound interest, the more you do the more you learn how to do, so the more you can do, etc. I do not know what compound interest rate to assign, but it must be well over 6% — one extra hour a day over a lifetime will much more than double the total output. The steady application of a bit more effort has a great total accumulation” [30.04.2020].
If you go narrow, you compete with the specialists. If you go broad, you compete with everyone including specialists. And it is, no doubt, easier to compete with specialists if you are one of them as a result of going narrow [30.04.2020].
If someone turns you down, ignores your message or says ‘no’ to your interview request, two reasons come to mind. More often than not, people are too busy or distracted. Then it is nothing personal, just try again. Another possibility is that you do not represent value to them. Then instead of feeling low that you are not taken seriously / undervalued / not recognized, go back to the drawing board, create real value and then masterfully signal that value to the recipient of your email [29.04.2020].
One of the most demoralizing states is to have no momentum. To get unstuck and start being creative, don’t be too selective and say ‘yes’ to some, even sub-optimal, opportunity. That will put you in motion. And motion will lead to new ideas [28.04.2020].
When you decide to start a new project, you start feeling dissatisfaction because of delta between where you are and where you want to be. You are no longer fulfilled by the comfortable status quo. Planning for a new exciting project makes you more sensitive towards numerous inconsequential commitments you kept yourself busy with during the period of zero velocity. Now you want to escape them. And that dissatisfaction might be a strong driver to start something new! [27.04.2020]
As the amount of time and money spent by consumers on the Internet is plateauing, Internet startups are no longer competing against big atoms businesses with little understanding of bits. Now they are up against much fiercer competitors — Internet incumbents who have money, scale, but most importantly deep understanding of software and Internet. P/S: The only alternative left for software companies is to enter industries which have not been majorly disrupted by tech yet: legal, real estate & construction, agriculture, mining, etc. [27.04.2020].
The interviews let you see how your heroes see the world and learn from them [26.04.2020].
If you are offered to join to work on someone else’s big dream but you never found yourself happy having a boss in the past, find a way to invest in this dream. This way you can stay fulfilled and happy while pursuing your own dream and protect yourself from FOMO of missing a big opportunity [25.04.2020].
The reality of the 2020 quarantine in a big family. We all share and live in the same physical space, but all experience 180 degree opposite virtual lives. Some are jumping from one Zoom video call to another with people all around the world. Some are talking to their colleagues in the same city. Some are taking classes from their school teachers. For the first time in human history, from 9am to 6pm everyone of us lives in the Internet [24.04.2020].
When you’re learning you DO NOT want to be the smartest person in the room. When you’re executing you want to find a room (market) where you can be the smartest [23.04.2020].
Most desires, we think are ours, are not, in fact, ours. They are things and achievements other people care about. And since we care a lot about what other people care for we end up wanting the same things everyone else does. Only once we get them, we realize that it is not what we were seeking all along [22.04.2020].
Don’t grow until you have proven that you’re providing value. Have patience to go through each phase of an initial startup journey consecutively. First, develop a unique insight. Second, develop a compelling value proposition. Third, figure out a repeatable growth strategy. Don’t jump to step n+1 before you completed the nth step [21.04.2020].
Write an essay on topics which require little or no additional research on your part. If you didn’t follow your curiosity to study the subject before writing about it, then the time to explore the topic has not come yet. Life is your preparation [20.04.2020].
Start the day as a producer, not consumer; participant, not a spectator! [summary of my essay from 8 years ago which I reread today — 20.04.2020]
I feel like I’m not creating anything new lately. That’s why I don’t feel fulfilled as I’m not experiencing the creativity high. I need to start creating again [19.04.2020].
Being consistent is easier than being intense. So write down a short thought (which can serve as a pointer/reminder to write a long-form essay later) every single day for a year instead of aiming to write a book in a month. Intensity makes you look good. Consistency makes you good [18.04.2020].
If you are the CEO of the company that does not mean you should be in charge of every sub-organization you are part of. You don’t have that kind of time and you’re not the most qualified person to lead in every single group [17.04.2020].
Lessons from Andy Grove. Employees in a hybrid organization should have dual reporting. A marketing manager should report to his division general manager. The GM will give him mission-oriented priorities and ask him to work on specific business problems. But since GM lacks marketing experience, a marketing manager should also report to a group of marketing managers from other divisions. That peer group is responsible for the functional part: making sure that the manager is doing his work in a technically proficient manner [17.04.2020].
Lessons from Andy Grove. There are 3 modes of control: free-market forces (where everyone is openly serving his own self-interest), contractual obligations (where everybody stops at a red light and you unquestioningly accept and live by it), cultural values (where group interest takes precedence over individual interest). What is the most appropriate mode of of control? There are 2 variables to decide that: nature of person’s motivation and nature of work environment. To measure work environment, let’s use imaginary CUA index which stands for complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. If (motivaton=self-interest, CUA=low), then the most appropriate mode of control is free-market forces. If (motivation=group interest, CUA=low), then it’s contractual obligations. If (motivation=group interest, CUA=high), then it’s cultural values. If (motivation=self-interest, CUA=high), then nothing works! [16.04.2020]
The motivation fueled by a need is fragile. Once the need is satisfied, the motivation disappears. The motivation driven by mastery (internal force, e.g. go from 8s to 6s in 3x3 speedcubing) or achievement (external force, e.g. become the world champion in speedcubing) is infinite [15.04.2020].
Making a compromise and failing at something you did not love hurts twice as hard [15.04.2020].
When you are running a holding, group of companies, it is a natural temptation to share the common resources (say, accounting, HR, tech) among them. The downside of this is that you are disempowering your CEOs and upper management of each company [14.04.2020].
Spending 2 hours a day on things which matter is much better than spending 0 hours on them [14.04.2020].
John Carmack’s system to generate anti-fragile ideas in a nutshell. 1) You get an idea and experience the idea high. 2) Try to defeat your idea — find all the ways it could not work, stress test it. 3) If the idea survives the brutal scrutiny, it has legs for further investigation or implementation. 4) If the idea is implemented and it works, go celebrate. 5) If the idea fails the scrutiny or implementation, quickly move on to the next idea without experiencing the idea low as you haven’t obsessed or talked about it [13.04.2020].
There are 2 paths to fame. 1) Harder path: you start from a deep expertise in a subject and then go mainstream. Examples: Bill Gates, David Beckham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ray Dalio. 2) Simpler path: you start from a mass market and then go for higher end audience. Examples: Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, Tucker Max [12.04.2020].
I always wondered what the most effective management style is until I read ‘Task-Relevant Maturity (TRM)’ chapter in Andy Grove’s ‘High Output Management’. Here it is in a nutshell. No management style is equally effective under all conditions. As you go from low to medium to high TRM in your subordinates, your management style should go from structured (task-oriented, telling what-when-how) to individual-oriented (2-way communication, support, mutual reasoning) to minimal involvement (setting common objectives and performance monitoring) [11.04.2020].
Most corporate status meetings is utter waste of time of everyone involved. The only meetings which are useful: brainstorms, and those where important decisions are made and next steps are identified. The ideal duration for the former is 60 minutes, the quality of insights goes down after an hour. The ideal duration for the latter is 30 minutes and requires prior preparation from every participant. Here is what happens if you conform to useless meetings. In year 1, your mind rebels against them and you ask, ‘Why? Why? Why?’. In year 2, you are gradually getting used to them and think it is unavoidable part of your life and business as usual. In year 10, your mind turns into a cabbage and there is no way back [10.04.2020].
A few lessons from Howard Marks. 1) “I’m going to wait for the bottom” is an irrational statement; 2) If investors want to buy, they should buy on the way down. That’s when the sellers are feeling the most urgency and the buyers’ buying won’t arrest the downward cascade of security prices; 3) The investor’s goal should be to make a large number of good buys, not just a few perfect ones; 4) It’s not easy to buy when the news is terrible, prices are collapsing and it’s impossible to have an idea where the bottom lies. But doing so should be the investor’s greatest aspiration [09.04.2020].
Build your personal career moat. Develop a unique value add which is hard to acquire, is super personal to your talent and natural inclinations, and compounds over time. Similar to the idea of ‘passive income’, develop a passive social capital which grows when you are asleep [08.04.2020].
Here is the list of ingredients to gain respect in your organization in descending order of strength: competency (hard skills), charisma (personal traits, soft skills), assumed position in the corporate hierarchy. You can afford to be soft-spoken, apologetic and self-deprecating, thus debiting from your reputation, only if you have deep respect from your team. If you are fortunate to have a choice, avoid organizations where you have zero initial respect like a plague [08.04.2020].
One potentially unique advantage to create in the world of technology VC (where tech skills is a commodity) is to learn the fundamentals of offline business (around needs that won’t change) and develop the 6th sense of what will fly and what will not [07.04.2020].
If you have your own audience, you don’t depend on some media intermediary to tell your story the way you see it without any alteration [06.04.2020].
For every stock you own, have a reason why you own it. Sell it if you don’t [06.04.2020].
When giving performance reviews, separate the results from the method of achieving them. Your employee can have no visible output in the past quarter, but wrote efficient, highly maintainable code which can serve as foundation for the future. Or she can capture a lot of sales in the past quarter (which was really a delayed result from the previous quarter), but in fact was utterly unproductive [05.04.2020].
The person who pays you has a power over you. That’s why subordinates have no incentives to give truthful critical feedback to their managers, and opt for diplomatic protection of status quo [05.04.2020].
Here is a novel way to come up with startup ideas which I am applying often these days. List down all the resources you have. Take out all the weapons you collected over the years. In detail, list down all the networks you have direct access to + all the skills you accumulated + all the unfair advantages you uniquely have. Now brainstorm on startup ideas which reuse as many of these resources as possible. Jonathan Swanson can start Athena not just because he wants to be a digital nomad, but because he was a customer of a virtual EA for a decade (domain expertise), through that EA he has access to other amazing EAs in Philippines (supply side), and through his Thumbtack success he has direct access to other execs (demand side). Similarly, Harj Taggar can start Triplebyte not just because he is passionate about revolutionizing tech recruiting, but also because he could build on top of his direct access to thousands of YC companies as potential employers of unrecognized tech talent [04.04.2020].
A passionate creative unnecessarily limits the range of business ideas she can pursue. She puts herself in the center of the Universe. If she is passionate about cryotherapy, educational mobile apps, or productivity, then her business has to be around that passion. More often than not, this approach leads to solutions looking for problems. On the other hand, someone who is passionate about building a business, does not suffer from that limitation and can start anything as long as customers are willing to pay for the product or service [04.04.2020].
When you have to consider a relative as a job candidate, despite the family pressure or the desire to look good, never lower your hiring bar [03.04.2020].
Ask yourself — ‘If I fail in this project, what would be the reasons?’. List down these reasons, then work hard to eliminate each risk one by one [01.04.2020].
Tutoring business is a hedge against public school system [01.04.2020].
On building a series of companies by Jonathan Swanson: “Scaling a startup is hard because you’re not actually building a single company. You’re really building a series of related but very different companies. At Thumbtack we’ve already built five companies: 1) the startup hunting for basic product-market-fit (1–10 team members), 2) the startup hunting for business-model-market-fit (10–40), 3) the startup hyperscaling (40–250), 4) the startup building out a leadership team (250–750), 5) the startup reinventing its business model and product (today)” [31.03.2020].
Before presenting to buyers, list down all possible objections (reasons not to buy) and work on addressing them in separate slides [31.03.2020].
A positive side-effect of forcing yourself to write every day is an additional motivation to live an interesting life worthy of writing about [30.03.2020].
Investing in early stage startups is an opportunity to experience 0 to 1 moments over and over again [28.03.2020].
The alternative path to originality is to synthesize ideas from different fields in an unique (and personal to only you) way [27.03.2020].
My real learning rate only accelerated the moment I stopped optimizing for grades. Optimizing for grades leads to short-term rote memorization just to perform well at tomorrow’s exam, not having time to think for yourself and looking up sample solutions just to submit the homework in time. When the grades are out of the picture, you finally have time to do hard independent thinking [26.03.2020].
In life, unlike college, you do not have to attempt every question you see on the test [26.03.2020].
The list of questions I ask myself when picking the next project. 1) Am I passionate about this project now? Do I see myself passionate about it long-term? Is it something I see myself doing 10 years from now? 2) How does the worst case scenario look like? If the project fails, are there any benefits I get apart from lessons learnt? 3) Is this project a leading domino which will open doors for new projects I am excited about? 4) Am I maximizing the usage of resources (knowledge, skills, network, money) I have accumulated in the past? 5) What is the potential impact measured as users * engagement * utility? 6) Am I playing on my strengths? 7) Is it the most ambitious application of my energy? 8) Am I following my curiosity? Do I get to learn a lot by pursuing this project? Am I maximizing my learning? 9) Can I afford the pursuit of this project? Can I provide to my family? [26.03.2020]
A few transferrable lessons I learnt while playing poker: 1) don’t play every hand; 2) play if the stakes are low, but the upside is unbound; 3) play aggressively when you have a strong hand; 4) actively mask that you are following principles 1 to 3 [25.03.2020].
Just like Federico Fellini, I like to procrastinate when I am left on my own. I get working energy when I am collaborating with my team. My ideal operating style is running a recurring 3-month sprint separated by 1-month down time for thinking [24.03.2020].
If you have 10 units of time to find a great mentor, spend 9 units of time to keep perfecting your craft every day to be worthy of your mentor’s time, and spend 1 unit of time to tell the story about your craft so that good mentors find out about you [23.03.2020].
Anti-procrastination tips from founders. Tip from Brian Chesky: treat your todo list as a game, find the point of maximum leverage, pick the task which removes the biggest number of items from your todo list. Tip from Travis Kalanick: I feel like a mathematician; mathematician without problems to solve is no longer a mathematician; give me problems — I want to solve them [21.03.2020].
The reason I start a new project is not because I know something, but because I do not know the subject and want to learn and master it. Knowing 20% and not knowing the remaining 80% is a sweet spot when curiosity pushes me to action [20.03.2020].
It is nonsensical to do any ‘growth hacking’ for a product which has not found its product-market fit [19.03.2020].
Mastery is being comfortable with paradoxes. The right advice for stealth teams unwilling to share their idea: ‘Ideas are worthless. It is all about execution’. The right advice for teams which are disrespectful of ideas and are constantly executing without taking time to think: ‘If you picked the wrong idea as a seed to plant, given flawless execution without pivots you will successfully achieve failure’ [18.03.2020].
Finding a problem worth solving is often harder and more time consuming than finding a solution for it [18.03.2020].
On one hand, you need focus and isolation to be productive. On another hand, it is very hard to keep the discipline and high output in a solo person team due to lack of accountability. To fight the latter when you do not have a work partner, do daily standups with a friend/wife/husband [17.03.2020].
It is impossible to stop exponential functions with linear measures [16.03.2020].
Here is a great framework I learnt from Manu Kumar. 1) Frequency: Does the problem you’re solving occur often? 2) Density: Do a lot of people face this problem? 3) Pain: Is the problem just an annoyance, or something you absolutely must resolve? 4) Friction: How hard is it for a user to access, understand, or use the solution you’re providing? [15.03.2020]
Here is the grading scheme from CS 181 at UCLA taught by Prof. Alexander Sherstov: 2% for a good-faith effort (more than half of the problems attempted), 1% for some effort (less than half of the problems attempted), and 0% for unintelligible, late, or unsubmitted homework. It is brilliant because it takes pressure off from being correct in your homework problems. It helps you get in the habit of doing homework and not procrastinating on it. Now you have no incentive to look up solutions online. Now homework is finally serving the original purpose it was meant for: it is an opportunity to learn the material. I think, more courses should adopt this scheme [14.03.2020].
Timely reminder from Howard Marks: “The riskiest thing in the world is the widespread belief that there’s no risk” [13.03.2020].
Reverse the classic product launch roadmap. List down all the distribution channels you have unique access and/or unfair advantage for. Then come up with product ideas leveraging these channels [12.03.2020].
Interesting insight from 2019 Annual Letter by Chamath Palihapitiya: “Another overlooked outcome with the rise of Big Tech (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon) is that it has been conducting a massive intellectual sterilization and greenmailing of STEM grads. Again, imagine what these thousands of new grads could be doing in climate change, healthcare or education? Instead they ended up collecting massive RSU packages to work on irrelevant features for long-tail products that impact very few or stale, irrelevant features for products that are already at scale. I have tried to recruit too many smart people who are wasting their prime years of productivity working in Big Tech because ‘the pay is too good’” [11.03.2020].
Being honest is not enough. You’ve got to be both honest and compassionate at the same time! [10.03.2020]
Probably the best way to test whether your product/service provides any value to its customers is by putting a price on it [09.03.2020].
I believe I would not be too uncomfortable investing money in technology companies at pre-seed stage when all there is are a novel idea, initial team, early version of the product, pre-launch, no users, no traction, and no revenue when neither value, nor growth hypotheses are proven. It looks scary, but never in my career have I joined something established. I love the zero to one period of starting things from scratch [08.03.2020].
Amazing line by Manu Kumar of K9 Ventures: “A startup is the most efficient agent of change. It is often the most efficient way people, time, and, money can come together to make massive change in the lives of all humans” [07.03.2020].
In praise of slow concentrated investing over ‘spray and pray’. Let’s say you’re pre-seed/seed stage micro-VC fund with $10M to invest. If you make 100 investments $100K each at $10M post-money valuation, you need to catch 5 (!) freaking unicorns just to return the fund (assuming, $100K/$10M = 1% becomes 0.2% after series of dilutions). If you make 10 investments $1M each at $10M post, you just need one unicorn to double the fund (assuming, $1M/$10M = 10% becomes 2% after series of dilutions) [06.03.2020].
When you are 30+, do not enter the industry where you do not aim to be in top 3% [05.03.2020].
Here are few things to address in a project presentation for investors. 1) Paint your exciting vision for the future. We are just getting started. And you can be part of this future by being involved in my project. 2) Why you? Concisely show what makes you uniquely positioned to succeed. Show that you are the right hero to bet on on this hero’s journey. 3) What’s in it for me? Show how what you are doing can help your investors. Think like them — offer them both a painkiller (logic: pragmatic solution) and an aspirin (emotions: entertainment and adventure). Show the upside. Show the protection for downside [04.03.2020].
In a heated argument with your partner, do not play defense, do not justify your mistakes, do not attack back. Be vulnerable, own your wrongdoings, and apologize. She will do the same in return. The argument is resolved. A new point of intersection along with new knowledge is acquired by both parties [03.03.2020]
I am fortunate to have direct access to diverse and uncorrelated networks not because I am good at networking (on contrary, I wholeheartedly despise it), but because I happen to be curious about almost anything under the sun. Pursuing your genuine curiosity is, first and foremost, a fantastic way to learn. Building a network is just a nice bonus for that activity [02.03.2020].
There are 2 opposing forces at work in any smart woman’s psychology. First, the desire to be feminine, being weak, taken care of, relying on a man to make important decisions. Second, the desire to be successful in a career, ambition, realizing her true potential. As a partner, create a harmonious environment for your woman to experience both forces at its full [01.03.2020].
Product innovation is not the only way you can succeed in business. You can also solve a novel problem, address a novel market, use a novel distribution channel, or make money using a novel monetization model. So many possibilities! [29.02.2020]
If you are starting a VC fund, you are signaling that you want to beat the market. If you have no conviction that you can generate more than S&P, go back to the drawing board and solidify your strategy to develop that conviction [28.02.2020].
The Peter Principle states that when someone is good at his job, he is promoted; he keeps getting promoted until he reaches his level of incompetence and then stays there [#TIL, High Output Management, Andy Grove — 27.02.2020].
Interesting angle on AI companies from martin_casado of A16Z. AI companies have gross margins in the range of 50–60%, well-below 60–80% benchmark from comparable SaaS companies. AI companies look more like traditional companies than software companies. Here is how: 1) Lower gross margins due to heavy cloud infrastructure usage and ongoing human support; 2) Scaling challenges due to the thorny problem of edge cases; 3) Weaker defensive moats due to the commoditization of AI models and challenges with data network effects [26.02.2020].
Startups raise pre-seed/seed investment to prove the value hypothesis: dogs want to eat the dog food. Once the market risk is practically eliminated, startups raise Series A funding to prove the growth hypothesis: how to acquire customers for the product they want in the most cost-effective way [25.02.2020].
Martial arts precept applied to business by Michael Ovitz: “If you aim at the target, you lose all your power. You have to hit through the target to really smash it. To get where you want to go, you have to set out to go even further” [24.02.2020].
In a global economy someone with dual operating system has an unfair advantage over someone with a single OS. That entails language fluency, understanding of the culture and the country, professional network. The more countries you cover, the better. Carlos Ghosn is lucky enough to be ‘amphibia’ across 4 ‘uncorrelated’ countries: Brazil, Lebanon, France, and Japan [23.02.2020].
The reason the quality of school teachers is going down is because potentially good pedagogues are better off joining corporate world. To reverse the trend, we need to address 2 issues: a) money — raise salaries of school teachers so they are not below the country’s employee average, but at least slightly higher (ideally — matching corporate salaries, it’s hard, but Scandinavian countries managed to do it); b) prestige — being school teacher should be cool again, this can be achieved by more rigorous selection and lower acceptance rates (higher salaries will increase the application pool), annual award ceremonies for best teachers attended by the President of the State, media featuring best teachers, etc. [22.02.2020].
For a lot of smart people who are not intrinsically driven by wealth, the origin for a decision to get rich stemmed from the frustration that they were measured against the metric they have not cared about and, hence, not optimized for. That led them to desire to enter money competition and prove ‘If you are so smart, why are you so poor?’ people wrong [21.02.2020].
To be good at marketing, you need to be good at opening. To be good at sales, you need to be good at closing [21.02.2020].
You do not become a venture capitalist from nothing. You start by investing your resources and gems (fame/skills/money/audience/reputation) collected from previous journeys. Here are a few different paths to become a venture capitalist which come to mind. 1) Investing your entrepreneurial resource: successful founder, exit, VC. 2) Investing your operational experience resource: engineer, manager, top exec, VC. 3) Investing your time and diligence: graduating top school, management consulting (McKinsey, BCG, Bain), MBA, associate in an existing VC fund, principal, partner, general partner. 4) Investing your network / audience: tech journalist or starting a podcast or writing a book, VC. 5) Investing your fame built in a different industry (sports, show business, politics, writing, etc.): movie star, VC. 6) Investing (literally) your family money: born rich, building reputation, VC [20.02.2020].
According to Andy Grove, the information to be gained in a job interview falls into 4 distinct categories. 1) Technical knowledge / skills: describe some projects, what are your weaknesses; 2) What candidate did with knowledge: past achievements, past failures; 3) Discrepancies between what he knew and what he did: what did you learn from failures, problems in current position; 4) Operational values: why are you ready for new job, why should my company hire you, why should engineer be chosen for marketing, most important college course / project [‘High Output Management’, Andy Grove — 19.02.2020].
Here is an idea for entrepreneurs who do not want to spend years/millions acquiring userbase for their startup. Sell equity to a large company with existing customer base and offer your product to them [18.02.2020].
One downside of working non-stop and saying ‘yes’ to every project coming your way is dilution of your brand and quantity over quality association [17.02.2020].
If you have 100 units of time to build your network, use 90 units to build skills and provide value, and only the remaining 10 units — on showing your work and connecting with people [16.02.2020].
When you’re recruiting for unbounded upside, go for aptitude over skill. When you’re lowering the risk for a mission critical task, go for experience over aptitude [15.02.2020].
There are 3 types of entrepreneurs. Type 1: high ambition + lazy. They usually do not end up achieving a lot. Type 2: low ambition + hard working. They start a small business and spend their lifetime perfecting it. Type 3: high ambition + hard working. They change the world [14.02.2020].
People who are not comfortable being Number Two in a partnership are not necessarily egomaniac leaders seeking unlimited power. What prevents them from accepting their subordinate position is a sense of unjustness as they think they are smarter and bring more value than Number One [13.02.2020].
It is hard to break the high salary addiction because with higher salary you upgrade your lifestyle accordingly and would never want to downgrade. So if you are lucky enough not to have been spoiled by 6-figure salaries, use it to your advantage, take a risk and own equity by founding or joining high-growth startups [12.02.2020].
There are 2 types of people who succeed in startups. 1) Those who did not have good opportunities corresponding to their talents and, as a result, value opportunities. I would rather hire a talented poor kid from state school than a privileged Ivy League grad. 2) Privileged talent who, in contrast, had the right opportunities, but prefer long-term/risk/equity/upside over a high salary [12.02.2020].
The central paradox of relationships by Esther Parel: “Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. One does not exist without the other. Love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery. Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it. If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by repetition. It thrives on the mysterious, the novel, and the unexpected. Love is about having; desire is about wanting. An expression of longing, desire requires ongoing elusiveness. It is less concerned with where it has already been than passionate about where it can still go. But too often, as couples settle into the comforts of love, they cease to fan the flame of desire. They forget that fire needs air”. Indeed, there are 2 competing forces: intimacy which is fueled by familiarity, closeness, togetherness, and repetition; and desire which is fueled by unfamiliarity, distance, separateness, and mystery [11.02.2020].
The nice double benefit of asking questions you are certain your companion knows answer for is that 1) you put them in comfortable position of control and 2) fulfill your curiosity [10.02.2020].
If you like to hangout with creative talented people, here is a universally good business idea for you. Build a near monopoly on keystone talent in your industry [09.02.2020].
Cool technique on how to extract the maximum amount of insights from books. I’ve learnt it from Margulan Seisembay. Highlight anything you find useful with a marker. Then leave a bookmark at the page with a highlight. There are 5 types of bookmarks each corresponding to different nutrients. 1) Red bookmarks correspond to protein, building blocks of human body. These are life hacks, tools you can use immediately, ideas worthy of immediate implementation. 2) Orange bookmarks are carbohydrates. They give you energy, make you think. These are surprising facts, food for thought during long walks. 3) Yellow bookmarks are fats. These are pleasant/tasty/interesting stories, time killers. 4) Green bookmarks are micronutrients and vitamins. These are fun stories, anecdotes, beautiful quotes. You can share them with your friends if you remember them. 5) Blue bookmarks are cellulose. These are links, cool stats, something not worth memorizing. The remaining parts of the book is water to connect these nutrients together. The main knowledge is concentrated in red and orange bookmarks [08.02.2020].
If I follow my curiosity, here is how my conversation with people naturally goes: asking them questions, getting them talking about themselves, figuring out what makes them tick, what their natural strengths/weaknesses are, what their ideal life in 10 years looks like. I feel at ease when I know where people want to be in the future [07.02.2020].
For hard reset after half a day of mind-numbing tasks, take a cold shower [07.02.2020].
4 types of management styles according Dr. Ichak Adizes, a business consultant popular in the former Soviet Union. 1) Producers: attaining tangible results, completing tasks, no patience for ambiguity and brainstorming, done is better than perfect. 2) Administrators: how > what, building processes and procedures, uncomfortable with lack of structure and spontaneity, slow and careful in decision making. 3) Entrepreneurs: focus on the future, infectious excitement, here-and-now is a trap, drive for novelty. 4) Integrators: team builders, putting people together, focus on shared goals [06.02.2020].
When you are working on a slide deck for a new project, here are the stages you might find yourself in throughout the process: 1) gathering information from different sources; 2) organizing information; 3) brainstorming on your original ideas based on what you know in the light of the information you gathered; 4) creating the storyline and outlining the presentation; 5) writing complete sentences to unpack the outline; 6) adding visuals to make the presentation more appealing; 7) reviewing and editing the finished work. The reason your slide deck prep takes weeks is because you endlessly context switch between stages (googling is followed by inserting pictures followed by more brainstorm followed by gathering more info). I find that it’s more productive not to move to the next stage unless you complete the previous one. Once you’re done brainstorming to create new ideas and working on the outline, you don’t let yourself go back to brainstorm. It’s unavoidable that new ideas come up, but don’t break the flow and leave them for final review. Religiously follow the pipeline, don’t go back and forth [05.02.2020].
Invest in your relationships the same way you invest in your career. If you do not have exciting new (and a bit beyond your comfort zone) projects in your career, your career will stall. Same applies to relationships. Have on-going projects which strengthen bonds with your partner/wife/husband. A few ideas: weekly dinner/movie date, monthly surprise experience, learning new boardgames together, regular getaway trips, reading the same book and discussing it at the end [04.02.2020].
When you see an industry with “archipelago of talent” (in the words of Michael Ovitz), thousands of separate islands, build bridges between them [03.02.2020].
A manager/teacher/coach with a big heart wins a manager with a big mind [02.02.2020].
Great insight from Buffett on the difference between a franchise and a business: “An economic franchise arises from a product or service that: (1) is needed or desired; (2) is thought by its customers to have no close substitute and; (3) is not subject to price regulation. […] Moreover, franchises can tolerate mis-management. Inept managers may diminish a franchise’s profitability, but they cannot inflict mortal damage. In contrast, “a business” earns exceptional profits only if it is the low-cost operator or if supply of its product or service is tight. Tightness in supply usually does not last long. With superior management, a company may maintain its status as a low-cost operator for a much longer time, but even then unceasingly faces the possibility of competitive attack. And a business, unlike a franchise, can be killed by poor management” [01.02.2020].
On the surface career advice if you like to read biographies and study great people: become a talent agent. Accumulate so much talent that no buyer can go around you [applies equally to both tech recruiting and show business — 31.01.2020].
Insight from Paul Graham: “The more of a noob you are locally, the less of a noob you are globally. For example, if you stay in your home country, you’ll feel less of a noob than if you move to Farawavia, where everything works differently. And yet you’ll know more if you move. So the feeling of being a noob is inversely correlated with actual ignorance” [30.01.2020].
As an entrepreneur, you learn the reality through direct first hand experience. You go deep along a single dimension. On the other hand, as an investor, you get to live hundreds of lives through the eyes of entrepreneurs you are investing in. You go broad to have second hand learning about the world along multiple dimensions [29.01.2020].
What does the world want from you? (One of the ways) the world votes for what it wants from you is with money. If it does not want something from you, it will not pay. So now overlay the world needs on top of what you can and what you love and you have your plan for the next 10 years [29.01.2020].
Interesting idea from Daniel Gross: “The longer you think about a task without doing it, the less novel it becomes to do. My solution is to not think about the task until I am ready to fully execute it. I do not unwrap the piece of gum until I’m ready to enjoy it in its entirety. I need to save the fun of thinking to pull myself into flow” [28.01.2020].
The main takeaway from “Competing against luck” by Clayton Christensen. We hire products to do things for us. Let’s say you’re trying to increase milkshake sales at your fast food place. Instead of asking your customers “What would make our milkshakes better?”, ask “What job were you trying to do for yourself that caused you to come here and hire that milkshake?” [27.01.2020]
Projects do not take off immediately. So pick ideas you care so much that you have energy to persevere for years [26.01.2020].
The entire world is telling you that you need to learn to suffer at work, but no one is telling you that you need to find the work that brings you joy [25.01.2020].
When you’re invited to join an existing company as a partner, ask your inviting partner what functions she is not willing to give up under this partnership [25.01.2020].
You regain energy not by doing nothing, but by engaging a different side of your brain altogether [25.01.2020].
If you’re a generalist and can’t seem to find an industry which suits you the best, find the leader you admire and follow her. Pick the leader, not the industry [24.01.2020].
When you’re 22, find a boss multiple heads above you and work for her [23.01.2020].
Here are news for someone who always worked for oneself, thinks of herself as a bad employee and wonders why people go work for someone. Not everyone is a born leader. A lot of people are happy to be followers. Their secret for long-term employment is having bosses better than themselves. When you are heard, you’re growing, you admire and respect your management team and find a lot to learn from them, you won’t quit [23.01.2020].
People don’t quit the company, they quit the management [22.01.2020].
Start a Youtube channel where you share one surprising insight in 1 minute. Every day. If it is not insightful or surprising, it does not make the cut [21.01.2020].
Drop new year resolutions. Add small routines to your daily life instead [21.01.2020].
It is indescribable feeling to look back at the day which just passed and reflect on the fact that you created something which did not exist before! [21.01.2020]
The joy of finding the truth should outweigh the joy of being right! [20.01.2020]
Evolution in management. First, you are one man show, have to do everything and answer the ‘How?’ question yourself. As your organization grows, you drop the ‘How?’ leaving it to your team, but still responsible for the ‘What?’ question. Finally, you delegate the ‘What?’ question and left with ‘Who?’. The correct answer to the latter is your ultimate leverage [19.01.2020].
“If you incur a tiny probability of ruin as a “one-off” risk, survive it, then do it again (another “one-off” deal), you will eventually go bust with a probability of one hundred percent” -Skin in The Game, Nassim Taleb [18.01.2020].
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything” -Warren Buffett [17.01.2020].
You will be invited to Oprah/Conan/Ellen only when you have nothing to gain from appearing on these shows. If you still need them, they don’t need you yet [16.01.2020].
Don’t ask anyone about what the next big startup idea is. Even if they know, they will share what has been the biggest thing in the past 6 months. It’s like not doing your homework, and asking your classmates for their solutions along with correct answers. It doesn’t give you neither experience, nor understanding. Lock yourself in the biggest library and study the reports, books, research papers no one else is studying. Experience the real world the way no one is. Gems in the form of massive undiscovered and overlooked problems are at the other end of these efforts [15.01.2020].
Whenever you see a service provider who truly cares and goes above and beyond in providing his/her service, don’t forget to compliment or tip. Learn to invest in excellence. Learn to reward care in the world where indifference is so ubiquitous. Create waves of positive reinforcement around you [14.01.2020].
Don’t work in Europe early in your career. It’s going to be hard to relearn to work hard later on [14.01.2020].
If you are forced to go to work every morning, you get your daily routine for free. If you are not, you need to intentionally create a routine. In absence of routine, you will spend the day bumping from one aimless activity to another, producing nothing at the end [13.01.2020].
One of the keys to long and happy partnerships is being excellent at conflict resolution. Not avoiding conflict and growing resentment. Speaking up when you disagree. Avoiding personal attacks and having genuine arguments over what is right, not who is right. Not cowardly hiding the truth. Wholeheartedly listening and honestly expressing yourself [11.01.2020].
Beware of your shadow — the dark side of your personality, the side which you don’t want to admit is also you. Bring it to your consciousness whenever you observe pride, envy, greed, vanity, insecurity or anger within yourself [11.01.2020].
Take on ambitious projects. It is not exciting to jump one meter high if you know that you can do it as you have done it multiple times before. Do things which a little beyond your current capacity [08.01.2020].
Do not start a business you want to exit. Start a business you want to keep! [06.01.2020]
Do not overprotect your kids. If you protect them from chores and give them freedom to be idle when you are washing dishes or taking the trash out, the odds are they will grow into unproductive undisciplined lazy individuals who cannot stand working under bosses, do not go to office, stay at home, demand flexible work hours; have a lot of desire, but little determination; wait for vacation, and seek for easy ways to make their ends meet just to return to a comfortable idleness [06.01.2020].
A few quotes from “Who is Michael Ovitz?” which caught my attention: “Insecurity and ambition make a powerful cocktail”; “By 18, I’d absorbed a basic rule for success: love what you do. (Too many people fight their job, a battle they cannot win.)” [04.01.2020].
When you’re bored and can afford to be bored for only a few minutes before the next engagement, don’t mindlessly scroll your social apps. Default to your boredom checklist. Ideally it should consist of high leverage short session activities. Here’s what I’m thinking for myself: reading a page of the current book, reading an article from Pocket, messaging/calling relatives/close friends, gratitude meditation, breathing meditation, planning a day [03.01.2020].
If you’re a reactive thinker, do brainstorms with a friend who can ask good questions, not in solitude. New ideas will come up during the presentation or interactive back-and-forth [03.01.2020].
Amount of insights and heart-to-heart confessions is inversely proportional to a number of people participating in a conversation. That’s why I always prefer deep one-on-ones to big boring on-the-surface roundtables [01.01.2020].
Build a product which is a desirable Christmas/New Year gift! [31.12.2019]
3 techniques to raise smart kids (follow ideally in this exact order): 1) let them go deep after going broad; 2) let them go deep on activities they love the most; 3) let them go deep in areas where they developed the deepest mastery [30.12.2019].
Few things are so high leverage (easy to do, but mean a lot) as expressing gratitude when it is neither expected, nor asked or giving plenty of credit where it is due [29.12.2019].
One of the reasons why husbands leave their wives is that they do not feel manly at home. They want to feel like winners, but they are treated as losers. Apart from a partner, a wife, a mother to kids, they are seeking a woman to be attracted to. If they no longer see that in their wives and have no courage to openly address the problem, they start looking elsewhere. That is the beginning of an end [on dysfunctional families — 29.12.2019].
A few thoughts on the whole 40-workweeks vs long hours debate from the past week. 1) We have polar views on this because people define success differently and want different things for themselves. 2) We often confuse inner happiness with external success. 3) There are lots of unsuccessful companies doing 9–9–6 and there are lots of successful companies doing 4-day workweeks. 4) To be at the very top of the game (chess world champion, 1T dollar company, 38 trophies in 26 years, etc.), long hours seem like a common ingredient among individuals who reached top 0.00001% success, but it’s also possible long hours is a just consequence of loving your craft so much that you can’t help yourself, but work more. 5) The conclusion. Decide what you want from life: disproportionate external success at the expense of everything else, finding inner peace and happiness at the expense of the external world, or the harmony of the two. Then act accordingly without paying much attention to people around you spending long hours in the office or having a lifetime vacation. The scorecard will take care of itself [28.12.2019].
If you are not aware what your strengths are: ask people who like you the most about what exactly they like about you [27.12.2019].
When making a choice between multiple options, the conventional way is to list pros and cons for each option and go from there. This has never worked for me! Instead of clearing my mind, it would cloud it even more. Here is a new technique I learnt yesterday. Start from criteria with #1 priority — what you are optimizing for the most. Then compare all options against that criteria to pick the winner along this single dimension. If a winner is found, stop — this is the option you should pick. In case of a tie, go to criteria #2 and repeat the process [26.12.2019].
When you hear criticism, do not fix the critiques, go fix the book! [26.12.2019]
Lesson from Keith Rabois: list core risks to your business, then hire the core team against these core risks [24.12.2019].
Learn business by starting a small business whose ceiling is, say, $1M in annual profits. That is a viable path. There is no shame in not starting a venture-backed business with unicorn aspirations. Start a non-scalable small business which puts money in your pocket today and use vacuum time to ideate on your future scalable billion dollar startup [23.12.2019].
One of the reasons why I stopped coming up with original startup ideas is that I stopped living in the future. Living in the present is great when it comes to mindfulness, but can be a dangerous trap which leads to derivative thinking. Reading Twitter/TechCrunch or talking to successful pragmatics is, by enlarge, living in present. Talking to research groups in universities, reading science-fiction, brainstorming with editing mode turned off (alone or with your most creative futurist friends) are a few on the surface ideas how to glimpse the future [21.12.2019].
The reason why outsourcing engineering or hiring doesn’t work well for startups is the principal-agent problem. When you’re just a contractor and don’t own piece of a business, you will build exactly what was asked, will not push yourself, will not pay attention to details, will pick short-term over long-term and will not build a product that can improve over time. You can only run an extra mile when the kid is yours! [20.12.2019]
Lesson from Ben Horowitz: “There’s a saying in the military that if you see something below standard and do nothing, then you’ve set a new standard. This is also true of culture — If you see something off-culture and ignore it, you’ve created a new culture” [20.12.2019].
If you apply Howard Marks methodology to startups, you have 2x2 matrix: consensus and non-consensus, right and wrong. If you’re wrong, then no chance there. But just being right is also insufficient. If you’re right and consensus, you’re building something obvious, will face a lot of competition which will drive prices down and eventually will have to shut down. The only quadrant you want to be to win big is right and non-consensus [19.12.2019].
‘Wouldn’t it be great if X existed?’ type of startup ideas which one comes up with after reading news articles are generally useless. Really insightful ideas come after immersing yourself in the industry for 5+ years. As long as you don’t feel complacent about the status-quo, you see patterns, you notice problems, you come up with insights grounded with the reality [19.12.2019].
Don’t compromise happiness for the pursuit of wealth. Don’t compromise wealth for the pursuit of happiness. Learn to make money doing what you love! [18.12.2019]
Start a company when the desire is so burning that you can not help yourself, but start it. If you prematurely force yourself to it, very likely you will end up building a solution which is looking for a problem [16.12.2019].
The youth wants it, but can’t (ambition > skills). The old can, but doesn’t want it (ambition < skills). Mentor — apprentice, investor — entrepreneur are a few models how the two worlds meet [15.12.2019].
You do not have to worry about being productive when you are working on the right projects [15.12.2019].
When calibrating for product-market fit, do not introduce more than one new variable/feature at a time. Reduce degrees of freedom to eliminate complex interaction effects from multiple variables. Then you have a better idea of cause-and-effect relationships between new features and customer happiness [14.12.2019].
To improve, seek criticism. Give your friends and peers permission to destroy your ideas and products. Ask the right questions: if you have no choice, but have to eliminate something, what would it be? What would you keep? Give them examples of self-critique to pave the way. Ask them to compete for the toughest critique. Then don’t be defensive, just listen and take notes [14.12.2019].
Maintain a challenge network — group of close friends who can freely critique your decisions. Support network gives you unconditional love in the moments of weakness. Challenge network gives you tough love in the moments of strength [reflections on the technique I learnt from Adam Grant — 13.12.2019].
If you are a demanding manager, 1) you also need to make sure to create the work environment where bitter truth has no obstacle when reaching you first and 2) there are strong disincentives to game the metrics used to measure the achievement of stretch goals [reflections on 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal — 12.12.2019].
If you find yourself justifying your involvement in a project with “At least I will make some money”, think twice. You can regain money, but you can’t regain time [11.12.2019].
Short distances give you comfort. Long distances give you mission [contrasting 3-month consulting projects with 10-year startup journeys — 10.12.2019].
Applying for a job and preparing for job interviews is ultimately the same art of hacking the tests to get good grades, the skill straight-A students mastered in academia [09.12.2019].
A few thoughts after reading Paul Graham’s ‘The Lesson to Unlearn’. In the 1st grade of elementary school I already learnt the meta-lesson that to do well in school one needs to be diligent, timid, agreeable, and likeable by teachers. In the 9th grade I vividly remember how it hit me that optimizing for grades went against the true process of learning. But I still kept going and successfully applied the working formula in college. Only when I got into grad school in 2010, I finally intentionally lost my grip and started optimizing for vicarious learning (and social life) over grades. My grad school was an answer to the following post-college regret: ‘I missed out in college. How would I have college experience if I were to do it all over again?’ I felt such a relief in June 2012 when I was done with 18 years of schooling. For the first time since I was 7, I could learn for the sake of learning and not worry about looking good and being measured against some artificial checklist [09.12.2019].
You can get into a lot of trouble if you optimize for pleasing everyone around you [08.12.2019].
Phenomenal point about the need for “surviving before succeeding” from NNT: “If you incur a tiny probability of ruin as a ‘one-off’ risk, survive it, then do it again (another ‘one-off’ deal), you will eventually go bust with a probability of one hundred percent” [07.12.2019].
One problem of using a single tool for multiple usecases is an exposure to distraction. Using iPad for both reading books and everything else makes it harder to focus when reading books. On Kindle, on the other hand, you can’t practically do anything except reading which leads to superior single-focused reading experience. If you use WhatsApp (over Slack) for both work and personal communications, you can open WhatsApp for some work related task, but 30 minutes later find yourself soaked into responding to personal messages [06.12.2019].
When going for thinking walks, take one specific problem (ideally a simple subproblem of a bigger more complex problem) to think about, load it in your RAM and find different ways to tackle it. Do not pick vague problems with a big option pool of solutions — too many choices to store in your head. It is better to attack the 2nd type of problems on paper [05.12.2019].
Don’t look down on superstitions. They are cheap to maintain, but give one a perceived protection and peace of mind associated with it [04.12.2019].
Steven Spielberg’s first boss Sid Sheinberg (President of Universal) offered the 20-year-old a seven-year contract accompanied with the following promise: “I will support you as strongly in failure as I will in success”. Aspire to be this boss! [03.12.2019]
Remember what you did before you entered elementary school. The periods of play when you forgot the passage of time. This is a treasure trove of your natural obsessions. Starting from 1st grade of school, we are forced to be excellent students and conform and often permanently forget our true passions. When you are trying to decide what to do next in a career as an adult, go through the checklist of things you enjoyed as a child [02.12.2019].
Design your business around the life which fits you [01.12.2019].
Go fulfill your dreams to at least learn what your real dream is about [01.12.2019].
Takeaways from Paul Graham’s ‘The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius’: 1) genius is to have a disinterested obsession with something that matters; 2) an obsessive interest in a topic is both a proxy for ability and a substitute for determination; 3) interest is inborn and much more unevenly distributed than ability; 4) if you could take a year off to work on something that probably wouldn’t be important but would be really interesting, what would it be? 5) remain irresponsible; 6) on children’s education: I know I can count on their school to handle the broad, shallow part, so I take them deep along their interests [30.11.2019].
Respect people with a different mindset. If you meet someone you continuously disagree with, don’t shut down by thinking they are evil or “they just don’t get it”. Open your horizons, learn to work with them. Build compassion, think about their life experiences which made them think that way. There is a lot of information in exploring the opposing views [28.11.2019].
Find the game with just the right difficulty level, not too easy to get bored, not too hard to give up [28.11.2019].
Lessons from David Sacks. Historically software startups did not have to worry about gross margins because they had perfect gross margins: all expenses go into producing the first copy, the cost of subsequent copies is practically free. On the other hand, tech-enabled ‘software eating the world’ type of startups (where atoms meet bits) have high COGS (cost of good sold): leases at WeWork, drivers at Uber, home owners in Airbnb, etc.. Hence, you have to compute the valuation for these 2 types of companies differently. Tech-enabled startups has no choice, but solve for unit economics before they pursue growth [27.11.2019].
The core reason why Amazon Restaurants lost to, say, DoorDash is the principal-agent problem. The team who led Amazon Restaurants are employees. The team who is leading DoorDash are entrepreneurs. Startups are rarely killed by teams assembled within big corporations [25.11.2019].
When picking between two equally excellent candidates, pick the one with less stellar credentials. If he could succeed without them, he overcame adversity and must have a higher career acceleration rate [24.11.2019].
Deposit as much as you can during rehearsals to withdraw during the show time [23.11.2019].
There are 3 obvious ways to get wealthy in startups (and all of them involve owning equity in business): 1) if you are a generalist, be a founder; 2) if you are a specialist, join as an early employee; 3) if you have a wide network of founders + access to capital, be an early stage investor. Now the most important step is to know your strengths (to satisfy the if-statement) and not pick option(s) where you have no advantage [22.11.2019].
Electricians compare themselves and feel envious or superior against other electricians, their classmates, people from the same street/city/country, but never against some abstract billionaires or chess world champions [21.11.2019].
You will not build a personal brand by outsourcing it to contractors. Authenticity shines through only if it is done by you [21.11.2019].
Takeaways from Warren Buffett: 1) “I constructed a business which fits me. It’s crazy to spend your life painting if you’re painting a subject you don’t wanna look at. I get to paint my own painting on unlimited canvas”; 2) “World is a great movie to watch. You don’t want to sleepwalk through life. Look for the job you would take if you didn’t need a job” [20.11.2019].
Virtue signaling is easy if it’s just a talk which does not directly affect the opinion/policy maker. If you are advocating for a minimum wage or higher taxes for ultra-wealthy, try paying it from your own pocket first [19.11.2019].
If I’m on receiving side of critical feedback: “You can do better than this” is far more powerful than an explicit criticism [18.11.2019].
You can learn a lot about product virality from the spread of religions. Minor religions: both parents should have this religion for it to pass to a child → very restricted growth. Judaism: a mother must be Jewish for a child to be Jewish → restricted growth. Islam: if any of the parents is a Muslim, then a child is a Muslim → less restricted growth [17.11.2019].
The key to writing a good book when you are 30 is to spend the first decade of your career as a practicing doer, not a theorizing talker [15.11.2019].
Don’t be surprised that quite often doctors make defensive decisions which are globally suboptimal (e.g. making a C-section when a woman has a good chance to give a birth naturally). Instantly acceptable outcome with possible long-term side effects to a patient protects doctors from a small chance of a beginning of an end of their careers [14.11.2019].
Passion and curiosity are not the only methods to get insanely good at your craft. If the life puts you in the position of responsibility for consequences, boring things become non-boring and learning / acquiring skills is a natural side effect of these circumstances [13.11.2019].
Here is the problem with consulting. You are paid for perception, not results. You are not responsible for the execution and its consequences. As a result, you present simple things as complex as possible not caring too much about what is right thing to do in practice, not in theory [10.11.2019].
A few takeaways from Taleb: 1) to write a book that will be read 20 years from now — write a book that would have been read 20 years ago; 2) the more uncertainty (should I open this envelope from Syria?) leads to more certainty (I should not open it!); 3) real experts (plumbers, accountants, etc.) are not judged by their peers, but their clients — prizes should be given by reality, not your peer group; 4) it is easier to macro-BS, than to micro-BS [09.11.2019].
Treat your parents the same way you want your children to treat you [09.11.2019].
You only truly learn from your personal past mistakes if you experience their consequences. Otherwise, they just become part of the collective experience of the system, not your individual experience [08.11.2019].
One way, as a company, to reconcile the conflict between improving the flagship product (exploitation) and making speculative bets (exploration) is to do what Google does: 80% exploitation, 20% exploration. 100%/0% is probably not a good idea [07.11.2019].
Most of us live our lives pragamatically staying within the realm of our current knowledge and abilities. But most of the learning happens while pushing to figure out your limits — what you’re not capable of and what you don’t know [06.11.2019].
Figure out what your ideal life should be like and work backwards to build it! [05.11.2019]
Producing something where the outcome is unknown and what everyone thinks is impossible brings a lot of thrill. Most of these attempts do indeed prove impossible. But that is the cost of producing something truly new! [01.11.2019]
Management lessons from Ben Horowitz (in my own words): 1) sharpen the contradictions, when you hear opposite opinions, instead of smoothening them out, dig deep into that disagreement as there is a lot of information there; 2) if everybody likes your decision, it is useless, they would have made it without you; 3) company culture is not a set of believes, but a set of actions — it is what your team does when no one is looking [31.10.2019].
Capricious people create obstacles for their own success [29.10.2019 — short hiatus due to Diwali holidays].
Look beyond journalistic news titles and find domain experts who can break down complex issues in writing. Having read an news article, you gain one opinion and someone’s narrow interpretation of facts. Having read or listened to an expert (e.g. Ben Thomson of Stratechery or Howard Marks of Oak Capital), you get the glimpse of the map of the entire terrain [25.10.2019].
If your work involves a lot of required repetitive tasks on daily basis, it is possible to feel strange dissatisfaction at the end of the busy day. On one hand, you accomplished everything you planned and felt productive. On the other hand, you feel that you have not learnt anything new. One possible trick to combat that: plan ahead and approach the same repetitive task with creativity by doing it differently than done before, e.g. come up with a different CS problem every time you are doing technical phone screen [24.10.2019].
Delay your intuition when making important irreversible decisions. First, break down the problem, build the minimum viable checklist of the most important features to consider, give scores along each feature, and only then apply your intuitive thinking [23.10.2019].
Humiliation is the Universe’s way to heal you from the sin of unchecked pride and the trap of ego [23.10.2019].
If you need to put your mind in a focused, limitless state to power through books and articles you could not conquer in previous weeks: spend an hour in a steaming room. In fact, this should be part of your weekly routine [21.10.2019].
Venture capital industry was born as a consequence of the invention of software. For the first time in history, thanks to zero marginal costs innately associated with software you can have uncapped returns on your invested capital [20.10.2019].
Losers quit when they are continuously facing the same obstacle without visible progress. Winners can persevere in the absence of momentum and positive feedback loop. They just refuse to quit given they are convinced the direction is right. That is why there are so many losers and so few winners [19.10.2019].
Make a few jabs against the market, calibrate quickly and then throw a massive power shot once the calibration line is already established. If you throw a power short too early in the game and miss, you might not have the energy for another one [18.10.2019].
When you do not know what is important, work on multiple projects. Once you do, work on one [15.10.2019].
Do not make important decisions when you are at your low [14.10.2019].
Example of application of Inconsistency-Avoidance Tendency I learnt from reading ‘Poor Charlie’s Almanach’: “As Franklin was rising from obscurity and wanted the approval of some important man, he would often maneuver that man into doing Franklin some unimportant favor, like lending him a book. Thereafter, the man would admire and trust Franklin more because a nonadmired and nontrusted Franklin would be inconsistent with the appraisal implicit in lending Franklin the book” [11.10.2019].
Separate a decision from an outcome. It is very possible to make a right decision, but probabilistically get a bad outcome. Negative result should not put your past correct decisions in ‘never-do-this’ list [10.10.2019].
My brain is not good at generating new ideas when it is left alone during my solitary walks. It is running in circles without producing any new turns. New ideas come to me from the interactive frictional energy in a conversation or writing [09.10.2019].
Do not get into the 100% trap of delayed gratification. Live the mini version of your ideal life right now while building the foundation to collect resources necessary for your ideal life in the future. Have a series of instant gratifications for sustained motivation during the marathon. Delayed gratification is impossible if you give up on the way to get there. You’ve got to enjoy the journey to have the energy to get to the destination [09.10.2019].
Skilled pessimists always complain, ‘I have a lot of talent, but no one is giving me a chance!’ What they do not realize is that whining/victim mentality is very repelling. That is the very reason opportunities do not come their way! [08.10.2019]
You can not build your happiness on the ruins of someone’s unhappiness [07.10.2019 — hiatus in my daily thoughts due to traveling and broken daily rituals caused by it].
Brian Tracy’s eat-that-frog approach to productivity (start your workday from dealing with unpleasant tasks and finish it with pleasant ones) is an application of granny’s rule which I learnt from Charlie Munger: eat your carrots before dessert [26.09.2019].
Be aware of your brain’s tendency to default to operating counterproductively due to its biological oversimplification [25.09.2019].
People who think they are inherently bad at sales and dealmaking are the same people who do not have the discipline to prepare the outline for the pitch (with the list of arguments against potential objections + well-thought incentive structure for the other side) and rely way too much on on-the-spot creativity. If you do not have a plan, you will follow someone else’s plan [24.09.2019].
Closed-minded people are closed-minded about the very fact that they are closed-minded. So that is the first layer you need to peel off [24.09.2019].
A lot of interpersonal frustrations can be cleared if you see people around you, as children of God, with their share of strengths and weaknesses, virtues and deficiencies. Life is beautiful in its diversity. Nothing has to go according to your wishes. The alternative (and a surest path to zero interpersonal frustrations) is living in the jungle with bears and tigers and just get eaten without any questions asked [23.09.2019].
It takes a lot of willpower to excel at something you have no intense interest in [22.09.2019].
A question to kickstart the brainstorm for startup ideas which I learnt from a friend: Which companies deserve to die? [21.09.2019]
How to pick an industry by Keith Rabois: low NPS (Net Promoter Score) + high fragmentation [21.09.2019].
If you feel resentment towards your partner, the worst thing you can do is avoid conflict, keep it to yourself, and expend tremendous amount of energy acting as if everything is good. If you do that, then you end up with a snowball of unstated assumptions and disagreements leading to imaginary battles with imaginary enemies. Do not accumulate disagreements, share them with courage [20.09.2019].
Have a second life outside of your day job. Be a writer, dancer, standup comedian, actor, video blogger, interviewer, juggler, etc.. Pick something to express your creativity outside of the office [19.09.2019].
Publishing to a personal blog or a Youtube channel is like putting money in your investment account. Your virtual identity builds your reputation even when you sleep. Your passive income here is the number of people you influenced without physically meeting them [19.09.2019].
Munger: “Some systems should be made deliberately unfair to individuals because they’ll be fairer on average for all of us. Thus, there can be virtue in apparent non-fairness. I frequently cite the example of having your career over, in the Navy, if your ship goes aground, even if it wasn’t your fault. I say the luck of justice for the one guy that wasn’t at fault is way more than made up by a greater justice for everybody when every captain of a ship always sweats blood to make sure the ship doesn’t go aground” [18.09.2019].
Excerpt from ‘Poor Charlie’s Almanack’: “David Ricardo’s comparative advantage in “delegating” tasks among nations is equally applicable for managers delegating work. Even if a manager can perform the full range of tasks better himself, it is still mutually advantageous to divide them up” [17.09.2019].
Sometimes a sweet lie can mean kindness and an ugly truth can mean brutal cleverness [16.09.2019].
Lesson from Munger: do not be satisfied with a small idea in your discipline when there is a big idea over a fence in other discipline [16.09.2019].
If you are not making a conscious decision to change the status quo, you are unconsciously making a decision to leave the things the way they are [15.09.2019].
One ingredient of unparalleled business success is extreme maximization or minimization of a few variables: widest selection, lowest prices, fastest delivery online (Amazon.com); widest selection and lowest prices offline (Costco, Walmart) [14.09.2019].
Lesson from Munger: do not overcount what can be measured and undercount what can not be measured [13.09.2019].
To be persuasive, address the other side’s interest, not logic [13.09.2019].
So inspiring to find out that Rudyard Kipling was 29 when he wrote ‘The Jungle Book’, the pinnacle of his success [13.09.2019].
You can be watching TV news for 20 straight years, but still have no understanding of politics or economics. Why? Because TV news keep rehashing the same visible observations about the same events without taking time and explaining once and for all the cause-and-effect logical links (and real underlying incentives of all parties involved) of why these events happen in the first place [12.09.2019].
Knowledge is not facts, but an energy that totally transforms you. You are a different human than before. There are people who memorized holy scriptures, but are still the same people as before. They have not been transformed. That is not knowledge [12.09.2019].
By avoiding the short-term discomfort of asking for the right price, you have a daily discomfort of living with consequences of a bad deal [11.09.2019].
The self-help industry tells us that to build wealth all we need to do is to be useful and not chase money. I find it to be false since it is only partially true. To build wealth, you need to be useful and chase money. Being useful creates value, having self-interest captures it [11.09.2019].
The best tool is the one you are comfortably using right now. It is true that we are clinging to the past and tend to defend tools which we already know how to use. Having said that, the best project management tool is the one which does not get in the way of an actual product, requires almost no maintenance, and disappears in your hands when you are using it [10.09.2019].
When a startup hires high potential recent college graduates, you get good talent for a relatively good price. The downside with quite a few 22-year olds is lack of stability, frequent mood swings, and lack of clarity in their vision of the future and career. It is like buying an undervalued stock with high volatility [10.09.2019].
Being a part of a well respected tribe (read: organization) lends you a lot of credibility and provides you with a VIP pass to talk to people you would never be able to talk to otherwise. If you are not a part of any tribe, you have to bootstrap that credibility on your own. That is why it is arguably easier to start a company, hire, raise funding after a good 10+ year career with a stellar list of tribes (Google, McKinsey, HBS, etc.) in your portfolio [09.09.2019].
If you are a manager, play every interaction with your subordinates not as a task master giving orders top-down, but as a teacher sharing the teaching moment with care and wisdom [08.09.2019].
Use your mind to generate ideas, use paper (not mind) to store them [08.09.2019].
One of the reasons why introverts have to become celebrities to achieve success is that the opportunities will start coming their way for free without the uncomfortable and unnnatural (for them) efforts of reaching out and knocking the doors. Once you’re a celebrity, you can go back to your cave, work on your art and not worry about the fact that your work will get unnoticed [07.09.2019].
When you, as an inputs-measuring manager, see someone coming to office at 12–7pm, instead of forcing them to come at 9am and leave at 8pm, do a deep dive and figure out the underlying reasons behind the below-the-average engagement. Attack the root problem, not the symptoms [07.09.2019].
Your thoughts and subsequently plans are raw ingredients for wealth [06.09.2019].
In a conversation, the interviewer/listener is in control as she is directing the flow towards her goals with questions and followups. The interviewee/talker is merely following her lead and opening up [05.09.2019].
As tools/frameworks/architectures improve, AI PhDs < AI interns with bigger, better, more unique datasets [05.09.2019]
Incentives rule the world just like gravity. I’ve heard that car dealers tend to offer the best prices at the end of the month! [04.09.2019]
‘Avoiding undesirable precedent creation among your team members’ is a well-known management technique borrowed from the world of justice and law. You turn down your designer’s request to work remotely half-a-day even if it may make her more productive because you’re afraid that others will follow + rules are rules for everyone. However, precedent argument should not be used in solitude to avoid ‘the law of a hammer’ trap. Do not forget about other factors: your team’s desire to be heard, the need for switch of work settings to get unstuck and unleash creativity, etc. [03.09.2019]
90% of us consider ourselves in the top 50%! [03.09.2019]
Here is an obvious extension to this lovely quote by Alfred Whitehead, “Fools act on imagination without knowledge; pedants act on knowledge without imagination”. Masters act on both imagination and knowledge [02.09.2019].
Be democratic while ideating, but dictatorial when executing! [31.08.2019]
It is really hard to build a brand as powerful as Coca Cola or Apple in transportation (or lending for that matter) because going from point A to point B (or borrowing money) is primarily an utility. If it is an utility, customer loyalty is not there — you will take the cheapest ride (or borrow with the lowest interest rate) from any player in the marketplace [30.08.2019].
Never knew there was a name for this cognitive error! Hanlon’s Razor is best described by this maxim, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by carelessness”. When explaining other people’s observed behavior we tend to put much more weight on their internal traits, like character, moral values or intention, rather than external factors such as family circumstances, financial struggles, or health issues [29.08.2019].
When copying is a norm in your market environment, you can not stay still and permanently reap interest from your initial originality by relying on virtuousness of other companies in the market. You have to constantly keep running, iterating, improving your product and adapting to almost-immutable customer wants and ever-changing day-to-day market conditions. The alternative is to focus on things that do not change with time and exit the game of daily volatility alltogether [28.08.2019].
Before you talk to one’s head, speak to one’s heart. You can not productively discuss weekly work plans when you are facing an indifferent monument on the other side of the table. Figure out why your colleague is feeling down, remove all obstacles from her path, create alignment. Only then can you start sharing your game plan [27.08.2019].
One advantage of strict work hours is the fact that your willpower is outsourced and you do not have to deplete it. Rigid work hours create structure to your day and that is, at least for me, an essential environment for high productivity [27.08.2019].
To persuade, appeal to one’s interest and truthfully show the (negative) consequences (as well consequences of consequences) of one’s actions and inaction [26.08.2019].
Remember: any compensation based incentive in a human system (be it a mobile product, government organization or a private company), where the cost of being caught is low and the reward of not being caught is high, will be gamed! [25.08.2019]
In a services business, you can afford a lot of technical debt as all of your mistakes are insular. However, taking this mentality into a product company is a path to disaster [24.08.2019].
For those who think complete ‘freedom’ from everyone and everything is an end game. Freedom quite often leads to no results despite a lot of time at your hands. On the other hand, responsibility in front of others necessitates a structure to your day. And the structure is exactly the environment good results need to flourish. Not surprising that these results spill over way beyond the domain of your responsibility, but to other aspects of your life as well. So to achieve success, be accountable! [24.08.2019].
Here’s the foolproof path to achieve financial security according to Charlie Munger: “Spend less than you make; always be saving something. Put it into a tax-deferred account. Over time, it will begin to amount to something. This is such a no-brainer”. Why do so few of us succeed in this? Because we have no discipline [23.08.2019].
Not every innovation which cuts your costs and improves your company’s efficiency is great for your business. For example, I think that self-driving car technology will be done right at roughly the same time by a few companies which means the technology will become a commodity, prices will drop, all the benefits will flow to the consumer and nothing will stay with business [22.08.2019].
Sincere ‘behind the scenes’ stories will never be a commodity! [22.08.2019]
Work is not done when it is out of your inbox [21.08.2019].
When you are assigning a task to someone in the team, always explain why it needs to happen. Why provides context and context facilitates a colleague’s buy-in [19.08.2019].
When you see a new evidence, before asking what of your favorite ideas it confirms, ask yourself: what of your favorite hypotheses does it disprove? [18.08.2019]
If you want someone in your team to step up, take more ownership and drive decisions in her domain, start from trust, give some initial guidance, but then step back, create the necessary vacuum and let the person become the leader of the whole thing [17.08.2019].
I have an easier time grabbing concepts when I connect them to people whose lives were associated with them! [14.08.2019]
There are 2 kinds of businesses according to Charlie Munger. The first type earns 12% a year and you take profits at the end of the year. The second type earns 12% a year, but all excess must be reinvested — there is never any cash. It is like asking the owner of the construction equipment company about where his profits are— ‘They are there rusting in my yard’ [13.08.2019].
It is madness to think that since lessons learnt from personal mistakes go deeper, you should only learn from your own mistakes. Learning vicariously from other people’s mistakes scales so much better! [12.08.2019]
One hiring problem successful companies face is a huge number of candidates applying for ‘wrong’/unsustainable reasons: company’s unicorn status, high salary, ‘looks good on the resume’. Startups do not have any of that, so the universe of possibilities for applying is smaller, and, hence, more tractable [09.08.2019].
A few takeaways from Charlie Munger: 1) if you buy an undervalued business, then you have to wait and sell at its intrinsic price; if you buy a good business, then you just need to sit on your ass; 2) do not interrupt compound interest; 3) good ideas are rare, so when odds are in your favor, bet heavily; 4) best use of capital is measured by the best next use (opportunity cost); 5) remembering the obvious > knowing the esoteric; 6) differentiate between value and price, progress and activity, wealth and size; 7) mimicking the herd invites regression to the mean; 8) there is no single magic formula, use different checklists and mental models for different companies; 9) in investing just like in baseball, to put runs on scoreboard, watch the field, not the scoreboard; 10) great business at fair price > fair business at great price; 11) widen your moat every year; 12) there are only three investment decisions: yes, no, too tough to understand [08.08.2019].
Startup craze of the past decade attracted a lot of creative/artistic/product people to the world of business. However, most of the them (myself included) for a long time are totally oblivious to business thinking frameworks. They think that by reading ‘The Lean Startup’, watching YC videos on Youtube and following VCs on Twitter, they have a good understanding of startups and, hence, business. Nothing is further from the truth. To understand business and money, talk to a shop keeper, a head of a successful lending company and a real estate mogul [07.08.2019].
Excellence gets a clean sweep of the table! [from talking to Poshak on power law — 07.08.2019]
You are offered a free car ride. You get in the car only to later realize that the driver has to make multiple stops: groceries, gas refill, dropping other passengers, etc. At the end of the ride, you are surprised to get a bill. Protect yourself from bad favors which are disguised as acts of generosity [07.08.2019].
In life just like in poker you do not have to play every hand. If the opportunity is extremely attractive, go hard and aggressive to capture it. Otherwise, as in the 99% of cases, have no hesitation to pass [07.08.2019].
Examples of catching positive ‘black swans’: seed investment in a future unicorn, joining Google in 1999 fresh out of college, becoming the chief of staff of a CEO of a public company at the age of 19, apprenticeship from a young age (Ryan Holiday and Robert Greene), etc. You can not build your career by focusing all your efforts on catching +ve high-impact ultra-rare opportunities. The most pragmatic approach is to spend 80% of your energy on things where you have a high conviction with high degree of confidence, and the remaining 20% — on aggressively betting on highly speculative opportunities where you control the downside if you lose (the most likely scenario) and you have an uncapped 10,000+X upside if you happen to get lucky [06.08.2019].
The top masters who achieved the elite levels at their craft are MBTI chameleons. They might be naturally I, N, F, P (for example) in each respective dimension, but they acquired skills to be even better Es, Ss, Ts, and Js than their ‘natural’ counterparts [05.08.2019].
Respect the status quo and admire the better alternative future [05.08.2019].
I hope that my conformism in clothing gives me the right for non-conformism in thinking and acting [03.08.2019].
To reach a truly big audience, write with one junior person in mind [03.08.2019].
I enjoy writing on themes I have not fully understood, still exploring and feeling curious about. Curiosity is a natural pull for my writing [03.08.2019].
I finally figured out the reason for my writer’s block on Facebook. I was paralyzed and did not share my thoughts because I thought that older and much more experienced businessmen and thinkers (who are my friends on FB) would read my thoughts and find them amateurish and would think that I am not qualified to write on these topics. I have been super conscious about not looking bad instead of creatively pouring my heart out as I used to. Write with your student (or younger self) in mind. Just write for one person. That mindset feels liberating and I hope I will be back writing to public soon [03.08.2019].
The best sales hack for a studio business is to focus on the project at hand. Instead of spending time on presentations, conferences, and sales pitches, just go above and beyond on the project for your current client. Leave the money on the table. Show the best customer experience. Demonstrate the world class quality. If you keep exceeding your clients’ expectations, they will bring more leads than you can process [02.08.2019].
Pick both your presentation topic and audience wisely. If you want to look good, pick the <topic, audience> pair so that you are one head above everyone in the audience on the topic you are speaking about. If you want to maximize your learning by embarrassing yourself publicly, do the opposite — find the room where you are the dumbest [01.08.2019].
According to Charlie Munger, there are 3 different ways one can be a partner: a dominating partner, a subordinate partner, an equal partner. And it is very important to try all variations. I’m grateful that I’ve already experienced #1, now going through #2 and hoping to get to #3! [31.07.2019]
I miss the excitement of publishing blog posts at night and waking up to a stream of comments and reactions the next morning. I used to do this on at least a weekly basis, but now out of fear that I am not qualified to write on many topics I stopped writing. The fear is paralyzing. And I miss the naive creative joy of writing publicly. I believe that having an independent creative outlet is great for mental health and I can not wait when I summon the courage and resume the journey I halted for the past 2 years [30.07.2019].
Be alone with your fears and boredom until the Universe communicates something creative through you [30.07.2019].
If you are pushing your business up the hill with no visible results for a few years, it might be a good time to start pushing it down the hill [29.07.2019].
To attract rock star candidates, your job description should not focus on compensation, skills, and qualifications. Rather it should highlight hard challenges, exciting opportunities and showcase what a new hire will learn and, more importantly, who she will become as part of the journey [29.07.2019].
For prescriptive how-to books, just read someone else’s summary or notes. For foundational books tested by time, read the whole thing and write the summary yourself [28.07.2019].
When pricing consulting services, never go for time/material estimates, take the percentage of additional profit you generate for the client [28.07.2019].
The unfortunate (for business owners) nature of agency/studio/services business is that you have a hard time retaining your talent once they start getting better offers. You take them young, pay them the salaries your fledgling business can afford, train them and ultimately become a career trampoline for your team. The primary step in building a successful studio might not be building a great team and building great products, but getting a stable pipeline of big money contracts which make a great team building amazing products possible [27.07.2019].
How great would it be to have a mentor who can tell you whether you are on the right path or not? [26.07.2019]
When you are convinced you are on the right path (with or without external help), your punches are more powerful as no self-doubt is holding you back [26.07.2019].
Just like Simba, we are sleeping lions surrounded by convenient Timon and Pumbaa. We need self-awareness to wake up and a powerful external force to have a drive to act on that awareness [26.07.2019 — was away for 2 weeks due typhoid fever].
Provide the service you want to buy if you were on the other end [11.07.2019].
Boutique firms can provide a better service than blue chip firms because with the former you will very likely be served by a principal (business owner), not an agent (employee) [10.07.2019].
Having seen the cons of one strategy, it is easy to learn the wrong lessons and index for the polar opposite. Looks like even Lenin was the victim of this. He saw the poverty of people in the period of monarchy and led workers during the revolution. But as history teaches us, the socialism was not a solution to the problems of monarchy [09.07.2019].
If you have no problem to load (and let it go) in your unconsciousness before sleep on a daily basis, you are not pushing hard enough [09.07.2019].
If you are stuck, you want to activate as many uncorrelated neural pathways in your brain as possible. The more relevant doors you are knocking, the more likely one will open. A few techniques to try when stuck: a) invert the problem and see if the inverse is easier to solve; b) ‘plug in’ the extreme values to better feel the texture of the problem; c) think of adjacent problems you solved before and see if you can reduce the current problem to old ones; d) formulate the problem in writing, meditate and ask why for every single idea/assumption embedded in the problem statement; e) liberate yourself from an editing left hemisphere and without judgement generate as many ideas as possible [my recommendations from a phone conversation with a younger brother — 08.07.2019].
As many opinions I have in the areas I care about is as few thoughts I have on topics I have no slightest interest in [05.07.2019].
If you are an operating entrepreneur, you should spend all your working time improving your business, not building a personal brand. Do not chase what investors are doing. If you are an investor, then most of your work is about macro thinking and sharing your thoughts on Twitter/Medium is a natural side effect and extension of your thinking work. Daily insights from operators are much more nuanced, narrow, micro and not that ‘sexy’ for the masses [04.07.2019].
Spend an hour at the beginning of your day to put on paper all your fears, doubts, thoughts which cloud your thinking, both short-term and long-term plans. This will bring order to the chaos in your mind, will bring structure and build a powerful armor to protect you from unexpected arrows of daily life [04.07.2019].
More takeaways from NNT: 1) Focus on exceptions and treat ordinary as subordinate as opposed to focusing on ordinary and dealing with outliers in an afterthought. Outliers can bankrupt you. 2) Everyone is looking for a golden mean in wealth, height, weight. Wishful thinking treats any divergence from a mean as an error. 3) In Gaussian, extreme deviations decrease at increasing rate, which makes outliers very unlikely. Much rarer than in real life. 4) Ubiquity of Gaussian is not a property of the world, but a problem of human mind. 5) Gaussian relies on the following assumptions: a) the events are independent, b) there are no wild jumps. Both are untrue in real world [03.07.2019].
Bagging is like democracy — every vote is equal. Boosting is like meritocracy — every model is associated with a different weight. Meritocracy is a weighted democracy [29.06.2019].
Just wanting wealth will not get you anywhere because everyone wants it [28.06.2019].
Some years in life need to have a different intensity (and exposure to timely ideas) than other cruise control years. These are important years. E.g. last 2 years in high school, final year in college, the first year of marriage, the first years in the life of your company, etc. For example, the fact that I wasn’t exposed to US colleges when I was in high school arguably wasted me 5 years (and I love my college!) before I got into Princeton for Grad School. And that is despite me being a typical straight-A nerd in high school. Things get easier at the higher level if you develop an early advantage by putting in necessary efforts along the right dimensions at the right stages of life [27.06.2019].
A few more takeaways from NNT: 1) Don’t focus on the probability of a ‘black swan’ event. It’s impossible to compute. Focus on the payoff in case it happens. 2) Have maximum exposure to positive black swans, and minimum exposure to negative black swans. 3) When your loss is limited, be as aggressive, as speculative and as unreasonable as you can. 4) People don’t choose their abilities. Randomness reshuffles society’s cards. 5) Preferential attachment: initial advantage follows you in life. Often being marginally better is sufficient to win the entire pot [25.06.2019].
The problem a lot of top managers face the longer they are managers is over-delegation and disregard of details. Staying at macro level and not reading into important details can make you an ineffective manager. And that is not too far from losing respect from the very team you are leading. Own both micro and macro! [21.06.2019]
Having seen a woman in labor while delivering a baby, you will never quarrel with your mom [21.06.2019].
In modern workplace it’s both fashionable and ‘useful’ to be busy and overworked. Long work hours need to be filled, so top execs prefer complex models over simple ones even if the latter produce superior results [18.06.2019].
The number of people who believe that they are in the top 50% in their fields is closer to 100%, than to 50%! [17.06.2019]
The more frequent the information you consume, the more hypotheses you’re going to make, the more confirmations of your initial hypotheses you will find within the noise you receive, the further from the truth you’re going to be [my ‘black swan’ takeway from NNT — 15.06.2019].
The real danger of knowledge is that its increase leads to the increase in confidence [14.06.2019].
Work takes a big part of our lives. So if you aren’t excited about your upcoming work day in the morning for too many consecutive days in a row, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. We’re selfish animals, so if the work itself isn’t directly exciting (current work as an end game), figure out whether it will lead you where you want to be (current work as a stepping stone). If you see the path alignment of your personal goals and your job, the motivation will come back to you. If not, just change the job. Grind has to be meaningful. Meaningless grind will only lead to unhappiness [13.06.2019].
Street smart beats book smart outside sterile environment of academia or board games. Street smart thinks outside of the box, book smart thinks entirely within the box. Street smart has a curiosity about reality in its most raw and unfiltered form. Book smart is curious about what’s written, what’s known, what the rules of the game are. Street smart is comfortable with both known unknown and unknown unknown and has no hesitation when creating new rules [12.06.2019].
The real reason behind ‘beginner’s luck’ is survivorship bias: numerous beginners who weren’t lucky in the beginning stop playing the game, don’t share their story and, hence, become the part of invisible many [11.06.2019].
Reading one fundamental book around different nuances of a single or few ideas is arguably more useful than a short paperback with one idea per page. The benefits of spending a long time reading and thus thinking about the same thing over and over again are underrated [11.06.2019].
Moving away from pencil & paper to screens had another unexpected side effect. Now fewer and fewer people sit down and break down big problems into smaller subproblems or decompose their confusion into a mind map to achieve clarity. Why? Because it’s much harder to do so using laptops or smartphones [10.06.2019].
We learn to calibrate by doing extremes. For a long time, I used to work on creative projects with complete disregard of money. Then once I got married, I switched in the opposite direction: I felt guilty about thinking non-monetary ideas and had a ‘money’ filter for every single idea I thought. Then recently I realized that I’m missing a source of massive energy which worked well for me in the past — working on projects with no end in mind. Where you get pleasure from the journey, ideation, brainstorming, experimentation, and discovery. Removing a ‘money’ filter for creative weekend projects gave me so much liberation. So find the balance between business and creativity [08.06.2019].
We are all more or less victims of our self-limiting beliefs, lies we keep telling ourselves and selectively finding confirmation for them in the books we read. Unemotionally review your beliefs with a magnifying glass and ruthlessly eliminate the ones which are blocking your growth [07.06.2019].
One of the greatest sources of energy is to be working on a project you truly believe in and excited about independent of the outcome [07.06.2019].
Don’t shy away from asking stupid questions. Long-term understanding is better than the questionable short-term gratification of not looking dumb [06.06.2019].
Have close people who can call you out when you’re in comfort zone [03.06.2019].
The reason why we tend to create narratives and cause-effect relationships in the information we encounter (thus reducing its dimensions) is our need to store the information more efficiently and access it faster in the future [note the irony of the statement — 01.06.2019].
Mistakes are unavoidable, sloppiness is not [01.06.2019].
Selfie with a celebrity is a new autograph [01.06.2019].
Human thinking is faulty. If we’re attentive enough, we can often see all of us without exception suffer from focusing on a few instances we have seen and confidently generalizing to what we haven’t seen. However, one exception disproves our entire line of thinking [30.05.2019].
The main meta-lesson I hope I deeply internalized so far from reading NNT can be summarized as follows. Be humble and admit that you don’t know more than you do. Don’t let your minor success or position make you over-confident. If you saw success, then you’ve seen luck [30.05.2019].
The best strategy for brainstorming sessions: just speak out 2-3 times when you have something truly insightful to share or you strongly disagree with something that is being actively defended. Keep your mouth shut at all other times. Make every word count [30.05.2019].
The problem with induction: the turkey is fed for 1000 days until the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week. If you were to believe the induction, the 1001st day should be as normal as the previous 1000 days [from NNT’s ‘Black Swan’, 29.05.2019].
Book summary is only useful for someone who read the book and wrote the summary [28.05.2019].
My body is missing exhilarating speed and excitement of a high growth startup with high daily frequency of experiments and iterations [28.05.2019].
When stuck in life often the best move (just like in stochastic hill climbing) is a random move. Don’t get paralyzed by indecision and keep on swimming [27.05.2019].
“Mild success can be explainable by skills and labor. Wild success is attributable to variance” [Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 27.05.2019].
Spend much more time than you do now on a few important decisions. And spend way less time on most decisions [24.05.2019].
Open up, share what keeps you up at night, pour your heart out and let yourself be vulnerable [24.05.2019].
OH: You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotitate [23.05.2019]
Entrepreneurship is one of few career paths where broad pathological generalists can achieve world class success. You’ve got to be a deep specialist everywhere else! [23.05.2019]
People usually only steal proven startup ideas, rarely unproven hypotheses. So idea theft is a form of flattery and generally a good problem to have [23.05.2019].
It’s easier to be the youngest kid in the room in a big company, not a startup. So startup founders have to constantly seek coaching outside of their office [22.05.2019].
Don’t let your investor become your employer [22.05.2019].
The beauty of blogging platforms is that now any introvert can become an extrovert! [22.05.2019, hiatus due to 2-week fundraising trip to the US]
One of the hardest things about startup investing is access to high quality dealflow. If you have to work super hard to get deals, you’re the lowest in the VC food chain and will have to be happy with the leftovers from the big guys, e.g. low quality startups no one wants to fund. If that’s the case, don’t do VC. Instead spend the next decade to become a successful entrepreneur. Then the best deals come to you [06.05.2019].
Test your own BS. Work really hard to prove your own ideas are wrong. Only then you can say that you have a real conviction [03.05.2019].
In a startup, you don’t have the runrate to make things complex [02.05.2019].
There is no shame in inviting scandalous celebrities as guests of your Youtube channel. Your quality and insightfulness will go down for one episode, but with media personalities comes a massive audience. And those viewers can be introduced to your previous higher quality episodes. Thus, here is my recipe for a Youtube podcast: 5 deep episodes to accumulate the critical mass of quality, 1 shallow episode to increase viewership, 5 deep episodes, 1 shallow episode, rinse and repeat [01.05.2019].
Best use of Instagram and Facebook is to install the app, post a piece of content and delete it [30.04.2019].
Energy comes from excitement which comes from looking forward to new discoveries behind the corners of life [26.04.2019].
You don’t get tired from an action packed day. You get tired from an idle day full of apathy [26.04.2019].
Often greatness starts from a tiny positive affirmation which leads to a +ve feedback loop which in turns leads to a deeper involvement in the activity where you achieve greatness [25.04.2019].
Money is in someway a measure of your effectiveness [24.04.2019].
Pick the job where demand for labor massively exceeds the supply. OH: “If you want to live like no one can’t, do what others are simply not willing to do [23.04.2019].
The worst thing successful parents can do for their children is to kill their ambition and curiosity by raising them with the sense of entitlement. Don’t spoil your kids. Make them work for it. That pursuit will bring them more ‘joy of finding out’ [22.04.2019].
We spent 1/3 of our life in sleep, 1/3 of our life at work, 1/3 — in ‘personal life’. Even if one of these 3 aspects is not giving you energy, stop and reflect [22.04.2019].
Another reason why no one will steal your ideas is that very few people will have a conviction that they are right! [22.04.2019]
What gives the biggest amount of energy is a big idea you’re working towards [21.04.2019].
Private off-the-record one-on-one conversations with masters tend to be more insightful than the public ones. Find the shortest path to get to one-on-one. Sometimes you might need to take a detour (starting a podcast) if top people in the field are refusing to meet you [21.04.2019].
It’s simple to show a great attitude, be hard working and self-sacrificial when you have a deadline and a possibility of public humiliation [20.04.2019].
A single todo before doing a startup if you have a family: spend 2 years and quickly build a small business which puts in 10K in your pocket every month. That’s your armor to not give up during a 10 year long startup journey [18.04.2019].
The VC backed startup is a 10-year long and hard marathon to extreme wealth. In a successful case, you’re cash poor for 10 years until you wake up extremely rich. Being cash poor for so long is extremely painful and not for everyone. One way to soften the blow is to spend 2 years and quickly build a small business which puts in 10K in your pocket every month. That’s your armor to fight ups and downs of the startup world. Ideally you do it before embarking on the long startup journey. However, I will posit that it’s possible to do that in parallel. This way you have a pair of ultra short sprints with fast cash and a single marathon with long cash. Doing both is balancing high risk/high & long reward with low risk/low & fast reward [18.04.2019].
Practical pragmatism in business: I don’t want to convince people to pay for what they are not already paying [18.04.2019].
Don’t negotiate a deal when you’re experiencing a ‘low’ and feeling less accomplished than you actually are! [16.04.2019]
Simplistic money management advice to myself. Invest 20% of your income in S&P 500 Index, but only check how your portfolio is doing once a year. Here’s what happens if you check it every day last year. In the period of April 15 2018 — April 15 2019, there were 251 days when the market was open. In that period, the number of ‘high’ days (when the closing price was higher than the opening price) was 135, the number of ‘low’ days was 116. That is 135 ‘good’ news and 116 ‘bad’ news. Given that, according to some psychologists, it takes 2.5 good news to offset one bad news, you will experience an emotional deficit of 135–2.5*116=-155. In contrast, if you check the S&P 500 temperature only once year in 1970–2018, you will experience 39 ‘good’ news and 10 ‘bad’ news with the score of 39–2.5*10=14 [applying Taleb’s wisdom to S&P — 15.04.2019].
The best way to develop the love for reading is to start from reading the books which you have a deep curiosity for. No matter how guilty those pleasures are. No judgements. If you like trashy detective stories, just go for that. Once reading is second nature for you, the move to more advanced and arguably more useful books is unavoidable [13.04.2019].
Doing the same thing the same way for 10,000 hours will not lead to mastery. Practice the same thing iteratively, by pushing the limit just a bit (not too much to avoid resentment from steep learning curve, and not too little to avoid plateaus and staleness). Aim for 10,000 iterations in 10,000 hours [12.04.2019].
During the tides, even boats with bad management go up [11.04.2019].
When you have a source of hope and optimism, that magically infects your entire life [11.04.2019].
Before learning to run, you’ve got to learn to crawl! [11.04.2019]
If you’re on the right path, the Universe will be removing obstacles from it [04.04.2019].
Instagram and Twitter are banks where anyone can see the social bank account balance of anyone in the system [03.04.2019].
There are 2 ingredients to writing well: having interesting thoughts to share and translating them into eloquent sentences. If I were to focus on only one ingredient, I would hands down focus on the former. The latter has more supply of talent and can be done by a good editor [31.03.2019].
My next milestone is to accumulate capital so that I can be a full-time entrepreneur and a part-time angel investor. As an angel investor, you can learn from inspiring founders and apply these lessons in your own companies. And vice versa. Entrepreneurship + investing is a great pair of activities to double your learning rate in both [31.03.2019].
If you write one blog post a day [given it takes no more than 1 hour of your time], that doesn’t mean your only core expertise is content marketing and all you do is producing content. Similarly, if you don’t produce any content on social media, that doesn’t mean that you’re all of a sudden super focused, productive and focusing all your efforts on perfecting your craft. People’s perceptions of you tend to be extremely reductive, so keep your head down and learn to substitute the thoughts on what other people think with what actually matters [30.03.2019].
Build a deep non-commodity expertise in a unique and specific domain around your natural curiosity. That’s a ‘moat’ around your professional career. If you’re replaceable, then you’ll be replaced [29.03.2019].
They can’t take everything from you, but they can’t take ‘you’ from you [29.03.2019].
If you’re thinking of joining a startup as an early employee, treat this as an ‘angel investment’ of your time. If you’re not good at picking big winners, then all you’re left in the end, in the best case scenario, is growth & learning [28.03.2019].
You can escape competition and become a monopoly by being authentic. No one can beat you in the ‘being you’ race [27.03.2019].
Passion is often a consequence, not a cause of curiosity & skill. So follow your curiosity. And then develop your passion as a step 2 [27.03.2019].
No process is perfect. There would always be a few instances of false negatives [passing on otherwise amazing candidates] and, hopefully, even fewer number of false positives [accepting candidates who will not work out] in the coding interviews process. That doesn’t mean that coding interviews is a waste of time and no predictor of future performance [25.03.2019].
Solve product-market unfit when your company hits the dangerous plateau of stabilization [21.03.2019].
We’re generally not good at valuing our time because the instant feedback loop is missing — there is usually a huge delay between the time investment and the subsequent money reward [19.03.2019].
Quite often successful entrepreneurs are former wannabe scientists/artists who were smart enough to realize that individually they don’t have what it takes to become the best in the world scientists/artists, but they can have a worldwide impact by employing the people who they can’t become themselves [19.03.2019].
If I were to distill all HR and management strategy to a single action, here it is. Find the smartest & highest energy people you can find. Then go above and beyond to give them the best compensation, the best projects, and the best work environment you possibly can [18.03.2019].
Don’t spend a day without collecting or coming up with at least one good idea [18.03.2019].
Our decision making is often trapped by our observations and experiences we had. If all we see are white swans, we are naturally drawn to believe that all swans are white [18.03.2019].
So many problems in life are merely instances of the credit scoring problem. Picking life partners and co-founders, selecting top talent to join your team, investors picking companies to invest in, univerisites reviewing applications and admitting the best students, land lords approving/rejecting tenants, face control by bouncers in night clubs, etc.. The common thread is looking at key variables and deciding whether to share the journey with someone or not. Corollary to this obvious in retrospect observation: if you get really good at one instance, with marginal effort you can reuse the same knowledge to solve other instances of the same problem in totally unrelated fields [16.03.2019].
All the failures of companies/projects I was involved with stemmed from the fact that I actually never sat down and deliberately thought and decided what I wanted to work on. When you don’t make time for thinking and planning, you’re playing the Russian Roulette and the odds are severely against you [15.03.2019].
If you build a product which is 10x better and 10x cheaper than the competition, you will have no distribution costs [14.03.2019].
If you’re known as an extremely capable, generative, hard working, trustworthy and ethical professional, luck will be knocking your doors every single day [14.03.2019].
The startup must get distribution before incumbent gets innovation. Wealthfront has to get distribution before Vanguard builds roboadvisors. TiVo has to get distribution before Comcast builds DVRs. Snapchat had to get distribution before Facebook built ephemeral messaging or stories [via Alex Rampell — 13.03.2019].
The more disconnect between inputs and outputs you can create, the more wealth will come your way [lesson from Naval Ravikant— 13.03.2019].
Facebook’s M&A strategy: 1) buy existential threats to your business and price it probabilistically (if there is more than 1% chance of Instagram taking over FB, then it’s worth paying 1% of your market cap for it); 2) acquihire top notch talent who failed trying and make them heads of successful products [lesson from Alex Rampell of A16Z–12.03.2019].
It’s hard to be the brightest and smartest. Partially it’s even outside of your control (genetics, certain things you’re naturally wired for, etc.). However, being the most curious and most knowledgeable is 100% within your control. So stay on the court after practice to become the most knowledgeable person in the room [12.03.2019].
If you have to maintain a spreadsheet to decide on the most qualified person for the role, that’s a sign you don’t have a single ‘Hell Yes!’ candidate [11.03.2019].
When you’re lowering the hiring bar and making intentional compromises in order to grow the team faster, it seems like the only time you can get away with it is when the market wants your product/service too badly to care. Otherwise, limit your growth depending on how many top-notch people you can attract [09.03.2019].
Have a short ‘todo’ list and a long ‘do not do’ list! [08.03.2019]
Look in the mirror after a defeat, look in the window after a victory [08.03.2019].
Observe and study yourself to figure out what you have a potential to do disproportionally better with only marginal additional efforts. Then focus solely on delta improvements in areas you were naturally wired for [07.03.2019].
There is a place for everything. There is a reason why people go to temples to pray. I like having a clear separation between work and play, home and office. Home is for creative experimentation and wandering around the idea maze. Office is for disciplined execution of the day’s plan [07.03.2019].
The path to being great is much happier and requires less suffering (if any) than the path to mediocrity. The path to mediocrity includes no plan, is full of sporadic jumps from one initiative to another, and a lot of pain, regret and dissatisfaction from seeing no results. The path to greatness is about figuring out a single true north [intersection of what you’re passionate about, what you have a chance to be the best in the world at, and economic engine] and simply having a discipline to sticking with it and ignoring everything else outside that intersection. Apart from clarifying and peaceful simplicity of daily discipline it also feels terrific when you know you’re on the path to greatness [06.03.2019].
Mediocre teams have ornate strategies, complicated tactics, frequent switch of gears, and constant search for a single silver bullet. Great teams after numerous experiments figure out ONE THING which works and do nothing, but that ONE THING [05.03.2019].
The problem of having Instagram installed is that you’re going around your life with the ‘should I share this?’ background process constantly in place. This process takes away from the capacity of your mental RAM. Huge weight off your shoulders when you don’t have Instagram. Now you can finally be in the moment focused on producing the lasting results [04.03.2019].
Most companies are unfortunately reflections of ‘we’ and ‘they’ social divide. Employees will be truly aligned with executives if executives are truly exposed — they don’t just have ‘skin in the game’, they have no other ‘skin’ outside of this ‘game’. There are dire consequences of not succeeding. Executives can not afford to fail as they don’t have a safety net. Common goal and ‘the same boat’ bring the team together! [02.03.2019]
Find the natural limit of your employees by constantly extending their scope of responsibilities. It’s more fun to be in a team where you’re constantly growing and operating at the peak of one’s potential [01.03.2019].
You won’t get rich by spending your time saving money. You’ll get rich by spending your time earning money [01.03.2019].
The need for bureaucracy in an organization is a way to soften the blow from incompetence and lack of discipline. Hire competent and disciplined people, and voila — you need less bureaucracy [28.02.2019].
The best way to find time for something important is to make time by doing the activity at the same time and in the same sequence during the day. Example: if you never find time for reading books, read 10 pages after breakfast when you’re waiting for your cab to work [28.02.2019].
One of the edges you can’t afford not to develop as a startup is to be the machine of discovering and attracting undiscovered talent. If the talent is already discovered, that is already baked into the price, and you, as a startup, can’t afford it [27.02.2019].
So often companies die not out of starvation, but out of indigestion caused by overconsumption. Be very disciplined about what you say ‘yes’ to [27.02.2019].
Instead of trying to pick the optimal startup to join [which is similar to playing a roulette in a casino], pick the team with the best possible mentor [26.02.2019].
To sacrifice short term gain which is at odds with long term success, compress your feedback loop and get daily dose of short term wins which contribute to the massive long term victory [26.02.2019].
If you aren’t bringing anything new to the table, you have no shot in becoming ‘the best’ company (pick one: in the world/in your town/in your industry/at your price point/etc.) and should go back to the drawing board [26.02.2019].
Both winners and losers get an equal portion of luck. The only difference is that winners get higher return on it [25.02.2019].
A lot of things in life are instances of the fundamental credit problem. It all comes down to decision making in the world of imperfect and incomplete information [25.02.2019].
Act as a big business when it comes to processes, abstractions and constant pursuit of scale. Act as a small business when it comes to attitude, hunger, customer centricity and attention to detail [25.02.2019].
College is a sum function: your final GPA is the sum of all your victories and failures. Life is a max function: you’re judged by your biggest victory, not the number of failures which preceded it. Be right once! [23.02.2019].
Make one decision to save yourself time from 1,000 decisions. Instead of solving the same problem from scratch every time you face it (examples: what to wear today? how to respond to a speaking invitation? should I invite this candidate to phone screen given her resume?), decide once and reduce that problem to an existing solution every time you see it in the future. There are not that many categories of problems we face on a daily basis [23.02.2019].
Don’t offer above the market compensations to your job candidates as this is the honeypot for wrong people joining you for all the wrong reasons. Don’t pay below market standards as this precludes right people from joining you for the right reasons. Overcompensate your best people once they prove themselves. Get 2 people who work like 20 and pay them 10 [22.02.2019].
Personal productivity from Jim Collins. Maintain the spreadsheet with 3 columns: short description of the day, creative hours count, emotional grade on how you felt that day (from +2 to -2). Each row is a day. Maintain at least 1,000 creative hours a year. By filtering all +2 days and reading their descriptions, you can see patterns that make a great day. Do more of that, do less of activities from -2 days. That simple [21.02.2019].
It’s so much easier to consume knowledge and earn living by rehashing & retelling it verbatim. That’s why most of us do exactly that. Very few people make an effort to do the hard thinking for themselves. But that’s the only way to come up with truly transformational ideas. Don’t shy away from high-hanging fruit. Dedicate at least an hour a day for hard thinking. The harder you think, the easier it gets: much less competition than on the ground and disproportionately higher rewards [20.02.2019].
If you have a lot of career options and still doing a startup, you have skin in the game and the startup must be really good [16.02.2019].
To do well as a nation, you need to instill the culture of excellence. Don’t take pride in shortcuts. You can’t ducktape your path to success [lesson from Mr. Amit Singhal — 16.02.2019].
Whenever your learning plateaus, continuously throw yourself in an environment where you learning rate is multiplied. The reason why equally talented people of your age have a bigger vision, are more creative, are better in strategic thinking, have a higher degree of skill is because they spent those years in higher demand environments [15.02.2019].
One of the most dead simple ways to always be motivated: see how what you’re doing now leads you where you want to be [15.02.2019].
Most startups die a quiet death of never launching anything [14.02.2019].
Successful startups start from art and follow it with science. Doing things that don’t scale is an art. Going for scale is science [13.02.2019].
If you’re a creative entrepreneur, it’s hard not to fall in love in the solution. However, pragmatic entrepreneurs prioritize empathy towards people experiencing the problem [13.02.2019].
If you multiply infinite desire to grow and unrelenting perseverance by humility, you’re unstoppable [12.02.2019].
Immature entrepreneurs imitate, mature entrepreneurs steal. Focus your innovations to a single area which is crucial for your business. For everything else, don’t reinvent the wheel and use off-the-shelfs [11.02.2019].
If you don’t have a solution on paper, you won’t all of a sudden have it on screen! [on the importance of thinking the coding problem through before touching the keyboard — 11.02.2019]
Innovate in core areas for your business. Don’t reinvent hiring process unless you’re in enterprise HR. It took us to process thousands of engineering applicants and interviewing hundreds of them to realize that what works best for both companies and candidates is a simple 2 stage process: 1 hour technical phone screen followed by a one day onsite [09.02.2019].
The best predictor of learning something well is learning one thing well [08.02.2019].
Once I saw someone who completely lost faith in himself and is living solitary life for the past decade [after a decade of smashing success], I realized the game isn’t over when you fail. The game is over when you don’t want to continue trying [07.02.2019].
Showing up in the office is the most important ingredient in moving things forward [07.02.2019].
If it’s not a process, it’s not repeatable. If it’s not repeatable, it doesn’t scale [05.02.2019].
We’re constantly striving to impress someone. An audience while presenting to them, an employer at the job interview, someone smart/wealthy/important/etc. introduced by a mutual connection. But the desire → obsession to impress makes it practically impossible to accomplish it. You can’t impress anyone when you’re not at ease. So next time substitute the question ‘How can I impress someone?’ with ‘How can I delight the person I’m meeting?’. The delight and positive emotion will make him/her want to meet you again. You’re impressive when you’re not trying to be impressive [04.02.2019].
One thing technology took away from us in the past decade is attention [03.02.2019].
When it comes to output, I was the most productive in high school. And my only productivity tool was todo.txt file. One can argue that we’re getting less productive the more productivity tools we use. Focus on results, not tools [02.02.2019].
The habit with the highest ROI for me is to spend the first 2 hours in the office in an anti-social mode thinking, reflecting, and writing [02.02.2019].
I don’t see the world where media/content companies can justify software companies’ valuation [02.02.2019].
Ambition is what you want to achieve. Aspiration is who you want to become. The latter is more fundamental [01.02.2019].
Software engineers in services companies tend to be undervalued. Engineers in product companies tend to be overvalued. So be careful with ‘current salary’ filter when hiring. You don’t want to miss out on undervalued diamonds [31.01.2019].
Selective ignorance about negative / evil side of human beings surrounding you is an essential ingredient in living a positive, optimistic and creative life [30.01.2019].
If your entire identity is linked to one project, it’s very easy to be emotional when things aren’t going your way or you’re not in full control. Carefully diversify your identity across multiple projects. Compensate lack of control in one project with full control in the other [30.01.2019].
The downside of ownership mentality in an organization is you take too many things too close to heart [30.01.2019].
When you’ve started a tech company and doing a festival to raise awareness about your product, don’t all of a sudden become a full-time event company [after learning about Fyre Festival — 29.01.2019].
When you’re young, it’s hard to channel one’s creativity to the most important project. You don’t know anything about deliberate action. You follow the creative temptation and usually just jump into the first opportunity which presents itself. Very occasionally you’re lucky & that project was indeed the global maximum, but more often than not you later realize that was the false start and you’re back at the whiteboard [28.01.2019].
Fight precisely for only the things which matter. Everything else is a waste of energy [28.01.2019].
If you’re creative, learn to work well with other creatives. Listen intently before speaking. Learn their personality type and speak their language so that you’re understood. Don’t take disagreements personally. It’s about what’s right, not who’s right. If you disagree, speak out and don’t hold off. Navigate between coming up with new ideas and giving your feedback / editing existing ones. Lay out all the ideas on the table and pick the true winner [25.01.2019].
Packing your calendar with activities and meetings might not necessarily be a proxy to success. Warren Buffet’s calendar is practically empty. Find time to read and think [24.01.2019].
Taking input (reading a book, watching talks on Youtube, listening to smart people, etc.) is, no doubt, very satisfying. But it still doesn’t compare with the joy from producing an output. So carve out an hour a day to produce something worth using [23.01.2019].
So many tempting projects to start! But have to be disciplined and get one thing right before moving on to the next thing [22.01.2019].
You don’t find an answer by needing it. You find an answer by asking the question 100 times and deserving it [21.01.2019].
When you have higher prices, you give competitors a chance to invest in R&D and come up with an equally good, but cheaper product. If you have lower prices, you’re gradually building a moat [21.01.2019].
On Andy Rachleff’s onion theory of risk in startups. Startup risks come in layers: founding team risk, hiring risk, product risk, technical risk, launch risk, distribution risk, market acceptance risk, etc. With every milestone you peel off layers of risks and raise sufficient funding to get to the new milestone with the new set of risks [19.01.2019].
Build when it’s non-obvious that the idea is good. By the time it’s obvious, you have a moat to protect against competitors [19.01.2019].
Education is a bundle which consists of 1) learning skills (core, domain specific, meta); 2) signaling (to the outside world that you’re intelligent, disciplined, etc.); 3) professional network; 4) socialization for young adults; 5) pathway to a new country for international students [lessons from a16z — 18.01.2019].
Don’t just pursue success. On top of that become the person worthy of success so you will attract it when you’re pursuing it [16.01.2019].
Advice for high schoolers struggling to pick a major in college. 1) Ask yourself: What is effortless for me? Come up with the list. 2) List down all activities when you lose passage of time. 3) Pick a cool project whose completion excites you. For a lot of people the destination is more exciting than the process. A lot of writers hate writing, but what keeps them going is the dream that people will be reading their books and learning something new. For quite a few, the image of the completed project (along with side effects in the form of recognition, etc.) pulls them to do remarkable things even if they’re not intrinsically excited about day-to-day activities to get there [15.01.2019].
To test first principle thinking, ask questions which candidates most likely haven’t seen before [14.01.2019].
Migrants of the past carrying huge backpacks with all their belongings, children, and food, moving from one side of the country to the other, could endure daily hardships because they had a big hope about the oasis on the other side. Dreams give you the power to persevere through the daily grind. So ideally you should have both: have something to look forward to today (‘daily pleasure’) and something to look forward to in the future (‘success’) [12.01.2019].
We only start learning when we’re live! Or in the words of Matt Mullenweg, “Usage is the oxygen of the product” [11.01.2019].
I had a conundrum: I love traveling, but don’t particularly look forward to visiting touristy places and sights. After some soul searching, I realized that I love traveling for altogether different reason: as an opportunity to meet interesting people doing interesting things [10.01.2019].
College teaches us roundabout ways to accomplish goals: take class A to take class B to do internship C to get to internship D. In business, it’s often better not to invent intermediate milestones and get to the market as fast as possible. Because learning rate dramatically accelerates when you’re swimming in water, not on land [09.01.2019].
When learning from past mistakes, it’s tempting to do the opposite from the past. However, we tend to ignore the fact that a lot of things we did in the past were actually right. So do both: past correct + past opposite of wrong [08.01.2019].
When you grow up not particularly struggling, naturally you don’t seek to make money. You seek to make impact. So later on when you decide to focus on capital creation, you actually have impactful skills to convert into capital [08.01.2019].
To be fulfilled, you need to look forward to something. And to experience this wonderful anticipation, you need a plan. So just sit down and generate 100 ideas of what you would love to work on this year [08.01.2019].
So often people sharing their problems with you don’t seek for solutions. They seek for encouragement, love and support. So turn off your problem solving mind and be kind! [29.12.2018]
Something I learnt while reading in the plane yesterday. 4 options for each job candidate at Amazon.com and D. E. Shaw: strong no hire, inclined not to hire, inclined to hire, or strong hire [28.12.2018].
When you’re stuck deciding what to do one way to get unstuck is to ask yourself, ‘What would X do?’, where X is someone whose ideas you enormously respect [26.12.2018].
Jealousy in adults quite often stems from the need to deserve the love of their parents during childhoods [25.12.2018].
Don’t work with insecure people. That’s a time-ticking bomb. Insecurity leads to inability to listen to critical feedback, taking things personally, and preventing best ideas from winning [25.12.2018].
Personalized mastery based education will solve the fundamental problem experienced by so many school kids: when they miss a few concepts early on, that snowball compounded and they never had a chance to catch up to get good at this subject [24.12.2018].
Daily stands is a good idea, but implemented horribly wrong. The motivation to have a healthy dose of daily output shouldn’t come from reporting to your colleagues, but from the inner desire to grow and get better [22.12.2018].
If you have a hard time connecting on a personal level with someone you’ve just met, create the environment where it’s OK to be vulnerable [21.12.2018].
In a meeting, speaking up every time you have a thought reduces the impact of the moment when you actually have something important to say [18.12.2018].
Key to wealth in real estate: save up cash to buy a property, rent it out for passive income, take a loan from the bank with this property as a collateral and reinvest the money in a new property, rinse & repeat. With more wealth you have access to cheaper debt capital which you can borrow and invest in predictable assets to generate even more wealth [17.12.2018].
Bugs are unavoidable. What is not acceptable is knowing you can do better, but doing less [15.12.2018].
Step 1) Create a truly magical 11-star experience. Step 2) Figure out which part of this experience can scale [product lessons from Brian Chesky — 14.12.2018].
When you hear advice, integrate new insights within your existing framework of thinking, ponder and reflect, and only then act based on your personal conclusions [13.12.2018].
When you’re acquiring knowledge on-demand (‘just in time’ learning), there’s a shorter delay between theory and practice. This leads to higher retention. That’s the main downside of otherwise amazing practice of ‘just in case’ learning [12.12.2018].
It’s better to spend a lot of time hiring the right people who are self-driven missiles who require no management instead of quickly hiring the wrong people and spending a lot of time managing them [11.12.2018].
Who do you want to reach success for? [10.12.2018]
Let your purpose be your alarm clock in the morning [10.12.2018].
Recognition hungry person ultimately becomes a victim to the capitalist who ‘employs’ the former to get a full-time person to execute on one of his many projects [8.12.2018].
The corollary to the law of diminishing intent according to Jim Rohn: act when the idea is hot and emotion is strong [8.12.2018].
Don’t mistake courtesy for consent. Politeness != Agreement [7.12.2018].
So many of us think of exciting project ideas, realize we can’t do them independently, give up on them and just go back to our daily apathetic living. To bring in the purpose [which often stems from doing ambitious projects] in our lives, often all we need to do is to assemble the team, find people who are good & enjoy doing things we’re neither good at nor passionate about. When the right team is in place, all of a sudden you’re capable of pursuing your dream! [7.12.2018]
You’re fool if all your learnings only lead to knowledge, make them lead you to action! [6.12.2018]
Self-confidence comes from discipline and lack of neglect. You feel good about yourself at the end of the day if you planned and diligently delivered on the plan [6.12.2018].
Talking to customers will serve your business much more than random networking at conferences. Feeling productive and important isn’t equal to real progress [5.12.2018].
Don’t mistake sincerity for truth. It’s possible to have all right intentions, but be sincerely wrong [4.12.2018].
Informal group discussions usually turn into lowest common denominator topics like weather or politics. That’s why they tend to be less insightful than one-on-ones [4.12.2018].
It’s better to overstretch (realize maximum of your potential through multiple projects) than to understretch (underutilization of your intellectural capacity caused by a single focus on one project with plenty of spare time). This is especially the case when you have high energy inflow and time vacuum freed from delegation and removing yourself from past baggage. Take more projects than you can chew on, ruthlessly prioritize and calibrate down when eggs are being dropped [3.12.2018].
One deep conversation with an insightful and curious mind beats 100 shallow conversations with random people [3.12.2018].
When you’re a white belt delegate at the conference, you ask questions at the end of the talk as a way to impress the speaker. When you’re a black belt, you ask questions to genuinely learn [30.11.2018].
I’ve never thought of myself as someone who might be inspired by animals. But having watched a few NatGeo episodes about honey badgers, I have to admit I’m a fan. They exemplify a true spirit of fearlessness, curiosity, entrepreneurship, and living the life to its fullest [29.11.2018].
Play out your entire day in your head before starting it! [28.11.2018]
Grab the idea you caught and write it down. Otherwise, you will spend entire day futilely trying to remember that moment of brilliance and, as a result, close yourself down for new ideas [27.11.2018].
Having a purpose is one of the strongest forces. It leads to ‘magnificent obsession’ and brings a lot of meaning to every single day [26.11.2018].
Staying with the team in the office till late to meet the public deadline is neither hard, nor heroic. Having discipline to push through when no one is around — that’s real deal! [24.11.2018]
The sense of daily progress, long ‘don’t break the chain’ streaks, self-respect for keeping the daily discipline and investing in one’s self-development are so rewarding that once those good habits are in place — it’s very hard to break them [24.11.2018].
I get hooked to good habits as long as I start ridiculously small! [24.11.2018]
The philosophy of the poor: spend and invest what’s left. The philosophy of the rich: invest and spend what’s left. The difference between the rich and the poor is not the dollar amount [inspired by Jim Rohn — 23.11.2018].
Doing what you have to is a prerequisite for doing what you want to [23.11.2018].
A few principles of virality: 1) break expectations & status quo; 2) make people feel smart, important, kind, and interesting; 3) remind of yourself through triggers; 4) create strong emotions; 5) make usage public and visible; 6) create a surprising story; 7) and finally & most importantly — create something truly useful [22.11.2018].
It seems like 99% of the traits (modulo domain knowledge) we’re seeking for in our job candidates can be mapped to 4 things: humility, ambition, raw intelligence, and optimistic outlook on life [21.11.2018].
I’m constantly surprised how extroverted & polished software engineers with mediocre programming skills end up at better companies, have higher positions and higher salaries than introverted & shy developers with excellent skills. Companies should peek beyond the surface and discover true talent no one is willing to bet on [21.11.2018].
Don’t pick a co-founder who is too similar to you. The basic principle is ‘shared values, complementary skills’. So if you’re more of a creative impractical type, pick someone who instinctively follows the money. It’s easier to get along with similar people and find them (you’re one of them, so you probably already know lots of people like yourself), but too similar skillsets won’t benefit your company long term [21.11.2018].
Schedule weekly strategy meetings with your co-founders. Define an agenda in advance, prepare for the meeting, bring up important questions, brainstorm on new ideas, come up with new initiatives, refine your thinking and make decisions. Just thinking about the same problem one hour a day every single day can go a long way! [20.11.2018]
When working on a problem, don’t immediately seek for help. Build the problem solving muscle to tackle challenges independently. You’ll be more receptive to external help as a result [19.11.2018].
Weekly soft launches to small cohorts of users is an effective way to turn unmotivated and apathetic team into high energy execution machine. Fear of embarrassment turns boredom into excitement [16.11.2018].
It’s trendy to make fun of teachers (coaches, mentors, etc.) these days. The argument goes as follows, ‘Their million dollar company is teaching others to make million dollar companies. They can’t execute. All they do is preach and share things they haven’t implemented themselves’. Very few things can be further from the truth. Great teachers are priceless. Universe makes us all different. We have different roles. Someone was born a teacher. Someone was born a salesman. Someone was born an athlete. That’s beautiful and one of the pillars of society progressing forward. If you’re in the same anti-teacher camp as many others, you’re blocking yourself from learning. Don’t judge teachers, learn from them, be motivated by them. They are serving a unique role on this planet. When I feel apathetic and unhappy, I listen to Jim Rohn (Sadhguru, Osho, Tony Robbins, etc.). They bring me back to life and I’m so grateful for that! [16.11.2018]
Protip for those living in cities with bad air quality. Make a garden out of your work cabin by stuffing it with the houseplants with the highest [oxygen produced / maintenance required] ratio, e.g. snake plants, aloe vera. I did it yesterday! [15.11.2018]
I’ve heard that Kasparov used to simulate games in 6-move increments during practice. Same goes for programmers or martial artists. The closer you’re to mastery, the more little moves you can pack in one big combo. New atomic unit for your mind is no longer a single move, but an ever expanding series of moves [14.11.2018].
To break the vicious cycle of paralyzing inertia, no need to spend time optimizing for the best move, just do something. Getting the ball rolling is the best first step [13.11.2018].
After watching the 30-minute lost footage of Bruce Lee’s fight sequences in ‘The Game of Death’ for the nth time, I think I was able to decompose what exactly draws me to him. That is the fact that he found intense interest in something. That obsession is electrifying and screams from screen. It’s like watching Picasso painting, Federer playing tennis, or Tesla working on a new invention. Mastery is contagious. Skills lead to passion. Passion leads to more skills [12.11.2018].
Automation is the path to scale. When nothing is left for automation in your invisible to the customer processes, automate even more [10.11.2018].
One of the biggest reasons behind procrastination is the slow pace of progress in initial stages of a project. To hack that, you need to feel a small sense of accomplishment in the shortest time possible — a ‘small win’. This way you get the dopamine rush of bite-sized ‘instant gratification’ which will break the initial inertia and gets you on the fast track to bigger rewards [9.11.2018].
The market pays you for the skillset relevant to the problem it is trying to solve, not necessarily for the skillset which was personally fulfilling for you to acquire [9.11.2018].
Be so good that you can afford to have an empty bio underneath your name [8.11.2018].
Automatically cut out 20% of your monthly income and put it in S&P 500 index. No matter how small your monthly income is, you’ll adjust [6.11.2018].
Personally interview the first 150 people [Dunbar’s number] in your company. They are co-founders of your company culture [lessons from Reed Hoffman — 6.11.2018].
Instead of expending efforts on minimizing your phone usage time or number of phone pickups, find work which sweeps you from your feet that you don’t even have time for your phone even if you want to. Instead of fighting darkness, bring the candle — darkness yields on its own [5.11.2018].
If you can’t wait till the next weekend / vacation / party, more often than not it’s a sign that your day job isn’t particularly engaging. You spend 1/3 of your life on work, so why waste it on something which you find utterly dull [5.11.2018].
Taking time and writing a personal happy birthday message is a great occasion and ice breaker to reconnect with your mentors, friends, and relatives [3.11.2018].
If you’re a interview podcast host, do only 1% of the talking during the interview. The majority of listeners came to listen to the guest, not you. It’s not that you, as a host, have no insightful ideas worth listening to, but listeners’ minds are more open to the interviewee. So don’t break that mental model in your listeners’ minds. Focus on your guest, ask open thought provoking questions and let him/her do all the talking [2.11.2018].
If you’re a manager, do 30-minute one-on-one conversations with your reports once every 2 weeks. The purpose of this meeting is to dig beneath the surface of the day-to-day routine and freely exchange ideas, emotions, and know-hows. The agenda and tone are set by the report. Anything intriguing & bothering the report, any heart-to-heart issues is a fair game [1.11.2018].
I often find myself wresting between moderate within-the-reach goals and big hairy audacious stretch goals. It’s easier to feel progress with the former: practice small daily victories! The latter, on the other hand, have ‘aim for the stars, if you fail, you’ll land on the moon’ argument going for them. So what do you pick? [31.10.2018]
Corollary to the previous point: it makes sense to start a micro-VC if you’re transferring a lot of cred from your success elsewhere, you already have a lot of respect among entrepreneurs or you’re a celebrity of some sort. This way it’s more likely that the best startups come to you for mentorship/network/money [in that order] and it’s more likely that you’ll catch the next Uber among them. If, on the other hand, you’re starting a micro-VC from zero velocity [no initial energy from your previous achievements] — that’s akin to suicide. You’ll be chasing the leftovers of leftovers of startups [31.10.2018].
Starting a micro-VC is a very difficult sell for potential LPs. Let’s say you raise a 10M fund as a micro-VC. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you will deploy this capital by putting in 100K in 100 startups over 5 years. Each investment is a seed stage investment at 5M valuation which means you get 2% stake in the startup. Now let’s play a good scenario: a startup raises 10M round A at 50M valuation, raises 20M round B at 100M Valuation and 40M round C at 200M valuation. Your 2% stake is diluted to 0.5% in a 200M company. That’s 1M! Just to return the fund [modulo 20% carry & 2% management fees], you need 10 outcomes like that. This brings me to the open secret of venture capital: not to go out of business, among your 100 investments you need to catch the future supernova which will return your money 1000x! [30.10.2018]
When you are consistently nearing $0 balance in your bank account a week before the end of the month, instead of rethinking your spending habits and nickel-diming a few hundred bucks [low leverage activity], brainstorm on generating new sources of income. Multiple sources > one source [29.10.2018].
I feel naked when I share the details of my daily routines. They are the view into my sacred ‘me’ time and I’m afraid I won’t stick to these activities if I share them. Here’s the snapshot of my current daily rituals list: 20 mins in the gym or a swimming pool, listening to the podcast during commute to work, 5 games on Lumosity, writing one thought a day [you’re reading one of them this very moment], and 30 mins on Udacity. Crossing my fingers that my atomic habits are here to stay [27.10.2018].
If you went to a prestigious college, all thing being equal [you work as hard as the best people, etc.] and unless you really screw up, for a long time you will have a slight advantage over others. Especially in aspects related to social interaction: attracting talent or applying for a job, selling, fundraising, speaking, writing, presenting. That slight advantage compounds over time as each intermediate success opens doors for even bigger victories. So if you’re in high school [unless you’re a real maverick who will succeed despite all odds], don’t second guess yourself, don’t get into existentialism, just work as hard as you can for 2–3 years to get into top college to earn that slight advantage [26.10.2018].
It’s incredible how through decades of schooling we’re conditioned to pursue so many things in a strict sequential order [reading a book chapter by chapter, taking the online course lesson by lesson, etc.]. So often we’re stuck on an uncomfortable & boring chapter or lesson, and effectively don’t make any progress on that book or course for months. Feel free to skip those chapters just to keep the momentum going. So many books and online courses can be consumed a la carte. Make it a daily habit and ignore the sequential order [25.10.2018].
When I ask my friends about their ideal lifestyle at the age of 40 [when they’re done making money], most of them say that they want to start product studios to work on cool ideas without the pressure to monetize. I just realized that I actually already lived through that dream life [from 2013 to 2017 while turning creative ideas into mobile apps & games at our studio and the incubator]. The problem was that I didn’t deserve that lifestyle. I started doing what I love [and ignoring what the market wants] too early. That’s why an exciting product studio had to turn into a boring services company. Lesson here: build the capital before pursuing your free sky artistic dreams. Sometimes you get lucky and can achieve both at the same time [building capital while pursuing your dreams]. But more often than not you don’t [24.10.2018].
Reading is only 5% of the work. The rest is summarizing its main ideas (5%), sharing lessons with others (10%), and finally — actually implementing it in work & life (80%). The New Year’s resolution shouldn’t be about reading 20 books. It should be about finishing one good book and bringing its key ideas into 100% action [23.10.2018].
As a learner, I tend to gravitate towards people who generate a lot of insights [23.10.2018].
You need to deserve your desired lifestyle. Want an athletic body? Earn it with discipline. Want to have a house with ocean view? Earn it by building a value creating business. Living the lifestyle you don’t deserve isn’t sustainable, leads to emotional short term decisions, and long term mistakes [22.10.2018].
How to read a book: instruction manual. 1) Empty your mind. 2) Get your magnifying glass to hunt for treasures. 3) Read for one hour with the maximum focus. 4) Close the book and summarize top 7 ideas you’ve learnt from it. 5) Within the next day, find a chance to apply those ideas or teach them to your colleagues/friends [19.10.2018].
Businessmen are not born, they build themselves. Instead of constantly falling on the excuse that you’re an ‘artist’ entrepreneur [as opposed to ‘business’ entrepreneur], use every chance to improve your supply-demand filter. Good business ideas [as opposed to pure product ideas] will follow [19.10.2018].
Watching Udacity videos without doing projects is an illusion of knowledge [18.10.2018].
A lot of productivity can be unleashed from a successful marriage between two extremes: a strict military level discipline and free-spirited creative freedom [17.10.2018].
Simulated annealing / exploitation-exploration applied to life: don’t always execute [applying what you already know, improving on your day-to-day metrics, burning tasks from your todo list], sometimes deliberately take time to search [get distracted by learning new things, explore uncharted territories, wander in parks or libraries, don’t believe in anything, sharpen your saw] [15.10.2018].
Imagine 4 quadrants. On x-axis: light capital, heavy capital. On y-axis: obvious idea, non-obvious. Light capital + obvious idea: that’s a small business. Light capital + non-obvious: Google, Facebook in early days. Heavy capital + obvious idea: starting Uber in your country. Heavy capital + non-obvious idea: Tesla, SpaceX [expanding on the framework I learnt from Chamath — 15.10.2018].
How to give negative performance review for an employee in a positive way: ‘I have a strong conviction that you can do much better than this’. Good employees who just had a bad quarter will get your feedback. Employees who won’t get it are probably not someones you want to have around anyway [13.10.2018].
The desire to impress someone you admire is paralyzing [on speaking to tech legends — 12.10.2018].
Top-down goals achieve alignment with the big vision. Bottom-up goals achieve creative autonomy. Find aurea mediocritas in the tension between the two [10.10.2018].
While 99% of us are on our phones, 1% of humanity is busy creating stuff for the rest 99% to consume [09.10.2018].
Fear of making mistakes has a paralyzing effect — it puts you in the state when you make a mistake after mistake. Deal with that fear before attempting to win [08.10.2018].
Sometimes what prevents us from writing sincerely (or blocks writing altogether) is the desire to impress our peers. When you write with beginner’s mind, you’re unstoppable! [06.10.2018]
What we call gut or intuition is subconscious pattern recognition built on years of historical examples we encountered. Sometimes we get lucky and our intuition tells us the right thing. Sometimes it doesn’t. To know whether we should follow intuition in a particular case, we should break down the historical ingredients our intuition was modeled around and check whether those ingredients are relevant to the problem at hand [05.10.2018].
My hunch is that it’s possible to make time on weekends or evenings, start humble side projects and lead them to $1M outcome while working full-time on a single $1B outcome. Hopefully [04.10.2018].
Killer applications pull a great infrastructure out of the civilization which in turn leads to even better apps leading to better infrastructure. Cars (apps) pushed us to build highways (infrastructure) to substitute roads built for horses and carriages [03.10.2018].
When you’re fish, it’s easy to take water for granted. Don’t fall into this trap in a comfortable marriage. Lazy thinking leads to lazy efforts which in turn lead to lazy results. Make a conscious effort to speak your wife’s language of love [02.10.2018].
Society is often unforgiving and judgemental. If you start creative side projects outside of your main one, they just assume by default that your core project is majorly suffering and will explain any setbacks in it by your lack of focus and dedication. But we have to remember that people are wired differently. Some are singularly focused warriors who can dedicate decades on one thing. Others are pathological jugglers seeking inspiration from many different sources. The latter tend to rarely succeed professionally, but one might argue they live more fulfilling and happy lives. I’m striving to be one goal warrior 80% of the time, and a creative juggler 20% of the time. Juggling creates a free environment to generate new ideas [which may, as a bonus, benefit the 80% project], gives me energy and satisfaction, and is a healthy vehicle to express one’s multidisciplinary self [01.10.2018].
You can’t be successful if you have 100% certainty that you know everything. But you can’t be successful if you don’t know anything either [29.09.2018].
We’re either too cautious or too aggressive. Beware of your biases, develop a good judgement of the situation and apply caution or aggression accordingly [29.09.2018].
Truly world class performance can’t be broken to rules. Everyone who thinks there is a shortcut to top 1% mastery is delusional. Having said that, when you’re starting out, you have to start from something. To break the deadlock of initial inertia, starting from simple rules works better than trial-and-error [28.09.2018].
When you’re used to listening to podcasts on 2x speed, going to 1x is such a torture. It’s so true for other aspects of our lives as well. So often we find ourselves living in low resolution, 1x world and don’t even know what the other side has to offer. If we do, we will never want to go back again [on hyperclocking your mind — 27.09.2018].
Most of us experienced this in high school or college. Our past environment told us we were good at math/programming/physics/writing/etc. (pick one) and we were ready to pick the career based on this early positive feedback. Until we meet someone who effortlessly beats us 100 times out of 100 in that field. This is good time to do some soul searching and figure out whether we can make a difference in this field long term even if compensate our nature with a lot of persistence. Pick the career where you can become the world class performer. There are no excuses for it [inspired by Jeff Bezos’ memory of his classmate, Yasantha — 26.09.2018].
No company would say they are not customer-centric. Yet actions speak louder than words. Do your daily activities suggest that you are unconsciously prioritizing networking at conferences and reading profiles of your competitors over talking to users and doing everything possible to deliver what will make them happy? If yes, then you aren’t running a customer-centric company [25.09.2018].
Apathy and comfort go hand in hand. It’s crucial to always have some amount of discomfort in your life. Discomfort gives you purpose, dissatisfaction with status quo, restlessness and energy to pursue things, big and small [24.09.2018].
Kill bad ideas quickly and ruthlessly, especially if they’re yours! [22.09.2018]
On hiring. Don’t judge in one meeting. Have a second meeting with everyone you shortlisted (e.g. who passed all the stages of your interviewing process) to test their conviction and compatibility with the team [21.09.2018].
Don’t look around too much, look up. Find a reference point within yourself and don’t fall a victim to groupthink [20.09.2018 — based on Peter Thiel’s interview on The Rubin Report].
Instead of 1-hour long weekly plan & review for each of your subordinates, do a 15-minute daily review. Instead of a 15-min daily review, do a 5-min mid-day review. Constraints enforce productivity [19.09.2018].
For quite a few employees the single most motivating factor in a workplace is neither salary, nor title, but a personal sense of accomplishment at the end of each day [18.09.2018].
If you can’t focus while reading a single long document, try taking notes & summarizing what you’re reading [18.09.2018].
Be the step function difference between yourself now and a month ago! [18.09.2018]
Don’t complain about the circumstances. If you’re a professional, you should be able to handle anything thrown at you [17.09.2018].
When things are going well, beware of ego. When things are not going so well, beware of fear [15.09.2018].
On one hand, experiencing poverty in childhood can make you a hungry and ambitious go-getter. It can also go the other way and turn you into a throat-cutting zero-sum negotiator who doesn’t realize the long-term effect of generosity [observations on job candidates — 15.09.2018].
What makes me tired isn’t a lot of work, but purposelessness. It’s so easy to fall in the apathy zone when your destination is too far on the horizon. To create a daily purpose, short circuit your reward system — set yourself a daily goal at the beginning of the day and use 7pm [end of the workday] as the deadline for that daily output. Concentrate your resources to build towards that deadline [14.09.2018].
Perfectionism is sometimes a touch of genius, but often a sign of insecurity [13.09.2018].
The fact we often blindly fall in love in our startup ideas makes us terrible investors in them. Fundraising from unemotional investors from outside is a great opportunity to seek external feedback and realize one’s blind spots [12.09.2018].
No matter how great your job is, some periods are rather dull and require just grinding it out. Here’s what helps. Have a creative project outside of your day-to-day work. It will create the additional sense of purpose, will give you tremendous amount of energy and, most importantly, something to look forward to once you’re done with your day-to-day tasks [11.09.2018].
If you’re feeling purposeless, apathetic, distracted and low energy, do the following steps: 0) put your phone down; 1) focus on belly breathing for a minute or two; 2) take a walk to reflect; 3) reconnect with your mission by journaling or talking to a loved one [07.09.2018].
When it comes to customer discovery & development, leaving the office and talking to users beats any academic research in the form of survey of social science papers [05.09.2018].
If you’re a credit company, charging high interest rates and huge late penalties will fool you by hiding all your weaknesses and will surely lead to a slow demise [04.09.2018].
Hitting 365 small milestones a year will get you further than one huge milestone at the end of the year [on small consistent victories leading to a major achievement — 04.09.2018].
Put your biggest achivements at the top of your resume. You have only 10 seconds to capture a recruiter’s imagination [25.08.2018].
Do you actually want to be a writer or you would like to like being a writer? There is a huge difference between two! [22.08.2018]
Do everything needed (including things you don’t enjoy) to faster get to the state where you can spend as little time as possible doing things that you don’t enjoy [21.08.2018].
Sharing your idea is obviously so much easier than creating it. It gives us the illusion of accomplishment. When we actually start going through the mechanics of implementing it, we realize that the drive to create is no longer there. So don’t fall a victim of this urge to share prematurely. Keep it to yourself and let it be born out of you [20.08.2018].
Always admitting that you don’t know counterintuitively makes people trust you more [19.08.2018].
Your first 10 hires can make or break your startup. So when you’re picking them, think the same way you think when picking co-founders [18.08.2018].
If great opportunities don’t have ‘great opportunity’ in the subject line, how else do you convince 10x engineers to join your startup? [13.08.2018]
Sometimes it’s important to stick to ‘one short written thought a day’ ritual even when you have nothing insightful + new to say [07.08.2018].
‘Lean Startup’ methodology fails in markets with ‘last man standing’ dynamics. In winner-takes-all markets you have no choice, but to outspend in order to hire best people, build the best product, invest in world-class sales & marketing, and ultimately dominate every market you’re entering. Being frugal is a means, not an end [06.08.2018].
Everyone in the team has his strengths and blind spots. Effective teams create a comfortable environment where everyone can express their strengths without holding back, not afraid to offend anyone or come off as blunt. Build teams where people don’t hold back their powers out of politeness or unnecessary humility [02.08.2018].
What should be the expected work schedule for new employees? In my opinion, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm is better than Mon-Sat 10am-8pm. The optimal schedule is the one when you’re feeling productive, don’t grow resentment towards work, feeling the momentum of positive reinforcement and tap dance to work in the morning. Anything beyond that is wastefully burning the midnight oil [30.07.2018].
When illustrating your ideas, be very specific and attentive to details! That’s what differentiates excellent from good [28.07.2018].
There are four ingredients to consider when you’re picking your career: abilities, passion, potential to bring money, and impact. According to Jim Collins (‘Good to Great’), you need to do things at the intersection of the first three ingredients: skills, passion, money. But it’s imporant to be flexible with intellectual frameworks and pick the one which has the highest expected value. There are many examples of successful people who put all their chips on one ingredient. Success there spills over and leads to unlocking of the next ingredient and so forth. Steve Jobs’ career trajectory is arguably money (selling computers to Byte Shop)→ passion (starting to love what you do when you have recognition and success)→ ability (develop management skills as the result of your passion) → impact (creating lasting impact & making ‘a dent in the universe’). Jackie Chan on the other hand followed a different trajectory: ability (10 years at Peking Opera School) → passion (loving what you’re capable of doing & getting better at it) → money → impact (philanthropy and scale) [27.07.2018].
If you decide to be happy in a family life (as a parent, a spouse) at the expense of everything else, you will not be happy in the family life. If you decide to be happy in a career at the expense of everything else, you will not be happy in the career (from the conversation with my lovely wifey; on the non-existing dichotomy between work and famliy — 24.07.2018).
Не могу сфокусироваться ни на чем с 18–00 четверга, когда узнал о трагической новости о смерти одного из самых близих и дорогих друзей. Опустошение и непрекращающаяся дрожь по всему телу от того, что больше не встретимся. Столько воспоминаний нахлынуло. Нужно собраться с мыслями и чувствами, чтобы ими поделиться (21.07.2018).
If you are enjoying your journey, competitors don’t matter. Let them enjoy their journey. It’s hard to drive fast if all you do is looking at the side mirrors (19.07.2018).
If you were to analyze Forbes’ 400 list, you can find out that majority of it are entrepreneurs, 92 people are from finance (hedge funds, investments, etc.) and only 8 venture capitalists! Based on data, entrepreneurship has a higher return on intellectual capacity than VC. (18.07.2018 — interesting observation by my friend, Poshak Agrawal)
Admire your heroes, but never worship them! (17.07.2018)
It’s easy to be humble when you’re a celebrity! (17.07.2018)
2 questions for you, my friend, when you’re 50 and hopefully ‘done with money’ by then: Which company boards would you join? Which 5 cities would you like to have bases in? Why? (15.07.2018)
After college you spend the next 20 years of your life to relieve it again. You’ve got to deserve the privilege to be in the position to learn for the sake of learning (13.07.2018).
Interesting concept for dealing with employees and investors. ‘Minimum viable respect’ — show the minimum respect possible not to seem desperate, but not too little to stay respectful & appreciating (12.07.2018).
One of the top characteristics we seek in our engineering candidates is domain passion. Some of the questions to test that: What do you do in your free time? Do you have any personal projects? What online courses are you taking? Do you contribute to open source? (10.07.2018)
Being comfortable with who you are and the absence of pressure to seem smart is the best immune system against insecurities in front of impressive people you meet for the first time (06.07.2018).
My real reason not to read so many books: “I have no discipline, have a scrolling addiction, and not good at energy management”. My cheap excuse not to read so many books: “I’m just waiting when I’m an investor”. (06.07.2018 — commenting the reading list from Marc Andreessen).
A few cognitive biases which can be reasons behind the fact that some smart people work on bad ideas: “availability bias” — working on the first idea which comes to mind without any due diligence (“I like X and Y. Why don’t I just work on X+Y?”), “endowment bias” (“I’ve already spent a year on this, I might as well persevere some more”) — persevering doesn’t necessarily turn a bad idea into a good one (05.07.2018).
Great question (along with “What would you if you had $100M?”) to test ambition — “What is your ideal life at the age of 40?” (03.07.2018)
When you’re married and exiting the youth stage of your life, your idealism tends to get replaced by the drive for resource aggregation (30.06.2018).
Hiring is a privilege, a blessing. You earn your right to hire by first doing everything yourself (27.06.2018).
Being polite and overly respectful with people who don’t know you might be seen as a sign of weakness and a signal not to respect you. Don’t play overly nice with folks who aren’t mature enough for your niceness (26.06.2018).
Being blunt and direct is very efficient to get the message across. The only thing is to remember to walk a fine line not to offend people (16.06.2018).
Listen to light podcasts on 2–3x and heavy podcasts on 1.5–2x. The more unconformable you are, the faster you learn (14.06.2018).
Using Pomodoro technique, sticking to time management rituals are all shortcuts, ways to work on the symptoms, not the main cause. Instead remember the times of your life when you were in the flow state and analyze why & what led to it. Then recreate that environment. When you can’t wait to push something out of your chest, when you’re addicted to your art, when every lunch break is a distraction, when you can’t wait to get back to work. When you’re in the flow, you will never have to think about productivity tricks (08.06.2018).
Buying second monitors, funding education of your employees — all those things are 1% optimizations on the margin. Build an important company, work on interesting problems — then you don’t need to invent tricks to retain your top-stars. Bring the candle, then the darkness of the room fades away (30.05.2018).
Computer Science teaches you HOW to build. Philosophy, economics, and history teaches you WHAT to build (01.05.2018).
Having reached succcess, so many entrepreneurs become victims of retrospective history, advertise solving a problem & not worrying about building a business and tell how that can lead to a successful business. But aspiring entrepreneurs shouldn’t take it as a prescription. Focusing on building a business from day 0 can lead to success as well (06.04.2018).
First you bootstrap and invest enormous efforts in your goals. After some time when the intertia is established your goals will start pushing you. Persevere and be patient (21.03.2018).
New dimension to pay attention to while recruting. Apart from intelligence, discipline, and ethic, look at the self-awareness (does the candidate have the disconnect between the reality and his perception of herself?) and intellectual honesty (do they tend not to take the blame, but cover it up?). (21.03.2018)
Don’t spend all your energy tirelessly sharing your ideas. Leave plenty of energy for execution. Not closing the loop is an important ingredient in making sure you still have what it takes to bring the abstraction into a successful reality (09.02.2018).
Persevering in the face of a difficulty makes sense when you’re temporarily failing to do what you truly believe in (09.02.2018).
Have some respect for yourself. If your company is option #2 for your colleague or a perspective employee, don’t work with them. Spend time with people for whom your company is their top choice (05.02.2018).
For so many people around entrepreneurship is nothing to do with growing a business & creating the capital. It’s just an exercise in personal branding. Business is a competitive sport. Be clear about your priorities and eliminiate distractions (03.02.2018).
It’s so hard to become aware of one’s blindspots. One blindspot (that my friends helped me identify) which prevented me from succeeding in business so far (in the sense of reaching financial independence) is a complete disregard of money. Indeed, I’ve always pursued what I found interesting & fun and was blocking the inflow of capital knocking on my doors (24.01.2018).
Paradigm shift. When I was in high school and saw someone better than me, I would immediately feel inferior. Now, on contrary, I feel happy — that means I can recruit him to join the team (22.01.2018).
Career 180 degree pivot. My plan for 2018 is to have ‘money’ lens for everything I do. The goal is to have $1M in my bank account by the end of 2018. Anything not leading to that goal is a distraction (21.01.2018).
When you’re 20, it’s OK to ride a bike to generate electricity in a village. When you’re 30, you can’t rely on makeshift solutions — it’s time to electrify the entire village (9.12.2017 — conversation w/ Poshak).
Find the truth between the following opposing truths. One is strategy. The other one is tactics. 1) Have a grand vision of the future + hypotheses to test. It will give you the energy to take risk & persevere. 2) Keep your identity small, be open to improvisation and don’t pretend you knew exactly how it will unfold all along (28.11.2017).
Create the board of advisors & mentors for You Inc.. Calibrate your thinking by having once a month board meeting with them (27.11.2017).
I sometimes think you reach your goals faster if instead of focusing on goals, on a daily basis you focus on what should be done, how it should be done (methods), and what the deadline for a task is. Create your standards of daily output and don’t go below it (25.11.2017).
Fire high-maintenance clients. They are rarely worth your time (25.11.2017).
My trivial realization after numerous mistakes: don’t play the lottery, study the market & timing before committing to any idea (23.11.2017).
Quite often the reason behind procrastination is the lack of clarity. Outline your workday in detail. Treat it as a series of one-hour classes and homework projects. Then ‘kill’ those projects one after another in a rapid succession. Celebrate when done! (17.11.2017)
Pain is a wonderful gift of evolution. You come out stronger on the other end. Welcome it. Learn from it. (16.11.2017)
Listen to everyone, but at the end of the day make a decision based on your judgement. (16.10.2017)
Rewards make you do the same thing over and over again. Real learning happens with mistakes. The way Ray Dalio puts it, ‘Pain x refelction = progress’. (12.10.2017)
Make your weaknesses work for you. I tend to have no motivation if I don’t have something to look forward to during the day. Here’s my trick: if I need to make progress on the important project, then I schedule a 6pm presentation of my work to my colleagues. Now I have a deadline to strive for! (11.10.2017)
The cult of knowledge (learning the first principles) should trump the cult of education (optimizing for grades, diplomas, credentials, etc.). (24.09.2017)
2 recommendations to combat your ego & accelerate your own growth. 1) Find a mentor who is way beyond your current level. 2) Experience something that is way stronger than you, e.g. ocean, mountains, rivers. (24.09.2017)
Build the house you want to live in. Put the ladder on the wall which you care about. There are so many tempting projects. But if you jump on every single opportunity — you will be abandoning them having built a foundation and a single window. Spend time examining opportunities and commit to something you’re willing to spend 10 years on (on careful selection of what to work on — 11.09.2017).
There are millions of ways to make money. Be careful not to pick the one you don’t care about (05.09.2017). Update from 27.11.2017: There are billions of ways to make a small amount of money. And there is a small amount of ways to make billions.
It is tempting to look at other people’s businesses and express surprise saying how easy they are. But the truth is: no businesses are easy. Talk to the people behind them to find out.
Find out as soon as possible the environment which lets you showcase your best self. Then go & build that environment! (08.08.2017)
You don’t say ‘No’ to be an asshole. You say ‘No’ to be able to say ‘Yes’ to opportunities you truly care about (01.08.2017).
For business development roles, hire people with the professional network (23.07.2017).
Goals should be so big (said while your hands are drawing a big imaginary circle) that you can’t miss them! (18.07.2017)
One way to think how to be useful is to maximize the product D x P where D is the utility delta of your improvement in comparison to the status quo; P is the number of people affected by the change you’ve made (09.07.2017 — inspired by Elon Musk).
It’s so hard to think of ideas worth putting here when your mind is in 100% survival (read: execution, business building, etc.) mode. (29.06.2017)
Can an INFP leader turn into a centi-millionaire? (13.06.2017)
The society has the lag time. They still think you’re the same & share the same views as the dilettante who gave a press interview 18 months ago (12.06.2017).
It’s often useful to join the crowds of fans in order to force yourself play on offense to reach out to your heroes (08.06.2017 — on Jackie Chan arriving to Astana).
If you believe X, but others don’t and there is no consensus as a result, try doing something Jeff Bezos does and say, ‘Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?’ (16.04.2017)
Succeed over a long period of time > fail fast (14.04.2017 — inspired by a tweet from Marc Andreessen).
To make sure things get done, store your TO-DOs for the day in the calendar. Now instead of dealing with the never ending to-do list where you mark things off when they are done, you look at your day as a series of external commitments which makes you more likely to complete them. Free bonus: you can go back to any day in history and see what you’ve been up to on that day! (13.04.2017 — on accounting for time).
Business is not about having a brilliant idea, it’s about 0) talking with people from different courses of life, 1) figuring out the problems they face, and 2) offering solutions to those problems (11.04.2017 — what a late realization!).
When you’re saying ‘NO’ to an unplanned adventure due to other work plans, ask yourself, ‘In one year from now, what would you remember?’ (11.04.2017)
Most of (if not all) the ‘self-made’ humans stood on the shoulders of giants (08.04.2017).
Be aware of diminishing returns in your personal growth. The first 20 TV/media interviews you do might go a long way. The next 20 — not so much! Have no hesitation turning them down! (07.04.2017)
Imagine how your ideal day looks like. Now remove all the unnecessary stuff which is not in your ideal day to minimize the gap between the current and the ideal (06.04.2017).
Stop sending stuff which is so bad that people have no choice than to say ‘No’ to (05.04.2017).
When in doubt, always be recruiting (03.04.2017).
If what you’re pitching is a safe proposition, show all the gains. If you’re presenting something risky, show guaranteed losses if no action is taken (27.03.2017).
Nothing is more demotivating than having a manager who is incompetent (26.03.2017).
If you are set out to do 100 pitches, hearing a ‘no’ no longer upsets you — it means you’re one ‘no’ closer to hit the 100 pitches mark (24.03.2017).
Don’t start anything unless you’re committed to go till the end (22.03.2017).
It’s amazing to have people in your life you want to move mountains for (21.03.2017).
Most ambitious young people need to admit that their motivations when they’re starting out are either glory or wealth (15.03.2017).
If your intention is to start a business in tech space, don’t even start a building an app unless you have the capital and channels to distribute it (14.03.2017).
Usually burnout comes not from working too hard, but from the lack of visible results. Momentum is energizing and begets more momentum. Lack of momentum is demoralizing. People work hard not because of unique work ethic or discipline, they work hard because they have the momentum (13.03.2017).
If you’re starting a business, pragmatically speaking — inventing a need is silly (unless you’re Steve Jobs): there are so many needs out there already waiting to be served! (12.03.2017)
If you know what you’re doing, you can afford to ignore naysayers and authority (09.03.2017).
Getting rich = F(happy w/ what you have, time, spending less than you make). (based on Charlie Munger, 08.03.2017)
I would rather be blamed for an action than inertness! (07.03.2017)
Identify what you know and stay away from the things you don’t. The art of avoiding stupidity vs seeking for brilliance (28.02.2017).
When you’re running a business, things just keep piling up — the problem scope never gets smaller. Everyday you do things from yesterday plus new things which come up during the day. Building the software system, the product is an easy part. The hard part is building the system of people — the holistic team who will turn the product into a real company (27.02.2017).
If your singular focus in life is delighting the other person, you’re playing the game you can’t lose — you don’t want anything, but offering everything (26.02.2017).
Too hungry to eat. When you’re pricing your product too low, you don’t have the money to improve it, to build the sales team, to have the marketing budget to reach the customers. As a result, you have little sales which drives the price for the product even lower. A little more time passes and you file for the bankruptcy (24.02.2017).
Swim when no one is swimming. Eat when no one is eating. Build when no one is building (on traffic avoidance, 23.02.2017).
For some people, their names speak louder than their products. For others, products speak louder than names (22.02.2017).
It’s important to be in harmony with your colleagues. But if you don’t agree you don’t have the right not to speak up (20.02.2017).
There shouldn’t be an exit strategy for your life’s work. Play the game, don’t play the end game (19.02.2017).
Fundraising is full-time work. Be done with it as quickly as possible to get back on the product. The important thing is to realize that your mission is to make fire, not to collect wood (18.02.2017).
All employers care about is not the number of books about pottery you’ve read. Show how many pots (crappy, half-broken — does not matter) you’ve made (on portfolio building vs collecting accolades, 16.02.2017).
There aren’t too many viable business ideas. That’s why people with orthogonal, but complimentary skills (engineering, product, design, marketing, sales, business, etc.) tend to consolidate into teams to succeed. There’s no pride in working on a bad startup just because you’re the founder (15.02.2017).
No one, regardless of their rank in the company, has a monopoly on truth (14.02.2017).
There can be so many reasons for a breakup: falling out of love, finding out that there is no fit, realizing that the feelings weren’t there, cheating, etc. Apparently there is another one — being out of sync: when one wants to continue dating, and the other wants to marry (07.02.2017).
It’s a choice — to feel inferior or to feel confident and self-sufficient. It has very little to do with the skills, it’s a conscious choice (06.02.2017).
We do apps better because apps is all we do (05.02.2017 — the slogan to strive for inspired by the motto on the jackets of JC Stunt Team).
Being reactive leads to a lot of anxiety (31.01.2017).
Character praise/critique works better than behavior one: please don’t be a cheater > please don’t cheat (30.01.2017).
If you’re NOT comfortable being vulnerable and asking dilettante questions showing your weaknesses, you’re blocking your own growth (27.01.2017).
It’s, by definition, hard to differentiate between a doer and a talker based on the conversations alone. So to minimize hiring mistakes ask for the resume, ask for recommendations, do the reference check — audit the candidate as much as you can to collect more data points (25.01.2017).
The surprising number of things we need are just one question / one favor away, so don’t forget to ask for help. No’s are expected, Yes’es are not (24.01.2017).
If your daily plan consists of 20 TO-DOs, chances are — you’re a terrible manager! (23.01.2017)
Don’t let your ego hang on to ideas which you thought were brilliant, but in reality didn’t work (22.01.2017).
I used to think the future is unknowable. But now I realize it’s a limiting belief. Do a lot of research to develop a good intution and don’t be afraid to have a strong conviction about the future (19.01.2017).
Imagine it’s Jan 2018. We’ve made $1M in profits and have been featured in the US App Store. What did we do to get there? (18.01.2017)
Each our team member should be entrepreneurial in the sense that they successfully combine 2 ingredients: 1) being creative — coming up with lots of new ideas; 2) playing offense — testing those ideas immediately with brute force, a lot of energy and repetition (from my address to ZeroToOneLabs.com team, 17.01.2017).
You can not address the problem of ‘beautifully shaded penny’ by telling people to care less or to be less excellent (lesson from Ed Catmull, Pixar, 16.01.2017).
If you’re striving to be a good manager, be decisive. When you have 2 options going forward and you have hard time picking the right one, just make the best guess & run all in with it. The less time you spend in decision paralysis, the more time you have to self-correct later (13.01.2017).
Be aware of your blind spots (11.01.2017).
Instead of complaining about the cards you’re dealt with, play them well. Instead of fearing randomness, make the chance work for you (10.01.2017).
Information isn’t the problem. We all know what we’re supposed to be doing. Taking action — that’s where difficulty lies. We all know we should a) sleep 7–8 hours a day at the same time at night; b) regulary eat healthy foods; c) do sports (jogging, swimming, etc.). But why are so few of us are actually doing those habits? (09.01.2017)
Beware of false binary dichotomies in both life & the startup world. ’Should I focus on a successful career or a family?’. ’Should I focus on revenue or growth?’. It’s not either OR, it’s AND. Focus on both (08.01.2017).
Interesting observation from Marc Andreessen. When you’re an entrepreneur, ideally 90% of the time you execute, 10% of the time you think. When you’re an investor, you think 90% of the time and execute the remaining 10% (22.12.2016).
Here’s the killer technique for young college grads looking for a job. Create unprecedented value for the company you want to work for before even joining them. Identify the problems they are facing and solve them. Be willing to work for free. Do whatever it takes so that employers have fewer reasons to say ’no’ (11.11.2016).
Make quick decisions even when you don’t have the perfect data, but what you have is sufficient enough (20.09.2016)!
You can’t afford to be overly modest and shy and not tell the full story to the audience who have zero knowledge about who you are and what you do. Be a mystery to your friends! (12.09.2016)
Don’t be a guy who did something cool 10 years ago and from that time on kept talking how he did it! (30.08.2016)
You’ve got to play in clubs before hitting the big stadiums! (30.08.2016)
Whenever you think of someone’s business, ‘Oh this is such an easy money. I wish I had it’, stop it right there. Any significant success is a tremendous effort in many different (and often hidden) dimensions (26.08.2016).
In a conversation don’t tie yourself by not admitting your weaknesses and giving the false impression that you understood everything. Ask direct questions whenever something is unclear, don’t let a little snowball turn into avalanche of ignorance (17.08.2016).
Either hire the best or the ones who are willing to put in 80 hours a week to become one (11.08.2016).
The best in the team is 10x better than the average (11.08.2016).
You learn the most from the most basic questions. You learn the least from the most complex and nit-picky ones. Yet we often resort to the latter out of insecurity to seem dumb (08.08.2016).
Why live in the constant deferral? ‘Let me do this for a few years, and that for a few more years, and only then I’ll be ready to do the thing I actually want to do’. That’s a really poisonous thinking. Just get right to it. There won’t be an ideal moment in the future. If you aren’t working on your best idea of the present, you’re doing it wrong (20.07.2016).
Quite often pursuing yet another degree is an excuse and unnecessary deferral of big character defining decisions (17.07.2016).
The combination of morning standup meetings (when you outline the plan for the day) and evening debriefs (when you reflect on the past day) is extremely powerful. The former creates productive clarity & acts as a filter for what you should be doing during the day. The latter creates the needed accountability and ‘peer pressure’ discipline (15.07.2016).
The most common scenario: 1) you have an idea and fall in love with it; 2) you build the product; 3) you force the market to use it; 4) you find out that no one needs it. Why don’t we learn to figure out the distribution before even starting to build the product? (02.07.2016)
One upside (possibly the only one) of attending big international technology conferences is to feel how small you are in comparison to big successful companies & entrepreneurs who deserved their spot in the speakers list (27.06.2016).
Do you have enough humility to realize that you can’t afford not to brag about yourself in a presentation? (24.06.2016)
Doing your thing because you think it needs to exist & fighting the uphill battle when forcing the market to buy it — is sometimes as ineffective as being the street musician at the underground metro (10.06.2016).
Be stubborn with strategy, but flexible with tactics (05.06.2016).
The following is so much easier said than done. Uncomfortable conversations are unavoidable, so just have them in the beginning before it’s too late. Don’t shout out terms (which you find unfair towards yourself later) without giving much thought just to be nice. Doing 180 degree maneuver half-way into the process will be extremely painful (01.06.2016).
Sacrifice a few years (make a movie / write a book / build software) and potentially impact millions (10.05.2016).
As a leader, constantly remind yourself to remind the team about the final destination. Otherwise, it sometimes feels that we’re running on the treadmill (09.05.2016).
When it comes to presentations, cut out everything that is not surprising (06.05.2016).
I don’t play well by making others to play worse (29.04.2016).
As creative people, we tend to put ourselves in the center of the world: what we envision the world would need, what we want to exist, what we truly believe should be there. Don’t get me wrong: it does sometimes to lead to massive successes. But when you’re just starting out and you want to succeed (it doesn’t have to be a home-run from the get-go), it’s better to put the customer in the center, and create something the market is already paying for (26.04.2016).
Build a product which has the potential to become the proxy to tax. Just like AWS. 1–2% of revenue from millions of businesses is spent on AWS bills (28.03.2016).
I recently watched Apple Macintosh team’s 2004 reunion. What a touching event that was! ‘Those were the most productive years of my career’. You could constantly hear this thesis repeated between all the good memories old Macintosh team shared. It’s unbelievably great to build a company so that 20 years from now we will look back and tell ourselves, ‘What an amazing ride that was!’ (08.03.2016)
On the ‘last mover’ advantage. It’s easier to improve an existing idea than to create a new one. You’re also more likely to succeed as you can leverage the fact that the previous (less successful) players educated the market before you. You don’t have to be first. Just be different and better (07.03.2016).
If you’re there for the money and just trying to join the ‘gold rush’, don’t even bother learning to code online with the help of some tutorial promising you success in 4 weeks. You will be owned by the masters of their craft when you’re on the pitch. The market rewards you with the capital, fame and success if you have the valuable skills to give in return. So don’t pick the field lightly. Once you choose it, stop any decision making and just focus on being great (04.03.2016).
The wrong way to ask for customer feedback, ‘What do you want me to build? What my innovation should be?’ Instead build something on your own and ask, ‘Does this version work for you? What’s wrong with it if not?’ (02.03.2016)
For optimal performance work on a single hard task without switching. Otherwise, the attention residue left from the previous tasks will be hampering your results (01.03.2016).
The problem with ‘don’t break the chain’ method is that it works until it doesn’t. A few unavoidable slips lead to a sense of guilt and eventual quitting. The alternative is the ‘accumulation’ method. You set a specific measurable goal (e.g. running 1000 miles) and move gradually towards it by running for 30 minutes every day without any frustration in case of skipped days (27.02.2016).
Excellent point I learnt from Bryan Johnson of Braintree. Everyone has a pebble in their shoes. As a good manager, you have to know what is bothering everyone on your team. Knowing that (on top of knowing their value system) is the key to building an effective team (26.02.2016).
Innovator’s dilemma in different words. When companies get bigger, they inevitably start following the process and abandon the very thing that got them where they are now — content, product, technology, people (25.02.2016).
Interesting trick to stop procrastinating on something you’ve been procrastinating for too long. Pick an activity which comes with no effort for you (e.g. jogging in the morning, doing exercises on Lumosity, taking a shower, etc.) and schedule the target activity right after that. You’re more likely to do it since you already have the momentum. In other words, do difficult things right after the easy ones (24.02.2016).
Intuition works if it’s essentially pattern recognition in the field you have domain expertise in. Otherwise, it’s a collection of guesses based on the irrelevant information (23.02.2016).
The best way to get a job at a company when you have literally zero connections is to do something no one else does. And that is — go beyond traditional resumes and cover letters. Demonstrate you’re a valuable part of the team before you’re part of the team. Take their business and improve some key aspect of it — be it product, design, marketing, etc. (19.02. 2016).
For a team to succeed, you need at least one person who gives a shit (18.02.2016).
Competitions (think XPRIZE, beauty contests) are terrific way to concentrate an immense amount of energy and attention into a short period of time. It’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways to spread ideas (11.02.2016).
It seems that the proven strategy to get rich is to take something expensive and make it cheap (10.02.2016).
Don’t lose to the urge to jump into the competition with the rules decided for you by prestige, press, competitive peers and friends. It’s seductive to raise money, get press, hire bunch of people, be on the cover of magazines, partner with big shot corporations, have pictures with celebrities when everyone else is doing exactly that. “The competition is so fierce because the stakes are so low”, as Henry Kissinger said. But to keep the inner peace for optimal performance it’s better to bet on your strengths and play in the game where the rules are made by you (09.02.2016).
Don’t keep starting new projects. Follow through and succeed with the ones you already started. It’s easy to get bored with the lack of results with your current endeavor and prematurely jump to the new shiny thing where you have to discard all your previous work and start at ground zero again (09.02.2016).
When you’re stuck and can’t think of any good ideas, intentionally come up with a few bad ones. Tell me what happens afterwards (08.02.2016).
Be hesitant to ask for advice of someone who is not where you want to be. Talking the talk < walking the walk (07.02.2016).
If your intention is to build a business, you’re more likely to succeed if you build a product paying customers are begging you for. Rather than pursuing an ‘idea’ which smells like an interesting intellectual exercise in futility (05.02.2016).
One interesting and positive side-effect of consciously deciding to work less for type-A personalities within an organization is that you’re no longer on top of things and that creates the vacuum for the new leaders to rise up (02.02.2016).
Intelligence is the ability to see the spectrum. At the beginning of your journey, you’re taught the shortcuts (good or bad, right or wrong, etc.). But as your experience grows with new datapoints, you start seeing the in-betweens, the spectrum (31.01.2016).
Just the fact of being humble doesn’t make you good. The same way knowing your worth and being arrogant don’t make you bad. Some of the biggest masters of their craft aren’t particularly known for their humility. Just look at Bruce Lee, Mohammad Ali, or Victor Tsoy (28.11.2015).
Похоже, что одним из самых сильных предсказателей успеха в карьере является синергия двух полярных сильных сторон: маниакальный фокус (“поиск в глубину”) и безграничная любознательность (“поиск в ширину”) (8.11.2015).
Only hesitate when you’re picking the worthy goal. Once it’s chosen, go & execute without any doubts (7.11.2015).
Не извиняйтесь перед публикой за собственное превосходство (3.11.2015).
Никогда не просите совета у того, на чьем месте вы не хотите быть. Никогда не просите совета у того, кто еще не прошел путь, который вы намереваетесь пройти (2.11.2015).
There are so many problems for the software to ‘eat’. How do you pick the one to work on? Here’s a good approach to fight the decision paralysis: pick an idea with a clear distribution strategy. Innovating on the product is of no use (necessary, but not sufficient) if your potential users can’t find you. Not knowing your business model is acceptable in the beginning, but starting the product development journey not knowing how you’re going to find customers (or make it easier for customers to find you) is a death before birth (inspired by David Sacks — 1.11.2015).
Есть лишь два способа зарабатывать деньги: а) продавать продукт; б) продавать сервис. Теперь для трудностей при создании бизнес-модели больше нет оправдания (20.10.2015).
Here’s one of the main positive social side-effects of wine: when you drink some (>= 3 glasses in my case), you have an excuse to be finally liberated, honestly express yourself and speak whatever was on your mind, but locked due to social conditioning. It doesn’t mean you are drunk necessarily, it’s just your perceived state gives you the superpower to be yourself free of any doubts and over-analysis (18.01.2015).
The best way to deal with the future is not to time travel there, but stay in the present, free of any anxieties, focused on a single task at hand (15.01.2015).
One thing I wish I have done differently while at Dewey (summer 2012) or Collections (Sep 2013 — May 2013) is to speak up whenever I disagreed. Playing it safe and smoothing around the rough edges is one of my weaknesses in communication. My tendency is to avoid conflict and let the other side enjoy a small victory whenever possible (what is right is more important than who is right). However, that’s exactly how you’re going to achieve failure, not progress. If your ultimate goal is to build something fantastic, then you’re actually doing a great disservice to your team by playing it nice. Sincere (never stubbornly disagree for the sake of disagreeing) confrontation is the sign that you care and can lead to great discussions and brilliant ideas (14.01.2015).
Wasted time isn’t going to movies, playing video games, or talking on the phone. Wasted time is what happens when you’re planning something (e.g. reading papers), but fall into the rabbit hole of doing something totally unproductive instead (e.g. checking your email, social media notifications, and messages). Planning something unproductive and successfully executing on that is never wasted time (13.01.2015).
Most beginners rebel against the system at the beginning of their journey. They question the tools, the courses required, everything their mentors recommend. But you’ve got to learn the alphabet before becoming Shakespeare, you’ve got to learn the musical notes before becoming Mozart, you’ve got to learn now to count before becoming Einstein. So don’t turn up your nose to the basics, use the existing system as the platform, build on top of the foundation. Stand on the shoulders of giants and reach for the skies (11.01.2015).
One downside of crashing at friends’ places (or sleeping at any place different from the usual one) is that you have to give up some of your morning rituals (no sports uniform, no tools of personal hygiene, etc.). It feels so unnatural to me whenever I can’t do the routines which occupy the first 2 hours of my mornings (in this sequence: cleansing my throat and nose, brushing teeth, jogging and stretching outside for 45 mins, reading my affirmations, showering, doing 10 Lumosity exercises, publishing a quote at instagram.com/jointhecrazyones, writing down one thought, and learning Japanese words at iknow.jp). At the same, I’m open to break my habits once in a while to feel uncomfortable and experience new perspectives (08.01.2015).
Both working entirely from home or at the office has a roughly equal number of its upsides and downsides. Let’s look at the spectrum between the extremes. The sweet spot varies from person to person, but mine looks like this: every workday, 9am- 1pm, working from home; 2pm-6pm, working from the office. Some people prefer 3 workdays at home, 2 days in the office. What is your ideal scenario? (07.01.2015) Here’s the seemingly low-hanging book idea. Interview or research the best people in the world and share their secret knowledge around a single dimension. ‘4-Hour Body/Chef’, ‘Money: Master the Game’, ‘Outliers’ did just that and succeeded (07.01.2015).
Combining true mastery with craftful storytelling is a rare skill. Quite often we have great masters at their craft who completely suck at interacting with the audiences and sharing their work with others. We see the opposite even more often: great presenters and speakers, but very little meat, very few insights. Combine the two and you join the elite club with Richard Feynman, Steve Jobs, Bruce Lee, Garry Kasparov already welcoming you there (07.01.2015).
Being a messenger between east and west contains tremendous opportunities. Marco Polo, Bruce Lee, Osho, Deepak Chopra, the list goes on. You take the secret knowledge or what is even considered trivial in the environment you grew up in and democratize, share it in a way accessible to the rest of the world (07.01.2015).
If you’re not interested in the opportunity coming your way, you have a clear advantage. I call this the power of not wanting something. How would you negotiate your salary or speaking/teaching gig contract if you weren’t interested? You would price high so the other side has an excuse to turn you down! Just do that. You want to be in the 10,000 USD/hour (not in the 40 USD/hour) league (05.01.2015).
Here’s a viable strategy when picking a major in college. Major in something significant you’ll never study otherwise outside of the educational system. You can work in the industry you’re truly passionate about out of freedom later (03.01.2015).
Афоризмы, 2014 год
Strict adherence to the morning and evening rituals you established is definitely worth sacrificing for connecting with friends whom you haven’t met for a long time (27.12.2014).
It’s interesting to observe the tricks people rely on when doing public presentations when they lack great content. Yelling, running around, falling, acting are all nice to have, but they don’t save the presentation whose only takeaway can be distilled down to one short manifestation of triviality (22.12.2014).
For all the non-technical MBA type business guys out there who are looking for the technical co-founders who will all of a sudden magically realize what you’ve been ideating for years. Most developers have ideas of their own if you think the idea is 100% of the value you bring to the table. Why should they scratch your itch? (19.12.2014)
I’ve been fighting with this tendency of mine for years, but, I guess, that’s just who I’m. What fascinates me the most are ideas. I love the process of coming up with new ones. I love starting new things. I enjoy thinking about new things. However, I easily get discouraged and lose inspiration during the long slog of execution. As the result, given the absence of any external forces, I tend to work on one project for about 2 months and then I jump to the next shiny thing (19.12.2014).
If you’re not working from the office, it’s still important not to stay home to get any significant work done free of any distractions. So get out of the building and don’t open your laptop before you leave home. If you do, chances are you’ll fall into the rabbit hole of the internet and realize what just happened at like 7pm feeling guilty and frustrated (19.12.2014).
For all the Eric Ries and Steve Blank fans out there. 1) It’s important to note that the Lean Startup teaches you how to fail fast. It doesn’t teach you how to succeed. 2) Most people forget what V in MVP stands for. Minimum Viable Product is not a subpar prototype which crashes every minute. It has to be a minimum, yet viable manifestation of your vision. With possibly just one feature that is 10x better than what the competition has to offer (18.12.2014).
The creativity coming from the state of freedom and self-discipline is powerful, but it’s important to note the source of inspiration on the other side of the spectrum: external forces, expectations and deadlines. It looks like quite a big portion of the world’s best creative work was commissioned by people with money. Michelangelo was paid by the Pope to do the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Verdi was paid by the Egyptian government to compose ‘Aida’, Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned by the monastery to do ‘Last Supper’. So if you have hard time finding time/willpower and making yourself create something, consider selling out before building! (17.12.2014)
One of the most unproductive things one can do is to work on the computer when someone else is in the room trying to engage you in the conversation. You want to get some work done, but at the same time you don’t want to be impolite toward the colleague. You think you’re 50% talking, 50% working, but the sad reality of multitasking is that you’re actually doing 1% each. Identify and embrace those circumstances. Pick one and only one option. If you choose work, get your earphones and focus 100% on the task at hand. Switch to the extravert mode when the work is done. On other hand, If you lack the necessary creative energy at the moment and stuck in the room full of people without earphones, the best thing would be to not bother and give up work altogether and just enjoy the company. You can finish everything in just a few hours of solitude later (12.12.2014).
For years I had numerous insecurities about the things most people can do, but I never cared to learn: cooking, driving, swimming, home cleaning, etc. I always thought that someday I have to definitely pick those things up. Out of necessity, out of conformism. Only now do I realize that I don’t have to. Don’t worry about the things you can get away without. Focus on what you sincerely think is valuable. Keep on working on your strengths, instead of fixing your weaknesses. Being disproportionately good along just a few dimensions > lack of weak points across the entire spectrum (11.12.2014).
Being paid for doing something is an incredible mechanism to make you productive. So sell your book to the publisher before you even write it! (05.12.2014)
Гораздо лучше быть идеалистом, чем циником. В первом случае вы в постоянных попытках, во втором случае вы не пробуете ничего (04.12.2014).
Interesting. I’m generally known to the public and invited to give talks based primarily on my past direct or indirect affiliations with established institutions (be it Princeton, YCombinator, ACM ICPC). They don’t invite me to speak based on the things I did in the last 1.5 years when I decided to stay away from big known organizations and experimented with independent projects. It’s definitely mostly due to the fact that most of these projects are yet to bring the results, but it’s worth paying attention to what society values. And it has always valued credentials, external prestige, social proof from the known institutions. Does it mean I should double down on what’s working instead of continuing my journey independently? (01.12.2014)
Don’t optimize on the margins. It’s not worth neither your energy, not your time. So if you’re looking for a flight ticket, for example, limit your options, sort the flights by factors including price, number of stops and layover time, commit to one after 5 minutes of research and be done with it. Avoid being a victim of the wasteful buyer’s remorse. Your energy and time is so much more valuable than a few bucks you save here and there (30.11.2014).
If you want to avoid eating unhealthy cookies, stop buying them and stuff your refrigerator with loads of fruits instead. Never rely on your rationality, will-power and discipline. Instead create a temptation-free environment — the context where slipping up is impossible (28.11.2014).
Being a part of any startup echo chamber can be harmful and dangerous in a few important ways. And the most important one of them is not thinking for yourself and thinking like everyone else. Hence, most ‘new’ consumer startup ideas these days sounds like the result of applying Hidden Markov Model generators on the titles of links from TechCrunch or Product Hunt. We see yet another mobile payments solution, another news reading app, Uber for X, Tinder for Y, yet another photo sharing app where pictures are small and ephemeral as if that makes a difference. If all you think of are the ideas above, it’s time to escape, shut off your old background processes and start exploring unrelated areas you were always curious about: be it a language acquisition, meditation, personal finances or behavioral economics and cognitive biases. Great ideas lie at the intersection in the lonely harbors of appreciation and curiosity (27.11.2014).
When you’re changing careers, starting on a new project in a new industry, you’re not necessarily starting from scratch. Say, you were frustrated with your office job, but always had fascination for writing. Then your day 1 in journalism (where you’re writing about the corporate world obviously) is definitely not ground zero. Even if it didn’t turn out meaningful and satisfying, everything you learnt so far gives you perspective, not obvious analogies and insights. Apply those to your advantage (26.11.2014).
Don’t get stuck in your expert zone. Travel around a new city, pick up a new skill you always wanted, but never found time. Start from ground zero and become a dilettante (25.11.2014).
In this world chasing the bigger and bigger goals, focus (at least one day in a week) on appreciation, not achievement (24.11.2014).
Getting good can mean getting good at the intersection of several fields by being just above mediocre at each of them (23.11.2014).
It’s amazing how many smart people fall into the trap of believing that the influentials whose talks they listen to had the grand vision years before they succeeded. It’s true that some of them had the master plan, but honestly most of them didn’t. What they are doing during their talks is drawing the bullseye around the mark they hit. That’s a great disservice to the amateurs who are just starting out. Influentials have the responsibility to tell the truth. And the truth about success is this, in my mind. Success is getting really good at what you do and trying a bunch of different things until the luck finally finds you (23.11.2014).
Jim Collins likes to talk about Big Hairy Audacious Goals and you always wonder, ‘How ambitious do your goals have to be?’ I think, your goals should be ambitious enough to inspire and pull you away from the comfort zone, but still feel not only reachable, but close. When you sense the proximity, that gives you confidence. And confidence is the main ingredient of any achievement (20.11.2014).
The strategy of ‘successful networking’ at the conference is to be a speaker, not an attendee (13.11.2014 — post-mortem reflections on Web Summit 2014 in Dublin, Ireland).
Everyone is looking for a shortcut to success. How do I perfect my presentation? How do I hustle my way to the influentials? How do I hack the system? How do I learn all there is to learn about marketing? How do I find that person’s email, another person’s email and draw their attention? If all you think about are the questions above, take a step back and ask yourself why you started the journey in the first place. Remember: if you don’t get GOOD at what you do, all the marketing, PR and hustling won’t do anything. They might make you rise to the top for a minute if you get lucky, but unless you’re good that minute won’t last long. Getting good at your craft is necessary, but not sufficient obviously as our history knew great talents who died unknown and unable to share their work. But it is necessary. Everything else follows (29.10.2014 — my follow-up to Steve Martin’s “Be so good they can’t ignore you”).
Если вам комфортно, значит, вы не учитесь ничему новому. Ваш рост приостановился. Проактивно искать дискомфорт — вот потрясающий способ приобрести новые навыки, новые впечатления, новый стимул для роста (27.10.2014).
Never apologize for asking stupid questions. They are immensely important. When you ask a stupid question, people would usually shrug their shoulders and say, ‘Well, that’s how it is supposed to be. Don’t question the axioms. Life — it is what it is’. Nothing can be farther from truth, never be satisfied with stupid answers. Silly questions initiate the discussion, lead to breakthroughs as they question the norms, the way things were done for many years and no one asked why it was the case (24.10.2014).
“In the startup world they say that you should focus on just one feature”. Nope, they are saying to focus on one use case in the beginning, one problem, one solution. It’s very different from one feature. In fact, doing an awesome job on one use case usually requires a few features. Not many though — as that usually leads to Frankensteins (24.10.2014).
Второй закон термодинамики (“энтропия изолированной системы не может уменьшаться”) в романтических отношениях: “необходимо постоянная подпитка закрытой системы, которую вы создали вместе со своей(-им) избранницей(-ком), новой энергией, новыми совместными впечатлениями, новой жизнью” (16.10.2014).
If you apply power law to your career, you might notice that joining a company in many cases can be better (more lucrative, less stressful, more social, etc.) than starting your own. Starting your own company with an intention to make money very often leads you astray (13.10.2014).
В очередной раз о продуктивности. Интересное наблюдение: когда дело касается индивидуальной работы (подготовка слайдов к лекции), требующей для завершения внутренней дисциплины, лучше всего срабатывает техника Помодоро (50 минут фокуса, 10 минут отдыха), когда дело касается совместной работы с людьми (офисные часы, решение организационных вопросов и т.д.) — лучше всего упаковать всю подобную деятельность в один промежуток времени и расправиться с ней оптом, т.е., скажем, 14:00–18:00 во вторник лучше, чем распределение по часу каждый день с понедельника по четверг (12.10.2014).
Для тех, кто мыслит/чувствует/пишет и отчасти оценивает качество своего дня качеством своих мыслей/чувств в виде эссе. Очень трудно ожидать от себя способности создавать высокое качество каждый, без исключения, день. И тем не менее этот факт не должен останавливать вас от того, чтобы писать (хотя бы одно предложение) ежедневно. Если по ходу дня у вас не было новых значительных мыслей, не было бесед, где в результате взаимодействия могла бы возникнуть оригинальная искра, не стоит оставлять свой дневник пустым. Запишите туда интересную цитату, на которую сегодня наткнулись, или наиболее понравившийся отрывок из статьи/книги, которую сегодня читали. Главное не прерывать цепочку и писать ежедневно. В какой-то момент эта эфемерность перейдет в то, что вы считаете качеством (30.09.2014).
Если вы считаете, что ничего не стоите, то вас и оценят не выше гроша (30.09.2014).
Если вы занимаетесь чем-то творческим, то скорее всего у вас есть вкус. Вкус, отличающий великое от посредственного. Однако, когда вы делаете свои первые шаги, то вас может разочаровать тот факт, что ваш вкус, ваше понимание того, что такое качество, сильно расходится с тем, что вы создаете. Не вешайте нос, это совершенно нормально! Прежде, чем делиться миром “гадкими утятами” вашего производства, рассказывайте/пишите о “лебедях”: людях и работах, которые вас восхищают. Позвольте вашему вкусу выразить себя во всей красе. Качество ваших собственных работ последует дальше (29.09.2014).
If you can’t help, but mention your university name in your one-line bio, that’s a clear sign that you haven’t done anything substantial (28.09.2014).
Вам нужно начать что-то по-настоящему новое и непохожее ни на что. Как говорит Питер Тиль: “Не вступайте в конкурентную борьбу бизнесов, создайте монополию”. Убедительнее всего это доказывает гипотеза, что удача равномерно распределена между жителями нашей планеты. Если вы будете в заводи, где вы только один, ваши шансы гораздо выше, чем если вы будете одним из участников толпы, столпившейся в маленьком углу (25.09.2014).
Owning 100% of the $100,000 market in reality > owning 1% of the $1 trillion market on your Power Point (23.09.2014).
Большинство ценных задач зачастую являются сложными. В обратную сторону эта лемма, к сожалению, не работает: решение многих сложных задач не представляет никакой ценности. В начале битвы обязательно не забудьте спросить себя: а стоит ли игра свеч или “соревнование такое яростное, потому что награды настолько незначительны”? (06.09.2014)
Проблема нашего времени в том, что из-за повсеместного интернета и смартфонов абсолютно исчезли (или заполены хламом) минуты вдохновляющего молчания, мгновения красивого самосозерцания или периоды восстанавливающего уединения (03.09.2014).
When thinking of new product ideas, beware of the ideas which are intellectually seductive. They sound awesome on paper, and immediately get interest from yourself and the people you talk to. For example, browsing the habits & daily rituals from the most effective people in the world to build your own regime sounds very appealing. But is it actually useful enough to use the app on a regular basis? That is something time will show (02.09.2014).
Не верьте наиболее правдоподобному будущему. Попробуйте предсказать и создать будущее, в которое никто не верит (29.08.2014).
Most of us have certain opinions on which areas we’re good at & what we should pursue. Do these opinions still hold true? Or they were repeated so many times that you even forgot to question where they came from? Many times what you think you should be devoting your time on is not the right thing. You think you should develop mobile apps and spend disproportionate amount time on that w/o visible progress. When in fact, life has already sent you signals what you should do with it. Just look at the things where you effortlessly reap great results. If your lectures, seminars or talks (you prepared for just one hour in advance) attract hundreds of people and many of them thank you afterwards over email / social networks or stay after the lecture to get a picture together, may be teaching is exactly what you should pursue. Double down on what is working! (27.08.2014 — thinking out loud at the life’s inflection points)
Sometimes when you’re not sure what to do next, life sends you signals on the kinds of things you should pursue. Be receptive to these signals! (27.08.2014)
Для всех стартапов, кто до сих пор боится рассказывать свои идеи из-за 1%-ной возможности, что их украдут: “Вам нужно бояться, что о вас никто не узнает” (16.08.2014).
It’s better to be employed at subpar jobs in the movie industry than to think you’re the smartest out there & can only work on blockbusters right away — and do nothing. You’ve got to create momentum by throwing yourself into the whirlwind and possibly starting with things which might not necessarily excite you, not wait around for the perfect opportunity (15.08.2014).
One thing most men get totally wrong. The attributes which make women seem/be attractive to men are absolutely different and sometimes even opposite to the attributes which make men attractive to women (13.08.2014).
Вот три качества великих лидеров: 1) умение выразить видение — может ли лидер выразить видение, которое динамично, вдохновляюще и интригующе? Что делает лидер, когда все идет не так? Это атрибут Стива Джобса; 2) умение согласовать интересы — в противовес популярному заблуждению, эгоизм, жесткость и грубость — необязательные условия хорошего лидера. Великие лидеры всегда держат в уме интересы своих последователей. Это атрибут Билла Кэмпбелла (CEO, Intuit); 3) способность достичь видения — это компетенция, здесь все ясно и понятно. Есть ли у лидера навыки и умения, чтобы добиться реализации поставленной цели? Это атрибут Энди Гроува (CEO, Intel). (13.08.2014 — мои заметки из книги “Тяжелая правда о тяжелых вещах” Бена Хоровица)
Когда вы создаете что-либо, одна из самых важных вещей — это создать начальный импульс. Если вы будете агонизировать по поводу хорошего плана или тратить недели на бессмысленные споры о лучшей стратегии, считая, что у вас нет права на ошибку и необходимо сделать все правильно с первого раза, то на деле получится, что вы все равно ошибетесь. С единственной разницей — на эту ошибку уйдет слишком много времени. Ошибки неизбежны, примите быстрое решение и — в путь! Создайте импульс движения вперед, гораздо лучше начать с неправильного шага, чем вовсе не начать (02.08.2014).
Embrace your limitations and weaknesses and focus on your strengths. Everything you’re doing means you’re not doing something else. Bruce Lee couldn’t bike or swim and he didn’t bother learning, focusing on his strengths instead. J. M. W. Turner couldn’t paint people, so he focused on perfecting his landscapes painting technique (31.07.2014).
Удивительно, как много стартапов попадают в ловушку слишком честолюбивого видения. Чем больше ваше видение, тем больше времени необходимо для его реализации. А чем больше времени это займет, тем более вероятно, что ваши гипотезы окажутся неоправданными галлюцинациями. Самые успешные компании начинались с превосходного решения узкой вертикальной проблемы. И только потом росли горизонтально (31.07.2014).
Заниматься тем, что любишь — зачастую почти недостижимо. Почему? Часто получается так, что реальность выглядит совсем не так, как мы ее представляли, в том виде, каком мы ее любили. Вместо того, что заниматься тем, что любите, любите то, чем вы занимаетесь (29.07.2014).
Being intellectually honest is one of my top priorities in any conversation. Gracefully accept critique, don’t get defensive and live up to everything what has been done wrong! (28.07.2014)
Фиксироваться на достижении цели и любого внешнего успеха — это игра в рулетку. А отдавать воле удачи большую часть своей жизни не очень разумно. Путешествие неприятно, если все, о чем вы думаете в любой момент времени — это пункт назначения. Если вы измените определение успеха с внешнего (“достижение признания”) на внутреннее (“каждый день учиться чем-то интересному”), то жизнь засверкает в новых красках (27.07.2014).
If I were to start grad school all over again, I would probably study HCI (human computer interaction — the study of designing the interaction between people and computers). I never studied user interfaces, but I seem to have a good feel of what makes an intuitive and non- intrusive interface. HCI is more about psychology, than CS. It also involves design, behavioral economics, and neuroscience among other things. But it’s still at the intersection. Being a naturally ‘people person’ and considering that I think empathy towards people is one of my fortes, HCI seems to be a great fit. At the same, why study formally something you’re naturally good at? Aren’t universities a setting to expand your comfort zone and study something you would never do otherwise (26.07.2014).
Kickstarting things up (be it a blog with no readers, a business with no customers, a book with zero pages written) is super hard. In the beginning it seems that the entire world is up against you. But you’ve got to try extremely hard (especially at the start) to create your own momentum. That’s why being able to hack a non-computer system to your advantage (the question from YCombinator application) is such a valuable skill. So don’t take ’No’ as an answer, be formidable, determinate and stubborn on your path to success (26.07.2014).
Voting for the best idea to work on within a team is a terrible practice. The winning ideas are usually those where everyone is, sort of, half-excited / half-indifferent towards it. But for the idea to succeed in reality what we need is just a single strong ‘YES’, not lots of ‘May be’s. If there is at least one person very enthusiastic about an idea, I’ll bet my money on that team (25.07.2014).
“Should I go to college/grad school or join a company/startup?”, they ask me. Sorry to disappoint, but my answer is disappointingly predictable. It depends. Join the company. But for the right reasons. Go to school. But for the right reasons. Don’t go to school if you want to learn a certain craft. The more direct way to do that is to join a startup. Go to school if you want to learn about the world around you as the university tends to be a nexus of really smart people. The school is primarily a social experience: conversations you have with your peers at the dining halls, insightful discussions with your professors. The friends you meet at the university will be with you throughout your life (11.07.2014).
It’s unrealistic to expect from yourself working out for an hour every day if you’ve never even gone to the gym before. The first step in building a habit is to start from something ridiculously small. First, just go to the gym and return home. You don’t even have to exercise. You can’t start winning unless you participate in the games. And playing & showing up isn’t that difficult. Here’s the sequence I find the most practical in building any habit: 1) just start playing; 2) start losing; 3) start winning (08.07.2014).
If you don’t have your own plan, you’ll always end up as part of someone’s agenda. If you left your comfortable high-paid job to pursue your dream, don’t forget that and don’t be led by externalities into working on someone else’s projects or someone else’s ideas. Don’t do things out of obligation, politeness and diplomacy. Don’t sacrifice your dream to please someone and to be liked. If at the end of the day, you’re not happy, you’re not doing any good to anyone. Take care of yourself and keep pursuing your ideas. Focus on one idea and never look back (07.07.2014 — my address to myself).
Loyalty fed by money doesn’t last long (07.07.2014 — on the harmful in the long term practice of hiring high salary employees).
Sociologists and market researchers make money on your uncertainty to prove all the things you already know. Insurance companies make money on your fear. Casinos and betting shops make money on your irrational hope that in no time you can get rich for free. Please fill in for the remaining 90% of the occupations (04.07.2014).
Многие умные люди недосыпают, хронически не получая сна, необходимого для полноценного восстановления, и при этом считают данный порок своей силой и конкурентным преимуществом. Настоящее конкурентное преимущество — это здоровый сон (01.07.2014).
Это миф, что каждый час, который вы не спите — это дополнительный час к вашей продуктивности. На деле каждый час, который мы недосыпаем — это усталость, раздражительность и катастрофически низкая когнитивная активность (01.07.2014).
Never get complacent. Be happy, but never be content. One of the most growth inducing factors is reaching the true humility within. I’m not talking about the artificial external modesty — when you say self-deprecating jokes and diminish your accomplishments in order to fit in and be likable, however, deep inside you feel a great superiority in front of the audience. The true humility comes from within, you sincerely look at the things you can get better at and learn from anyone around you. That’s the way to never stop growing (23.06.2014 — missed 3 days due to the trip to Kolsay/Kayindy lakes).
Most people often overate the value of marketing to the detriment of the product. You can hassle your way to the New York Times bestselling books list for a week with a good PR, but to stay there for even a month you have to have a great book. Same applies to getting accepted by the top colleges. Between several students with comparable raw intellectual horsepower, the luck might smile to the one who was able to successfully sell himself in his/her college application. However, selling alone wouldn’t make a difference. First and foremost, you have to be a great student (19.06.2014).
The people you need to hire for a startup and for a big company are quite often very different people. At a startup, you need strong generalists, since everyone is doing a little bit of everything. At a big company, things are way more predictable and require deep specialization and specificity. So keep that in mind and don’t go for the lowest common denominator (17.06.2014).
Один из самых полезных вопросов, которые мы зачастую не задаем себе: “Чем мы будем заниматься, когда наша компания или мы зарабатываем 100 миллионов в год?” Остановитесь и ответьте на этот вопрос. Обозначив свое видение, гораздо легче определить, что приведет нас к этому пункту (16.06.2014).
No amount of external success is able to replace
the ‘grounded’ feeling you get from knowing that you have someone you love (15.06.2014).
It’s easy to connect with people who already know you. It takes a real skill to approach someone who doesn’t know your story (15.06.2014).
Есть по-настоящему великие компании, которые в первую очередь просто хотят создавать потрясающие продукты. Не просто эзотеричные нишевые продукты, а продукты, которые доступны для широкой публики. Прибыли для подобных компаний — это лишь одна из метрик, указывающих, что они создают что-то полезное. Прибыли дают им возможность не быть сильно зависимыми от капризов рынка и самое важное — реализовывать еще более честолюбивые идеи в будущем (13.06.2014–6 дней “без мыслей” связаны с презентацией проекта BeingBeethoven.com на Echelon 2014 в Сингапуре).
Celebrities and public figures feel exhausted constantly being bombarded by invitations to meet, compliments, infinite mentions about their successes in sports, business, or science. So if you approach them just like anyone else, you’ll immediately go into their crazy fan boys zone. You’ll be of no interest to them and they’ll look for any opportunity to leave the conversation. That’s Newton’s third law of relationships. So if you want to connect with any celebrity or someone whose work you sincerely admire, have some dignity and don’t let yourself fall into the fan boy trap (07.06.2014 — some reflections after randomly bumping into figure skating stars of past and present: Alexey Yagudin, Brian Joubert and Denis Ten).
На чем чем, а вот на сне нельзя экономить. Каждый час, который вы недоспали, снижает вашу продуктивность в течение дня на одну треть. Если у вас нет времени на сон — это как раз таки отличный повод спать оптимальные 7–8 часов (06.06.2014 — если бы вновь был студентом, то точно прекратил бы свои рутинные пятичасовые 3am-8am). Идеальная команда состоит из 4 типов людей: мечтатель, который спрашивает “почему бы и нет?”, одинокий эффективный рыцарь, который спрашивает “что?” и успешно с этим справляется, административный и правильный во всем педант, который спрашивает “как?” и выполняет намеченный план, а также дипломатичный интегратор, спрашивающий “кто?” и склеивающий людей внутри коллектива. Если недостает хотя бы одного компонента из четырех, это будет заметно сразу (03.06.2014 — мысли после беседы с папой о книге Ицхака Адизеса “Идеальный руководитель”).
Ежедневные ритуалы — это верный способ достигать своих целей, забыв о них (02.06.2014).
However you’re thinking, think harder. Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger (31.05.2014–3 day hiatus in my aphorisms rituals due to the corporate trip to the gold mining facility in Kokshetau. Traveling tends to break habits).
К сожалению, все чаще и чаще вынужден согласиться с Ван Гогом: “Ни одна картина не продается дороже, чем ее стоило создать” (28.05.2014).
The most disappointing thing about teaching (it’s wonderful in every other way) is that if you don’t have a dedicated person recording the video of you alongside the slides (jokes and very clearly explained material), all these preparation and commute efforts feel so ephemeral. They will be valued by only 15 people who come to class for 150 minutes twice a week. And then they are gone. You don’t scale. Your class doesn’t stay as part of your legacy. So as much as possible express yourself honestly with the things which last (on thesiliconvalleyintern.com — 27.05.2014).
The most unprofitable business to be in is not airline business, it’s the business of selling your time (on the value of getting to the point where money is working for you, not the other way around — 27.05.2014).
How do you deal with opportunities coming your way? There are three types. 1) The ones you clearly sense are good — take them. 2) The ones you know for sure are not a good fit — pass them. 3) The ones you feel 50/50 about — take them as that’s the best way to find out (25.05.2014).
Любовь стоит того, чтобы за нее бороться. Однако, измена и следующее из нее подорванное доверие — не временные трудности, это повод уйти (24.05.2014). Результаты получаются лучше, если браться за дело без ожидания, что вас за него вознаградят, вас ждет всемирное признание или что кому-либо будет дело до того, что вы создадите (ни в коем случае не пропагандирую пессимизм — 23.05.2014).
Зачастую самые важные карьерные решения — это те, которые мы откладываем или не решаемся принять (22.05.2014).
Настоящий профессионал способен работать на высочайшем уровне вне зависимости от того, что происходит внутри или вокруг него (22.05.2014).
Любой творческий человек сталкивается со следующим “корпускулярно-волновым” дуализмом. Есть яркая творческая работа, которую он любит. И есть серая работа, которая оплачивает счета. В идеале ваша работа выполняет обе функции, но зачастую дуализм остается. Не спешите уволиться с работы, чтобы начать писать свою книгу на следующий день. Так было написано очень мало книг. Джеки Чан снимается в глупых и унизительных для себя голливудских фильмах, где у него зачастую очень мало свободы для маневра, т.к. заработанные деньги позволяют ему снять 4–5 сумасшедших фильма у себя (и для себя, игнорируя требования рынка) в Гонконге (20.05.2014).
Bad decisions are better than indecision. So don’t get stuck confused by the paradox of choice (20.05.2014).
В последнее время я заметил, что почти перестал писать эссе. На русском в первую очередь. И причиной этому являются очень положительные отклики о том, что я уже написал. С первыми успехами появляется репутация, вам вдруг есть, что терять, и вы начинаете пересматривать свои естественные инстинкты. Не позволяйте себе стать заложником своего первого успеха. Горизонт только расширяется. Создавайте движимы внутренним стержнем (16.05.2014).
Разрешите себе писать, создавать, выражать себя через искусство без ожидания, что вы сделаете свою работу публичной. Пишите в стол, это снимает все сдерживающие оковы, условности и страхи, что вас засмеют. Писать для себя — это скорейший способ создать первый черновик (16.05.2014).
My kind reflexes erroneously tend to say ‘Yes’ whenever possible… Until the over-commitment bites me (14.05.2014).
Продолжайте оптимистично увеличивать общий размер пирога и лишь позже думать о своем кусочке в нем (13.05.2014).
Перерывы в работе просто необходимы не только для эффективности, но и для генерации новых идей, ведь они позволяют инерции определенного направления исчерпать себя и дать пространство для нового направления (12.05.2014).
Наш мозг — первоклассный мастер повторения уже использованных программ. Чтобы прийти с новой идеей, можно, конечно, начать думать о том, о чем вы думали или что делали раньше. Однако, это приводит только к старым идеям. Гораздо лучший подход — это начать думать о чем-нибудь совершенно отвлеченном или о том, что вы видите в данный момент. Часто такой трюк приводит к неожиданным комбинациям и связям (12.05.2014).
Having drunk the lean startup kool-aid, it’s important not to forget that sometimes you have to convince your unassuming customers that they need your product — not just by simply adapting to their needs/problems, building something people want and saying that ‘your biggest competitor is user inertia’. Do talk to your customers, but have a point of view and defend it. Quite often your potential customers don’t realize that they need your product before they see it (11.05.2014 — on customer development).
Вот одно из самых важных осознаний. Чем раньше оно постигает нас в жизни, тем лучше. Ограничения, которые мы видим в мире — это функция, зависящая не от мира. Это функция от переменной нашего воображения (10.05.2014 — F(мира) vs F(воображения)).
Защищайте свое время для творчества. Блокируйте время для непрерывной творческой фокус-сессии прямо в своем календаре точно так же, как вы блокируете время для внешних обязательств. Если этого не сделать, то вы будете заняты весь день, бегая с одного поручения на другое, и несмотря на, казалось бы, непрерывную беготню с разочарованием осознавать в конце дня, что в своих целях вы не продвинулись ни на йоту (09.05.2014).
One of the most powerful action triggers is a success story from the people from your immediate network. Lead by example! (08.05.2014)
Лучше разочаровать пару человек по поводу пары вещей, чем предавать собственные мечты (07.05.2014).
Make your progress visible not just to the outside world, but to yourself first. Very few things motivate as well as feeling yourself grow (06.05.2014).
Быть творческим человеком, кроме всего прочего, означает, что вы должны уметь продавать свои идеи (05.05.2014).
Каждый раз когда мы что-то делаем, мы не делаем что-то другое. Такова альтернативная стоимость времени. Зачастую мы не замечаем, что жертвуем возможностью заниматься чем-то по-настоящему стоящим, поддаваясь сиюминутным соблазнам легких дел (и исполнению внешних просьб), выполнение которых дает сладкую иллюзию прогресса (04.05.2014).
Работать непрерывно при высочайшей концентрации с 9 утра до 7 вечера — не просто не возможно, это подобно тому, что вы постоянно снимаете деньги с вашего банковского счета и забываете время от времени сделать депозит. В какой-то момент вы станете банкротом (03.05.2014 — об энергетическом банкротстве и необходимости периодической перезагрузки).
Наша энергия — ограниченный ресурс. В отличие от машин человек не был создан, чтобы работать непрерывно на высочайших скоростях при потрясающей концентрации в течение длительного периода времени. Физически мы созданы так, чтобы работать синхронно естественным ритмам, когда 90-минутные периоды концентрации (спринты) сменяются периодами отдыха и восстановления. Для меня в качестве последних работают 5-минутная медитация с вниманием на дыхании, пробежки вдоль шумящей горной реки во время обеденного перерыва на работе, веселые встречи с друзьями за ужином либо расслабляющие прогулки на природе (03.05.2014).
Если вы хотите достичь чего-то по-настоящему стоящего, придется провести границу между собственными стремлениями и тем, чего требует от вас этот требовательный мир срочных просьб и поручений (02.05.2014).
Постоянная “подключенность” сделала нас более реактивными ко всему, что падает на нас (в виде сообщений, уведомлений, писем, заданий, просьб и вопросов), и менее проактивными по отношению к тому, что по-настоящему важно для нас (01.05.2014).
Мой подход к контенту, которым можно делиться в социальных сетях, берет свое начало у традиционного телевидения — 5% вас и 95% не-вас (30.04.2014).
Ваша продуктивность прямо пропорциональна широте вашего канала. Широта вашего канала, условно говоря, обратно пропорциональна количеству дел, который вы делаете в один момент времени. Поэтому будьте одноканальны, выбросьте свой смартфон и все прочие внешние раздражители и уподобьтесь серийному снайперу (дел из вашего to-do листа на сегодня), который последовательно и методично расстреливает одно задание за другим (30.04.2014).
Тех, кому вы не нравитесь, не исправить. Когда вы берете на себя ответственность, они будут раздраженно считать, что вы слишком часто тянете одеяло на себя. Когда вы делегируете, они будут с укором спрашивать, почему вам не сделать это самому (28.04.2014).
My favorite way to get things done is 1) to time myself to focus on one thing for just an hour; 2) repeat that every day (27.04.2014).
We tend to long for things we haven’t experienced. If you haven’t gone to a
prestigious university, quite often your entire life will be futilely spent thinking about what it is like to go there. If you haven’t worked at the prestigious company, you’ll badly want to see what it is like. There are two ways to overcome this. Either you try your best to experience as many things as possible to maximize your range. Or you forget about worrying about the opinion of the rest of the world who care about prestige and just focus on doing what you like well (26.04.2014).
Искусство и творчество кончаются в тот день, когда люди, платящие вам деньги, говорят вам, что вы должны делать (25.04.2014). Прекратите поиск любви своей жизни. Вы встретите ее/его тогда, когда начнете заниматься тем, что по-настоящему любите (23.04.2014).
Чем более оригинальна ваша идея, тем меньше у вас возможностей прислушиваться к совету окружающих (23.04.2014).
My new productivity hack. 1-hour jogging & stretching session during the lunch break at work. The way to feel pumped (and avoid post-lunch sleepiness) for the 2nd half of the day! (22.04.2014)
The corporate world is unfortunately so full of meta-work. The most annoying part is having to produce daily / weekly / monthly reports about what you planned and accomplished during that period. Rinse & repeat the process for every executive. Don’t the results tell? Let me rather focus on doing actual work (22.04.2014).
The time-saving / batch processing / single-tasking method you use to deal with phone calls, messages, meeting requests — keep that to yourself. If you ever tell someone about those productivity hacks and show people how you value your time, it’s not necessarily the case that they’ll start valuing it (your time) as well. More often than not, they’ll think you’re jerk and just never talk to you! (21.04.2014)
Карьерная стратегия, которой я придерживаюсь в данный момент — это плыть в направлении, которое приведет к большому количеству хороших вариантов в будущем. Ваш компас знает, где примерно северо-восток и вы устремлены туда. Важно сохранять открытость и гибкость для хороших возможностей, которые могут быть на пути, и при этом не сбиваться с намеченного общего курса (20.04.2014).
Если вы не получали сегодня хотя бы один отказ, пора поднять планку и придумать, как это сделать завтра (19.04.2014).
Если у вас нет времени, чтобы заниматься спортом, то это ярчайший признак того, что пора начать им заниматься (18.04.2014 — о том, как здоровое тело создает здоровый дух и в разы повышает продуктивность).
Позволяя своему уму беспрепятственно странствовать по пространству вариантов, мы фактически вызываем одну и ту же хорошо отрепетированную функцию на набор случайных аргументов. У каждого человека есть навыки, жесты, рефлексы, доведенные до автоматизированного совершенства, и когда они свободно объединяются в случайный ряд, пока вы принимаете душ, как раз и возникают новые идеи. Многие из этих идей будут негодными с точки зрения реализации, но ведь для того, чтобы создавать хорошие идеи, нужно иметь множество идей (17.04.2014 — о том, откуда приходят идеи).
Одна из самых продуктивных зебр — это та, где белая полоска — работа вместе, а черная полоска — работа в одиночестве. Зачастую невозможно прийти к интересным идеям, думая вместе. Лучшие идеи приходят в фокусированно- нефокусированной изоляции (или душе). Работа же в команде позволяет отшлифовать эту хрупкую новую идею и определить дьявольские детали (16.04.2014).
На ранних стадиях проекта использование любой прожект менеджмент системы — это преждевременная оптимизация (16.04.2014 — если вы до сих пор не выбрали между Trello, Asana, Jira, Basecamp).
Плохой дизайн виден сразу, ведь он встает преградой на пути естественных рефлексов. Хороший дизайн легко принимать за должное, ведь он незаметен, его нет. Он тает в руках своих пользователей (14.04.2014).
No matter what you do, never be indifferent (14.04.2014 — on the enthusiasm as an ingredient to success).
The adaption of successful international models locally is often defended as pragmatic risk minimization. But in fact, it’s unoriginal minimization of success (13.04.2014).
Being the best in the world in something is not the only way to succeed. Create the unique linear combination of skills which make you stand out (11.04.2014). Менять свою точку зрения и быть непоследовательным — это не признак слабости, это признак личного роста (10.04.2014).
Чтобы иметь право на собственное мнение, нужно знать все аргументы противоположной стороны, лучше, чем они (10.04.2014).
Out of burning ‘this is broken’ problem-ideas which can become startups? Just look at your credit card statement. Each transaction represented the problem important enough for you to go through the pain of pulling out your wallet (09.04.2014). Consulting seems to be an awesome job! For 80% of the consultants out there, it means making beautiful, but clueless PowerPoints on how to use a hammer, but not being responsible for the consequences of actually using one (09.04.2014 — Note: 80% is the mediocrity ‘coefficient’. The remaining 20% have actually perfected the art of hammering nails and reached the stAGE in life when they’re ready to share what they know).
Понедельник — это не самое главное, самое главное — среда (07.04.2014 — Каламбур о том, что тот, кто находится в правильном окружении (среде) и занимается тем, от чего получает истинное удовольствие, не рассматривает начало новой недели как что-то депрессивное. Тогда понедельники вообще не имеют значения).
Тот, кто не считает себя продавцом, попросту этого еще не осознал (05.04.2014).
The true test of character is sticking to your routine despite the avalanche of sudden commitments (05.04.2014 — on the fact that I broke my new ‘one aphorism a day’ challenge for 4 consecutive days).
Самая “медвежья” услуга, которую вы только можете оказать свои детям — это помогать им с домашними заданиями (31.03.2014 — о необходимости воспитывать независимость, стремление к рискам и открытиям).
I operate in two disjoints modes. At work I’m known as a boring introvert. To the public I’m known as an interesting and out-going extrovert (30.03.2014).
To tell you the truth, the self-proclaimed egoists are true altruists. Unfortunately, the inverse is also true (29.03.2014).
If when you’re thinking about the future, you find Alan Kay’s (‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it’) or Paul Graham’s (‘Live in the future, build what is missing’) advice too abstract, just build what you want. Your desire of the present is the approximation of the future (28.03.2014).
The Muse doesn’t come when you’re not prepared. So work by the schedule and she’ll visit you more often (27.03.2014).
When it comes to the problem of being effective, most people are proud about their toxic habit of multi-tasking. I, on the other hand, found that the most effective way to get things done is high intensity / high focus single-tasking (25.03.2014).
Афоризмы, 2013 год
В вопросах сна мне всегда казалось, что я сова, ведь я ложусь в 3–4 утра. В последнее время закрадывается сомнение: может быть, я все-таки жаворонок, еще не нашедший своего предназначения? (04.12.2013)
Having high energy beats any time management system, so just do sports & eat healthy! (01.12.2013)
Неужели зависть — самый искренний способ сделать комплимент? (18.11.2013) Сначала поборись с задачей в течение 30 минут самостоятельно и только потом проси о помощи (06.10.2013).
Here is the solution to the goal setting dilemma. By aiming high you will fail and land much higher than those who succeed in aiming low (03.09.2013).
land much higher than those who succeed in aiming low (03.09.2013).
Заточка пилы важна, но время, которое мы тратим на улучшение
Помните, что, не признавая свои ошибки и защищаясь, вы, возможно, и максимизируете чувство собственного величия в краткосрочном плане, но, ох как, минимизируете его в плане в плане долгосрочном. Расти и достигать вершин — гораздо интереснее, чем убеждать в своих достижениях всех окружающих (30.08.2013).
Does being disproportionally better than anyone at something require being disproportionally bad in other areas of life? (28.08.2013 — on cons of specialization)
The fact that you already spent so much time writing something doesn’t mean that you now can’t throw it away! (19.08.2013 — on hidden costs of writing software & the power of focus — which is an art of saying ‘no’)
Fixing something what is broken takes magnitudes more time than getting it right in the first try (26.02.2013 — one of those ‘obvious in retrospect, not so obvious in practice’ programming lessons learned).
Be aware of the qualitative distinction in advice from successful individuals and those whose main credential is success in providing advice (26.02.2013).
The knowledge is to be shared, but not forced (20.02.2013 — from a short note I wrote today).
We spend most of our lives in the journey, not the destination. So if you don’t enjoy the journey, why bother? (12.02.2013 — on the need to switch the journey if you’re not enjoying it; influenced by the Eckhart Tolle’s talk at Stanford which we happened to attend today)
Условия — это необходимое, но не достаточное условие (16.01.2013 — о важности среды для развития таланта).
Афоризмы, 2012 год
When it comes to programming, being optimistic is not optimal (21.11.2012 — on error handling when working on collections.me app).
When you under-think, you over-complicate. When you over-think, you over- simplify. (15.11.2012 — on ‘simple solutions are hard’ phenomenon)
It is hard to produce when you are in the sharing mode (02.11.2012 — on how social networks affect creativity and the importance of not falling into the ‘sharing trap’ at the beginning of the day).
In the pursuit of popularity, it’s easy to forget that making one user delightful is so
much better than providing mediocre experience to a million (15.10.2012 — on ‘delivering happiness’ to users).
Most symptoms of procrastination are rooted in the lack of clarity (24.09.2012 — on the necessity of clear goals).
I’m amazed how many people out there possess world-class skills, but no imagination (19.09.2012 — on contractors).
Все сожаления связаны не с тем, что мы сделали, а с тем, что мы НЕ сделали (18.09.2012 — о жизни без сожалений).
My motivation to wake up at 8 has never been stronger — jogging when it’s not that unbearably hot! (06.07.2012 — summers at Princeton without air-conditioning are challenging)
Read on iPad, execute on MacBook! (05.07.2012 — on the difficulty and unnaturalness of reading on computer screen)
Despite all the bad rap 9-to-5 workday is getting, when done well it can be very efficient way to perform (03.07.2012 — on power of microdeadlines).
I’m fine playing devil’s advocate as long as it enforces our creativity (26.05.2012 — on my tendency to criticize and be doubtful).
Сажать саженцы только тогда, когда нужна тень, очень недальновидно (26.05.2012 — о важности построения долгосрочного, даже когда его легко игнорировать).
Заточка пилы важна, но время, которое мы тратим на улучшение
инструментов или поиск лучших методов, может также быть использовано непосредственно на действие. Пусть поиск лучшей ручки не станет преградой для написания классных эссе (23.05.2012 — о вреде постоянного поиска косвенных путей).
PhD is not for eclectic people (26.04.2012 — uttering the obvious).
Everyone will seem weird if you don’t get to know him (26.04.2012 — on the fact that it’s hard to act natural ‘eye-facing’ the same strangers over and over again).
Нравиться всем — очень просто, достаточно уступчивости и отсутствия сильных убеждений. Одно “но” — это прямой путь к посредственности (14.04.2012 — о важности непопулярности). Есть два подхода создавать новые продукты. Первый — быть раздраженным существующей проблемой настолько, что хочется разрешить ее. Второй — быть заинтригованным возможностью, начать поддавать сомнению все догмы и предположения. Первый — подход прагматиков. Второй — подход подлинных поэтов (20.03.2012 — о Apple).
Зачастую тех, кого мы действительно хотим услышать, неслышно, так как они заняты совершенствованием своего мастерства (12.03.2012 — о необходимости читать не статьи журналистов, а тех, о ком пишут журналисты).
Когда здравый смысл решает поставленную задачу, зачастую не стоит тратить время на поиски другого смысла (08.03.2012).
Идеи вторичны по важности, но первичны по рождению (01.03.2012 — и вновь о конфронтации идей и реализаций).
Правда, что идеи дешевы и не стоят ничего по сравнению с реализацией. Однако, это не значит, что идеи нужно игнорировать. Идеи — хрупкие создания, нуждающиеся в заботе и уходе. Без идей нет реализации. Самые лучшие реализации порой начинались с примитивных идей (01.03.2012).
Do you want to be ROWer or a COLUMNist? (my spontaneous play on words to a friend who’s done rowing as an undergrad, 25.02.2012)
Наше стремление к безопасности и тенденция оставлять пространство для нескольких вариантов — намного рискованнее, чем выбрать один вариант и отсечь все остальные (19.02.2012 — о поиске работы, о поиске дела жизни).
Слишком амбициозные цели часто вместо продуктов “все для всех” приводят к решениям “все для никого”. Фокус — это говорить “нет” тысяче и одной вещи, чтобы найти одну, заслуживающую воодушевленного “да”! (09.02.2012)
Вам не нужно будет беспокоиться о продуктивности, если вы найдете то, что действительно любите (09.02.2012).
Афоризмы, 2011 год
Невозможно стать совершенным мастером в каждом аспекте. Однако, причиной этого является не недостаток таланта, а недостаток времени в одной человеческой жизни (19.08.2011).
Всем учителям перед 1 сентября. В начале урока перед презентацией нового материала дайте учащимся 5 минут, чтобы они подумали о новом материале в контексте того, что они уже знают. Когда создаются связи между новой и существующей информацией, эффективность и усвоение набирают новую высоту (03.08.2011).
Всегда считал, что философия — это не пассивная форма интеллектуального бездействия, а набор правил (парадигма) для принятия решений (22.05.2011).
It’s easier to do hard thinking first and easy doing second (01.05.2011).
While horizon expansion is running in the background, don’t forget to deepen experiences in the foreground (01.05.2011).
Decide once and for all the time for your skill practice routine and put it on auto-pilot. This transfers your energy which was used to be lost in useless decision making to more creative endeavors (01.05.2011).
When you don’t have your own agenda for a day, you check email first thing in the morning to let other people decide the agenda for you (sad realization, 24.04.2011).
В какой-то момент важно сосредоточиться на том, что делаешь в данный момент, вместо того, чтобы думать о том, является ли текущее занятие твоим подлинным призванием (19.04.2011). Зачастую вместо того, чтобы заниматься по-настоящему важными вещами, мы утопаем в делах, у которых есть дедлайн (17.04.2011).
There is no shortcut / substitution for deep understanding (13.04.2011).
In essence, in interaction between university teachers and students both LEARN. However, the first get paid, and the latter pay (20.02.2011 — reflecting on my experience teaching precepts). Откладывание дел на потом может быть положительным, но только в том случае, если ради по-настоящему великих дел остаются несделанными сиюминутные обязательства (19.02.2011). Зачастую лучшими слушателями считаются те, кто умело скрывает свою безразличность (21.01.2011 — идея, подхваченная у Насима Талеба).
Do you think knowledge is subtractive or addiCtive? (12.01.2011 — very glad that the first aphorism of the year I came up with has so many things in it: in the question itself, it clearly shows my answer; engages the audience, and, of course, plays with words :) ).
Афоризмы, 2010 год. Мне 23 года.
Быть благодарным тому, что есть в данный момент не одно и то же, что быть ретроградом и не двигаться вперед (09.12.2010).
Наличие конкурентов не причина забрасывать отличные бизнес-идеи. Это также не исключает необходимости делать то, что не делает никто из них (09.11.2010).
Фокусироваться на негативном — положительная черта настоящего генератора бизнес-идей: лучшие компании были начаты не из денежных мотивов, а из непоколебимого желания исправить то, что неправильно (08.11.2010).
Если у вас, как и у многих вокруг, трудности с поиском того, что делает вас счастливым, попробуйте очень практичный обратный метод: определите и исключите то, что делает вас несчастным! (08.11.2010)
Получить хороший совет и в состоянии эйфории от ложной продуктивности ничего не сделать — значит попасть в ловушку этого совета. Чтобы этого не случилось, в то же самое мгновение напишите минимальное действие, которое можно совершить, применяя данную рекомендацию. И в тот же день СДЕЛАЙТЕ ЭТО! (07.11.2010)
Начинать рано недостаточно, необходимо также рано заканчивать (19.10.2010 — переосмысление небезызвестного совета рано начинать работу над домашними заданиями; часты случаи, когда студенты начинают рано, но при первой же трудности закрывают глаза и вновь оставляют “на потом” в нервном ожидании неизбежного дедлайна).
Один из вопросов, на которые я и, надеюсь, очень многие ответят с удовольствием, звучит очень просто: “Чем ты занимаешься, когда не работаешь?” (05.10.2010)
Чтобы не попасть в капкан скуки или, напротив, перегруженности, необходимо тщательно выбирать занятия, которые совсем немного превышают ваши текущие способности (30.09.2010).
Только человек, по-настоящему уверенный в собственных способностях, может позволить себе их не демонстрировать (27.09.2010).
Страсть к какому-либо занятию не результат открытия, она не возникает с первого взгляда; скорее — это результат и процесс овладевания мастерством, которое кропотливо создается шаг за шагом (25.09.2010).
Жизнь — это сумма всего того, на чем вы фокусируетесь. Поэтому посвящайте себя небольшому количеству дел и исполняйте их на исключительно высоком уровне (25.09.2010).
Как диаметрально противоположны от правды те, кто считают, что, если вы находите (читайте: создаете) время для своих многочисленных хобби, то вам скучно и просто нечего делать! (22.09.2010)
Для того, чтобы достичь чего-либо за месяц вместо десяти лет, успейте допустить столько ошибок в процессе обучения, сколько с лихвой хватит на долгие годы (01.06.2010).
Чтобы перевести 50 страниц в день, необходимо поставить цель в 100 страниц
Большое количество альтернатив ведет к еще большому количеству разочарований (19.05.2010 — о важности минималистичного подхода в принятии решений).
Для наиболее эффективного управления временем нужно взяться за управление вниманием и дисциплинированно не пропускать все вредное, что пытается им завладеть (19.05.2010 — о нежелательности регулярных отвлечений).
За нашей видимой занятостью часто скрывается нежелание браться за большие и по-настоящему важные дела (08.05.2010 — откровения по поводу курсового проекта, который до сих пор не сделан ^^).
Что лучше? Беспрерывно работать n/2 лет, чтобы затем n/2 лет отдыхать. Или в течение n лет чередовать часы услаждающей активности в моменты максимальной эффективности часами отдыха для восстановления сил. Я — за последнее (05.05.2010 — inspired by The 4-Hour Workweek).
Усиливать свои сильные стороны — “умножать”, улучшать свои слабости — “складывать” (05.05.2010 — inspired by StrengthsFinder 2.0).
“Нам нужно как-нибудь встретиться!” — дешевый комплимент при виде друг друга, за ним никаких встреч обычно не следует (03.05.2010 — об этике толпы).
Даже при виде собственного отражения в кривых зеркалах, помните о своем подлинном образе (25.04.2010 — о мнении окружающих).
Ограничения — вот подлинная свобода для творчества (25.04.2010).
У вас много идей тогда и только тогда, когда вы ими делитесь, не подчеркивая свое авторство (25.04.2010 — “if and only if” — двухсторонняя зависимость обилия идей и щедрости по отношении к ним).
Чтобы покорить высокую первоначально недосягаемую планку, опустите ее до уровня досягаемости (17.04.2010 — о важности маленьких и быстрых побед для создания эмоций, вдохновляющих на продолжение пути).
Преобладание эмоций над разумом бывает признаком слабости; моментом, когда долгосрочный результат ставится в жертву сиюминутному удовольствию (08.04.2010).
Хотя это не “главное”, однако, победу за участие не присуждают (04.04.2010 — HTTP Not Found Day).
Полезная информация при пассивном понимании ее ценности, воодушевлении и интересу к ней становится бесполезной (03.04.2010).
Афоризмы, 2009 год. Мне 22 года.
Волнение и беспокойство — первые признаки того, что вы не здесь и не сейчас (30.12.2009).
Мое дилетантство во многих вопросах не мешает мне быть профессионалом в других (ответ на тот факт, что когда откровенно признаешься людям в собственных слабостях, многие ошибочно проецируют и «распространяют» их на все аспекты твоей жизни, 27.12.2009)
When your true passion is awaken, it’s no longer possible to force yourself doing things you did before (11.12.2009).
To make people understand your solution, you first need to educate them, raise their level of awareness so they can first understand what the problem is about (21.11.2009).
Позволяйте выражать себя даже в мелочах! (октябрь 2009)
Афоризмы, 2008 год. Мне 21 год.
Озарения посещают как неготовых лентяев, так и подготовленных трудяг. Однако, понять, принять и использовать их могут только последние (О том, что меня в последнее время редко жалуют вниманием, 14.07.2008). Инкрементализм — это развитие істеп-by-істеп (определения в стиле KZ, 28.06.2008).
Чтобы перевести 50 страниц в день, необходимо поставить цель в 100 страниц и потерпеть в этом неудачу (о своих переводческих “опытах”, 25.06.2008). Экономишь на мышлении — экономишь на опыте (о нежелательности решения алгоритмических задач с помощью брут форса, 12.02.2008).
Все те задачи, которые я могу решить сегодня, возможны благодаря тем, которые я решить не сумел. (18.01.2008)
Афоризмы, 2007 год. Мне 20 лет.
Самый сложный вопрос для меня — “как дела?”. Задайте мне его, и я не буду знать, что отвечать. (декабрь, 2007)
Жертва — отказ от хорошего во имя лучшего. (декабрь, 2007)
Let A be the problems of the particular difficulty, let B be the problems more difficult than A. To be able to solve problems of level A, you should not be trapped by them. What is needed is to transcend level A by training, solving solely problems of level B (18.10.2007).
Do everything you can in the current situation within the allotted time further on not to regret about what you could have done, but didn’t (17.10.2007).
I show off to develop my skills, and I develop my skills to show off (NB: the joke that I told myself after jumping over the bicycle rack, 26.09.2007).
Whenever I have a purpose, an enjoyable point of application of my energy and effort, I feel fulfilled, yet not full; total, yet not complete; content, yet still having a capacity to grow further (26.09.2007).
Чтобы вас показывали по телевидению, вам должно быть некогда его смотреть.
Причина отсутствия мотивации — это занятие делами, навязанными извне, которые не доставляют вам удовольствия и исполняются из обязательства, а не личного намерения.
У тебя нет цели, но ты расслаблен. У тебя есть цель, но ты напряжен. (02.03.2007)
Если во время действия тебя тянет ко сну, ты уже спишь. (03.03.2007)
Не забывается только то, что ты делаешь каждый день. (04.03.2007)
Одну и ту же мысль можно выразить диаметрально противоположными словами. Подразумевая, что все в конечном зависит от тебя и необходимо действовать для достижения положительного результата, один скажет: “Твой единственный враг — это ты сам”, другой же на это ответит: “Ты единственный друг самому себе”. (05.02.2007)
Если единственное, о чем ты думаешь во время выполнения какого-либо задания — это как бы быстрее его закончить и избавиться, ты не закончишь его никогда. (07.02.2007)
Everything is easy for the inexperienced only. (08.02.2007)
Худший способ услышать правду о себе — это сказать что-нибудь обидное. (09.02.2007)
Меры в увлечениях не бывает. (11.02.2007)
Как это ни парадоксально, помощь со стороны будет полезной только для того, кто надеется только на себя и в ней не нуждается. (11.02.2007)
Если делать нечего, лучше ничем не заниматься, чем заниматься ничем. (15.02.2007)
Весь его талант заключался в создании таланта из трудолюбия. (20.01.2007) Единственная разница между сегодняшними победителями и проигравшими (но не побежденными!) — в том, что первые уже успели проиграть вчера. (30.01.2007)
Афоризмы, 2006 год. Мне 19 лет.
Начинать лучше всего с начала.
Все используют одинаковый набор слов, но предложения — такие разные.
Все используют одинаковый набор слов, но предложения — такие разные. (02.01.2006)
Для того, чтобы вы стали хорошим учителем необходимо и достаточно, чтобы вы были хорошим учеником.
Человек способен сделать то, что сделал человек.
Высочайшее достижение — это достижение Недостижения.
Занимайтесь тем, чем любите заниматься. Но не для того, чтобы любить то, чем вы занимаетесь, а чтобы достичь в этом совершенства.
Истинный друг кажется тебе врагом. Истинный друг желает тебе добра, роста, поэтому, увидев, что ты неправ, он открыто и сурово заявит тебе об этом. Ты обидишься, твое эго будет уязвлено, ты посчитаешь его своим врагом… Причина всех парадоксов — ошибочное представление человека о том, что существуют противоположности.
Наиболее эффективный способ обучения — преподавание.
I don’t use anything that is not mine when writing. All what I use are “Four H”: a heart, a head, a hand and an hour.
Не ожидай сон. Он не приходит, когда ты его ждешь. Не делай усилий. Он не приходит, когда ты напряжен. Не делай ничего. Сделай все до сна, чтобы усталым естественно прийти к состоянию «действия через бездействие».
И мастерство, и упадок достигаются путем привычек.
Чтобы чувствовать себя знатоком, нужно им не быть.
Don’t lose alertness, never think of work as completed when it is not.
Не ставь запреты, в противном случае ты их нарушишь.
Автор письма — это адресат.
Когда ты сыт, другие сытые тебя не интересуют.
Посредственность узнает все больше и больше и знает все меньше и меньше. Мудрость узнает все меньше и меньше и знает все больше и больше.
Your mistake is the teacher for you and the others. Your success is the teacher for the others. Total surplus equals your surplus plus the surplus of the society. Then in what case is the total surplus greater :?)
Discarding leads not to liberation, but to slavery.
То, чем ты занимаешься в свободное от обязанностей время — и есть то, что ты любишь.
Этика — признак отсутствия близости. Близость — признак отсутствия этики. Мастерство не может быть достигнуто без регулярной практики, без приложения усилий. Но в какой-то момент они становятся преградами: систематичность приводит к механистичности, а избыточное усилие ведет к напряжению, «гиперболизированному» желанию и амбициям. И настоящим мастером становится как раз тот, кто настолько увязнул в механистичности и усилиях, что в какой-то момент освободился от них, убрал в сторону бремя мастерства, вновь вернулся к спонтанности, вновь стал учеником. Концентрация, возникшая во внешнем молчании — ненастоящая концентрация. Избыточная серьезность, скованность и необходимость превращают работу из легкого наслаждения в напряженные страдания.
Опыт отличника и все вытекающие из этого серьезности, заточенности и послушности — вот мой главный недостаток, вот главная причина того, кем я являюсь сейчас.
Действовать, как того требовало прошлое — действовать механично. Действовать, как того требует будущее, значит, не действовать вообще. Действовать, как того требует настоящий момент, значит, действовать по- настоящему.
Невежество и равнодушие к результату — поражение. Мастерство и зависимость от результата — разгромное поражение. Отсутствие мастерства как итог мастерства и отсутствие зависимости от результата как итог зависимости — великая победа.
“Что бы ты сделал, если бы тебя оскорбили?” — спросило Невежество. “Ударил бы”, — ответила Агрессия. “Ответил бы оскорблением”, — сказала Зависимость. ”Поблагодарил”, — сказало Лицемерие. “Остался бы оскорбленным”, — сказала искренняя Неопытность. “Я продолжаю быть”, — ответила Мудрость.
В начале думай с конца: знай, что ты хочешь, и действуй, чтобы этого
Голод для меня — признак того, что я валяю дурака.
Не люблю, когда говорят: «Надо сделать». Если это собственная инициатива, иди и делай: «Не надо говорить».
Aloneness — ALL-ONE-ness.
Ты не принимаешь близко к сердцу то, что к тебе не относится.
Все относительно. Поехав в Америку, вы будете говорить по-английски только хуже.
Афоризмы, 2005 год. Мне 18 лет.
Опустоши сосуд, чтобы наполнить его вновь.
Если вам нечего сказать, вы говорите долго и много.
Падай достойно! Вставай с честью!
Не упав, нельзя подняться.
Самый большой шаг — маленький, самый тяжелый — лёгкий.
Хотите упасть в депрессию? Решайте задачи! Хотите подняться в вдохновение! Решайте задачи!
Всё можно сказать, только промолчав.
Есть только одно состояние — осознанность, есть только один метод — действие, есть только один критерий — результат.
Когда вы решаете квадратное уравнение, вы либо занимаетесь дискриминацией, либо идёте в гости к Франсуа Виету. Занимайтесь исследованием, идите в гости к себе! Только там все корни.
Если вы ждёте чего-либо долго — вы не хотите этого сильно: вам просто нечем заняться.
Навязывать другим свою истину — глупое занятие. Это равносильно попытке заставить рыбу жить на суше.
Не опровергать — а привносить.
Неожиданность = шутка.
Шутка — это правда, которую стесняются сказать всерьез.
Как дела? Нормально, но я не дела. (Обновление от 01.07.2007: к слову, подобным образом я еще не отвечал)
Раньше я жалел о том, что недосказал. Сейчас я жалею о том, что сказал. Универсал — это тот, кто математичен, когда нужно быть лингвистичным, и лингвистичен, когда нужно быть математичным.
Не оправдывайте свое бездействие ожиданием идеального момента. Такого момента по природе не существует. Идеальность и заключается в наличии неидеальности.
Завершаю, начиная продолжение.
Лозунг универсализма: линейная направленность — двумерная разносторонность — трехмерная многогранность.
Идеи приходят без приглашения, но к радости хозяев.
Уровень сознания не зависит от накопленного знания. Сознание не накапливает, а отбрасывает лишнее.
Важно не то, что вы делаете и кто прав. Важно то, кем вы становитесь и что правильно.
Нейтрон и протон, объединяясь в ядро, обладают меньшей массой, чем до объединения. Масса ядра меньше суммы масс нуклонов, его составляющих — это дефект массы. Куда переходит это количество? В качество: энергию связи. Люди же, объединяясь, обладают большей мощью, чем каждый по отдельности. Сумма больше слагаемых, ее составляющих — это эффект синергии.
Совершенство — абстракция, его не существует. Совершенство — в стремлении к совершенству. Недостижение — самое великое достижение.
Плох писатель, который не придерживается того, о чем пишет. Он теоретически из книг знает, что правильно, но не поступает правильно. Знание — маленький шаг. Действие, исходящее из этого знания — большой прыжок к еще большему знанию.
Терпение идет медленнее форсирования, оно — естественно, когда второе делает вид и играет; оно — глубинно, когда второе — поверхностно; оно — исчерпывающе, когда второе — частично; и, наконец, оно достигает, а второе теряется.
Ожидания других > собственные ожидания > несоответствие между ожиданиями и реальностью > разочарование. (Обновление от 01.07.2007: отсюда вывод, полностью устраните всякое ожидание!)
Родина — это ощущение того, что ты здесь.
Общий язык легче найти с тем, с кем общего языка не имеешь. (22.12.2005) Как можно заинтересоваться тем, чем не интересуешься (= занимаешься)? (11.12.2005)
Афоризмы, 2004 год. Мне 17 лет.
Мысль рождается ночью.
Необходимостью действия является твоя действительность. Делать?! Где и как? В настоящем, по-настоящему.
Живи, когда живешь. Спи, когда спишь; созидай, когда не спишь. Ошибка — первый шаг к совершенству, начинающийся со смеха злой толпы.
Прошлого уже нет, будущее еще не пришло. Живи настоящим, мой друг.
Знание — это не заученные слова, формулы. Фразы; это твоя истина, являющаяся результатом постоянной работы и гармоничного роста. Не говорите о своих планах: оглашённое будущее имеет свойство не исполняться.
Утверждение, а не отрицание — способ взаимодействия с людьми. Успех — это сочетание минимума усилий с максимумом результата. Успеха достигает не работа, а человек.
Обман — это правда для рабов чужого мнения.
Школа — средневековый зАмок, с благими намерениями запирающий молодые ростки на замОк.
Рождение нового — всегда прощание со старым, вместе и благодаря которому оно, это новое, подошло к черте, начинающей путь свободного искусства. Именно поэтому истинный ученик перерастает своего учителя, последующие действия всегда совершеннее первых шагов.
Глупец — это тот, кто ищет истину во вне.
Действуй согласно себе, времени и месту.
Не говори плохо о том, что для кого-то хорошо. Так ты вызываешь собеседника на бессмысленный спор. (Обновление от 01.07.2007: 3 года назад я, оказывается, был эскапистом)
Не отвечай на ответы!
Знание о незнании — несомненный признак знания.
Живя, создайте жизнь.
Услышав возражение, вспомните свой аргумент, но промолчите. Невыраженное чувство имеет свойство исчезать.
Любовь есть способность пожертвовать.
Зависть — негативное состояние разума, вызванное низким самоуважением; радость за других — проявление радости по отношению к себе.
Нельзя дать, чего у тебя нет. Хотите подарить добро другим? Подарите сначала добро себе. Доброта по отношению к кому-то начинается с доброты к себе.
Концентрация невозможна при отсутствии концентрации.
Если есть желание и необходимость не делать что-либо, не ставьте запреты на это действие, забудьте о нем, и вы точно не сделаете его. Невозможно налить воду в уже заполненный сосуд. Не разливайтесь — теките!
Брать — это делить, отдать — вот это умножить.
Когда на вас смотрит кто-то, вы перестаёте смотреть внутрь себя. Глупость в “умности” — вот это подлинная шутка.
Успех — это выразить невыраженное, сказать несказанное, услышать неуслышанное, подарить неподаренное, почувствовать неосязаемое, понять непонятое. (Обновление от 01.07.2007: что за бред?!)
Достаточное имеет лишь ценность. Бесценно же то, что недостаточно, что конечно.
Афоризмы, 2003 год. Мне 16 лет.
Скромность глупцов — это хвастливость.
Ошибка есть шаг назад перед разбегом.
Как мало я знаю! Какой оптимизм!
Я видел так много интересных людей. Но после первого успеха они теряли интерес.
Нарисуйте квадрат. А теперь кто осмелится сказать, что со стороны виднее. Все обозримо только из центра.
У меня так «много» мыслей, что я могу их даже запомнить.
У меня нет друзей, потому что я никому не враг. (Обновление от 18.10.2005: чушь девятиклассника)
Я смеюсь над собой, а все надо мной насмехаются.
Ходите прямо, сохраняя вопросительность.
Не читайте при ходьбе, езде, полёте; но летите, едьте, идите при чтении. Лучший пример расклада сил, распада личности и раздора характеров — это давка в очереди.