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Letter sent on Jul 25, 2016

Stranger Hidden Things and Radical Principles


Hope you had a great weekend! Here’s some of the best media I enjoyed last week:

Book 2 — of the best free books series :)

Principles by Ray Dalio

Are you able to have patience, and endure uncomfortable conversations with your friends and colleagues? What if that struggle translated directly to personal growth, knowledge, and monetary wealth? This free book/pdf seeks to answer those questions, and spark evolution in the workplace.

Principles is a collection of the ideas and practices that helped build the world’s largest Hedge Fund, Bridgewater Associates.


The book is written by Bridgewater’s founder, Ray Dalio. It’s an esoteric journey through all the uncomfortable, yet crucial interpersonal strategies and systems needed to create a culture that helps everyone (the founder included) grow professionally. Here’s a glimpse inside:

I believe that the desire to evolve, i.e., to get better, is probably humanity’s most pervasive driving force. Enjoying your job, a craft, or your favorite sport comes from the innate satisfaction of getting better. Though most people typically think that they are striving to get things (e.g., toys, better houses, money, status, etc.) that will make them happy, that is not usually the case. Instead, when we get the things we are striving for, we rarely remain satisfied.19 It is natural for us to seek other things or to seek to make the things we have better. In the process of this seeking, we continue to evolve and we contribute to the evolution of all that we have contact with. The things we are striving for are just the bait to get us to chase after them in order to make us evolve, and it is the evolution and not the reward itself that matters to us and those around us.
In other words, the sequence of 1) seeking new things (goals); 2) working and learning in the process of pursuing these goals; 3) obtaining these goals; and 4) then doing this over and over again is the personal evolutionary process that fulfills most of us and moves society forward. I believe that pursuing self-interest in harmony with the laws of the universe and contributing to evolution is universally rewarded, and what I call “good.”
Remember that experience creates internalization. Doing things repeatedly leads to internalization, which produces a quality of understanding that is generally vastly superior to intellectualized learning.

Principles © 2011 Ray Dalio

Art & Music

Over the last few weeks, I’ve explored generative art.

For me, generative art is so compelling because at any given moment in engaging with it, you’re encountering art that no other person has ever experienced. It’s still early in this field, but here are two of my favorite examples. The picture below contains Brian Eno’s piece of generative wall art behind the bar at The Interval.


My second favorite is Route One, a generative music app released by Sigur Ros, a band from Iceland.

The group created and released Route One, as a soundtrack for their “Slow TV” event/documentary where they drove around Iceland’s coast for 24 hours. If you’re brand new to Sigur Ros, this, or maybe this might be a good entry point into their music.


Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World by Rene Girard is a book that gets better with multiple readings.

“The first impression of the view [Girard’s view] is that it’s crazy… I’ve found it is one of those ideas that took awhile to sink in.” –Peter Thiel

Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World is partially responsible for helping inspire Peter Thiel’s management structure inside PayPal, as well as the class he taught at Stanford (CS 183 the notes from which became the basis for Zero to One).

In Things Hidden, Girard distills his thesis around mimesis, human violence, victims, scapegoats, and how we structure societies. This anthropological exegesis is done through dialogue between Girard and two of his friends.

The book’s central ideas are like a mirror held up to all of humanity’s behaviors. Since most of humanity is oblivious, or would rather avoid looking into a real mirror, Girard’s ideas are just now spreading to wider audiences. If looking into a mirror of our own behavior is too painful to do individually, perhaps we can learn to do it as a species. Our survival might depend on it.

A small tangent… It’s frustrating that Girard’s ideas have not reached wider audiences yet, especially when they lend themselves so well to narrative and fiction. But selling philosophy to large audiences can be difficult, and it requires creative packaging to find success.

One of the greatest salesman, and promoters, Jerry Weintraub, said, “I can get people to notice the sapphire, so it’s not lying in a cellar where it might be found in a hundred years, long after the man who mined it has died. That is my talent. If I had been around with Van Gogh or Melville, they would not have had to wait so long for fame.”

A modern day prometheus or creator must find a way to sell the fire they’ve found to the world. The challenge is to do it safely, in their lifetime, capture a portion of the value, and escape the wrath of an angry and violent mob in the process. Only when Girard’s ideas are woven carefully into myths, and sold in familiar mediums, will they unleash their transformative power, and spark a philosophical revolution.

The good news is there are those doing this with Girard’s work as we speak.


I’ve found that my retention and enjoyment of audio is still high when consumed at 1.5x or 2x speed. Plus, the ability to listen and enjoy a 10 hour autobiography in only 5 hours (~3 days of commuting) has benefits that compound. To listen to podcasts at 2x speed with long pauses removed, check out Overcast.

On the drive to and from San Francisco this week, I finished two audiobooks. The best one (by far) was, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. It’s the memoir of the co-founder of Blue Ribbon, which later became Nike. The book was excellent, and it even made me tear up twice.

There comes a time in every life when the past recedes and the future opens. It’s that moment when you turn to face the unknown. Some will turn back to what they already know. Some will walk straight ahead into uncertainty. I can’t tell you which one is right. But I can tell you which one is more fun. –Phil Knight


“Without realizing that the past is constantly determining their present actions, they avoid learning anything about their history. They continue to live in their repressed childhood situation, ignoring the fact that is no longer exists, continuing to fear and avoid dangers that, although once real, have not been real for a long time.”
“Children who are respected learn respect. Children who are cared for learn to care for those weaker than themselves. Children who are loved for what they are cannot learn intolerance. In an environment such as this, they will develop their own ideals, which can be nothing other than humane, since they grew out of the experience of love.”

―Alice Miller


If you’re willing to be creative enough, there are always resources available to sell your idea, and get the support you need. “To sell their new Netflix series Stranger Things, Matt and Ross Duffer [the creators/writers] cut together a fake trailer using images from approximately 26 movies.” AV Club


This weekend, I binge watched the first season of Stranger Things, and it gave me a newfound hope for the future of TV. Here’s the trailer.

Stranger Things is remarkable in it’s own right, and it contains trace hints of ET, Stand By Me, and Aliens (just to name a few). If you’re hungry for some eighties nostalgia, or a story about a group of underdog kids fighting a corrupt system… watch the eight episodes from season one. They come complete with an original soundtrack/score composed by Survive (Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein).

Stranger Things isn’t greenlit yet for season two, so if you enjoy it, be sure to let Netflix, the Duffer Brothers (the creators/writers), or Shawn Levy (the Producer) know.

That’s it for this week, hope you enjoyed :)

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