Issue #13

Hello world and welcome back!

Time has warped into an eternal continuum and I guess my mind no longer recognizes dates. A reminder that May 22nd is a Friday.

Happy first Friday issue!

I recently ran across a quote by Warren Buffet: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”

The quote seems especially prevalent in the current state of affairs, as cities begin to reopen and individuals progressively reduce distancing measures. Clearly, the results are mixed. Health professionals agonize over the risks associated with reopening without science-based evidence. Economists focus on the financial strategy to relieve debts and provide stability. Politicians may be more interested in fulfilling a public image and appeasing their voter base.

Over time, most humans will evolve into a ‘specialist’ of sorts. Whether a result of profession, upbringing, or context, our views on the world are constrained to what we’ve already experienced and have formed personal opinions over, or external theories and ideas that we have not grappled fully with. Some are more resistant to new ideas than others, but at ground level, specialists approach problems in wholly different ways. There are a whole slew of mental models that shape our approach to problems, and while certain models have shown to be effective in tackling craft-specific problems, the same structured thinking may not be applicable to a broader, cross-functional problem. In the case of the reopening and many other societal and global issues (homelessness, the future of education, ethics of AI), there will always be blind spots for individuals who take on a problem in their own context and lens. I mentioned in an earlier issue the problem with university classes and the inability of certain professors to fully grasp and adapt to the learning styles of students. Their ideas and views on a particular subject are many times so formulated and sound that breaking those biases and treating the material as an amateur is its own challenge.

The mental models associated with different professions have unlocked solutions to problems that general thinking principles could not achieve, but also have caused confirmation biases in treating new information and problems in a similar manner.

You’ve likely already been exposed to many of the mental models through core classes in school, but at a more simple level, a quick search of ’how to think like a xyz’ yields some interesting results on frameworks, beliefs, and approaches from unique standpoints - xyz can really be any profession that involves critical thinking: software engineereconomist, psychologist, entrepreneurpoker player, and many many more.

The abundance of opportunities and results show how mixed the thinking models can be. There is no way of truly realizing mental models without practiced application, but a more thorough understanding of the fundamentals could surely help in better initial decisions for large scale problems.

Who I’m Listening To

Naval Ravikant. I listened to few of his podcasts this past week and bought a few of his recommended books. I still do enjoy podcasts focused on specific industries and trends (Robinhood’s Snacks is great), but sometimes specific individuals carry a breadth of knowledge that can’t be contained to one specific field - he has an unbridled curiosity for exploring the difficult topics and working to simplify them to some sort of root axiom. The majority of content in both podcasts lies outside of his specific work at Angelist and investing strategy, and instead revolve around philosophies, beliefs, and habits. He is one of my top mentors and sources of inspiration; would recommend taking one (or both) podcasts in chunks.

What I’m Going to Miss

Last time I’ll probably be mentioning Last Dance :/

I don’t entirely love the portrayal of Jordan’s qualities as a leader, which does seem to connote the ‘asshole’ leader mentality. Regardless, the show was wonderful and does break down some notions of the harsher realities of greatness and fame. Greatness that is very well deserved, quantified by the numbers…

The Jimmy Johns Story

Some of you may have seen this little story before, but I read it for the first time on the wall of a Jimmy Johns this past week and felt it worthy of sharing. Even a slightly altered perspective can create a tipping point for an entirely different life. There are a many blogs and even books on this topic but a condensed version does suffice.

The American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, “only a little while.” The American then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?” The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.” The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this take?” To which the American replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then?” The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.” “Millions?” asked the fisherman, “Then what?” The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evening, sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos!”


Question to Ask Yourself

Shifting from public questions and forms to more introspective observations and reflections. I do enjoy thinking about these and hopefully you will too.

When is the last time you did something for the first time?

There are ample cheap answers, but a true reflection can also reveal some interesting realities…

Thank you all for reading!