A Few Things....

December 16, 2019

A. Is It 2020 Already ?

How was your 2019 ? What were your personal highlights ? and what are your goals for 2020 ?

I’ve found reflecting and planning to be a useful exercise, not because things go according to plan, but because thinking about what you really want and how you are going to get there is a useful exercise....or as President & General Eisenhower said:

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”

Three are probably two career planning texts that are powerful and worth reading multiple times (I have) and they help guide me.

Firstly, Byron Wien’s: Lessons Learned in His First 80 Years. The three lessons that really resonated with me:

Network intensely. Luck plays a big role in life, and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible. Nurture your network by sending articles, books and emails to people to show you’re thinking about them. Write op-eds and thought pieces for major publications. Organize discussion groups to bring your thoughtful friends together.

When you meet someone new, treat that person as a friend. Assume he or she is a winner and will become a positive force in your life. Most people wait for others to prove their value. Give them the benefit of the doubt from the start. Occasionally you will be disappointed, but your network will broaden rapidly if you follow this path.

Read all the time. Don’t just do it because you’re curious about something, read actively. Have a point of view before you start a book or article and see if what you think is confirmed or refuted by the author. If you do that, you will read faster and comprehend more.

Secondly, Sam Altman’s: How To Be Successful. Here are three parts that resonated with me:

Compound Yourself....You don't want to be in a career where people who
have been doing it for two years can be as effective as people who have
been doing it for twenty—your rate of learning should always be high. As
your career progresses, each unit of work you do should generate more and
more results. There are many ways to get this leverage, such as capital,
technology, brand, network effects, and managing people....Trust the
exponential, be patient, and be pleasantly surprised.

Focus......Almost everyone I’ve ever met would be well-served by spending
more time thinking about what to focus on. It is much more important to
work on the right thing than it is to work many hours. Most people waste
most of their time on stuff that doesn’t matter.

Be hard to compete with....The best way to become difficult to compete
with is to build up leverage. For example, you can do it with personal
relationships, by building a strong personal brand, or by getting good at
the intersection of multiple different fields. There are many other
strategies, but you have to figure out some way to do it.

So what are your personal goals for 2020 ?

Note: if you really want to geek out on career planning, also check out Marc Andreessen’s post on Career Planning.


B. Making Sense Of Our Lives….

After suffering the loss of a few friends, Chip Conley started to read books like Viktor Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning and began to distill the wisdom found in books down to simple equations.

For example Man’s Search For Meaning became:

Despair = Suffering - Meaning

In other words, despair is what results when suffering has no meaning. Grow your meaning and so reduce your despair.

Another way to look at Frankel’s book would be to say:

Event + Reaction = Outcome

He summarized his findings in his book: Emotional Equations and discussed in this TED talk in 2010 on Measuring What Makes Life Worthwhile.

The book is really about the emotions we feel and how we can use them to make our life work better for us.

Some equations that resonated with me and have helped:

Envy = (Pride + Vanity) / Kindness

Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness

Authenticity = Self-Awareness x Courage

Happiness = Gratitude / Gratification

Curiosity = Wonder + Awe

Which one resonates with you, which one allows you to make sense of your life ?


C. Time Is a Funny Thing

It’s hard to fathom time outside of what we experience in our daily lives.

So what does 1,000 years feel like, how long ago was Christopher Columbus alive, when did the Egyptians rule the world ?

This little picture showing Famous People in History was eye opening…..

Here’s how far away you are from famous people in history.

1 generation = 25 years


D. A Few Things Worth Checking Out:

1. Great discussion between Kevin Kelly (WIRED Exec Editor) and Marc Andreessen (a16z) on Why You Should Be Optimistic About Technology.

2. The amazing Esther Perel was on the Knowledge Project podcast….a great discussion on relationships and marriage. Some ideas that resonated:

Behind every criticism is a wish:

“If I say “I wish,” I have to put myself out there. It means I want something and I can be refused. I can be rejected. I can be not heard. And in a relationship that is not secure, I will defend against that. I don’t want to show you that side of me. So instead of saying what I want, I’ll say what you didn’t do. That’s the criticism. What you didn’t do and what’s wrong with you is safer, in some bizarre way, than to tell you what is special about me and what I would’ve wanted”

There are two kinds of growing apart.

“There’s either bickering, chronic conflict or high conflict, or there is disengagement and indifference and separateness. You can either have too much or too little of the thing that actually makes people grow apart. That’s really the choreography of growing apart. It’s constant fighting or it’s so far apart that you don’t even notice if the other one is there or not.”

3. These days every startup wants to be valued at 10x revenue….funny to see that the great Bill Gurley was talking about this in 2011 - why all revenue is not created equal.

4. Another great Scott Galloway article (thanks David G)…..The Dunning-Kruger effect posits that dumb people are too stupid to know they are dumb. Your blind spot is making you arrogant. The antidote: humility. Some people, including me, are lucky, being born on third base.

5. For the podcast junkies, definitely check out this Shane Parrish (Farnam Street) twitter thread on the best podcast episode this year.


E. Quotes I’m Thinking About:

“If you want to be strong, know your weaknesses”

- German Proverb

“Outside noisy, inside empty”

- Chinese Proverb

A powerful line from the “Elder” named Zosima in The Brothers Karamozov:

“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love… “Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially to yourself.”