A Few Things....

September 17, 2019

1. All That I Have Forgotten….

Rather than reading a lot of new things over the last week, I took some to review some of the things I had read this year and remind myself of the lessons and all that I had forgotten.

There is little point in reading something I think, if it doesn’t change you even a little bit in the long run.

What book has impacted you the most this year ?

Speaking about impact, one of the things that impacted me last year was Ray Dalio’s book Principles.

I even wrote a little article about it.

But in reading this Techcrunch interview with Ray Dalio about his Principles in Action app, it struck me how rarely, if ever, Dalio attributes outcomes to luck and randomness.

I view luck and randomness as a fundamental force in success of all kind.

A synonym for luck is humility. There are tons of smart and capable people, some of them get lucky, but most of them don’t. When you acknowledge the importance of luck and the unpredictable nature of complex adaptive systems, you are much more likely to hear luck when it comes knocking.

In other words, there is a mindset that enables luck and opportunity to not be squandered. In that article, Dalio talks about how great it would be to have Bill Gates’ and Steve Jobs’ algorithms for decision making; however, odds are, those algorithms would be worthless without luck and good timing.

Gates and Jobs represent smart and capable business people who were phenomenally lucky. Walter Isaacson’s 600+ page biography of Jobs fails to mention luck once – that simply cannot represent reality. Buffett has always been a champion of the role of luck, and perhaps because he is so cognizant of it, he and Munger always seem to hear luck when it comes knocking.

I think one of the key elements missing in Dalio’s brand of analysis is emergent behavior, i.e., unpredictable outcomes from the interactions of the system itself.

What are the unpredictables outcomes that could impact your portfolio.

2. I had the pleasure of attending two interesting dinner over the last week.

The first (thanks to Guillaume) was with David Rowan (editor of WIRED UK) and author of a new book - Non-Bull Shit Innovation: Radical Ideas from the World’s Smartest Minds and the second (thanks to David G) was with Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, iBot – the stair climbing wheelchair, the Luke prosthetic arm and Slingshot - a highly efficient water purifier….and holder of 400 patents.

I came away with a few ideas from each. At the 1st dinner we were all asked to discuss the Peter Thiel question: “What Important Truth Do Very Few People Agree With You On”. My answer was: “Death Will Soon Be Optional”. I was actually surprised by how ridiculed the idea was by the other attendees both for it’s scientific impossibility but also for believing that we humans deserved to live longer and that aging was natural and normal.

Longevity is a relatively new interest of mine, probably for obvious reasons….I don’t want to get older. I said to the attendees, as I will to you, that the future in which we can continue to prolong our health span and life span by an incremental 5-10 years is already here. When people talk about average life expectancy it hides the right tail of our life expectancy. What I mean by that is that even though at birth your life expectancy in the US, might be 76, at age 40 it’s now 78.5 and at age at age 60 it’s 81.5. This is just for the overall US population, without doing too much about extending your life span.

If some of the main killers (cancer, stroke, heart disease) haven’t got you by 50,60,70…than you get into the diseases of aging, which are a different breed. Highly recommend Dr Michael Greger’s How Not To Die on how to avoid the main killers.

Additionally most of you reading this probably have better access to nutrition and healthcare to extend our lives than the average population, and that’s before you take in the impact of the some of the work being done or financed (each link leads to a different video) by Prof Nir Barzilai, David Sinclair, Jim Mellon .

I could go on, but if you’d like to think about these ideas and how to increase your life & health span I’d recommend any of the following:

Homo Deus - Yuval Noah Hariri

Why We Sleep - Matthew Walker

How Not To Die - Dr Michael Greger

Juvenescence - Jim Mellon

Life Span - David Sinclair (also on Joe Rogan recently)

The Singularity is Near - Ray Kurzweil

London is celebrating Longevity Week - November 11th, so get involved in a few events if you’d like to learn more. Here’s one for example.

More on the 2nd dinner next time.

3. A few things worth checking out:

A. Two speeches I’ve listened to every year for a decade - Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman and This is Water by David Foster Wallace.

B. My old boss at Goldman Sachs, Marty Chavez was on the Exchanges @ GS Podcast discussing What Can Wall Street and Silicon Valley Learn From Each Other.

Merely believing you deserve something doesn’t make it a reality... but believing you don’t deserve something will prevent you from trying.

Most people are capable of more than they believe. Confidence won’t automatically get you results, but self-doubt sets your ceiling.

“[Courage is] the most important of all the virtues. Without that virtue you can’t practice any other virtue with consistency."

- Maya Angelou