A Few Things....

July 4 2019

Happy July 4th to all my American friends.

1. Playing the Infinite Game….. Do you know how some ideas stay with you long after you first learn about them ? Simon Sinek’s idea of the Infinite Game is one of those.

Simon Sinek is most well known for his TED talk that sparked his book - Start With Why (43 million views and 3rd most viewed ever). Highly recommended.

His new book is called The Infinite Game. It takes the idea that James Carse first wrote about in the 80's in his book: Finite and Infinite Games.

In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified. In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint.

The book focuses on an interesting idea: what is winning when it comes to the most important things in our lives? Winning in your career, winning in your relationships, winning in life. What does winning - which implies a zero sum, finite mind set, imply for the most important things in our lives.

The book really is a discussion about Buffett's inner vs outer score card. So much of what is broken today is because we approach life as a finite game, even though it is an infinite game.

You do not win LIFE.

If you have a inner score card, what really matters is:

1. Is my daily work aligned with my long term values and vision ?

2. Who am I helping today ?

3. Who am I competing with daily - the right competition is who you were yesterday.

4. What are you getting better at every day? Is it an infinite / perpetual goal that you can keep striving towards ?

Two simple ways to learn more about this:

A. Simon Sinek's podcast with Cal Fussman

B. 10 min speech Simon Sinek gave

It was a good reminder to myself to keep playing the infinite game.


2. The Second Mountain - in late May I had discussed the beginning of David Brooks book. I recently finished the beautiful book and wanted to share two passages on vocation (very different from a career), since I meet many people who are either looking for the “right career” or for more purpose in their lives.

“That may be fine if you’re willing to settle for something meager like a career. But if you are trying to discern your vocation, the right question is not What am I good at: It’s the harder questions: What am I motivated to do? What activity do I love so much that I’m going to keep getting better at it for the next many decades? What do I desire so much that it captures me at the depth of my being? Interest multiples talent and is in most cases more important than talent. The crucial terrain to be explored in any vocation search is the terrain of the heart and soul, your long-term motivation. Knowledge is plentiful; motivation is scarce”

“If you are really want to make a wise vocation decision, you have to lead the kind of life that keeps your heart and soul awake every day. There are some activities that cover the heart and soul - the ones that are too analytic, economic, prudently professional, and comfortably bourgeois. There are some that awaken the heart and engage the soul - music, drama, art, friendship, being around children, being around beauty, and; paradoxically, being around injustice. The people who make the wisest vocation decisions are the people who live their lives every day with their desires awake and alive. They are the ones who see their desires, confront their desires, and understand what they truly yearn for”


3. A few things worth reading or listening to:

A. Bill Gurley from Benchmark Capital was on the Invest Like the Best podcast discussing: increasing returns in the internet era, marketplace businesses, usage yield on world's assets and crafting a career. It’s one you listen to twice.

B. Ian Hogarth and Nathan Benaich published the 2019 State of AI report. It’s a superb and comprehensive read that covers all aspects of AI. One conclusion is the centralization of cutting edge AI in a small number of organizations - and the growing structural barriers to reversing that. DeepMind’s Starcraft model, AlphaStar, took $26m in computational resource to train, while remuneration for top AI talent is now close to $1m annually. This makes the question of AI governance increasingly important.

C. Are you a high achiever who sometimes has a voice in their head whispering: “you’re a fraud”…...Jerry (@jerrycolonna) CEO and co-founder of Reboot.io, an executive coaching and leadership development firm dedicated to the notion that better humans make better leaders, and co-founded Flatiron Partners with Fred Wilson was on the Tim Ferriss podcast discussing coaching & leadership. This is a conversation about how to understand and face your demons. Great notes here.


Quotes I’m thinking about:

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them”

- George Bernard Shaw

“To have a great purpose to work for, a purpose larger than ourselves, is one of the secrets of making life significant, for then the meaning and worth of the individual overflow via personal borders and survive his death”

- Will Durant

“In the long run you hit only what you aim at. Therefore, though you should fail immediately, you had better aim at something high”

- Thoreau