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A Few Things: How To Be Successful, Prof Damodaran on Markets & Future of Education, Built To Move, Will AI Drive An Earnings Boom, News You Missed, Of Boys & Men, How To Use ChatGPT Like a Pro....
April 14 2023
I am sharing this weekly email with you because I count you in the group of people I learn from and enjoy being around.
You can check out last week’s edition here: OUTLIVE, Predicting The Future, The Age of Average, China's Strength, Replika AI, Attention Is All You Need....
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Quotes I am Thinking About:
The hunter in pursuit of an elephant does not stop to throw stones at birds.
- Ugandan Proverb
He who blames others has a long way to go on his journey. He who blames himself is halfway there. He who blames no one has arrived.
- Chinese Proverb
Measure a thousand times and cut once.
– Turkish Proverb
Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.
– Spanish Proverb
A mother understands what a child does not say.
– Yiddish Proverb
A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out:
1. Everyone knows Sam Altman and OpenAI today, but in 2019, when far fewer people had heard of him, he wrote this great piece titled: How To Be Successful.
I still read it twice a year.
My favourite bits:
1. Compound yourself
Compounding is magic. Look for it everywhere. Exponential curves are the key to wealth generation.
A medium-sized business that grows 50% in value every year becomes huge in a very short amount of time. Few businesses in the world have true network effects and extreme scalability. But with technology, more and more will. It’s worth a lot of effort to find them and create them.
You also want to be an exponential curve yourself—you should aim for your life to follow an ever-increasing up-and-to-the-right trajectory. It’s important to move towards a career that has a compounding effect—most careers progress fairly linearly.
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.
It’s useful to focus on adding another zero to whatever you define as your success metric—money, status, impact on the world, or whatever. I am willing to take as much time as needed between projects to find my next thing. But I always want it to be a project that, if successful, will make the rest of my career look like a footnote.
Most people get bogged down in linear opportunities. Be willing to let small opportunities go to focus on potential step changes.
I think the biggest competitive advantage in business—either for a company or for an individual’s career—is long-term thinking with a broad view of how different systems in the world are going to come together. One of the notable aspects of compound growth is that the furthest out years are the most important. In a world where almost no one takes a truly long-term view, the market richly rewards those who do.
Trust the exponential, be patient, and be pleasantly surprised.
Focus is a force multiplier on work.
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.
Once you have figured out what to do, be unstoppable about getting your small handful of priorities accomplished quickly. I have yet to meet a slow-moving person who is very successful.
10. Be hard to compete with
Most people understand that companies are more valuable if they are difficult to compete with. This is important, and obviously true.
But this holds true for you as an individual as well. If what you do can be done by someone else, it eventually will be, and for less money.
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.
Most people do whatever most people they hang out with do. This mimetic behavior is usually a mistake—if you’re doing the same thing everyone else is doing, you will not be hard to compete with.
2. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could talk to books? You walk into a bookstore, pick up a book and ask it some questions about itself! That is what these guys have done.
3. The always thoughtful and deep Prof. Aswath Damodaran, a nine-time "Professor of the Year" winner at NYU was on the Masters in Business Podcast.
Prof. Damodaran teaches classes in corporate finance and valuation to MBA students. He has also written several books on corporate finance and equity valuation and has published widely in journals.
They discussed everything from narratives (critical), valuation (an art), business life cycle (important to know where a company is), ESG (a sham), future of education (changing rapidly), mgmt teams (critical to have right person at right time), the FED (hear too much from them)……One I’ll listen to twice.
4. One of the things I’ve learnt about longevity is the role of mobility and flexibility. There is no point in living to 80 if you can’t get out of bed and don’t feel energetic and alive. So how do we keep our bodies young?
Kelly Starrett is the authority on this subject, having written the NYT best selling books: Becoming a Supple Leopard, Ready to Run. He is also the founder of The Ready State, which has revolutionised the field of movement health, mobility and performance therapy. He also consults with countless athletes and coaches across the NFL, NBA, US Olympic Team and US elite armed forces.
Some key quotes:
An excellent predictor of mortality is the ability to get up off the ground without using your hands. Try it!
Your movement solutions will be diminished and pruned in your brain if you do not demonstrate that you can do certain movements and can hold certain positions.
Being fit and exercising every day are two very different things.
5. My friend Sean Maher at Entext did a great presentation titled: Ubiquitous AI to Drive Productivity and Earnings Boom?
Sean is a deep thinker and this left me with a lot to think about. Here are my 3 favourite slides.
B. News And Charts You Might Have Missed
1. FBI warned that travellers should avoid using public chargers at airports and elsewhere due to so-called "juice jacking" — when hackers infect USB ports with malicious software.
Instead, the agency recommends bringing a USB cord and charger and using an electrical outlet. An increasing number of "bad actors" are hijacking public USB ports to install malicious code onto victims' phones and other devices. Infecting devices with malware and monitoring software allows hackers to access devices and track and steal data. Android devices are more susceptible than iPhones and iPads.
The FBI also recommends not making any purchases or other sensitive transactions while connected to public WiFi and keeping software and systems up-to-date.
2. The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (given the slightly contrived acronym “juice”) is headed to Jupiter and will arrive in 2031.
Jupiter is by far the most massive thing in the solar system besides the Sun itself. Its vast gravity has attracted at least 95 satellites, making the Jovian system a sort of solar system in miniature. Four of its moons are big enough that Galileo Galilei, an Italian astronomer, was able to see them with a rudimentary telescope in 1610. juice will investigate three of the so-called Galilean moons—Callisto, Europa and Ganymede, all of which are thought to have subsurface oceans. (The fourth, Io, is arid, and so not of interest.)
All this effort will have ramifications beyond the solar system, too. The past 20 years have seen the rapid growth of “exoplanetology”, the study of planets around stars other than the Sun. Besides the moons, juice will also study Jupiter itself. Astronomers now know that gas giants are common around other stars. A better understanding of Jupiter should help interpret data from other star systems too.
And exoplanets are another topic of great interest to alien-hunters. Scientists have already made measurements of exoplanet atmospheres, looking for suggestive signs of life on the surface. The best candidates so far have been rocky, Earthlike planets orbiting their stars in the “habitable zone”, the thin band of space—not too close, and not too far away—in which the star’s heat keeps surface water liquid.
An alien astronomer studying Earth’s solar system would conclude that the habitable zone around the sun stretches roughly from the orbit of Venus to the orbit of Mars, with Earth in the middle. But the growing interest in the solar system’s watery moons suggests that the original definition is far too restrictive.
All four of the solar system’s gas giants are either known or suspected to have watery moons of their own. There is even some evidence that the same may be true for Pluto, a dwarf planet that orbits in the frigid darkness beyond the orbit of Uranus.
Assuming that gas giants in other star systems also have moons—and there is no reason to assume they do not—that drastically raises the number of places in the galaxy in which life could have arisen.
3. A lot more talk about US equity market underperformance. Has it just begun?
C. Of Boys and Men:
Richard Reeves is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, his book: Of Boys and Men discusses why the modern male is struggling, why it matters and what to do about it.
I think we can all see that boys and men are struggling. Profound economic and social changes of recent decades have led many to lose ground in the classroom, the workplace, and in the family. While the lives of women have changed, the lives of many men have remained the same or even worsened.
Reeves looks at the structural challenges that face boys and men and offers fresh and innovative solutions.
Almost two thirds of US University graduates are women. The wages of most men are lower today than they were in 1979, while women’s wages have risen across the board. Women are now the main breadwinners in 40% of US households. 3/10 women now out earn their husbands.
The boys and men most at risk are those at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder. The problems are structural in nature, rather than individual, but are rarely treated as such. Boys are falling behind at school and college because the educational system is structured in ways that puts them at a disadvantage that many never recover from.
Men are struggling in the labour market because of an economic shift away from traditionally male only jobs in extractive industries and manufacturing. And fathers are dislocated because the cultural role of family provider has been hollowed out.
40% of births in the US are now outside of marriage!
One in five fathers in the US are not living with their children. Men account for almost 3 our of 4 ‘deaths of despair’, either from suicide or drug overdose. Suicide rates are 3x for men vs women.
Politics Aren’t Helping:
There is a political stalemate on issues of sex and gender. Progressives refuse to accept that gender inequalities can run in both directions, and quickly label male problems as symptoms of ’toxic masculinity’.
The FT Weekend Magazine cover last week: The Search for Non-Toxic Masculinity.
Conservatives appear more sensitive to the struggles of men and boys, but only as a justification for turning back the clock and restoring traditional gender roles.
Ignoring these problems leads to grievances and creates a vacuum that has been filled by Jordan Petersen and more recently Andrew Tate.
A male-friendly education system that would involve boys starting school one year after girls. This one year gap would reduce the developmental age gap between boys and girls, thereby making education more equitable.
More male teachers - “You gotta see it to be it”, especially in elementary school where currently (in the US) just 11% of teachers are male. This is important for two reasons. First, there is solid evidence that male teachers boost academic outcomes for boys, especially in certain subject areas like English. Second, if children grow up seeing care or education as women’s work, this reinforces gender stereotypes across generations.
A massive investment in male-friendly vocational education and training. He is a big advocate of helping men to move into jobs in the growing fields of HEAL - health, education, administration and literacy vs STEM. This could be achieved by building a pipeline in the education system, providing financial incentives and reducing the social stigma faced by men working in these fields.
D. The Technology Section:
1. This is a good twitter post on how to use ChatGPT like a pro. Note: it’s not like Google. This post has a lot of prompts so you can jump right in.
2. I have playing around with a handful of AI Chrome extensions. This is a good twitter post on a few worth trying.
3. Here are two AI tools that the kids and I spent more time playing with.
Gamma: my 10 year old is super cynical and bored easily but even she was impressed by what Gamma could do.
Magic Studio Photo Booth: this is just a fun little tool to get some pictures.
These are 2 of the ones it created of my wife.
Believe it or not, that “♡ Like” button is a big deal – it serves as a proxy to new visitors of this publication’s value. If you enjoy this article, don’t be shy.
We had a good Easter staycation with the kids. Two things I’ll recommend:
Wicked Broadway Show:
Inventing Modern Art at the National Gallery: