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A Few Things: Tips for a Better Life, Goldman on Commodities, The Book Of Joy, Chamath's 2022 Predictions, Open Sea's NFT Bible
January 8, 2022
I am sharing this weekly email with you because I count you in the group of people I learn from and enjoy being around.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing you this year.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
- Lao Tzu
“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field –- not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard.”
- Warren Buffett
“When you are finished changing, you are finished.”
- Benjamin Franklin
“There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do.”
- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring. Will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time.”
- T. S. Elliott
A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out
1. These are 100 cool tips for a better life.
My favourite 6 were:
25. History remembers those who got to market first. Getting your creation out into the world is more important than getting it perfect.
32. Make accomplishing things as easy as possible. Find the easiest way to start exercising. Find the easiest way to start writing. People make things harder than they have to be and get frustrated when they can’t succeed. Try not to.
33. Cultivate a reputation for being dependable. Good reputations are valuable because they’re rare (easily destroyed and hard to rebuild). You don’t have to brew the most amazing coffee if your customers know the coffee will always be hot.
46. Things that aren’t your fault can still be your responsibility.
83. Compliment people more. Many people have trouble thinking of themselves as smart, or pretty, or kind, unless told by someone else. You can help them out.
89. Don't punish people for admitting they were wrong, you make it harder for them to improve.
Which ones did you like?
2. Goldman’s Jeff Currie (5-min video) on what I think will be the biggest story of 2022: Commodities
3. A great China piece by fund manager Dan Wang. Dan’s letters are long, but very high-quality.
Here were some of my highlights from the letter:
The modal piece of commentary on China focuses mostly on the country’s mistakes and weaknesses. In my view, much of this type of opinion is both useless and dangerous. It’s useless because it doesn’t make a serious attempt to engage with the country’s strengths; and dangerous because it implies that the west can do nothing since China will fail on its own. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that China will fail. But it’s a mistake to assume that it will happen as a matter of course. Instead we should expect that it will become a major competitor to the U.S., which should not only do better itself but also make better assessments. That means producing more disinterested analysis. A lot of my work today involves benchmarking China’s capabilities to the U.S., in fields that include semiconductors, renewables, and manufacturing. Every time I get together with peers to exchange notes, we remark on how small our circle remains. People who do tracking exercises tend to care about China because it’s important in their professions, in say nuclear power deployment or space exploration. I think there should be more systematic efforts.
An important factor in China’s reform program includes not only a willingness to reshape the strategic landscape—like promoting manufacturing over the internet—but also a discernment of which foreign trends to resist. These include excessive globalisation and financialisation. Beijing diagnosed the problems with financialisation earlier than the U.S., where the problem is now endemic. The leadership is targeting a high level of manufacturing output, rejecting the notion of comparative advantage.
To figure out how far decoupling will go, as well as a hundred other important questions, we’ll need a better understanding of what’s going on in China. I believe that an essential analytical prior is to recognise that things are getting better and things are getting worse. As Chinese businesses and the government are growing more capable, the leadership is becoming more brutal towards many of its own citizens as well as foreign critics. China is, in other words, a place that both moves fast and breaks things and moves fast and breaks people.
B. The Book Of Joy
The recent death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu motivated me to read a book I had bought many years ago: The Book Of Joy.
It came out of the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday celebration when the Archbishop travelled to the Dalai Lama’s home in India.
They spent the week together and tried to answer a question: How do we find joy in the face of suffering?
The book explores the Nature of True Joy, the Obstacles to Joy and then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy. The book shares their daily Joy Practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives.
The book is a superb meditation on where joy comes from and what comes in the way.
My key lessons were:
Focus on other’s happiness and joy. Find your shared humanity. The path of joy is connection and the path of sorrow is separation.
Freedom is the space between stimuli and response. Work to extend that space.
The Eight Pillars of Joy come from both the Heart and Mind:
Heart → Forgiveness, Gratitude, Compassion, Generosity.
Mind → Perspective, Humility, Humour, Acceptance.
This is a recent 5 mins from 2021:
C. The Tech and Crypto Section:
1. The most interesting tech listen this week was the All-In Podcast with Chamath, Jason, Sacks and Friedberg. They discuss their 2022 Predictions for the biggest political & business winner and loser, their most contrarian belief and the best performing asset.
This one is worth more than one listen.
2. Always thoughtful reminder from Balaji on how non-obvious the digital revolution has been. I remember telling people how expensive Facebook was at its IPO.
3. Do Kwon is the founder of Terra / Luna - a $30bn stablecoin ecosystem, this is what he’s expecting from crypto in 2022. It’s a thoughtful read:
4. Great summary of the Electric Capital Annual Developer Report: What are the developers working on in Crypto.
5. Yat Siu is the Chairman of Animoca Brands, the premier blockchain gaming company. He had a great Medium piece on what is important about digital ownership.
Disclosure: I am a shareholder.
2022 will be the year when, propelled by NFT gaming, hundreds of millions of users will enter the nascent open metaverse. I’m referring not to the proprietary commercial nightmares being promoted by big tech or to existing highly controlled walled garden game worlds, but to an open, decentralized network of systems and environments connected by the all-important concepts of ownership, interoperability, and community governance.
Digital property rights and participation in the resulting network effect are not only an important precedent for true data equity, but they also offer a solution to one of the world’s greatest problems — inequity — and lay the foundation for an unprecedented wave of creation and innovation. Consider how Carl Benz’s invention revolutionized the entire planet, except that this change is going to be moving at the pace of digital: exponentially faster and bigger.
In simplified terms, every customer also becomes an owner.
6. The OpenSea Bible to Non-Fungible Tokens. OpenSea is now valued at $13bn post their last week’s funding round.