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The Curiosity Chronicle

English, Finance, 1 season, 246 episodes, 1 day, 8 hours, 59 minutes
About
Delivering curiosity-inducing content every single week. This is the audio version of my newsletter. Sign up at the bottom of the page!
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Weekly Question & Framework: June 14, 2024

Question: One decision to remove hundreds.Framework: The PO Creativity Method.
6/14/20244 minutes, 16 seconds
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Attention Residue: The Productivity Killer

Albert Einstein devoted three years of his life to deep focus on the specific task of generalizing his theory of relativity. He didn't work on ten things during this period—he directed all of his precious attention to the one thing that really mattered.Attention Residue is the scientific concept that there is a cognitive switching cost to shifting your attention from one task to another. When your attention is shifted, there is a "residue" that remains with the prior task and impairs your cognitive performance on the new task.To fight back, here are 4 strategies you can implement today: (1) Create a boot-up sequence, (2) Schedule focus blocks, (3) Take a walk, and (4) Leverage Parkinson's Law.
6/12/20248 minutes, 22 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: June 7, 2024

Question: Is it time you start living outside the box?Framework: The Steel Man Technique
6/7/20243 minutes, 33 seconds
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5 Lessons on Life Purpose from a Legendary Letter

If you're a regular reader of my work, you know that I have a special affinity for drawing upon wisdom from the past and applying my own lens to create something more usable for our own present and future.Today's wisdom comes from a letter (full transcript here) written by a 20-year-old Hunter S. Thompson to a dear friend who had sought out Thompson's advice on finding his life purpose.5 brilliant lessons on finding purpose (that we can all apply on our journey): (1) Accept the perils of advice, (2) Seek perspective-altering experiences, (3) Goals should conform to you (not vice versa), (4) Define your way of life, and (5) Live by design, not default.
6/5/20248 minutes, 10 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: May 31, 2024

Question: What am I not achieving simply because I haven't asked?Idea: Hemingway's Lost Suitcase
5/31/20243 minutes, 20 seconds
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How to Choose Your Life Pursuits

Your time here is finite, so choosing the pursuits—personal and professional—that deliver the greatest returns on that time is essential.I use an exercise I call Pursuit Mapping to identify the pursuits that are most likely to bring joy and outsized rewards into my life.Three steps: (1) Create Your Pursuit Map, (2) Identify Your Zones, and (3) Align Your Time.
5/29/20249 minutes, 42 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: May 24, 2024

Question: Do you need to empty your cup before you can grow?Framework: Persian Messenger Syndrome
5/24/20243 minutes, 21 seconds
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The Most Important Decision of Your Life

My weekly emphasis on action is intended to serve as a reminder of the power you always hold, no matter how powerless you may feel.I recently came across a beautiful true story, written by a woman named Pam Kearney, on the impact of even the most tiny, inconsequential actions.Lesson: Action doesn't have to be perfect for it to be right.
5/22/20244 minutes, 57 seconds
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Weekly Question & Idea: May 17, 2024

Question: Would the idea of living your current life on repeat be horrifying or affirming?Idea: The Museum of Failure 
5/17/20243 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Anti-Networking Guide

Harsh truth: Networking is dead...at least in the traditional sense of the word.\I'm not a natural relationship builder. In fact, I am a bit introverted and socially-anxious, particularly in large group settings like conferences, cocktail parties, and events. And yet, I've built a depth and breadth of connections that has brought me great joy and value over the years.This piece shares my four core "anti-networking" principles that anyone can use: (1) Find Value-Aligned Rooms, (2) Ask Engaging Questions, (3) Become a Level 2-3 Listener, and (4) Use Creative Follow-Ups.
5/15/20248 minutes, 28 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: May 10, 2024

Question: Are you trying to clean up your city before sweeping your doorstep?Framework: Boiling Frog Syndrome
5/10/20243 minutes, 7 seconds
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9 Ideas from a Weekend With Legends

Last weekend, I attended Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. It is my favorite event for one simple reason: Idea density.This piece shares 9 powerful ideas from a weekend spent in the presence of legends.
5/8/20248 minutes, 28 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: May 3, 2024

Question: If everything stays the same, what one change would create the most impact?Framework: Emerson's Definition of Success
5/3/20244 minutes, 5 seconds
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5 Shocking Lessons from the Longest-Running Study on Happiness

Join me as I sit down with my friend Dr. Robert Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is the longest-running study on adult life, health, and happiness in the world.The study tracked the lives of 700+ original participants and 1,300+ descendants over 85 years. Dr. Waldinger's Ted Talk has been viewed nearly 50 million times and his book, The Good Life, was an instant New York Times best-seller.We dive deep into the study's most intriguing and surprising findings, discuss strategies for fighting back against loneliness in the modern era, and much more.You won't want to miss this one!P.S. I don't want to do a formal "podcast" and turn something fun into a business, but I will organically start recording and sharing my conversations with amazing experts so that everyone can benefit from them in the way that I have. If you're interested in seeing me do more of in the future, comment YES on the video! — 00:00 - Introduction00:48 - Key Insights from the Harvard Adult Development Study03:10 - Highlighting Major Discoveries from an 80-Year Study04:50 - Primary Factors for Health and Longevity07:04 - The Loneliness Epidemic08:43 - Comparative Study: Solo vs. Social Vacations in Sweden10:13 - Understanding and Measuring Loneliness11:30 - The Pursuit of Wealth: Necessary or Excessive?13:20 - Which Age Group Feels the Loneliest?14:33 - Navigating Social Media Impacts on Youth20:14 - The Importance of Gratitude Practices21:18 - Essential Advice for Thriving Relationships24:06 - How to Surround Yourself with Positive Influences25:31 - A Stark Reality About Relationships27:38 - How Our Minds Shape Our Realities28:24 - The Hidden Risks of Smartphone Use30:29 - The Impact of Technology on Young Children32:20 - The Influence of Mobile Devices on In-Person Interactions33:12 - Marital Challenges in the First Year of Parenthood34:30 - Common Communication Errors in Relationships35:25 - The Concept of 'Together Alone' Time with Your Partner36:31 - The Value of Personal Space in Relationships39:11 - The Effects of Toxic Relationships: A Scientific Perspective42:43 - Constructive vs. Demeaning Feedback45:48 - Exploring the Relationship Between Love and Sadness47:24 - Embracing Life's Complex Tensions49:08 - Empathy: Everyone Has Their Own Struggles50:43 - Habits of Individuals in Exceptionally Healthy Relationships52:41 - Social Wellness for Introverts vs. Extroverts53:28 - Strategies for Maintaining Social Wellness54:51 - Making Social Wellness a Priority—Join 700k+ Newsletter Subscribers! https://www.sahilbloom.com/newsletterFollow Along:https://www.instagram.com/sahilbloom/https://twitter.com/SahilBloomhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/sahilbloom/
5/2/202458 minutes, 10 seconds
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Your Entire Life Will Change The Moment You...

It all started with a simple journal prompt: Your entire life will change the moment you...A few years ago, I wrote that prompt on a blank sheet of paper. Each time I made any life adjustment or adaptation that had a profound impact, I added it to my running list. Tiny actions, mindset shifts, behavior changes, life hacks, and everything in between.The list is comprised of things I have (or currently am) struggling with. I'm not alone: These struggles are universal, but when we confront them head on, we're able to conquer them more effectively.
5/1/20248 minutes, 48 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: April 26, 2024

Question: Where am I avoiding a hard conversation that I need to have?Framework: 3 levels of listening.
4/26/20243 minutes, 39 seconds
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7 Questions That Changed My Life

The greatest discoveries in life come not from finding the right answers, but from asking the right questions.For the last several years, I've been adding to a list of questions that have changed the way I work, move, live, and love.This piece shares 7 questions that have had a dramatic impact on my life.
4/24/20249 minutes, 23 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: April 19, 2024

Question: What is one positive decision you can make to improve yourself today?Framework: Leaves, Branches, & Roots
4/19/20242 minutes, 54 seconds
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10 Lessons from 100 Days in the Cold

I just completed 100 straight days of doing a cold plunge every morning.I pride myself on my consistency and discipline, but this 100-day streak pushed me to a new level. The journey included several frozen rivers, awkward interactions with hotel housekeeping departments, and one hotel requiring a lifeguard to monitor me during the plunge.I learned a lot of important lessons on the journey that have nothing to do with cold plunging (and everything to do with life). This piece shares 10 lessons from 100 days in the cold.
4/17/20249 minutes, 28 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: April 12, 2024

Question: Are you listening to understand or just waiting to speak?Framework: The Law of Reversed Effort
4/12/20243 minutes, 40 seconds
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5 Lessons from a Conversation With a World-Renowned Happiness Expert

One of the great joys of my life is that I get to spend time with some of the world's foremost experts and builders and call it work. I've recently decided that I'd like to try to record and share the insights from some of these natural conversations so that everyone can benefit from them in the way that I have.Dr. Robert Waldinger is the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is the longest-running study on adult life, health, and happiness in the world.5 lessons from our conversation: (1) Relationship satisfaction impacts health, (2) Loneliness kills (and it's more prevalent than ever), (3) Make social fitness a priority, (4) Check your energy to improve your life, and (5) Ambivalent relationships are the most toxic.
4/10/20247 minutes, 18 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: April 5, 2024

Question: How can I bring the after into the before?Framework: The Gold Medal Fallacy
4/5/20243 minutes, 2 seconds
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How to Avoid the Dark Side of Compounding

Compounding is a magical force for growth in your life—one Albert Einstein is rumored to have referred to as the "Eighth Wonder of the World"—but it can also be your worst enemy.The stacking of negatives has the potential to knock you out of the game if you aren't careful.3 steps to avoid the dark side of compounding: (1) Create space, (2) Evaluate the new situation, and (3) Execute.
4/3/20246 minutes, 42 seconds
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Question & Framework: March 29, 2024

Question: What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?Framework: The Red Team
3/29/20243 minutes, 25 seconds
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The 2 Pillars of Strong Relationships

The 2 pillars of strong relationships: High expectations and high support.High expectations are the belief that the other person is capable of excellence, that their potential is only limited by their own views. High support is the ability and willingness to provide the love, support, and engagement to help the person meet those high expectations. Both are necessary to achieve a strong relationship.
3/27/20245 minutes, 37 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: March 22, 2024

Question: What are three examples of times you've accomplished something you didn't think was possible?Framework: Circles of Success
3/22/20243 minutes, 9 seconds
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6 Life-Changing Insights from 6 Days in India

Last week, I went on a whirlwind event tour of India. 2,000+ attendees at 6 events in 6 days across 3 different cities.I met and spent time with hundreds of people, doing my best to provide perspectives and guidance on the questions they asked. I believe that the questions are universal, so in today’s piece, I’d like to share the insights and perspectives that I offered in response to them.6 insights from 6 days: (1) Discipline is the ultimate act of service to your future self, (2) Lifelong learners will always find a way to thrive, (3) Information is abundant, action is scarce, (4) Celebrate every win (no matter how tiny), (5) You have to fight back against the Centipede’s Dilemma, and (6) Dive through the cracks.
3/20/20248 minutes, 17 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: March 15, 2024

Question: If someone observed your actions for a week, what would they say your priorities are?Framework: The Power Down Ritual
3/15/20244 minutes, 21 seconds
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How to Become a Morning Person

I'm not a morning person (at least not naturally). For most of my childhood, I'd hit snooze a million times and my mom would have to drag me out of bed to make it to school on time. In my college years, the morning hours were forced upon me by pre-class baseball practices and lifts.At first, I struggled mightily with the adjustment. I knew that if I wanted to perform, I had to figure out a system: I had to become a morning person. Somewhere along the way, it clicked, and for the last 10 years, I've started most mornings with a 4am alarm.This piece shares 5 actionable strategies that I have used to turn myself from a night owl into a morning person.
3/13/20246 minutes, 36 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: March 8, 2024

Question: How can I build my recovery into my days?Framework: The Sinatra Test
3/7/20243 minutes, 41 seconds
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One Powerful Lesson From A Legend

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet up for a drink with Gary Vaynerchuk, the entrepreneur, creator, and investor perhaps best known as Gary V.We were chatting about what enables this longevity, when he casually dropped a single, incredibly powerful line: "You've gotta love the dirt."The dirt is where you start. It's where you're built. It's where you find your initial success. We all start in the dirt on the journey to success, but few are willing to remain there. Few fall in love with the dirt. The day you leave the dirt is the day the clock starts ticking down on your run.
3/5/20246 minutes, 19 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: March 1, 2024

Question: What is the tiny first step that will move you closer to your big, scary goal?Framework: Kintsugi is a Japanese art form that involves the repair of broken pottery with a special lacquer mixed with powdered precious metals (like gold, silver, or platinum).
2/29/20242 minutes, 30 seconds
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9 Learnings from an Entrepreneur Retreat

I just co-hosted a retreat for a small group of very successful entrepreneurs in Cabo, Mexico. The explicit goal of the retreat was to help work through a big challenge facing each attendee.My goal is to “bring you into the room” so that you can feel the impact of the experience in your own careers and lives.With that in mind, this piece shares my 9 non-obvious learnings from the retreat.
2/27/20249 minutes, 4 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: February 23, 2024

Question: How am I creating the situation that I don’t want?Framework: The Bricklayer Mentality
2/22/20243 minutes, 26 seconds
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How to Take the Leap of Faith

Because of the gigantic shift in my life over the last three years, I'm often asked about how to take the metaphorical leap of faith. To answer that question for anyone who has asked, and anyone who might be thinking about it, here's my definitive player's guide to the leap of faith.The leap of faith you want to take in life is so scary because of the size of the change. It is a 100 foot gap from where you are to where you want to be, with nothingness in between. The 100 foot gap is the problem to be solved.3 steps to shorten the gap into something manageable: (1) Gather information, (2) Create evidence, and (3) Address the fear.
2/20/20247 minutes, 32 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: February 16, 2024

Question: If you knew you would die in 10 years, what would you do today?Framework: Use the Difficulty
2/15/20242 minutes, 53 seconds
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How to Change Your Life In 30 Days

If you've been reading my work for a while, you know that I'm a big proponent of the simple, boring basics. I don't have any e-books to sell you. I just want to see you make progress. This piece shares my favorite—very simple, very boring, and very effective—strategy for making dramatic progress in any arena: The 30-for-30 Approach.With whatever you're trying to improve at, do it for 30 minutes per day for 30 straight days. It works because the 30 minutes is low intimidation, the 30 days is a meaningful commitment, and the 900 minutes of accumulated effort creates surprisingly significant results.
2/13/20246 minutes, 16 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: February 9, 2024

Question: When was the last time you allowed yourself to celebrate good enough?Framework: The Click Test
2/8/20243 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Most Important Fight of Your Life

"There's a guy in my head, and all he wants to do is lay in bed all day long, smoke pot, and watch old movies and cartoons. My life is a series of stratagems, to avoid, and outwit that guy." - Anthony BourdainWe all have "that guy" somewhere in our head. It may look a bit different from person to person, but the general archetype is universal. You can never silence the voice, you simply learn to resist.Everything meaningful in life is on the other side of hearing that voice loud and clear and acting in spite of it. Today, and all days, I hope that you outwit "that guy" in your head.
2/6/20245 minutes, 16 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: February 2, 2024

Question: What are you going to be celebrating one year from today?Framework: The Pygmalion Effect
2/1/20243 minutes, 4 seconds
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10 Ideas That Changed Our Lives

Last Friday in London, my friend Ali Abdaal and I hosted a live event at the London School of Economics in front of a sold out crowd of 500 people. We covered 10 ideas that changed our lives, on areas ranging from careers to relationships and more.The 10 ideas we shared: (1) There's no such thing as a loser who wakes up at 5am and works out, (2) Energy is not finite, (3) No one has it all figured out, (4) Direction over destination, (5) Who not how, (6) Increase your luck surface area, (7) Default to trust, (8) The waiting room is always full, (9) The good old days are happening right now, and (10) Time is your most precious asset.
1/30/202411 minutes, 5 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: January 26, 2024

Question: How would the best version of myself show up in this situation?Framework: Winner's Game vs. Loser's Game
1/25/20243 minutes, 46 seconds
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Escaping Solomon's Paradox

Humans are notoriously good at delivering sound, rational perspectives to others, but notoriously bad at delivering those same sound, rational perspectives to themselves. This psychological phenomenon is known as Solomon's Paradox.Solomon's Paradox is named after King Solomon, the King of Israel who was known for his divine wisdom and also for his complete inability to live by it.To escape Solomon's Paradox: (1) Create space to remove yourself from the emotional reaction, and (2) Zoom out to force new perspective.
1/23/20246 minutes, 19 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: January 19, 2024

Question: If I repeated this action 100 times, would my life be better or worse?Framework: The Complexity Trap.
1/19/20242 minutes, 47 seconds
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20 Powerful Paradoxes of Life

The world is not black and white. Many of life's most important truths appear contradictory on the surface. A paradox is defined as a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement that, when investigated or explained, may prove to be true.This piece shares 20 of the most powerful paradoxes of life.
1/16/20248 minutes, 32 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: January 12, 2024

Question: What lie have I repeated to myself so many times that it feels like the truth?Framework: Laundry Cycle Theory.
1/11/20243 minutes, 37 seconds
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The Letter to Your Future Self

On January 1, 2014, I wrote a letter to my future self just before graduating. Ten years later, I opened it, and it hit me hard. Everyone should do this.My core reflection: We have the answers, we just haven't asked the right questions yet.To write your own letter to your future self, cover four key areas: (1) Reflections on the present, (2) Vision for the future, (3) Changes to make, and (4) Fun predictions. Use a technology tool (like FutureMe) or store a physical letter somewhere safe. Set a calendar reminder to open it on the set date in the future.
1/9/20247 minutes, 58 seconds
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33 Learnings from 33 Years of Life

Today is my 33rd birthday. Every year, I try to spend some time reflecting on what I've learned along the way.In the past, this list of life learnings was just for me—a private accounting of my own journey, growth, failures, and missteps. But this year, I'd like to share it with all of you.This piece shares 33 life learnings from my 33 years of life.
1/4/202412 minutes, 38 seconds
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24 Ways to Change Your Life in 2024

Most people overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year. Don't be one of them.Your entire life can change in one year. 2024 is officially upon us. Will it be the year that you change your life?This piece contains 24 actionable ideas for making 2024 your best year yet—segmented into categories across life, work, health, and money.
1/2/202412 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Best Ideas of 2023

Welcome to the final episode of 2023. For the second year in a row, I sent out over 100 newsletters to my subscribers—two per week, every single week.The newsletter (and corresponding podcast) is all about ideas—actionable ideas to help you build a high-performing, healthy, wealthy life.I shared thousands of ideas here this year. My 10 favorites (the top 1% of ideas from 2023): The Surfer Mentality, the 4 Types of Luck, the Parable of the Two Arrows, the 4 Types of Professional Time, Mental Time Travel, ABC Goals, the Spotlight Effect, the Think Day, Grayscale Mode, and the Time Billionaire.
12/28/202314 minutes, 52 seconds
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The 2024 Annual Planning Guide

My 2024 Annual Planning Guide includes: (1) a simple goal-setting framework, (2) four system-building mental models, and (3) a strategy for tracking and adjusting throughout the year.This annual planning process has been an immensely helpful exercise to which I would credit many of my greatest achievements. I hope that it will spark you to conduct your own annual planning process for 2024, as I'm highly confident you will get incredible value from the exercise.You can download a beautiful (and free!) printable PDF of the template ​here​.
12/26/202311 minutes
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Weekly Question & Framework: December 22, 2023

Question: How will this struggle fuel my inevitable growth?Framework: Monkeys & Pedestals
12/21/20233 minutes, 45 seconds
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Relationship Advice from 500 Years

My wife and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on December 17th. To create something unique and memorable, I decided I would explore a bit of the relationship wisdom that time provides.I asked couples who have been married 40, 50, and 60+ years a simple question: What relationship advice would you give to your younger selves?The advice captured 500+ years of earned relationship wisdom.
12/19/20237 minutes, 11 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: December 15, 2023

Question: What is the artist hidden inside of you?Framework: Shoshin - the beginner's mind.
12/14/20233 minutes
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The Personal Annual Review: 7 Questions to Change Your Life

The end of the calendar year presents us with a valuable opportunity to reflect on the year that was and plan for the year that will be. It's easy to glaze over the former and focus on the latter, but failure to reflect will eventually manifest as a failure to grow.The Personal Annual Review is 7 questions: (1) What did I change my mind on this year? (2) What created energy this year? (3) What drained energy this year? (4) Who were the boat anchors in my life? (5) What did I not do because of fear? (6) What were my greatest hits and worst misses? (7) What did I learn this year?You can download a beautiful (and free!) printable PDF of the template ​here​.
12/12/202310 minutes, 48 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: December 8, 2023

Question: What is the burden that you're still carrying?Framework: The Capability Gap.
12/7/20233 minutes, 50 seconds
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Charlie Munger's 10 Insights for a Life Well Lived

Charlie Munger, an American investor most well-known as vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett's partner, passed away last week at 99, just one month shy of his 100th birthday.He was a treasure trove of wisdom—which he shared lavishly with the world over the course of his life, and which will create lasting ripples long after he is gone.10 of his insights that created a lasting impact on my life: (1) The most valuable riches take time, (2) Avoid the second arrow, (3) Develop real knowledge, (4) Success follows interest, (5) Invert, always invert, (6) Avoid the Ostrich Effect, (7) Never mimic the herd, (8) Create a "too hard" pile, (9) Live what you want to receive, and (10) Wisdom compounds.
12/5/202311 minutes, 31 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: December 1, 2023

Question: Where am I allowing the uncontrollable to impact my life?Framework: Energy Creators vs. Energy Absorbers.
11/30/20233 minutes, 30 seconds
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The Dangers of Survivorship Bias

In a famous story, Cicero wrote of Diagoras, an atheist who, when confronted with paintings of people who prayed and then were saved from a shipwreck, replied, "I see those who were saved, but where are those painted who prayed and drowned?"Survivorship Bias is the error resulting from systematically focusing on survivors (successes) and ignoring casualties (failures) that causes us to miss the true base rates of survival (the actual probability of success) and arrive at flawed conclusions.To avoid the trap, we must consider the unseen evidence just as much as the seen. To develop a better perspective on base rates of success, consult a Possibility Grid, which lays out completed and not completed actions of both winners and losers.
11/28/20235 minutes, 55 seconds
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Lessons from Roosevelt's Strenuous Life Speech

3 short passages from Teddy Roosevelt's 1899 Strenuous Life speech.
11/27/20232 minutes, 21 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: November 24, 2023

Question: What are the tiny things you are thankful for?Framework: Creative Cliff Illusion.
11/23/20233 minutes, 45 seconds
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The ABC Goal System

In preparation for my first marathon, I spoke to a legendary American marathoner, who offered one piece of advice: "Make sure you have three goals: An A Goal, a B Goal, and a C Goal." Soon after the race, I realized that the core principle behind the system applied well-beyond running.For any arena of life, you can create an A Goal, B Goal, and C Goal. On days when you feel great, you hit your A Goal. On days when you feel ok (most days!), you hit your B Goal. On days when you feel bad, you hit your C Goal.The ABC Goal System removes any intimidation or guilt: As long as you hit your C Goal, you're making forward progress.
11/21/20236 minutes, 56 seconds
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Journal Reflections from a Multimillionaire Retreat

I just co-hosted a three-day retreat with a group of multimillionaire entrepreneurs in Cabo.This podcast episode is a recording of my journal reflections from the event, which includes 10+ learnings (that everyone should hear)...
11/20/20239 minutes, 44 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: November 17, 2023

Question: How to flip the script on your fears.Framework: The 80% rule (kick the afternoon slump).
11/16/20233 minutes, 25 seconds
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The Anti-To-Do List

Every journey has two fundamental sides: (1) The Positive: Where we want to go; and (2) The Negative: Where we want to avoid along the way.The Anti-To-Do List is our tool for governing the negative, for avoiding the traps along the journey. Your Anti-To-Do List has the set of daily actions, behaviors, and habits to avoid; the things that will hold you back or lead you into trouble.The Anti-To-Do List is dynamic, comprised of the actions you are focused on avoiding in the present. My list changes periodically as I "graduate" (i.e. have 100% compliance for an extended period) from any one action and feel compelled to add a new one that I am struggling with.
11/14/20237 minutes
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Weekly Question & Framework: November 10, 2023

Question: Are you fulfilled, or just less lonely?Framework: Grayscale Mode.
11/9/20232 minutes, 44 seconds
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How to Be Different

Researchers studying zebras in the wild placed a red dot on the target zebras to distinguish them, but they were quickly eaten by lions. The Zebra Effect says that blending into the crowd is a survival mechanism. Standing out is risky.In his final shareholder letter, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos called out the difficulty and importance of the fight against normalcy. Specifically, he said that your distinctiveness isn't free—it comes with a steep cost. But it is worth it.10 ways to stand out: (1) Take care of your house, (2) Learn to enjoy being wrong, (3) Let curiosity guide you, (4) Do the old fashioned things well, (5) Stop fearing boredom, (6) Avoid perspective blindness, (7) Find your tribe, (8) Avoid the comparison trap, (9) Stop taking everyone's advice, and (10) Avoid the need for external validation.
11/7/20239 minutes, 10 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: November 3, 2023

Question: What game are you playing?Framework: The Diderot Effect.
11/2/20234 minutes, 21 seconds
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The Art & Science of Conversation

Mastering the art and science of conversation is essential to creating the deep human connection that provides rich texture to life.Four principles of connected conversation: (1) Create doorknobs, (2) Be a loud listener, (3) Repeat and follow, and (4) Make situational eye contact.Use my list of potential conversation starter or conversation developer doorknobs to thrive in your next social situation or professional gathering.
10/31/20237 minutes, 56 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: October 27, 2023

Question: How would you accomplish your 5-year goals in the next year?Framework: Inversion
10/26/20233 minutes, 29 seconds
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10 Lessons from 10-Year College Reunion

Last weekend, I attended my 10-year Stanford University reunion. It was an opportunity to look back on those formative years, reconnect with old friends, and reflect on the lessons learned.10 lessons from 10-year college reunion: (1) The Medici Effect is real; (2) Your daily habits show up on your face after 10 years; (3) Insecurity tells, confidence shows; (4) Plans are great, but life will generally laugh at them; (5) Fighting the Zebra Effect is hard (but worth it); (6) Identity is the real thing we're searching for; (7) Freedom is rare, but incredibly apparent; (8) We get more embarrassing with age (or we're just mature enough to embrace it); (9) Shared struggle builds unbreakable bonds; (10) Life is much more fragile than you think.
10/24/20238 minutes, 40 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: October 20, 2023

Question: How is your definition of success harming your life?Framework: The 90% Rule.
10/19/20233 minutes, 42 seconds
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Mental Time Travel: A Cheat Code for Success

I have spent time with a lot of very successful people. I have observed two common trends: (1) A struggle to appreciate the present and (2) A struggle to identify the key actions to create the desired future.The tool we can all use to fight back: Mental Time Travel. This involves the vivid imagination of both the past and the future. You use your mind to figuratively "travel" to the experienced past and the envisioned future.Professionally, Mental Time Travel allows us to consider both (1) the gap between where we are and where we want to be and (2) the gain between where we were and where we are. Personally, Mental Time Travel allows us to build a robust gratitude practice and appreciate the present state.
10/17/20236 minutes, 1 second
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The Curiosity Files: Episode 1

The first in a series of impromptu, off-the-cuff episodes based on my daily learnings and notes.This episode covers 10 key lessons learned from spending time with 50 multimillionaire entrepreneurs at a retreat in Texas.
10/16/20239 minutes, 20 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: October 13, 2023

Question: How would you want your loved ones to describe you?Framework: The Life Force Pyramid.
10/12/20233 minutes, 12 seconds
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Building Your Personal Braintrust

Pixar Animation Studios has a 30+ year history of creating award-winning animated films. One of their secrets for consistently excellent output: The Braintrust.The Braintrust is a group of individuals who meet regularly to pressure test in process films. It is a diverse group not directly involved in the film's production, but with a vested interest in its success via their roles at the company. We can apply a similar concept to striving for excellence in our own personal and professional lives. We all need a Personal Braintrust.To build your Braintrust, work to assemble a group of individuals who are unbiased, have different perspectives, and want to see you succeed. The group can be dynamic over time, and it doesn't have to be formal.As you encounter challenges, key decisions, or inflection points in your personal and professional life, you can reliably turn to the members of your Braintrust for grounded perspectives, candor, feedback, and advice.
10/10/20237 minutes, 21 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: October 6, 2023

Question: Who are your Winter Friends?Framework: The 3x5 Notecard Strategy.
10/5/20233 minutes
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10 Short Lessons from a Beautiful Life

The world lost a beautiful soul over the weekend. My grandmother, Vimala Reddy ("Avva" to me), passed away peacefully in the early morning hours on October 1. She was 94-years-old.Life is cyclical. When I was born, she was there to welcome me to this world. In the end, I had to bid her farewell from it.10 short lessons from her that changed my life (and may change yours): (1) Don’t fear sadness, as it tends to sit right next to love, (2) Life isn't about avoiding chaos, but making the chaos beautiful, (3) Never lose the mischievous 10-year-old you have inside you, (4) Your relationships keep you healthy, (5) Get your 10,000 brain steps in daily, (6) If you can keep your head, the world is yours, (7) Dynamism is the most important human trait, (8) Take pride in the details, (9) Create stories your grandchildren will love to hear someday, and (10) Your heart will rarely lead you astray.
10/3/20238 minutes, 23 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: September 29, 2023

Question: What am I certain of today that I'll laugh at in 10 years?Framework: The Bike Shed Effect.
9/28/20234 minutes, 4 seconds
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The 4 Types of Professional Time

I recently re-read an old Paul Graham essay that got me thinking about the composition of professional time—what "types" of time exist in our workdays and how we can find a more optimal balance across those types.I identified four types of professional time: Management, Creation, Consumption, and Ideation. Most of us have a lot of Management, a little bit of Creation, and almost no Consumption and Ideation.Use a color coding calendar exercise to deconstruct your current mix of time. Three tips to improve your balance: (1) Batch Management Time, (2) Increase Creation Time, and (3) Create space for Consumption and Ideation Time.
9/26/20237 minutes
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Weekly Question & Framework: September 22, 2023

Question: What would you invest in today assuming you had to hold the investment forever?Framework: Survivorship Bias.
9/21/20233 minutes, 54 seconds
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The Dark Side of Big Goals

I just completed my first marathon in 2:57:31 just 6 months after I started running. By achieving the sub 3-hour marathon time, I had hit my Big Goal. It felt great, at first. But then came the rut, one which led to a fundamental change in how I'm going to think about goal setting and achievement in the future.Big Goals create a perfect storm for unhappiness. If we miss them, we feel like a failure. If we hit them, we feel a temporary satisfaction, followed by an odd darkness brought about by the Arrival Fallacy, purpose dissipation, and their extrinsic focus.Focus on Micro Goals is my new, favored approach. Micro Goals are intrinsic, avoid the Arrival Fallacy, and create daily purpose. I will continue to have Big Goals, but I will focus my daily energy around these Micro Goals to create a healthier balance.
9/19/20237 minutes, 56 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: September 15, 2023

Question: The 1-Second Decision.Framework: Maximizers vs. Satisficers.
9/14/20233 minutes, 58 seconds
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The 80-Year-Old Life Decathlon

Dr. Peter Attia uses a framework with his patients called the Centenarian Decathlon to organize physical aspirations for life’s later years. The idea is to choose 10 physical tasks the person wants to be able to do at 100 and then reverse engineer the necessary actions in the present to achieve that future.Using a similar exercise to look at the broader scope of your life can be very helpful. What does your ideal life look like at age 80? Who are you with? What are you doing? How do you feel? Where are you?To create that future, what are the necessary actions in the present? What actions, habits, and behaviors do you need to adopt today to create that end?
9/12/20234 minutes, 31 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: September 8, 2023

Question: What does your perfect workday look like?Framework: The 3-3-3 Method.
9/7/20233 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Power of Thinking Differently

A Stanford business professor split her class into groups and gave each group $5 and 2 hours to generate as high of a return as possible. The losing groups bartered with the $5 or used the time to generate income. The winning group sold the ad space of the presentation time at the end of the challenge and generated a 12,000% return.When faced with a challenge with the potential for outsized rewards, we need to think differently. Three steps to think differently: (1) Avoid the distraction, (2) Ask foundational questions, and (3) Select the leveraged approach.Remember: Creative, non-linear, asymmetric thinking generates creative, non-linear, asymmetric outcomes.
9/5/20237 minutes, 19 seconds
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Weekly Question & Framework: September 1, 2023

Question: If everything stays the same, what is the one change that would have the greatest impact?Framework: The Locksmith Paradox.
8/31/20233 minutes, 31 seconds
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10 Learnings from a Mastermind

Last week, I spent three days with a group of successful entrepreneurs on a retreat in Big Sky, Montana. I left the event with a new energy to grow and a lot of interesting, non-obvious learnings. This piece shares my 10 key learnings from the event.The learnings: (1) Freedom is the real goal, (2) Environment is everything, (3) Insecurity is natural, (4) Always know the game you're playing, (5) Create value with no expectation, (6) Owned distribution is a cheat code, (7) Success isn't always loud, (8) No one has it all figured out, (9) Entrepreneurial loneliness is a real problem, and (10) Solve the problem by seeing it differently.My Rule for Life: Find the room where it happens. Get in that room. Once you're in it, help others get there.
8/29/20238 minutes, 7 seconds
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Weekly Q&F: August 24, 2023

Question: What am I avoiding because it's too painful to address?Framework: Fundamental Attribution Error.
8/24/20233 minutes, 10 seconds
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3 Strategies for Mastering Stress

While we all want to live in a state of low stress, during certain moments, we need to learn to optimize our stress response—we need to learn to harness stress to our benefit rather than allowing it to derail us.The Yerkes-Dodson Law says that stress and performance are positively correlated, but only up to a certain point, after which more stress reduces performance.3 strategies for mastering stress: (1) Reframe threat into challenge; (2) Use science-backed breathing techniques to pull back from the edge; and (3) Place yourself in controlled stressful environments to train your stress response.
8/22/20238 minutes, 16 seconds
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Friday Question & Framework: August 18, 2023

Question: If you woke up three years from now and were living your ideal life, what were the three things you did to get you there?Framework: The Pyrrhic Victory.
8/17/20233 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Art & Science of Luck

Theory: Our belief in our ability to create our own luck exposes us to more good fortune (or at least allows us to see the good fortune amidst a sea of bad).In an early 2000s study, Dr. Richard Wiseman found that lucky people came across "chance" opportunities, while the unlucky people seemed to miss them. Both groups had equal access to these opportunities, but the lucky group saw what the unlucky group tended to miss.Our daily thoughts, behaviors, and actions serve to expand or contract our luck surface area, which in turn determines our experience as a lucky or unlucky person.The Luck Razor: When choosing between two paths, always choose the path that has a larger luck surface area.
8/15/20236 minutes, 9 seconds
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Friday Question & Framework: August 11, 2023

Question: Do I actually need more information, or do I simply need to act on the information I already have?Framework: The Identity-Action Grid
8/10/20233 minutes, 4 seconds
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Career Advice That Doesn't Suck

I recently got a message from a 22-year-old reader asking for career advice. Career advice is a topic area that I have always found interesting, probably because I feel it so often misses the mark. I take this as a challenge.I sat down and synthesized the advice I would have wanted to receive early in my career (or what I would tell my own son if he were just starting out).The 7 pieces of career advice everyone needs to hear: (1) Swallow the frog, (2) Do the old fashioned things well, (3) Work hard first and smart later, (4) Build storytelling skills, (5) Build a rep for figuring it out, (6) Show up early and stay late, and (7) Dive through cracked doors.
8/8/20237 minutes, 32 seconds
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Friday Question & Framework: August 4, 2023

Question: Which thorns do you choose?Framework: The Question of Nine.
8/3/20233 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Retirement Trap

The Wall Street Journal recently released a visual breaking down how people spend their time in retirement. The visual shows that the majority of a retiree's time is spent on sleeping, relaxing and leisure, and watching television.Most of us create this beautiful image of what retirement will look like, but the reality is (likely) much different. Why? Well, the image we create is based on who we are today, while the reality will be based on who we are at retirement age.The traditional concept of retirement is grounded in a foundational assumption that there should be a "before and after" within your life. I would propose a reframe: The goal is to design a life that you don't need to retire from.
8/1/20236 minutes, 37 seconds
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Friday Question & Framework: July 28, 2023

Question: What are the boat anchors in your life?Framework: Q1 relationships.
7/27/20232 minutes, 45 seconds
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How Will You Choose to Live?

David Brooks first proposed a distinction between Résumé Virtues and Eulogy Virtues. Résumé Virtues are the things you put on your resume. Eulogy Virtues are the things people talk about at your funeral.What I've resolved: We can build both, but only by focusing on the correct directionality. A purposeful focus on Eulogy Virtues will build Résumé Virtues, but a focus on Résumé Virtues will not build Eulogy Virtues.If there's one thing I learned last week, it's that life is so very fragile. But no matter how fragile it is, each day, we have a choice of how to live it. Each day is a fresh start, a fresh choice to make. How will you choose to live?
7/25/20237 minutes, 15 seconds
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Friday Question & Framework: July 21, 2023

Question: The way you treat yourself.Framework: The Shirky Principle.
7/20/20233 minutes, 2 seconds
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The Two Arrows of Life

The Parable of the Two Arrows: "In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional."Victor Frankl, the Austrian philosopher and Holocaust survivor renowned for his contributions to existential psychology, has a brilliant framing for this: "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response."To create the space and move forward after a negative event: Pause, Reset, and Choose.
7/18/20235 minutes, 21 seconds
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The Real Price of Success

I was recently struck by a realization: The people I read books about are very rarely the people I would ever want to trade lives with. Why? The price of their success was not one I would be willing to pay.There is a price tag for anything you want to achieve in life. Every single thing you want is an output that requires certain inputs to buy or earn. There's a "list price" (actual, direct price to pay for the thing you want) and a "real price" (List Price, plus the hidden, indirect price in the form of the tradeoffs and opportunity cost of the pursuit).What I've learned: There are many things in life that look like a great deal based on the List Price, but a ripoff based on the Real Price.Questions to ask: What is the List Price of the thing you want? What is the Real Price of the thing you want? Are you willing to pay that Real Price?
7/11/20237 minutes, 33 seconds
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Friday Question & Framework: July 7, 2023

Question: If I repeated this day for 100 days, would my life be better or worse?Framework: The 5 Second Rule.
7/6/20232 minutes, 50 seconds
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My 10 Favorite Ideas of the Year

Welcome to the second half of 2023. If you've kept up your New Year's resolutions and feel on track, great! If not, that's ok, because even if the best time to start was 6 months ago, the second best time is today.Today, I'd like to share a distillation of my 10 favorite ideas from the 52 newsletters I've written so far this year.The ideas covered: Spotlight Effect, 1-1-1 Method, Eisenhower Matrix, Surfer Mentality, Feynman Technique, 4 Types of Luck, Trap of the Extraordinary, Character Invention, Think Day, and Time Billionaire.
7/4/202312 minutes, 49 seconds
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Friday Question & Framework: June 30, 2023

Question: What would this look like if it were easy?Framework: The wind and the sun.
6/29/20233 minutes, 47 seconds
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Investor vs. Borrower: A Mental Model for Life

A mental model is a way to think about the world. It is a tool—a lens through which you can simplify, evaluate, and make decisions in real time as you walk through life.When faced with any key decision, you effectively choose one of two potential characters: Investor or Borrower. The Investor is a long-term thinker who makes an investment to delay gratification, while the Borrower is a short-term thinker who takes out a loan to experience pleasure now.Investments compound positively and the future self cashes in on the rewards. Loans accrue interest negatively and the future self is stuck with the bill.
6/27/20237 minutes, 18 seconds
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Friday Question & Framework: June 23, 2023

This is the first in a new series of shorts that will cover one question and one framework to get you thinking heading into the weekend.Question: What are the elements of your ideal life at 80-years-old?Framework: Self-Handicapping (and how to avoid it). 
6/22/20233 minutes, 31 seconds
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The Blind Men & The Elephant: How to Change Your Mind

What have you changed your mind on recently? Egocentric Bias says that we convince ourselves of the accuracy of our own personal perspective—that we view ourselves as unimpeachable—and therefore struggle to acknowledge any perspectives or data that may alter our understanding of the world.The parable of The Blind Men and The Elephant tells the story of six blind men who examine one part of an elephant and each come to very different conclusions on what an elephant is. They are all partly right, but also all entirely wrong.The information you have about the world represents a tiny fraction of the information available, yet you use it to form a view of how the world works.Remember the Blind Men Razor: "Never attribute to malice, ignorance, or stupidity that which can be adequately explained by different information."
6/20/20237 minutes, 3 seconds
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The Public Speaking Guide

Confession: I am a nervous public speaker. But confident public speaking is a critical skill, so we need a set of strategies to increase our confidence and perform as the best version of ourselves.Prep Strategies: (1) Study the best speakers and learn from them, (2) Create a clear storytelling structure, and (3) Build "lego blocks" but avoid rote memorization.Pre-Stage Strategies: (1) Address the Spotlight Effect and ask "so what?" about your worst fears, (2) Get into character and turn on the best version of yourself, and (3) Eliminate stress with a simple breathing technique.Delivery Strategies: (1) Cut the tension in the crowd at the outset, (2) Use big, broad gestures and avoid touching your pockets or torso, and (3) Move with purposeful, slow steps.
6/13/20239 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Passion Paradox

In the early 1970s, Stanford psychology researcher Dr. Mark Lepper conducted a study with a group of young children that found those who had received a reward for completing a task experienced lower intrinsic motivation to perform that task in the future.The Passion Paradox: We have a deep desire to chase our passions, but by chasing them, we may actually reduce our passion for them.Three strategies for escaping the paradox: (1) Keep play as play, (2) Let work be work, and (3) Make work more playful.
6/6/20237 minutes, 35 seconds
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How to Get Out of a Rut

You're firing on all cylinders personally and professionally—inspired and motivated. Then, suddenly, you aren't. Things become very, very difficult. You're in a rut.I've developed a useful set of principles for managing these swings and working out of them. My three-step method to work out of a rut: (1) Stop digging, (2) Change direction, and (3) Create movement.Ruts will happen. When they do, slow down and allow yourself to work through them. The worst thing you can do is push the engine harder and risk taking yourself out of the game for a longer period than if you had worked through it.
5/30/20237 minutes, 8 seconds
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Work-Life Balance: A Player's Guide

A Reddit post I shared that read, "PSA: 20 years from now, the only people who will remember that you worked late are your kids" sparked a lot of online dialogue last week.Our default setting of work worship may be slowly, methodically robbing us of joyful, fulfilling, comprehensively wealthy lives. Perhaps it’s worth questioning the default setting—to begin living by design, rather than by default.I am of two minds on this: (1) Being present and spending time with those you love is the most important thing in the end and (2) Having the people you love see you work hard on things you care about is a principle they'll remember for the rest of their lives. Understanding, navigating, and balancing the tension across these two minds is how you ultimately "win" the game.
5/23/20238 minutes, 34 seconds
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The Think Day

In the 1980s, Microsoft founder Bill Gates began an annual tradition he called the Think Week. Gates would seclude himself in a remote location, shut off all of his communication, and spend an entire week dedicated to reading, learning, and thinking.While I knew I didn't have an entire week to dedicate to it (due to early career demands, family priorities, etc.), I figured I could adapt something with a similar core ethos and vision. The Think Day was my creation—and I want to share its value with all of you today...Pick one day each month (or quarter) to step back from all of your day-to-day professional demands. Seclude yourself (mentally or physically), shut off all of your notifications on your devices, and put up an out-of-office response. The goal is to spend the entire day reading, learning, journaling, and THINKING.
5/16/20236 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Paradox of Effort

While in Omaha at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, I got into a long conversation with a friend and mentor on one particularly impressive facet of the show: The effortless air about Buffett and Munger's entire performance, the ease and elegance with which they operate in what looks like a pressure-packed situation.The term sprezzatura has come to be defined as a "studied carelessness" in the modern English language. I think of it as earned effortlessness.The Paradox of Effort: You have to put in more effort to make something appear effortless. Effortless, elegant performances are often just the result of a large volume of effortful, gritty practice. Small things become big things. Simple is not simple.
5/9/20238 minutes, 15 seconds
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The Magic of Character Invention

We all struggle with some degree of self-doubt and fear of failure. It's particularly common among ambitious high-achievers, who, by definition, are constantly putting themselves in situations that are on the edge of their current competency level.Character Invention: Create a character in your mind who can show up in the way you want to and teach yourself to "flip the switch" to become this character when necessary.Character Invention in three steps: (1) Identify the situations where you'd like to show up as the best version of yourself, (2) Envision the character you would like to embody in each situation, and (3) Get yourself some reps by turning on this character in those situations.
5/2/20237 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Time Billionaire

Investor Graham Duncan coined the phrase "Time Billionaire" as someone who has over one billion seconds to live.To me, being a “Time Billionaire” isn’t necessarily about having the actual time, but about the awareness of the precious nature of the time you do have. It is about embracing the shortness of life and finding joy in ordinary daily moments of beauty.Treat time as your ultimate currency—it’s all you have and you can never get it back. Spend it wisely, with those you love, in ways you’ll never regret.
4/25/20235 minutes, 40 seconds
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The Trap of the Extraordinary

We live in a culture that endlessly promotes and celebrates the achievement of the extraordinary—of those who accomplished some supreme feat in a single, narrow domain.The Trap of the Extraordinary is that we conflate success with the achievement of the extraordinary. Winners are those who achieve the extraordinary, losers are those who do not.To escape the trap, there are two mindset shifts to focus on: (1) It’s not about achieving the extraordinary, it's about finding purpose, joy, and fulfillment in the ordinary along the way; and (2) The prize is not the achievement you strive for, but the striving itself.
4/18/20236 minutes, 22 seconds
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The Spotlight Effect

The Spotlight Effect is a common psychological phenomenon where we overestimate the degree to which other people are noticing or observing our actions, behaviors, appearance, or results.Pre-conditioned fear of placing yourself in "spotlight situations" means you shrink yourself down from your true potential. This is a tremendous drag on growth.To fight back: (1) Develop an awareness of the Spotlight Effect and when it may hit, (2) Focus on being interested rather than interesting, and (3) Ask "So what?" to confront your fears.
4/11/20236 minutes, 55 seconds
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How to Learn Anything: The Feynman Technique

The Learning Pyramid indicates that teaching is a much more effective driver of retention than reading or lecture. The goal should be to move rapidly to teaching in order to cement new learning.The Feynman Technique is a learning model that leverages teaching and prioritizes simplicity to help you develop a deep understanding of any topic.The four key steps of the Feynman Technique: (1) Set the Stage, (2) ELI5, (3) Assess & Study, and (4) Organize, Convey, & Review.
4/4/20236 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Personal Quarterly Review

The 1-in-60 Rule says that a 1-degree error in heading will cause a plane to miss its target by 1 mile for every 60 miles flown. Tiny deviations from the optimal course are amplified by distance and time. A small miss now creates a very large miss later. This highlights the importance of real-time course corrections and adjustments.The end of each calendar quarter presents us with a valuable opportunity to reflect on the quarter that was in order to make any necessary adjustments to our goals and systems that will ensure the next quarter is better than the last.The Personal Quarterly Review involves three steps: (1) Reflect, (2) Assess, and (3) Adjust. You can download a free printable PDF of the template at the link in the newsletter.
3/28/202310 minutes
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The Four Idols: Money, Power, Pleasure, & Fame

The Four Idols framework says that everyone is driven by the pursuit of one (or more) of the following idols: Money, Power, Pleasure, and Fame.We make most of our daily decisions based on our worship of our idol. The downside: As we strive to get “closer” to our idol, we find ourselves on an endless chase for more. We incorrectly assume that this chase will lead us to the promised land of happiness.We do not need to reject our idol. The goal is to develop a conscious awareness of your idol—to become aware of what is motivating and driving you, and to understand the separation between this chase and your lifelong pursuit of fulfillment and happiness. The Four Idols exercise is simple: Use a process of elimination to identify your primary idol. Reminder, there is nothing wrong with any of these idols—they are perfectly natural. The key is to become aware of your idol—to understand the role and influence it has in your decision-making and life, and to realize that chasing this idol will not lead to happiness on its own.
3/20/20237 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Simplicity Audit

Complexity is a silent killer of focus, clarity, and performance. This statement is true for businesses, but even more so for your work and life. It's easy to let complexity and disorder slowly seep in—we tend to add, but rarely subtract.The Simplicity Audit examines four key environments of your life: Physical, Digital, Mental, and Social.For each item in each environment, ask: (1) Is this necessary? (2) Is this creating energy? If "Yes" to both, keep it. If "No" to both, remove it. If "Yes" to one, think on it.
3/14/20236 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Deathbed Regret List

We're often told that we should live life according to a core set of values. The challenge, of course, is in determining and defining what these core values are.The Deathbed Regret List is the most efficient and illuminating process I've discovered for defining and clarifying the core values with which we should live our lives. It forces you to begin with the end in mind.The exercise has three steps: (1) Make a list of your most likely deathbed regrets; (2) Formulate a set of 3-5 core personal values that are highlighted by your regret list; and (3) For each core personal value, determine the actions you can take today to behave in line with that value (and avoid the eventual regrets).
3/7/20238 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Flow State Boot Up Sequence

The Boot Up Sequence is a fixed set of actions and environmental cues that mentally and physically mark the start of your work session. While it can be used for any work session, I find it particularly impactful and valuable in priming for a deep work session (daily focused work on the "most important thing").The Boot Up Sequence is built around the five senses: Touch, Taste, Sight, Sound, and Smell. Engaging each of these allows you to quickly and consistently enter your flow.If you aren't able to execute your full, ideal Boot Up Sequence, simply aim to nail 3 out of the 5 senses of the sequence. My experience suggests that 3 out of 5 is achievable under a variety of circumstances, and it's enough to create the mental and physical entryway into your flow.
2/28/20239 minutes, 2 seconds
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The Parable of the Farmer & the Horse

A parable is broadly defined as a succinct story that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. My view is that these parables have a sort of “Lindy effect” signaling, whereby their survival and re-telling across the generations is a signal of their usefulness and value.The Parable of the Farmer and the Horse is about cultivating a "maybe" mindset. The villagers constantly tell the farmer that he has had good or bad luck, but he simply replies with "maybe" each time.Two powerful lessons: (1) Life is cyclical—the seeds of destruction are sewn during creation and the seeds of creation are sewn during destruction; and (2) Dispel the narratives—allow events to simply flow with and past you as they are, not as you want them to be.
2/21/20237 minutes, 28 seconds
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The One-in-a-Row Principle

One of the most significant obstacles we face on our journey to progress is intimidation at what the progress will require. Sometimes the notion of needing to commit to a string of actions is enough to stop us from taking the first action."Any success takes one in a row. Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more. Over and over until the end, then it’s one in a row again." - Matthew McConaugheySo the next time you find yourself struggling with the intimidation of the future, change the narrative: Just focus on executing one-in-a-row. Do one thing well, then another, then another. Then do it again.
2/14/20235 minutes, 22 seconds
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The Surfer Mentality

The Surfer Mentality: When a surfer gets up on a wave, they enjoy the present moment, even though they know with certainty that the wave will eventually end. They fully enjoy THIS wave, with the wisdom and awareness that there are always more waves coming.5 ideas of applications of this mentality: (1) enjoy your next wave and embrace the present moment, (2) be strategic about your positioning in between waves, (3) pass on more waves rather than jumping at the first one that comes your way, (4) always get in the water and stop sitting on the shore, and (5) roll with the punches that life deals you.Follow-up book recommendation: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. Audiobook is highly recommended.
2/7/20236 minutes, 5 seconds
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10 Dangerous Lies We Tell Ourselves

In my discussions for the Life Lessons from 1,000 Years, one of my 90-year-old participants shared a piece of poignent wisdom on lies: "The most damning lie is the lie you tell to yourself."I began reflecting on what lies I've been telling myself, as well as ways to reframe them to fight back.Here are the 10 most dangerous lies we tell ourselves (and reframes that will help change the internal narrative).
1/31/20237 minutes, 27 seconds
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The Ultimate Productivity Tool

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was known for his prolific, almost otherworldly productivity. His secret: He never confused the urgent with the important.The Eisenhower Matrix is a 2x2 visualization tool that forces you to differentiate between the urgent and the important in order to prioritize and manage your time more effectively.The Goal: Manage urgent and important tasks, spend most of your time on the not urgent and important tasks, and spend less time on the not important tasks.
1/24/20237 minutes, 22 seconds
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The 4 Types of Luck

The Oxford Languages English dictionary defines luck as "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions."But all you need to do is perform a simple search of the phrase "quotes on luck" to reveal a great many perspectives that differ from this definition. Maybe there is more to luck than meets the eye. Perhaps it's possible, as these quotes suggest, to manufacture luck.This episode covers the most valuable framework I've encountered for thinking about luck: The 4 Types of Luck. The 4 types of luck are (1) Blind Luck, (2) Luck from Motion, (3) Luck from Awareness, and (4) Luck from Uniqueness.
1/17/20237 minutes, 19 seconds
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Life Lessons from 1,000 Years

Every year on my birthday (January 5), I like to conduct some interesting exercise that will push me to grow in a new way. This year, I asked a number of 90-year-olds a simple question: "If you could speak your 32-year-old self, what advice would you give?"The responses were...incredible. They range from fun, playful, and witty to deeply moving. I'd encourage you to read through them with your loved ones and reflect on those that hit you the hardest.
1/10/20239 minutes, 49 seconds
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23 Ways to Make 2023 Your Miracle Year

In 1666, a young Cambridge University student left campus in the midst of a plague ravaging Europe and moved home to his small village. In the year that followed, he would make major discovering in mathematics, physics, and more. The young man was Sir Isaac Newton, and 1966 became known as his miracle year.This story is not about discovering gravity or inventing calculus—it's about the amazing possibilities of one year. It's about the incredible potential energy held within—waiting to be released.This piece contains 23 actionable ideas for making 2023 your miracle year—segmented into categories across work, health, money, and personal.
1/2/202313 minutes, 44 seconds
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The Annual Planning Guide

This annual planning process has been an immensely helpful exercise to which I would credit many of my greatest achievements. I hope that it will spark you to conduct your own before year-end. You can download a beautiful (and free!) printable PDF of the template at the link in the newsletter.
12/27/202211 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Personal Annual Review

While somewhat arbitrary, the end of the calendar year does present us all with a valuable opportunity to reflect on the year that was, and plan for the year that will be. It's easy to glaze over the former and focus on the latter, but failure to reflect will eventually manifest as a failure to grow.It's easy to glaze over the former and focus on the latter, but failure to reflect will eventually manifest as a failure to grow.I started conducting a Personal Annual Review 10 years ago as I was nearing the end of my college years. It has been an immensely helpful exercise to which I would credit many of my greatest areas of progress.This episode shares the template for my Personal Annual Review. I hope that it will spark you to conduct your own before year-end, as I'm highly confident you will gain the same value that I have from the exercise.Here are the 7 simple questions that may change your life...Note: You can download a beautiful (and free!) printable PDF of the template at the link on my website.
12/19/202211 minutes, 34 seconds
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22 Lessons Learned in 2022

12/13/202212 minutes, 57 seconds
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The Power of the Walk

Today at a Glance: There is one tool that has been used with near perfect consistency by history's greatest men and women. From artists and inventors to entrepreneurs and athletes, they have all understood the immense power of this one, simple tool: the walk. There is a tremendous body of research to support the mental and physical benefits of walking. Improved creativity, improved cardio health, improved memory retention, and many more benefits have all been found in recent, peer-reviewed research. The four types of walks to consider implementing: (1) Active walks, (2) Passive "tech free" walks, (3) Morning sunlight walks, and (4) Break walks. Start small and build the habit over time!
12/6/20229 minutes, 16 seconds
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3 Lessons from David Foster Wallace’s “This Is Water”

11/28/202211 minutes, 21 seconds
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What I'm Thankful For

11/22/20228 minutes, 6 seconds
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How We Spend Our Time

11/15/20229 minutes, 54 seconds
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Power Down Ritual

11/8/202210 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Difference Between Amateurs & Professionals

11/1/20229 minutes, 54 seconds
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Three Step Learning Model

Today at a Glance: The Learning Pyramid indicates that teaching is a much more effective driver of retention than reading or lecture. The goal should be to move rapidly to teaching in order to cement new learning. Richard Feynman developed a learning framework grounded in teaching and iteration that was highly effective for him during his illustrious academic career. The Three-Step Learning Model: (1) Read & Research to build a base, (2) Teach to cement learnings and highlight knowledge gaps, and (3) Assess & Iterate to fill the gaps.
10/25/202210 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Most Powerful Life Hacks

Today at a Glance: Humans have a tendency to manufacture complexity. We make progress in our lives—personally or professionally—and decide that the best way to celebrate that progress is to sprinkle on a new bit of chaos. We can all laugh at this tendency to complicate life, but we should also find ways to simplify it. Here are 50+ short, timeless insights for simplifying your world—"hacks" for your life, careers, relationships, health, money, and more.
10/18/202215 minutes, 58 seconds
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Attention Residue

Today at a Glance: When compared to our ancestors, our lives appear to be filled with significantly more attention-grabbing pulls in a variety of directions. Our attention is more divided than ever. Attention residue is the idea that there is a cognitive cost to shifting your attention from one task to another. When our attention is shifted, there is a "residue" that remains in the brain and impairs our cognitive performance on the new task. To fight back: (1) Work in deep focus blocks, (2) take regular walks or breathers between higher value tasks, and (3) batch processing times for messages. Implement these three strategies and you will immediately see a difference in your work quality and efficiency.
10/11/202210 minutes, 29 seconds
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Lessons from Steve Jobs' 2005 Commencement Speech

10/4/202212 minutes, 50 seconds
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8 Life Rules Worth Breaking

Today at a Glance: The highest performers embrace software updates. They treat their minds like a code base that requires consistent updates and resets to improve upon the old. There are a variety of baseline rules for life that are deeply ingrained into our minds and in dire need of an update. Many of these rules are culturally ingrained, meaning they have been repeated and passed down with no regard for their continued accuracy, or the quality of their underlying assumptions. Today's piece shares 8 rules that have been commonly repeated, but that we should probably start breaking.
9/27/202210 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Paradox of Time

Today at a Glance: Becoming a father has changed a lot of things about my life. My relationship with time—specifically my awareness of the passing of time—has fundamentally morphed. The Paradox of Time: We are aware of the incredible value of our time but constantly take actions that are disrespectful of that value. We know how important our time is, yet we ignore its passage and engage in low value activities that pull us away from the things that really matter. Our time is finite, but we often fail to recognize it until it's too late. Asking the hard questions and doing the simple math that they require is how you can bring awareness to the surface and rethink your priorities and tradeoffs.
9/20/202210 minutes, 57 seconds
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How to Change Your Life in One Year

9/13/202213 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Importance of Embracing Friction

Episode at a Glance Ancient culture was marked by an embrace of friction. Modern culture is marked by an avoidance of friction. In our obsessive quest to reduce friction, we may be eliminating some of the moments, experiences, and texture that made us uniquely human. My Prediction: In a world of steadily decreasing friction, it will be those who are willing to embrace friction that will thrive. To become one, start by finding small ways to choose the hard way even as the easy way stares you in the face.
9/6/202212 minutes, 59 seconds
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Non-Obvious Traits of High Performers

Today at a Glance A high performer is a person who consistently executes their craft at a top-1% level over an extended period of time. I'm very fortunate to be able to spend time with many such people during the normal course of my "work"—from CEOs to athletes to investors to artists. This means I have a front row seat for direct observation of what makes these people tick. This piece lays out 12 non-obvious traits of high performers, including the ability to modulate intensity, focus on questions, embrace healthy paranoia, and more.
8/30/202212 minutes, 27 seconds
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Escaping the Busy Trap

Today at a Glance: I spent most of my life as the “busy” guy. If anyone asked how I was doing, I would always respond with some variation of “so busy!” or “good, but really busy!” I was actually busy, but it also became part of my identity—a weird brag I developed to try to signal my value and improve my own self-worth. In the modern era, everyone seems really busy. We say we are busy as a status signal and for self-protection—we feel we are busy due to over-connectedness, obsessive optimization, and failures of prioritization. Busyness has a whole host of negative effects on our lives. We work more but actually get less done on the things that really matter. What's more, busyness negatively impacts our physical and mental health, as well as our enjoyment of daily life. Escaping the Busy Trap involves three key steps: (1) reframe the goal to focus on output per unit input, (2) prioritize what truly matters, and (3) embrace boredom and free time.
8/23/202213 minutes, 46 seconds
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Harsh Truths of Life

Today at a Glance: Whether we admit it or not, we spend a good portion of our lives protecting ourselves from reality. But there are times when our rose-colored glasses hold us back. In certain situations, when we fail to see the world as it is, we make sub-optimal decisions and miss out on critical growth and learning opportunities. Today's piece shares the "harsh truths" I've observed as life changing in their importance to our decision-making and progress. This piece is not intended to be dark or morbid. It's intended to make you think—to hopefully question some underlying (yet flawed) assumptions and spark active discussion with those around you.
8/16/202213 minutes, 6 seconds
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The Incredible Power of No

Today at a Glance: The most successful people in the world achieve compounding success through incredible focus on a small number of projects and opportunities. You have a personal flywheel. Before it gets spinning, saying yes will help you identify the actions that will get it moving. Once it gets spinning, saying no will help you ruthlessly prioritize the actions that accelerate its pace. Use the 2-list strategy for establishing core priorities: Make a list of 25 priorities, circle the top 3-5 items on the list, mark everything else as the avoid-at-all-costs items. One helpful razor for saying no: If you don't want to do something RIGHT NOW, it's probably a no.
8/9/202210 minutes, 31 seconds
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What Warren Buffett Can Teach You About Life

Today at a Glance: Warren Buffett is the most famous investor of all time. He is a treasure trove of frameworks, ideas, and insights, most of which apply well-beyond investing. Today's piece shares 8 of my favorite frameworks from the so-called Oracle of Omaha, including their application to your business, career, and life.
8/2/202210 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Most Powerful Razors

A “razor” is a rule of thumb that simplifies decision making.Humans are wired to take shortcuts in our decision-making. These shortcuts can lead us astray—but when used appropriately, the shortcuts can be extremely valuable.Today's piece shares a long list of powerful decision-making razors to help you make better decisions, faster than ever before.
7/26/202215 minutes, 14 seconds
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What Ben Franklin Can Teach You About Time

Today at a Glance: Studying the daily routines of people you admire is a worthy pursuit. You can learn a lot about a person's priorities by breaking down their typical day. You may also learn something that will dramatically improve your own systems, habits, and processes. Benjamin Franklin was one of the most prolific entrepreneurs, thinkers, and leaders in history. I expected his daily routine to be a reflection of his incredible output: long, unrelenting, and complex. But the beauty of this schedule is in its pristine simplicity: two core questions and six blocks of time. The 6 core principles to apply: (1) Establish a fixed sleep schedule, (2) Create Clarity Questions, (3) Become a polymath, (4) Work in sprints. (5) Create order, and (6) Make time to unwind.
7/19/202214 minutes, 20 seconds
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The 6 Principles of Incentive Design

Episode at a glance: Incentives are a powerful and ubiquitous force. "Show me the incentive and I will show you the outcome" - Charlie Munger. Thoughtfully-designed incentives are likely to create wonderful outcomes. Poorly-designed incentives are likely to create terrible outcomes. Goodhart's Law says that when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. Because of Goodhart's Law, incentive systems often suffer from unintended consequences. Poorly-designed incentives typically exhibit the McNamara Fallacy (what can't be measured isn't important), a narrow focus (missing the forest for the trees), or an obsession with vanity metrics (what looks impressive versus what actually matters). The 6 principles to consider in crafting thoughtful incentives: (1) Objectives, (2) Metrics, (3) Anti-Metrics, (4) Stakes & Effects, (5) Skin in the Game, and (6) Clarity & Fluidity.
7/12/202214 minutes, 19 seconds
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Lies You've Been Told About the World

Episode at a glance: What do you think you're in the top 0.1% of the world at? This question from a friend sparked me to think deeply about my own answer. I would encourage everyone to think about the question for themselves. My response: I legitimately enjoy being wrong. My father once told me that the most important thing wasn't being right; rather, it was finding the truth. From that point forward, I began embracing new information as “software updates" to improve upon the old. One result of this practice has been the logging of a long list of "truths" that I now believe are anything but. In today's piece, I share a portion of that list: 23 lies you've been told about careers, business, life, and more. Read the full post
7/11/202215 minutes
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Be Like Hank

Hank is a 95-year-old man who asked to spend a day at Harvard for his 90th birthday. He arrived early, sat in the front row, took notes, and asked questions. He learns with no end in mind. He learns because he loves learning.The forced structure of our formal education years often saps the innate curiosity and excitement for learning. New knowledge is crammed into closed containers in our brains--it's not allowed to mingle and network in a way that sparks new thinking pathways.5 core habits of highly-effective lifelong learners: stimulate dynamically, build learning circles, build a learning engine, consistently ask why, and read daily.
6/29/20228 minutes, 27 seconds
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Letter to Your Future Self

Episode at a glanceRead the full post The letter to your future self is a 10x unlock for life. The process of writing a letter forces deep reflection on the present and thoughtful rumination on the future. Use a baseline time horizon of 5 years in the future, but adjust as you see fit. A basic letter structure to follow: (1) Reflections on the Present, (2) Changes to Make, (3) Goals for the Future, and (4) Fun & Crazy Predictions. I handwrite the letters and store them in a cabinet, but if you’re looking for a more technology-enabled solution, there are tools like FutureMe that should do the trick.
6/22/202210 minutes, 4 seconds
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The 30-for-30 Challenge

Welcome to the 1,070 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 100,000 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Thank you to all the subscribers that have joined me on this journey. 100,000 is an amazing milestone—but to be honest, I feel like we’re still at the starting line. Let’s go!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Flatfile!Personally, I have spent enough time in spreadsheets to get my excel PHD. This also means I’ve spent enough time pounding my face into my keyboard in frustration while trying to import spreadsheets.Data onboarding is a MASSIVE headache. Flatfile fixes this.Flatfile is an unmatched toolkit for data import that is helping teams save precious time to focus on the business tasks that matter. Instead of staring at cell D47 and wondering how a missing comma just caused you to miss your lunch break, Flatfile does the work for you and sends you on your way. With over $44 million in funding and blue chip clients like Square, Zuora, and Clickup, Flatfile is making serious waves. To level up your data onboarding and improve your customer experience, schedule a risk-free demo of Flatfile today!Today at a Glance:Our minds tend to overcomplicate the process required to achieve forward progress. We incorrectly assume that it requires herculean effort or intensity.The reality? Giant leaps forward are simply the macro output of tens, hundreds, or thousands of tiny daily steps.The Seinfeld Calendar Framework: (1) Hang a big calendar on the wall; (2) Use a big red marker to put an X over every day that you complete your daily habit; and (3) Don’t break the chain of Xs!The 30-for-30 Challenge: Choose the arena, commit to 30 days of 30 minutes per day, create pressure loops by stating your intentions publicly, and use a calendar or tool to track your daily execution.If you’re interested in being a part of a 30-for-30 Challenge community, fill out the form here to get exclusive first access when it’s launched.The 30-for-30 ChallengeI spend a lot of time thinking about progress.I find happiness and fulfillment in progression—in the feeling of being one step further down the path from where I was yesterday.I’m not quite sure where that path is headed, but I am sure that the only way I want to progress along it is forward.Over time, I’ve observed that our minds tend to overcomplicate the process required to achieve this forward progression. We incorrectly assume that it requires herculean effort or intensity.The reality? Giant leaps forward are simply the macro output of tens, hundreds, or thousands of tiny daily steps.My goal with my writing is always the same: take the complex and make it simple. So today, I’d like to share my simple, tactical approach for making forward progress.Seinfeld’s SecretJerry Seinfeld is an absolute legend—an inspiring figure to study for creatives and non-creatives alike.He is considered one of the top comedians of all time and has amassed a reported financial fortune of nearly $1 billion. He earned a total of $100,000 for the entire first season of Seinfeld. By season 9, he was earning over $1 million per episode.Jerry Seinfeld is impressive in many ways, but perhaps most impressive is the fact that he has exhibited such tremendous creative consistency over the years. As he is quick to point out in a number of interviews, this was not some gift he was simply born with.It was—at least partially—engineered.An up-and-coming comedian named Brad Isaac had a famous interaction with Jerry Seinfeld that revealed his strategy for hacking consistency and growth:He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.“After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”I call this the Seinfeld Calendar Framework:Hang a big calendar on the wall.Use a big red marker to put an X over every day that you complete your daily [insert habit]. The habit should be simple and manageable to complete.Don’t break the chain of Xs!Importantly, it was not about the writing or jokes being high quality—it was about the consistency of the daily practice.The beauty in this system was in its sheer simplicity. It emphasized a manageable daily practice that would compound effectively.Seinfeld knew: With daily practice comes long-term prowess.30-for-30 ChallengeAfter reading about Seinfeld’s calendar hack, I adapted it to create my own improvement approach.I call it the 30-for-30 Challenge: 30 days, 30 minutes per day.The mechanics are simple:Choose your arena for progress. This can be any new skill, habit, or an existing area of competency you are looking to improve.Commit to focused effort in that arena for 30 minutes per day for 30 consecutive days.Create a positive pressure loop. State your intention publicly or tell a friend or family member about your plan. This subtle decision makes it more costly to quit.Track the daily execution with a calendar.The 30-for-30 Challenge has three core advantages:Meaningful CommitmentChoosing a single arena for progress requires clear commitment that reveals whether you are physically and psychologically invested in the thing you want to improve at.30 days of effort is meaningful.If you’re half-in, you won’t want to take it on and commit to the full scope 30 days.It’s a commitment razor.Light IntimidationWhile 30 days is long enough to require a real commitment, 30 minutes is short enough that it removes intimidation and allows you to mentally attack it.Pre-start self-intimidation is one of the biggest drivers of stagnation. We make something too daunting, so we don’t take it on. New habits and improvement initiatives can often feel that way.Remember: When you’re staring at a cold lake, jumping in is the hardest part—once you’re in it, it’s not so bad!A lot of people say they want to get into great cardio shape, but if they’re currently out of shape, it can feel like a daunting task. 30-for-30 breaks the intimidation down into something simple, reasonable, and manageable.Just punch the clock for 30 minutes today. That’s it.Effective Compounding30 days of 30 minutes per day is 900 total minutes of accumulated effort.900 minutes of focused effort can have surprisingly significant results. There’s almost nothing in the world that you won’t improve at if you spend 900 minutes of focused, dedicated effort on it.A few examples:900 minutes of Zone 2 cardio puts you in much better cardiovascular shape.900 minutes of writing makes you a dramatically better writer.900 minutes of reading can cover several classic books and many articles.900 minutes of meditation can build toward a clear mind.900 minutes of work on that secret project will make a dent.Remember: Giant leaps forward are simply the macro output of tens, hundreds, or thousands of tiny daily steps.Small things become big things.ConclusionTo summarize the 30-for-30 Challenge:Choose the Arena: What habit do you want to create? What skill do you want to build or improve upon?Commit: 30 days, 30 minutes per day.Create Pressure Loops: State your intentions publicly or tell a friend.Track: Use a calendar or tool to track your daily execution. One of my awesome Twitter followers created this nifty Notion tool that you can use as a tracker.30-for-30 works because it creates a marathon of short, manageable sprints. It forces you to work like a lion, consistently.Intensity + Consistency = Progress.30-for-30 CommunityI’m insanely bullish on the power of community to help us achieve our goals. That’s why I’m planning to build out an exclusive community of growth-oriented individuals who want to support each other on the journey.If you want to be a part of the 30-for-30 Challenge Community, add your email below and get notified for first access when it launches.Where It Happens PodcastBuilding From Scratch with Ryan HooverWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.Also, join our email list to get exclusive access to content we are going to be rolling out for subscribers only starting this Summer!Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by LMNT. LMNT is a delicious electrolyte drink mix with all of the things you need and none of the junk. It contains a science-backed electrolyte ratio: 1000 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium, 60 mg magnesium. LMNT can help prevent and eliminate headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, sleeplessness, and other common symptoms of electrolyte deficiency. It tastes amazing and is great after a workout or one too many drinks :)Right now LMNT is offering our listeners a free sample pack with any order. That’s 8 single serving packets FREE with any LMNT order. Get yours at DrinkLMNT.com/HAPPENS. And it’s so good they have a no questions asked refund policy but you won’t need it.This episode is brought to you by Fundrise. Fundrise is on a mission to use technology to build a better financial system for the individual. With over $2.4B AUM and 250k active investors, it’s the largest direct-to-investor real estate investor platform in America.Their platform is so easy to use and they make it so easy to diversify your portfolio. For a limited time if you sign-up, you can get $10 bonus. Just go to fundrise.com/roomSahil’s Hiring ZoneTalent CollectiveCompletely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here.Featured OpportunitiesGivebutter - Director of Growth MarketingFirstbase.io - Business Operations, Business Lead, Editorial LeadAssemble - Software EngineerClipboard Health - Growth Strategy & Marketing Manager, Engineering ManagerElevate Labs - Head of Growth PartnershipsThe full board with 15+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
6/15/20229 minutes, 6 seconds
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The Logical Fallacy Guide

Welcome to the 675 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 98,027 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Trends!Trends is my personal cheat code for generating new business and content ideas.It’s a premium newsletter from The Hustle that deconstructs the secret sauce of interesting businesses, side hustles, and emerging opportunities—and gives you the playbook to pounce on them. Even better, membership provides instant access to an exclusive community of 15,000+ entrepreneurs who are building the future.I learn something new from every single issue—it has become a core part of my content and learning engine. A true must-read. I can’t recommend it highly enough.Use the link below to join—no commitment, no catch, cancel anytime!Today at a Glance:Logical fallacies are errors in reasoning that undermine the quality of an argument.Combatting them relies first and foremost on establishing a level of awareness—both academically and practically.The Logical Fallacy Guide covers 20 common logical fallacies: Ad Hominem, Texas Sharpshooter, Sunk Cost Fallacy, Bandwagon Fallacy, Straw Man, Appeal to Authority, Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, Personal Incredulity, False Dilemma, Burden of Proof, Red Herring, No True Scotsman, Hasty Generalization, Non-Sequitur, Tu Quoque, Slippery Slope, Begging the Question, Loaded Question, Equivocation, and Fallacy Fallacy.The Logical Fallacy GuideIf you’ve been reading this newsletter, you know that I like to say that humans are fascinating creatures.We possess the capacity to accomplish some complex feat of technology and engineering, and subsequently fall victim to the most obviously flawed base logic.Logical fallacies—errors in reasoning that undermine the quality of an argument—are classic examples of this fact.The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines fallacy as a false or misleading idea. A logical fallacy, therefore, can simply be thought of as logic based on a false or misleading idea.Unfortunately, unless you went to law school—or took a robust philosophy course load in college—you’ve likely been minimally exposed to them in a formal context.Accordingly, we frequently fall victim to logical fallacies—our own emotional, psychological, and intellectual blindspots create the cracks and we fall right into them.There is no such thing as a perfect logician, but we can all strive to cover our blindspots and craft better arguments. Similar to the study of cognitive biases—which I’ve written about recently here and here—the first step in avoiding logical fallacies is developing an awareness of them.In that vein, today’s piece will cover 20 common logical fallacies to learn, identify, and avoid.Without further ado, let’s dive in…Ad HominemLatin phrase for "to the person”—an ad hominem attack is an attack of the individual rather than the argument.Instead of addressing the argument—its structure, logic, and merits—the offender attempts to refute the opposition on the basis of personal characteristics.It may be overt—openly attacking the person’s character or personality—or covert—subtly doing the same—but it always focuses on the person, not the argument.Often referred to as “mud-slinging” in political circles, if you’ve ever watched a political debate or political campaign ads, you’re already familiar with this one. It’s all-too-common on Twitter and other online discourse, as well.ExampleCandidate 1: “…and this is why I believe we need to implement a much more aggressive set of climate change regulations.”Candidate 2: “I’m sorry, but are we really expected to believe anything coming from a known liar who cheated on his college entrance exams to get to this position?”The offender (Candidate 2) has attacked Candidate 1 the individual, rather than the argument itself.The Texas SharpshooterThe name of this fallacy is based on a fable:A Texan fires a gun multiple times at a barn wall. He then walks over to the bullet-riddled wall and paints a target around the closest cluster of bullet holes to create the appearance of impressive marksmanship.Think of this as cherry-picking—selecting and highlighting evidence that supports the conclusion and systematically ignoring evidence that may refute it.Example“Tara is a really impressive and successful restauranteur. Her restaurant on Park Avenue is always full and gets really high ratings on Yelp.”This may be true, but it ignores the fact that Tara’s five other restaurant openings have failed. The cherry-picked data—the successful Park Avenue restaurant—is used to draw a broad conclusion about Tara’s quality as a restauranteur that may be inaccurate.Sunk Cost FallacyA favorite of behavioral economics.Sunk costs are the economic costs already invested in an activity that cannot be recovered. Money spent on non-refundable flights and hotels, time invested in a project, or energy put towards a relationship all qualify as sunk costs.The fallacy is found in thinking that you should continue with something on the basis of all that you've put in, with no regard given for future costs or likelihood of ultimate success.The reality: sunk costs are irrecoverable, so should not factor into the decision about the future.Example“The hopes for the space project appear slim, but we have already invested so much, so we have to finish.”If the space project appears unlikely to achieve its stated objectives, any additional investment in the project may be irrational. The fact that a lot has been invested in it has no bearing on what should rationally be invested in its future.“I really don’t want to go on this vacation—I’m so busy at work—but I already paid for the flights, so I might as well go.”The cost of the flights is a sunk cost. If going on the vacation is going to bring you negative utility, that should be the only factor in your decision of whether or not to make the trip.Bandwagon FallacyAn assumption of truth on the basis of the majority of people believing it to be true."Everyone believes X, so obviously X is true."The assumption is typically made without regard for the qualifications or ability of the people in question to validate the claim.Common in the workplace, where a collective belief—“this is how everyone does it”—can lead to broken processes and systems.Example"Well, the majority of people we talk to say that integrating chip design and manufacturing is important, so clearly you should get onboard so we can continue forward with our integrated solution, rather than switching to something modular.”The over-reliance on the majority—with no regard for whether these people are qualified to make this decision—may lead to poor judgement. This is where first principles thinking goes to die.Straw ManSetup a straw man to tear down.The offender ignores the actual argument and replaces it with a flimsy, distorted, easily-refuted argument—a straw man.By replacing a strong argument with a weak one, the offender creates the illusion of an easy, swift victory.When done effectively, it is an intellectual sleight-of-hand that leaves observers with the impression that the offender has “won” the argument, when the reality is much different.Politicians are often expert practitioners of the straw man fallacy.ExampleCandidate 1: “I believe we should focus on our local climate initiatives and hire a team to track and manage our various projects.”Candidate 2: “So let me get this straight, you’re advocating for our town to take our taxpayer dollars away from our schools and safety programs and redirect them towards expensive McKinsey consultants making flowcharts of our climate projects?”Candidate 2 effectively repositions the argument as taking money away from schools and safety programs—both of which are important to the community—which makes it easier to attack and refute.The Appeal to AuthorityThe over-reliance on the perspective of an "expert" to support the legitimacy of an argument.Over-reliance is a dangerous game. The qualifications of the authority figure in the field of question must be considered.As a rule of thumb, the support of an authority figure can be a feature—but not a central pillar—of an argument.Example“Well our CEO and board all think that acquiring our competitor is what we should do, so it must be the right move.”The CEO and board may not have all of the details that the troops on the ground have earned and possess, so may not be qualified to make a judgement on the matter.At a minimum, the decision to acquire the competitor must be grounded in additional evidence beyond the stated belief of the CEO and board.Post Hoc Ergo Propter HocLatin for “after this, therefore because of this”—this flawed logic follows a simple structure:Event B followed Event ATherefore Event B must have been caused by Event AThe reality: Just because B followed A, doesn’t necessarily mean that B was caused by A.Correlation ≠ Causation.Example“The crickets begin chirping just before the sun goes down. The crickets must make the sun go down.”Easy to spot when taken to the extreme, but more challenging to identify when somewhere in the middle.Personal IncredulityYou are unable to understand or believe something, therefore you argue that it cannot be true.Complex topics often require significant upfront work to understand, so an inability to understand or comprehend something cannot be used to argue the illegitimacy of a claim.Example“The idea that we will ever mine for minerals on asteroids is completely ridiculous. I’m no scientist, but there is no way that will ever be cost effective or efficient, so it will never happen.”The person making the claim is using an inability to understand the science and cost curve improvement potential as a basis for arguing it will never happen. They have self-proclaimed a lack of qualification to cast judgement—“I’m no scientist”—and have allowed personal incredulity to infiltrate their logic.(Note: Asteroid mining might be real?)The False DilemmaPresenting two choices or alternatives when there are many more that exist. The extremes are presented with no regard for the potential shades of grey.The false dilemma ignores nuance and lends itself to extreme positions and outcomes. When used, it typically reduces the potential for compromise, as the two options are painted as being extremely far apart.An all-too-common fallacy in the polarizing world of politics.Example“The choice here is simple—either you love freedom and liberty or you love tyranny and oppression. Your call.”If this line seems stolen from a political campaign, it’s probably because it is. Clearly there is more nuance, but the false dilemma creates a scenario where people have to choose a side.Dangerous and polarizing.Burden of ProofThe offender uses the inability of the opponent to provide evidence that a claim is false as justification that the claim is true.The lack of refuting evidence cannot be considered to be the same as supporting evidence.The burden of proof lies with the person making the claim to provide supporting evidence—see Hitchens’ Razor.ExampleTim: “Paranormal activity is clearly real.”Elizabeth: “No it’s not. Come on, that’s ridiculous.”Tim: “You haven’t given me one piece of evidence that it’s not real, so it’s clearly real!”Tim is making the claim and using the lack of refuting evidence as support for the validity of his claim. Elizabeth can use Hitchens’ Razor—the burden of proof is clearly unmet, so no argument is required to dismiss Tim’s argument.The Red HerringThe term “red herring” comes from the world of hunting dog training:Hunting dog trainers needed a good way to train the dogs to stay focused on a target scent. The dogs had a keen sense of smell, but they were also easily distracted. In order to train this focus, the trainers developed a strategy—one that involved a smelly fish.The kippered herring is a reddish-brown fish with a pungent nose. During training, the kippered herring would be introduced as a distracting scent to test whether the dogs were able to stay on track.From this origin, the "red herring" became synonymous with distraction.The offender distracts from the argument with a seemingly related—but actually unrelated—point. The discussion is rerouted to a new argument where the offender is better-positioned to respond and win.ExampleWorker: “I can’t believe you’re only paying us $15 per hour. The market rate is much higher.”Manager: “When I was working the warehouse, we had to work for $10 per hour in much worse conditions, so you have it pretty good in there now, if you ask me.”The manager’s personal experience is unrelated to the market rate point made by the worker. The manager has shifted the argument to a discussion of hourly rate and working condition progression rather than of the market matter at hand.No True ScotsmanThe "appeal to purity" is characterized by the changing of the original argument to evade a counter-argument.It is typically used to protect a hasty generalization by excluding the counter-argument that would bust the generalization.ExampleJeremy: “A Scotsman never drinks scotch with soda.”Charles: “I am a Scotsman and I drink scotch with soda.”Jeremy: “Then you must not be a true Scotsman!”Rather than acknowledge the counter-argument and evidence, the terms of the argument are changed to simply exclude the counter-argument.Hasty GeneralizationIn short, jumping to conclusions.When material, far-reaching, or wide-ranging conclusions are made on the basis of an immaterial, narrow body of evidence.Insufficient evidence has been gathered or generated to justify the claimed conclusions. This does not mean the conclusions are definitively false—see The Fallacy Fallacy below—but it does mean that more work is required to prove them true.Example“The oldest man alive said that his secrets to a long life include smoking, drinking, and laughing with friends. I knew smoking and drinking weren’t bad for you!”First off, this is actually a thing that happened. More importantly, this is clearly a hasty conclusion to draw on the basis of a sample size of 1. The evidence here is narrow and anecdotal at best, so no real conclusions can be drawn.Non-SequiturThe conclusion does not follow logically from the premises.The evidence presented provides little or no actual support for the argument.Example“Charles ate fish for dinner and is well-spoken, so he must be a banker.”The conclusion feels random and out of thin air relative to the evidence. This is a non-sequitur at its finest.Tu QuoqueLatin for “you too”—an attempt to discredit an opponent’s argument by pointing out personal behavior as being inconsistent with their argument.Targeting the hypocrisy of the opponent rather than the argument of the opponent.Simple, yet oddly effective in political debates.ExampleCandidate 1: “The acceptance of $10 million in suspect funding truly calls into question the integrity of my opponent.”Candidate 2: “Don’t question my integrity, look at all of the terrible things you have done!”Candidate 2 is not addressing the actions noted by Candidate 1, instead choosing to attack the hypocrisy of Candidate 1 to discredit the argument.It may be true that Candidate 1 has low integrity, but that has no bearing over the argument in question regarding Candidate 2’s integrity.Slippery SlopeAn argument that begins with a benign starting point before using a series of successive steps to get to a more radical, extreme end point.The argument can feel compelling on the surface—no single step appears ridiculous—but the connection of multiple steps into the series is highly-improbable.Think of this like a parlay bet—a bet that links together multiple bets or events into one. The more bets linked together, the lower the odds of the parlay hitting—and the higher the payout. Any one of the events may have a reasonable probability of occurring, but all of them occurring, and in the correct order, is nearly impossible.ExamplePolitician: “If we legalize low-level drug crime, the criminals will make legal profits, invest in more expansive illegal networks, recruit new teams, and expand into new geographies. So we have to stay tough on all crime, even low-level drug crime, because otherwise it will get out of hand rapidly.”The first step—that legal profits would be made—is plausible and likely, but the successive steps are each an assumption with no evidence in support. The innocuous starting point has led to an extreme end point and the extreme end point is used as justification for the argument.Begging the QuestionCircular reasoning takes the general form of:If A then BIf B then AThe argument is circular in the sense that it collapses on itself. It may get you stuck in a paradox—check out the card paradox.“Begging the Question” is a form of circular reasoning in which the argument is presented in such a way that the conclusion is included in the premise. The premise of the argument assumes the truth of the conclusion.Example“Ghosts are real because I once felt and heard something that was definitely a ghost.”Easy to identify. The logic collapses on itself.Loaded QuestionThe “loaded question” is a question asked with a presumption built into the question—it is pre-loaded.Typically intended to be inflammatory in nature.The individual on the receiving end of the question is forced to respond to the presumption despite its potentially baseless, irrelevant nature. It puts them on their heels and in a position of weakness where they are unable to revert to the original discussion or argument.ExampleTerry and Clarence are both competing for Mara’s affection. The three are together in a study hall period, when the following exchange occurs:Terry: “Hey Clarence, what’s happening with the football team? You’re the captain and we are struggling.”Clarence: “We will be fine, but have you been able to talk to Coach yet about your drug use suspension?”Clarence has asked a “loaded question” that puts Terry on his heels. It may be baseless, but now Terry is forced to respond to an accusation of drug use when the original discussion was on the lack of leadership on the football team.EquivocationComes from the roots “equal” and “voice”—a single word or phrase can say two very different things.Equivocation is a classic tactic of the accused. It occurs when the offender—the accused in this case—uses a word, phrase, or sentence in an intentionally misleading manner.The word, phrase, or sentence sounds like it’s saying one thing, but is actually saying something else.ExamplePolice Officer: “Did you steal that television from the house?”Accused: “I would never take something that wasn’t mine!”The accused may believe that the television is rightfully hers, so by saying she would never take something that wasn’t hers, she is denying guilt without explicitly stating that she did not take the television.The Fallacy FallacyThe meta logical fallacy.Incorrectly assumes that a claim must be false if a fallacy was used to argue the claim. Just because someone has poorly argued a claim, does not mean the claim itself is definitively false.It may still be true, albeit poorly argued!Example“Paul, with all due respect, your argument for the health benefits of veganism was clearly based on a hasty generalization, so it is false and you are wrong. Therefore, Veganism is not healthy.”The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Paul may have failed to prove that veganism is healthy, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t healthy.ConclusionThere you have it—20 common logical fallacies to learn, identify, and avoid.I hope the definitions and examples in this guide help you feel more well-equipped to craft great arguments (and refute bad ones).Where It Happens PodcastHow to Invent and Invest In the Future with Josh WolfeWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by LMNT. LMNT is a delicious electrolyte drink mix with all of the things you need and none of the junk. It contains a science-backed electrolyte ratio: 1000 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium, 60 mg magnesium. LMNT can help prevent and eliminate headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, sleeplessness, and other common symptoms of electrolyte deficiency. It tastes amazing and is great after a workout or one too many drinks :)Right now LMNT is offering our listeners a free sample pack with any order. That’s 8 single serving packets FREE with any LMNT order. Get yours at DrinkLMNT.com/HAPPENS. And it’s so good they have a no questions asked refund policy but you won’t need it.This episode is brought to you by Fundrise. Fundrise is on a mission to use technology to build a better financial system for the individual. With over $2.4B AUM and 250k active investors, it’s the largest direct-to-investor real estate investor platform in America.Their platform is so easy to use and they make it so easy to diversify your portfolio. For a limited time if you sign-up, you can get $10 bonus. Just go to fundrise.com/roomSahil’s Hiring ZoneTalent CollectiveCompletely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here.Featured OpportunitiesFirstbase.io - Business Operations, Business Lead, Editorial LeadAssemble - Software EngineerClipboard Health - Growth Strategy & Marketing Manager, Engineering ManagerElevate Labs - Head of Growth PartnershipsGruntwork - Senior Software EngineerPractice - Product DesignerDaoHq - Founding Solidity DeveloperThe full board with 20+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
6/8/202220 minutes, 56 seconds
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Bad Habits Holding You Back

Welcome to the 853 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 96,549 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by The Hustle!See why 2m+ professionals start their day with The Hustle newsletter.Anyone can regurgitate the news, few can make it interesting and entertaining. The Hustle does just that. Be the most interesting person in the room from reading The Hustle each day. While their Monday - Friday coverage is 5 star, their Sunday Deep Dives are epic. Ever wondered how all-you-can-eat-buffets make money? Or what happened to the 250K American Airlines lifetime pass? It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s ad free!Today at a Glance:There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Extraordinary success is simply the byproduct of a large volume of ordinary actions. The quality of our daily habits governs the ultimate quality of our long-term outcomes.I frequently write and speak about the good habits—the ones that positively contribute to your desired outcomes. But what about the bad habits? Just as we want to identify what will propel us forward, isn’t it at least as important to know that which is holding us back?Today’s piece covers 20 bad habits that are holding you back from reaching your potential. All of these are bad habits I have—or currently am—struggling with, so you definitely aren’t alone in this fight.Bad Habits Holding You BackI’m mildly obsessed with the myth of the overnight success.There’s a story I love about Spanish painter Pablo Picasso that captures the essence of the myth very well:Picasso was walking through the market one day when a woman approached him.She pulled out a piece of paper and said, “Mr. Picasso, I am a fan of your work. Please, could you do a little drawing for me?”Picasso smiled and quickly drew a small, but beautiful piece of art on the paper. He handed it back to her.“That will be one million dollars.”“But Mr. Picasso,” the woman protested, “It only took you thirty seconds to draw this little masterpiece.”Picasso smiled, “On the contrary, it took me thirty years to draw that masterpiece in thirty seconds.”The lesson: extraordinary success is simply the byproduct of a large volume of ordinary actions.The quality of our daily habits governs the ultimate quality of our long-term outcomes.I frequently write and speak about the good habits—the ones that positively contribute to your desired outcomes.But what about the bad habits?Just as we want to identify that which will propel us forward, isn’t it at least as important to know that which is holding us back?In that vein, today’s piece will cover 18 bad habits that are holding you back from reaching your potential. All of these are bad habits I have—or currently am—struggling with, so you definitely aren’t alone in this fight!These are designed to be short, punchy insights—I would encourage you to skip any that don’t apply and think deeply about those that specifically resonate with you.Without further ado, let’s dive right in…Focusing on the UrgentIt's easy to jump from one urgent task to the next.But when you focus on the short-term urgent, you lose sight of the long-term important.Spend most of your time focused on long-term important tasks—the compounders.Delegate or delete the rest.Saying Yes to EverythingConfession: I've always had a tough time saying no. I'd take on too much and then grind my way through—or even worse, under-deliver vs. expectations.The ability to say no is a superpower of successful people. Be deliberate about what you spend your time on—and who you spend it with.My rule of thumb: You should spend your 20s saying yes and your 30s and beyond saying no. Your 20s are a time to say yes to almost everything. Saying yes puts you into new and uncomfortable situations that expand your luck surface area. Your 30s and beyond are a time to say no to almost everything. Saying no allows you to focus & build leverage.Glorifying the Wrong ThingsWhat I used to glorify:No sleep100-hour workweeksBusy schedulesFancy titles and credentialsWhat I now glorify:Sleeping 8 hoursRegular physical activityUnstructured schedulesWorking in short sprintsSpending time with family and friendsThe realization: Freedom and control over your time is the one true status symbol. Success and wealth is meaningless if it doesn’t provide that freedom and control.Comparison TrapsThroughout your life and career, it's tempting to compare yourself and your progress to those around you.It’s borderline impossible to avoid:This person made X dollars last yearThat person got Forbes 30 Under 30So and so raised $100m for their startupThey just got a vacation home and new carIt's natural, but dangerous—comparison is like gas on your “more” fire—it tears away the enjoyment of the present and tells you that it’s not enough.Learn to turn it off.Focus on what you can control. When you notice yourself falling into the trap, reset and focus on yourself.ProcrastinatingConfession: I spent most of my life as a chronic procrastinator.I also spent most of my life justifying that chronic procrastination—both internally and externally. I told myself it was "just how I worked”—that the pressure of an imminent deadline was what I needed to thrive.Procrastination holds you back from achieving at the level you are capable of.My framework for how to stop procrastinating:Awareness: Schedule a daily assessment of your day-to-day actions. Start by identifying the important long-term projects in your life. Then ask a few questions: Am I proud of the actions I am taking on these big projects? Am I doing what I should be doing? Create an awareness of your procrastination.Deconstruction: Large, long-term projects look like a big, black box. Our imaginations tend to fill that box with endless complexity and unknown horrors. It's critical to deconstruct the big and scary project into small and individually-manageable tasks.Plan Creation: Develop a plan of attack to check off the deconstructed task list. The plan for each micro task should be specific and time bound. Create a project document to track the plan and tasks.Stake Creation: Create stakes that turn big projects into a “game” for yourself. These mental games can be very effective!Action: A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Create systems that spark initial movement. Engineer small wins (they become big wins over time).You can find my full piece on how to stop procrastinating here.Complaining IncessantlyComplaining never got anyone anywhere worth going.The world is effectively split across complainers and doers—the former will always talk while the latter will always act.Complainers are on the sidelines. They sling rocks and hide from the repercussions.Doers are in the arena. Doers fight—their bias for action creates luck and results.Falling Into Productivity TrapsHustle culture lied to you.Obsessively optimizing your time with new "productive" activities is ironically counter-productive.I like to think of free time as a “call option” on future interesting opportunities.When you have free time built into your life, you have the headspace and bandwidth to jump at the high-upside ideas and openings that come to you in the normal course of your endeavors.Taking Everyone's AdviceAs you progress in your professional life, you're going to get a lot of advice from a lot of people.Most of it is well-intentioned...and also total crap.Why? It's dangerous to use someone else's map to navigate your world. It can be directionally sound, but if it’s based on a fundamentally different map of reality, it has limited use.Learn to filter and selectively implement advice—take the signal, skip the noise.Defaulting to a JogThere are four speeds in life:RestWalkJogSprintMost modern era people default to a jog—we work at a moderate pace for long hours. It’s a staple of the work culture that was created during the Industrial Revolution.Unfortunately, it’s dated at best and harmful at worst.You'll go much faster and further by defaulting to either rest/walk or sprint.Rest, walk, sprint, repeat.There is no jog.Blaming TimeWe all need to stop blaming time while giving our focus a free pass.I used to frequently complain that I didn't have the time to get to important projects. But after performing an honest assessment, I concluded time wasn’t to blame—my focus was.Hold your focus to the fire—force it to level up.Try using “progressive overload” for leveling up your focus:Progressive overload training is when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or reps in your workout routine. You slowly increase the load on your system to force it to get stronger.Most of us start with a very low base capacity for deep focus.Rather than jump into a focused work habit with failed 90-minute sprints, we can slowly build our focus muscle:Week 1: 30 minutesWeek 2: 35 minutesWeek 3: 40 minutes…and so onProgressively overload your focus muscle!InactivityYour body was made to move. Consistent daily activity is essential to your health, brain function, and happiness.You don't need to have a complex regimen.If you’re just getting started, try this daily minimum:Walk for 30 minutes: Use the time to gather thoughts, listen to a podcast or audiobook, etc.Raise your HR for 30 minutes: This can be any activity you enjoy that forces your heart rate above ~130.Mobility work for 5 minutes: A few simple stretches to keep your hips and back mobile and strong.Keep it simple and build from there.Wanting to Be RightA persistent desire to be right is a trap.Finding the truth is much more important than being right. The most successful people legitimately enjoy being wrong.Instead of arguing your position—ask *great* questions. Consider my Question-Action Matrix—asking great questions allows you to uncover new learnings and truths that you can then act against to create asymmetric outcomes.Learn to embrace new information as “software updates" to your brain that improve upon the old.InactionOverthinking and paralysis is often just a result of inaction.The first movement is always the hardest—so just start moving.Remember: The hardest part of jumping into a cold lake is just forcing yourself to jump. Once you’re in it, you feel refreshed and excited.A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Maintaining a bias for action allows you to capitalize on opportunities that compound effectively.MultitaskingMultitasking is simply fake productivity. You think you're crushing it but you're just running around churning out a bunch of C+ work.Instead, build your day around focused sprints. 60 minutes works well, but you can build to longer if you have a strong capacity for it (I don’t!).Compartmentalize and focus on the one key task at hand.Waiting for the Perfect MomentThis bad habit has paralyzed would-be action-takers for generations.The harsh reality: there is no such thing as the perfect moment.Sometimes you just have to open the door, jump out of the plane, and hope you packed the parachute tight.Viewing the World as Zero SumSimply put, zero sum thinkers are the worst.Want to get ahead in life? Start genuinely rooting for others to succeed.When one of us wins, we all win—winning spreads. If you adopt that mentality, you’ll become a magnet for the highest quality people.Avoiding Hard ConversationsHard conversations are...hard.But avoiding them gets you nowhere. Being direct is the way.A close mentor once gave me some great advice on how to handle hard conversations:The other person should know what you're there to talk about within 30 seconds. That’s your only job and you owe it to them to deliver against it. Beating around the bush doesn't soften the blow, it just makes it more shocking.Focusing on MoneyMoney should never be the focus—money is simply a byproduct of the value you create.The Golden Rule: Create value, receive value.If you focus on creating immense value for the people you work with, you'll find a way to make money.Create value—then create leverage to scale the value you can create.ConclusionThe two simple steps to achieve durable, long-term success:Build good habitsEliminate bad habitsMy hope is that this list of 18 bad habits helped to provide a level of awareness that you can leverage to eliminate those that are holding you back.Now go forth and conquer!I’m also working on a follow up piece with a step-by-step framework for breaking bad habits, so stay tuned…Where It Happens Podcast$30M by Age 19 — And Where You Should Build TodayWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.Riverside is our go-to platform to record studio-quality podcasts or videos. We use it for all of our episodes of Where It Happens. Their secret sauce is the ability to record locally, which means you get uncompressed audio and video that works even if your WiFi isn’t cooperating.Once you’re done recording, it’s so easy to edit and download all of your files. To get 15% off your plan, use code HAPPENS here.This episode is brought to you by Fundrise. Fundrise is on a mission to use technology to build a better financial system for the individual. With over $2.4B AUM and 250k active investors, it’s the largest direct-to-investor real estate investor platform in America.Their platform is so easy to use and they make it so easy to diversify your portfolio. For a limited time if you sign-up, you can get $10 bonus. Just go to fundrise.com/roomSahil’s Hiring ZoneTalent CollectiveCompletely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here.Featured OpportunitiesFirstbase.io - Business Operations, Business Lead, Editorial LeadClipboard Health - Growth Strategy & Marketing Manager, Engineering ManagerElevate Labs - Head of Growth PartnershipsGruntwork - Senior Software EngineerPractice - Product DesignerThe full board with 20+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
6/1/202214 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Beauty of Enough

Welcome to the 1,719 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 94,548 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Morning Brew!There's a reason why over 4 million people read Morning Brew—the free daily email that covers the latest from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Unlike traditional news, Morning Brew will keep you informed AND entertained.Morning Brew is one of my consistent daily reads. I know you’ll love it as much as I do!The Beauty of Enough“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”My son was born one week ago—it feels like one of those fabled weeks where decades happen.I spent the first three decades of my life trying to find the meaning and purpose of all of this—then one week, it all came into view.On Monday morning, I was with him in bed and had this profound sensation: For the first time in my life, I have enough.I’ve always been extremely driven—I’ve always been in this constant cycle of wanting more.But I feel…different.Really, what more could I want?This profound feeling prompted today’s piece—on our perpetual desire for more, and more importantly, on the beauty of enough.My hope is for you to come away from it feeling empowered to think clearly and deeply about finding your “enough” amidst the constant search for more.The Fisherman & The BankerThere’s a beautiful parable that I think about quite often…A wealthy investment banker goes on vacation to a tropical fishing village. As he walks along the docks one afternoon, he comes upon a small, run-down fishing boat with several large fish on its deck."How long did it take you to catch those fish?" he asks.The fisherman looks up from his work and smiles at his new visitor."Only a little while."The investment banker is caught off guard by this response. He likes the fisherman and wants to help."Why don't you fish for longer so you can catch more fish?"The fisherman shrugs and explains to his new friend that he has all he needs."Each day, I sleep late, fish a little, and spend time with my children and beautiful wife. In the evening, I go into town, drink wine, play the guitar, and sing and laugh with my friends."The investment banker is puzzled. He wants to help his new friend, who he recognizes is clearly confused. The investment banker has helped many businesses and has an MBA and other fancy credentials to his name. So he lays out a plan for the fisherman..."First, you spend more time fishing, so you can catch and sell more fish. You use the proceeds to buy a bigger boat, which allows you to catch and sell even more fish. Then you buy a fleet of boats. You hire a team. Vertically integrate! As CEO of a large, growing enterprise, you could move to the big city. You would take your company public and make millions!"The fisherman looks confused, but smiles."And then what?" he asks.The investment banker laughs at the silly question."Well, then you could retire to a quiet town! You could sleep late, fish a little, and spend time with your children and beautiful wife. In the evening, you could go into town, drink wine, play the guitar, and sing and laugh with your friends."The fisherman smiles broadly, thanks his new friend for the advice, and wanders off slowly into the warm afternoon sun.More vs. EnoughThis parable illustrates the importance of perspective.The story isn’t about the fisherman or the banker being “right”—it’s about personally identifying what success and purpose looks like to you, and then building a life that meets that definition.Fundamentally, it’s about a dichotomy that rules our lives: More vs. Enough.The Hedonic TreadmillHedonic adaptation is the tendency of humans to revert to a happiness baseline shortly after new positive or negative events.It (probably) developed as a survival mechanism of sorts—in the wild, you needed to stay on an even keel in order to survive to reproductive age. After a big hunt and kill, the thrill of the victory had to wear off quickly so that you didn’t let your guard down and get eaten by a lion. That seems…good.But in the modern age, hedonic adaptation has a darker side.It becomes a treadmill—the Hedonic Treadmill—a perpetual motion machine that keeps us running in search of the next thing.We create this magical universe in our minds where that one next thing will be exactly what makes us permanently, sustainably happier.The harsh reality? We get to that next thing, appreciate it for a moment, and then turn our gaze to the next, next thing, with no marked improvement in our happiness.You’ve undoubtedly seen this general dynamic play out:We can finally buy the second home in Florida we’ve always dreamed of. Two weeks later, we’re complaining about maintaining it and thinking that a third home in Sedona sounds nice.We buy that fancy car—we ride around smiling broadly with the music blasting, and then see someone in the newer model and start thinking about the next one.We are like the modern equivalent of Sisyphus—a figure from Greek mythology who is sentenced by Zeus to an eternity of futile struggle. Sisyphus must roll a massive boulder up a steep hill, but as soon as he nears the top, the boulder rolls back down to the bottom, forcing him to start anew.We all strive for growth, but our outsized focus on progress can result in an inability to feel gratitude for the present.Finding Your “Enough”So how do we step off the treadmill?To me, this is about finding your version of “enough”—about balancing your natural desire for more with a deep appreciation for the beauty of the present.A few strategies that have worked for me:Develop a Gratitude Practice: Make it a daily practice to write down your gratitude. Either right when you wake up or right before bed, write down three things you are grateful for. They can be big (a healthy family) or small (a good meal in front of your favorite TV show)—the only thing that matters is that you make note of them. The practice forces gratitude for the present into the front of our minds and works wonders for your daily contentment and happiness.Identify Your Happiness Triggers: Using your gratitude lists, identify what makes you happy. Not what you think makes you happy or what society says should make you happy—but what truly makes YOU happy. Maybe it’s as simple as a cold beer at the end of a hard day of work or listening to smooth jazz by yourself when everyone has gone to sleep. Whatever it is, find those triggers and prioritize them in your life.End the Comparisons: We all have a horrible tendency to compare ourselves to others. Comparison is like gas on your “more” fire—it tears away the enjoyment of the present and tells you that it’s not enough. When you notice yourself falling into the comparison trap, reset and focus on yourself. “If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, and that is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.” - Montesquieu.Give these strategies a try. They will all bring the present into a clear, brilliant focus.ConclusionFor most of my life, I would have characterized myself as the investment banker from the parable above.The quest for more dominated my headspace.But this morning, lying in bed with my newborn son, I feel different."Each day, I sleep late, fish a little, and spend time with my children and beautiful wife. In the evening, I go into town, drink wine, play the guitar, and sing and laugh with my friends."This sounds pretty damn good to me.I don’t think I’ll ever be the fisherman—I’m still wired to strive for growth—but I do think we can all see a little bit of the fisherman in ourselves.And I know that letting that inner fisherman shine through from time to time will lead to all of us living happier, more fulfilled lives.If I can leave you with one lesson, it’s this:Never let your quest for more distract you from the beauty of enough.Where It Happens PodcastWhy You Need a Digital Detox with Andrew WilkinsonWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by LMNT. LMNT is a delicious electrolyte drink mix with all of the things you need and none of the junk. It contains a science-backed electrolyte ratio: 1000 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium, 60 mg magnesium. LMNT can help prevent and eliminate headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, sleeplessness, and other common symptoms of electrolyte deficiency. It tastes amazing and is great after a workout or one too many drinks :)Right now LMNT is offering our listeners a free sample pack with any order. That’s 8 single serving packets FREE with any LMNT order. Get yours at DrinkLMNT.com/HAPPENS. And it’s so good they have a no questions asked refund policy but you won’t need it.This episode is brought to you by Fundrise. Fundrise is on a mission to use technology to build a better financial system for the individual. With over $2.4B AUM and 250k active investors, it’s the largest direct-to-investor real estate investor platform in America.Their platform is so easy to use and they make it so easy to diversify your portfolio. For a limited time if you sign-up, you can get $10 bonus. Just go to fundrise.com/roomSahil’s Hiring ZoneTalent CollectiveCompletely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here.Featured OpportunitiesFirstbase.io - Business Operations, Business Lead, Editorial LeadClipboard Health - Growth Strategy & Marketing Manager, Engineering ManagerElevate Labs - Head of Growth PartnershipsGruntwork - Senior Software EngineerPractice - Product DesignerDaoHq - Founding Solidity DeveloperThe full board with 20+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
5/25/20229 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Ultimate Goal Setting Tool

Welcome to the most important new member of the curiosity tribe who joined us since Friday—my son, Roman Reddy Bloom.I spent the first 30 years of my life trying to find the meaning and purpose of all of this. Then one day, it was staring right back at me. My new best friend.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by LEX!What they do: make it easy to invest in real estate!Pop quiz: What asset class has created more millionaires than any other? Answer: Real estate.LEX has a really cool angle for investing in real estate. LEX does an “IPO” for a building, so you can directly invest in marquee commercial real estate. You can build a portfolio of buildings you want to invest in. Each building has a ticker, just like stocks. As a shareholder, you can get paid dividends flowing from the rent paid by the tenants. You can also earn tax advantaged passive income and trade without lockups.Check out LEX’s live assets in New York City and upcoming IPO in Seattle.Sign up for free here and get a $50 bonus when you deposit at least $500.Today at a Glance:Anti-goals are the things we DON'T want to happen—either as final outcomes or along the way. Establishing them allows you to win the battle AND the war.If traditional goals are the rudders that set your direction, think of anti-goals as the map that tells you where the rapids are. Awareness keeps you on smooth waters.The generalized process involves four steps: (1) Choose Your Arena, (2) Establish Traditional Goals, (3) Invert the Problem, and (4) Establish Anti-Goals. Test it out by establishing anti-goals when planning for new projects, designing your life, or creating self-improvement plans.The Ultimate Goal Setting ToolI love writing this newsletter.There are plenty of reasons, but at the top of the list is the fact that I get to take you all on a journey with me. Not a physical journey—though it would be fun to do a Curiosity Chronicle retreat someday!—but a learning journey.I’m able to share new insights and perspectives in *real time*.This isn’t some academic newsletter where I lecture you on truths and personal wisdom—this is simply me sharing ideas, frameworks, and models that I am battle-testing on my own journey.I am not a teacher—I am a student, learning alongside all of you.In that vein, today’s piece will share a new learning: the power of Anti-Goals.An Introduction to Anti-GoalsAt the start of 2022, I shared a piece called The Goal Setting Guide—a breakdown of my framework for setting—and smashing—goals.Shortly after I shared the piece, however, I came across the intriguing concept of “anti-goals” from my friend Andrew Wilkinson. I began to wonder if my goal setting framework was in need of a refresh.I like to personally battle-test new concepts before I share them publicly, so I started establishing “Anti-Goals” for all new projects.Everything changed.It quickly became a staple for:Planning for new projectsDesigning my lifeCreating self-improvement plansSo with sufficient battle-testing behind me, I'd like to share how to leverage anti-goals to level up your goal setting process.The concept is grounded in inversion—a foundational mental model that says that complex problems are often easier solved backwards vs. forwards.Inversion was made famous by one quote from Charlie Munger:All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there.With traditional goals, we envision the optimal outcome. We then build systems that will—hopefully—lead to that outcome.This is important and necessary—but it’s incomplete. Anti-goals leverage inversion to complete the picture.Anti-goals are the things we DON'T want to happen—either as final outcomes or along the way.I think of anti-goals as being about avoiding the Pyrrhic victory—a term coined after King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who suffered devastating losses while defeating the Roman army in battle in 279 B.C.E.The term is now commonly used to refer to a victory that takes such a terrible toll on the victor that it might has well have been a defeat.My friend Shaan Puri, another proponent of anti-goals, elaborates:What if your dream was to be a musician. And guess what - you did it! But while you’re touring the world, you gain weight, get addicted to drugs, your marriage is in shambles, and your kids don’t recognize you....you won the battle but lost the war.Anti-goals allow you to win the battle AND the war!The Anti-Goal FrameworkOk, so how do you leverage anti-goals in your goal setting process?The generalized version involves four steps:Choose Your ArenaEstablish Traditional GoalsInvert the ProblemEstablish Anti-GoalsLet’s walk through each step:Choose Your ArenaThe arena is the "project" you’re going to be working on.A few broad categories to consider:PersonalWorkHealthYour arena should be a specific project under a larger category. It’s the place where you’re looking for achievement, progress, or growth.Establish Traditional GoalsThese are your standard goals—the desired outcomes from the chosen arena. This should be easy, as it’s familiar.A few examples of traditional goals:Run a 6-min mileBuild a 100,000 sub newsletterPromotion to VPCreate a top-25 podcastClear, big picture traditional goals are important.Note: As I covered in my Goal Setting Guide, it’s often helpful to have short, medium, and long-term traditional goals. Experiment with what works best for you.Invert the ProblemTo invert, ask and answer a few questions.In the pursuit of these traditional goals:What is the worst possible outcome?What systems would lead to that?What daily actions would I regret?In short, ask yourself what you would view as winning the battle but losing the war.Establish Anti-GoalsNow work backwards to establish your anti-goals—the outcomes you DON’T want.James Clear refers to traditional goals as rudders. Expanding on this analogy, if traditional goals are the rudders that set your direction, think of anti-goals as the map that tells you where the rapids are.A thoughtful, clear map keeps you on smooth waters.An Illustrative ExampleIt can be a bit confusing in the abstract, so let’s look at a recent example from my own life…Choose Your Arena: Physical FitnessEstablish Traditional Goals:Run a 6-minute mileUnder 8% bodyfatDeadlift 500 poundsPerhaps a bit too ambitious at age 31, but it feels doable if I’m dedicated (and if I get any sleep post baby arrival)!Invert the Problem:What does the worst possible outcome look like? Letting it consume my entire life!Constantly stressing about what workouts to do and about what foods to eat. Working out for 3 hours per day when I want to spend time with my family and friends.Breaking it down further, what actions or systems would lead to that worst possible outcome? Trying to do everything myself.Managing my own research on workouts and food. Trying to write, track, and manage my own workout and diet plan. Not scheduling fixed windows for workouts.Establish Anti-Goals:Never think about workouts. Hire a trainer to write workout programs.Never think about diet. Buy pre-prepared healthy meals.Never let workouts consume my life. Schedule 90-minute blocks at the same time every AM as my workout window.Putting it all together, my fitness project now has a complete picture:Traditional Goals:Run a 6-minute mileUnder 8% bodyfatDeadlift 500 poundsAnti-Goals:Never think about workouts—hire a personal trainer.Never think about diet—buy pre-prepared meals.Never let workouts consume life—schedule 90-minute blocks.I know where I want to go, and where I want to avoid—my rudders are set, and I have a map of the rapids.As another example, in his original blog post on the topic, Andrew Wilkinson sketched out how he established anti-goals to design his work.In this example, Andrew and his business partner wanted to pursue success and wealth creation, but not at the expense of peace of mind. Establishing anti-goals to sit alongside their goals allowed them to do both.ConclusionTo summarize the Anti-Goal Framework:Choose Your Arena: Select the project you are going to be working on.Establish Traditional Goals: Set the specific desired outcomes.Invert the Problem: What would it look like to win the battle but lose the war?Establish Anti-Goals: Set the specific outcomes you DON’T want.So as you take on your next project, give this framework a shot. Establish anti-goals to sit alongside your traditional goals.Win the battle AND the war!Where It Happens PodcastAre With Alone In The Universe? (with Tim Urban)Watch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.Riverside is our go-to platform to record studio-quality podcasts or videos. We use it for all of our episodes of Where It Happens. Their secret sauce is the ability to record locally, which means you get uncompressed audio and video that works even if your WiFi isn’t cooperating.Once you’re done recording, it’s so easy to edit and download all of your files. To get 15% off your plan, use code HAPPENS here.This episode is brought to you by Fundrise. Fundrise is on a mission to use technology to build a better financial system for the individual. With over $2.4B AUM and 250k active investors, it’s the largest direct-to-investor real estate investor platform in America.Their platform is so easy to use and they make it so easy to diversify your portfolio. For a limited time if you sign-up, you can get $10 bonus. Just go to fundrise.com/roomSahil’s Hiring ZoneTalent CollectiveCompletely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here.Featured OpportunitiesClipboard Health - Growth Strategy & Marketing Manager, Engineering ManagerElevate Labs - Head of Growth PartnershipsGruntwork - Senior Software EngineerPractice - Product DesignerDaoHq - Founding Solidity DeveloperArtifact - Product DesignerClay - Growth ManagerAssemble - Software EngineerThe full board with 20+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
5/18/202210 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Power Speaking Guide

Welcome to the 1,044 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 91,634 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Hyper startup accelerator is open for applications!If you're thinking about joining an accelerator or raising capital for your startup, Hyper is a new accelerator backed by the biggest venture capital firms in tech.A few reasons I’m a huge fan:More competitive terms than competitors ($300k for 5%).Hyper is the sister company of Product Hunt—companies get unique access to Product Hunt, the team, and launch support.World-class advisors including Sequoia’s Alfred Lin, Ryan Hoover, Deena Shakir, Disney’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, and a lot more.Small batches make for a far more personalized experience.Efficient 4 week long program.Participants get time with me on how to scale your storytelling!This is an amazing opportunity for startups all around the world. Apply for the program here.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Air!If you’re still using Google Drive and Dropbox to store your files, you’re going to want to listen up. While those tools are fine for people who just need to store everything, they fall terribly flat when it comes to creative collaboration and scalability on images and videos.Walk with me…let’s talk about Air. Air has built a solution—a platform that allows marketers and creatives to collaborate seamlessly across the entire content library of a business. All the work happens directly in the visual asset. The end result? Businesses can 10x the power of their content to become storytelling machines.Air is the “holy s*** why didn’t this already exist?!” solution for marketing and creative collaboration. My startup portfolio loves it and you will too. Get a demo today and level up your content.Today at a Glance:Public speaking is scary. So scary that a number of surveys and studies have found that people rank public speaking ahead of death on a list of their greatest fears.It’s also one of the most critical skill sets for your career and life. Confident, powerful public speaking—whether informal or formal—will accelerate your personal and professional life.Strategies for more confident public speaking: avoid memorization, study the best, strike a power pose, practice relentlessly, find the anxiety killers, play the lava game, slow down to 0.75x, engage the audience, implement a storytelling structure, move with purpose, never self-sabotage, and cut the fear.The Power Speaking Guide"There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars." — Mark TwainOk, so public speaking is scary.How scary?Well, a number of surveys and studies have found that people rank public speaking ahead of death on a list of their greatest fears…THAT scary.Unfortunately, public speaking is also one of the most critical skill sets for your career and life. Confident, powerful public speaking—whether informal or formal—will accelerate your personal and professional endeavors. It sits in the all-important top-right quadrant of the Scary vs. Beneficial 2x2 grid.So we can’t just hide from it. We need a set of strategies to increase our confidence and level up our speaking game.In today’s piece, I’ll propose 12 such strategies. Some of the strategies will appear non-obvious or even counter-intuitive—but trust me, they work.Without further ado, let’s dive in…Avoid MemorizationWhen we’re nervous for a speech, toast, presentation, or talk, our bias is to memorize the content word-for-word.We memorize in a valiant effort to avoid screwing up.Ironically, memorization often has the opposite effect.Imagine you are driving to a friend’s new house. You look up the directions before leaving—they seem simple enough, so you just memorize them. On the way, there’s a bit or roadwork that forces you to make a slight detour. Suddenly, you’re completely lost. You memorized the directions from A to B, but the slight twist has taken you off course and you have no clue how to get back on track. You only memorized the directions for one specific scenario (going directly from point A to point B), but the situation became more dynamic.For most people, the same general principle applies to public speaking.When you memorize material, one tiny slip-up can throw you off. You only know the material in one fixed direction, so you're unable to adapt. All it takes is a glitch in the slides, an off-track question from the audience, or a slight stumble in your opener and all of your preparation is out the window.Furthermore, rote memorization can make you appear distant to the audience.Instead of memorizing:Focus on a few key moments. Perfect the opening line, transitions, and closing. When you nail these, you create momentum—with the audience and yourself. It instills a confidence you can build on. Manufacture these small "wins" that compound.Create “lego blocks” that you can piece together. Hone small chunks of stories and ideas that you can naturally weave together depending on the situation. You’ll be able to pick and choose from your toolkit and be more dynamic in the moment.Study the BestWe live in an amazing era—we literally have the best speaking coaches in the world at our fingertips.Identify 3-5 speakers you admire. They can be politicians, business leaders, comedians, motivational coaches, whatever.Go on YouTube and find videos of each one delivering a speech.Slow down the playback speed—a great recommendation from my friend Ankur Warikoo—and take notes.Study the following:Structure: How are they structuring their talk?Cadence: What is the pacing of their words? When are they pausing and when are they accelerating?Tone: When are they raising their voice? When are they lowering it?Movement and Gestures: Note their movement on the stage (if any). How are they gesturing?Audience Engagement: How are they engaging with the audience?By analyzing the best, we naturally move to embody the traits we've identified.Strike a Power PoseA "power pose" is a stance that embodies a feeling of power—standing tall, arms spread and raised.The original discussion around the power pose entered the mainstream when social psychologist Amy Cuddy delivered a now famous Ted Talk on the topic that has been viewed over 20 million times.Cuddy asserted that executing power poses can actually create feelings of confidence and power. The science behind this is now heavily-contested.Personally, scientific backing or not, I swear by it. In my own experience, it has a real effect—even if it's psychosomatic. At my first job, before every big presentation, I'd find an empty room and spread my arms high and wide. It always worked.Try it.Before your next talk or presentation, find a quiet place, take a few deep breaths, and raise your arms high and wide, triumphantly over your head. Speak a few positive affirmations to yourself. Then go out and crush it.I’ll let the scientists battle it out over the scientific legitimacy of the practice—in the meantime, I’ll keep doing it because it works for me!Practice RelentlesslyPerhaps it should go without saying, but practice is everything.Capitalize on every opportunity to practice—both for a specific event and for the skill more broadly.When practicing for a specific event, start by doing it in private to remove the fear. Use your phone to record and watch your performance. Then transition to practicing in front of an audience of one—ideally an intellectual sparring partner—who you can ask for candid feedback.Building from alone to a small audience is a way of progressively loading your nerves to prepare for the main event. You slowly increase the stakes as you prepare.More broadly, find alternative ways to hone your craft:If you're at an event in a small group, use it as a chance to improve.Join an improv class! I've had several friends do this—it sounds like a low-risk environment, plenty of fun, and a huge boost to your speaking skills.Get creative with it.Find the Anxiety KillersThere are always a few people in the audience who are prone to smiling, nodding, and engaging positively. I call these people “Anxiety Killers” because their positive engagement kills your anxiety.At the beginning of your speech, scan the front of the crowd as you hit your opening lines. Identify the few people who smile, make warm eye contact, and nod.These are your Anxiety Killers!If you ever start to feel the tinge of nerves during the speech, turn your gaze to them to get a jolt of quick confidence.Play the Lava GameAs a kid, I remember playing a game where parts of the floor are “lava” that you can't touch.During a speech, I try to play a similar game. I think of my pockets and torso as “lava”—I can't touch them.This simple framing forces you to get your arms away from your body, gesture broadly, and embody confidence.Slow Down to 0.75xWhen we get nervous, our natural tendency is to speed up—to get to the end faster.To fight it, think about trying to speak on 0.75x speed. It should feel almost uncomfortably slow.Pause and breathe frequently. The best speakers take long, dramatic pauses (you’ll notice this from your studying of the best!). Use these pauses as a chance to gather yourself and slow down.Engage the AudienceThere is so much pent up energy in a room—it often manifests as tension.You can feel it as a speaker when the audience is stagnant. There’s all this potential energy that needs to be released.You can dramatically reduce the tension in a room by creating action and movement—by converting that potential energy to kinetic energy.Ask a simple question, survey the audience, request they do something. Find a way to get the audience active. They'll feel more alert and you'll find a more welcoming, loose environment.Storytelling StructureThe best public speakers don't deliver a speech—they tell a story. They take the audience on a journey.Create a storytelling structure that is familiar and easy to follow. It's often helpful to be clear and explicit about that structure upfront.Storytelling expert Nancy Duarte coined the “what is vs. what could be” framework.First, describe the reality (“what is”).Next, describe the potential future (“what could be”).Repeat.Finish with an ending promise (“new normal”).This framework forces you to create contrasts to craft a captivating narrative for the audience. Move With PurposePacing around the room or stage like you're on the phone with your middle school crush isn't helpful.Take slow, methodical, purposeful steps.There are people who move to move—and then there are people who move with intention, who are going places.Be the latter.Never Self-SabotageWhen you're feeling nervous or uncertain, there's a tendency to self-sabotage.We tell the audience we're nervous, we make fun of ourselves, we make ourselves small physically by crossing our arms and creating a barrier between us and them.Don't do this. It's ok to be vulnerable, but there's a line.Cut the FearWe have a tendency to hype up our fears.Always remember: the worst case scenario really isn't that bad. No matter how it goes, you’ll be just fine. Life will move on.Plus, the audience is generally rooting for you! They place themselves in your shoes, so they want you to do well. They're on your side.ConclusionIt's ok to be nervous—you're certainly not alone! But it's time to fight back.Give these 12 strategies a shot—I guarantee they’ll make you a more effective, powerful public speaker.Please tweet at me with your success stories leveraging these strategies. I’d love to see them!Where It Happens PodcastWhy You Should Start a Business For Older AdultsWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is also brought to you by MarketerHire. MarketerHire provides on-demand access to pre-vetted, top-tier marketers who can freelance as much or as little as needed.They’ve made it easy to hire great marketers. With pre-vetted talent and expert hand-matching, you can add a proven marketer to your team in less than a week.Go to marketerhire.com to learn more.Sahil’s Hiring ZoneTalent CollectiveCompletely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here.Featured OpportunitiesClipboard Health - Growth Strategy & Marketing Manager, Engineering ManagerElevate Labs - Head of Growth PartnershipsGruntwork - Senior Software EngineerPractice - Product DesignerDaoHq - Founding Solidity DeveloperArtifact - Product DesignerClay - Growth ManagerAssemble - Software EngineerThe full board with 20+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
5/11/202211 minutes, 48 seconds
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Dangerous Mental Errors (You Don't Know You're Making)

Welcome to the 404 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 89,181 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by LEX!What they do: make it easy to invest in real estatePop quiz…What asset class has created more millionaires than any other? Answer: Real estate.Today’s sponsor, LEX, has a really cool angle for investing in real estate. LEX does an “IPO” for a building, so you can directly invest in marquee commercial real estate. You can build a portfolio of buildings you want to invest in. Each building has a ticker, just like stocks. As a shareholder, you can get paid dividends flowing from the rent paid by the tenants. You can also earn tax advantaged passive income and trade without lockups.Check out LEX’s live assets in New York City and upcoming IPO in Seattle.Sign up for free here and get a $50 bonus when you deposit at least $500.Today at a Glance:Cognitive biases and logical fallacies are systematic errors in thinking and reasoning that negatively impact decision-making quality, logic, and outcomes.Combatting them relies first and foremost on establishing a level of awareness—both academically and practically.Part I of this series covered Fundamental Attribution Error, Naïve Realism, the Curse of Knowledge, Availability Bias, and Survivorship Bias.Today’s Part II covers Loss Aversion, the Spotlight Effect, Heaven’s Reward Fallacy, Confirmation Bias, and Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.Dangerous Mental ErrorsA few weeks ago, I shared Part I of a multi-part series on cognitive biases and logical fallacies.In the opening to the piece, I commented on the fascinating dichotomy of our species:We possess the capacity to accomplish some complex feat of technology and engineering, and subsequently fall victim to the most obviously flawed base logic. For a hyper-intelligent species, our thinking and decision-making patterns can be pretty fractured.To be sure, many of these fractures were—for much of human history—features, not bugs. It’s logical to surmise that they were hardwired into our DNA because they made it incrementally more likely that we would survive to reproductive age.But the facts on the ground have changed—we live in a Digital Age—and our thinking and reasoning pathways have not had enough time to “catch up” to those new realities.So, we have to force it—we have to fight back and regain control over the quality of our decision-making and logic.In today’s Part II of the multi-part series, I’ll cover five common cognitive biases and logical fallacies that negatively impact decision-making quality, logic, and outcomes. To really bring it to life, for each one, I’ll provide a definition, example, and perspectives on how to fight back.Without further ado, let’s dive in…Loss AversionDefinitionThe pain of losing something is more powerful than the pleasure of winning it.Loss aversion was first identified by famed behavioral scientists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, who found that humans had a tendency to prefer avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains.Accordingly, people were typically willing to take actions to avoid losses that they wouldn’t have taken to seek gains. Economists had previously assumed humans were rational actors—that $100 in losses would drive the same amount of pain as $100 in gains would create pleasure. Wrong. Humans are enigmatic creatures!ExampleInvestors—professional and amateur alike—provide some of the most clear, trackable examples of loss aversion. The pain and fear of realizing a loss often leads investors to hold onto losing positions much longer than they should.The media contributes to this bias—dunking on investors who cut ties with losing positions rather than celebrating the fact that they may have exhibited clear, rational thinking.How to Fight BackAvoid emotional connection to your possessions—whether they are investments, material items, or money. Attempt to distance your emotions from the decision-making process where possible.Ask questions:Am I being objective and rational in this decision?Am I too connected emotionally to make a rational decision?If you are too connected to a given decision, you may need to outsource it to an objective third-party.The Spotlight EffectDefinitionHumans significantly overestimate the degree to which other people are noticing or observing our appearance or actions.It causes a lot of social anxiety—it keeps people from being themselves due to an irrational fear of judgement.We incorrectly assume that others are thinking about us. The reality: Everyone is just thinking about themselves.ExampleImagine you go to a dinner party. You’re nervous about the party, because you know there will be a lot of smart attendees and you won’t know anyone there.During the cocktail hour, you’re in a small group discussion and say something incorrect about the current state of domestic economic affairs. Your error is pointed out politely and the conversation moves on in a different direction.The conversation has moved on—but you haven’t. Your brain is swirling around the moment where your error was pointed out.Your internal dialogue turns negative: “Everyone thinks I’m an idiot. They’re all staring at me. I wish I could leave.”For the rest of the event, you feel self-conscious and distant, worried about making another mistake.How to Fight BackIt sounds morbid, but constantly remind yourself that no one *really* cares about you. No one is obsessing over your hits and misses as much as you are. Full stop.Life is scary and complex—everyone is just trying to make their own way through it.It's liberating to realize that most people don't really think about you…Heaven’s Reward FallacyDefinitionHumans tend to have an expectation that they will be be justly rewarded and praised for all of their hard work and sacrifice.The reality is that a lot of our efforts go unnoticed, particularly early in our careers. Much of the work is thankless.This is a dangerous error because the constant expectation of external affirmation simply breeds resentment when it doesn’t come.ExampleEarly in your career—or really at any point in your career—you often have to sacrifice greatly for the benefit of the team or organization.The expectation that these actions will have an equal and opposite reaction—in the form of promotions, compensation, or praise—is unfortunately misguided.It leads to disappointment and resentment and is an underlying cause of a lot of employee churn and retention issues.How to Fight BackThere are two sides to this:As an individual, detach inputs from outputs. Design your own rewards for your hard work and sacrifice. Give yourself a break, take yourself to a nice meal, etc. Redefine rewards as being internal—the growth and progress you’ve made—vs. focusing on the external.As an organization or team leader, become aware of the disappointment and resentment that a lack of external affirmation can create. Make a point of providing team members with clear signs of appreciation and small rewards. A little bit goes a long way!Confirmation BiasDefinitionHumans have a tendency to see and interpret information in a manner that supports previously held beliefs.We systematically ignore evidence that negates our beliefs and systematically embrace evidence that confirms our beliefs. As a result, we fail to see the world as it is—and instead see it how we want to see it.Very common and very dangerous.ExampleImagine you’re starting a new company.You have a hypothesis about the way the world should work that is notably different from how it works today.You start gathering data to assess your hypothesis:When the new data is positive, you smile. This idea is a winner!When the new data is negative, you frown. There must have been an error in the experiment. You’ll have to run it again.I think I know of at least one “revolutionary” blood testing company that followed this playbook. It didn’t work out so well…How to Fight BackActively seek out evidence that would challenge your beliefs. Gather information from a diverse range and spectrum of sources. Think of yourself as a scientist following the evidence to confirm or refute your hypotheses. With big decisions, I always ask myself a few key questions:How am I being an idiot? Harsh, but very important to understand what your potential blindspots are on a big decision.What would I have to learn to completely change my mind on this topic?Learn to enjoy being wrong and changing your mind. This is a unique trait of the world’s most successful people.Baader-Meinhof PhenomenonDefinitionNew awareness of something creates an illusion that it's appearing more frequently.If you see something once and register its presence, you’re immediately more likely to notice it the next time it appears, which further reinforces your perception that it is constantly appearing in front of you.ExampleHow often do you look at the clock and see 11:11? It feels like all the time, right?This is just one simple example of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon in action.You see a lot of times on your clock, but only mentally register it when it reads 11:11, which further cements the illusion that you only look at the clock at 11:11.Brands often seek to exploit the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon in their marketing campaigns in an attempt to create an illusion of scale, reach, and omnipresence. It has historically been very profitable to exploit natural human cognitive biases in marketing efforts!How to Fight BackWhen you start to feel like you are seeing something everywhere, pause, take a step back, and observe its actual frequency relative to a fair baseline.In the harmless example of the clock, make a note every time you look at the clock and it isn’t 11:11.ConclusionSo to recap Part II of the mental errors series:Loss Aversion: Humans tend to prefer avoiding losses vs. achieving gains. Fight back through detaching emotions from possessions.Spotlight Effect: Humans significantly overestimate the degree to which other people are noticing or observing our appearance or actions. Fight back by remembering that no one *really* cares about you.Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: Humans tend to have an expectation that they will be be justly rewarded and praised for all of their hard work and sacrifice. Fight back by creating your own internal rewards.Confirmation Bias: Humans have a tendency to see and interpret information in a manner that supports previously held beliefs. Fight back by being willing to change your mind and identifying what learnings would cause that change.Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon: New awareness of something creates an illusion that it's appearing more frequently. Fight back by pausing to observe the actual frequency of an event.I hope you find this series as valuable as I do.I encourage you to work through it slowly—take the time to think deeply on each item. Your decision-making consistency, logic, and outcome quality will improve as a result.Where It Happens PodcastElon's Twitter Takeover and The Future of Social Media with Sriram KrishnanWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is also brought to you by MarketerHire. MarketerHire provides on-demand access to pre-vetted, top-tier marketers who can freelance as much or as little as needed.They’ve made it easy to hire great marketers. With pre-vetted talent and expert hand-matching, you can add a proven marketer to your team in less than a week.Go to marketerhire.com to learn more.Sahil’s Hiring ZoneTalent CollectiveCompletely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here.Featured OpportunitiesClipboard Health - Growth Strategy & Marketing Manager, Engineering ManagerElevate Labs - Head of Growth PartnershipsGruntwork - Senior Software EngineerPractice - Product DesignerDaoHq - Founding Solidity DeveloperArtifact - Product DesignerClay - Growth ManagerAssemble - Software EngineerThe full board with 20+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
5/4/202211 minutes, 56 seconds
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Intellectual Sparring Partners

Welcome to the 1,146 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 88,500 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Quick Announcement: Audience Building Course is back May 3-6!It's a live cohort-based course designed to help you build a high-leverage audience. Results from prior cohorts were awesome—hundreds of thousands of new followers and subscribers and countless new monetization opportunities created.Only 25 spots remaining—you can grab your seat here.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by LMNT!LMNT is my healthy alternative to sugary sports drinks.I work out a lot and pay close attention to what I put in my body (other than the occasional whiskey). That means that I reject all the standard sports drinks and their sugar-filled formulas.LMNT is a tasty solution—an electrolyte drink mix with everything you need and nothing you don't. That means a science-backed electrolyte ratio with no sugar, no coloring, no artificial ingredients, or any other junk.Get your free LMNT Sample pack below (you only cover the cost of shipping). You’re going to love it.Today at a Glance:An intellectual sparring partner is a friend, colleague, or acquaintance whose combination of background, competency, and personality makes them well-suited to strengthen the quality of your reasoning and decision-making via active, grounded discussion and debate.To identify one, look for a combination of a different background from your own, clarity and depth of thinking, and a kind but direct personality.Establish structure with regular “sparring sessions”—1 hour on a fixed weekly or monthly cadence, with clear topics and desired outcomes to guide the discussion.Intellectual Sparring PartnersOver the weekend, I posted a thread on Twitter on the topic of ideas I can’t stop thinking about.It was intentionally broad—a running list of some of the most interesting concepts, frameworks, paradoxes, and mental models that have been percolating in my mind over the last several months.If you’ve been following along for a while, by now you’ve realized that my posts are rarely intended to give you “the answer”—they’re intended to make you think. I want to give you the tools, but leave it up to you to create your own maps of how to use them.If I can spark new curiosity about a topic—and that curiosity leads to active thinking, learning, discussion, and personal or professional growth—I’ve done my job.One idea from the list—Intellectual Sparring Partners—seemed to spark a lot of interest, discussion, and follow-up questions.Interestingly, when my friend Alex Lieberman asked me which of the ideas on the list has had the biggest impact on my life to date, intellectual sparring partners was my answer.Why?Well, one intellectual sparring partner—and one “sparring session”—completely changed my life.So in today’s piece, I’d like to shine a spotlight on this idea:What is an Intellectual Sparring Partner?The sparring session that changed my life.How can you find one?The makeup of a great “sparring session”.With that context in mind, let’s dive right in…IntroductionI’ve been fortunate to meet and interact with many top performers in my life.One common trait I’ve observed: they all legitimately enjoy being wrong. They embrace new information that forces them to change their viewpoints—their open mindsets allow them to accumulate and compound knowledge at an accelerated rate.This innate desire to be wrong—to get closer to the truth—leads them to seek out people who are willing and able to push their thinking in new directions and to greater depths.These people are their intellectual sparring partners…Let’s check Sahil’s Dictionary for a definition:Intellectual Sparring Partner (Noun): A friend, colleague, or acquaintance whose combination of background, competency, and personality makes them well-suited to strengthen the quality of your reasoning and decision-making via active, grounded discussion and debate.Put simply, an intellectual sparring partner is a person who is willing and able to question, critique, and pressure test your thinking.Friends come easy—intellectual sparring partners are harder to find, but are incredibly important and valuable.A Personal StoryTo bring this concept to life, I’ll share a quick personal story…In early 2021, I was completely lost. From the outside looking in, everything was fine—I had built a large following on Twitter, I had a good job, etc. But on the inside, I felt like I was wandering around with a blindfold on.I had decided to leave my stable job in private equity—and the wonderful group of colleagues that came with it—to pursue something new, but had run into a series of rejections along the way.In May 2021, at my point of peak uncertainty, I sat down for a meal with Shaan Puri, the host of the My First Million podcast and one of my go-to intellectual sparring partners.The conversation went something like this:Shaan: So, tell me how you’re thinking about the next move?Sahil: Well, at this point, I’m basically thinking there’s a clear Path A and a not so clear Path B. Path A is to join another big investment fund, but one that’s doing early stage investing—the stuff I like thinking about. Path B is less clear, but it’s probably doubling down on all of my personal business, really trying to build that, and probably investing on my own.Shaan: Ok…so it sounds like you’re choosing between something that sounds really standard (join a fund) and something that sounds really fun and energizing (personal stuff).Sahil: Well, damn…when you put it that way…you’re right.In a very quick back and forth, Shaan had completely reframed the decision in my mind in a way that I never would have been able to on my own.My own biases and baggage—mainly the deep, misguided desire to have an important sounding title or impressive firm name on my resume—were clouding my ability to make a clear, thoughtful decision about what would be the most enjoyable, energy-creating, and profitable path.His pushback and reframe was critical. From that day forward, I went all in on Path B. Fast forward 12 months and I couldn’t be happier that I did.Score one for having an intellectual sparring partner…How to Identify OneLet’s shift to the tactical: how can you identify your intellectual sparring partner?First off, it’s important to note that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all intellectual sparring partner. The person that works for me might not work for you, and vice versa.Here are a few of the traits to consider in identifying yours:Background: Different from your own across a number of vectors. A fundamentally different “map of reality” is ideal.Competency: Exhibited clarity and depth of thinking. An analytical mind that is able to deconstruct problems into component parts.Personality: Kind (but direct). You want to feel safe with the person and know that they operate from a basic stance of kindness—but that this kindness does not interfere with their willingness to be direct. This is essential.Start by thinking about the existing relationships in your life. You might find that there are a few candidates in that pool that fulfill the above criteria.If not, keep looking. This person (or group of people) will play an important role in your life.There’s no need to stop at one—you might find that having different sparring partners for personal vs. professional matters is useful.The Sparring SessionOnce you’ve identified your intellectual sparring partner (or partners), I would recommend getting into a habit of having regular “sparring sessions” with the person.A rough set of guidelines for sparring sessions:1 hour session.Weekly or monthly cadence.1-3 pre-planned sparring topics. Each person should send the topic with a few bullets on background and framing in advance of the session.Clear desired outcomes. Each person should be clear about the desired outcomes from the session.I find it helpful to have general discussion prompts on each topic. Some of the starter prompts that you might consider:Help me steelman my thinking on X.Here’s my current thinking on this decision. How am I being an idiot?Let’s invert this problem. If this plan fails, what went wrong?I’ve personally found that this level of structure is helpful in establishing a baseline practice. If you prefer to be more free-flowing, feel free to ignore this section.ConclusionTo summarize:An intellectual sparring partner is a friend, colleague, or acquaintance whose combination of background, competency, and personality makes them well-suited to strengthen the quality of your reasoning and decision-making via active, grounded discussion and debate.To identify one, look for a combination of a different background from your own, clarity and depth of thinking, and a kind but direct personality.Establish structure with regular “sparring sessions”—1 hour on a fixed weekly or monthly cadence, with clear topics and desired outcomes to guide the discussion.I would encourage everyone to make a deliberate effort to identify and foster these relationships. Be a great sparring partner for someone else—create value, receive value.One intellectual sparring partner can change your life. Find yours—cherish them.Where It Happens PodcastFrom Community Manager to C-Suite | Jiho, Axie InfinityWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by ButcherBox. If you love high-quality meat and fish we can’t recommend them enough. We personally love their NY strips at the moment.Right now they are offering free ground beef for life and $10 off your first order. But this offer only lasts until Saturday at 11:59 PM EST. Use the code ROOM at checkout and make sure to go to butcherbox.com/room to get the offer.This episode is also brought to you by MarketerHire. MarketerHire provides on-demand access to pre-vetted, top-tier marketers who can freelance as much or as little as needed.They’ve made it easy to hire great marketers. With pre-vetted talent and expert hand-matching, you can add a proven marketer to your team in less than a week.Go to marketerhire.com to learn more.Sahil’s Hiring ZoneTalent CollectiveExcited to announce the launch of my new talent collective! Members of the collective will get exclusive access to opportunities at my favorite high-growth startups across the tech landscape.Completely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here.Featured OpportunitiesGruntwork - Senior Software EngineerPractice - Product DesignerClipboard Health - Engineering ManagerDaoHq - Founding Solidity DeveloperArtifact - Product DesignerClay - Growth ManagerAssemble - Software EngineerThe full board with 20+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
4/27/20229 minutes, 40 seconds
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It's Later Than You Think

Welcome to the 840 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 86,375 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Quick Announcement: Audience Building Course is back May 3-6!It's a live cohort-based course designed to help you build a high-leverage audience. Results from prior cohorts were awesome—hundreds of thousands of new followers and subscribers and countless new monetization opportunities created.50 spots remaining—you can grab your seat here.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by LEX!What asset class has created more millionaires than any other? Real estate. The problem is that it’s an asset class that has previously been inaccessible to most investors. LEX has changed that with a unique new way to invest in real estate.LEX does an “IPO” for a building, so you can build a portfolio of buildings you want to invest in. Each building has a ticker, just like stocks. Any US investor can open a LEX account, browse opportunities in various asset classes such as multifamily and office buildings, and buy shares of individual buildings.I’m a huge fan of the platform—you will be too! Get a $50 bonus when you deposit $500 by using the link below.It’s Later Than You ThinkYou work and work for years and years, you're always on the goYou never take a minute off, too busy makin' doughSomeday you say, you'll have your fun, when you're a millionaireImagine all the fun you'll have in your old rockin' chairEnjoy yourself, it's later than you thinkEnjoy yourself, while you're still in the pinkThe years go by, as quickly as a winkEnjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think- Guy Lombardo, Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You ThinkA few weeks ago, I posted a thread on Twitter on harsh truths of life.Contrary to what you may believe, this piece was not intended to be dark or morbid. It was intended to make you think—to hopefully question some underlying (yet flawed) assumptions and spark active discussion with those around you.Today’s newsletter has the same intention.It’s more emotion-inducing than most of my work—I teared up several times during the writing!—but also arguably the most important piece I will ever write.My hope is for you to come away from it feeling cleansed, refreshed, and empowered to think clearly and deeply about your time and how you choose to spend it.With that context in mind, let’s dive right in…The Harsh TruthHarsh Truth: You’ll only see your loved ones a few more times.A Personal StoryI’ll start with a personal story.In May 2021, I had a conversation with a new friend that changed my life.We were having a chat—over a few whiskeys, of course—about living in California. He had grown up there and his entire family had settled there, so I was lamenting that it was so far away from my parents and sister in Boston.My friend asked how often I saw them and how old my parents were...I replied that I saw them about once per year, and that they were in their mid-60s. He looked me square in the face and plainly said:"Ok, so you'll see them 15 more times in your life."Gut punch.It sounds insensitive—but it's just real. It’s just…math. If the average life expectancy is ~80 years, my parents are in their mid-60s, and I see them one time per year, the math—however depressing—says I will see them 15 more times before they are gone.Our time together is finite, but we fail to recognize it until it's too late.Time is cruel. You’ll love it with all of your being, you may even pray for more of it, but the reality is that time doesn’t care about you.Your relationship with time is the ultimate unrequited love.The morning after this conversation, I woke up and had a very candid conversation with my wife about what we wanted in life. A few days later, we listed our brand new house in California on the market. Thanks to a blazing hot housing market, we sold our house within days, packed up our things, and shipped off to the East Coast to be closer to our parents.It’s been almost a year, and it was the best decision I've ever made.I'll never regret these tiny moments—of doing nothing in particular—that we'll get to spend together in the years ahead. I’ll never regret the moments my parents get to spend with my son once he is born.I’ll never regret any of this.Visualizing TimeWhen I first shared this story on Twitter, the response was pretty overwhelming. It seemed I wasn’t alone in having this painful, yet powerful, realization.Tim Urban—one of my favorite writers (and an upcoming guest on my podcast!)—wrote about this phenomenon in a recent New York Times op-ed.In classic Tim Urban fashion, he produced a simple visualizations to capture the sentiment of the entire piece.Quoting from the article:What it boils down to is this: My life, in the best-case scenario, will consist of around 20 years of in-person parent time. The first 19 happened over the course of my first 19 years. The final year is spread out over the rest of my life. When I left for college, I had many decades left with living parents, but only about one year of time left to spend with them.Furthermore, as he points out in the piece, this same lesson applies to everyone in our lives, and to the activities we love doing, but rarely get to do—travel, museum visits, special events, etc.The math—depressing as it seems—should be a call to arms.Identify the people and activities you care most deeply about. Prioritize them ruthlessly.It may be difficult, even painful, but it’s a decision you’ll never regret.ConclusionIn his famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford, Steve Jobs commented on the power of acknowledging his own mortality:Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.When we’re young, we view life as infinite.But as Tim Urban points out in his piece, when we visualize an optimistic lifespan in a single image, we realize it is anything but.We spend most of our lives playing a game.Everything we do is in anticipation of the future. When that future comes, we simply reset to think about the next future.“I can’t wait until I’m 16 so I can drive.”“I can’t wait until I’m 18 so I can leave home and go to college.”“I can’t wait until I’m 25 so I can have my own place.”“I can’t wait until I’m 35 so I can coach my kid’s team.”“I can’t wait until I’m 45 so I can run this company.”…It’s natural, but it’s a dangerous game—one that we will lose, eventually.Time is our most precious asset and the present is all that’s guaranteed. Spend it wisely, with those you love, in ways you’ll never regret.And so we’ll end where we began, with the lyrics from that famous song by Guy Lombardo…Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.I hope you enjoyed this piece. Please share it with others if you found it valuable!Where It Happens PodcastHow to Leverage Nostalgia and Win at MarketingWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by Outer. Spring is in the air in both NYC and Miami, and we can’t get enough of our Outer outdoor furniture. Their furniture looks incredible and is durable. Personally, we love the Outdoor Loveseat.Right now for our audience exclusively they are offering $300 off any product + free shipping until May 1. This is one of the most generous offers of any sponsor we’ve had. Did we mention they have a 2-week free trial? Go to liveouter.com/room to get the deal.This episode is also brought to you by MarketerHire. MarketerHire provides on-demand access to pre-vetted, top-tier marketers who can freelance as much or as little as needed.They’ve made it easy to hire great marketers. With pre-vetted talent and expert hand-matching, you can add a proven marketer to your team in less than a week.Go to marketerhire.com to learn more.Sahil’s Hiring ZoneTalent CollectiveExcited to announce the launch of my new talent collective! Members of the collective will get exclusive access to opportunities at my favorite high-growth startups across the tech landscape.Completely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here.Featured OpportunitiesPractice - Product DesignerClipboard Health - Engineering ManagerDaoHq - Founding Solidity DeveloperArtifact - Product DesignerClay - Growth ManagerAssemble - Software EngineerThe full board with 20+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
4/20/20228 minutes, 16 seconds
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Dangerous Mental Errors (Part I)

Welcome to the 4,178 (!!!) new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 84,638 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by LMNT!LMNT is my healthy alternative to sugary sports drinks.I work out a lot and pay close attention to what I put in my body (other than the occasional whiskey). That means that I reject all the standard sports drinks and their sugar-filled formulas.LMNT is a tasty solution—an electrolyte drink mix with everything you need and nothing you don't. That means a science-backed electrolyte ratio with no sugar, no coloring, no artificial ingredients, or any other junk.Get your free LMNT Sample pack below (you only cover the cost of shipping). You’re going to love it.Today at a Glance:Cognitive biases are systematic errors in thinking that negatively impact decision-making quality and outcomes.Combatting them relies first and foremost on establishing a level of awareness of the biases—both academically and practically.Today’s deep dive covers five common cognitive biases that derail decision-making: Fundamental Attribution Error, Naïve Realism, the Curse of Knowledge, Availability Bias, and Survivorship Bias.Dangerous Mental ErrorsHumans are fascinating creatures.We possess the capacity to accomplish some complex feat of technology and engineering, and subsequently fall victim to the most obviously flawed base logic. For a hyper-intelligent species, our thinking and decision-making patterns can be pretty fractured.Many of these fractures fall into the category of cognitive biases—systematic errors in thinking that negatively impact decision-making quality and outcomes.Importantly, these are typically subconscious, automatic errors. We are wired to take shortcuts in our decision-making—to be more efficient and effective in the wild—but shortcuts are a double-edged sword. Speed and efficiency can be great, but when we systematically misinterpret the data, signal, and information from the world around us, it dramatically impacts the consistency and rationality of our decisions.Fortunately, we can fight back and regain—at least a modicum of—control over the quality of our decision-making.In today’s piece, I’ll cover five common cognitive biases that derail decision-making. For each, I’ll provide a definition, example, and perspectives on how to fight back.This will be Part I of a multi-part series on cognitive biases and logical fallacies—as it’s a topic that deeply impacts all of our careers and lives. Developing an awareness of these errors—and a plan to combat them—will give you a legitimate competitive advantage in all of your pursuits.Let’s dive in…Fundamental Attribution ErrorDefinitionFundamental Attribution Error is the human tendency to hold others accountable while giving ourselves a break.It says that humans tend to:Attribute someone else's actions to their character—and not to their situation or context.Attribute our actions to our situation and context—and not to our character.In short: We cut ourselves a break, but hold others accountable.Why do we do this? Well, as with many of the biases we will cover, it likely developed as a heuristic—a problem-solving or decision-making shortcut—in this case for simplifying the process and judgement around new human relationships.From an evolutionary perspective, quickly attributing negative actions to character—rather than situation or context—may have kept you alive, as you’d be more likely to avoid that individual in future interactions to play it safe.But in a modern context, it can create real problems—a failure to recognize or empathize with the context and situational factors impacting others is at the core of many societal and organizational issues.ExampleThe workplace is a common breeding ground for Fundamental Attribution Error.It’s easy to form perspectives on the character of colleagues and bosses based on small pieces of incomplete information.If a colleague arrives late for work, they’re just lazy, right?This is clearly a flawed line of thinking, as there are numerous factors that could have contributed to your colleague’s lateness.The reality is that, in these instances, you are using limited information to create an overall picture of an individual. You’re seeing one square of a map and believing you know the map in its entirety.How to Fight BackYou’ll never completely eliminate Fundamental Attribution Error, but you can limit its impact.The first step is always awareness—keep it in mind, particularly as you build a body of experiences with new colleagues or acquaintances. This is when it’s most likely to strike.Force yourself to slow down and evaluate the potential circumstances or situational factors that may be influencing an individual’s actions or behaviors.You won’t always have the time to do so—shortcuts are often necessary and helpful—but with longer-term or important relationships, it’s worth the extra effort. You’ll build deeper, more trusting personal and professional bonds.Naïve RealismDefinitionNaïve Realism is part of a broader category of so-called “egocentric biases” that are grounded in the reality that humans generally think very highly of themselves.Specifically, Naïve Realism has two core pillars:We believe that we see the world with perfect, accurate objectivity.We assume that people who disagree with us must be ignorant, uninformed, biased, or stupid.It often leads to a dangerous “bias blind spot”—a phenomenon in which we accurately identify cognitive biases in others, but are unable to identify them in ourselves.ExampleThe most famous example of Naïve Realism is an experiment involving a highly-contested Dartmouth vs. Princeton football game.After the game, fans of each side were asked to watch the film of the game and evaluate the performance of each team. Interestingly, depending on which team they supported, they saw a very different game.Dartmouth fans perceived the number of Princeton infractions as much higher; Princeton fans perceived the number of Dartmouth infractions as much higher.The groups were incapable of objectivity, despite vocalizing their objectivity to the researchers prior to the experiment.They watched the same game, but saw a very different one.How to Fight BackNaïve Realism is a base level bias, so fighting back starts with base awareness and acceptance of our own flaws and biases.A few other ideas:Surround yourself with people who think differently than you. Force the issue.Learn to embrace being wrong. It’s a common trait of highly-successful people, as being wrong means you are getting closer to the truth.Question your own beliefs. Always ask what assumptions or experiences have contributed to those beliefs.Fighting back against Naïve Realism isn’t easy, but it’s so damn important.The Curse of KnowledgeDefinitionExperts—or generally intelligent people—make the flawed assumption that others have the same background and knowledge on a topic as they do.It makes them unable to teach or lead in an effective manner for those still coming up the learning curve. They are literally “cursed” with knowledge that prevents them from teaching or managing effectively.The Curse of Knowledge is commonly seen with business leaders, professors, or “experts” of specific fields. They incorrectly assume the audience has a baseline level of knowledge on a given topic. It leads to frustration and cultural tension on both sides of the teacher-student relationship.ExampleYour new marketing manager assumes you—a recent college graduate—understand the complexities of search engine optimization and grows increasingly frustrated as it becomes clear that you are new to the subject matter and are unable to keep up with her on the plan.The manager’s expertise at SEO makes her completely incapable of teaching.How to Fight BackAs the teacher, always be aware of the basis of your understanding of a topic. If it’s based on years of accumulated expertise, you have to bring others up the learning curve prior to building upon it.The ELI5 (“Explain It To Me Like I’m 5”) rule works well—assume you’re teaching the topic to a 5-year-old until proven otherwise. Leverage the Feynman Technique!As a student, communicate openly on the gaps in your foundational understanding on a more advanced topic. If it’s in a group setting, chances are that someone else is feeling the same way and is just afraid to say it!Availability BiasDefinitionHumans love their shortcuts.We evaluate situations based on the most readily available data, which tends to be what can be immediately recalled from memory. Our minds perceive what can be immediately recalled as being of the utmost importance. We give ourselves too much credit.Availability Bias is the tendency to massively overweight recent and new information in formulating opinions or making decisions.ExampleThe best example of Availability Bias is the impact of the news cycle on our opinions, thinking, and decisions. Its persistent negativity cements a belief that the world is a dark, doomed place.When exposed to consistent news stories about negative events, humans significantly overestimate the actual frequency and likelihood of these events taking place.Our irrational fear of insanely low probability events—like terrorist attacks, shark attacks, plane crashes, and child abductions—is a clear example of this in action.How to Fight BackThere are two key ways to fight Availability Bias:Focus on base rates—the actual prevalence of an event or feature in a given sample. In the example of shark attacks, compare the number of shark attacks globally to the number of people who went in the ocean. Slow down and consider the actual numbers.Learn to turn off the news. Paradoxically, watching more news might make you less well-informed about the world around you.There are other tactics and strategies, but these two will get you a long way.Survivorship BiasDefinitionWe’ve all heard the phrase: History is written by the victors.We all love studying victors—the epic stories of success, wealth, and fame. But unfortunately, studying and learning from "survivors”—while systematically ignoring "casualties”—creates material distortions in our conclusions.Namely, we overestimate the base odds of success because we only read about successes.ExampleOne of the famous examples of survivorship bias comes from World War II.The U.S. wanted to add reinforcement armor to specific areas of its planes. Analysts plotted the bullet holes and damage on returning bombers, deciding the tail, body, and wings needed reinforcement.But a young statistician named Abraham Wald noted that this would be a tragic mistake. By only plotting data on the planes that returned, they were systematically missing data on a critical, informative subset—the planes that were damaged and unable to return.The "seen" planes had sustained damage that was survivable. The "unseen" planes had sustained damage that was not. Wald concluded that armor should be added to the unharmed regions of the survivors. Where the survivors were unharmed is where the planes were most vulnerable.Based on his observation, the military reinforced the engine and other vulnerable parts, significantly improving the safety of the crews during combat. Wald had identified the survivorship bias and avoided its wrath.How to Fight BackFighting back against Survivorship Bias involves two critical approaches:Recognize the potential for “hidden” or “silent” evidence. What might you have learned from the casualties that is masked by the lack of data on them?Focus on the base rates of success or failure—the underlying percentage of a population that have that given outcome.Develop a keen awareness of the potential for missing evidence and its impact on your judgement of the probability of success.Remember: For every entrepreneur who took out a second mortgage on their house and then became a billionaire, there are 100 who did the same and went bankrupt…ConclusionSo to recap Part I of the mental errors series:Fundamental Attribution Error: We cut ourselves a break, but hold others accountable. Fight back by slowing down, recognizing, and empathizing with the situational and contextual factors that may impact others.Naïve Realism: We believe that we see the world with perfect, accurate objectivity and we assume that people who disagree with us must be ignorant, uninformed, biased, or stupid. Fight back by surrounding yourself with people with different beliefs and embracing being wrong.The Curse of Knowledge: Experts make the flawed assumption that others have the same background and knowledge on a topic as they do. It makes them unable to teach or lead in an effective manner for those still coming up the learning curve. Fight back as a teacher by developing an awareness for the basis of your knowledge on a topic; fight back as a student by forcing that awareness in the teacher.Availability Bias: We evaluate situations based on the most readily available data, which tends to be what can be immediately recalled from memory. Fight back by focusing on base rates of low probability events and turning off the news.Survivorship Bias: Studying "survivors” and systematically ignoring "casualties” creates material distortions in our conclusions. Namely, we overestimate the base odds of success because we only read about successes. Fight back by focusing on base rates of success and recognizing the potential for silent evidence.I hope you find this series as valuable as I do. I encourage you to work through it slowly—take the time to think deeply on each item. Your decision-making consistency and quality will improve as a result.Where It Happens PodcastIs Terra's Luna ($LUNA) Headed To The Moon? | Ndamukong SuhWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by Outer. Spring is in the air in both NYC and Miami, and we can’t get enough of our Outer outdoor furniture. Their furniture looks incredible and is durable. Personally, we love the Outdoor Loveseat.Right now for our audience exclusively they are offering $300 off any product + free shipping until May 1. This is one of the most generous offers of any sponsor we’ve had. Did we mention they have a 2-week free trial? Go to liveouter.com/room to get the deal.This episode is also brought to you by LEX. We’re always looking for breakthrough businesses. And, our audience has repeatedly asked how they can invest in commercial real estate. Lex is the easy answer. LEX turns individual buildings into public stocks via IPO, so you can invest, trade, and manage your own portfolio of high-quality commercial real estate. It’s so simple to get started today.****Sign up for free at lex-markets.com/room and get a $50 bonus exclusively for our audience when you deposit at least $500. It’s a no-brainer.Sahil’s Hiring ZoneFeatured OpportunitiesDaoHq - Founding Solidity DeveloperArtifact - Product DesignerPractice - Product DesignerClay - Growth ManagerAssemble - Software EngineerElevate Labs - Senior Growth Marketing ManagerPallet - BD & Sales, GTM & Ops—Creator GrowthSkio - Account ExecutiveSparkAI - Full Stack EngineerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here!Talent CollectiveExcited to announce the launch of my new talent collective! Members of the collective will get exclusive access to opportunities at my favorite high-growth startups across the tech landscape.Completely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
4/13/202214 minutes, 37 seconds
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How to Stop Procrastinating

Welcome to the 979 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 80,207 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Write of Passage!Fun Fact: This newsletter would not exist if not for David Perell.When we first met, David explained his concept of the Personal Monopoly and convinced me to go all in on building mine. One year later, here we are.The Internet unfairly rewards people who have a unique set of skills, experiences, and ideas. When that combination is so unique that it can’t be replicated, you create a Personal Monopoly.David Perell has become the go-to guy for writing online, and has helped thousands of students create their own personal monopolies. He’s created a free guide to help people uncover their strengths, clearly communicate their value, and start building their reputation online with a free lesson from his Write of Passage course.This is a life cheat code. I highly recommend checking it out!Today at a Glance:Type I Procrastination is common and generally not very harmful. We procrastinate on doing the laundry, taking out the trash, or replying to our emails. Type II Procrastination is equally common, but much more damning. Type II tasks tend to be the long-term important projects—the true growth creators. When we procrastinate on these projects, we fail to make progress.The Anti-Procrastination System involves five core steps: (1) Awareness, (2) Deconstruction, (3) Plan Creation, (4) Stake Creation, and (5) Action.The system is equally applicable for both Type I and II, but given its deliberate structure, it’s likely better to walk through for the first time in the context of Type II Procrastination.How to Stop ProcrastinatingConfession: I’ve spent most of my life as a chronic procrastinator.I’ve also spent most of my life justifying that chronic procrastination. “It’s just how I work,” I’d say to myself after yet another stress-inducing last-minute sprint to complete a project. The pressure of an imminent deadline was what I needed to thrive.Scientifically, I wasn't wildly off…The Yerkes-Dodson Law—originally developed by psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson in 1908—says stress and performance are positively correlated…up to a point, after which more stress reduces performance.But there are two core issues here:It’s very difficult to honestly review where you sit on the curve. Are you really at optimal stress, or have you gone past that point on the curve?If procrastination is the only way you’re able to create optimal stress, you only work on the urgent tasks—very rarely the long-term important tasks. As you’ll recall from my piece on The Ultimate Productivity Tool, this is a recipe for stalled progress.What I realized: A modest amount of stress, pressure, and arousal is good—but relying on procrastination to create it is bad. Procrastination is a growth limiter—it restricts our potential.It became clear to me that I needed to develop a system to fight back.In today’s piece, I’d like to share that system with all of you.The Anti-Procrastination SystemI categorize procrastination-prone tasks into two types:Type I: Small & BoringType II: Big & ScaryType I Procrastination is common and generally not very harmful. We procrastinate on doing the laundry, taking out the trash, or replying to our emails.Type II Procrastination is equally common, but much more damning. Type II tasks tend to be the long-term important projects—the true growth creators. When we procrastinate on these projects, we fail to make progress—we stall. The Anti-Procrastination System involves five core steps:AwarenessDeconstructionPlan CreationStake CreationActionThe structure is sequential, but its practice is often dynamic & iterative.Note: The system is equally applicable for both Type I and II, but given its deliberate structure, it’s likely better to walk through for the first time in the context of Type II Procrastination.Let's walk through each of the steps...AwarenessAs with most mental hurdles, the first step is becoming aware of the problem.Procrastination is defined as the action of postponing or delaying something. Ancient Greek philosophers called it Akrasia—acting against your better judgement. We procrastinate when it's easier to delegate a task to our future self.Don’t beat yourself up about it. The proclivity to procrastinate is literally hardwired into our DNA. We value immediate rewards, even if we know that it isn’t what’s best for us in the long-term.To develop awareness, schedule a daily assessment of your day-to-day actions. Start by identifying the important long-term projects in your life.Then ask a few questions:Am I proud of the actions I am taking on these big projects?Am I doing what I should be doing?If the answers are “no”—that’s great.You're now aware of your procrastination and can proceed to the next step...DeconstructionThe driver of Type II Procrastination is that big and scary projects are...well...big and scary.In his famous Ted Talk, Tim Urban uses the example of a senior thesis. If you define the project as "write my 100-page thesis" you’re already pre-wired for procrastination.To the chronic procrastinator—or to any human, really—large, long-term projects look like a big, black box. Our imaginations tend to fill that box with endless complexity and unknown horrors.We know it's important, but it's too intimidating and abstract as a whole.So how do you attack that? Well, get out your sledgehammer and break it apart…It's critical to deconstruct the big and scary project into small and individually-manageable tasks.In the example of the senior thesis, the tasks might be:Construct a note-taking systemGather important pieces of researchAnnotate key pieces of researchCraft thesis outlineEtc.The goal here is a simple mental conversion from intimidating to manageable.Plan CreationNext, you need to develop a plan of attack to check off the deconstructed task list.The plan for each micro task should be:Specific: Exactly what you'll do.Time Bound: When you’ll do it.Important Note: We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day (and underestimate what we can do in a year). When you are setting time bounds, lean towards being less ambitious on the micro scale. Give yourself easy wins early on with achievable time bounds.Create a project document. I use Notion (see below for an illustrative example), but you can use whatever system you are comfortable with.A few guidelines for the project document:Write down the specific tasks under each major deconstructed pillar of the project.Write down your timeline for each task.Pro Tip: Once you complete the project document, but before starting the project, hide the future pillars to avoid upfront intimidation at the amount of work on your plate. Focus on the present.Stake CreationThis is perhaps the most important step of the system, but it’s an easy one to overlook.You can create—and then raise—stakes as a means to driving better outcomes.A few ideas:Public Declaration: State your intentions publicly. Tweet it out, post it on LinkedIn, tell a bunch of friends at a dinner. Once you’ve stated something publicly, you’ve made it more costly to flake. No one wants to break their word.Social Pressure: Make a plan to meet a friend somewhere to do the initial work. Schedule a time and a place to meet them and exactly what work you’re going to be tackling while you are there. Similar to a public declaration, the social pressure from one friend is often enough to get you over the hump.Reward: Plan a reward if you do what you're supposed to. Allow yourself to have a nice walk, a coffee break, or a dinner with friends. The knowledge that something nice will happen if you get the task done is a powerful motivator.Penalty: Plan a penalty if you don’t do what you’re supposed to. Every athlete remembers the painful punishments that followed a lazy practice. When used sparingly, penalty systems can work.Use stakes to turn big projects into a “game” for yourself. These mental games can be very effective!ActionAction is often the hardest part. Specifically, the first action—the first motion.Tim Urban calls it the Dark Woods vs. Dark Playground Decision. You have to decide whether to turn left and head to the fun, bright playground, or turn right and head into the dark, scary woods.James Clear calls it the Procrastination-Action Line. The point of maximum pain just before you start to move.No matter what you call it, it's important.Here’s the key: Newton’s First Law of Motion. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. So just start moving…To create initial movement, you can try the following:Plan a Sync Session: Similar to the “social pressure” stake above, meet a friend for the initial movement.Reward Initial Movement: Attach a small reward to completing the initial movement (e.g. a walk outside).Lion Technique: Commit to a single short (30-minute) sprint followed by luxurious rest.The hardest part is really just getting started.Give yourself a quick win—winning is contagious. Big wins are simply the aggregate result of consistent small wins.Important Note: Make sure to work in line with your energy. Schedule focused work sprints during times of day when your creative energy is abundant.ConclusionSo to recap, the Anti-Procrastination System:Awareness: Schedule a daily assessment of your day-to-day actions. Start by identifying the important long-term projects in your life. Then ask a few questions: Am I proud of the actions I am taking on these big projects? Am I doing what I should be doing? Create an awareness of your procrastination.Deconstruction: Large, long-term projects look like a big, black box. Our imaginations tend to fill that box with endless complexity and unknown horrors. It's critical to deconstruct the big and scary project into small and individually-manageable tasks.Plan Creation: Develop a plan of attack to check off the deconstructed task list. The plan for each micro task should be specific and time bound. Create a project document to track the plan and tasks.Stake Creation: Create stakes that turn big projects into a “game” for yourself. These mental games can be very effective!Action: A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Create systems that spark initial movement. Engineer small wins (they become big wins over time).The entire Anti-Procrastination System is intended to be dynamic and iterative. As you work through your big projects, be sure to constantly assess and tweak your plan and process. Find new ways to raise the stakes and get moving.It's not perfect, but this system will help you bust through the walls of procrastination. I guarantee it.Give it a shot and drop me a message or comment to let me know how it works for you!Author’s Note:I normally write these newsletters on Tuesday mornings (for a Wednesday send). I find that the stress of the next day send typically helps—but it is, without a doubt, an example of my own chronic procrastination in action.So for today’s edition, I decided to practice what I preach…I deconstructed the newsletter into the individual sections and made a plan to tackle one at a time with a 5-minute breather in between each. I established some stakes, telling myself I could go to my club for an afternoon steam/sauna if I got the newsletter done as planned.And then I sat down at my computer on Monday AM, large Dunkin’ Donuts cold brew in hand, and began to write. Action.Now it’s 4pm on Monday afternoon—and I’m officially closing my computer for the day to head to the club for that steam/sauna I promised myself.The Final Score: Sahil 1, Procrastination 0.Where It Happens PodcastThe Future of Gaming | Ryan Wyatt, Polygon StudiosWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by LEX. We’re always looking for breakthrough businesses. And, our audience has repeatedly asked how they can invest in commercial real estate. Lex is the easy answer. LEX turns individual buildings into public stocks via IPO, so you can invest, trade, and manage your own portfolio of high-quality commercial real estate. It’s so simple to get started today.****Sign up for free at lex-markets.com/room and get a $50 bonus exclusively for our audience when you deposit at least $500. It’s a no-brainer.This episode is also brought to you by Outer. Spring is in the air in both NYC and Miami, and we can’t get enough of our Outer outdoor furniture. Their furniture looks incredible and is durable. Personally, we love the Outdoor Loveseat.Right now for our audience exclusively they are offering $300 off any product + free shipping until May 1. This is one of the most generous offers of any sponsor we’ve had. Did we mention they have a 2-week free trial? Go to liveouter.com/room to get the deal.Sahil’s Hiring ZoneFeatured OpportunitiesArtifact - Product DesignerClay - Growth ManagerAssemble - Software EngineerElevate Labs - Senior Growth Marketing ManagerPallet - BD & Sales, GTM & Ops—Creator GrowthSkio - Account ExecutiveSparkAI - Full Stack EngineerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here!Talent CollectiveExcited to announce the launch of my new talent collective! Members of the collective will get exclusive access to opportunities at my favorite high-growth startups across the tech landscape.Completely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
4/6/202212 minutes, 58 seconds
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The Career Success Guide

Welcome to the 1,002 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 78,225 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Veridas!Do you struggle with verifying the identity of your customers?Gone are the days of needing to ask customers over the phone to verify 3 pieces of information to prove their identity, and wasting your support rep's time. Veridas’ voice biometric authentication will confirm a person's identity simply by hearing them speak. No language requirements, no special phrase, just 3 seconds of chatter. In fact, 100 companies around the world already trust Veridas thanks to its simplicity, accuracy (+99.9%), and speed (150 milliseconds).Veridas is offering a special 15% discount for all Curiosity Chronicle subscribers that book a live demo in the next 30 days. Sign up at the link below to take advantage of the offer!Today at a Glance:Whether you’re just starting—or building—your career, you’ve undoubtedly faced new challenges that no textbook or classroom could have prepared you for. Early career years can be quite painful and anxiety-inducing. You face a completely new world with no map—no guide to help you navigate the uncharted terrain.Today’s piece provides that guide—a simple set of core principles that you can turn to and rely on as you start and build your career.If you prefer a printable, evergreen format that you can refer to in future, I turned this into a beautiful e-book, which you can buy here. It includes several additional principles and visualizations not in the newsletter version.The Career Success GuideWhether you’re just starting—or building—your career, you’ve undoubtedly faced new challenges that no textbook or classroom could have prepared you for.Early career years can be quite painful and anxiety-inducing. You face a completely new world with no map—no guide to help you navigate the uncharted terrain…So today, I’d like to provide that guide—a simple set of core principles that you can turn to and rely on as you start and build your career.All of the principles contained herein were developed and earned through my own experience, generally through failures or missteps. My hope is that by providing this in writing, you can avoid those same mistakes and accelerate your path.If you prefer a printable, evergreen format that you can refer to in future, I turned this into a beautiful e-book, which you can buy here. It also includes several additional principles and visualizations not in the newsletter version.With that context in mind, let’s dive right in: The Career Success Guide—10 principles to help you navigate the challenges of your early career…Build a Personal Board of AdvisorsThe general logic here is simple.If you treat your career lifecycle as a company...You start as a high-growth startupYou grow into a bigger businessYou IPO and are a public companyAt each phase, you're faced with a variety of difficult and new decisions and challenges.Traditionally, people have turned to "mentorship" to navigate the uncharted waters they encounter at each stage. But "mentorship" feels very formal. It carries a connotation of a fixed cadence and time commitment. From the mentor's perspective, it feels like a big commitment.Furthermore, having one formal mentor often falls short from a utility standpoint. Your mentor may not have encountered the challenge you're facing—they may not have a "map" that you can leverage to navigate the terrain. They may not be available when you need to make an important decision.Instead, build a Personal Board of Advisors. Companies have boards—ideally comprised of individuals from varying backgrounds and arenas. The board isn't involved in the day-to-day, but provides advice on strategy, key decisions, and challenges.Your Personal Board of Advisors is a group of 5-10 individuals.Important features:Unbiased (not family)Diverse experiences and backgroundsWilling to provide raw feedbackOver time, you can add and subtract from your board. The members don't need to know each other or that they are on your board. Informality is a feature, not a bug.As you encounter challenges, key decisions, or inflection points in your career, these are the people that you can reliably turn to for grounded perspectives, feedback, and advice.Swallow the Frog for Your BossThe “frog” is a difficult or annoying task your boss doesn’t want to do. But their frog is your opportunity!It presents one of the single greatest hacks to getting ahead early in your career:Observe your boss.Figure out what they hate doing.Teach yourself to do it.Take it off their plate (i.e. swallow the frog!).Swallowing the frog for your boss is a clear way to add value, put up a win, and build momentum.Create a Decentralized Growth TribeHaving a decentralized friend group to learn from and grow with is a legitimate competitive advantage.The features of a decentralized friend group:Unconnected to other groupsDifferent backgroundsRange of experience setsNovel perspectivesInteracting with this group will expose you to new ideas, industries, and opportunities. It will materially expand your luck surface area.Think of it as your Growth Tribe. It’s a huge value unlock.Sahil Personal Note: It took me 7 years to realize the value of this and find my decentralized growth tribe. That tribe led to me taking new opportunities and making decisions that have fundamentally changed the trajectory of my life. I cannot recommend this highly enough. And importantly, in the Digital Age, you can find these groups “in the cloud”—physical proximity is no longer a requirement.Learn to SellNaval Ravikant famously said that in order to be successful, you either need to learn how to build or you need to learn how to sell.I agree, but I also know that most of us aren't technically-gifted—so we should just learn to sell.Selling doesn’t mean going into software or technology sales (though that can be a lucrative career path for the right person!).Selling means learning to tell a compelling, convincing story. That story doesn’t have to be about a product your company is building.The more you progress in any field, the more of your job becomes sales:You sell yourself when you want a company to hire you.You sell your idea when you want investors to back you.You sell your vision when you want customers to pay you.You sell your culture when you want employees to join you.There are very few guarantees in life, but this one is real: If you can sell, you'll always make it.Prioritize Experience, Not SalaryPrioritizing salary is one of the biggest mistakes I see young people making early in their careers. The obsession with making “six figures” at your first job is misguided and short-term thinking at its finest.The reality: a 10x better foundation-building experience compounds much more effectively than that extra $10K in salary.You should always be compensated fairly, but remember that not all compensation is monetary.Think long-term. What are the opportunities, experiences, and relationships that are going to build the strongest foundation for your future?Non-linear outcomes are the goal. An extra $10K per year won’t create them. A 10x better foundation-building experience actually might…Avoid the Comparison TrapEarly in your career, it's tempting to compare yourself and your progress to those around you.This person made X dollars last year.That person got Forbes 30 Under 30.So and so has already started 5 companies and dined with the Queen of England on 17 occasions.Ok, maybe that last one is a bit of hyperbole…The desire to compare ourselves to others is natural, but also dangerous. Learn to turn it off. Focus on what you can control and on optimizing your happiness.Sahil Personal Note: I’ve only recently figured this one out. I spent the early part of my career constantly comparing myself to others and beating myself up over my slow progress. It turns out that my big acceleration took about 8 years to kick in. Sometimes it takes 10 years to be an overnight success. Get off the comparison spiral and turn inward. Impatient with actions, patient with results.Find Your Zone of GeniusYour Zone of Genius is where your interests, passions and skills align.Early in your career, your goal should simply be to identify it.Once you do, you can stop playing *their* games and start playing *yours*. It allows you to play games you're uniquely well-suited to win.Sahil Personal Note: It took me about 8 years to identify my Zone of Genius. The trap is the Zone of Excellence—the area where you are highly-competent but don’t have a passion or energy for the work. You’ll be patted on the back and told you are great, which can be intoxicating and build momentum around this work, but it’s not where you want to land. Be wary of the Zone of Excellence and stay the course to find your Zone of Genius.Own Your MistakesFact: When you're starting out, you're going to suck at most things. There’s legitimately no way around it.I remember reading and listening to every piece of educational material about private equity before starting my first job. I thought it would prepare me so that I could hit the ground running. Then I showed up on the first day and got punched in the mouth (metaphorically, of course!).Most jobs are apprenticeship-oriented. You have to learn by following and doing. Accordingly, you're going to make mistakes—and that's ok.What's not ok:Not owning your mistakes.Making the same mistake twice.When you screw up, own it. Then build a system so it never happens again.Get In "The Room"In every company, there are certain rooms where the big stuff happens.The important negotiations.The critical decisions.The conflicts and debates.Identify these rooms and find a way to be in there. Sometimes it can be as simple as offering to take notes and send around action items.Once you get in the room, sit quietly, listen, and observe. It will be an insanely high leverage learning experience.Build "T-Shaped" KnowledgeT-Shaped knowledge has breadth & depth.Breadth allows you to be thoughtful and constructive across a range of business areas. It allows you to know enough “to be dangerous” on a variety of topics. It gives you the freedom to contextualize broadly.Depth allows you to be world-class in a specific area of expertise. It is built through hard, task-specific effort over time.The most successful people have both.As you get started, make sure you are building breadth and depth. Breadth makes you an asset to any organization—depth makes you critical to your one organization.There you have it. The Career Success Guide—10 core principles to help you navigate the challenges of your early career.I hope you enjoyed this piece, as it was many years in the making! If you found it useful, please share it with others in your network who would find value in it.And as mentioned, if you prefer a printable, evergreen format that you can refer to in future, I turned this into a beautiful e-book, which you can buy here. It includes several additional principles and visualizations not in the newsletter version and it’s a great way to support this newsletter as I continue to build.Where It Happens PodcastHow to Engineer Serendipity (with Matt Mullenweg)Watch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by LEX. We’re always looking for breakthrough businesses. And, our audience has repeatedly asked how they can invest in commercial real estate. Lex is the easy answer. LEX turns individual buildings into public stocks via IPO, so you can invest, trade, and manage your own portfolio of high-quality commercial real estate. It’s so simple to get started today.****Sign up for free at lex-markets.com/room and get a $50 bonus exclusively for our audience when you deposit at least $500. It’s a no-brainer.This episode is also brought to you by Outer. Spring is in the air in both NYC and Miami, and we can’t get enough of our Outer outdoor furniture. Their furniture looks incredible and is durable. Personally, we love the Outdoor Loveseat.Right now for our audience exclusively they are offering $300 off any product + free shipping until May 1. This is one of the most generous offers of any sponsor we’ve had. Did we mention they have a 2-week free trial? Go to liveouter.com/room to get the deal.Sahil’s Hiring ZoneFeatured OpportunitiesClay - Growth ManagerAssemble - Software EngineerElevate Labs - Senior Growth Marketing ManagerPallet - BD & Sales, GTM & Ops—Creator GrowthSkio - Account ExecutiveSparkAI - Full Stack EngineerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here!Talent CollectiveExcited to announce the launch of my new talent collective! Members of the collective will get exclusive access to opportunities at my favorite high-growth startups across the tech landscape.Completely free for candidates. Use the link here to apply!Companies can get exclusive access to these terrific candidates by buying a collective pass here. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
3/30/202212 minutes, 20 seconds
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The New Way to Learn

Welcome to the 1,202 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 76,887 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Rows!After spending 7+ years in traditional finance, I had Chronic Excel Fatigue–the result of countless hours spent wrestling with the dated, legacy technology that hasn’t been updated since 2006!Fortunately, I discovered Rows—spreadsheets, reimagined. Rows is a truly magical product experience. It allows you to seamlessly pull data on stocks, crypto and more, and instantly integrate with services like Stripe, Google Analytics, Twitter, Salesforce, Instagram, Facebook and public databases like Crunchbase and LinkedIn.Rows is one of the most insane new product experiences I have had in recent memory. I use Rows for everything from managing my Startup Portfolio, social analytics, fund investing, and LPs to tracking household budgets and personal finance. I may never open Excel again.For your next spreadsheet, give Rows a try. You won’t be disappointed. Join thousands of teams that have stepped up their spreadsheet game with Rows.Today at a Glance:It has become in vogue to bash the traditional education system and the learning models it reinforces in our youth. I’m certainly guilty of it. In a broad sense, it’s always quite easy to criticize the incumbent—but much more difficult to propose a viable alternative, particularly one that works at scale.Traditional learning models fall short in two respects: (1) they endorse compartmentalized knowledge and (2) they create forced, linear progressions.The ultimate meta-goal of learning is for knowledge to compound over time. We want to learn in such a way that new knowledge builds on top of existing foundations—ideally in an accelerating, non-linear manner.Networked Learning is a way to return to our roots and allow knowledge to freely interact and compound. There are many ways to engage it, including: (1) Explore vs. Tour, (2) Analogize Constantly, (3) Paired Learning, (4) Read Broadly & Quit More, and (5) Slow Down Learning.The New Way to Learn“Traditional learning models are dead.”If you’ve been scrolling Twitter or attending any group events over the last five years, you’ve probably heard some variation of the above statement countless times.It has become in vogue to bash the traditional education system and the learning models it reinforces in our youth. I’m certainly guilty of it. In a broad sense, it’s always quite easy to criticize the incumbent—but much more difficult to propose a viable alternative, particularly one that works at scale.In today’s piece, I’d like to lay the foundation for an alternative, better learning model: Networked Learning. Let’s begin with the traditional model and its deficiencies before diving into the details of the new way and how to use it.Note: I say *foundation* because my thinking on the topic remains a work-in-progress. I believe I have identified a truly better way for children and adults to learn—and clear methods to use it—but the challenge of deploying it at scale remains.The Traditional ModelI graduated from my public high school thinking I hated most subjects.It was odd—I was a pretty interested kid, but I drifted from class to class, doing the bare minimum to deliver an adequate report card to my discerning parents and clear the academic hurdles required by Stanford Athletic Department’s admissions team.Reflecting on it with the benefit of hindsight—and a bit of maturity—what I actually hated was the learning model the traditional education system forced upon me: A learning model grounded in linear, compartmentalized learning. A learning model that praised rote memorization of facts.Unfortunately, this learning model is drilled into us for so many years that the bad habits stick with us throughout our life. As a result, few find a way to learn more effectively in adulthood.Stick with me today and I’ll help you break the vicious cycle…Let's start with a quick breakdown of the traditional model and why it's broken.Problem #1: CompartmentalizedTraditional education asks you to create containers in your mind.I imagine them like little houses. You have your history house, your English house, your science house, your math house, etc. Each house is discrete and closed off to the rest of the houses and world.Let’s say you have a history test on Monday. On Sunday night, you sit down with a coffee and cram some new abstract information about Genghis Khan into your designated history house. You remember it for the test on Monday and manage to ace it. Your teacher, parents, and friends pat you on the back and say "great job!”—but by the following Monday, you've forgotten it.“Oh well,” you say, “I didn’t need to know about Genghis Khan anyway…”This process repeats for every subject. Knowledge is crammed and trapped into its designated house.The problem? Trapped knowledge is basically useless. It's insulated from the interactions that allow it to stick and compound over time. The compartment is useful for the test, but not for real learning and growth.Problem #2: Linear & ForcedThe traditional education system was designed for the Industrial Age—an assembly line model.It tells us to learn one specific thing—and be tested on it—before progressing to the next. We progress on set timelines—established by boards and committees—from one subject to the next.The model is forced, linear progression. There is no room for inspired consumption.The obvious problem here: Everyone learns differently—at a unique pace and with unique interests.The current model embraces those who can fall into line and make it work while rejecting those who cannot. It leaves too many people behind.The New Model: Networked Learning“I have never let schooling interfere with my education.” - Mark TwainOk, so we've established a few core problems of the existing, traditional learning models. Let’s turn to the new way—the better way: Networked Learning.A Return to Our RootsThe ultimate meta-goal of learning is for knowledge to compound over time. We want to learn in such a way that new knowledge builds on top of existing foundations—ideally in an accelerating, non-linear manner.But for this to work, we need our knowledge to exist in an exposed environment. It has to interact with existing knowledge and new knowledge in order to spark new growth.Fortunately, this is the way we are biologically wired. As children, we’re insatiably curious, experiencing every new event, person, or object with wonder. We actively place each new learning into the context of our existing knowledge graphs. We constantly create and adjust our "maps" of the world.The key here: there are a lot of "collisions" of knowledge in the child's brain. There are no preset compartments forced upon them yet. There's no insulation of some knowledge from the rest of it. It’s a bit of chaos theory in action. Knowledge roams free in the child's brain—it interacts, reacts, and triggers growth.This is the foundation of Networked Learning—a return to our roots.A return to the natural manner in which we encounter the world. We wrestle with ideas and let cross-pollination do its thing. We abstract complexity in a unique fashion. Our knowledge never sits in a closed, dark room—it sits in the light, ready to compound.That’s enough theory—hopefully you’re convinced. Now it’s time to get tactical: How can you put Networked Learning into practice?A few ideas to get started:Explore vs. TourAnalogize ConstantlyPaired LearningRead Broadly & Quit MoreSlow Down LearningLet’s cover each one:Explore vs. TourWhen you're learning something new, always seek to be an explorer, not a tourist.The tourist follows preset routes and maps established by others to go on a fixed tour of a new location.The explorer walks out into the streets, roams broadly, and talks to new people to establish their own maps of the city. The explorer learns and retains much more from the experience.Don’t tour, explore.Analogize ConstantlyNetworked Learning is grounded in your ability to take newly-learned information and place it within the context of your existing maps.To do so, you have to make direct or indirect comparisons and connections between the new and existing information. It will force the knowledge to stick, compound, and grow.A simple example of this to bring the concept to life:I did a bunch of research on Morris Chang and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company for a piece I was writing in January 2021. It struck me that TSMC's novel pure-play chip manufacturer model had enabled independent chip designers to start their own companies.I searched for an analog—for a way to attach this new information to something I had already learned.Then, it hit me: this all looked very similar to what Shopify had done in creating infrastructure that enabled independent consumer companies to sell online.I had created context for the new learning within my broader mental map. It now had room to mingle and interact in my mind—to stick, compound, and grow.Paired LearningThere are often non-obvious “learning pairs” that you can leverage to accelerate the compounding of new knowledge.Learning pairs are two (or more) subjects that have some similar connective tissue—something that links them on an atomic level (read: below the surface).Examples:Shakespeare & English HistorySci-Fi & Tech InvestingNuclear Physics & American HistoryIf I’m reading a great science fiction novel (Project Hail Mary was amazing!) at the same time as a book on technology venture capital investing, I might find interesting connections in abstract predictions of future technologies or similarities in underlying logic that benefit my learning in both domains.If you consume simultaneously across these non-obvious pairs, you can engineer more connections and compounding.Read Broadly & Quit MoreReading beyond the confines of what is "useful" is one of the best decisions you can make. I've probably learned more about technology investing from reading Sci-Fi than I have from most investing books.Read more, but also quit more. If it doesn't grab you, drop it.I try to read for 60 minutes daily, but there is no rhyme or reason to what I am reading on any given day. I might be reading sections from any one of ~10 books I have open at a time, or from the various articles, newsletters, or blogs I come across each week. I don’t force myself to read anything. I grab what excites me and stop when I lose that excitement. I’d encourage you to give this reading model a shot.Slow Down LearningThe number of books read has become a weird sort of vanity metric or "flex" for adults and children alike. I used to talk about how many books I read each week as a way to impress people.But learning is definitively not a race. Racing through actually decreases the effectiveness—there are often negative returns to incremental speed. It's not impressive to read 52 books a year if you absorb nothing from them.Slow down—let the new ideas marinate and compound.Concluding ThoughtsNetworked Learning is the new way to learn. It marks a clear break from the compartmentalized, forced, linear models of the traditional system and brings us back to our roots. Try it out—by yourself or with your children—and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your feedback.There's admittedly a lot remaining to unpack around this topic—in particular how to apply this Networked Learning model at scale. I'm just starting to scratch the surface of my own thinking, but I'll keep working at it.My hope is that this piece sparks a dialogue around new learning models and shines a light on the innovators who are building a better future for our children.Where It Happens PodcastHow to Get Rich Building Boring Businesses with Codie SanchezWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by Beam. We can’t get enough of their Dream Powder. We both personally take this before bed a few times a week and wake up refreshed in the morning. Their nano-CBD helps improve your body’s ability to absorb CBD, making their product the perfect supplement before you go to bed. And now Beam is offering $20 off any order of $75 or more with the code ROOM at beamorganics.com/room.Sahil’s Hiring ZoneFeatured OpportunitiesAssemble - Software EngineerElevate Labs - Senior Growth Marketing ManagerPallet - BD & Sales, GTM & Ops—Creator GrowthSkio - Account ExecutiveMaxwell Social - Founding CTOSparkAI - Full Stack EngineerSubstack - Android EngineerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here!Talent CollectiveExcited to announce the launch of my new talent collective!Members of the collective will get exclusive access to opportunities at my favorite high-growth startups across the tech landscape.Completely free for candidates. Use the link below to apply! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
3/23/202212 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Ultimate Productivity Tool

Welcome to the 613 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 75,508 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Babbel!Start speaking a new language in 3 weeks!One of my goals for 2022 is to learn a new language. Studies show that learning a language increases the volume and density of gray matter, the volume of white matter, and brain connectivity.Babbel is the tool I’m using to achieve this goal—it’s one of the world’s top language learning platforms and prepares you for situations you’ll actually encounter in real life. I’ve been blown away by the experience thus far—lessons are just 10 minutes and you can start having basic conversations in the new language in just 3 weeks. Plus, you get access to podcasts, games, videos and more.It’s a great household activity to enjoy with your partner and your kids as well!For a limited time, you can join me on this journey and get up to 60% off your subscription by using the link below. Take advantage of this amazing offer and get your language learning on today!Today at a Glance:The Eisenhower Decision Matrix is a simple, powerful tool anyone can use to prioritize effectively and enhance daily productivity. It’s a visualization tool that forces you to differentiate between the urgent and the important.The four quadrants of the 2x2 matrix: Important & Urgent (“Do Now”), Important & Not Urgent (“Decide”), Not Important & Urgent (“Delegate”), and Not Important & Not Urgent (“Delete”).The goal is to spend more time on important tasks that further your long-term values, missions, goals, and principles. In Eisenhower Decision Matrix terms: Manage the top-right, optimize for the top-left, and remove the bottom half.The Ultimate Productivity ToolWe’ve all been there.Scrambling from task to task, moving from one stress-inducing fire to the next. The minute one fire is out, another one is sparked. The day becomes an energy-draining fight to survive.The worst part? At the end of it all, it’s hard to point to any substantive progress. There was a lot of movement, but no forward progress—a “rocking horse” day, if you will.Today, I’d like to share a simple, immediately-actionable solution to this all-too-common problem. To set the stage, a short history lesson…Dwight D. EisenhowerDwight David Eisenhower—or Ike as his friends called him—was an American military officer and politician born in Denison, Texas in 1890.He was a West Point graduate and rose through the military to achieve the 5-star rank of general in the United States Army. During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe and led the famed invasion of Normandy from the Western Front.Eisenhower would serve as President of Columbia University and the first Supreme Commander of NATO before being elected as the 34th President of the United States, a role he occupied from 1953 to 1961.As his military and civilian accomplishments indicate, Eisenhower was a highly-effective leader and executive. He became known for his prolific, almost otherworldly productivity.His secret? He never confused the urgent with the important:"What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important." - Dwight D. EisenhowerWith this idea as a foundation, let’s dive into today’s prioritization and productivity solution…The Eisenhower Decision MatrixThe Eisenhower Decision Matrix is a simple, powerful tool anyone can use to prioritize effectively and enhance daily productivity. It’s a visualization tool that forces you to differentiate between the urgent and the important. The matrix was popularized by Stephen R. Covey in his famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Here’s how the 2x2 matrix works:X-Axis: Not Urgent to UrgentY-Axis: Not Important to Important Two key definitions:Urgent: requires immediate, focused attention to complete.Important: promotes or furthers your long-term values, goals, or principles.The four quadrants of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix:Important & UrgentImportant & Not UrgentNot Important & UrgentNot Important & Not UrgentA quick discussion of each…Important & UrgentThese are the tasks that are both important and urgent.They require immediate, focused attention—but also contribute to our long-term vision, goals, or principles.I call these the "Do Now!" tasks. They are time sensitive, but also contribute to real forward progress.Important & Not UrgentThese are the tasks that are important but not very urgent.I like to think of these tasks as the compounders—the tasks that compound long-term value in your life. The most successful people in the world find a way to focus their energy on these tasks.This is where you should try to spend most of your time and energy. You can decide when to attack them, but you need to prioritize this quadrant.Not Important & UrgentThese are the tasks that are not important, but they are urgent and require attention.These tasks are the "beware" category—the tasks that can drain time and energy without contributing to our end goals. These are the fires or random one-offs that leave you feeling drained but without meaningful progress.These are tasks to delegate to someone else—ideally to someone for whom they will be important.Not Important & Not UrgentThese are the tasks that are neither important nor urgent.These are the mindless activities like TV and social media that sap our productivity. Limit your time on these as much as possible.Sahil Note: If these mindless activities help you recharge, they may be "important" for you in some modest quantities. I personally find that watching a show before bed allows me to unwind and shut off to sleep with a clear mind. There is no need to eliminate that from your life, just be honest with yourself about the point at which it is no longer creating value for you. If you have a tough time being disciplined with it—I certainly used to!—schedule time for these activities.The Big PictureOk, so let’s put it all together. What’s the goal here?Spend more time on important tasks that further your long-term values, missions, goals, and principles.In Eisenhower Decision Matrix terms:Manage the top-rightOptimize for the top-leftRemove the bottom halfConclusionTo leverage the Eisenhower Decision Matrix in your life, start by identifying what is important to you.A few questions to get you started:What are your long-term goals?What principles and values do you want to build towards?What tasks in your daily life contribute to those goals, principles, and values?Try planning and executing a week—or even just a day—according to the matrix. I use it weekly and love it.There are plenty of free online tools to help you leverage the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to structure your productivity practice. I use a Notion template, but you can find other pre-built templates quite easily. You can also be like Ike and use a notebook to do it the old fashioned way!Give it a shot and let me know what you think!Where It Happens PodcastBootstrapping An Eight Figure Business with Michael MartocciWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by Tegus. Tegus is the fastest way for investors and M&A teams to learn everything they want to know about a company, all from an on-demand digital platform. Tegus is the most extensive source of instantly-available 1:1 conversations between investors and experts, covering companies from the seed stage to the public markets. Just log in for instant access to 25,000+ transcripts. They are offering you a free 2-week trial at tegus.co/room.This episode is also brought to you by OpenPhone. OpenPhone is an all-in-one business phone system that can help your startup look more credible—and it works right from your existing smartphone or computer. Each phone number comes with its own inbox for managing calls, texts, and voicemails together—making it easy to keep track of every conversation. Sign up and start using your new business number in minutes. Visit OpenPhone.co/room to save 20% on your first six months.Sahil’s Talent CollectiveThere are already 100+ amazing candidates in the collective—coming from companies like Google, Amazon, PayPal, Palantir, Waymo, and Lyft. The group includes a Director of Product Management @ FAANG, Head of Marketing @ Series A Startup, Sr. Product Manager @ Public Tech Co, Web 3 Engineer @ Small Startup, Director Enterprise Partnerships @ Series C Startup, Chief Experience Officer @ Fortune 500 Company, Director of Growth @ Series B Startup, VP Business Development @ Series B Company, and Growth Marketing Lead @ Series A Startup.If you are a company looking for direct matches to the most exciting, high potential talent, use the link below and click “Get a Pass” to receive monthly drops of talent to drive your growth engine!Members of the collective will get exclusive access to opportunities at my favorite high-growth startups across the tech landscape. Completely free for candidates. Use the link below to apply! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
3/16/20227 minutes, 55 seconds
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How to Get Lucky

Welcome to the 930 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 73,957 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Trends!Trends is my personal cheat code for generating new business and content ideas.It’s a premium newsletter from The Hustle that deconstructs the secret sauce of interesting businesses, side hustles, and emerging opportunities—and gives you the playbook to pounce on them. Even better, membership provides instant access to an exclusive community of 15,000+ entrepreneurs who are building the future.I learn something new from every single issue—it has become a core part of my content and learning engine. A true must-read. I can’t recommend it highly enough.Use the link below to join—no commitment, no catch, cancel anytime!Today at a Glance:Much of what we come to call "luck" is actually the macro result of 1,000s of micro actions. Your daily habits put you in a position where “luck” is more likely to strike.In order to get lucky, you have to remove the “black holes” (anti-luck) from your existence. You have to take actions to expand your personal luck surface area.Today’s piece shares 20 ways to expand your luck surface area.How to Get Lucky“Diligence is the mother of good luck.” - Benjamin Franklin“Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.” - Serena Williams“Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” - Ralph Waldo EmersonLuck is an interesting concept.There is certainly “luck” that is uncontrollable—pure and raw. Where you are born, who you are born to, and the base circumstances of your life all fall into this category of luck.But as we push beyond this baseline, the concept of luck morphs into something more impure and fluid.In fact, I believe that much of what we come to call "luck" is actually the macro result of 1,000s of micro actions. Your daily habits put you in a position where “luck” is more likely to strike.Interstellar & Luck Surface AreaIn the movie Interstellar (slight spoiler if you haven’t seen it!), there’s a scene in which the main characters discuss the habitability of a planet on the edge of a large black hole.The protagonists realize that the proximity to the black hole makes life unlikely to exist on the planet—the black hole absorbed all of the “lucky” events that might have been the spark for life. The asteroids carrying the seeds of life, the chance collisions—none of them could occur because the “luck surface area” of the planet was minuscule given its proximity to the all-absorbing black hole.I think about this scene a lot—it’s a sneakily powerful metaphor for life.In order to get lucky, you have to remove the “black holes” from your existence. You have to take actions to expand your personal luck surface area.In today’s piece, I’d like to get you started on this journey…Here are 20 ways to expand your luck surface area:Be the Dumbest in the RoomIf you have a choice between entering two rooms, choose the room where you are more likely to be the dumbest one in the room.Once you’re in the room, talk less and listen more. It’s bad for your ego, but it’s great for luck.Good things tend to happen in these rooms.Hang Out With OptimistsPessimists sound smart, optimists get rich.When choosing who to spend time with, prioritize spending time with optimists. Pessimists see the doors that are closed. Optimists see the doors that are open—and probably kick down the closed doors.Pessimists are “black holes” in your life that need to be removed in order for you to get lucky.Get in the ArenaThere's no luck on the sidelines—the arena is where it strikes.It's lonely and vulnerable, but it's the only path that bears real fruit. When faced with two paths, choose the path that puts you in the arena—where collisions happen, where luck can strike.Furthermore, surround yourself with people who are also in the arena. Sideline rock slingers never get lucky.Write in PublicWhen you write and publish your ideas and insights, you are casting a web of magnets out into the world.Those ideas and insights will attract some people to you—and perhaps repel others.As your web grows, the connections—and luck—compound accordingly.Sahil Note: I am a testament to this fact. My luck has increased significantly since I started writing in public. There are no qualifications or requirements to get started—just energy.Talk to Strangers"Don't talk to strangers" is a classic we are told as children—the residue of which carries into adulthood for far too many people.New relationships spark new ideas, insights, and opportunities—these compound just as well as any financial investment.Broad Network = Broad Luck."There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met." - William Butler YeatsSend More Cold EmailsCold emails are responsible for some of the biggest breaks in my life—new mentors, relationships, and career opportunities.Cold emails are a force multiplier for your efforts.Follow the principles in my Cold Email Guide to enhance your odds of success.Always remember: Shooters shoot.Schedule Free TimeThe idea that free time is bad is one of the greatest lies you’ve been told.In investing, it’s often said that cash is a call option on future interesting investments. Well, in life, I believe that free time is a call option on future interesting opportunities. When you have free time, you have the headspace to pursue new ideas and go down rabbit holes.Plan for more of it.Ruthlessly Eliminate NegativityEveryone has a few negative people in their circle. They tell you to be realistic. They laugh at your ambition. They argue.Eliminate this negativity from your life. It's a boat anchor—a major black hole—cut the damn line and run away from it as fast as you can.Negative people are quite literally the anti-luck.Embrace the UnexpectedYou should spend your 20s saying yes to almost everything.Saying yes puts you into uncomfortable situations that lead to new relationships, opportunities, and growth.These unexpected moments are luck-rich. Embracing them is how you capitalize.Hustle HardWhen you have a bias for motion, good things happen. You create more random collisions in your ecosystems—it’s like chaos theory.A bit of hustle goes a long way.“There’s luck through persistence, hard work, hustle, and motion. This is when you’re running around creating opportunities. You’re generating a lot of energy, you’re doing a lot to stir things up. It’s almost like mixing a petri dish or mixing a bunch of reagents and seeing what combines. You’re just generating enough force, hustle, and energy for luck to find you.” - Naval RavikantTrust the Weekend Test"What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years." - Chris DixonObserve the weekend projects of the smartest people in your circles. These passion projects are disproportionately likely to be a looking glass into the future.Make asymmetric bets on these areas.Create Value Without ExpectationsThe best things in life come to those who create value with no expectation of a return.I don't know how it happens, but when you put out good energy, it tends to come back to you—often multiplied.Be genuine. Create value. Good things will happen.Put Skin in the GameI have a rule: Once I've heard about something from 3 smart friends, I put some skin in the game with a bit of money. I have a flat amount that I automatically put into things of this nature.I’d encourage you to give this a shot. Establish your rule at whatever level of base investment you’re comfortable with.The skin in the game forces me to dive deeper. Sometimes I learn more and fold; more often I learn more and double down. These are small bets with outsized returns.Get Out & EngageIt’s hard to get lucky watching Netflix at home on the couch.It’s (relatively) easy to get lucky when you’re engaging with people, interacting, and learning—in physical or digital worlds.Spend more time engaging and you'll find yourself in more positions to get lucky.Become an ExpertIf you are exceptional at one specific thing, luck tends to find you.Your expertise becomes a magnet for new and interesting opportunities you never knew existed.Public awareness of your expertise is a plus. Share your work to widen the reach of your magnet.Creative BoredomWe really need to normalize boredom. Some of your most creative moments come during periods of boredom.On a walk, in the shower, at a dinner by yourself. You’re bored, your mind wanders, your thoughts mingle. Bam! Insight strikes.Boredom creates luck. Go for more walks (sans technology), go for more drives, sit quietly and think. You’ll never regret it.Send More Cold DMsTwitter is an insanely valuable resource if you use it well.You can literally reach almost anyone in the world from your couch. I've connected with many amazing people through sending them a cold DM—including when I had very few followers.Use my simple guide to hack the process. Shoot your shot.Spend Time in Digital CommunitiesThe world has changed—you no longer need to live in a big city or have a fancy degree to connect and build valuable relationships.The rise of digital communities is real. Consider the fact that one of the co-founders of the largest play-to-earn game in the world started out as a member in the community in the very early days (now he’s worth tens of millions!). The opportunity playing field is leveling out.Join a Discord, engage in good faith. Create value, receive value.Ask Great Cold QuestionsWhen you meet new people, find ways to stand out. Asking great questions is a clear way.A few of my favorites:What are you most excited about that you're working on right now?What is your favorite book that you’ve read recently?I know almost nothing about your field of expertise. Can you tell me more about that?It gets the other person talking—plus they’ll remember you for future opportunities.Follow Your CuriosityHumans are born with astonishing curiosity. But somewhere along the way, we're told to stop asking questions.Push back.Learn to follow your curiosity—trust it. Curiosity drives you to knock down doors and enter new rooms.Fortune favors the curious.There you have it: 20 ways to get lucky by expanding your luck surface area.I’d love to hear from you. What am I missing? Comment below!If you enjoyed this, consider sharing it with your network so I can continue to grow this amazing curiosity tribe. Thank you for joining me on the journey!Until next time, as always, stay curious, friends!Where It Happens PodcastAnything Is Possible with Dave FriedbergWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by Beam. We can’t get enough of their Dream Powder. We both personally take this before bed a few times a week and wake up refreshed in the morning. Their nano-CBD helps improve your body’s ability to absorb CBD, making their product the perfect supplement before you go to bed. And now Beam is offering $20 off any order of $75 or more with the code ROOM at beamorganics.com/room.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMaven - Growth Marketer, GM of Partnerships & Ops, Course Strategy & Ops, Course Content Development LeadElevate Labs - Senior Growth Marketing ManagerPallet - BD & Sales, GTM & Ops—Creator GrowthSkio - Account ExecutiveMaxwell Social - Founding CTOSparkAI - Full Stack EngineerSubstack - Android EngineerSuperjoi - Full Stack EngineerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
3/9/202212 minutes, 26 seconds
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A Primer on SWIFT & Sanctions

Welcome to the 498 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 72,546 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Rows!After spending 7+ years in traditional finance, I had Chronic Excel Fatigue–the result of countless hours spent wrestling with the dated, legacy technology that hasn’t been updated since 2006!Fortunately, I discovered Rows—spreadsheets, reimagined. Rows is a truly magical product experience. It allows you to seamlessly pull data on stocks, crypto and more, and instantly integrate with services like Stripe, Google Analytics, Twitter, Salesforce, Instagram, Facebook and public databases like Crunchbase and LinkedIn.Rows is one of the most insane new product experiences I have had in recent memory. I use Rows for everything from managing my Startup Portfolio, social analytics, fund investing, and LPs to tracking household budgets and personal finance. I may never open Excel again.For your next spreadsheet, give Rows a try. You won’t be disappointed. Join thousands of teams that have stepped up their spreadsheet game with Rows.Today at a Glance:Economic sanctions fall into the category of economic statecraft—the use of financial levers to drive desired geopolitical outcomes. They can be broadly defined as any planned commercial or financial penalties applied by one or more countries on another country, group, organization, or individual.The goals of the sanctions include constraining cross-border money flows that are necessary for financing a long-term war effort, punishing the oligarchs who support Putin and his war efforts, depleting Russia’s financial reserves, and creating political unrest within Russia that puts Putin under pressure.While the base package of sanctions was considered standard, the weekend announcements of a cutoff from SWIFT and a Central Bank reserve freeze is potentially much more damaging to Russia and Putin.A Primer on SWIFT & Sanctions“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” — Vladimir LeninThe world is in a dramatically different state since you last received a deep-dive piece from me just one week ago. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has tragically plunged countless lives into chaos and encouragingly rallied much of the world to support the besieged Ukrainians. In the vein of support, I will be donating the proceeds from today’s newsletter to UNICEF: Protect Children in Ukraine.The situation is an intensely complicated one. There are two wars being waged here: a military war and an economic war.Today, I’d like to talk about that economic war and provide a simple breakdown of the most important weapons involved. I hope this piece makes you feel more well-informed in the days and weeks ahead.A Brief History of SanctionsEconomic sanctions have become a staple of modern statecraft.Economic sanctions fall into the category of economic statecraft—the use of financial levers to drive desired geopolitical outcomes. They can be broadly defined as any planned commercial or financial penalties applied by one or more countries on another country, group, organization, or individual.They are not new.Most historians agree that the first formal economic sanctions were in 432 B.C., when Athens restricted merchants from a rival city-state called Megara from participating in its marketplaces. The action choked off economic activity in Megara—the sanctions were highly-effective.Fast forward several millennia to World War I and economic sanctions had become a core tool in the geopolitical toolkit. A prolonged naval blockade by the Allies was used to restrict the flow of goods to Germany and the other Central Powers.As the 20th century progressed, sanctions were used time and again—the industrial logic was that their potential dire impact on an economy would cause would-be aggressors to think twice before taking military action.Unfortunately, this didn’t take into account the human impact of the collateral damage of these sanctions, which was often devastating.In the post-9/11 world, the increased awareness of this human impact gave rise to so-called “targeted” sanctions—sanctions specifically designed to mitigate collateral damage and have precise impact. If general sanctions had been a shotgun blast historically, targeted sanctions were designed to be a sniper shot.This is largely where we are today and how we got here. The U.S. and Western world continue to make heavy use of sanctions due to broad global reliance on the dollar for trade and commerce.With that history in mind, let’s turn to our present situation…The Russia SanctionsOver the weeks preceding Russia’s formal invasion of Ukraine, as its military aspirations became increasingly well-understood, the U.S. and Western world began preparing its financial response.There are several interconnected goals of the sanctions package here:Constrain cross-border money flows that are necessary for financing a long-term war effort.Punish the oligarchs who support Putin and his war efforts, many of whom live and work outside of Russia.Deplete Russia’s financial reserves (reduce its cushion).Create political unrest within Russia that puts Putin under pressure.Increase the cost—actual and perceived—of an international company doing business in Russia.I would segment the potential response into two core tiers:Tier I: Sanctions on Russian banks, companies, and oligarchs.Tier II: A cutoff from SWIFT and Central Bank reserve freeze.Tier I was table-stakes—effectively the standard operating procedure of the West in such a situation. Tier II was considered much less likely, with many media outlets calling the cutoff from SWIFT the economic “nuclear button” in this situation.After the invasion began, when it became clear that Putin planned to press forward, the U.S. and EU quickly progressed from Tier I to Tier II. Over the weekend, plans were announced to cut many Russian banks off from the SWIFT system and freeze Russia’s access to foreign currency reserves held in the West.Let’s talk about what this all means and why it’s so impactful…SWIFTSWIFT is short for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. It’s a global cooperative of financial institutions based in Belgium.SWIFT was formed in 1973 when 239 banks from 15 countries came together to establish a way to handle cross-border payments. Today, SWIFT connects more than 11,000 financial institutions across 200+ countries.SWIFT doesn’t actually do any funds transfer or holding of funds, but it’s a critical part of the communication infrastructure that enables cross-border money flows. The best way to think about SWIFT is like a simple email or messaging collaboration system enabling secure messages across its member banks—like a sort of Slack for international banks.SWIFT sees an average of 40 million messages a day—including around orders, payment confirmations, FX exchanges, and trades. These messages provide a form of reliable, safe communication for international banks to execute transactions with one another.SWIFT is a critical part of the global financial system’s plumbing, if you will.While not a political organization, its importance to global flows of capital means SWIFT is often looked at as a geopolitical tool as part of sanctions packages. Cutting off a nation’s banks from SWIFT access restricts flows into and out of that nation, generally resulting in severe economic pain.This action is not without precedent. It first happened in 2012 with the sanctions package on Iran in retaliation for its nuclear program. It was again looked at in 2013-14 in response to Russia’s actions in Crimea.Noah Smith had a great breakdown of the economic impact of a cutoff:If a Russian bank gets booted from SWIFT, it immediately becomes a less desirable place to keep one’s money. This could provoke runs on Russian banks…It could also make it much harder for Russia to pay for its imports. If you buy, say, an oil drilling machine from Germany, you need to pay for that machine in Euros. A Russian company generally doesn’t have a bunch of euros sitting around, so it’ll have to swap some of its rubles for euros. It will generally do that via a Russian bank. But if Russian banks are cut off from SWIFT, they might not have any secure way to message the banks who have euros in order to make the swap; this makes it hard for the Russian company to buy the German machine.This difficulty will manifest as a fall in the value of the ruble, the Russian currency…A weak ruble will make it hard for Russian companies to buy imports, and it’ll also make it even harder for rich Russians to spend their money abroad.The challenge is that it is a real double-edged sword. Russia is a large economy with tentacles that reach everywhere. It is a key energy supplier to Europe and the world—including one of the largest oil exporters to the U.S. It is also an exporter of materials critical to the manufacturing of jet engines, semiconductors, cars, electronics, and fertilizers.As such, the SWIFT cutoffs have a major carveout—messages are still allowed for anything related to energy. This is important, as it’s the largest export from Russia and a major engine of their economy.Furthermore, Russia has been building an in-house SWIFT alternative since 2014—the last time SWIFT cutoff was threatened—which may mean they are able to temper some of the impact a cutoff would have on its economy.It’s also worth considering that a cutoff from SWIFT may have longer-term second-order effects on Bitcoin and non-fiat currencies. The base logic: Russia may seek to circumvent the impact of the restrictions via a combination of its in-house system and a push away from the USD-reserve currency hegemony.Reserve FreezeIn the days before the invasion, it was widely reported that Putin had prepared for this day by building a war chest of financial reserves to insulate Russia from the disruption that Western sanctions may impose on the economy.The approximate total (including gold): $640 billion.This chart shows how the reserves have been amassed since their last big dip—which was incidentally when they were used to defray the impact of the last invasion of Ukraine in 2014.These reserves are an important mechanism for stabilizing his domestic economy and currency. In very simple terms, they can be used to purchase currency or assets on the open market in order to prevent a collapse.The problem: Much of that reserve base is exposed, with almost half being held in foreign banks. Over the weekend, the U.S. and EU announced a plan to expose this weakness, stating an intention to freeze the reserve assets of the Russian Central Bank that are held in Western banks.Suddenly, that cushion isn’t so comfortable anymore.A currency collapse is both technical and psychological. Public awareness of the inability of the Central Bank to protect the domestic currency compounds the technical and is likely to lead to a downward spiral.As you can see in the chart above, it already appears to be having the desired impact…This is a striking action by the U.S. and EU and one that is likely to have material consequences on the situation and dynamics. It certainly backs Putin into a tighter corner—which may be a positive or a negative depending on how he responds from here.ConclusionThe explanations provided in this piece are intended to be a primer. In the days and weeks ahead, there will be a lot of talk about SWIFT, reserve freezes, sanctions, and their role in the response to Russia’s actions.I hope this short breakdown makes you feel more knowledgeable on the topics.If you are interested in donating to support the cause, I highly recommend you consider UNICEF: Protect Children in Ukraine. I will be donating the proceeds from today’s newsletter to this cause. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by this tragic situation.Note: This is a dynamic situation with breaking news hitting the wires with increasing frequency. I will do my best to continue to update this piece with anything of note. For more on the subject, I highly recommend reviewing my sources here, here, and here.Where It Happens PodcastPersonality-Market Fit with Nuseir YassinWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by Tegus. Tegus is the fastest way for investors and M&A teams to learn everything they want to know about a company, all from an on-demand digital platform. Tegus is the most extensive source of instantly-available 1:1 conversations between investors and experts, covering companies from the seed stage to the public markets. Just log in for instant access to 25,000+ transcripts. They are offering you a free 2-week trial at tegus.co/room.This episode is also brought to you by OpenPhone. OpenPhone is an all-in-one business phone system that can help your startup look more credible—and it works right from your existing smartphone or computer. Each phone number comes with its own inbox for managing calls, texts, and voicemails together—making it easy to keep track of every conversation. Sign up and start using your new business number in minutes. Visit OpenPhone.co/room to save 20% on your first six months.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMaven - Growth Marketer, GM of Partnerships & Ops, Course Strategy & Ops, Course Content Development LeadElevate Labs - Senior Growth Marketing ManagerPallet - BD & Sales, GTM & Ops—Creator GrowthSkio - Account ExecutiveMaxwell Social - Founding CTOSparkAI - Full Stack EngineerFirst Mark Capital - RecruiterSubstack - Android EngineerPractice - Onboarding SpecialistSuperjoi - Full Stack Engineer, Community & GrowthSeven Seven Six - Finance & Compliance ManagerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
3/1/202212 minutes, 4 seconds
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15 Life Rules Worth Breaking

Welcome to the 577 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 71,548 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Revelo!If you’re a growing technology company, chances are you’re struggling to find talented developers right now.Revelo helps companies like GitHub, Intuit, and Carta hire faster, so they can grow faster! It’s a talent platform that matches you with vetted remote developers in Latin America who work in US time zones. It offers a full-suite platform that covers payroll, benefits, compliance, and more, allowing you to hire full-time remote developers without the headaches.Get matched with vetted candidates within 3 days—guaranteed. They even offer a 100% risk-free 14-day trial. If you’re not satisfied, you pay nothing.SPECIAL OFFER: Revelo is offering Curiosity Chronicle subscribers 20% off the first 3 months of any hire! Use the link below to take advantage of this crazy deal!Today at a Glance:“The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.” - Oliver Wendall Holmes, Sr.As children, we are taught to live by an ever-expanding set of rules. The rules keep us safe. They limit our downside during a fragile period of our lives. They also limit our upside, as they create artificial constraints on our movement and collisions as we travel through the universe.Rules are good—but just like the old man in the quote above, you have to know when to bend and break them.15 Life Rules Worth BreakingI’d like to open with one of my favorite quotes of all time:“The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.” - Oliver Wendall Holmes, Sr.Read that again.So much wisdom contained in such a short, concise statement.As children, we are taught to live by an ever-expanding set of rules. This is (mostly) good—it gives us a concrete, stable way to view the increasingly complex, dynamic world that we have entered.The rules keep us safe. They limit our downside during a fragile period of our lives.The problem? They also limit our upside, as they create artificial constraints on our movement and collisions as we travel through the universe. They force us to walk down a narrow path with bumpers on both sides—they eliminate the flashes of serendipity, the asymmetries that define the lives of the greatest among us.Rules may limit your risk, but they also limit your reward.Rules are good—but if you’re looking to play asymmetric games—those with low downside and uncapped upside—you have to know when to bend and break them.Here are 15 life rules worth breaking:Wait for the Perfect MomentThis rule has paralyzed would-be action-takers for generations.The reality: there is no such thing as the perfect moment.Sometimes you just have to open the door, jump out of the plane, and hope you packed the parachute tight.You Have to Work Hard to SucceedHard work is important—but it's relative, not absolute.In the Digital Age—when creative and inspired work stands out and is rewarded—what you work on is more important than how hard you work.Play your game, not theirs. You’ll play it better.Become an Expert, Not a GeneralistSociety celebrates experts in any given field.But as David Epstein finds in Range, many experts succeed because of the range of pursuits that preceded their main endeavor.Become a polymath. Generalize first, specialize later.Let Things Play OutThis isn't a movie that you're watching on your TV.You are not a passive observer of your own life. There are times to sit back, and there are times to push.Learn to identify the difference and never be afraid to provide a little push.Don't Ask Too Many QuestionsChildren are born with an insatiable curiosity, but somewhere along the line, we are told to stop asking questions.The most successful people in the world never listened—they broke this rule.Ask questions. Be curious. Be interested.If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix ItComplacency will always lead you down a bad path.Just because something isn't broken, doesn't mean it can't be improved.Continuous improvement is the way. Focus on small, incremental improvements—day in, day out.Get a Stable JobThis might have been a good rule in the Industrial Age, but its foundation is crumbling in the Digital Age.The way we work is fundamentally changing—opportunities for creative, unstructured career paths are endless.Find your Zone of Genius and operate in it.Stay in Your LaneA rule of the fixed, stagnant, and hierarchical—often used to keep employees in line.It's great to double down on your strengths, but never let external pressures prevent you from expanding your domains.Growth mindsets rule the world.Think Through Every Big DecisionWe are told to methodically consider the pros and cons of every big decision in our lives.As a result, many of us have decision paralysis.With big decisions, you're actually better off making them fast—let your gut and instincts guide you.Don't Talk to StrangersA classic we are told as children—the residue of which carries into adulthood for far too many.When we open up to those around us, we stimulate, learn, and grow."There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met." — William Butler YeatsGet a Four-Year DegreeFor decades we told children they had to attend a traditional four-year college, or else they were a failure.That is a lie—and we loaded a generation with student debt because of it.Four-year degrees make sense for many, but not for all.Follow YOUR path.Save Now to Enjoy LaterAll mainstream financial advice tells you one thing: save now to enjoy later.I agree, with a caveat...You have to enjoy the prime of your life! Now and then, it's ok to save a bit less to go to that concert with your friends.Find your balance.Have a Plan & Stick to ItIt's important to have a plan.But as Mike Tyson famously said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."Plans have to be dynamic—and punch-proof! You'll only go as far as your ability to absorb and pivot on the fly.Don't Be Self-PromotionalIt's easy to condemn self-promotion when you're at the top.But when you're first starting out, you may be the only one in a position to promote.When you put in the work, energy and love, share it with the world! Genuine pride is infectious.Be RealisticIt's not up to anyone else to decide what is possible for you or your life.Are there constraints outside of your control? Sure. Is that a reason to settle? Hell no.As Will Smith says in Pursuit of Happyness: "If you want something, go get it. Period."There you have it: 15 life rules worth breaking.I’d love to hear from you. What common rules am I missing? Comment below!If you enjoyed this, consider sharing it with your network so I can continue to grow this amazing curiosity tribe. Thank you for joining me on the journey!Until next time, as always, stay curious, friends!Where It Happens PodcastPersonality-Market Fit with Nuseir YassinWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.By the way, we just hit top-5 on the technology podcast charts, which is insane. I’m so grateful for the support and cannot thank you all enough. Keep sharing and reviewing to help us crack the top-3!Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by Tegus. Tegus is the fastest way for investors and M&A teams to learn everything they want to know about a company, all from an on-demand digital platform. Tegus is the most extensive source of instantly-available 1:1 conversations between investors and experts, covering companies from the seed stage to the public markets. Just log in for instant access to 25,000+ transcripts. They are offering you a free 2-week trial at tegus.co/room.This episode is also brought to you by OpenPhone. OpenPhone is an all-in-one business phone system that can help your startup look more credible—and it works right from your existing smartphone or computer. Each phone number comes with its own inbox for managing calls, texts, and voicemails together—making it easy to keep track of every conversation. Sign up and start using your new business number in minutes. Visit OpenPhone.co/room to save 20% on your first six months.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMaven - Growth Marketer, GM of Partnerships & Ops, Course Strategy & Ops, Course Content Development LeadSkio - Account ExecutiveMaxwell Social - Founding CTOSparkAI - Full Stack EngineerFirst Mark Capital - RecruiterSubstack - Android EngineerPractice - Onboarding SpecialistSuperjoi - Full Stack Engineer, Community & GrowthSeven Seven Six - Finance & Compliance ManagerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
2/23/20228 minutes, 23 seconds
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The Most Valuable Razors

Welcome to the 542 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 70,546 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Rows!After spending 7+ years in traditional finance, I had Chronic Excel Fatigue–the result of countless hours spent wrestling with the dated, legacy technology that hasn’t been updated since 2006!Fortunately, I discovered Rows—spreadsheets, reimagined. Rows is a truly magical product experience. It allows you to seamlessly pull data on stocks, crypto and more, and instantly integrate with services like Stripe, Google Analytics, Twitter, Salesforce, Instagram, Facebook and public databases like Crunchbase and LinkedIn.Rows is one of the most insane new product experiences I have had in recent memory. I use Rows for everything from managing my Startup Portfolio, social analytics, fund investing, and LPs to tracking household budgets and personal finance. I may never open Excel again.For your next spreadsheet, give Rows a try. You won’t be disappointed. Join thousands of teams that have stepped up their spreadsheet game with Rows.Today at a Glance:Razors are rules of thumb that help simplify decisions and drive better outcomes.When used appropriately, they can meaningfully improve the quality of your decision-making (and reduce stress along the way).The article below provides 20+ valuable razors, when to use them, and a few additional notes from the author.The Most Valuable RazorsThe Feynman RazorNamed after famed American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman—the Feynman Razor is a simple recognition that complexity and jargon are often used to mask a lack of deep understanding.If you can’t explain it to a 5-year-old, you don’t really understand it.If someone uses a lot of complexity and jargon to explain something to you, they probably don’t understand it.Use It When: You’re faced with a hand-waving, jargon-heavy explanation to a simple question.The Smart Friends RazorIf your smartest friends are all interested in something, it’s worth paying attention to.If that something seems crazy, it's worth paying a lot of attention to.The passions of the smartest people in your circles are a looking glass into the future.Use It When: Your smart friends have mentioned something that sounds crazy 3+ times.Sahil Note: I’ve ignored this signal on two occasions: Bitcoin (2013) and NFTs (BAYC). Both cost me a lot of money. I’ll never make that mistake again, and I suggest you don’t either.The Rooms RazorIf you have a choice between entering two rooms, choose the room where you are more likely to be the dumbest one in the room.Once you are in the room, talk less and listen more.Bad for your ego, great for your growth.Use It When: Deciding what to do on your next free night out.The Man in the Arena RazorIt's easy to throw rocks from the sidelines—it's hard to step into the arena.It's lonely and vulnerable, but it's where growth happens.When faced with two paths, choose the path that puts you in the arena—choose the path with real skin in the game.Use It When: Choosing how to approach a new and scary endeavor.Sahil Note: This is often a very challenging one, but it’s the one I feel most strongly about. It’s so much more comfortable to stay on the sidelines—it’s easy to convince yourself that it’s the safe or appropriate path. Ultimately, it’s very hard to create asymmetric outcomes on the sidelines. You have to be in the arena if you want to reap the outsized rewards.The Serendipity RazorSome of what we call luck is actually the macro result of 1,000s of micro actions.Your daily habits put you in a position where luck is more likely to strike.When choosing between two paths, choose the path that has a larger serendipity surface area.Use It When: Choosing what to do on a free night (when you have some energy).Sahil Note: The topic of “serendipity surface area” is one I plan to write about in greater depth in the future. It’s hard to get lucky watching TV at home. It’s (relatively) easy to get lucky when you’re engaging with people, interacting, and learning—physically or digitally. It’s possible to put yourself in a position to get lucky.The Uphill Decision RazorWhen faced with two options, choose the one that’s more difficult in the short-term.Naval calls this making "uphill decisions”—overriding your biological pain avoidance instinct.It's worth it—short-term pain creates compounding long-term gain.Use It When: Deciding between two near-term development pathways.The Rare Opportunity RazorThere is a rare class of opportunities that the average person will get 0 to 1 chances at in their lifetime.They look scary, but have insanely asymmetric return profiles.If you are fortunate to be faced with one of these opportunities, jump at it.Use It When: Making a decision on that one big opportunity.The Buffett Reputation Razor“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.” - Warren BuffettYour reputation is built over decades, but it's made of glass, not stone.Remember that—act accordingly.Use It When: You’re placed in that one tricky situation that puts your integrity on the line.The Narrative Fallacy RazorHumans are storytelling creatures—we weave together sequences of events to identify cause-and-effect when the reality is just luck.When reading stories of success, it's fair to assume they downplay the role of luck as a contributing factor.Use It When: You find yourself leveraging stories of the success of others to inform your own decision-making.Sahil Note: Survivorship Bias is rampant in the media. We only hear the stories of success, so we fail to recognize the true base rates. Be aware of the bias and make decisions accordingly.The Time Billionaire RazorTime is our most precious asset.When choosing between two paths, choose the path that places the highest appreciation on the value of your time.This is not about money—it's about leverage.The path where you spend more time in your Zone of Genius.Use It When: You find yourself making inefficient time for money trades.The Opinion Razor"I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do." - Charlie MungerOpinions are earned, not owed.If you can't state state the opposition's argument clearly, you haven't earned an opinion.Use It When: You are inclined to enter into an argument over something you don’t really understand.Sahil Note: The most common pushback I get with this one is that Charlie Munger clearly doesn’t follow his own rule when it comes to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general. I don’t think it minimizes the importance of the sentiment. In general, “Do as I say, not as I do” applies to most famous quotes…The Worrying RazorIf someone says "don't worry about it”—you should probably worry about it.If you ask a question and the response involves an elevated voice, hand-waving, or scoffing—you should probably dig deeper on it."The lady doth protest too much, methinks."Use It When: You ask about a specific area of concern and are waved off.The Boasters RazorTruly successful people rarely feel the need to boast about their success.If someone regularly boasts about their income, wealth, or success, it’s fair to assume the reality is a small fraction of what they claim.Conversely, if someone regularly downplays their income, wealth, or success, it’s fair to assume the reality is a multiple of what they claim.Use It When: Someone brags about their recent bonus, investment success, or wealth.Newton’s Flaming Laser SwordIf something cannot be settled by experiment or observation, it is not worth debating.This will save you from wasting a lot of time on pointless arguments—on the internet and in real life.Use It When: You are faced with your next pointless internet argument.Hitchens’ RazorWhat can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.The burden of proof regarding a claim lies with the one who makes the claim.If unmet, no argument is required to dismiss it.Use It When: Faced with your next pointless internet argument.The Grit RazorIf forced to choose between two people of equal merit, choose the one that has been punched in the face.The one who has been punched—metaphorically or literally—is likely to have true grit.This applies to investing (founders), hiring (candidates), and more.Use It When: Making your next startup investment or key startup hire.Sahil Note: More jobs should ask about your greatest failure in their hiring. You learn far more about someone from how they handled taking their biggest punch than any credential, award, or honor they have received. Give me someone who got knocked out and got back up—my money is on them.The Taleb "Look the Part" RazorIf forced to choose between two options of seemingly equal merit, choose the one that doesn’t look the part.The one who doesn’t look the part has had to overcome much more to achieve its status than the one who fit in perfectly.Use It When: Making a decision about who to work with (or which surgeon to choose).Hanlon’s RazorNever attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.In assessing someone's actions, we should not assume negative intent if there is a viable alternative explanation—different beliefs, lack of intelligence, incompetence, or ignorance.Use It When: Deciding how to react to an incidence of potential malice at work or online.The Optimist RazorWhen choosing who to spend time with, prioritize spending more time with optimists.Pessimists see the doors that are closed. Optimists see the doors that are open—and probably kick down the closed doors.Remember: Pessimists sound smart, optimists get rich.Use It When: Deciding what friends you want to keep and build with for the future.Sahil Note: This has been a game changer for me personally. In addition to creating more asymmetric upside opportunities, spending more time around optimists makes life so much more enjoyable.The Kat Cole Pygmalion RazorThe Pygmalion Effect says that high expectations lead to high performance (and vice versa).When working with new people and teams, choose to see each individual as their highest potential self—they will begin to achieve more.Use It When: Training up your next new employee or team member.Sahil Note: Kat Cole is a special human. I had the privilege of spending time with her on a recent episode of Where It Happens that is well worth the listen.The "What Stays the Same" RazorIt's difficult to predict the future.Jeff Bezos famously said that investing in what might change is risky, but investing in what will remain constant is safe.When building for the future, focus on the constants—focus on what stays the same.Use It When: Creating the core tenets of your startup or business.The Paul Graham Crazy Idea RazorIf someone proposes a seemingly crazy idea, ask yourself:Are they a domain expert?Do I know them to be a reasonable individual?If you answer yes on both (1) and (2), you should take the idea seriously, as it may be an asymmetric bet on the future.Use It When: Someone proposes something crazy that you are inclined to immediately brush off.Sahil Note: This one is critical, as it maps to so many big technological innovations of the last 10-20 years. It pairs well with the Smart Friends Razor.There you have it: 20+ valuable razors to help you simplify decisions and drive better outcomes.I will continue to compile and synthesize new razors I come across over the year ahead—I may make this a regular quarterly post to have you all learn alongside me!If you enjoyed this, consider sharing it with your network so I can continue to grow this amazing curiosity tribe. Thank you for joining me on the journey!Where It Happens PodcastWill Meta Bounce Back? (with Nikita Bier)Watch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by Beam. We can’t get enough of their Dream Powder. We both personally take this before bed a few times a week and wake up refreshed in the morning. Their nano-CBD helps improve your body’s ability to absorb CBD, making their product the perfect supplement before you go to bed. And now Beam is offering $20 off any order of $75 or more with the code ROOM at beamorganics.com/room.This episode is also brought to you by OpenPhone. OpenPhone is an all-in-one business phone system that can help your startup look more credible—and it works right from your existing smartphone or computer. Each phone number comes with its own inbox for managing calls, texts, and voicemails together—making it easy to keep track of every conversation. Sign up and start using your new business number in minutes. Visit OpenPhone.co/room to save 20% on your first six months.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesSkio - Account ExecutiveMaxwell Social - Founding CTOSparkAI - Full Stack EngineerFirst Mark Capital - RecruiterSubstack - Android EngineerPractice - Onboarding SpecialistSuperjoi - Full Stack Engineer, Community & GrowthSeven Seven Six - Finance & Compliance ManagerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
2/16/202215 minutes, 9 seconds
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How to Retain What You Learn

Welcome to the 1,116 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 68,953 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Trends!Trends is my personal cheat code for generating new business and content ideas.It’s a premium newsletter from The Hustle that deconstructs the secret sauce of interesting businesses, side hustles, and emerging opportunities—and gives you the playbook to pounce on them. Even better, membership provides instant access to an exclusive community of 15,000+ entrepreneurs who are building the future.I learn something new from every single issue—it has become a core part of my content and learning engine. A true must-read. I can’t recommend it highly enough.Use the link below to join—no commitment, no catch, cancel anytime!Today at a Glance:Learning is a meta-skill—arguably the most important meta-skill.School taught us many things, but unfortunately, how to learn was not one of them.The retention framework I use involves five steps: (1) Inspired Consumption; (2) Unstructured Note-Taking; (3) Consolidation; (4) Analogize; and (5) Idea Exercise. The structure is sequential, but its practice is often dynamic & iterative.Spaced Repetition is the most formal—and powerful—idea exercise method. It’s a method in which information is consumed at increasing intervals until it's committed to long-term memory. It leverages cognitive science—the way our brains work to convert short-term to long-term memory—to help you retain newly-consumed information.How to Retain What You LearnLearning is a meta-skill—arguably the most important meta-skill.School taught us many things, but unfortunately, how to learn was not one of them.Learning is how we adapt to our changing environments, circumstances, and situations. Learning allows us to create new “maps”—and edit old ones—in order to navigate the dynamic, highly-complex world with confidence.Growth is fundamentally driven by the long-term accumulation and compounding of usable learning. We accumulate and compound this learning through consumption and retention. Consumption is the inputs—what comes in. Retention is what remains after any leakage.Imagine your brain like a bathtub.The faucet is the entrance, the drain is the exit. Everything you research and consume flows in through the faucet. Everything you forget flows out through the drain.I’ve written a lot about the faucet in the past—here and here most recently—but I’ve never talked about the drain.Let’s fix that today—let’s talk about learning retention.Learning from The MatrixI love The Matrix. It’s not just sci-fi, there is a lot we can draw from it about learning and retention.Bear with me…In one of the early scenes of the first film, Keanu Reeves’ character—Neo—is plugged into the system and has a program uploaded into his brain. He has a moment of shocked revelation where he looks up and says, “I know kung fu.” He proceeds to demonstrate his new mastery in a virtual sparring room. Most importantly, Neo never forgets this new skill.To be sure, this isn’t that crazy an idea. Our brains are just software. When we learn, we are updating that software. But in the real world, though, our software is flawed and buggy—we forget important things or overwrite old data all the time.Our best bet? Develop a strategy for retention that is grounded in science. An approach to retention that is as integrated and comprehensive as our approach to learning. We may not become Neo, but we can become more Neo-like.The Retention FrameworkHere's a tactical framework for improving your retention…The retention framework I use involves five steps:Inspired ConsumptionUnstructured Note-TakingConsolidationAnalogizeIdea ExerciseThe structure is sequential, but its practice is often dynamic & iterative.Let's walk through each of the steps...Step 1: Inspired ConsumptionRetention starts with consumption.I bucket consumption into two types:Forced: Compelled, either internally or externally. Inspired: Driven entirely by your internal inspirations.If you've ever been in school, you know what forced consumption looks like. Forced consumption is the book you're told to read, despite the topic being of zero interest to you. It's the foundation of much of the traditional education system—yet another reason why so many of us are bad at learning retention!Inspired consumption is when you feel genuinely pulled to consume—when you enjoy the consumption process.It requires the willingness to put ego aside and "quit” more books (or content) when that genuine inspiration fades.Inspired consumption is important for retention for two key reasons.Inspiration is a precursor to flow. More flow state, more retention.Inspiration fuels engagement. Engage with the content, retain the content.Inspired consumption is the foundation of retention.Step 2: Unstructured Note-TakingWhen you start consuming, you should have a note-taking system in front of you.Sahil Note: I use Notion for my note taking, but there are probably 10 other options out there (and I’m currently evaluating Obsidian as another option for more networked notes). The old fashioned way—pen and paper—works too, with the caveat that searchable notes are ideal in my opinion.On the first pass through the material, keep your notes as unstructured and free-flowing as possible.What to take note of:Foundation-building ideasNovel insightsThings that made you go “hmmm” or “wow!”Connections you identified to other topicsQuestions or confusionStrong reactions you had to new informationRemember: This first pass of notes is intended to be unstructured. The simple act of writing helps ideas stick.Step 3: ConsolidationZoom out and review your unstructured notes.What are the most interesting, novel insights or ideas? What are the most confusing?Consolidation is where you re-consume content with a specific focus on building structure around your notes in these particular areas.If unstructured note-taking created a bunch of dots, consolidation is where you start connecting them.It doesn't have to be perfect, but you should start to form a more refined picture as you re-consume the content for this purpose.Consolidation is when knowledge begins to stick.Step 4: AnalogizeAnalogizing is the most effective—and least well-known—retention tool.This is where you take your newly-learned information and place it within your broader mental maps. You make clear comparisons and connections between newly-learned and existing information.Here's a real example from my writing to illustrate how this works:I did a bunch of research on Morris Chang and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company for a piece. During my consolidation, it struck me that TSMC's novel pure-play chip manufacturer model had enabled independent chip designers to start their own companies.As I started the process of analogizing, I searched for a connection point—something to tie this newly-learned information to some existing information in my brain.Then, it hit me: this looked very similar to what Shopify had done in creating infrastructure that enabled independent players to sell online.I had created context for the new learning within my broader mental map—it would stick.Sahil Note: Incidentally, this came full circle ~1 year later, when I interviewed Harley Finklestein—the President of Shopify—for an upcoming episode of Where It Happens. I was able to talk about this connection with him and get his perspectives on the analogy. Damn, I love my job…Step 5: Idea ExerciseThink of the new idea as a muscle—if left on its own, it will atrophy. You have to exercise it—early and often.How?Here are a few ideas:Bring it up in conversationsTalk about it with a friendTry to teach it to someoneSpaced RepetitionIf you exercise the idea, it will stick and grow.Spaced Repetition is the most formal—and powerful—idea exercise method, so let’s do a deeper dive into it.Spaced Repetition - The History & ScienceSpaced Repetition is a scientifically-proven method for enhanced retention. It’s a method in which information is consumed at increasing intervals until it's committed to long-term memory. It leverages cognitive science—the way our brains work to convert short-term to long-term memory—to help you retain newly-consumed information.The science behind it is fascinating. Hermann Ebbinghaus—a German psychologist—was the first to identify its effect on retention. In 1885, he published Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology, which became a groundbreaking work for the field.In this work, Ebbinghaus discussed his most famous finding: the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve (“EFC” for short).The EFC maps the exponential loss of newly-learned information—it's sharp in the first 20 minutes, significant through an hour, and then levels off after a day.Ebbinghaus observed that each time the newly-learned information was reviewed, the EFC was essentially "reset" at the starting point, but with a slower decay curve.This is important!Spaced Repetitions had the effect of flattening the memory retention decay curve.Understanding the science is helpful, but you need to put Spaced Repetition into action to adapt its use case for your purposes.Spaced Repetition - Putting It Into ActionHere's how it works:Let's say you're trying to learn some facts about Apple—its history, business segments, financial performance, etc.If this was for a college exam, you'd probably do this the "old fashioned way”—down some espresso, cram it into your mind, and hope you remember it for the test the next day. But you're not in college anymore—you want this learning for life, not for some one-off exam. You want this to stick.So instead of the old way, you go with the new way—Spaced Repetition.You first consume the new information at 8am. Then you start “repetitions” where you recite back learnings and fill gaps:Repetition 1: 9am (1 hr later)Repetition 2: 12pm (3 hrs later)Repetition 3: 6pm (6 hrs later)Repetition 4: 6am (12 hrs later)and so on at increasing intervals...Why does this work?In simple terms, you can think of your brain as a muscle—each repetition is a "flex" of that muscle. By steadily increasing the intervals, you are pushing the muscle with steadily more challenging loads. You're forcing the retention muscle to grow.As for where this fits into the process, I plug it directly into my retention framework as part of "idea exercise”—I think this is where it fits in most effectively.ConclusionIt’s not enough to simply learn more—you have to retain more of what you learn.So to recap, my framework for better retention:Inspired Consumption: Inspired consumption is when you feel genuinely pulled to consume—when you enjoy the consumption process. Put ego aside and "quit” more books (or content) when that genuine inspiration fades. Unstructured Note-Taking: Take unstructured notes of novel insights, key ideas, or things that caused a reaction.Consolidation: Zoom out and consolidate your unstructured notes across key themes, insights, or ideas.Analogize: Take your newly-learned information and place it within your broader mental maps. Make clear comparisons and connections between newly-learned and existing information.Idea Exercise: Use Spaced Repetition and other methods to exercise your new learnings and prevent atrophy.Give this framework a shot and let me know how it works for you!Where It Happens PodcastHow to Build Hype with Matteo FranceschettiWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.If you’re a founder, Mercury is the banking product you need. It is THE bank for startups. I was a raving fan of Mercury as a customer…then I pounded on their door until they let me invest. It’s the banking product you’ve always wished you had.AppSumo is the leading digital marketplace for entrepreneurs, and the best way to get your product in front of 1M+ entrepreneurs, founders, and small businesses.​ This Black Friday AppSumo is bringing you 20 new deals on digital products at discounts of up to 90% off. This is their biggest sale of the year and they sell out quickly! All you have to do is click here before November 21st, enter your email address, and they’ll send you the exclusive deals.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMaxwell Social - Founding CTOFirst Mark Capital - RecruiterSubstack - Android EngineerPractice - Onboarding SpecialistSuperjoi - Full Stack Engineer, Community & GrowthSeven Seven Six - Finance & Compliance ManagerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
2/9/202213 minutes, 8 seconds
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Diamonds Aren't Forever: The Story of De Beers

Welcome to the 1,151 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 67,557 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Babbel!One of my goals for 2022 is to learn a new language. Studies show that learning a language increases the volume and density of gray matter, the volume of white matter, and brain connectivity.Babbel is the tool I’m using to achieve this goal—it’s one of the world’s top language learning platforms and prepares you for situations you’ll actually encounter in real life. I’ve been blown away by the experience thus far—lessons are just 10 minutes and you can start having basic conversations in the new language in just 3 weeks. Plus, you get access to podcasts, games, videos and more. It’s a great household activity to enjoy with your partner and your kids!For a limited time, you can join me on this journey and get up to 60% off your subscription by using the link below. Take advantage of this amazing offer and get your language learning on today!Today at a Glance:De Beers created the modern diamond industry through the use of market manipulation, psychological hacks, and clever marketing.At its height, De Beers had direct or indirect control of the majority of the global diamond supply chain, allowing it to wield its influence to manage prices.“A Diamond is Forever” was the genius marketing campaign that created the diamond industry as we know it—convincing generations of men and women (1) that diamonds are a show of love—and that the size and quality of the diamond is proportional to the size and quality of the love and (2) that courtship and engagement involve a diamond.Broad-based pushback against the industry and its roots has led to the rise of alternatives—like lab-grown diamonds—but diamonds remain the standard show of love in most Western cultures.Diamonds Aren’t ForeverThe mandate of this newsletter is simple: I explore my curiosity and share what I learn along the way. To be clear, this is an intentionally-broad mandate—I don’t believe that curiosity follows any fixed lesson plan.The topics I will continue to cover include:Growth and decision-makingStartups, investing, business, and financeWriting and storytellingMarketingLifeThe one constant across all of this: I can guarantee you will learn something new and interesting from each and every piece I share. One new idea or insight that will make you smarter or spark your curiosity to go deeper.This is a learning-rich journey and I am fortunate to have almost 70,000 of you along for the ride. We’re just getting started.This felt like a fitting preface to today’s piece. Why? Well, every now and then, a story comes along that grabs my attention and simply won’t let go until I write about it.The story of De Beers and the making of the modern diamond industry is one of those stories. It stands out because it’s not a clear fit for any one of those buckets above—rather, it’s a fit for all of them!So sit back, grab a coffee (or whiskey), and let’s go down this rabbit hole together…The BeginningsThe story of De Beers starts well before the international giant existed.It may be difficult to believe in the current context, but for most of history, diamonds were not a particularly important gem. Largely found in parts of India and Brazil, they were considered rare and beautiful, but had little intrinsic value due to their lack of industrial or monetary use cases. Diamonds were a vanity item of the ultra-ultra-rich—a very niche market.But in 1870, everything began to change.Massive diamond stores were discovered in South Africa near the Orange River, setting off the first diamond rush. South Africa was officially a British colony at the time, which meant that British investors immediately flocked to the region and commissioned labor—both forced and paid—to begin building the diamond mines.It quickly became clear that the new South African mines would be producing never-before-seen quantities of diamonds.The British investors grew worried. In a free market, the glut of supply—and associated dent in the perception of scarcity—would send the price of diamonds into free fall. Given diamonds did not have any major industrial use cases to buoy demand, the perception of scarcity was critical to their price and desirability.So in 1888, one British financier and mining operator proposed a plan…The Making of De BeersCecil Rhodes was born in England in 1853, but after a sickly adolescence marked by severe asthma, his father sent him to South Africa, a climate he believed would be better for his health.Rhodes entered the diamond industry at age 18 in 1871 and began to systematically acquire and consolidate mining operations in South Africa. By 1888, he had built one of the most powerful mining operations in the region.But the diamond industry was in turmoil, with wild price fluctuations and uneven demand. Sensing an opportunity, Cecil Rhodes and his business partners led a push to merge and consolidate the various South African mining companies.His pitch: continued competition meant death; consolidation meant survival.The new company—or cartel, as it were—was named De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. Its explicit goal: to manage diamond production and continue to perpetuate the perception of scarcity and desirability that was so important to the price of the stones.De Beers was officially born.“A Diamond is Forever”Econ 101 Lesson of the Day: There are two sides to every market—supply and demand. The story of De Beers is unique in its practical application of the manipulation of both…Supply-Side ManipulationIn the 20th century, De Beers methodically expanded its influence over the entire diamond supply chain.In addition to having direct control over diamond mining and production, it began to accumulate direct or indirect control of the major diamond trading companies across England, Switzerland, Israel, Belgium, Holland, and Portugal.It was widely known and understood that De Beers controlled the diamond industry. With control over production and distribution, De Beers was able to control the stock and flow of diamonds in the market, effectively creating direct control over prices. While other commodities saw wild price swings, diamonds exhibited no such volatility, creeping steadily upwards over time.But many cartels throughout history have managed to manipulate supply—demand is much more elusive beast. De Beers had work to do...Demand-Side ManipulationThis is where the story gets crazy.While the supply-side manipulation had worked wonders, diamonds were simply not a mainstay of the cultural zeitgeist. Some men gifted diamond engagement rings, but it was far from standard practice. Diamonds had remained a somewhat niche purchase of the ultra-rich. De Beers executives believed the price of the gem was depressed due to lack of demand.So in 1938—at the start of the U.S. recovery from the Great Depression—De Beers commissioned N.W. Ayer, an advertising agency, to work on a diamond campaign.Ayer set to work on two fronts:Convince men that diamonds were a show of love—and that the size and quality of the diamond was proportional to the size and quality of the love.Convince women that courtship and engagement involved a diamond.A few of their inception-like tactics included:Giving famous movie stars diamonds to wear in public. The original influencer marketing!Seeding celebrity gossip publications with stories of the importance of diamonds to these movie stars.Paying famous designers to talk about the “trend towards diamonds” on various broadcasts.Commissioning a national lecture series at high schools on the topic of diamonds and their importance to engagements.This was all focused on building a groundswell of demand. It was working, but the progress was slow. De Beers executives wanted something big and splashy—something to really move the needle. That something arrived in the late 1940s, when De Beers and Ayer crafted a slogan that would change the diamond world...forever."A Diamond Is Forever"The slogan was—quite literally—perfect.It elicits a feeling of eternal love, which is surely a romantic notion that any soon-to-be engaged person wants to create.Perhaps even more importantly, it also limits the inclination to resell a diamond. If it is, in fact, forever, you should never resell it! Resales wreak havoc on pricing—and limit the impact of the De Beers supply controls—so by naturally limiting them, De Beers was creating another mechanism for keeping prices steady.In a famous piece in The Atlantic, Ed Epstein commented on the slogan’s brilliance:Even though diamonds can in fact be shattered, chipped, discolored, or incinerated to ash, the concept of eternity perfectly captured the magical qualities that the advertising agency wanted to attribute to diamonds.Alongside the new flagship marketing campaign, De Beers quietly convinced men that the size and quality of the diamond was important.The "two month salary rule”—that a man should spend two month's salary on a ring—was born (and then steadily inflated to three months over time).So to any guys out there who are wondering where that crazy rule came from, now you know—it was just a clever marketing trick to get people to spend more.The campaign was a smashing success.Over the 40 years from 1939 to 1979, De Beers U.S. wholesale diamond sales skyrocketed from $23 million to $2.1 billion—a ~100x increase in annual sales.De Beers had successfully manipulated demand on a grand scale and had the numbers to prove it.They even replicated their tremendous U.S. success in Japan—a market that was notoriously hard to penetrate due to the high percentage of arranged marriages.De Beers launched a campaign that positioned diamond engagement rings as tokens of modern Western values. In 1967, when the campaign began, just 5% of Japanese engagements involved a diamond engagement ring. By 1981, that figure was 60%.They may not have been in 1938, but today, diamonds are a core part of the cultural zeitgeist. The De Beers marketing machine goes down as one of the most diabolically-successful in history.ConclusionThe De Beers story is a fascinating modern case study on the potential impact of marketing on individuals and society. Humans are storytelling creatures—we are naturally drawn to great stories and great storytellers.This is both a feature and a bug…Today, De Beers is much less powerful than at its height in the mid-20th century, but its legacy and impact on the diamond industry remains extensive.Broad-based cultural pushback against the dark side of the diamond industry—its roots in colonialization and the violence that continues to exist in its unregulated corners—has led to the rise of alternatives. Perhaps diamonds aren't forever after all?To be sure, diamond engagement rings are still the standard in most Western cultures, but the ground may be shifting.And rest assured, De Beers isn’t going down without a fight. Need proof? Check out source on this chart shared in Bloomberg Opinion a few weeks ago.Article Sources: The Atlantic, Business InsiderEnjoy this post? Share it to help me grow the tribe!Where It Happens PodcastThe Wolf of All Streets, Scott MelkerWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsor for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.This episode is brought to you by Beam. I can’t get enough of their Dream Powder. I take this before bed a few times a week and wake up ready to win the day. Their nano-CBD helps improve your body’s ability to absorb CBD, making their product the perfect supplement before you go to bed. And now Beam is offering $20 off any order of $75 or more with the code ROOM at beamorganics.com/room.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesPractice - Onboarding SpecialistSuperjoi - Full Stack Engineer, Community & GrowthSeven Seven Six - Finance & Compliance ManagerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
2/2/202212 minutes
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First Principles Thinking

Welcome to the 600 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 66,096 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Revelo!If you’re a growing technology company, chances are you’re struggling to find talented developers right now.Revelo helps companies like GitHub, Intuit, and Carta hire faster, so they can grow faster! It’s a talent platform that matches you with vetted remote developers in Latin America who work in US time zones. It offers a full-suite platform that covers payroll, benefits, compliance, and more, allowing you to hire full-time remote developers without the headaches.Get matched with vetted candidates within 3 days—guaranteed. They even offer a 100% risk-free 14-day trial. If you’re not satisfied, you pay nothing.SPECIAL OFFER: Revelo is offering Curiosity Chronicle subscribers 20% off the first 3 months of any hire! Use the link below to take advantage of this crazy deal!Today at a Glance:First principles thinking is the most powerful framework for deconstructing complex problems, generating creative solutions, and driving non-linear outcomes.A first principle is a basic, foundational assumption—one that cannot be deduced or broken down any further. In simple terms, think of first principles as foundational truths that do not require any additional assumptions.As a simple rule of thumb: when speed and efficiency are critical, use reasoning by analogy; when creativity and innovation are required, use first principles thinking.To leverage first principles thinking, use Socratic Questioning to drill down to the foundational truths of a problem. Once you uncover them, you can begin to slowly build up to a more creative, imaginative solution.First Principles ThinkingThe most successful entrepreneurs, investors, and scientists in the world often reference first principles thinking as having been critical to their success.Run a simple Google search of the term and you’ll find countless articles, videos, and quotes from an array of billionaires and Nobel Prize winners who all point to the importance of first principles thinking.Accordingly, first principles thinking has become something of a buzz-phrase—often talked about, yet rarely understood (let alone employed effectively).In this post, I’d like to provide a simple, intuitive breakdown of first principles thinking: what it is, how it works, when to use it, and how to leverage it in your problem solving journey.Introduction to First PrinciplesFirst principles thinking is the most powerful framework for deconstructing complex problems, generating creative solutions, and driving non-linear outcomes.Let’s start with the basics: what is a first principle?Aristotle—the Ancient Greek philosopher, polymath, and student of Plato—defined a first principle as "the first basis from which a thing is known."A first principle is a basic, foundational assumption—one that cannot be deduced or broken down any further. In simple terms, think of first principles as foundational truths that do not require any additional assumptions.They are the base layer—the atomic unit.First principles thinking—sometimes referred to as "reasoning from first principles”—is a problem-solving and innovation framework that requires you to deconstruct a complex problem down to these most foundational elements.The aim: to ground yourself in the foundational truths and build up from there.Elon Musk explained this in a 2013 interview:“First principles is kind of a physics way of looking at the world. You boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, ‘What are we sure is true?’ … and then reason up from there.”This method runs in contrast to our natural wiring.When we encounter challenging problems, our tendency is to rely on base level assumptions we have been told are true (or we believe to be true). Why? It’s quick and easy to do.This is called "reasoning by analogy”—it leads to solutions that are much like something else. Slight modifications or iterations on an existing solution. The unimaginative, linear solutions that closely resemble what has been done before.To be sure, it can be very useful when speed is the priority. Moving fast has its advantages at times—like if our ancestors were trying to avoid being eaten by a lion! But reasoning by analogy falls short when dealing with complex problems requiring creative, imaginative solutions.Imagine the solution to a problem as a house:The foundation of the house is the assumptions upon which the ultimate solution will rest.If it's a shoddy, quickly-built foundation, the house may collapse. Even if it remains standing, the architect and builder will know that they are limited in what they can build on top of it.If it's a sturdy, deliberately-built foundation, the house will thrive. The architect and builder can get creative with what they build on top of it, as they know the base is strong.First principles form that sturdy, deliberately-built foundation for the house.Elon Musk & SpaceXTo bring this to life, let's look at a classic example of first principles thinking in action: Elon Musk & SpaceX.First off, what was the problem?Sending a rocket to Mars to begin the process of making humans an interplanetary species. Yes, I think that meets the bar of being complex…As he began digging in to develop a solution, Elon Musk quickly discovered the cost of buying a rocket was astronomical (bad pun intended)—$65 million. It was not only financially untenable—SpaceX was a startup at the time—it was also grounded in assumptions of how rockets have always been built and what they should cost.Taking stock on the situation:Complex Problem ✅Creativity > Speed ✅So he turned to first principles thinking:“Physics teaches you to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. So I said, okay, let’s look at the first principles. What is a rocket made of? Aerospace-grade aluminum alloys, plus some titanium, copper, and carbon fiber. Then I asked, what is the value of those materials on the commodity market? It turned out that the materials cost of a rocket was around two percent of the typical price.”Based on this upfront analysis, SpaceX began building its own rockets and software systems that would dramatically alter the future of the space economy.Rather than accepting the established "truths" about the cost of a rocket, Musk grounded his problem solving in first principles.Today, SpaceX rockets are doing extraordinary things at a fraction of the historical cost. Furthermore, Elon Musk and SpaceX shattered the deeply-engrained beliefs about the costs of doing business in space, which has unlocked hundreds of other entrepreneurs and companies to build new, innovative solutions for the future.The dreams of a Mars voyage in our lifetimes are alive and well…How to Use First Principles ThinkingOk, now that we have covered the theory, let’s get into the practice. How can YOU leverage first principles thinking to create better outcomes?First—and most importantly—determine if first principles thinking is necessary for your given problem, or if reasoning by analogy is a better fit.As a simple rule of thumb:For speed/efficiency—reasoning by analogyFor creativity/innovation—first principles thinkingAssuming first principles thinking is the appropriate path, start by asking questions to drill down to the core of the problem at hand. Shane Parrish calls this "Socratic Questioning”—think of it as a methodical process of resurfacing the insatiably curious child inside you.Here are a few key questions to get you started:What is the problem I am trying to solve? We often waste time and energy trying to solve the "wrong" problem. Identify the "right" problem.What do I know to be true about this problem? Write down everything you know about the problem (and its previously attempted solutions).Why do I believe these "truths" to be true? How do I know they are true? Identify the source of your beliefs on the problem. Be ruthless in evaluating their integrity and validity.How can I support these beliefs? Is there real evidence to support them? Seek out hard, tangible evidence that proves these beliefs to be true. If you cannot find it, or if the sources are of questionable integrity, you have learned something valuable about your beliefs.Are my emotions clouding my judgment and reasoning? When emotions drive our thoughts and decisions, we rarely see good outcomes. Remove emotions from the process.What alternative beliefs or viewpoints might exist? Acknowledging and understanding alternative viewpoints is a superpower. Seek them out. Embrace them. Evaluate them on their merits and ask these same fundamental questions about them.What are the consequences of being wrong in my original beliefs? Understanding the stakes is critical. Always understand the stakes.First principles thinking starts with questioning your beliefs. Asking these questions will help you drill down to the foundational truths of a problem. Once you uncover them, you can begin to slowly build up to a more creative, imaginative solution.ConclusionThe world is filled with unimaginative, copycat solutions. These solutions—slight improvements—predictably lead to linear outcomes.Leveraging first principles thinking is intense and time consuming—but it is also a clear, tried-and-true path to devising creative solutions to complex problems that drive non-linear, asymmetric outcomes.Tim Urban captured it well in a recent tweet:Feed a man a fish, feed him for a night.Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.Teach a man to reason from first principles, he can teach himself to fish. Then he can invent a better fishing rod and feed a billion people.First principles thinkers are independent thinkers. We can all strive to leverage this framework more effectively in our lives.The world will be the ultimate beneficiary…Where It Happens PodcastMemes Rule the World with Dogecoin Creator Billy MarkusWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.Why settle for the old model of investing when new options offer you so much transparency to help you grow your wealth? Commonstock is the home of smart money and an innovative social media approach to investing. We both love the platform and have used it to enhance our financial strategy.Commonstock is a social media platform like Reddit, but it removes anonymity and adds transparency. The app lets you see what smart money investors are buying and selling – in real-time – all while letting you see their reason why. This way, you know whether investors have skin in the game, or whether they only talk a big game. It’s a great way to get insights that support your investing strategy.To learn more and sign-up today go to commonstock.com.Today’s show is sponsored by Capchase. Capchase is a new financing option for fast-growing startups. They are offering Where It Happens listeners .25% off their first draw, preferred onboarding, and more. Their main product Capchase Grow lets you tap into your future revenue today, meaning you can reinvest in your business faster. We love what they are offering to business owners. To learn more go to capchase.com/room!Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesSeven Seven Six - Finance & Compliance ManagerElevate Labs - Head of Social MediaSuperjoi - Community & GrowthThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
1/26/202210 minutes, 27 seconds
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The Most Powerful Ideas

Welcome to the 1,441 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 64,851 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Athletic Greens!On last week’s episode of the Where It Happens podcast, we interviewed new Athletic Greens President & COO Kat Cole. Athletic Greens is the one product I use every single day. I have been taking their halo product—AG1—first thing when I wake up for the last 5+ years. It’s my personal nutritional insurance policy.Special Offer: Athletic Greens is offering a free 1-year supply of Vitamin D (for those dark winter months) and 5 travel packs with all new orders to Curiosity Chronicle subscribers. Use the link below to take advantage of this offer!Today at a Glance:In the normal course of my content consumption habits, I come across a steady stream of learnings, ideas, and connections, some of which have an asymmetrical impact on my life.In this post, I share a list of 20+ high-impact ideas on business, investing, growth, and life, all of which were learned or surfaced in the last year.I plan to begin sharing a regular quarterly post of new ideas to bring you along for this learning journey.The Most Powerful IdeasI am an avid content consumer.Content consumption is a core part of my “job”—a critical element of my personal flywheel. I have built a “content engine” (more on that in a future post!) that provides a steady stream of learnings, ideas, and connections, all of which amplify the quality of my investing, business building, and content creation pursuits.In this post, I’d like to share some of the most powerful ideas I have come across over the last year, with additional notes and insights where helpful.So let’s dive right in: 20+ high-impact ideas on business, investing, growth, and life…Time BillionaireTime is our most precious asset.When you're young, you are a "time billionaire”—rich with time. Too many people fail to realize the value of this asset until it is gone.Treat time as your ultimate currency—it’s all you have and you can never get it back.Sahil Note: When I first learned this concept—from a Tim Ferriss podcast with Graham Duncan—it hit me hard. I had spent most of my life prioritizing the value of money or power, when the reality is that time is our most valuable asset, and the only one that cannot be bought or sold. It forced me to think deeply about how I want to spend my time, who I want to spend it with, and why I want to pursue certain paths over others. I would encourage you to think deeply about the same…Darkest Hour FriendsIt's easy to be there for people to celebrate their wins. It takes character to show up for them in their darkest hour.People never forget those who supported them when the chips were down.I call these your “darkest hour friends”—find them, treasure them.Engineered SerendipitySome of what we call "luck" is actually the macro result of thousands of micro actions. Your daily habits can put you in a position where "luck" is more likely to strike.It's possible to increase your serendipity surface area and engineer your own luck.Sahil Note: Serendipity surface area is an interesting concept. When you’re on a “track” in your life or career, you are walking on such a narrow path that very little luck can hit you. The more you open yourself up to the world—to new experiences and people—the more you expand your serendipity surface area. There’s quite literally more area for luck to strike.Leverage"Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough and I shall move the world." - ArchimedesLeverage is anything that multiplies the force of your inputs.Building systems that provide leverage on your time, money, and energy will allow you to create a life you deserve.Sahil Note: Leverage can cut both ways. When used too aggressively, it can be a negative (just ask Archegos or the founders at Long-Term Capital Management). Beware of over-leveraging your life or pursuits!Free Time as a Call OptionYou've incorrectly been told that free time is bad—hustle culture lied to you.The reality: Free time is a call option on future interesting opportunities.When you have free time, you have the headspace and bandwidth to pursue high-upside ideas.Sahil Note: I have learned that the same idea applies to cash. I used to believe that I had to be fully invested, otherwise I was leaving return/yield on the table. But I later realized that cash is a call option on future interesting opportunities. Having some idle cash allows you to invest in that new idea, pursue a weekend project, etc. It’s worth it.Decentralized Friend GroupsThere are two types of friend groups:Centralized: one cluster of friends with shared backgrounds & beliefs.Decentralized: small, varied, unconnected clusters of friends.When in doubt, opt for decentralized friend groups. The variety of backgrounds and beliefs is the key to developing independent thought.Sahil Note: I picked this up from my friend George Mack, who I would consider part of one of my decentralized friend groups. The internet affords ample opportunity to build these groups. Join a few Discord servers, share ideas, build a micro-community. There has never been a better time in history to do it.Work Like a Lion9-5 work culture is a remnant of the Industrial Age—it emphasizes long periods of steady, monotonous work.Most people are not wired to work 9-5. Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. When you establish fixed hours to do your work, you find unproductive ways to fill it—you work longer, but get less done.In the Digital Age, those who do creative work will stand out and be rewarded. If your goal is to do this inspired, creative work, you have to work like a lion.Wait. SPRINT. Eat. Rest. Repeat.Q1 RelationshipsAll relationships exist on a 2x2 matrix of:How healthy it isHow enjoyable it isQ1 relationships are healthy & enjoyable. Focus on spending more energy on your Q1 relationships—cherish them.Scrub the Q4s from your life.Sahil Note: I learned this from my friend Tim Urban, who is one of the deepest thinkers I know. If you aren’t already following him, you should do that ASAP…The Persuasion ParadoxHave you noticed that the most argumentative people rarely persuade anyone of anything?The most persuasive people don’t argue—they observe, listen, and ask questions. Argue less, persuade more.Persuasion is an art that requires a paintbrush, not a sledgehammer.Inversion“All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there." - Charlie MungerThe best innovators think forward AND backward.When faced with a challenging problem, reframe it in inverse form—new perspective allows you to solve the problem more creatively.Sahil Note: Inversion is one of my favorite mental models. You can use it for generating new business ideas, solving complex problems, or managing and maintaining healthy personal and professional relationships. The use cases are literally endless.Green Lines vs. Black LinesConsider this image from Tim Urban:Black Lines = paths closedGreen Lines = paths openStop focusing on the black lines behind you. Start focusing on all of the green lines before you.It is a future with immense opportunity.Ben Franklin's "Junto"In 1727, Benjamin Franklin organized a weekly meeting with a small group—they called it The Junto Club.It was a collection of minds from diverse industries. They gathered weekly to discuss, collaborate, and brainstorm on topics ranging from business to politics to relationships.The key insight: Learning is communal, not individual. Find your Junto.Build vs. SellTo be successful, you either need to learn how to build or you need to learn how to sell.If you aren't technically-gifted, that's ok—just learn to sell. If you can sell, you'll always make it.People who know how to build AND sell are unbeatable.Sahil Note: I first learned this from Naval Ravikant and have thought about it ever since. It’s a powerful razor for thinking about where you can excel and win. I’m not technical—I don’t know how to code—so it convinced me that “selling” would be my path. For what it’s worth, most Fortune 500 CEOs are probably in the sell camp…The Feynman TechniqueThe Feynman Technique is a powerful framework for learning anything.The best entrepreneurs, investors, and thinkers have leveraged this technique—whether they know it or not! Their common genius: the ability to abstract complexity and convey ideas in simple, digestible ways.Four steps to learn anything new:Identify a topic: Identify the topic and everything you know about it.ELI5 (Explain It To Me Like I'm 5): Try to distill the learnings into a simple, elegant “elevator pitch” on the topic.Study to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.Organize, Convey & Review: Organize your new knowledge into a tight, compelling narrative. Marvel at your new depth of understanding!True genius is the ability to simplify, not complicate. Simple is beautiful.The Weekend Test"What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years." - Chris DixonObserve the weekend projects of the smartest people in your circles. Odds are those will become a key part of our future.Invest your time, money, and energy accordingly.Sahil Note: This is one I think about a lot as it relates to Web3, NFTs, and crypto. I had smart friends who were leaving their safe jobs to go build in this new arena over the last few years, but I largely ignored it. They were passionate about the technology and enjoying it on the weekends, but I continued to ignore it. Shame on me, but that won’t happen again…The Eisenhower Decision MatrixLearn the difference between urgent and important.Place all of your tasks on a 2x2 matrix:Important & UrgentImportant & Not UrgentNot Important & UrgentNot Important & Not UrgentPrioritize, delegate, or delete accordingly.The Regret Minimization FrameworkThe goal is to minimize the number of regrets in life.When faced with a difficult decision:Project yourself into the future.Look back on the decision at hand.Ask yourself "Will I regret not doing this?"Act accordingly.This framework was espoused by Jeff Bezos as the driving force behind his decision to leave a lucrative, successful career at a famed hedge fund to start an online bookstore in the late 1990s…Simple, yet effective.Sahil Note: The biggest complaint with this framework is that it is rife with survivorship bias. It’s easy for Jeff Bezos to say that he used this framework to make the decision now that he is a trillionaire. My advice would be to use it with care. You don’t want to regret not taking a shot at something you are deeply passionate about. If you feel the intense pull, trust it.Play to LearnTwo ways to play the game:Old Way: Learn to PlayNew Way: Play to LearnWe are living in an unprecedented era—technology is shattering boundaries, enabling anyone to participate.If you're trying to learn anything new, put some skin in the game and dive in. It's the best way to learn.Sahil Note: This concept is closely related to something I have referred to as The Money Paradox. Sometimes you have to lose money in order to make money. Every successful investor and builder has stories of the invaluable lessons learned from a terrible loss in their career. Sometimes you have to pay to learn. Scared money don't make money!Positive Sum MagnetismWant to get ahead in life? Start genuinely rooting for others to succeed.If you adopt that mentality, you’ll become a magnet for the highest quality people. When you're surrounded by the highest quality people, good things start to happen…The Wisdom Paradox“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.” - Albert EinsteinThe more you learn, the more you are exposed to the immense unknown. This should be empowering, not frightening.Embrace your own ignorance. Embrace lifelong learning.The Power of NoTake on less, accomplish more.Success doesn’t come from taking on everything that comes your way. It comes from focus—deep focus on the tasks that really matter.Say yes to what matters, say no to what doesn’t. Protect your time as a gift to be cherished.The Zone of GeniusYour Zone of Genius is where your interests, passions and skills align.Find yours, then slowly shift your life to spend more time in it.It means playing games you are uniquely well-suited to win—you can stop playing *their* games and start playing *yours*.There you have it: 20+ of the most powerful ideas in life.I promise I will continue to compile and synthesize new ideas I come across over the year ahead—I might even make this a regular quarterly post to have you all learn alongside me!If you enjoyed this, consider sharing it with your network so I can continue to grow this amazing curiosity tribe. Thank you for joining me on the journey!Where It Happens PodcastMemes Rule the World with Dogecoin Creator Billy MarkusWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 4,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Also, if you haven’t heard the news, I recently became a Meat Influencer via the new ButcherBox sponsorship of the show. You can score 7+ lbs of free meat by using the button below. Get your steak game on!Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.Why settle for the old model of investing when new options offer you so much transparency to help you grow your wealth? Commonstock is the home of smart money and an innovative social media approach to investing. We both love the platform and have used it to enhance our financial strategy.Commonstock is a social media platform like Reddit, but it removes anonymity and adds transparency. The app lets you see what smart money investors are buying and selling – in real-time – all while letting you see their reason why. This way, you know whether investors have skin in the game, or whether they only talk a big game. It’s a great way to get insights that support your investing strategy.To learn more and sign-up today go to commonstock.com.Today’s show is sponsored by Capchase. Capchase is a new financing option for fast-growing startups. They are offering Where It Happens listeners .25% off their first draw, preferred onboarding, and more. Their main product Capchase Grow lets you tap into your future revenue today, meaning you can reinvest in your business faster. We love what they are offering to business owners. To learn more go to capchase.com/room!Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesSeven Seven Six - Finance & Compliance ManagerElevate Labs - Head of Social MediaPallet - Special Projects InternThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
1/19/202215 minutes, 14 seconds
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The Feynman Technique: How to Learn Anything

Welcome to the 808 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 63,073 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Revelo!If you’re a growing technology company, chances are you’re struggling to find talented developers right now.Revelo helps companies like GitHub, Intuit, and Carta hire faster, so they can grow faster! It’s a talent platform that matches you with vetted remote developers in Latin America who work in US time zones. It offers a full-suite platform that covers payroll, benefits, compliance, and more, allowing you to hire full-time remote developers without the headaches.Get matched with vetted candidates within 3 days—guaranteed. They even offer a 100% risk-free 14-day trial. If you’re not satisfied, you pay nothing.SPECIAL OFFER: Revelo is offering Curiosity Chronicle subscribers 20% off the first 3 months of any hire! Use the link below to take advantage of this crazy deal!Today at a Glance:Curiosity and inspiration are perishable—they must be acted upon when they strike. But unfortunately, despite its importance to your career and life, learning is not a skill we’re ever explicitly taught how to approach.The Feynman Technique is a beautiful, intuitive framework for learning literally anything.The process in a nutshell: identify a topic, research it deeply, attempt to explain it to a child, and then study to fill in the gaps.The Feynman TechniqueCuriosity is unpredictable.It strikes at random—and often inopportune—moments. But it is also notoriously perishable, so it must be acted upon.Let’s assume for a moment that you've been bit by the curiosity bug and are ready to act on it—ready to learn something new and (hopefully) exciting.Now what? Where do you start? What approach do you take?You’re inspired and motivated to learn, but you don’t even know where to begin.Unfortunately, despite its importance to your career and life, learning is not a skill we’re ever explicitly taught how to approach.Let’s fix that…In today’s piece, I’d like to talk about a beautiful, intuitive framework for learning literally anything: The Feynman Technique.IntroductionRichard Feynman was an American theoretical physicist born in 1918 in New York City.Feynman was a very late talker—he didn’t utter a word until he was three—but it was clear from a young age that he was extremely observant and intelligent. His parents valued non-consensus thinking—they constantly encouraged young Richard to ask questions and think independently.Feynman taught himself advanced mathematics in his teens and would go on to earn a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a PhD from Princeton University. He would then become famous for his work in quantum electrodynamics and receive the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 for his contributions to the field.So yes, you could say that Richard Feynman was intelligent...But there are a lot of intelligent people in the world. Feynman's true genius was in his ability to convey extremely complex ideas in simple, elegant, digestible ways—to abstract complexity and deliver simplicity.He had observed at a young age that complex language is often used to mask a lack of deep understanding. As a rule of thumb, if someone uses a lot of acronyms and jargon to explain something to you, they probably don’t understand it very well themselves.We've all encountered this type of “expert” at one time or another…What was Richard Feynman’s secret? He had developed a learning framework—accidentally or intentionally—that forced a deep, elegant understanding of a topic that most people never achieve.The Feynman Technique: How It WorksThe Feynman Technique can be broken down into five key steps:Set the StageRead & ResearchELI5 (Explain It To Me Like I'm 5)Assess & StudyOrganize, Convey & ReviewLet's walk through each step, including notes on how I personally implement each one in my own learning processes…Step 1: Set the StageWhat’s the topic you want to learn?Starting with a blank page, write the topic at the top and jot down everything you know about it. For some topics, that might be precisely nothing; for others, it might be a lot.The starting point is irrelevant, you’re just setting the stage.Sahil Notes: I like to use Notion for tracking and managing my various research and learning efforts. It’s just a personal preference, so you can identify what works for you. I keep a “Knowledge Neural Net” board and for each new topic, I create a new page. I can then go back and connect ideas and topics as I see fit.Step 2: Read & ResearchNow that you have a baseline of your starting knowledge, you can begin your reading and research.The most effective strategy for research: start horizontal, then go vertical.Horizontal = BreadthVertical = DepthHere’s a simple visualization of how I think about this process:Horizontal Research (“HR”): Lays the foundation for your learning. When you start horizontal, you gather information across the full breadth of the topic area. This gives you the capacity to "see the entire field”—it draws a surface-level map of the topic. With horizontal research, it’s perfectly acceptable to keep it simple: Google and Wikipedia (sorry to all of my high school teachers!) are both great tools.Vertical Research (“VR”): Historically much more challenging—it typically required hours of finding and reading long, dense books on a topic. But in the Information Age, we have a diverse array of tools that provide much higher time leverage. These tools include (but are not limited to): Reddit, Twitter, Newsletters, Podcasts, Expert Networks, Books. With these tools, you’ll be able to go vertical—quickly and effectively—on any topic.Take notes, cite sources, and track gaps as you go. This step is where you start to build out your knowledge base on a topic.Sahil Notes: I really try to take my time in this phase. True depth of understanding requires significant time. I find it helpful to conduct this research in sprints—short bursts of high intensity research—rather than in jogs. Try to create mental maps that connect together pieces of information as you go—it will help cement new learnings.Step 3: ELI5Ok, so up to this point, it all feels like a standard process—no Feynman touch. But here's where it gets fun (and challenging)…Attempt to explain the topic to a child—figuratively (or literally if you're ambitious!).On a new blank page, distill everything you know about your topic—but now pretend you are explaining it to a child. Use exclusively simple language.Sahil Notes: In this step, rather than a blank page, I simply create a new header in my same Notion tab. Below this header, I attempt to distill the highlights of the topic into 1-2 paragraphs. I think of this as the “elevator pitch” or “cocktail party fodder” on the topic—i.e. the 60-second bit that I would use to explain the topic to any new acquaintance. The key is that you have to distill and write in a way that assumes the individual is “uninitiated” on the topic.Step 4: Assess & StudyTest it out. Try your “elevator pitch” on another person. How’d you do? Reflect on your performance—form a balanced, honest assessment.Ask a few questions:How well were you able to explain the topic to a child?Where did the person appear confused?Where did you get frustrated?Where did you turn to jargon or hand waving?Answering these questions shines a light on the gaps in your understanding. Circle back to Step 2 and read and research more to fill them in.Sahil Notes: I normally try to ask the person I attempted to explain it to for this feedback. If it’s someone you’re comfortable with—partner, sibling, roommate, friend—it’s much easier than if it’s a stranger.Step 5: Organize, Convey & ReviewAs a final step, organize your elegant, simple language into a clear, compelling story, narrative, or distillation.Test-and-Learn: Put yourself out there and convey it to a few others outside your comfort zone, then iterate and refine accordingly.Review—and marvel at—your new, deep, elegant understanding of the topic.Simple = BeautifulSahil Notes: I tend to find that leveraging a narrative or storytelling arc makes topics stick with listeners. See if you can leverage storytelling principles to pull it all together. The best teachers do this.Wrapping UpThe Feynman Technique is a powerful framework for learning anything. The best entrepreneurs, investors, and thinkers have leveraged this technique—whether they know it or not! Their common genius: the ability to abstract complexity and convey ideas in simple, digestible ways.To summarize, the five key steps:Set the Stage: Identify the topic and everything you know about it.Read & Research: Go down the rabbit hole—leverage horizontal and vertical research to expand your knowledge base.ELI5 (Explain It To Me Like I'm 5): Distill the learnings into a simple, elegant “elevator pitch” on the topic and deliver it to someone.Assess & Study: Reflect on your performance, identify the gaps, and study to fill them in.Organize, Convey & Review: Organize your new knowledge into a tight, compelling narrative. Marvel at your new depth of understanding!It's easy to overcomplicate and intimidate—we all know people who try to do this. But don't be fooled—complexity and jargon are often used to mask a lack of deep understanding.Be better. Use the Feynman Technique. Find beauty in simplicity.Where It Happens PodcastNew Episode: Forecasting the Future of Tech with Scott BelskyThis was an insane episode:5-year predictions for the future3+ game-changing new business ideasLessons for entrepreneurs & investorsIf you're looking to place bets on the future—start here.Watch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 3,000+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.Why settle for the old model of investing when new options offer you so much transparency to help you grow your wealth? Commonstock is the home of smart money and an innovative social media approach to investing. We both love the platform and have used it to enhance our financial strategy.Commonstock is a social media platform like Reddit, but it removes anonymity and adds transparency. The app lets you see what smart money investors are buying and selling – in real-time – all while letting you see their reason why. This way, you know whether investors have skin in the game, or whether they only talk a big game. It’s a great way to get insights that support your investing strategy.To learn more and sign-up today go to commonstock.com.Capchase is a new financing option for fast-growing startups. They are offering Where It Happens listeners .25% off their first draw, preferred onboarding, and more. Their main product Capchase Grow lets you tap into your future revenue today, meaning you can reinvest in your business faster. We love what they are offering to business owners. To learn more go to capchase.com/roomSahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesPallet - Special Projects InternBrex - Sales Development RepReal Vision - Full Stack DeveloperHuman Capital - AssociateTango - Product Designer, Product ManagerFilebase - Filecoin EngineerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
1/12/202210 minutes, 47 seconds
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The Goal Setting Guide

Welcome to the 3,290 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday (🤯). Join the 61,177 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Revelo!If you’re a growing technology company, chances are you’re struggling to find talented developers right now. It’s a massive problem.Revelo is your solution—the largest talent platform to match you with vetted full-time remote developers in Latin America who work in US time zones. It offers an all-encompassing platform that covers payroll, benefits, compliance, and more, allowing you to hire full-time remote developers without the logistical headaches.Revelo helps companies like GitHub, Intuit, and Carta hire faster, so they can grow faster! Get matched with vetted candidates within 3 days—guaranteed. They even offer a 100% risk-free 14-day trial. If you’re not satisfied, you pay nothing.SPECIAL OFFER: Revelo is offering Curiosity Chronicle subscribers 20% off the first 3 months of any hire! Use the link below to take advantage of this crazy deal!Today at a Glance:Goal setting is everywhere—we all set goals, but very few do it well. Why? Goal setting is equal parts art and science—it’s a craft that must be honed like any other.The new framework for goal setting involves five core steps: (1) Set the Stage, (2) Identify BHAG, (3) Work Backwards, (4) Establish Process Goals, (5) Track & Adjust.It’s critical to avoid goal competition and paralysis. To stay focused, the framework only allows for 1 BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), 1 connected medium-term goal, and 2-3 daily process goals per category.The Goal Setting GuideWell, we made it. Welcome to 2022!2021 had a whole lot of twists and turns, but if you’re reading this, you managed to navigate them all and come out on the other side. Congratulations on surviving another year in this crazy simulation we call life.Pardon the cliché, but a new year signifies a new opportunity. It’s officially time to look ahead to the opportunity before us, plant a stake in the ground, and attack 2022 with boundless energy.Hopefully you rested up over the holiday break, because it’s time to go…An Intro to Goal SettingFrom a young age, we are taught to set goals—first for our grades and athletic endeavors, next for our careers, and last for our health and lives.Goal setting is everywhere—we all set goals, but very few do it well.Take me as an example. I'm very goal-oriented. But I've set—and then failed to achieve—many over the years. I would start the new year with an ambitious set of goals and then slowly fall short on most of them.Discouraged, I started reading more on goal setting to understand why…What I’ve learned: Goal setting is equal parts art and science—it’s a craft that must be honed like any other. Most importantly, there is a clear framework for successful goal setting—a better way.Put simply, consistent goal achievement is never an accident.In this piece, I will share my new framework for goal setting.Goal Setting: A New FrameworkFirst, it’s worth pointing out that most of us struggle with the same set of issues with respect to goal setting.The most common issues:Too Many: Goal competition occurs, with goals effectively competing against one another for your time and mindshare. Too Loose: Weak, unstructured goals lacking clear metrics or time bounds.Not Tied to Actions: Lack of clear process actions to achieve them.Unfit Environment: Environment unsuited for consistent execution.If you've struggled with goal setting (like me), chances are one of these issues is to blame.But let’s get to the better way—a new framework for goal setting that will allow you to set and smash your goals for 2022.It involves five core steps:Set the StageIdentify BHAGWork BackwardsEstablish Process GoalsTrack & AdjustThe general framework is fixed, but its application is intended to be dynamic and iterative.Let's dive right in…Step 1: Set the StageIn the first step, you’ll establish the categories that you'll be building goals around.For me, it’s three:PersonalProfessionalHealthNote: I find that covering these three areas forces progress in all major domains of my life, but some people will likely prefer a more narrow focus with just one. That’s totally fine!Within each category you choose, you only have room for:1 BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal): Your big, bold goal.1 Connected Medium-Term Goal: Interim goal on the path to the BHAG.2-3 Daily Process Goals: Daily actions and habits.That's it—that’s all you’re allowed. Nothing more. The clarity and simplicity this limitation forces is a core feature of the framework.Step 2: Identify BHAGYour BHAG—Big Hairy Audacious Goal—is exactly what it sounds like. It should be big and ambitious (but stop short of being completely ridiculous).Think of this as your North Star for the year.It's the metaphorical poster on your wall—motivating on an abstract macro scale, but perhaps too grand and scary to be motivating on a micro daily basis.Remember: You can only have one BHAG within a category! In my case, that means one professional BHAG, one personal BHAG, and one health BHAG. Too many and you get goal competition and paralysis.Crystallize your BHAGs.Write them down, print them out, put them on your wall if you want. Whatever works for you.Step 3: Work BackwardsStep 3 forces you to confront and manage a goal setting reality: BHAGs are great for vision, but TERRIBLE for guiding short and medium-term actions.To manage this, work backwards from the BHAG to identify one medium-term goal that is connected to it.If you imagine your year as a mountain and your BHAG is the summit, the connected medium-term goal is a mid-climb campsite. You can’t reach the summit without reaching this point—all roads lead directly through it.Note: There are time considerations to this step. If your BHAG is an annual goal, you may want to establish a new connected medium-term goal on a rolling quarterly basis. You don't need to plan the connected medium-term goals ahead of time. Be dynamic and flexible about these.Step 4: Establish Process GoalsProcess goals are the key to the entire framework.What are the 2-3 daily actions that you would need to take to create tangible, compounding progress? These should be the SIMPLEST daily actions. The "atomic units" of progress in a given arena.A few simple examples of process goals for different areas:Writing: 30 minutes of daily focused writing.Fitness: 30 minutes of movement per day.Health: No processed foods on weekdays; no alcohol on weekdays.Whereas the BHAG and medium-term connected goals are generally results-focused, the process goals are inputs-focused. These are the daily deposits you are going to make into the bank. The tiny daily actions that compound to create massive long-term results.My friend James Clear calls the daily process goals the "oars" that move your boat, while the BHAGs and medium-term goals are the "rudders" that set the direction.I love this.He also points out that daily process goals are most effective when fixed to a time or action that makes them easy to structure and regiment—“habit stacking" in his words.Examples:I'll drink 16oz of water when I wake up.I'll journal 30 minutes before bed.I’ll do 25 pushups when I get out of bed.Simple, effective.Remember: Never establish more than three daily process goals within a given category. It’ll be overwhelming and increase your likelihood of burning out along the way.Step 5: Track & AdjustThe daily process goals should be easy to track and adjust.Jerry Seinfeld would famously hang a huge calendar on his office wall and use a red marker to put an X over every day that he completed an hour of writing. It wasn't about the writing being good, it was simply about the daily action.This may work for some people, but not for others. Find what works for you.Leverage community to hold you accountable on your journey. There’s nothing more powerful than community when it comes to goal setting and achievement. Create a Google Sheet and track your process goals with others. Forced accountability is a powerful weapon in your arsenal!Avoid becoming dogmatic—allow yourself to adjust as needed along the way.A few common adjustments that you may find useful:Downward Adjustments: Overly-ambitious daily process goals should be adjusted down. When in doubt, set them to be overly-achievable. The human psyche responds well to wins—manufacture them early and benefit later.Environmental Adjustments: Environments that are unsuited to achieving daily process goals should be adjusted. If my daily process goal is to eat a balanced, nutrient-dense breakfast, a kitchen full of junk is an environment unsuited to my goal. Deliberately adjust your environments to match your goals.The goals we track and adjust are the goals we achieve.Illustrative ExampleTo bring this to life, let's look at an illustrative example for a hypothetical newsletter writer that’s just getting started with a new newsletter.BHAG: 50K subs by year-end. This is extremely ambitious, but it’s not ridiculous. With daily, dedicated effort, it’s possible.Medium-Term Connected Goal: 5K subs by Q1. Rolling quarterly goals established in future might be 15K by Q2, and 30K by Q3.Daily Process Goals:30 min of reading each AM—to fill the content engine!60 min writing after lunch—to create consistent content!As you might have noticed, this example wasn’t based on a hypothetical newsletter writer—it was based on me! I’m happy to say I achieved my BHAG. The framework works…if you do.To summarize, my framework for highly-effective goal setting:Set the StageIdentify BHAGWork BackwardsEstablish Process GoalsTrack & AdjustI hope this helps you set and achieve your goals in 2022. Let’s crush it!Additional Resource: A Twitter follower was kind enough to put together this Notion board to help you work through this framework with your goal setting for the year. Big shoutout to Naitik for the work on this!Where It Happens PodcastThe Unlimited Potential of Web3 with Alexis OhanianWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 3,000+ in our unique community on Discord.New episode with the legendary Gary Vaynerchuck drops this week! Subscribe so you don’t miss it…Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.Why settle for the old model of investing when new options offer you so much transparency to help you grow your wealth? Commonstock is the home of smart money and an innovative social media approach to investing. We both love the platform and have used it to enhance our financial strategy.Commonstock is a social media platform like Reddit, but it removes anonymity and adds transparency. The app lets you see what smart money investors are buying and selling – in real-time – all while letting you see their reason why. This way, you know whether investors have skin in the game, or whether they only talk a big game. It’s a great way to get insights that support your investing strategy.To learn more and sign-up today go to commonstock.com.If you’re a founder, Mercury is the banking product you need. Traditional banking is broken. Everything from the UX to the complexity of the benefits you care about most.Mercury is disrupting the old model. They offer FDIC-insured bank accounts, virtual and physical debit cards, international and domestic wires that are free to send, 3-click payment flows, and more. We personally use Mercury for our business banking with the podcast and Sahil is an investor.Get started in minutes from anywhere.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesPallet - Special Projects InternReal Vision - Full Stack DeveloperHuman Capital - AssociateTango - Product Designer, Product ManagerFilebase - Filecoin EngineerThe full board with 30+ other roles can be found here!P.S. I’m looking for an ambitious individual to run my job board. Extremely attractive compensation opportunity for the right candidate. Email me for more info if you’re a fit. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
1/5/202211 minutes, 54 seconds
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21 Lessons Learned in 2021

Welcome to the 1,253 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 56,355 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week. Also be sure to follow and subscribe to my new podcast—Where It Happens—and join our 3,000+ person community on Discord!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Trends!Trends is my personal cheat code for generating new business ideas.It’s a premium newsletter from The Hustle that deconstructs the secret sauce of interesting businesses, side hustles, and emerging opportunities—and gives you the playbook to pounce on them. Even better, membership provides instant access to an exclusive community of 15,000+ entrepreneurs who are building the future.I learn something new from every single issue—it has become a core part of my content and learning engine. I can’t recommend highly enough.Use the link below to join—no commitment, no catch, cancel anytime!Today at a Glance:At the end of every year, I sit down and reflect on what I learned. There is no specific aim or purpose to the exercise—the goal is to put on wings, fly up to 10,000 feet, and assess myself and the year that has passed.2021 was a uniquely transformative year for my life. So for the first time, I attempted to synthesize that jumble.Today’s piece is the result of that attempt: 21 lessons learned in 2021.21 Lessons Learned in 2021At the end of every year, I sit down and reflect on what I learned.I’ve been conducting this self-reflection exercise for the last 10 years, with varying degrees of structure and rigor.There is no specific aim or purpose to the exercise—the goal is to put on wings, fly up to 10,000 feet, and assess myself and the year that has passed.Generally speaking, the reflection has been free flowing and resulted in a jumble of words and thoughts in a notebook. But this year felt different. It was a uniquely transformative year for my life.So for the first time, I attempted to synthesize that jumble—to abstract the chaos into something simple and coherent.Today’s piece is the result of that attempt: my 21 lessons learned in 2021…Engineered SerendipityI believe that some of what we call "luck" is actually the macro result of 1,000s of micro actions.Your daily habits can put you in a position where "luck" is more likely to strike.Increase your serendipity surface area. Engineer your own serendipity.Pessimists Sound Smart, Optimists Get RichPessimists look at the future and see the doors that are closed.Optimists look at the future and see the doors that are open—and probably kick down the closed doors, too.Surround yourself with optimists—those who believe the future is bright will make it so.The Exponential Growth ChallengeHuman brains cannot fathom the insane power of exponential growth. We consistently underestimate its impact.When you're on an exponential growth curve—stop trying to set specific goals.Strap in, keep your head back, and enjoy the ride.Work Like a LionMost people are not wired to work 9-5.Modern work culture is a remnant of the Industrial Age—long periods of steady, monotonous work.If your goal is to do inspired, creative work, you have to work like a lion.Sprint when inspired. Rest. Repeat.Overestimate a Day, Underestimate a YearWe overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.To fight this, focus on small daily actions that compound over the long-term.Small things become big things. When in doubt, zoom out.Ruthlessly Eliminate NegativityEveryone has a few negative people in their circle. They tell you to be realistic. They laugh at your ambition.Eliminate this negativity from your life. It's a boat anchor holding you back from your true potential—cut the damn line.Tolerance for UncertaintyHaving a high tolerance for uncertainty is a unique competitive advantage. It prevents you from settling.When we fear uncertainty, we settle to escape its grasp.Tolerate uncertainty for a bit longer—never settle for less than you deserve.Step into the ArenaIt's easy to stand on the sidelines.It's hard to step into the arena. It's scary to put yourself out there, to expose yourself, to become vulnerable.But it makes all the difference. Get off the sidelines. Be the Man—or Woman!—in the Arena.Go For More WalksWant to get unstuck? Go for a walk.No phone. No music. No podcasts. Just you, your thoughts, and the fresh air.When you let your mind wander—in its true natural state—good things happen. It works—I guarantee it.Put Family FirstIn May, I woke up one morning and told my wife that I wanted to move back to the East Coast to be closer to family.That month, we sold our house in California and moved to New York. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The simple moments with family and friends are, quite literally, priceless.Life is short & fragile—you'll never regret spending more time with your loved ones.The Dots Really Do ConnectIn his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech, Steve Jobs talked about having faith that the dots will somehow connect in your life.In 2021, I finally started to see my dots connecting. Not perfectly, but the connections are slowly coming into view. It’s a beautiful and encouraging thing.If you haven't seen it yet, stay the course. Trust in something.It's Darkest Before the DawnIn May, I got rejected for a job after months of interviews.It was a gut punch. I felt lost in the darkness. I went to sleep that night with no motivation or vision for what I would focus on the next morning. Put simply, it sucked.But within a week, an amazing path magically came into view."It's always darkest before the dawn" is a cliché, but I now believe it's true.Learn to Say NoI've always had a really tough time saying no. I would take on too much and then be forced to grind my way through it.The ability to say no is a superpower of highly successful people.Be deliberate about what you spend your time on—and who you spend it with.Pay It ForwardNo matter how far you go, always remember that you didn’t make it on your own.Pay it forward. Be a mentor. Be a champion for others. Their growth should become a source of tremendous joy and pride.Operate in Your Zone of GeniusYour Zone of Genius is where your interests, passions and skills align.Find yours, then slowly shift your life to spend more time in it. Start playing games you are uniquely well-suited to win.You'll find more happiness, fulfillment, and success.The Big Change DilemmaSmall changes can happen naturally. Big changes only happen with a massive, deliberate push.You cannot expect big changes to happen on their own. You have to force the issue. It's scary as s**t.If you believe in something, close your eyes and jump.Delegate Uncomfortably EarlyIf you have to ask if it's time to delegate, it's already too late.Trust me, I learned this the hard way...When you're building and growing, delegate and outsource so early it feels uncomfortable. Leverage is a beautiful thing.Say Thank You MoreShow more gratitude to the people who have mentored, supported, or helped you. Not just on special occasions—every single day."I appreciate you" is my most frequently sent tweet and text. Why? Because it's true.Gratitude makes the world a better place.Talk Less, Listen More"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." — EpictetusI love to talk. Always have, always will. But as I continue to find myself in rooms where I'm out of my depth, I've learned to talk less and listen more.Lesson: Get in those rooms.Build New CirclesThe internet has made it possible to connect with people all around the world instantaneously. Use it to your advantage.Build new circles—positive sum, decentralized friend groups are force multipliers for your growth.When one person wins, we all win.Do Things You Never RegretA few things I never regret:Calling my parentsDinner with my wifeGoing for a walk when I’m stressedDrinking a bunch of water first thing in the morningExercising for at least 30 minutes a daySleeping 8 hours a nightMake your list. Spend more time on things you never regret—and less time on things you do.There you have it—my 21 lessons learned in 2021.This was my—hopefully successful—attempt at abstracting the chaos of my 2021 into something of value for others. It was a crazy year and I feel very lucky to have built this community of readers along the way. You have all enriched my life in so many ways and I am appreciative of each and every one of you.THANK YOU! Happy Holidays.Where It Happens PodcastHow to Become a Super Ball with Anthony ScaramucciWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 2,500+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.There’s still time to get an incredible gift for yourself or a loved one this holiday season. One of our favorite products of this entire year is the Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover. We’ve both prioritized good sleep and haven’t found a better product on the market. The Pod Pro by Eight Sleep is the most advanced solution on the market for thermoregulation. It pairs dynamic cooling and heating with biometric tracking. With the Pod Pro Cover, you start sleeping as cool as 55°F or as hot as 110°F. It also splits your bed in half, so you can have a completely different temperature than your partner.The result: Eight Sleep users fall asleep up to 32% faster, reduce sleep interruptions by 40%, and get overall more restful sleep.As a subscriber, go to eightsleep.com/whereithappens to get up to $250 off. This deal will only be available for 2 weeks, so give the gift of better sleep today.We do a lot of drinking on the show, and we need to balance it out with something a little healthier. That’s why we can’t get enough of Four Sigmatic. Our go tos are their Hot Cacao Mix with Reishi Mushroom and Sweet Vanilla Plant-Based Protein. The Hot Cacao is packed with 500mg of Reishi to help you relax before bed. And the plant-based protein is filled with 18g of protein per serving as well as 7 different functional mushrooms and adaptogens, making it the perfect post-workout recovery drink.They’re delicious and we can’t recommend them enough for your daily routine. And by the way, they’re a great holiday gift!As a subscriber to this newsletter, you can receive 15% off your order. Click here and enter the code “TheRoom” at checkout.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesPallet - Special Projects InternThe full board with 40+ other roles can be found here!If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
12/22/202110 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Power Business Writing Guide

Welcome to the 749 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 54,500 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week. Also be sure to follow and subscribe to my new podcast—Where It Happens—on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Lemon.io!Lemon.io fixes the developer headache—it makes hiring remote developer talent as easy as ordering a meal on DoorDash. Tell them about your project and they match you with an affordable, vetted developer in Eastern Europe within 48 hours. Guaranteed. I’ve used it for several quick projects and have loved the experience.SPECIAL OFFER: 15% discount for the first 4 weeks of work for all Curiosity Chronicle subscribers. Take advantage by using the link below!Today at a Glance:Study the lives and practices of today’s most successful entrepreneurs, financiers, and builders and you’ll find one common trait: a deep, visceral understanding of the importance of powerful, efficient, high-leverage writing.Why? These leaders know that powerful writing isn't an accident—clear writing is clear thinking.The four key principles of powerful business writing: (1) Draft Fast, Edit Slow, (2) KISS, (3) Clear Target Reaction, and (4) Storytelling.The Power Business Writing GuideWant to accelerate your career? Write better. Period.Study the lives and practices of today’s most successful entrepreneurs, financiers, and builders and you’ll find one common trait: a deep, visceral understanding of the importance of powerful, efficient, high-leverage writing.Jeff Bezos famously installed memo writing as a mainstay of Amazon’s business culture. Prior to kicking off a meeting, attendees would be asked to read and digest several pages of written memos from the meeting leads. Why? Bezos deeply believed in the value of these memos, not only for the uninformed participants, but also for the meeting leads to clarify their thinking through the writing process.Warren Buffett famously writes an annual shareholder letter, distilling insights on billions of dollars in investments into a single memo.The list of writing advocates goes on and on…Why? These leaders know that powerful writing isn't an accident—clear writing is clear thinking.In this piece, I will attempt to deconstruct the four key principles of powerful business writing…They are as follows:Draft Fast, Edit SlowKISSClear Target ReactionStorytellingI’ll cover each principle and provide some additional learning resources:Principle 1: Draft Fast, Edit SlowThere's nothing more daunting than a blank page.We have all experienced it at one time or another—sitting at our desk, staring into the abyss of a blank Word document or notebook page, with no idea where to start. The perfect line is illusive, and everyone knows you need a perfect first line…The solution?Play a trick on yourself. Start writing, fast. Get a draft down—and don’t worry at all about the quality (seriously, it’s ok if it sucks).My friend Julian Shapiro said it best: “Making something bad then iterating until it’s good is faster than making something good upfront.”Here's a framework that works for me: Write-Rest-Review.Write-Rest-ReviewGet the first draft down as quickly as possible.Walk away for 5 minutes—go for a walk, grab a coffee, listen to some music, whatever. Come back and review the draft with the benefit of that refresh.Ask a bunch of questions:What's missing?Where are the logical flaws?Where are the cracks?Where is the writing loose or flimsy?When you review with "new" eyes, good things tend to happen.Try out Write-Rest-Review and let me know how it works for you!Principle 2: Keep It Simple, StupidMost people assume that longer, more complex writing will impress and inspire.Sorry, it doesn't.Great business writing is simple and direct. There's no fluff or handwaving—it's tactical.A few actionable tips to tighten and simplify:Cut the FluffIn school, we were taught to heap descriptors into our writing. We were told it made it more vibrant. It also helped fill out the word or page count we were forced to hit…In the real world, those fluff words are the silent killers of powerful business writing.Review your draft with an eye towards removing any unnecessary words & sentences.Some common fluff:"I think X""Very" (or similar adverbs)AcronymsJargon$10 words (i.e. fancy, big, long words)Be ruthless in identifying and eliminating the fluff words & sentences from your writing.Shorten EverythingPowerful business writing is very similar to powerful Twitter writing: short, punchy writing is better.Use short sentence structures.Space sentences or paragraphs out to make the writing more optically pleasing. Great business writing should be engaging to the eye.I have found writing more on Twitter to be a force amplifier for my business writing—it’s a forced brevity training ground. Use it to your advantage as you work at your craft.Add DataThis is a classic principle instilled by Jeff Bezos in Amazon's writing-centric culture.When in doubt, replace fluff words with data.Before: "The majority of viewers loved the show."After: "95% of viewers rated the show with 5-stars."The after is clear & much more impactful!Principle 3: Clear Target ReactionGreat business writing has a clear target reaction—a deliberate purpose or aim.That target reaction should be experienced by the reader immediately. As my friend Sam Parr says, "Punch the reader in the face with your first sentence."Amazon calls it the "so what?" test:Before you share any piece of business writing, identify the "so what?" of the piece. What reaction, value, or takeaway should the audience have? Is it coming across loud and clear? If not, go back to the drawing board and punch harder.This target reaction should be a central focus during your writing process. I force it into mind by putting a big sticker with the target reaction at the top of the page (to be removed at the end).Principle 4: StorytellingStorytelling is a foundational skill—but it's one we don’t learn in the traditional education system. It's no coincidence that the greatest CEOs & founders are the greatest storytellers. High-leverage storytelling is a supercharger for all endeavors.Humans are naturally wired as storytelling creatures—we developed around campfires. Lean into this wiring.Adding a story to a memo on a dry topic can bring the entire piece to life. Simple, crisp stories enhance the power of the message.A few ideas for you:Add a mini anecdote to illustrate a point.Use a folksy one-liner to draw people in (Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are the MASTERS of this).A storytelling touch will make your writing punch well above its weight.For more, I’ve written about storytelling here and here.SummaryBetter business writing can change your life—it’s a skill like any other. With focused study and practice, you’ll be well on your way to improving your craft and leveling up.I highly recommend everyone read at least a few of the Amazon Shareholder Letters and Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters to see how Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett leverage these principles in their writing. It’s a free masterclass…To summarize, the key principles to leverage to improve your business writing:Draft Fast, Edit SlowKISSClear Target ReactionStorytellingStart using these and I guarantee you will see improvement.Call-to-Action: Please email or DM me with your success stories!Where It Happens PodcastSPECIAL: State of the Union: DAOing the X GamesWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the 2,500+ in our unique community on Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.There’s still time to get an incredible gift for yourself or a loved one this holiday season. One of our favorite products of this entire year is the Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover. We’ve both prioritized good sleep and haven’t found a better product on the market. The Pod Pro by Eight Sleep is the most advanced solution on the market for thermoregulation. It pairs dynamic cooling and heating with biometric tracking. With the Pod Pro Cover, you start sleeping as cool as 55°F or as hot as 110°F. It also splits your bed in half, so you can have a completely different temperature than your partner.The result: Eight Sleep users fall asleep up to 32% faster, reduce sleep interruptions by 40%, and get overall more restful sleep.As a subscriber, go to eightsleep.com/whereithappens to get up to $250 off. This deal will only be available for 2 weeks, so give the gift of better sleep today.We do a lot of drinking on the show, and we need to balance it out with something a little healthier. That’s why we can’t get enough of Four Sigmatic. Our go tos are their Hot Cacao Mix with Reishi Mushroom and Sweet Vanilla Plant-Based Protein. The Hot Cacao is packed with 500mg of Reishi to help you relax before bed. And the plant-based protein is filled with 18g of protein per serving as well as 7 different functional mushrooms and adaptogens, making it the perfect post-workout recovery drink.They’re delicious and we can’t recommend them enough for your daily routine. And by the way, they’re a great holiday gift!As a subscriber to this newsletter, you can receive 15% off your order. Click here and enter the code “TheRoom” at checkout.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesPallet - Special Projects InternThe full board with 40+ other roles can be found here!If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
12/15/20218 minutes, 33 seconds
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Principles of Life

Welcome to the 1,456 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 53,312 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.And if you haven’t already done so, check out the Where It Happens podcast! Follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, plus subscribe on YouTube so you never miss a beat.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Eight Sleep!Eight Sleep has legitimately changed my life.Great sleep = great performance. Sleep is the secret weapon of the world’s top performers. Thousands of CEOs, investors, and operators—and this humble newsletter writer—rely on the Eight Sleep Pod Pro to power their performance. It has patented technology to help you sleep at the perfect temperature all night, which research has shown can make you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper—so you can wake up energized to attack the day.Special Offer: For a limited time, Curiosity Chronicle subscribers can use the special link below to get $250 off on their first Eight Sleep purchase!Today at a Glance:I recently found out I’m going to be a father. In reflecting on my own life, I sketched out a long list of principles I hope to teach my child as they grow up.While I readily acknowledge that he will—as I did—have to fall painfully to learn many of these, I will do my best to teach—and embody!—all of them.Perhaps I need to lower my expectations and embrace the chaos. I’ve never really been the type to walk away from a challenge, though, so consider this piece my stake in the ground.Principles of LifeI recently found out I'm going to be a father.I’ve always considered myself something of an introspective individual—I try to reflect regularly on my motivations, mistakes, learnings, principles, and frameworks. I find that the act of reflection provides value—it helps the good stick and the bad wither.So perhaps it isn’t all that surprising that the news of my upcoming responsibility raise—to that of “Dad”—has taken my introspection to another level.With that in mind, I sat down recently to sketch out a long list of principles of life—formed through my failures, missteps, stumbles, and successes—that I hope to be able to teach my child as they grow up.While I readily acknowledge that he will—as I did—have to fall painfully to learn many of these, I will do my best to teach—and embody!—all of them.With that as a backdrop, here are the 20+ principles I hope to teach my child to live by…Be InterestedTalent is overrated—interest is not.What does it mean to be interested? Interested people are prone to giving their deep attention to something to discover more about it. They ask questions, listen, & observe. They open up to the world around them.Being interested is a key to a fulfilling life.Show Up in the Darkest HourIt's easy to be there for people to celebrate their wins. It takes character to show up for them in their darkest hour.People never forget who supported them when the chips were down.Be the friend who is always there—in good times and bad.Different is BeautifulWhen you’re a kid, you’re told that different is ugly. Growing up, I feared being different—I desperately wanted to fit in, but I couldn't figure out how.Was I Indian or white? Was I an athlete or a nerd? The struggle to conform to a single identity led to bad decisions grounded in insecurity. The reality was I was all of those things. I was just different.It took growing up and a lot of mistakes and soul searching to realize: being different is an edge—it’s the ultimate competitive advantage.No one can compete with you, at being you.Work HardIf you want to accomplish anything in life, you have to work hard. Full stop.But beware the hype. Hard work isn't the sexy, flashy social media posts saying "rise & grind”—it's the ugly, painful effort in the dark, when no one is watching.If you want something, go get it. Period.Be Kind to OthersKindness remains severely underrated.It fosters relationships, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves overall happiness.When you are consistently, genuinely kind, you become a magnet for the highest-quality people.Change Your MindWillingness to change one's mind is a rarity in today's society.It's great to have a strong view, but always open your mind to counterarguments.Stubborn objection to alternative perspectives stalls progress. Strive for strong opinions, weakly held.Operate in Your Zone of GeniusYour Zone of Genius is where your interests, passions and skills align.Operating in your Zone of Genius means playing games you are uniquely well-suited to win. Once you identify it, you can stop playing *their* games and start playing *yours*.Be AccountableA sad, troubling reality: Life isn't fair.But instead of wasting energy on every obstacle in your way, focus on what you can control and how you can break through the wall.Stop looking out. Look in. Own your s***.Listen More & Argue LessHave you noticed that the most argumentative people rarely persuade anyone of anything?The most persuasive people don’t argue—they observe, listen, and ask questions.Argue less, persuade more. Persuasion is an art that requires a paintbrush, not a sledgehammer.Follow Your CuriosityHumans are born with astonishing curiosity. But somewhere along the way, we're told to stop asking questions.Push back. Learn to follow your curiosity—trust it.For the curious mind, anything is possible. Fortune favors the curious.Closed Mouths Don't Get FedA little push goes a long way.Don't sit back and wait for good things to happen. If you want something—and you’ve put in the work for it—ask for it.Worst case: you’re told no and nothing has changed.Best case: it’s yours.Never Get Too Big to Do the SmallThe leaders of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team famously stay late to sweep the shed after a match.Whether you're in the mailroom or the corner office, never get too big to do the small things well.Remember: Small things become big things.Be PresentWith the rise of technology—and the instant access to dopamine that it has provided—the ability to be truly present has become a rarity.When you’re with someone—whether a business contact, friend, or partner—be WITH them.Put the phone down.Be AntifragileIn Greek mythology, the Hydra is a creature that has multiple heads. When 1 head is cut off, 2 grow back in its place.Life is random and chaotic. Don't be broken by the chaos—rather, adopt a mentality and build structure such that you will benefit from it.Don't Be Afraid to Get Punched in the FaceYou have to fail more to succeed more.Our greatest moments of growth often stem directly from our greatest failures. Don’t fear failure, just learn to fail smart and fast.Getting punched in the face builds a strong jaw.Play Long-Term GamesLife is the ultimate long game.Those with low time preference play it more effectively—they happily delay gratification to allow compounding to work its magic.In a world of people seeking instant gratification, this is a meaningful edge.Adopt a Positive Sum MentalityWant to get ahead in life? Start genuinely rooting for others to succeed.When one of us wins, we all win—winning spreads. If you adopt that mentality, you’ll become a metaphorical magnet for the best people.Embrace "I Don't Know"Know what you know—and what you don't."I don't know" isn't a failure, it's a motivator—saying it should inspire you to learn.No one likes a know-it-all...be a don't-know-it-all.Stand Up to BulliesIn life, you're going to encounter a lot of bullies—some loud and in your face, some quiet and behind your back.You may even feel pressure to become one to fit in (I sadly did). Insecurity breeds bullies.Stand up to them—for yourself and for others.Be VulnerableThe stigma of vulnerability has been broken. It’s ok to admit we aren’t ok.Strength comes from opening up to our vulnerabilities—embracing them, owning them, and growing through them.Want to get strong? Get vulnerable first.Love DeeplyAnd finally…Life is so damn short—never take it for granted.Tell people you love them before it's too late.Love fiercely. Love deeply. All we need is love.Those were 20+ principles I hope to teach my child to live by. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking. Perhaps I need to lower my expectations and embrace the chaos, knowing that s*** will hit the fan (literally and figuratively). I’ve never really been the type to walk away from a challenge, though, so consider this piece my stake in the ground.I do know one thing with absolute certainty: I will love my child, I will protect my child, and I will embrace my child for who they are, and who they become.Much love to all of you this holiday season. Hug your loved ones and hold them close.Oh, and it’s a boy! Sending love and good vibes to everyone.Where It Happens PodcastEpisode 4: Reinventing Home Ownership and Concierge Businesses With Sam ParrWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the conversation by entering the Discord.Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.If you’re a founder, Mercury is the banking product you need. It is THE bank for startups. I was a raving fan of Mercury as a customer…then I pounded on their door until they let me invest. It’s the banking product you’ve always wished you had.Capchase is a new financing option for fast-growing startups. Their main product Capchase Grow lets you tap into your future revenue today, meaning you can reinvest in your business faster. We love what they are offering to business owners. They are offering Where It Happens listeners .25% off their first draw, preferred onboarding, and more.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesLaunch House - Partnerships AssociateEvergreen Services Group - Private Equity Talent AnalystThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Talent Agent, Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
12/8/20219 minutes, 34 seconds
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The Cold Email Guide

Welcome to the 521 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 51,175 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.And if you haven’t already done so, check out the Where It Happens podcast! Follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, plus subscribe on YouTube so you never miss a beat.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Lemon.io!I was recently working on a project and needed a developer, but I knew the process of finding, vetting, and hiring one was going to be an expensive headache.Lemon.io fixes this—it makes hiring remote developer talent as easy as ordering a meal on UberEats. Tell them about your project and they match you with an affordable, vetted developer in Eastern Europe within 48 hours. It’s as simple as that.Lemon.io is offering a special 15% discount for the first 4 weeks of work for all Curiosity Chronicle subscribers. Sign up at the link below to take advantage of the offer!Today at a Glance:One cold email can literally change your life. But a cold email success is never an accident. You need a framework for writing and executing highly-effective cold outreach.The principles of a great cold email: Short & Sweet, Personalized, Credentials or Social Proof, Create Value, and a Clear Call-to-Action.Importantly, these principles apply to any form of cold outreach (Twitter DM, etc.), so can be leveraged broadly for a variety of use cases and needs.The Cold Email GuideOne cold email can change your life. It can open doors to a new job, secure a new mentor, or unlock new opportunities.A cold email—as an investment—has the ultimate asymmetric return profile: Huge upside, limited downside.In this piece, I will attempt to deconstruct a framework for optimizing your cold outreach in order to further accentuate that beautiful return profile…BackgroundI’ve sent (and received) a lot of cold emails—some great, some not.What I've learned: a cold email success is never an accident. There are very specific principles of great cold emails that you can apply to enhance your cold outreach efforts today.The best part? The results are instantaneous.So let’s just dive right in…the core principles of a great cold email:Short & SweetPersonalizedCredentials or Social ProofCreate ValueClear Call-to-ActionI’ll cover each principle and then workshop a few examples:Short & SweetIf you're sending a cold email to someone, remember that the person receiving it probably gets a lot of these. They don't have time—or energy—to read through long and winding notes.Keep it short and sweet!Space out the text to make it optically inviting. To bring this point to life, here are two emails—identical content, different spacing.Option A:Option B:Same exact email—one a block of text, one spaced out. Option B (the spaced out version) is so much more digestible and optically inviting for a reader. As such, Option B is much more likely to elicit a response.PersonalizedNo one likes a generic email—it's going to get auto-deleted 99% of the time.Personal touches can make all the difference in the effectiveness of a cold email. They require a bit more upfront time investment—for background research, diligence, and execution—but have the potential to create a 10x+ impact.Do your research on the person you are emailing. A simple search across Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn will probably take you 15 minutes and is definitely worth it.Then include some of these findings in your note.A few to consider:Reference a book they loveMention a podcast they were on (with a specific insight you gleaned from listening to it)Compliment their workThe goal: Make it clear you didn't send out hundreds of the note (even if you did).Credentials or Social ProofThe infusion of credentials or social proof is an important—yet often overlooked—element of successful cold outreach. Credentials and social proof are, in effect, the reasons the person should take you seriously.Credentials are just the outward markers of your success to date—degrees, accolades, awards, etc.Social Proof is formally defined as a psychological phenomenon where people imitate the actions of others in an attempt to behave appropriately for a specific situation.In the context of cold emails, this means that the receiver should be given examples of others—hopefully impressive others—who have responded in the way that you want this receiver to respond.“In recent weeks, I’ve interviewed Barack Obama, Elon Musk, and the Pope.”The receiver immediately sees (a) big names and (b) the action—it sparks their intrinsic psychological desire to follow suit.In infusing these credentials and social proof, don't be humble—let it shine.What have you done or created that is interesting or notable? Who has engaged? Show the receiver that they would be crazy to ignore your email!Create ValueMy foundational rule (in business & life): create value, receive value.If you create value for the person you’re emailing, they are much more likely to engage.What can you do to save them time or reduce their stress? It can be small—a little goes a long way.Note: I consider this an optional add-in. If there is a clear way to include it, go for it. If not, skip it.Clear CTAEvery successful cold email has a very clear call-to-action (“CTA”). This is the specific response you are attempting to elicit from the receiver.A few common examples:Take a coffee meetingAgree to join a podcast or interviewReview your startup pitch deckTake a sales callThe CTA has to be specific and succinct.Use hard enters and spacing to make sure it stands alone in the body of the email. This is important. It should be effortless to find and understand the ask.Be bold, but don't overreach. Make it easy to say yes!ExamplesNow that we’ve covered the key principles of great cold emails, let's workshop a few of my favorite examples of successful ones.I'll try to provide a quick breakdown of why they worked—grounded in the key principles we just covered:Internship Email to Evan SpiegelThis is a relatively famous one that made the viral rounds on social media over the last couple of years. High schooler emails CEO of Snapchat and winds up with an opportunity for an internship.But why did it work?Short & Sweet: Extremely short and to the point (even going as far as calling out the brevity of the email upfront).Credentials: Includes clear credentials around programming experience and capabilities.Clear CTA: Specific question and ask in the last line of the email.This was a brilliant example of effective brevity. Any high school junior who has done this much—and is bold enough to make this ask—deserves to be taken seriously.Email to Tyler CowenThis is an email from my good friend David Perell to renowned writer and economist Tyler Cowen. David was just starting to make progress in his career as a creator and this had the potential to be his big break. It worked and led to some incredible things for David.But why did it work?Personalized: Specific callouts of episodes and insights that he loved.Social Proof: Calls out prior interviews with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Seth Godin.Clear CTA: Specific request for hosting Cowen on his podcast (plus a willingness to travel to make it happen).I expect nothing less from David—who is one of the best writers and thinkers I know—but this was exceptional.Email to ChamathThis email made the rounds on Twitter thanks to a thread from my friend Shaan Puri.It was a complete shot in the dark, but led to several discussions and a meeting with Chamath (who at the time was one of the most famous people in the world).But why did it work?Short & Sweet: The email is redacted, but you can tell that it is extremely brief. Create Value: This is probably the best example I’ve seen of creating value in a cold outreach. They built Chamath a website for his teased run for governor of California and emailed him the landing page.Almost impossible to ignore that effort and hustle!Summary (& Results)Since posting a short thread on cold emails on Twitter, I received a number of amazing messages from followers who had put the principles to good use.Cold emails fundamentally changed my life—leading to some of my most fruitful mentorships, new investment opportunities, and tremendous amounts of growth.They can change yours too.To summarize, the key principles to leverage:Short & SweetPersonalizedCredentials or Social ProofCreate ValueClear CTAStart infusing these and I guarantee you will improve the conversion of your efforts.Call-to-Action: Please email or DM me with your success stories!Where It Happens PodcastSpecial Episode: DAOing a Twitter Board SeatWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the community by subscribing and entering the Discord (which is lit).Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.If you’re a founder, Mercury is the banking product you need. It is THE bank for startups. I was a raving fan of Mercury as a customer…then I pounded on their door until they let me invest. It’s the banking product you’ve always wished you had.Capchase is a new financing option for fast-growing startups. Their main product Capchase Grow lets you tap into your future revenue today, meaning you can reinvest in your business faster. We love what they are offering to business owners. They are offering Where It Happens listeners .25% off their first draw, preferred onboarding, and more. Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesLaunch House - Partnerships AssociateEvergreen Services Group - Private Equity Talent AnalystThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Talent Agent, Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 51,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
12/1/202110 minutes, 3 seconds
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Paradoxes of Life

Welcome to the 2,497 (!!!) new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 49,371 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by AppSumo!I have found some life changing products on AppSumo. From productivity tools to teleprompter portals, AppSumo is my go-to place for discovering and investing in unique business-building products at a deep discount to their market rate.This Black Friday, AppSumo is rolling out some insane deals on digital products at discounts of up to 90% off. This is their biggest sale of the year and they sell out quickly! Click the link below and grow your startup today. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this.Today at a Glance:A paradox is defined as a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.Life is full of paradoxes. Once you become aware of them, you will find yourself empowered to use them to your advantage.Paradoxes of LifeParadox: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.From a young age, we are pressured to view the world as linear and logical—when in reality it is anything but. Many of life’s most important truths appear contradictory or convoluted on the surface.Look around long enough and you’ll realize the ultimate truth:Life is full of paradoxes.They are everywhere around you. They have the potential to confuse…or empower.Once you become aware of these paradoxes—once you truly internalize them—you will find yourself empowered to use them to your advantage.To get you started on this journey, here are 20+ powerful paradoxes of life…The Persuasion ParadoxHave you noticed that the most argumentative people rarely persuade anyone of…well…anything?The most persuasive people don’t argue—they observe, listen, and ask questions.Argue less, persuade more.Persuasion is an art that requires a paintbrush, not a sledgehammer.The Effort ParadoxSprezzatura is an Italian word meaning “studied carelessness”—it encapsulates the effortful art of appearing effortless.You have to put in more effort to make something appear effortless.Effortless, elegant performances are often the result of a large volume of effortful, gritty practice.Watch videos of Roger Federer playing tennis in his prime. There is a certain nonchalance to his actions on the court, but this nonchalance was the earned result of endless hours of studied, careful, meticulous practice.Small things become big things. Simple is not simple.The Wisdom Paradox“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.” — Albert EinsteinThe more you learn, the more you are exposed to the immense unknown.This should be empowering, not frightening. Embrace your own ignorance. Embrace lifelong learning.The Productivity ParadoxParkinson's Law says that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.Work longer, get less done.When you establish fixed hours to your work, you find unproductive ways to fill it.Modern work culture is a remnant of the Industrial Age. It encourages long periods of steady, monotonous work unsuited for the Information Age.To do truly great, creative work, you have to be a lion. Sprint when inspired. Rest. Repeat.The Money ParadoxYou have to lose money in order to make money.Every successful investor & builder has stories of the invaluable lessons learned from a terrible loss in their career. Sometimes you have to pay to learn.Put skin in the game. Scared money don't make money!The Growth ParadoxGrowth takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you ever would have thought.Growth happens gradually, then suddenly.When you realize this, you start to do things differently—apply effort appropriately, stay the course, and let compounding work its magic.The Failure ParadoxYou have to fail more to succeed more.Our greatest moments of growth often stem directly from our greatest failures.Don’t fear failure, just learn to fail smart and fast.After all, getting punched in the face—a few times, but not too many—builds a strong jaw.The Say No ParadoxTake on less, accomplish more.Success doesn’t come from taking on everything that comes your way. It comes from focus—deep focus on the tasks that really matter.Say yes to what matters, say no to what doesn’t. Protect your time as a gift to be cherished.The Speed ParadoxYou have to slow down to speed up.Slowing down gives you the time to be deliberate with your actions. You can focus, gather energy, and deploy your resources more efficiently.It allows you to focus on leverage and ROI, not effort.Move slow to move fast.The Death ParadoxYou must know your death in order to truly live your life.Memento Mori is a Stoic reminder of the certainty and inescapability of death. It is not intended to be morbid; rather, to clarify, illuminate, and inspire.Death is inevitable. Live while you're alive.The Fear ParadoxThe thing we fear the most is often the thing we need the most.Fears—when avoided—become limiters on our growth and life.Make a habit of getting closer to your fears.Then take the leap (metaphorically!)—you may just find growth on the other side.The News ParadoxThe more news you consume, the less well-informed you are.Taleb calls it the noise bottleneck: As you consume more data, the noise to signal ratio increases, so you end up knowing less about what is actually going on.Want to know more about the world? Turn off the news.The Icarus ParadoxIt is a classic tale of Greek mythology.Icarus crafted wings out of feathers and beeswax to escape an island. He began to fly—the wings working wonders. But he quickly became blinded by his own engineering prowess and flew too close to the sun, which caused the beeswax to melt and sent him plummeting to his death.What makes you successful can lead to your downfall.An incumbent achieves success with one thing, but overconfidence blinds them to coming disruption. Beware!The Shrinking ParadoxIn order to grow, sometimes you need to shrink.Growth is never linear. Shedding deadweight may feel like a step back, but it is a necessity for long-term growth.One step back, two steps forward is a recipe for consistent, long-term success.The Looking ParadoxYou may have to stop looking in order to find what you are looking for.Have you noticed that when you are looking for something, you rarely find it?Stop looking—what you’re looking for may just find you.Applies to love, business, investing, or life...The Hamlet Paradox"I must be cruel only to be kind." — HamletIn Hamlet, the protagonist is forced to take a seemingly cruel action in order to prevent a much larger harm.Life is so complex. The long-term righteous course may be the one that appears short-term anything but.The Tony Robbins ParadoxIn investing, the willingness to admit you have no competitive advantage can be the ultimate competitive advantage.Strong self-awareness breeds high-quality decision-making. Foolish self-confidence breeds nothing of use.Be self-aware—act accordingly.The Talking Paradox“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” — EpictetusIf you want your words and ideas to be heard, start by talking less and listening more. You’ll find more power in your words.Talk less to be heard more.The Connectedness ParadoxMore connectedness, less connected.We're constantly connected—bombarded by notifications and dopamine hits. But while we have more connectedness, we feel less connected.Put down the phone. Look someone in the eye. Have a conversation. Breathe.The Taleb Surgeon ParadoxLooking the part is sometimes the worst indicator of competency.The one who doesn’t look the part has had to overcome much more to achieve its status than the one from central casting.If forced to choose, choose the one that doesn’t look the part.The Constant Change Paradox“When you are finished changing, you are finished.” — Benjamin FranklinThe only constant in life is change. Entropy is reality. It’s the one thing you can always count on—the only constant.Embrace it—be dynamic, be adaptable.The Control ParadoxMore controlling, less control.We have all seen or experienced this as children, partners, or parents. The most controlling often end up with the least control.Humans are wired for independence—any attempts to counter this will be met with resistance.Life is full of paradoxes.They are everywhere around you. Don’t let them cloud your path.Internalize them—use them to your advantage.I hope this post helps you do just that…Where It Happens PodcastEpisode 2: The NSFW Framework & the Magic of Community-Product Fit with Amanda GoetzWatch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the community by subscribing and entering the Discord (which is lit).Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.If you’re a founder, Mercury is the banking product you need. It is THE bank for startups. I was a raving fan of Mercury as a customer…then I pounded on their door until they let me invest. It’s the banking product you’ve always wished you had.This Black Friday, AppSumo is rolling out some insane deals on digital products at discounts of up to 90% off. This is their biggest sale of the year and they sell out quickly! Click here to find products to grow your startup today. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMetafy - Employee Experience Manager, Community Support ManagerLaunch House - Partnerships Associate, Growth SpecialistEvergreen Services Group - Private Equity Talent AnalystPathpoint - Sales Development ManagerMatter - Design LeadThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Talent Agent, Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. If you’re celebrating…Happy Thanksgiving!Join the 49,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
11/24/202110 minutes, 32 seconds
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The Cantillon Effect: How the Rich Get Richer

Welcome to the 1,236 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 46,076 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Eight Sleep!The Eight Sleep Pod Pro has legitimately changed my life.Sleep is the secret of the world’s top performers. Thousands of the world’s greatest CEOs, investors, and operators—and this humble newsletter writer—rely on the Eight Sleep Pod Pro to power their performance. It has patented technology to help you sleep at the perfect temperature all night, which research has shown can make you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper—so you can wake up energized to attack the day.Special Offer: For a limited time, Curiosity Chronicle subscribers can use the special link below to get $250 off on their first Eight Sleep purchase!Today at a Glance:The Cantillon Effect is an economic concept on the distributional consequences of new money creation created by Irish-French economist and philosopher Richard Cantillon in a 1755 paper.In simple terms, the Cantillon Effect says that the flow path of new money matters—those closest to the source and entry point of the new money benefit first and most handsomely.The robust monetary and fiscal response to COVID-19—and a surging wealth inequality problem—has re-ignited the discussion over the distributional consequences of the crisis response and thrown the Cantillon Effect back into the mainstream lexicon.The Cantillon Effect: How the Rich Get RicherThe Cantillon Effect is the most important economic concept you’ve likely never heard of. In today’s newsletter, I’d like to fix that.Here’s a simple breakdown of the Cantillon Effect—what it is, how it works, and why you should care.BackgroundRichard Cantillon was an Irish-French economist and philosopher born in the 1680s.He is something of a mystery man—not much is known about his life. Early in his career, he achieved material success as a banker and merchant—success that historians have attributed to the formidable political and business connections Cantillon made through his family and employer.This fact would prove relevant to his work later in life. At a young age, he had learned of the impact and importance of proximity to power...In the early 1700s, Cantillon is believed to have accumulated significant wealth through speculation in a variety of ventures, including John Law’s infamous Mississippi Company (which would collapse spectacularly, see this thread for more).Around 1730, influenced by his experience to date, Cantillon wrote a paper—Essai Sur La Nature Du Commerce En Général (translation: Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General)—today considered a foundational work in the study of the political economy. It is a broad, overarching paper with significant contributions to the study of economics.While it achieved wide circulation in manuscript form, it was not published until 1755, well after his death in a house fire in 1734.The Cantillon EffectWhile recognized for a variety of insights and contributions, Essai is most well known for its discussion of the distributional consequences of new money creation and the concept of relative inflation.In the paper, Cantillon posited that the early recipients of new money entering an economy will benefit more significantly than those it trickles down to.In other words, the "flow path" of the new money through a system matters.In 18th century terms, Cantillon effectively observed that those closest to the king—the source of money and power of the era—benefitted first when new money entered the economy. In the 18th century, proximity to money and power really mattered.Broadly speaking, Cantillon noted that new money creates disproportionate effects based on where it enters the system.The Cantillon Effect was born...A Simple IllustrationTo bring this theory to life, let's walk through a (very) simple story to illustrate Cantillon's central point.Imagine you live in a tiny, enclosed island society.One morning, you wake up to find a small package on your doorstep. You open it up and gasp—it has $1 million in it.Great! But now what?No one else knows you received this package. You now secretly have $1 million new dollars. Naturally, you start spending it (and maybe investing it) quickly. Prices are still low, because no one knows these new dollars exist yet!Your standard of living improves rapidly. You buy yourself the nicest house, the most beautiful clothes, and a bunch of land.But now, the other island inhabitants start to see and feel this new money flowing through the system. Prices begin to rise as demand surges but supply has yet to "catch up" to the new consumption. It takes time for supply to ramp.So while the money improved your life, it didn’t benefit others in the same way:The sellers of the goods—who received your cash—now face rising prices when they consume.The workers who produced the goods—who earned wages from the sellers—similarly face rising prices (despite stagnant wages).You benefitted materially from the new money, but they didn’t. There were distributional effects—the flow path of this new money mattered!This is—quite obviously—an ultra-simplified example, but it gets at the essence of the problem that Cantillon highlighted almost 300 years ago: Proximity to the source of new money is relevant—the entry point and flow path have distributional consequences.But why should you care about all of this today?The Cantillon Effect in ActionWell, with the "money printing" activity of central banks globally and an ever expanding wealth inequality problem (see the chart below), mentions of the Cantillon Effect have accelerated.It's a useful framework through which to evaluate the monetary and fiscal response to COVID (and any future inevitable crises).The simplistic view of what I see today:The Federal Reserve's escalating asset purchases have an injection point at the top.Direct stimulus checks—on the other hand—have an injection point at the bottom. The former was much larger $$$ than the latter—$4.5 trillion vs. $400 billion.Look at this chart of the Fed’s balance sheet over time, where you can see the spike since COVID halted our economy in March 2020.The asset purchases—and rock-bottom interest rates, among other things—generally benefit asset owners (the wealthy). Those with a significant portion of their net worth in equities, real estate, or similar assets have benefitted tremendously over the last 18 months.Wage earners—who received some degree of support via direct stimulus but did not benefit in the same way from the asset appreciation—are seemingly getting the short end of the stick.Inflation—particularly across food and energy prices—will have a disproportionate impact on their standard of living.Note: To be sure, the drivers of this inflation that we are currently experiencing are complex and multifaceted—see my pieces on the supply chain disarray and energy crisis—but surging demand from a glut of money in the system appears to be at least a contributing factor.ConclusionBy now, everyone has heard that inflation is running hot in the U.S. But perhaps more importantly, it's also running disproportionately hot—as exhibited in this chart from Bloomberg this week. So what do you think? Was Cantillon right? Are there clear distributional consequences to these new money policies that must be considered? And if so, what can we do about it?I hope this piece provides you with a solid foundation of understanding on the Cantillon Effect.My goal is for this to be educational, not political. In my view, this should not be a political debate—it should be a grounded discussion we all have when we consider the impact of various monetary and fiscal policies proposed by our leaders.If you are interested in trading directly against inflation levels, check out Kalshi, the first CFTC-regulated event contract marketplace, where you can trade on a variety of inflation-related “yes-no” questions. I’ve been using it and really enjoying it (for learning and investing reasons). Not sponsored, just a fan of the platform.I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment in the newsletter and I’ll respond!Where It Happens PodcastEpisode 1: Disruptive Innovation & Unbundling the S&P 500Watch it on YouTube and listen to it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Want more? Join the community by subscribing and entering the Discord (which is on fire).Special thanks to our sponsors for providing us with the support to bring this episode to life.If you’re a founder, Mercury is the banking product you need. It is THE bank for startups. I was a raving fan of Mercury as a customer…then I pounded on their door until they let me invest. It’s the banking product you’ve always wished you had.AppSumo is the leading digital marketplace for entrepreneurs, and the best way to get your product in front of 1M+ entrepreneurs, founders, and small businesses.​ This Black Friday AppSumo is bringing you 20 new deals on digital products at discounts of up to 90% off. This is their biggest sale of the year and they sell out quickly! All you have to do is click here before November 21st, enter your email address, and they’ll send you the exclusive deals.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMetafy - Employee Experience Manager, Community Support ManagerLaunch House - Partnerships Associate, Growth SpecialistEvergreen Services Group - Private Equity Talent AnalystPathpoint - Sales Development ManagerMatter - Design LeadSuperLayer - CFO, Founding PMThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Talent Agent, Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 46,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
11/17/20218 minutes, 30 seconds
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The Framework Handbook

Welcome to the 1,050 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 44,581 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Pesto!Problem: You’re a fast-growing startup, but you’re struggling to hire great engineers right now.Solution: Pesto—a platform that matches the millions of talented developers in India with the one million unfilled engineering roles in the West. Pesto’s developers are trained—on both hard and soft skills—through a rigorous bootcamp. The result? Access to a growing pool of highly-qualified, vetted engineering talent, right at your fingertips.Pesto has successfully placed developers at companies like Synthesis School, Rippling, OnDeck, Alloy Automation, and more.To talk to Pesto about filling those engineering roles that have been plaguing your investor updates for months, click the link below and tell them Sahil sent you!Today at a Glance:Frameworks are compasses—they provide clarity by creating structure through which to evaluate situations, deploy shortcuts, and execute sound decisions.When used appropriately, they can meaningfully improve the quality of your decision-making (and reduce stress along the way).The Framework Handbook below provides 20 useful frameworks and tips on when to put them to use.The Framework HandbookEvery single day, you are faced with thousands of questions, challenges, and decisions.These decisions can range from small and simple (what color shirt to wear) to large and complex (whether to quit your job). While an individual decision may not feel overwhelming, when taken in total, our lives can begin to feel like we are navigating a small boat on the open ocean—during a hurricane.Fortunately, there are frameworks that can help us navigate these treacherous waters—our compasses, if you will.Frameworks provide clarity by creating structure through which to evaluate situations, deploy shortcuts, and execute sound decisions. When used appropriately, they can meaningfully improve the quality of your decision-making (and reduce stress along the way).Here are 20 useful frameworks & when to use them:The Feynman TechniqueThe Feynman Technique—developed by famed American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman—is a proven method for learning anything.Here’s how it works:Identify a topic: What is the topic you want to learn more about? Identify the topic and write down everything you know about it. Read and research the topic and write down all of your new learnings (and the sources of each). This first step sets the stage for what is to come.Try to explain it to a 5-year-old: Attempt to explain the topic to a child. Once again, write down everything you know about your topic, but this time, pretend you are explaining it to a child. Use simple language and terms. Focus on brevity.Study to fill in knowledge gaps: Reflect on your performance in Step 2. How well were you able to explain the topic to a child? Where did you get frustrated? Where did you resort to jargon or get stuck? These are the gaps in your understanding. Read and study to fill them.Organize, convey, and review: Organize your elegant, simple language into a compelling story or narrative. Convey it to others. Test-and-learn. Iterate and refine your story or narrative accordingly. Review (and respect) your new, deeper understanding of the topic.True genius is the ability to simplify, not complicate. Simple is beautiful.Use It When: You need to learn anything new.Directional Arrow of Progress"Study the undeniable arrows of progress." — Josh WolfeThe future is extremely difficult to predict—but there are clues. Look at the trend line of progress and where it's pointing—directionally, not precisely. Invest (or build) accordingly.Famed investor Josh Wolfe—one of the smartest, kindest people I have ever met—developed this framework to accurately predict where the future of technology is heading. If it’s good enough for Josh, it’s good enough for all of us.Use It When: You are deciding what to invest or build on a longer time horizon.The Eisenhower Decision MatrixPresident Dwight Eisenhower was an American military officer and 34th President of the United States. He was known for his prolific productivity.His secret? He always differentiated between the urgent and the important.An "urgent" task is one that requires immediate, focused attention to complete. An "important" task is one that promotes or furthers your long-term values, goals, or principles. Remember: Tasks can be both urgent and important.Place all of your tasks on a 2x2 matrix of urgency and importance:Important & UrgentImportant & Not UrgentNot Important & UrgentNot Important & Not UrgentPrioritize, delegate, or delete accordingly.Use It When: You are prioritizing your to-do list.The Regret Minimization FrameworkA framework developed by Jeff Bezos as part of his decision to leave a lucrative hedge fund job at D.E. Shaw to pursue founding Amazon.The goal is to minimize the number of regrets in life.When faced with a difficult decision:Project yourself into the futureLook back on the decisionAsk "Will I regret not doing this?"Take action accordinglyUse It When: You are making your next big, bold decision.The Kat Cole Pygmalion EffectKat Cole is a prolific operator and trusted advisor of some of the world’s highest performing entrepreneurs.She has noticed time and again that high expectations lead to high performance (and vice versa)—a phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect. If you consistently see people as their highest potential, they will achieve more.When you're occasionally let down, consider it a tax you pay for all the benefit from those you believed in.Use It When: You are managing a new team.The Taleb "Look the Part" Framework“Say you had the choice between two surgeons of similar rank in the same department in some hospital. The first is highly refined in appearance…The second one looks like a butcher…Now if I had to pick, I would overcome my suckerproneness and take the butcher any minute…Why? Simply the one who doesn’t look the part, conditional of having made a (sort of) successful career in his profession, had to have much to overcome in terms of perception.” — Nassim Nicholas TalebIf forced to choose between two options of seemingly equal merit, choose the one that doesn’t look the part.The one who doesn’t look the part has had to overcome much more to achieve its status than the one who fit in perfectly.Use It When: You are deciding who to select (for your team, surgery, or anything else).Decentralized Friend GroupsThere are two types of friend groups:Centralized Friend Groups: one cluster of friends with shared backgrounds and beliefs.Decentralized Friend Groups: small clusters of friends unconnected to each other.When in doubt, opt for decentralized friend groups. It will lead to the development of more independent thought.Kudos to my decentralized friend group friend George Mack for this one!Use It When: You are building new bonds and friendships.The Bragging FrameworkTruly successful people rarely feel the need to boast about their success.If someone regularly boasts about their income, wealth, or success, it’s fair to assume the reality is a fraction of what they claim.Use It When: You are listening to someone go on and on about their wealth/success.The Naval Lion FrameworkModern work culture is a remnant of the Industrial Age. It encourages long periods of steady, monotonous work unsuited for the Information Age.To do truly great, creative work, you have to be a lion.Sprint when inspired. Rest. Repeat.Use It When: You are structuring your schedule or deciding what type of job or company you want to work for.The Seinfeld Calendar FrameworkJerry Seinfeld is a tremendously inspiring figure to study for creatives and non-creatives alike.He would hang a huge calendar on the wall and use a red marker to put an X over every day that he completed his daily writing habit. It wasn't about the writing being good or high quality, it was about the consistency of the practice.Naturally, this applies to more than just writing...Use It When: You are trying to form a new habit.Disruptive Innovation FrameworkThe late Clayton Christensen developed his theory of disruptive innovation in the mid-1990s.The process of disruptive innovation—according to Christensen—involved a smaller company challenging an established incumbent by entering at the bottom of the market and methodically moving up-market.It generally plays out over a few key steps:Incumbents develop a product or service for the most profitable customers, ignoring other customers.Upstarts target the ignored market segment—which is typically over- or under-served by the incumbent’s offering—and win by delivering exactly what is needed at a lower cost compared to the incumbent.Incumbents don’t respond—choosing to continue their focus on the most profitable customers.Upstarts methodically move upmarket.Upstarts eventually attract the incumbent’s profitable customers, completing the cycle of disruptive innovation.Watch this play out in a number of sectors right now—financial services chief among them.Use It When: You are evaluating an incumbent, its market, and the potential for new upstarts to eat into its market share.Skin in the GameA logical concept popularized by Nicholas Nassim Taleb in his so-named book.Skin in the game means that the key principals participate in both the upside and downside associated with any decisions. Always look for its presence in any new situation.Avoid games where those making the rules don't have any skin in the game.Use It When: You are evaluating a company, government policy proposal, or any new game you are looking to participate in.7 PowersHamilton Helmer's "7 Powers" is a holy grail of business strategy.The 7 Powers are the foundation of durable value creation:Cornered Resources: Preferential access at attractive terms to a coveted asset that can independently enhance value.Counter-Positioning: A newcomer adopts a new, superior business model which the incumbent does not mimic due to anticipated damage to their existing business.Network Economies: The value of a service to each user increases as new users join the network.Scale Economies: Unit costs decline as production volumes increase.Switching Costs: The value loss expected by a customer that would be incurred from switching to an alternative supplier for additional purchases.Branding: The durable attribution of higher value to an objectively identical offering that arises from historic info about the seller.Process Power: Embedded company organisation and activity sets which enable lower costs and/or superior product.The presence of one or more of these “powers” tends to signal durable competitive advantage that may create a long-term business moat.Use It When: You are evaluating a new investment’s long-term growth prospects.Play to LearnThe way we learn has fundamentally changed:Old Way: Learn to PlayNew Way: Play to LearnWe are living in an unprecedented era—historical boundaries are being broken, enabling anyone to participate. If you're trying to learn anything new, insert yourself into the game. Immerse yourself. Put some skin in the game as necessary.It's the only way.Use It When: You are trying to learn about a new mega-trend.Porter's Five ForcesA famous framework for analyzing the competitive intensity of a given market.The five forces to consider:Competitive Rivalry: The number of existing competitors in the market and their individual ability to undercut and compete against the company.Supplier Power: The ease with which suppliers can drive up the cost of inputs in the market.Customer Power: The ease with which customers can drive down the prices in the market.Threat of Substitution: The difficulty level of substitution for the core products or services.Threat of New Entry: The difficulty level and likelihood of new entrants entering the market.Thoughtful consideration of these forces will lead to better outcomes.Use It When: You are considering an investment in a company or when crafting a long-term strategy for your company.The Weekend Test"What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years." — Chris DixonObserve the weekend projects of the smartest people in your circles. Odds are those will become a key part of our future.Invest accordingly.Use It When: You are thinking about what the future might look like and where to invest your time, energy, and capital.The Paul Graham Crazy Idea FrameworkIf someone proposes a crazy idea, ask two questions:Are they a domain expert?Do I know them to be a reasonable person?If yes on both (1) and (2), you should take the idea seriously, as it may be an asymmetric bet on the future.Use It When: You are about to write off some seemingly absurd new idea as pure fantasy.The Duck TestIf it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.You can determine a lot about a company or person by regularly observing its or their habitual characteristics.Use It When: You are deciding whether or not you can trust someone.Newton's Flaming Laser SwordIf something cannot be settled by experiment or observation, it is not worth debating. This will save you from wasting a lot of time on pointless arguments.Use It When: You are dealing with the next internet troll or irrational argument at work."What Will Stay the Same?" Framework“I very frequently get the question: 'What's going to change in the next 10 years?' And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one. I almost never get the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?' And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two—because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time...In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that's going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It's impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, 'Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,' or 'I love Amazon; I just wish you'd deliver a little more slowly.' Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.” — Jeff BezosSorry for the long quote, but the entire thing is worth reading. Investing in what might change is risky, but investing in what will stay the same is safe.The future is hard to predict, so looking for constants you can deliver against may provide a cleaner path to success.Use It When: You are crafting a long-term strategy for your startup or company.Frameworks can help us navigate the treacherous waters of our lives—they provide clarity by creating structure through which to evaluate situations, deploy shortcuts, and execute sound decisions.Those are 20 frameworks I have found useful—pick one (or a few) and give them a shot. Let me know what you think!Special thank you to @drex_jpg for the beautiful visuals! Follow for more.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMetafy - Employee Experience Manager, Community Support ManagerLaunch House - Partnerships Associate, Growth SpecialistEvergreen Services Group - Private Equity Talent AnalystPractice - Head of MarketingPathpoint - Sales Development ManagerMatter - Design LeadPanther - Customer Delight ManagerSuperLayer - CFO, Founding PMFree Agency - Sales Lead, Talent Agent for TechSmartAsset - Acquisition Manager, Paid SearchThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Talent Agent, Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 44,500+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends!P.S. Podcast episodes start rolling out this week. Special thanks to our first sponsors Mercury and AppSumo for supporting what we are building. Sign up to stay in the loop! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
11/10/202117 minutes, 56 seconds
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Your Zone of Genius

Welcome to the 590 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 42,681 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Eight Sleep!Trust me…you can’t find and operate in your Zone of Genius without proper sleep. Thousands of the world’s greatest CEOs, investors, and operators—and this humble newsletter writer—rely on the Eight Sleep Pod Pro to power their performance. It has patented technology to help you sleep at the perfect temperature all night, which research has shown can make you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper—so you can wake up energized to attack the day. I love my Eight Sleep Pod Pro and know you will too.Special Offer: For a limited time, Curiosity Chronicle subscribers can use the special link below to get $150 off on their first Eight Sleep purchase!Today at a Glance:Your Zone of Genius is where your interests, passions and skills align. Operating in it means you stop playing their games and start playing yours. It means you start playing games you are uniquely well-suited to win.Finding and operating in your Zone of Genius is a direct path to a more fulfilling, productive, and successful career.My simple framework is four steps: (1) Experiment & Collect, (2) Build Your Matrix, (3) Identify Your Zones, and (4) Execute.Your Zone of Genius“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — UnknownA few weeks ago, I shared a thread—How to Win (without talent or luck)—that earned a lot of attention.One of the most popular insights in the piece was the idea of operating in your Zone of Genius.But I got a lot of questions about how to practically achieve that, so I decided to dive in deeper on the topic.I first came across the concept of the Zone of Genius in an interview of Naval Ravikant, though have since been informed that the origin of the idea is Gay Hendricks and his book, The Genius Zone (which is now on my reading list!).My perspectives and framework—which are shared in this newsletter—are the result of my own personal 10+ year struggle with finding and operating in my Zone of Genius. My hope is that this piece helps you find and operate in yours.BackgroundWhat is a Zone of Genius?Your Zone of Genius is roughly defined as where your interests, passions and skills align—it is your place of harmony. Operating in it means you stop playing their games and start playing yours. It means you start playing games you are uniquely well-suited to win.Imagine Serena Williams playing on a grand stage in the finals at Wimbledon. She knows exactly what match she wants to play. She doesn’t want to play her opponent’s game—she wants to play her game. She wants to play the game that she is uniquely well-suited to win—the one that plays into her strengths and away from her weaknesses. She wants to operate within her Zone of Genius.But let's get one thing straight: This concept isn’t just for the most elite among us (like Serena!). Everyone has a Zone of Genius!"Genius" here is a relative term, not an absolute. It's not about being top 1% at some craft—it's about the unique space where your relative strengths are accentuated (and relative weaknesses masked).Furthermore, everyone’s Zone of Genius is different and completely unique to them as an individual. The goal of a founder, startup, or organization, therefore, is to build a team with complementary—not conflicting—Zones of Genius. This is where 1+1=3!Sounds great—but how do you identify your Zone of Genius and operate more frequently in it?My simple framework is effectively 4 steps:Experiment & CollectBuild Your MatrixIdentify Your ZonesExecuteLet's walk through each step...Experiment & CollectThe notion that you should know what you want to do with your life by the time you graduate college is one of the greatest lies you've been told by the world.You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, so why buy a career or life without one?You have to experiment and collect data in order to make informed decisions.Importantly, you should experiment wildly. Try different things. Test out different working styles. This doesn't mean skipping from job to job—you can experiment on nights, on weekends, etc.One of the best ways to experiment and data collect is simply talking to as many different people as possible. Ask them about their work and path. Learn from the experiences of others. It’s an invaluable way to de-risk your own decision-making.Additionally, the data collection should be both internal—your own perspectives—and external—the perspectives of others.To collect data from those around you, ask about their experiences working with you:What am I great at?What am I bad at?When do you perceive me as being in the flow?When do you perceive me as being forced?The goal from the experimentation and data collection is to build a wide base of information from which you can assess your own competencies and passions.Experimentation and data collection is not a fixed, static process—it is dynamic and iterative. You should never really finish experimenting and collecting.Remember: As you grow and change, your Zone of Genius may well do the same.Build Your MatrixThe next step is to take all of the data collected from your experiments and build a skill map.What is a skill map?I like to imagine it as a sheet listing every possible skill and capability. For every single one, there is a spectrum from 0 (minimum competency) to 1 (maximum competency).You can theoretically place yourself somewhere on that spectrum for each. This is your skill map—it tells you your competency level across a range of skills.But in my view, competency is just one critical plane—passion is the other critical plane. So to visualize this, I like to think of it as a matrix:With this matrix as a guide, you can place each skill in one of the four quadrants.High Competency, High PassionHigh Competency, Low PassionLow Competency, High PassionLow Competency, Low PassionIf you’re new to this, I would recommend literally writing the various skills in little bubbles on the matrix—it’s a productive exercise, and one that I have done several times over the last few years.The matrix—both your current version and the progression over time—becomes your powerful visual tool to bring this entire concept to life.Identify Your ZonesWith the matrix in hand, you can start to identify your various zones, which were popularized as a concept by Gay Hendricks in his aforementioned book.The 4 key zones to identify on your matrix:Zone of Incompetence: you are bad at these things; outsource to others who are good at them.Zone of Neutrality: you are ok at these things; outsource to others who are as good or better at them.Zone of Excellence: you are excellent at these things, but you don’t love them. This is the danger zone. You will be asked—and tempted—to work here given your competency, but it can be a trap. Many people can have productive lives in this zone, but still lack the pure fulfillment found in the Zone of Genius.Zone of Genius: you are excellent at these things and you love to do them.Note 1: I was asked about the top-left quadrant by several commenters. The top-left quadrant (low competency, high passion) is what I think of as the “get better” quadrant. Your passion should allow you to work at that skill diligently to improve your competency.Note 2: It is possible that high competency leads to high (or increasing) passion, but I would argue that you need to disaggregate being good at something from actual enjoyment and love of it. We all love affirmation, but ask yourself whether you would really love something even if everyone stopped telling you that you were good at it. That’s the key!ExecuteOk, so you've identified your Zone of Genius. Now what?By placing the various skills and capabilities within each zone, you've developed a clearer picture of where and how you should aim to spend your time. But that's just part of the battle...You have to execute.Let me start by saying that it’s an extreme luxury to have the opportunity to operate in your Zone of Genius 75% of the time—let alone 100% of the time. Few will ever be lucky enough to do this.For most of us—myself included—the goal should be to maximize time spent in your Zone of Genius (and minimize time spent in the others), but 100% is probably a bit of a pipe dream.Your Zone of Genius has a reality override that kicks in from time to time…If you work in a company, the best approach is to have a clear, candid conversation with your teams and managers about your zones. If you have the matrix mapped out, bring it with you as a way to help them visualize your points.Even better, encourage the full team to conduct a similar exercise—with everyone mapped, it becomes easier to piece the puzzle together.If you're running into a wall—with a company or manager who fails to recognize your perspectives—it may be time for a change.Let the market determine which companies survive by allowing for the free flow of talent to the places that allow employees to thrive.If you work on your own, be honest with yourself about what daily activities fall in what zones. Be ruthless in outsourcing to maximize the time you spend in your Zone of Genius. Your results and performance will improve in line with your ability to execute.SummaryFinding and operating in your Zone of Genius is a direct path to a more fulfilling, productive, and successful career. When you play your games—games you are uniquely well-suited to win—everything gets better.My hope is that this piece—and the framework shared within—helps you find and operate in your Zone of Genius.Wishing you all the best of luck on your respective journeys!Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMetafy - Employee Experience Manager, Community Support Manager (NEW DROP!)Launch House - Partnerships Associate, Growth Specialist (NEW DROP!)Practice - Head of MarketingPathpoint - Sales Development ManagerMatter - Design LeadPanther - Customer Delight ManagerSuperLayer - CFO, Founding PMFree Agency - Sales Lead, Talent Agent for TechMaven - Marketing LeadSmartAsset - Acquisition Manager, Paid SearchThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Talent Agent, Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 42,500+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends!P.S. Here’s a behind-the-scenes photo I like from the first filming of the Where It Happens podcast (with Howard Lindzon!). Sign up to stay in the loop! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
11/3/202111 minutes, 2 seconds
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How to Win (without talent or luck)

Welcome to the 2,038 new members (!!!) of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 40,307 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Eight Sleep!Winning starts with your sleep. Thousands of the world’s greatest CEOs, investors, and operators—and this humble newsletter writer—rely on the Eight Sleep Pod Pro to power their performance. It has patented technology to help you sleep at the perfect temperature all night, which research has shown can make you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper—so you can wake up energized to win the day. I love my Eight Sleep Pod Pro and know you will too.Special Offer: For a limited time, Curiosity Chronicle subscribers can use the special link below to get $150 off on their first Eight Sleep purchase!How to Win (without talent or luck)We all want to win.Our definitions of “winning” vary—it may mean happiness and fulfillment to some, money and fame to others—but in some way, shape, or form, we all want to win.The problem? We’ve been told that we can’t win without incredible talent (or sensational luck).This is wrong.Here’s How to Win (without talent or luck): 20+ principles for your career, relationships, and life…Operate in Your Zone of GeniusYour Zone of Genius is where your interests, passions and skills align.Operating in your Zone of Genius means playing games you are uniquely well-suited to win.Once you identify it, you can stop playing *their* games and start playing *yours*.Adopt a Positive Sum MentalityWant to get ahead in life? Start genuinely rooting for others to succeed.When one of us wins, we all win—winning spreads. If you adopt that mentality, you’ll become a magnet for the highest quality people.Speak UpClosed mouths don’t get fed. A little push goes a long way.Don't sit back and wait for good things to happen. If you want something—and you’ve put in the work for it—speak up and ask for it.Worst Case: you’re told no and nothing has changed.Best Case: it’s yours.Play Long-Term GamesLife is the ultimate long game.Those with low time preference play it more effectively—they happily delay gratification to allow compounding to work its magic. In a world of people seeking instant gratification, this is a meaningful edge.Have a High Tolerance for FailureWe fear failure, so most of us play it safe to avoid it. But our greatest moments of growth often stem directly from our greatest failures.Don't accept failure, but don't fear it either.You will fail. Embrace it. Fail smart and fast.Follow Your CuriosityHumans are born with astonishing curiosity. But somewhere along the way, we're told to stop asking questions.Push back.Learn to follow your curiosity—trust it. For the curious mind, anything is possible. Fortune favors the curious.Adopt a Process OrientationPrioritize process, not outcomes.When you prioritize process, you become flexible in where you are headed—you focus on the inputs and stop worrying about the outputs.Just keep laying one brick at a time—forward progress is all that matters.Prioritize PeopleEverything in life comes down to people and relationships.Networks compound as well as any financial investment. Build an army of mentors, friends, and evangelists that is deep and wide. Cultivate deep relationships, but also embrace the power of weak ties.Work Like a LionModern work culture is a remnant of the Industrial Age. It encourages long periods of steady, monotonous work unsuited for the Information Age.If your goal is to do inspired, creative work, you have to work as a lion works.Sprint when inspired. Rest. Repeat.Become AntifragileIn Greek mythology, the Hydra is a creature that has multiple heads. When one head is cut off, two grow back in its place.Life is random and chaotic. Don't be broken by the chaos—rather, adopt a mentality and build structure and systems such that you will benefit from it.Change Your MindWillingness to change one's mind is a rarity in today's society.It's great to have a strong view, but always open your mind to counterarguments. Stubborn objection to alternative perspectives stalls progress. Strive for strong opinions, weakly held.Never Get Too Big to Do the SmallThe leaders of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team famously stay late to “sweep the shed” after a match.Why? Because small things become big things.Whether you're working in the mailroom or the corner office, never get too big to do the small things well.Learn StorytellingStorytelling is a foundational skill—but it's one we don’t learn in the traditional education system.It's no coincidence that the highest performers are the strongest storytellers.High-leverage storytelling is a supercharger for all human endeavors.Develop a Bias for MotionA body in motion tends to stay in motion—a body at rest tends to stay at rest.When in doubt, just start moving.Become Relentlessly ConsistentMany people are able to show up once or twice and produce wild, disorganized bursts of energy—few are able to show up day in, day out and produce consistent, steady flows of energy.The former may seem flashy, but the latter is relentless. Take pride in punching the clock—in showing up—every single day.It's hard to bet against the person who just keeps showing up.Simplify Where Others Complicate“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple." — EinsteinComplexity and jargon are often used to mask a lack of deep understanding. Learn with a depth such that you can convey the complex in simple, digestible ways.Find beauty in simplicity.Be Comfortable with DiscomfortWe are conditioned to avoid discomfort, so most of us do.The problem? Discomfort is a precursor to growth—it is an absolute necessity.Steel your mind and body—accept and embrace discomfort. Those that do have the ultimate competitive edge.Have Strong Plans, Loosely HeldIt's important to have a plan. But as Mike Tyson famously said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."Plans have to be dynamic—and punch-proof! You'll only go as far as your ability to absorb, gather, and pivot on the fly.Pay It ForwardNo matter how far you go, realize that you didn’t make it on your own.Pay it forward.Be a mentor. Be a champion for others. Their growth should become a source of tremendous joy and pride.Become a PolymathA polymath is a person with wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary knowledge.Lifelong learners tend to be polymaths—their curiosity naturally leads to knowledge accumulation in a variety of disciplines. Learn both horizontally and vertically.Give More Than You ReceiveFocus on what you can do for others, not what they can do for you.Focus first on the amount of value you create—not the amount that you capture. This mentality will lead to more success and growth, but also to more fulfillment and joy.Learn to CompartmentalizeThe most successful people in the world share one trait in common: an almost supernatural ability to compartmentalize.Create boundaries across your work and personal endeavors. When you focus on one, close the others off and really focus on it.Be PresentWith the rise of technology—and the instant access to millions of people and things that it has provided—the ability to be truly present has become a rarity.When you’re with someone—whether a business contact, friend, or partner—be WITH them.Put the phone down!Well there you have it—How to Win (without talent or luck): 20+ principles for your career, relationships, and life.Special thanks to Drex for the amazing visualizations—follow him for more!I’ve been working on this one for a while—compiling the notes for it from conversations with people I admire for at least 6 months—so I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, subscribe to the newsletter and follow me on Twitter @SahilBloom for more.Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesPractice - Head of MarketingPathpoint - Sales Development ManagerLaunch House - Growth SpecialistMatter - Design LeadPanther - Customer Delight ManagerSuperLayer - CFO, Founding PMFree Agency - Sales Lead, Talent Agent for TechMaven - Marketing LeadSmartAsset - Acquisition Manager, Paid SearchConsensus - Lead Software EngineerScaled - Direct of OperationsThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Talent Agent, Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 40,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
10/20/20219 minutes, 44 seconds
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High-Leverage Storytelling

Welcome to the 312 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 37,845 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Tegus!When I started to dive in on Disney, Tegus was my first destination—a cheat code for my research and learning process. Tegus is the leading platform for primary research—a searchable database of thousands of instantly-available, investor-led interviews with experts on a wide range of industries, companies, and topics. It’s fast and cost-effective, enabling you to do great primary research without breaking the bank.Special Offer: Tegus is offering a free 2-week trial to all Curiosity Chronicle subscribers—sign up below to level up your investment research game today!Today at a Glance:Storytelling is a foundational skill for supercharging all human endeavors.Disney was arguably the first company to prove that storytelling can create a durable competitive advantage that builds pricing power and a legitimate long-term business moat.The key principles of high-leverage storytelling: (1) Suspended Reality, (2) Multisensory Experience, (3) Details Matter, and (4) Make It Shareable.High-Leverage StorytellingStorytelling is a foundational skill.Humans are storytelling animals—our species developed around fires, telling tales of successes, failures, and fantasies, of hopes and dreams. It is woven into our DNA.If we study the lives of the greatest humans, we quickly find that the vast majority were exceptionally strong storytellers. This is no coincidence—effective, high-leverage storytelling is a supercharger for all human endeavors.The problem? We don’t study or teach storytelling in the same way we do other foundational skills.Therein lies an opportunity, however—with few understanding the principles of storytelling, those who do are likely to capture tremendous career and personal upside.In finance terms, it’s (basically) free alpha…So in today’s piece, I’d like to talk about the principles of high-leverage storytelling, brought to life by a real world example of these principles in action…Disney World.Disney WorldThe Walt Disney World Resort—Disney World for short—opened on October 1, 1971. It was the second major theme park under the Disney umbrella, following Disneyland, which was opened in Anaheim, California in 1955.Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 1, marking a major milestone on a historic run for the company, which now operates theme parks around the world.Importantly, Disney was arguably the first company to prove that storytelling can create a durable competitive advantage that builds pricing power and a legitimate long-term business moat.Storytelling is ingrained into the DNA of the company—its founder, Walt Disney, was history’s most obsessive storyteller.So it is no surprise that storytelling is a superpower that's on full display at Disney World. The park—which covers 43 square miles (or 2x the size of Manhattan!) and has 77,000+ employees—can teach us valuable principles for enhancing our own storytelling. This piece deconstructs the principles of high-leverage storytelling that make Disney World so magical (and that you can start using today):Principle 1: Suspended RealityWalt Disney was famous for his focus on suspending reality for his audiences—allowing them to fully experience a new reality he was creating while still being grounded in the safety of their own reality.It is a balancing act—too cold and you never capture the audience, too hot and people retreat to the safety of their reality and disappear.The Imagineers—a brilliant group of creatives, artists, and engineers in charge of designing the theme parks—have executed against this principle brilliantly.It’s on exhibit in several secrets of the park:The Tunnel NetworkAn intricate web of tunnels lies underneath the park, enabling characters to navigate to their respective “worlds” without ever appearing out of world or duplicative.This is critical, because an out of place character breaks the suspended reality for the guests, so Disney created an (expensive) solution.Further, the entire park is designed to create a separation of worlds and maintain the distinction within each domain. You cannot see into other worlds, which creates a legitimate immersion that reinforces the suspended reality.Forced PerspectiveForced perspective is a visual technique which uses optical illusions to make an object appear farther, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. The technique manipulates our visual perception by using scaled objects and the relationship between them and the viewing point of the customer.Disney uses forced perspective throughout its parks to create optical illusions that make objects appear different than reality.A key example: Cinderella's Castle, which has smaller bricks and windows near the top, making the castle look farther away and taller than it is.Purple Traffic SignsThe departure from reality begins before you ever step into the park.Purple and red traffic signs replace the traditional green and yellow—just another detail that creates a clear separation from the real world.There are no coincidences in high-leverage storytelling. Everything is by design.Era-Appropriate BathroomsDisney takes the suspended reality to another level with its plumbing.Liberty Square—a colonial world—is notably lacking in one thing: bathrooms (other than in the restaurants, where they are legally required to exist).If colonists didn’t have bathrooms yet, neither do the guests of the colonial world!Principle 2: Multisensory ExperienceDisney knows that one of the key strategic advantages of its parks is the ability to create multisensory experiences for its fans. These experiences build relationship depth that is impossible to replicate.It’s also a durable competitive edge, as it’s almost unfathomable to imagine a competitor acquiring 40+ square miles of land to create a similar experience. The physical experience has become a business moat.A few examples of the multisensory experience at Disney World:“Smellitizers”The Imagineers recognized the human sense of smell is closely connected with our formation of memories, so they built a mechanism to reinforce this process:"Smellitizers”—hidden fans that blow scented air through vents in the park.The effect: strong, sticky, delicious memories made.Amplified SoundsSounds are a key part of the Disney World storytelling experience.Horses wear specially-designed horseshoes that make them louder when they walk down Main Street.The Tower of Terror plays a recording of real screams on hidden speakers for guests walking by.The splash sound at Splash Mountain is amplified by a splash machine.Principle 3: Details MatterTo create truly immersive stories, Disney’s Imagineers know that the details really, really matter. They might be difficult to spot—they hide in plain sight. But for the trained eye, they’re observable throughout the park.Here are a few examples:EPCOT RainwaterEPCOT—previously an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow—is a theme park within Disney World. At its center is a large geodesic sphere called Spaceship Earth.It’s an engineering thing of beauty, but given its shape, it had the potential to be a guest’s nightmare during a classic Central Florida downpour.To avoid this, the Imagineers designed the surface with one-inch gaps in the panels. As water hits the sphere, it's collected into an intricate gutter system and routed to the nearby lagoon.Trash CollectionA clean park is a key part of the pristine storytelling experience.You're never more than 30 steps from a trash can.Trash shoots around underground via the Automated Vacuum Assisted Collection System—“AVACS" for short.Oh, and you’ll never be able to buy gum in the park.Miscellaneous DetailsDisney World American flags are missing a few stars, so they aren't required to follow typical U.S. flag code. This means they never have to fly at half mast, which Walt Disney believed would hurt the appearance of the flags.Mosquitos would ruin a guest’s experience, so Disney uses a garlic-based repellant that is undetectable to humans but functions brilliantly in keeping mosquitos at bay in the swampy lands of Central Florida.Disney World is a no-fly zone, keeping outside noise pollution very low. The sounds you hear are only what the Imagineers want you to hear.Principle 4: Make It ShareableThis goes back to our fireside storytelling roots.The greatest stories are built to be shared—to be told around the fire to our family, friends, and enemies. We share our experiences and pass information and insights from one generation to the next. This is what makes us human, and it is a key driver of what has allowed us to develop and compound our knowledge and progress over time.Walt Disney was aware of the power of shareability. The Imagineers have woven shareability into the foundational fabric of the park.Two key examples:Cinderella's CastleIt's (almost) impossible to take a bad photo of yourself in front of Cinderella's Castle.The castle (and all castles across all Disney theme parks!) faces north-to-south, meaning the sun is never directly behind it.The result: no bad lighting for a quintessentially shareable photo in front of the iconic landmark.Colored ConcreteThe unique colored concrete at Disney World is another subtle driver of shareability of the experience.The concrete—a brainchild of Disney and Kodak—creates more vivid photographs than traditional concrete and also makes the green grass appear greener.All intentionally designed for enhanced shareability.SummaryTo summarize, the four key principles of high-leverage storytelling:Suspended Reality: Create a new world for the audience. Allow them to fully experience a new reality while remaining grounded in the safety of their own reality.Multisensory Experience: Engage multiple senses to make your story stick. If it’s written, build vivid imagery into the writing. If it’s spoken, create sound effects to make the story pop.Details Matter: Relentlessly focus on the details. In storytelling, they really matter.Make It Shareable: Consider shareability as a key feature of the story. Aim to have a high “K-factor” of every story you tell. You want to build natural, organic evangelists.I hope these four principles—as brought to life by examples from Disney World—are helpful as you continue on your own storytelling journey!Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesLaunch House - Growth Specialist (NEW DROP!)Matter - Design Lead (NEW DROP!)Panther - Customer Delight Manager (NEW DROP!)SuperLayer - CFO, Founding PM (NEW DROP!)Free Agency - Sales Lead, Talent Agent for Tech (NEW DROP!)Practice - Head of MarketingMaven - Marketing LeadSmartAsset - Acquisition Manager, Paid SearchConsensus - Lead Software EngineerFairchain - Software Engineer, Full StackScaled - Direct of OperationsThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Talent Agent, Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 37,750+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
10/13/202111 minutes, 25 seconds
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China's Energy Crisis

Welcome to the 924 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 37,001 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Tegus!When I started to dive in on the Chinese energy crisis, Tegus was yet again my first destination—a cheat code for my investment research and learning process. Tegus is the leading platform for primary research—a searchable database of thousands of instantly-available, investor-led interviews with experts on a wide range of industries, companies, and topics. It’s fast and cost-effective, enabling you to do great primary research without breaking the bank.Special Offer: Tegus is offering a free 2-week trial to all Curiosity Chronicle subscribers—sign up below to level up your investment research game today!Today at a Glance:China’s energy crisis is best understood through the simple, Econ 101 lens of supply and demand, with a particular focus on the coal market.Demand-side drivers primarily include a booming recovery from COVID-19 lows and a hotter-than-normal year that increased residential power usage. Supply-side drivers include coal shortages, import restrictions, utility price fixing, and CCP emissions targets.Net-net, we have demand up and supply down, leading to widespread shortages, rising costs, and a ripple effect that extends across the globe—the stage is set for what could be a long, cold winter.China’s Energy CrisisIn last week’s newsletter piece—the aptly named Supply Chain Apocalypse—I made brief reference to China’s burgeoning energy crisis as a supply dislocation further compounding our global supply chain woes.In the days since that piece was released, China’s energy crisis went from under-the-radar to front page news—hitting “above the fold” in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and Bloomberg, among others, as experts bemoaned its potential to hammer our weakened supply chains and derail the global recovery.I’ve always been fascinated by energy—it is, quite literally, what makes our world work—so yet again, I found myself going down the rabbit hole, exploring the crisis in detail and attempting to distill its key drivers and potential effects.Here’s a simple breakdown of what I learned.Spoiler Alert: This may be China’s Energy Crisis, but in an interconnected global economy, nobody is insulated from this disruption.BackgroundThe growing Chinese energy crisis had (mostly) happened outside the spotlight of the mainstream media.To be sure, among real energy market observers, it had been a key topic for months, alongside European natural gas price spikes, carbon credit markets, and the normal course OPEC debates—but the narrative accelerated meaningfully on the back of other China woes (Evergrande, supply chain disarray, etc.).China is most definitely feeling the pain, but we may be in the early innings (sorry, baseball analogies stick with you!), with the contagion likely poised to spread globally.The ImpactWhat are the visible impacts of China's energy crisis?More than half of China's mainland provinces have been forced to limit electricity usage due to shortages. According to a recent Bloomberg article, the Chinese microblogging site Weibo is filled with stories of people sharing how their daily lives are being impacted by the crunch—no tap water, no cell service, no traffic lights, and even a shortage of candles.In the industrial sector, the largest industrial provinces are facing significant cuts just as they try to dig their way out of the backlog that has been created by COVID restrictions and supply chain kinks.Looking outside of China, we see widespread concerns among politicians and energy market experts over rising coal and natural gas prices (the latter of which deserves its own piece in the future). Policymakers are expressing real angst over the ability of their countries to adequately heat homes as winter months approach.The price chart of European natural gas tells a pretty scary story—much of Europe could be in for a long, cold winter.Suffice to say, the impact of the energy crisis is already quite bad—but it has the potential to get much, much worse.The Drivers of China’s Energy CrisisIn attempting to understand the situation, it's important to understand that the economy is an interconnected web of activity. Nothing happens in a vacuum. This means that an energy crisis in China is not just about China—it has a complex set of causes and effects.In this situation, China's crisis is primarily related to coal. Why? Well, China is very reliant on coal—it has been the driving force of their economic growth. Here are two great visualizations of that reliance.While out of vogue due to its environmental impact, coal does remain a key source of electric power globally.The science is pretty simple (see the diagram below). Coal is burned, the heat released boils water, which produces steam, which drives a turbine, which produces electricity.To dissect the coal-driven crisis (and its ripple effects), we need a simple framework. Let's turn back to our Econ 101 classic: Supply & Demand.Note: In this framework, supply will refer to everything related to energy production, while demand will refer to everything related to energy consumption.Demand-Side DriversFirst, demand.This is relatively straightforward: demand for coal (and the electricity it produces) is very high (and rising). The robust global recovery from COVID—and the resulting impact on goods manufactured in China—is one key driver of the demand surge.Domestic residential coal-powered electricity demand is also up, with a hot summer and lower than normal hydroelectric production. This latter point is worth noting, as it's a supply constraint in one area (hydroelectric) creating a demand surge in another (coal electricity).As the chart below shows, China has never before seen single year growth in thermal power demand of this magnitude. That creates significant strain on the system.Supply-Side DriversNext, supply.This one is more complex, with several distinct—yet interconnected—dislocations. The main supply dislocations that I see here are:Coal ShortagesImport RestrictionsUtility Price FixingCCP Emissions Targets (*impacts both supply and demand*)Let’s cover each one in a bit more detail:Coal ShortagesGlobal coal supply has been seriously constrained due to a variety of factors.Coal mines globally have faced COVID-related shutdowns—with such closures hitting the news in the United States and Colombia, among others. In Colombia, energy giant Glencore walked away from its contracts on its mines after the government refused to allow it to extend its shutdowns.Further, concerns over the PR risks associated with opening new coal production facilities have held back new market entrants. As Ben Thompson pointed out in a recent Stratechery piece, this meant rising global coal prices haven't really led to new supply entering the market, as traditional economic analysis would suggest.Import RestrictionsWhile coal supply has certainly been constrained, China has taken actions that have exacerbated the problem.They cut Australian imports—which historically represented ~10% of Chinese coal consumption—over a political spat related to the Australian government questioning the origins of COVID-19.Similarly, China has restricted imports from Mongolia as part of continued anti-corruption crackdowns.Note: It is worth calling out that there is a difference between thermal coal (used for heating) and metallurgical coal (used for steel production and other industrial processes). Based on recent discussions, it is my understanding that Australian coal is predominantly metallurgical, meaning it would not have as direct an impact on the electricity market. Nevertheless, it is a supply dislocation worth calling out.Utility Price FixingAs we all know, China is not a free market capitalist economy.In China, utility companies face standardized pricing set by the government. This means they cannot raise prices when their input costs spike (as they have).If your input costs are up, but you can’t raise prices, you’re in trouble.Utilities are often better off shutting production—which they have done—vs. producing at a loss.CCP Emissions TargetsPresident Xi Jinping has made a public pledge to cut carbon emissions—with a goal to reach peak emissions by 2030. This is clearly a positive for the environment, but the policy has led to provinces instituting curbs and blackouts for energy-intensive businesses.This is nuanced and has both supply and demand impacts:Supply: Short and long-term market signal that the effective cost of operating as a non-renewable energy supplier has gone up, which reduces economic incentive to produce, further exacerbating supply crunch.Demand: Lowers energy needs of energy-intensive businesses through forced shutdowns and blackouts.The net effect is hard to tease out, but it’s undoubtedly another market dislocation to consider in evaluating the situation.Summing It All UpSo looking at all of this through my (admittedly) simplistic framework, here's what I see:On one end, a structural surge in demand for energy.On the other end, a number of significant supply challenges and disclocations.The result: Demand up, supply down.Econ 101 tells us what to expect in that scenario: widespread energy shortages and sharp, volatile price increases.For supply chains, this means continued backups, production delays, and woes.For consumers, this means rising prices, as these rising costs (energy, supply chains, etc.) are passed through onto your bill. Fed Chair Jerome Powell recently called the inflation “frustrating”—it doesn’t appear to be receding anytime soon.In our interconnected economy, nobody is insulated from this disruption. We may be in for a long, cold winter…Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMaven - Marketing Lead (NEW DROP!)Practice - Head of Marketing (NEW DROP!)Free Agency - Sales Lead, Talent Agent for Tech (NEW DROP!)Panther - Global Finance Lead, General Counsel (NEW DROP!)SuperLayer - CFO (NEW DROP!)SmartAsset - Acquisition Manager, Paid SearchConsensus - Lead Software EngineerFairchain - Software Engineer, Full StackSkio - Founding Engineer ($50K REFERRAL BOUNTY!)Commonstock: Community Manager, Marketing DesignerScaled - Direct of OperationsHatch - Senior PM, Senior Product Marketing ManagerThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 37,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
10/5/202110 minutes, 19 seconds
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Supply Chain Apocalypse

Welcome to the 1,016 new members (!!!) of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 35,181 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Tegus!When I started to dive in on the global supply chain disruption, Tegus was my first destination—it’s a literal cheat code for my investment research and learning process. Tegus is the leading platform for primary research—a searchable database of thousands of instantly-available, investor-led interviews with experts on a wide range of industries, companies, and topics. It’s fast and cost-effective, enabling you to do great primary research without breaking the bank.Special Offer: Tegus is offering a free 2-week trial to all Curiosity Chronicle subscribers—sign up below to level up your investment research game today!Today at a Glance:The ongoing global supply chain crisis is best viewed through the simple, Econ 101 lens of supply and demand.Demand-side drivers primarily include unprecedented government support and economies roaring back to post-COVID life, both of which have driven up consumer spending on goods.Supply-side drivers include Labor Shortages, Factory Shutdowns, Port Shutdowns, Flight Reductions, Container Ship Challenges, Infrastructure Deficiencies, and the China Energy Crisis.Net-net, we have demand structurally higher and supply structurally lower, leading to delays, shortages, and rising costs across the value chain.Supply Chain ApocalypseBy now, you’ve probably heard that global supply chains are in a state of disarray. You’ve definitely felt it—from attempting to order a new bike or sofa, or just trying to get a McDonald’s milkshake—as delays and shortages have spread across the world.But if you’re like most people, you still have no idea how or why we got into this mess.In an effort to fix that, here's a simple breakdown of what’s causing our ongoing supply chain apocalypse:BackgroundThere's a lot of talk right now about the global supply chain crisis.To give you a sense of the drama here, consider the fact that Bloomberg—a traditionally less sensationalist media outlet—recently published an article subtitled “Inside the Brutal Realities of Supply Chain Hell”.Before we walk through the causes, let’s talk about the effects.What are some of the visible impacts of the crisis?Product Delays: Good luck getting furniture, appliances, cars, or Christmas gifts before 2022.Product Shortages: Many critical technology components (e.g. semiconductor chips) are in short supply.Port Buildups: The Los Angeles/Long Beach port has a historic backup that shows no signs of slowing down.Rampant Freight Costs: The cost of shipping a container from China to LA/Long Beach has risen from under $1,000 pre-COVID to over $20,000 at times in 2021.No exaggerations necessary—the effects are really quite bad.But what is causing all of this?Global supply chains are very complex. We live in a highly-interconnected world. A butterfly flaps its wings in Shenzhen and impacts when I receive my bike in New York.Ok, maybe not quite, but almost...To understand the drivers of the crisis, we need a simple framework. Let's break down what is happening using an Econ 101 classic: Supply and Demand.Note: In this framework, supply will refer to everything related to manufacturing, production, and transportation, while demand will refer to everything related to consumption.Demand-Side DriversFirst, demand.This one is pretty simple—it's through the roof. Unprecedented government support (yes, the money printer did go “brrrr”) and economies roaring back to post-COVID life have created a strong demand environment. Consumers are flush with cash and not afraid to spend. Furthermore, the early (and roving) lockdowns and restrictions have meant more spending on goods vs. services. The above chart of global exports shows the robust, sharp rebound from the COVID dip in 2020. Someone is buying all of these exported goods!Supply-Side DriversNext, supply.This one is more nuanced. The major supply drivers I see here:Labor ShortagesFactory ShutdownsPort ShutdownsFlight ReductionsContainer Ship ChallengesInfrastructure DeficienciesChina Energy CrisisLet’s walk through each one in a bit more detail…Labor ShortagesLabor shortages—at ports, in trucking and logistics, and in the manufacturing sector—are the first major supply disruption. Simply put, without efficient levels of labor in these areas, you have bottlenecks that start to slow the flow of goods through our global pipes.Truck driver shortages are all over the news as of late. The U.K. even began offering thousands of visas to foreign truckers in an attempt to ease the pain.COVID Factory ShutdownsFactories—particularly in Asia—have had a tough time managing and containing outbreaks of COVID, leading to sporadic closures and shutdowns.Nike and other large consumer brands have recently noted on earnings calls that they were forced to cut revenue forecasts and scramble to shift manufacturing due to shutdowns in Vietnam (an expanding manufacturing hub and beneficiary of Trump-era China tariffs).The shutdowns create delays and bottlenecks in production. If an upstream manufacturer is delayed, that impact cascades downstream and has an extensive impact.COVID Port ShutdownsPorts have experienced similar challenges to factories—many have had to shut down or artificially restrict labor to avoid outbreaks.In August, the Ningbo-Zhoushan port in China—one of the busiest container ports in the world—was forced to shut due to a COVID outbreak among the workers.If ports are closed, products can't flow smoothly through the supply chain. Yet another kink in the hose causing the pressure to build.Flight ReductionsIt's news to most people, but about 50% of air cargo flies on passenger flights. It's a significant revenue stream for passenger airlines (and actually what allows passenger airlines to offer tickets at the cost they do).But with travel—especially international travel—reduced by COVID, there was a significant reduction in air cargo capacity.Some got creative, converting passenger planes into full cargo planes, but the net impact was a sharp decrease in air cargo capacity and a correspondingly sharp increase in air cargo prices (3x+ prior rates).Container Ship ChallengesThe Ever Given clogged the Suez Canal in March, causing a backlog whose impact cascaded through global supply chains.There aren't enough large container ships to meet all of this demand and containers are in the wrong places at the wrong times.Infrastructure DeficienciesPhysical infrastructure constraints are limiting the ability to shuffle/shift shipments around clogged ports.Shipping companies have very few options—Los Angeles / Long Beach remains the only major West Coast port with the combination of trucking and railway infrastructure and proximity to population centers that enables efficiency at scale.China Energy CrisisIn the midst of everything else going on in the world, China is facing a burgeoning energy crisis, forcing them to cut electricity usage across the country.The crisis appears to be caused by (a) local governments trying to avoid missing energy and emissions targets and (b) physical electricity shortages due to strained infrastructure.It threatens to hamstring the manufacturing sector further, just as it tries to dig itself out from the aforementioned challenges.Summing It All UpSo looking at all of this through my (admittedly) simplistic framework, here's what I see:On one end, a structural surge in demand for goods.On the other end, a number of significant supply challenges and disclocations.Net-net result: Demand up, supply down.Econ 101 tells us what to expect in that scenario: sharp shipping and production price increases, shortages, and massive delays.For consumers, this means rising prices, as these rising supply chain costs are passed through onto your bill.The Wall Street Journal said it best: Santa might be late this year…The Supply Chain Apocalypse will undoubtedly continue to play out in public in the days and weeks to come. I hope this piece makes you feel more well informed on the causes of the crisis. Stay tuned for updates!Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesFree Agency - Sales Lead, Talent Agent for Tech (NEW DROP!)Panther - Global Finance Lead, General Counsel (NEW DROP!)SmartAsset - Acquisition Manager, Paid Search (NEW DROP!)Practice - Head of Marketing (NEW DROP!)Consensus - Lead Software Engineer (NEW DROP!)Metafy - Senior Frontend DeveloperFairchain - Software Engineer, Full StackSkio - Founding Engineer ($50K REFERRAL BOUNTY!)Commonstock: Community Manager, Marketing DesignerScaled - Direct of OperationsOlukai - VP of E-CommerceHatch - Senior PM, Senior Product Marketing ManagerOn Deck - Forum Director, CFO Forum, VP FinanceThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 35,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
9/29/20218 minutes, 25 seconds
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The Evergrande Train Wreck

Welcome to the 645 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 33,832 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Demand Curve!The Growth Newsletter by Demand Curve is my new favorite newsletter subscription.They interview hundreds of Y Combinator founders to find out what works. Then they pack each issue with actionable growth insights—so you can apply them to your startup or personal brand. It gives me new ideas every single week. I can’t recommend it more highly. Catch their next issue by signing up today.The Evergrande Train WreckThe calamity surrounding The Evergrande Group—the massively over-indebted Chinese property developer—is the train wreck that the world can’t help but watch.It’s fascinating—and carries a lot of interesting learnings on finance and business—so I wanted to share more about the situation with all of you curious folks out there!Here’s a breakdown on the business, background, and its rapid, very public demise:BackgroundThe Evergrande Group is a Fortune 500 real-estate developer with headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. It was founded in 1996 by Hui Ka Yan in Guangzhou and scaled up over time from a small local player into a national behemoth.Today, it's big…very big. As recently as 2020, it had sales of >$100 billion and adjusted core profits of ~$5 billion. The below chart of its financials gives a perspective on its recent and rapid growth.At its core, it's a homebuilder business—developing from the ground up and selling properties to Chinese consumers. Its website states that it has over 1,300 projects across 280+ cities.But recently, it has pushed the boundaries of its homebuilding circle of competence, making investments in electric vehicles (Evergrande New Energy Auto), an internet and media production unit (HengTen Networks), a theme park (Evergrande Fairyland), a soccer team (Guangzhou F.C.) and a mineral water company (Evergrande Spring).The Business ChallengeAs a developer, Evergrande had to contend with a highly cash-consumptive growth profile.Why? Well, building a new development project may take many months (even years) and requires a lot of cash outflows along the way—you have to buy the land, pay for construction costs and permitting, etc. Meanwhile, with the exception of smaller upfront deposits, cash collections from buyers typically don’t come in until much later, after the project is completed.This creates a challenging cash conversion cycle (the time it takes to convert investments in inventory/resources into cash) that almost any property developer has to deal with. So how did Evergrande fund its impressive growth?Debt—it borrowed aggressively, even by real estate property development standards.It became the world's most heavily-indebted developer, with a debt load of over $100 billion and over $300 billion in outstanding liabilities.As is pointed out in the brilliant thread below (tip of the hat!), there is a bit of a moral hazard problem that was created along the way. Evergrande was largely indifferent to pricing on the land and properties it was purchasing and building, knowing that the risk would be passed off to banks or other financial institutions financing the purchases.The debt-fueled growth propelled Evergrande—and its now billionaire founder—into an elite class. It entered the Fortune 500 at #496 in 2016 and reached #122 by the latest ranking. As the company amassed an enormous debt burden, it also paid out handsome dividends, with Hui Ka Yan (its largest shareholder) reportedly receiving over $5 billion in dividends since 2018.The Debt SpiralBut debt is a double-edged sword—and Evergrande was overdue to catch the other edge.As its debt burden grew, so did the interest payments on that debt. This is (mostly) fine, so long as revenues and profits—with which you can make these payments—continue to grow. But if the growth or profitability slows (or government restricts borrowing!), it's...well…not fine.Imagine a metaphorical boa constrictor tightening its grip on its prey. You can try to resist—borrow more to make your payments—but that only fuels the snake. Moreover, the knowledge of your precarious position increases risk and makes that borrowing more challenging and costly.In Evergrande's case, the snake formally tightened its grip in 2020. It had its first major liquidity scare—a potential inability to meet its liabilities—sending a letter to the local provincial government warning that its upcoming payments could cause a crisis with systemic financial sector risks.In a cynical sense, sending a letter to the government warning that your collapse poses “systemic financial risk” is a pretty savvy tactic—hype up your importance to force the government’s hand. If you collapse and they did nothing, you can point to the letter and say “I told you so” and make them look bad. More likely, they act in advance and bail you out to save you.With most de-leveraging spirals, there are two sides:Technical: An inability to make payments.Psychological: The knowledge of instability impacting your market standing.Most financial reporting focuses on the technical, but the psychological is equally (if not more) damning. Reports of Evergrande’s letter sent its stock and bonds tumbling.The short-term crisis was avoided when an investor group waived its right to force a big repayment, but the long-term challenges and issues remained.Dornbusch's Law—a personal favorite that I need to write more about in the future—says that crises take longer to happen than you expect, but then happen faster than you ever could have imagined.This certainly proved true for Evergrande...The CrisisTo meet its ever growing obligations, Evergrande began tapping into "creative" financing strategies. It pushed employees to provide short-term loans to the company—which it called "high interest investments”—in order to ensure they received their year-end bonuses. If that sounds shady, it’s because it is.But the company quickly fell behind, missing payments earlier this month and leaving thousands of employees in a lurch. With over $7.4 billion of bond payments due in 2022, and large interest payments coming up as soon as this week, the crisis appears to be accelerating rapidly. Its stock dropped almost 20% on Monday.To reiterate the earlier point, the psychological side of a financial crisis can be just as impactful as the technical side. It was recently reported that Evergrande was offering to sell properties at a deep discount in order to pay off its vendors and liabilities—indicating a fire sale required to make its payments and sending further panic spiraling into the market.Protests have broken out at Evergrande offices in China—with up to 1.4 million homebuyers left in a devastating limbo, having paid deposits upfront for homes worth ~$200 billion that may never be built. The media narrative cycle of demise ramped up in earnest and further fueled the fire.Importantly—and yet another reason why the world is paying attention—the Evergrande situation does pose a potentially systemic risk to the Chinese economy. With deep ties to financial institutions and working class consumers across China, a disorderly collapse would have far-reaching impacts (financially and emotionally).China is caught in a very tough spot with no easy options. Act quickly with a bailout and be viewed as condoning the financial excess that led to the problem. Fail to act and allow the collapse to ripple through an entire economy that is just recovering from the COVID shocks of 2020/21.Some of the smartest investors in the China economy are weighing in, with most arguing that this will be bad, but certainly no “Lehman” moment (recalling the financial crisis of 2008).Markets track narratives and are prone to narrative dislocations, so perhaps there is opportunity in the middle of all of this.In any case, the Evergrande situation will undoubtedly continue to play out in public in the days and weeks to come. I hope this piece makes you feel more well informed on the topic. Stay tuned for updates!Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesMetafy - Senior Frontend DeveloperConsensus - Lead Software EngineerScaled - Direct of OperationsFairchain - Software Engineer, Full StackIncandescent - Operations AssociateOlukai - VP of E-CommerceAbstractOps - Head of EngineeringOn Deck - Forum Director, CFO Forum, VP FinanceSuperFarm - VP/Director Account Ops, Scrum MasterThe full board can be found here!That does it for today. Join the 34,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
9/21/20218 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Best Advice You've Ever Received

Welcome to the 574 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 32,682 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week. Share this on Twitter to help grow the tribe!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Tegus!Tegus has been a complete game changer for my research and learning process. Tegus is the leading platform for primary research—it offers a searchable database of thousands of instantly-available, investor-led interviews with experts on a wide range of industries, companies, and topics. It’s fast and cost-effective, enabling you to do great primary research without breaking the bank.Special Offer: Tegus is offering a free 2-week trial to all Curiosity Chronicle subscribers—sign up below to level up your research game today!The Best Advice You’ve Ever ReceivedA few weeks ago, I asked my audience a simple question:In 24 hours, 2,000+ responses flooded in from all corners of the world (if you haven’t realized it already, the internet is absolutely amazing).The advice ran the spectrum—from serious to lighthearted, from inspiring to morbid.So today, I want to do something a bit different. I want to share the best advice you’ve ever received. Prolific Idea was kind enough to make simple, powerful visualizations for many of them, which are made to be shared and enjoyed.My hope is that you find one piece of advice below that resonates with you and changes your outlook.Without further ado…here’s the best advice you’ve ever received:Strong FoundationsPut good things between you and the earth. Buy a good bed, boots, and tires.Closed MouthsIf you don’t ask, you don’t get. Closed mouths don’t get fed.Thinking vs. DoingIn regards to doing something you don't want to do...Don't think about it, just start doing it. The more you think about it, the more reasons you'll give yourself to not do it.Walking TallWalk like you have 3000 ancestors behind you.Proud DecisionsMake decisions today that you'll be proud of tomorrow.Life Isn’t FairLife gets a lot easier when you just accept that life isn’t always fair.Birth & DeathWhen you were born, you cried, but the whole world smiled at you. Live a life such that when you die, the whole world cries, but you smile.Find Your PeopleThe world is cold and nasty but there are still a lot of good people. You just have to find 1 or 2 and you will start loving the world.NegotiationsIn life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.The Two Most Important DecisionsThe two most important decisions that you make in life are what you do for a living and who you marry.You get these two correct and you'll have a nice life.Uncomfortable ConversationsYour success in life is largely dependent on how many uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have.Invest in YourselfInvest in yourself before you invest in others.OptionsThere are always more options than you realize and things are never as bad as they seem.Anything & EverythingYou can have anything you want in life, but you can't have everything.Stupid & ToughIf you’re gonna be stupid, you’d better be tough.Come at the KingYou come at the King, you best not miss.The Juicy PitchWait for a juicy pitch.Life doesn’t reward you for the number of swings you take. Focus on identifying the juiciest pitch. When it comes, swing hard and don’t miss it.Simple is BeautifulThe best moments you’ll ever have in your life are the simplest.Slipping into clean sheets. Hiking right after a storm. A night talking with friends. Being there for others. Helping a friend.What you think of as painful will simply be erased in time.Behavior vs. WordsPay attention to people's patterns of behavior. They are better guides than their words.Experience PyramidExperience is like a pyramid.The broader the base, the higher you can build. So, diversify your experience early in your career.Learn vs. EarnParticipate to learn, not to earn. The latter will come with practice.Can vs. ShouldJust because you can, doesn’t mean you should.So there you have it. 20 pieces of the greatest advice you’ve ever received. I hope you found one piece of advice that inspired you or changed your outlook on the week.Special thank you to Prolific Idea for the incredible visualizations.The original thread can be found below:Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesSkio - Founding Engineer ($50K REFERRAL BOUNTY!)Hyper - Chief of StaffConsensus - Lead Software EngineerScaled - Direct of OperationsFairchain - Software Engineer, Full StackCommonstock: Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Marketing DesignerIncandescent - Operations AssociatePractice - Chief of StaffMaven - GM of Partnerships & OpsOlukai - VP of E-CommerceHatch - Senior PM, Senior Product Marketing ManagerAbstractOps - Head of EngineeringOn Deck - Forum Director, CFO Forum, VP FinanceMetafy - Senior Frontend DeveloperSuperFarm - VP/Director Account Ops, Scrum MasterLaunch House - Community Manager, Community LeadFree Agency - Chief of StaffThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Head of Community, Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today. Join the 32,500+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
9/15/20215 minutes, 48 seconds
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Incentives: The Failure & The Fix

Welcome to the 716 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 32,004 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week. Share this on Twitter to help grow the tribe!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Tegus!Tegus has been a complete game changer for my research and learning process. Tegus is the leading platform for primary research—it offers a searchable database of thousands of instantly-available, investor-led interviews with experts on a wide range of industries, companies, and topics. It’s fast and cost-effective, enabling you to do great primary research without breaking the bank.Special Offer: Tegus is offering a free 2-week trial to all Curiosity Chronicle subscribers—sign up below to level up your research game today!Today at a Glance:Incentives are everything—an uber-powerful force governing our interactions, organizations, and society.Unfortunately, humans are astonishingly bad at establishing incentives—we consistently create systems that invite manipulation and unintended consequences.The framework for better incentives involves six key pillars: Objectives, Metrics, Anti-Metrics, Stakes & Effects, Skin in the Game, and Clarity & Fluidity.Incentives: The Failure & The Fix“Show me the incentive and I will show you the outcome.” — Charlie MungerIncentives are everything—an uber-powerful force governing our interactions, organizations, and society.Well-designed incentives have the power to create great outcomes; poorly-designed incentives have the power to…well…create terrible outcomes.Unfortunately, humans are astonishingly bad at establishing incentives—we consistently create systems that invite manipulation and unintended consequences. More often than not, we wind up in the poorly-designed camp scrambling for answers and quick fixes.Let’s change that…In today’s piece, I will share a framework for establishing incentives (that actually create desired outcomes).Incentives: The FailureLet’s start with a basic definition of incentives:Incentives are anything that motivates, inspires, or drives an individual to act in a specific manner. They come in two forms: intrinsic and extrinsic.Intrinsic incentives are internal—created by self-interest or desire. Extrinsic incentives are external—created by outside factors, typically a reward (positive incentive) or punishment (negative incentive).For today, we'll be focusing on extrinsic incentives…In a (very) simple model, extrinsic incentives involve two key components:Measure: The metric that the individual or group will be judged upon. The measure can be quantitative (KPIs, metrics, etc.) or qualitative.Target: The level of the measure at which a reward or punishment will be initiated. The target can be specific (you receive your incentive if the KPI hits X level) or general (you receive your incentive if your manager is satisfied with your work).But there is a real problem here. This simple model of incentives—which will feel familiar if you have ever worked in the government, a large organization, or anywhere really—often leads to undesirable outcomes and unintended consequences.Goodhart’s LawGoodhart’s Law is quite simple: When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. If a measure of performance becomes a stated goal, humans tend to optimize for it, regardless of any associated consequences. The measure loses its value as a measure!Goodhart’s Law is named after British economist Charles Goodhart, who referenced the concept in a 1975 article on British monetary policy.“Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes.” — Charles GoodhartBut the concept was popularized by anthropologist Marilyn Strathern. In a 1997 paper, she generalized the thinking and called it Goodhart’s Law.“When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” — Marilyn StrathernIt became a mental model with considerable practical relevance—a phenomenon that has been observed time and again throughout history.Let's look at a few examples and use them to build a mental model for where incentives go awry.The Cobra EffectThere were too many cobras in India. The British colonists—worried about the impact of these deadly creatures—started offering bounties for cobra heads.Locals excitedly began breeding cobras, chopping off their heads, and turning them in to earn the bounties. When the breeding got out of hand, some of the breeders were forced to release the cobras onto the streets, thereby increasing the population of cobras.Clearly not what the British had in mind…The British viewed cobra heads as a simple way to measure cobra elimination, so it gave the population an incentive to deliver cobra heads. The result? Locals gamed the system, breeding cobras to earn the bounties.An incentive designed to reduce the cobra population actually increased it!Soviet NailsIn order to meet their ambitious goals, the Soviets needed to produce more nails to fuel their industrial complex.First, Soviet factories established incentives based on the number of nails produced. What happened? The workers produced thousands of tiny nails.Nevertheless, they persisted, adjusting the incentives to be based on the weight of nails produced. That should fix the tiny nails problem! What happened? The workers produced a few massive nails.In both cases, the nails were useless.The Soviet factory managers had viewed nail quantity and nail weight as easy ways to measure production, so they gave their workers incentives based on these measures. The result? A bunch of useless nails.Amazon's "Hire-to-Fire" IssueAmazon believed employee turnover was healthy—from the early days, they had created a culture where the bottom 10% should be scrubbed annually in order to continue to upgrade the talent level of the organization.To incentivize healthy employee turnover rates, it gave its managers a target rate for annual turnover.The result? Media articles about a “hire-to-fire” practice emerged. Managers had allegedly hired employees they planned to fire in order to meet their turnover targets.Clearly not what Jeff Bezos had in mind...Wells Fargo Account OpeningsWells Fargo is a new inductee of the Unintended Consequences Hall of Fame. An instant classic.Senior leadership of the bank viewed new account openings as an easy way to track business growth, so it gave its junior employees target account opening goals. Employees would be pushed to hit these goals or risk punishment.The result? Employees opened millions of fake accounts to hit their targets and Wells Fargo was fined billions for the fraud.A Mental Model for Broken IncentivesWith these examples as a backdrop, we can begin to formulate a simple, rough mental model for where incentives seem to go awry.Poorly-designed incentives typically exhibit one or more of the following three characteristics:McNamara FallacyNarrow FocusVanity > QualityThe McNamara FallacyThe McNamara Fallacy is named after Robert McNamara—the US Secretary of Defense from 1961-1968—whose over-reliance on quantitative metrics led the US astray during the Vietnam War.The McNamara Fallacy is the flawed assumption that what can't be measured isn't important. It is the tendency to make a decision based on observable, quantitative metrics while ignoring all others.It leads to a focus on measuring what is easy to measure vs. what is actually important. Cobra heads, nail quantity or weight, employee turnover, and new account openings were all easy to measure quantitatively, but totally missed the bigger picture. All four programs were victims of the McNamara Fallacy.(Note: I plan to do a full thread and newsletter piece on the McNamara Fallacy in the future, as it is a topic and history worthy of deeper discussion)Narrow FocusThe narrow focus issue is an objective scoping issue. If you think too narrowly about the desired outcomes of the program, you are more likely to create incentives that miss the forest for the trees.Using the Wells Fargo example, the desired outcome was not to have more accounts opened at the bank—more appropriate would have been to define the desired outcome as growth in the number of happy, well-serviced customers.As a rule: When in doubt, zoom out.Vanity > QualityVanity metrics—we’ve all seen them (and probably cared too much about them).The reliance on vanity metrics—like cobra heads or new account openings—that will impress superiors or the public is a recipe for disaster in incentive design.Imagine incentivizing a brand social media manager on the number of followers of the account. That person is likely to start buying followers in order to hit these targets. The vanity metric is rarely the quality metric.So with these in mind, let's craft a better framework for incentives.Incentives: The FixThe incentive framework involves six key pillars:ObjectivesMetricsAnti-MetricsStakes & EffectsSkin in the GameClarity & FluidityIt is intended to provide a structure through which to create, evaluate, and adjust incentives. Let's walk through each of the pillars…ObjectivesDeep consideration of the ultimate objectives of the incentives is critical.What does success look like? This isn’t about the surface level objectives—you need to go deeper.Without upfront deep thought on objectives, intelligent incentive design is impossible. Start here before moving on.MetricsEstablish metrics that you will measure to track success.Importantly, be sure to avoid the McNamara Fallacy—never choose metrics on the basis of what is easily measurable over what is meaningful. Just because it is easy to track a specific KPI, doesn’t mean it is the right KPI to use as a measure.If you could track and measure one metric that would tell you everything you want to know about your business or organization, what would it be?Identify a wish list of metrics with no regard for feasibility. Work backwards from there into what is possible.Anti-MetricsEven more important than the core metrics, establish "anti-metrics" that you measure to track unintended consequences. I was first tipped off to this idea by Julie Zhou (she calls them counter-metrics), who has done some exceptional thinking and writing on the topics of organizations and growth.Anti-metrics force you to consider whether your incentives are fixing one problem but creating another.In the Amazon example, an effective anti-metric may have been average tenure of newly-hired employees by cohort. If you saw this figure dipping dramatically from the start of the employee turnover incentive program, you would know something was wrong.Stakes & EffectsAs with all decisions, it is critical to consider and understand the stakes:High-Stakes = Costly Failure, Difficult to ReverseLow-Stakes = Cheap Failure, Easy to ReverseIf you are dealing with a program with high-stakes, you have to conduct a rigorous, second-order effects analysis (pro tip: read my thread on this).Iterate on your metrics and anti-metrics accordingly.Skin in the GameTo avoid principal-agent problems, the incentive designer should have skin in the game.Never allow an incentive to be implemented where the creator participates in the pleasure of the upside, but not the pain in the downside.Skin in the game improves outcomes.Clarity & FluidityAn incentive is only as effective as:The clarity of its dissemination.The ability and willingness to adjust it based on new information.Takeaway: Create even understanding playing fields for all constituents and avoid plan continuation bias.ConclusionSo to recap the fix, my framework for incentives is as follows:Objectives: Identify what success looks like. Go deep on the ultimate objectives of the program.Metrics: Establish metrics to track success. Never settle for what is easy to measure over what is meaningful.Anti-Metrics: Establish anti-metrics to determine if solving one problem is creating another.Stakes & Effects: Always consider the stakes (high or low) and adjust the rigor of your second-order effects analysis accordingly.Skin in the Game: Avoid principal-agent problems by ensuring the incentive designer has skin in the game (i.e. participates in both the pleasure and the pain).Clarity & Fluidity: Incentives are only as good as the clarity of their dissemination and the ability to adjust based on new information.I hope you find this framework as productive and helpful as I have. I’d love to see some comments about your experience with it (and any tweaks you would suggest).Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesHyper - Chief of Staff (NEW DROP!)Olukai - VP of E-Commerce (NEW DROP!)Consensus - Lead Software Engineer (NEW DROP!)Scaled - Direct of Operations (NEW DROP!)Fairchain - Software Engineer, Full Stack (NEW DROP!)Incandescent - Operations AssociatePractice - Chief of StaffMaven - GM of Partnerships & OpsHatch - Senior PM, Senior Product Marketing ManagerAbstractOps - Head of EngineeringOn Deck - Forum Director, CFO Forum, VP FinanceSkio - Founding EngineerMetafy - Senior Frontend DeveloperCommonstock: Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Marketing Designer, Backend EngineerSuperFarm - VP/Director Account Ops, Scrum MasterLaunch House - Community Manager, Community LeadFree Agency - Chief of StaffThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Growth Lead, Swiss Army Knife, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 32,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
9/8/202114 minutes, 3 seconds
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How to Learn Anything

Welcome to the 715 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 30,964 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week. Share this on Twitter to help grow the tribe!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Tegus!Tegus is the leading platform for primary research—it offers a searchable database of thousands of instantly-available, investor-led interviews with industry experts on a wide range of industries, companies, and topics. It’s fast and cost-effective, enabling you to do great primary research without breaking the bank. I love the Tegus platform and am using it for my investment and general research purposes.Tegus is offering a free 2-week trial to all Curiosity Chronicle subscribers—sign up below to level up your research game today!Today at a Glance:Learning is a skill—but we need a new way to approach learning that is fast, nimble, and tailored for our ever-changing digital reality.The framework for learning anything: (1) Identify & Establish, (2) Research, (3) Skin in the Game, (4) Engage Community, (5) Teach, and (6) Reflect & Review.The New Way to LearnLearning is a skill—arguably the most important skill. But unfortunately, despite its importance to your career and life, it’s not one you’re ever explicitly taught how to approach.Let’s fix that.Today, I will share a tactical approach to learning anything.IntroductionCuriosity and inspiration are not predictable—they strike at random (and often inopportune!) times. But they must be acted on.Growth is a natural byproduct of acting on curiosity and inspiration.“Inspiration is perishable. When you have inspiration, act on it right then and there.” - NavalOk, so let’s assume you've been bit by the curiosity bug and are ready to act on it. Now what? You’re inspired and motivated to learn, but you don’t even know where to begin.All your years of school didn't really prepare you for this. The "old way" of researching and learning—reading textbooks cover-to-cover, checking books out of the library, scouring footnotes for primary and secondary sources—is slow, arduous, and a relic of our analog, industrial past. It may work for school (e.g. if you are writing a final thesis or research paper), but it fails spectacularly in the real world.You need a "new way"—a fast, dynamic, and nimble approach tailored to the new, ever-changing digital reality. I’d like to propose a “new way” for consideration.This learning framework involves six key steps:Identify & EstablishResearchSkin in the GameEngage CommunityTeachReflect & ReviewThe general structure is fixed, but its application is intended to be dynamic & iterative.Let's walk through the steps...Identify & EstablishThe framework begins with a blank page—one that you will progressively fill out as you work through the steps.Identify the topic and quickly write down everything you know about it. Put the topic at the top of the page and drop in the extent of your current knowledge below it. It’s ok if you know nothing about it. The goal is just to get something down on the page. There are very few things as intimidating as starting from zero, so we can use this quick blast to engage in some mental trickery to get going.Here’s a simple example of what this start might look like. Nothing fancy (other than my cool snake emoji icon).I use Notion for my notetaking—I like being able to pull in other links and resources—but anything works (including pen and paper if you are old fashioned).Paradoxically, starting by writing what you do know is the best way to highlight what you don't know. This first action highlights the gaps in your knowledge and understanding of the topic. The goal here is simply to set the stage—establish the holes before filling them.ResearchThis is where the real fun begins—it’s time to learn.The most effective strategy for research: start horizontal, then go vertical.Horizontal = BreadthVertical = DepthWith apologies for the poor artistry—though I might be able to sell this as an NFT for $2 million—this is a simple graphic of how to think about the time spent in each phase. The bulk of your time and learning will occur in the vertical research phase (red), but the horizontal research phase (green) is critical to foundation-setting.Allow me to elaborate:Horiztonal ResearchHorizontal research lays the foundation for your learning. When you start horizontal, you gather information across the full breadth of the topic area. This gives you the capacity to "see the entire field”—it draws a surface-level map of the topic.With horizontal research, it’s perfectly acceptable to keep it simple: Google and Wikipedia (sorry to all of my high school teachers!) are both great tools.Use your note-taking workspace to document the horizontal information. Take notes on the key pillars of a topic, add screenshots or links where relevant, and mark any particularly interesting areas for a deep-dive.Note the underlying sources that provided the horizontal information (i.e. look at the Wikipedia footnotes), which will come in handy as guideposts to focus your journey when you go vertical.Vertical ResearchVertical research is where you dive down the proverbial rabbit hole.Vertical research was historically much more challenging—it typically required hours of finding and reading long, dense books on a topic. But in the Information Age, we have a diverse array of tools that provide much higher time leverage.These tools include (but are not limited to):RedditTwitterNewslettersPodcastsExpert NetworksBooks (The New Way)A few ideas and perspectives on how to use each tool:RedditReddit is a treasure trove of interesting information. It’s great for finding inspiration and curiosity-inducing content, but it’s equally effective for diving deep on a single topic.Search your topic, find subreddits and threads, read the commentary, and click through to the links. Comment and ask questions where relevant.TwitterTwitter is an amazing source of information if you use it correctly.Spend some time searching around to find the authority figures on a given topic. Read what they are writing and commenting on, follow their content trail to any longer-form work they are producing.@ them or DM them if you are feeling ambitious and want to learn more.NewslettersTake advantage of the boom in individual newsletters.Thought leaders on most every topic are writing one, and most of them are free. You can typically use Twitter to find the newsletters quite efficiently.PodcastsPodcasts can be hit-or-miss.Focus on primary sources—discussions with founders, leaders, or experts—avoid low value podcasts with armchair experts commenting on a topic outside of their circle of competence. Look at the number of reviews or listeners to get a feel for the signal-richness of the content before you commit to it.Listen on 1.25x or 1.5x speed to get better time leverage—this mostly just shortens the pauses and breaks between sentences or questions and answers.Expert NetworksModern expert networks or analyst services are my new favorite learning tool. They have been a cheat code for hedge funds for decades, but have only recently become cost-effective for the masses. You can often test them using free trial periods as a starting point.I use Tegus, which offers a searchable database of thousands of investor-led interviews with industry experts on a wide range of industries, companies, and topics. It’s fast and cost-effective, enabling you to do great primary research without breaking the bank.Note: Tegus is offering Curiosity Chronicle subscribers a free 2-week trial of the service. Use this link to sign up and try it today!Books (The New Way)Reading books is for utility, not vanity.The old way of reading—cover-to-cover—is for vanity. People love going to cocktail parties and casually saying, “I read 52 books this year.” This used to be me. Don’t do this.Instead, use books the new way: Find sections or chapters that grab you and dive in there. When it stops grabbing you, put it down and move on.The old way is for vanity; the new way is for utility.With these six tools, you’ll be able to go vertical—quickly and effectively—on any topic.Skin in the GameIf you want to accelerate your learning curve, put some skin in the game.Skin in the game raises the stakes of your learning. It is a behavioral trick to build deeper incentives to push through roadblocks and progress."Skin" can be literal (as in money) or metaphorical (as in personal public commitment). There isn’t one form of “skin” that is more effective than the others—it’s a personal preference.Some simple examples:Want to learn more about a specific company? Buy a few shares of the stock.Want to write an article on X? Commit to it publicly. I do this all the time to force myself to sit down and write!Want to learn about Web 3.0? Buy an NFT, post it as your photo, join the Discord community.This isn’t just theoretical. I recently wanted to go deeper on Web 3.0 and NFTs. I was going down the rabbit hole, trying to understand what all the fuss was about, but needed to put some skin in the game.Enter Cool Cat #3426—and its proud owner, me. Suddenly, my motivation to really understand what I had just purchased, the technology, and the nature of its value (or lack thereof) was up 100x.In addition to raising the stakes, skin in the game gets you "in it" from a community perspective. I was able to engage with other Cool Cat owners on Twitter, join the Discord community, and talk to other NFT enthusiasts in my network. You'll never learn as much from the outside looking in. You need to get inside.Skin in the game is your ticket to join the community. Now that you're in, it's time to engage.Engage CommunityLearning is communal, not individual.Engage with the community to accelerate learning. As anyone who has ever learned a new language knows—immersion is an incredibly powerful force.Two pieces of tactical advice:Talk to authority figuresCall your learning circleFind a few authorities on the topic (from your vertical research process, you will already know who they are)—DM, email, call, ask questions. People are genuinely willing to engage with others in their earnest pursuit of knowledge.Call 3-5 friends (your learning circle) and talk about what you are learning. They will ask questions that expose holes in your knowledge and point out opinions that will force you to think more deeply.Community is the key.TeachIf you want to learn, teach.Engage in The Feynman Technique. Use simple language (no jargon or acronyms!) to explain what you've learned to a few people. You will very quickly realize how deep your understanding goes.A simple check: If you can't explain it to a 5-year-old, you probably don't understand it well enough (yet).Reflect & ReviewThe learning process is iterative and fluid.Reflect on the gaps in your knowledge that were exposed through the process—dive deeper to fill them in. Review your note-taking workspace and zoom out to get a full picture of your new learnings.ConclusionTo recap, my framework for learning anything is as follows:Identify & Establish: Write down the topic and everything you know about it.Research: Start horizontal (breadth) and then go vertical (depth). Use modern tools (Reddit, Twitter, newsletters, podcasts, expert networks, and books (the new way) to go deep.Skin in the Game: Accelerate your learning curve by putting some skin in the game (literally or metaphorically).Engage Community: Talk to authorities and discuss with your learning circle.Teach: If you want to learn, teach. Engage in The Feynman Technique.Reflect & Review: Zoom out to see the gaps. Iterate to fill them.I hope you find this framework as productive and helpful as I have. I’d love to see some comments about your experience with it (and any tweaks you would suggest).Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesPractice - Chief of Staff (NEW DROP!)Maven - GM of Partnerships & Ops (NEW DROP!)Hatch - Senior PM, Senior Product Marketing Manager (NEW DROP!)On Deck - Forum Director, CFO Forum, VP Finance (NEW DROP!)Skio - Founding EngineerMetafy - Senior Frontend DeveloperOlukai - VP of E-CommerceCommonstock: Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Marketing Designer, Backend EngineerSuperFarm - VP/Director Account Ops, Scrum MasterLaunch House - Community Manager, Community LeadAbstractOps - Head of EngineeringFree Agency - Chief of StaffThe full board can be found here!We just placed a Swiss Army Knife, Head of People, Account Exec, and several other roles in the last month. Featured roles are seeing thousands of impressions, website click-throughs, and significant application traction. If you have any questions about posting a role, please email Pallet and reference my job board.That does it for today’s newsletter. Join the 30,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
8/31/202113 minutes, 30 seconds
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When Mental Models Attack

Welcome to the 198 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 29,071 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week. Share this on Twitter to help grow the tribe!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by M1 Finance!M1 Finance is an all-in-one finance super app - allowing you to invest, borrow, and spend on one easy-to-use, technology-driven platform. I’m a huge fan of their smart dollar-cost averaging features, which take the emotions out of your investment process. M1 has low minimums and offers smart auto-invest, zero commission trades, and so much more. I love the platform and know you will too!Join thousands of other happy customers and open an M1 account today!Today at a Glance:Mental models and maps are representations of reality. They take the complexity of reality and reduce it down to something more manageable.“The map is not the territory” is a meta mental model for assessing and understanding the applicability of mental models. If you don’t understand and appreciate a model’s applicability (or lack thereof) to a given situation, you are certain to get lost.Humans have a tendency to over-apply mental models after we see them work. Awareness and constant reflection is the path to avoid this tendency (and avoid getting lost).When Mental Models AttackIf you’ve been following me on Twitter (or if you’re a long-time subscriber to this newsletter), you know that I enjoy writing about mental models.If you’re new to the term, mental models are simply representations of how the world works. The world is filled with complexity, so we constantly create mental models to help us simplify the complexity by reducing it down to a more manageable representation of fact.In most of my writing, I cover the many successes of mental models - they can be extremely useful tools when applied appropriately. But unfortunately, when misapplied, these "useful" models become anything but.My key point? Mental models are only as good as the soundness of their application. Knowing how and when to apply the different models in your toolkit is just as important as having them in your toolkit in the first place.Today, I’d like to talk about a mental model to help you understand the failings of mental models.Very meta, I know…“The Map is Not the Territory”"The Map is Not the Territory" is a core, foundational mental model for assessing and understanding the applicability of mental models. It's a critical addition to your decision-making toolkit. If you don’t understand and appreciate a model’s applicability (or lack thereof) to a given situation, you are certain to get lost.Let’s begin with some basics. First off, for the purposes of this piece, I will use the terms “map” and “mental model” interchangeably. Both terms can simply be thought of as representations of reality. They take the complexity of reality and reduce it down to something more manageable. Because of the reduction in complexity, they enable faster, higher-powered decision-making.But there are two potential problems:What if you are using the wrong map? Trying to navigate Ohio with a map of Mississippi seems…bad.What if the map is overly-simplified? Trying to navigate a 100-yard stretch of Amazon River rapids with a map of the entire 4,000+ mile river seems…bad.In both situations, the map (your mental model) is not an accurate, helpful representation of the territory (the problem you are looking to solve). Pushing forward in spite of this would be dangerous, perhaps even deadly (in the case of the Amazon rapids!).“The map is not the territory” can be thought of as a simple, intuitive reminder (or mantra?) to constantly understand, evaluate, and critique the validity and applicability of your mental models to a given scenario.HistoryWhere did this concept - of the map, the territory, and their potential mismatch - originate?Well, the general concern has been around for centuries. Explorers have long known about the dangers of over-reliance on maps when venturing into new territories. All were aware that early cartographers took certain...liberties. Claudius Ptolemy - the famed Roman mathematician, astronomer, and geographer - was known for filling in blanks on his maps with reckless artistic license. Basically, if he didn’t know what went into a blank area on a map, he just…made it up.As you can imagine, these maps had limited usefulness. They were not accurate representations of the territories they were intended to simplify.The concept was popularized as a mental model by Polish-American mathematician Alfred Korzybski in 1931.In a paper on mathematical semantics, he cemented the concept by dictating two related, critical points:"A map is not the territory.""A map may have a structure similar or dissimilar to the structure of the territory."In simple terms:Maps are representations of reality, not actual reality.The quality of this representation of reality can vary greatly. Korzybski was pointing out the risk of relying on maps too heavily and the importance of having awareness of their quality and limits.A Hypothetical ExampleSo we have covered the theory, but how does this apply to your life?The world is complex. To process this complexity, you create and use mental models and maps - simplified representations of complex reality. But if you're using a flawed map, you're going to get lost (or worse).Let's look at a fictional example to bring this to life.Imagine you are the CEO of a widget company. Everything is great. Your market is expanding, your business is growing and stealing share from competitors. Your stock price is soaring. Life is good. You’ve made it.But then, a crisis: the Consumer Product Safety Commission (a government agency) issues a formal report calling one of your widgets a safety hazard (seriously, this happens).You snap into action, ordering a halt of production and an immediate product recall. You launch an investigation into the safety risk. The investigation quickly finds the issue (which is relatively minor). You work with your team to correct it and begin production again. It's a hit to the financials, but not a debilitating one. The fast action minimized the damage.You’re lauded for your response. The financial media holds you up as a gold standard. You go on CNBC and tell the world how other CEOs can adopt your incredible crisis response strategy when they encounter their next crisis.Reflecting over a glass of wine, you pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Consciously or not, you've created a mental model of how to manage a product crisis.The model: If a product crisis hits, you have to act immediately. First, announce an immediate halt of production and issue a product recall. Next, investigate and fix the problem. Finally, restart production and start your victory lap!Simple, right? You settle back into your regular day-to-day as CEO, hoping you’ll never have to encounter a similar crisis, but knowing you are prepared if you do.Two years later, a blogger posts a piece accusing one of your widgets of being environmentally harmful. It starts to circulate on social media and makes its way onto your desk.“Here we go again,” you sigh. But you have a mental model for just this situation! You proceed accordingly:Halt productionIssue product recallInvestigate and fixRestart productionCNBC victory lapAs it turns out, your investigation reveals that there was no merit to the accusation. Your widget was perfectly fine. The pre-emptive production halt and recall were seriously damaging to your company's financials, particularly considering they were executed on the basis of a baseless claim.You're condemned for your response. The financial media drags you through the mud. No CNBC victory tour this time. Jim Cramer says you are the least capable CEO in the Fortune 500.But what happened here?You applied the same model in each crisis, but the result was very different. The issue, which may feel obvious, is that you applied the same model in dealing with an accusation from a blogger as you did in dealing with a comprehensive report from a government agency.The “map” you created in the first crisis was not an accurate representation of the reality of the second crisis. The map was not the territory, so the map was rendered useless! Without proper assessment of the applicability of your mental model to the situation, you wound up lost (and damaged).Humans have a tendency to over-apply mental models after we see them work. It is hard-wired into our genetic code. You were a victim of this tendency.So what are a few areas where we see this mental model in action.Business & StartupsThe business world is a fertile breeding ground of misapplied maps and mental models. Leaders form maps in one role or context, become overly confident in their application (having seen them work), and fail when applying them in a new, different context.Farnam Street covered a classic example in a terrific article on the subject:By most accounts, Ron Johnson was one the most successful and desirable retail executives by the summer of 2011…Johnson’s success at Apple was not immediate, but it was undeniable. By 2011, Apple stores were by far the most productive in the world on a per-square-foot basis, and had become the envy of the retail world.With that success, in 2011 Johnson was hired by Bill Ackman, Steven Roth, and other luminaries of the financial world to turn around the dowdy old department store chain JC Penney. The situation of the department store was dour: Between 1992 and 2011, the retail market share held by department stores had declined from 57% to 31%.The idea was to take the best ideas from his experience at Apple; great customer service, consistent pricing with no markdowns and markups, immaculate displays, world-class products, and apply them to the department store.The idea failed almost immediately…What went wrong in the quest to build America’s Favorite Store? It turned out that Johnson was using a map of Tulsa to navigate Tuscaloosa. Apple’s products, customers, and history had far too little in common with JC Penney’s. Apple had a rabid, young, affluent fan-base before they built stores; JC Penney’s was not associated with youth or affluence. Apple had shiny products, and needed a shiny store; JC Penney was known for its affordable sweaters. Apple had never relied on discounting in the first place; JC Penney was taking away discounts given prior, triggering massive deprival super-reaction.There are many archetypes of this general type of failure:CEO tries to apply same roadmap to new business turnaround as in prior business turnaround. It fails.Startup founder tries to apply same approach to growth as in prior startup. It fails.They all share one common trait: the map is not the territory!InvestingInvestors are frequent victims of the tendency to over-apply models that worked in the past.Imagine a successful investor evaluates a potential retail turnaround, believes in the story, invests in the business, and wins big. They have formed a mental model for retail turnarounds - they have seen it work, and now want to see it work again.The investor has become a hammer searching for a nail.The next time a retail turnaround opportunity comes across their desk, they are likely to see a nail - even if the opportunity is clearly different (a screw!). Treating it the same as the first option, they lose big.The map is not the territory!How to Avoid Getting LostThe study of mental models creates an inherent tension between two concepts:Humans create mental models to simplify complexity. They are useful when applied appropriately.Humans have a tendency to over-apply models that have worked in the past, leading to failures.This becomes an optimization problem: How do we optimize (1) and avoid (2)? Awareness and constant reflection.AwarenessYou have to be ruthlessly honest in assessing the validity and integrity of your mental maps and models as they relate to new scenarios.Think of your mental models as tools in a toolkit. As Tren Griffin pointed out on Twitter, having mechanisms to evoke these tools in the appropriate scenarios is the key. You don’t walk around the house with your hammer in hand, ready to strike - you find the problem, accurately assess it, and determine the tool in your toolkit that is best suited to solve it.ReflectionReflect on your daily application of models - the hits and the misses. Harness a community for this reflection. Learning circles can be a powerful force.As the legendary Jim O’Shaughnessy pointed out below, “without error correction, a model will decay into uselessness.” To win: Be aware, reflect often. And always remember: the map is not the territory!Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesSuperFarm - VP/Director Account Ops, Scrum Master (NEW DROP!)Launch House - Community Manager, Community Lead (NEW DROP!)AbstractOps - Head of Engineering (NEW DROP!)Commonstock: Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Marketing Designer, Backend Engineer (NEW DROP!)Free Agency - Chief of StaffAvicado - Marketing ManagerThe full board can be found here!We have had a bunch of hires through the board and the results for featured roles have been awesome! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today. Join the 29,000+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends! This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
8/17/202114 minutes, 4 seconds
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Productive Discomfort: The Socratic Method

Welcome to the 398 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 28,496 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week. Share this on Twitter to help grow the tribe!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by M1 Finance!M1 Finance is an all-in-one finance super app - allowing you to invest, borrow, and spend on one easy-to-use, technology-driven platform. I am a longtime fan of the product, but have truly been blown away by the accelerating pace of new product rollouts. M1 has no minimums and offers smart auto-invest, zero commission trades, and so much more. I love the platform and know you will too!Join thousands of other happy customers and open an M1 account today!Today at a Glance:Children ask questions to understand the world around them and establish first principles; but somewhere along the way, they are told to stop exploring.The Socratic Method is a cooperative, argumentative process of asking questions to expose flawed logic, establish first principles, and generate creative, imaginative solutions to complex problems.It can be put to use in a wide variety of scenarios, including in the worlds of investing, startup building, and education.Productive Discomfort: The Socratic MethodHumans are born with remarkable curiosity. But somewhere along the way, we are told to stop asking questions. We are told to just accept things. We are told to stop exploring.The result? Unimaginative, linear minds and atrophied critical thinking skills.Fortunately, there is a proven strategy for reclaiming your curiosity, stimulating critical thinking, and establishing first principles.The Socratic Method.IntroductionThe human mind is naturally wired for critical thinking.Children are born with an innate curiosity - a desire to understand the world and all of its complexities. If you have kids (or have been around them), you’ve seen this in action. They constantly, incessantly ask “Why?” about absolutely everything.Here’s a common occurrence for any parent:Mom: “Ok, it’s time for bed. You need to get some sleep.”Kid: “Why?”Mom: “Because you need sleep to think clearly and grow.”Kid: “Why?”I’ll stop. You can see where this is going…The reality is they aren’t doing it to be annoying (contrary to what many parents might think!). Children ask questions in order to develop a deeper understanding their existence and surroundings. The world is fascinating. Everything is so new to a child.They ask questions in an effort to dive deeper, think critically, and establish first principles. And newsflash…it works!How many times has a parent had the above interaction, only to realize that they themselves do not know the answer to the questions being asked? If open to the idea, it leads to new learning of fundamental truths (e.g. why humans need to sleep!).Children are the original first principles thinkers.Unfortunately, as we get older, we are typically told - by teachers, our parents, or otherwise - to stop asking questions. Responses like “Because I said so” or “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” pile up. Our critical thinking muscles begin a slow, steady decay into adulthood. We begin to rely on base assumptions that we have been told are true (but have not independently verified).In certain cases, this can be (mostly) fine. Heuristics and decision-making razors are helpful in making quick decisions.But when dealing with more complex edge cases where creativity is required, using heuristics can lead to unimaginative, linear solutions that closely resemble what has been done before.So how do we fight back, rebuild our critical thinking muscles, and establish first principles?Enter our powerful tool: The Socratic Method.HistoryThe Socratic Method is a process of asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and expose and vet underlying assumptions and logic. It is both cooperative and argumentative. It is a strategy for establishing first principles (the basic, foundational truths) in a problem solving process or discussion.Its aim is to create an environment of productive discomfort for its participants.The Socratic Method is named after the Greek philosopher, Socrates, who developed it as an alternative method of debate and teaching. Socrates disagreed with the style of the “sophists” of the era - teachers who used rhetoric and gravitas to entertain and persuade students.Believing that sophists were promoting a self-centered style, he began promoting the Socratic Method as an alternative. The basic structure involved progressive questioning to expose flawed logic, eliminate hypotheses, and sharpen thinking.Let’s cover how it works…The Socratic Method in PracticeThe Socratic Method is dynamic, but typically follows a general four step structure:Start with open-ended questions.Propose ideas based on these questions.Probe these ideas with progressive questioning.Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the best ideas are developed.Imagine your team has encountered a challenge that requires an imaginative solution.Start at the surface. Start asking questions. What is the problem you are trying to solve? We often waste time and energy trying to solve the "wrong" problem. Identify the “right” problem before you try to solve it!This is where it gets fun. Dive deeper. Sketch out your current thinking on the problem, including the origins of that thinking. Open the floor for targeted questioning. Why do you think this? Is the thinking too vague? What is it based upon? Challenge each other (collaboratively!).Challenge the assumptions underlying the original thinking. Why do you believe this to be true? How do you know it’s true? How would you know if you were wrong? Identify the source of beliefs on a problem. Be ruthless in evaluating their integrity and validity.Evaluate the evidence used to support the thinking. What concrete evidence do I have? How credible is it? What “hidden evidence” may exist?Understand the consequences of being wrong. Can this be quickly fixed? How costly is this mistake? Always understand the stakes.Evaluate the potential alternatives. What alternative beliefs or viewpoints might exist? Why might they be superior? Why do others believe them to be true? What do they know that I don’t? Evaluate them on their merits and ask these same fundamental questions about them.After zooming in, zoom out. What was my original thinking? Was it correct? If not, where did I err? What conclusions can I draw from the process about systemic errors in my thinking?So we have seen how it works. Let’s cover some practical applications of the Socratic Method…The Socratic Method in InvestingThe best investors have long been proponents of the Socratic Method. They build structure to enforce a Socratic approach to the investment decision-making process.Every proposal before the “investment committee” is questioned and dissected from a variety of angles (at least in theory). It makes it difficult for an investment based on flimsy assumptions to pass through.Note: This doesn’t mean every investment made ends up being a successful one! It simply ensures that investments are grounded in clear, evidence-backed assumptions (even if changing circumstances later disprove those assumptions). Surface-level thinking is quickly rooted out from the system.The Socratic Method in StartupsElon Musk is an advocate of the method, having honed it during his brief stint at Queen’s College.“One particular thing that I learned at Queen’s was how to work collaboratively with smart people and make use of the Socratic method to achieve commonality of purpose.” - Elon MuskHe came to rely on it at his various startups, including Tesla and SpaceX, where creative, imaginative solutions for large, complex problems are a requirement of staying in business.The Socratic Method can be a powerful unlock for ambitious teams. Question base assumptions, ask “why?” incessantly, and expose flawed logic to uncover better hypotheses. Tesla and SpaceX are just two such examples - there are many more.The Socratic Method in EducationThe Socratic Method is a mainstay of legal and medical education curriculums, but has been forgotten in most other fields. Most programs favor lecturing - it’s easier. Few encourage targeted, rigorous questioning or environments of productive discomfort for the professor and students.This is one reason why our critical thinking muscles wither as we get older. We aren’t training them! Change is most definitely coming. Programs like Synthesis School are specifically designed to create productive discomfort and encourage questioning in children.The Socratic Method is simple, yet as these varied examples have shown, it is dynamic, powerful, and useful across a wide range of situations, particularly when you are looking to challenge the status quo with new, inventive solutions.That does it for today’s newsletter. I hope you found it helpful and will put these new learnings to good use!Please share it and help me grow this amazing tribe of curiosity seekers!Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesSuperFarm - VP/Director Account Ops, Scrum Master (NEW DROP!)AbstractOps - Head of Engineering (NEW DROP!)Commonstock: Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Marketing Designer, Backend Engineer (NEW DROP!)Vise - Head of Demand Gen, Product Marketing Manager, PMLaunch House - Community LeadFree Agency - Chief of StaffBeyond Protocol - Director of Ops, Director of Business DevelopmentAvicado - Marketing ManagerPallet - Full Stack Software EngineerThe full board can be found here!We have had a bunch of hires through the board and the results for featured roles have been insane! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today. Join the 28,500+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends!*Note: Nothing contained herein should be construed as personal investment advice. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
8/11/20219 minutes, 37 seconds
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Productive Discomfort: The Socratic Method

Welcome to the 398 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 28,496 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week. Share this on Twitter to help grow the tribe!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by M1 Finance!M1 Finance is an all-in-one finance super app - allowing you to invest, borrow, and spend on one easy-to-use, technology-driven platform. I am a longtime fan of the product, but have truly been blown away by the accelerating pace of new product rollouts. M1 has no minimums and offers smart auto-invest, zero commission trades, and so much more. I love the platform and know you will too!Join thousands of other happy customers and open an M1 account today!Today at a Glance:Children ask questions to understand the world around them and establish first principles; but somewhere along the way, they are told to stop exploring.The Socratic Method is a cooperative, argumentative process of asking questions to expose flawed logic, establish first principles, and generate creative, imaginative solutions to complex problems.It can be put to use in a wide variety of scenarios, including in the worlds of investing, startup building, and education.Productive Discomfort: The Socratic MethodHumans are born with remarkable curiosity. But somewhere along the way, we are told to stop asking questions. We are told to just accept things. We are told to stop exploring.The result? Unimaginative, linear minds and atrophied critical thinking skills.Fortunately, there is a proven strategy for reclaiming your curiosity, stimulating critical thinking, and establishing first principles.The Socratic Method.IntroductionThe human mind is naturally wired for critical thinking.Children are born with an innate curiosity - a desire to understand the world and all of its complexities. If you have kids (or have been around them), you’ve seen this in action. They constantly, incessantly ask “Why?” about absolutely everything.Here’s a common occurrence for any parent:Mom: “Ok, it’s time for bed. You need to get some sleep.”Kid: “Why?”Mom: “Because you need sleep to think clearly and grow.”Kid: “Why?”I’ll stop. You can see where this is going…The reality is they aren’t doing it to be annoying (contrary to what many parents might think!). Children ask questions in order to develop a deeper understanding their existence and surroundings. The world is fascinating. Everything is so new to a child.They ask questions in an effort to dive deeper, think critically, and establish first principles. And newsflash…it works!How many times has a parent had the above interaction, only to realize that they themselves do not know the answer to the questions being asked? If open to the idea, it leads to new learning of fundamental truths (e.g. why humans need to sleep!).Children are the original first principles thinkers.Unfortunately, as we get older, we are typically told - by teachers, our parents, or otherwise - to stop asking questions. Responses like “Because I said so” or “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” pile up. Our critical thinking muscles begin a slow, steady decay into adulthood. We begin to rely on base assumptions that we have been told are true (but have not independently verified).In certain cases, this can be (mostly) fine. Heuristics and decision-making razors are helpful in making quick decisions.But when dealing with more complex edge cases where creativity is required, using heuristics can lead to unimaginative, linear solutions that closely resemble what has been done before.So how do we fight back, rebuild our critical thinking muscles, and establish first principles?Enter our powerful tool: The Socratic Method.HistoryThe Socratic Method is a process of asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and expose and vet underlying assumptions and logic. It is both cooperative and argumentative. It is a strategy for establishing first principles (the basic, foundational truths) in a problem solving process or discussion.Its aim is to create an environment of productive discomfort for its participants.The Socratic Method is named after the Greek philosopher, Socrates, who developed it as an alternative method of debate and teaching. Socrates disagreed with the style of the “sophists” of the era - teachers who used rhetoric and gravitas to entertain and persuade students.Believing that sophists were promoting a self-centered style, he began promoting the Socratic Method as an alternative. The basic structure involved progressive questioning to expose flawed logic, eliminate hypotheses, and sharpen thinking.Let’s cover how it works…The Socratic Method in PracticeThe Socratic Method is dynamic, but typically follows a general four step structure:Start with open-ended questions.Propose ideas based on these questions.Probe these ideas with progressive questioning.Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the best ideas are developed.Imagine your team has encountered a challenge that requires an imaginative solution.Start at the surface. Start asking questions. What is the problem you are trying to solve? We often waste time and energy trying to solve the "wrong" problem. Identify the “right” problem before you try to solve it!This is where it gets fun. Dive deeper. Sketch out your current thinking on the problem, including the origins of that thinking. Open the floor for targeted questioning. Why do you think this? Is the thinking too vague? What is it based upon? Challenge each other (collaboratively!).Challenge the assumptions underlying the original thinking. Why do you believe this to be true? How do you know it’s true? How would you know if you were wrong? Identify the source of beliefs on a problem. Be ruthless in evaluating their integrity and validity.Evaluate the evidence used to support the thinking. What concrete evidence do I have? How credible is it? What “hidden evidence” may exist?Understand the consequences of being wrong. Can this be quickly fixed? How costly is this mistake? Always understand the stakes.Evaluate the potential alternatives. What alternative beliefs or viewpoints might exist? Why might they be superior? Why do others believe them to be true? What do they know that I don’t? Evaluate them on their merits and ask these same fundamental questions about them.After zooming in, zoom out. What was my original thinking? Was it correct? If not, where did I err? What conclusions can I draw from the process about systemic errors in my thinking?So we have seen how it works. Let’s cover some practical applications of the Socratic Method…The Socratic Method in InvestingThe best investors have long been proponents of the Socratic Method. They build structure to enforce a Socratic approach to the investment decision-making process.Every proposal before the “investment committee” is questioned and dissected from a variety of angles (at least in theory). It makes it difficult for an investment based on flimsy assumptions to pass through.Note: This doesn’t mean every investment made ends up being a successful one! It simply ensures that investments are grounded in clear, evidence-backed assumptions (even if changing circumstances later disprove those assumptions). Surface-level thinking is quickly rooted out from the system.The Socratic Method in StartupsElon Musk is an advocate of the method, having honed it during his brief stint at Queen’s College.“One particular thing that I learned at Queen’s was how to work collaboratively with smart people and make use of the Socratic method to achieve commonality of purpose.” - Elon MuskHe came to rely on it at his various startups, including Tesla and SpaceX, where creative, imaginative solutions for large, complex problems are a requirement of staying in business.The Socratic Method can be a powerful unlock for ambitious teams. Question base assumptions, ask “why?” incessantly, and expose flawed logic to uncover better hypotheses. Tesla and SpaceX are just two such examples - there are many more.The Socratic Method in EducationThe Socratic Method is a mainstay of legal and medical education curriculums, but has been forgotten in most other fields. Most programs favor lecturing - it’s easier. Few encourage targeted, rigorous questioning or environments of productive discomfort for the professor and students.This is one reason why our critical thinking muscles wither as we get older. We aren’t training them! Change is most definitely coming. Programs like Synthesis School are specifically designed to create productive discomfort and encourage questioning in children.The Socratic Method is simple, yet as these varied examples have shown, it is dynamic, powerful, and useful across a wide range of situations, particularly when you are looking to challenge the status quo with new, inventive solutions.That does it for today’s newsletter. I hope you found it helpful and will put these new learnings to good use!Please share it and help me grow this amazing tribe of curiosity seekers!Sahil’s Job Board - Featured OpportunitiesSuperFarm - VP/Director Account Ops, Scrum Master (NEW DROP!)AbstractOps - Head of Engineering (NEW DROP!)Commonstock: Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Marketing Designer, Backend Engineer (NEW DROP!)Vise - Head of Demand Gen, Product Marketing Manager, PMLaunch House - Community LeadFree Agency - Chief of StaffBeyond Protocol - Director of Ops, Director of Business DevelopmentAvicado - Marketing ManagerPallet - Full Stack Software EngineerThe full board can be found here!We have had a bunch of hires through the board and the results for featured roles have been insane! If you are a high-growth company in finance or tech, you can use the “Post a Job” button to get your roles up on the board and featured in future Twitter and newsletter distributions.That does it for today. Join the 28,500+ others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week! Until next time, stay curious, friends!*Note: Nothing contained herein should be construed as personal investment advice. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit sahilbloom.substack.com
8/11/20219 minutes, 37 seconds
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The Cognitive Bias Handbook

Welcome to the 537 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Friday. Join the 27,544 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week. Oh, and share this on Twitter to help grow the tribe!Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Morning Brew!Morning Brew is on my must-read list every single day. There's a reason over 3 million people start their day with Morning Brew — it’s a free daily email that delivers the latest news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley in an easy-to-digest format. Join millions of others and subscribe today!Today at a GlanceCognitive biases are systemic errors in thinking that negatively impact decision-making quality and outcomes.Combatting cognitive biases relies first and foremost on establishing a level of awareness of the biases, but each has its own specific combat strategies as well.Overview, examples, and combat tactics for common biases, including Loss Aversion, Endowment Effect, Ben Franklin Effect, Availability Bias, Survivorship Bias, Ikea Effect, Hindsight Bias, Plan Continuation Bias, Gambler’s Fallacy, and Curse of Knowledge.The Cognitive Bias Handbook - Part IICognitive biases are systemic errors in thinking that negatively impact decision-making quality and outcomes. I recently shared a Twitter thread covering the basics of 20 cognitive biases - but it was admittedly surface-level (280 characters only allows for so much depth and nuance on a topic!).Last week, I went deeper, with Part I of The Cognitive Bias Handbook, covering 10 common cognitive biases, including examples and ways to combat each. Today, I will cover the remaining 10. As a reminder, this two-part newsletter series was split as follows:Part I (last week) covered Fundamental Attribution Error, Bandwagon Effect, Egocentric Bias, Naïve Realism, Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, Pygmalion Effect, Confirmation Bias, Backfire Effect, Anchoring, and Dunning-Kruger Effect.Part II (today) covers Loss Aversion, Endowment Effect, Ben Franklin Effect, Availability Bias, Survivorship Bias, Ikea Effect, Hindsight Bias, Plan Continuation Bias, Gambler’s Fallacy, and Curse of Knowledge.This handbook is designed to be a resource you can save and come back to whenever you need a refresher. Given the volume and importance of the information, I am considering working with an illustrator to convert it into a physical/digital book that you can reference as well. Stay tuned!Without further ado, let’s dive into Part II…Loss AversionWhat is it?The pain of losing something is more powerful than the pleasure of winning it.Loss aversion was first identified by famed behavioral scientists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, who found that humans had a tendency to prefer avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains. Accordingly, people were typically willing to take actions to avoid losses that they wouldn’t have taken to seek gains.Economists had previously assumed humans were rational actors - that $100 in losses would drive the same amount of pain as $100 in gains would create pleasure. Wrong. Humans are enigmatic creatures!ExamplesInvestors - professional and amateur alike - exhibit loss aversion. The pain and fear of realizing a loss often leads investors to hold onto losing positions much longer than they should.Gamblers who are in the red for a given night often risk much more to try to get back into the black (above breakeven) than they should.How do you combat it?Loss aversion is hardwired into our primate brains, but as always, awareness is the first step to fighting back against its influence.Avoid emotional connection to your possessions - whether they are investments, material items, or money. Attempt to distance your emotions from the decision-making process where possible.Ask questions:Am I being objective and rational in this decision?Am I letting my emotions influence my decision?Am I too connected emotionally to make a rational decision?If you are too connected to a given decision, you may need to outsource it to an objective third-party.The Endowment EffectWhat is it?A close relative of loss aversion, the endowment effect (sometimes called “divestiture aversion”) says that once we have something, we don't want to give it up.Specifically, we demand more to give up an object than we would be willing to pay to acquire it. In slightly more scientific terms, willingness to pay (“WTP”) to acquire an object is typically lower than willingness to accept (“WTA”) to give up an object.ExamplesIn a classic experiment performed by Richard Thaler, two groups of people were placed in a room and given either (a) a fancy pen or (b) a coffee mug. They were then asked if they would be willing to trade their item for the alternate item. Both groups expressed an unwillingness to trade their endowed item for the alternate item, even though they had similar objective values.In another study of NCAA Final Four ticket-holders, it was found that their WTA was ~10x+ higher than their WTP for the same tickets. Insane!How do you combat it?The path to fighting back against the endowment effect is, unsurprisingly, very similar to that of loss aversion.Force a level of hyper-awareness of the irrational gap between your WTA and your WTP on a possession. Use your imagination to distance yourself from the possession and think objectively about its value and utility.It’s never perfect, but it’s a start.The Ben Franklin EffectWhat is it?"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged." - Benjamin FranklinPut simply, doing one favor for a person makes you more likely to do another favor for that person than if you had received a favor from them.Humans love to reinforce our own self-perceptions. If we perform a favor for another person, we have become a “favor-giver” in our minds. We become more likely to reinforce this self-perception by performing another favor.The Ben Franklin Effect says that this reinforcing effect is more powerful than the desire to return a favor when one has been done for you.ExamplesThe best example of The Ben Franklin Effect is of how Ben Franklin’s eponymous effect was born.Early in his career, Benjamin Franklin once sought to convert a political adversary into a fan. He did so by requesting a favor from the adversa