Think About It

Dividing your attention divides your results.

23rd October 2021

Seeking Wisdom — Lessons on Becoming an Outstanding Thinker

Ignorance has a bad reputation.

Society values wisdom, knowledge and intelligence, but if you are ignorant and know the level of your ignorance, it can become an important stepping stone for acquiring relevant knowledge.

Everyone starts from ignorance, but many people forget they were once ignorant.

You can still be ignorant at any stage of your knowledge acquiring process.

The difference between less -intelligent people and intelligent people is that intelligent people are not afraid to challenge their existing knowledge.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "There are no eternal facts as there are no absolute truths."

Your fundamental realities of life can be challenged, questioned, improved, upgraded or transformed — if you are open to improving

The knowledge of one’s ignorance is the beginning of wisdom

Chasing The Wrong Things !

I just finished a book named 'Wanting', written by a guy named Luke Burgis.

It's about mimetic desire. This academic theory popularized by Peter Thiel, the same guy who was co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in FaceBook.

What is mimetic desire?

At face value, it barely sounds worth mentioning! It means "When the people around you want something, we want it too"

Let's say you're at a bar.

You're about to order a beer but your friend orders a glass of wine. "I'll have one too actually" – you wanted a beer, but you were influenced to switch.

Ok, so what? But now let's take it to the next level…

An Unhealthy Obsession with Money

One hundred dollars invested in Berkshire Hathaway in 1965 would have grown to more than $2.8 million by the end of 2020.

Warren Buffett’s holding company is the most impressive long-term compounding machine in history, increasing in market value at 20% per year for nearly 6 decades.

Compounding is a wonderful thing but it can also become an unhealthy obsession if you view every financial decision through that lens.

In Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, Roger Lowenstein tells a story from Buffett’s friend and former business partner Katherine Graham when she was publisher of the Washington Post.

Graham was in the airport with Buffett and needed to make a phone call from a payphone (remember those?). She asked Buffett for a dime (which was the going rate for a call at the time). Buffett grabbed a quarter from his pocket and walked off to get change from a cashier.

Graham snapped at him, "Warren, give me the quarter!"

Buffett was so stingy he wanted to give her exact change for the call and not a penny more.

There was another story from the book where Buffett complained to a friend about his wife purchasing $15k of new furniture for their home. He told the friend, "Do you know how much that is if you compound it over 20 years?"

Think About It

Semmelweis Reflex:

People tend to reject evidence that doesn't fit the established worldview. Named for Ignaz Semmelweis, a surgeon who, before the discovery of germs, claimed washing hands could help prevent patient infections. He was ridiculed and locked away in a mental asylum.

16th October 2021

Second-Order Thinking: What Smart People Use to Outperform

Things are not always as they appear.

Often when we solve one problem, we end up unintentionally creating another one that’s even worse.

The best way to examine the long-term consequences of our decisions is to use second-order thinking.

The ability to think through problems to the 2nd, 3rd and nth order—or what we will call second-order thinking for short—is a powerful tool that supercharges your thinking.

First-order thinking is fast and easy. It happens when we look for something that only solves the immediate problem without considering the consequences. For example, you can think of this as I’m hungry so let’s eat a chocolate bar.

Second-order thinking is more deliberate. It is thinking in terms of interactions and time, understanding that despite our intentions our interventions often cause harm.

Second order thinkers ask themselves the question “And then what?” This means thinking about the consequences of repeatedly eating a chocolate bar when you are hungry and using that to inform your decision. If you do this you’re more likely to eat something healthy.

Cobra Effect -Think Before You Leap !

The Cobra Effect is a term in economics. It refers to a situation when an attempted solution to a problem makes the problem worse.

This name was coined based on an incident in old colonial India.

By some reasons, there were too many venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. People were dying due to snake-bites and it became scary for almost everyone to step out of their houses.

The government of the day had to get into action to stop this menace and it offered a silver coin for every dead cobra. The results were great, a large number of snakes were killed for the reward.

Eventually, however, it led to some serious unwanted consequences. After a short-term dip in cobra population, it started going up.

This was because few people began to breed cobras for the income. When the news reached the government, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the cobra population further increased. The solution for the problem made the situation even worse.

Every solution has consequences and those consequences may lead to certain situations where rather than solving a current problem, you may end up with more complex problems.

When in Doubt, Copy

From childhood, we learn by copying others. It's also how we navigate uncertainty throughout our lives.

As the Delta variant of Covid-19 surges, for example, you may have seen an uptick of people wearing masks again at your grocery store, even when it's not required. If this caused you to start wearing yours again, you’ve likely reduced your risk of hospitalization with no more thought than "I'll do what she's doing."

Copying is what people have always done because it's not only easy, it’s effective. If it weren't, we wouldn't still be doing it because we wouldn't be here.

The fact that humans live in groups and have heightened cognitive abilities ensures that copying has a revered place in our behavioral arsenal.

But such copying is a double-edged sword.

You may be in a community where most people do the opposite, so you’re copying behavior that increases your risk.

What often matters is not which thing is better but who else is using the thing —

sometimes, even if that thing is worse for you.

Think About It

Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time allotted for it.

No matter the size of the task, it will often take precisely the amount of time you set aside to do it, because more time means more deliberation & procrastination.

9th October 2021

Dangerous Feelings

Success has a nasty tendency to increase confidence more than ability.

The longer it lasts, and the more it was tied to some degree of serendipity, the truer that becomes.

It’s why getting rich and staying rich are different skills.

And it’s why why most competitive advantages have a shelf life.

Jason Zweig put it: “Being right is the enemy of staying right because it leads you to forget the way the world works.”

Investor Dean Williams put it: “Expertise is great, but it has a bad side effect. It tends to create an inability to accept new ideas.”

Some things never change, and learning them in one era can help you in the next. But the more your field evolves – the more it involves people’s decisions – the smaller that set of learnings is, and the more you need to fight the urge to think that your long-term experience means you now permanently understand how the field works.

The Curious Beginner's Guide to Crypto

This is a special post to "explain like I'm five" crypto concepts such as web 3, blockchain, tokens, NFTs, and DAOs.

If you’re a beginner and curious about learning these, this is the right place to go .

Does more information helps us in better decision making : No : But less distraction do

Virtually all investors have been told when they were younger — or implicitly believe, or have been tacitly encouraged to do so by the cookie-cutter curriculums of the business schools they all attend — that the more they understand the world, the better their investment results. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

The more information we acquire and evaluate, the “better informed” we become, the better our decisions.

Accumulating information, becoming “better informed,” is certainly an advantage in numerous, if not most, fields.

But beyond a certain minimum amount, additional information only feeds — leaving aside the considerable cost of and delay occasioned in acquiring it — what psychologists call “confirmation bias.”

The information we gain that conflicts with our original assessment or conclusion, we conveniently ignore or dismiss, while the information that confirms our original decision makes us increasingly certain that our conclusion was correct.

Think About It

You are living in two worlds simultaneously -- the world of reality and the world of thoughts. When you start observing your thought world as much as the real world, you'll notice that most of your sufferings are rooted in your mind, not in your reality.

2nd October 2021

15 Questions for Success!

Ask these 15 questions to yourself – if possible every 6 months.

You would get to know whether you’re on the right path or you just want to window-shop the success you want, you don’t have a real desire to do better than you’re doing today.

Here’s a sample question from the article:

Are you improving every day?

Learning and business is all about momentum.

What you do on day 1 should not look nothing like what you’re doing on day 100.

If you’re doing the same thing on 100th day, rest assured that you would not improve/grow much!

And if required pay to a coach or a trainer to learn, to improve. A coach and a trainer would give a head-start.

There’s no use of wasting time in trying to learn by yourself, paying for mistakes if something can be learnt by paying some amount to someone who’s already mastered that thing up to an extent.

Point is to question each of your action every day and try to find whether there’s a scope of any improvement.

And keep repeating.

Making Uncommon Knowledge Common

Rich Barton is hardly a household name. Most of you might not know that he has built 3 big successful companies.

However, while there are more visible founders (like Bezos of Amazon and Zuckerberg of FB) who’ve built bigger businesses, market cap and notoriety aren’t the only measures of a founder.

And Barton is a strong contender for the title of best consumer tech founder because of his repeated success.

He’s founded three consumer companies each worth over a billion dollars with Expedia ($18.6B), Zillow ($8.8B), and Glassdoor (Said to have been acquired for $1.6B).

Repeatable success is key, especially in Consumer tech which is one of the hardest areas to succeed in.

Rich Barton’s companies all became household names by following a common playbook.

The Rich Barton Playbook is building Data Content Loops to disintermediate incumbents and dominate Search. And then using this traction to own demand in their industries.

Or as he puts it “Power to the People”

  • Expedia: Prices for flights and hotels that before you’d have to get from travel agent
  • Zillow: Zestimate of what your house is likely worth that before you’d have to get from broker
  • Glassdoor: Reviews from employees about what a company is like that before you’d have to get from a recruiter or the company itself

These Data Content Loops help the companies reach the scale where other loops like SEO, brand, and network effects can kick in.

Michael Sugrue

This YouTube channel is the best thing I’ve found on the Internet in a while.

It’s a series of well-researched, high-energy philosophy lectures that are easy to follow and fun to listen to. Based on subscriber counts, it’s a hidden gem too.

Think About It

Humans are not designed to be happy.

We're designed to believe we will be happy if we just accomplish the latest goal.

So we seldom taste true joy, but we often pick up its scent—just enough to keep us in pursuit. Paradise is not a destination, or even a path, but a horizon. .

25th september 2021

You Must Do Boring Things!

Student:How long will it take for me to be the great archer.

Teacher: 10 years

Student: Only if I didn't chop wood, carry water everyday, I would get there faster.

Teacher: No, in that case, it may take you 20 years"

One does not realizes that these daily routines, these trivial things, these boring activities and the monotonous nature of practicing on something on day-to-day basis can lead you to develop great habits.

You might realize that to path to achieve greatness in anything is not so romantic, it is full of daily hard-work & doubts, doing things that you may not like, doing things where you might not get any credit, waiting for results to show-up and sometimes the results may not be of your linking, and working with people who are difficult to work with.

Use Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion to Boost Your Motivation

“n 1687, Sir Isaac Newton wrote The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and changed the way the world would look at gravity for the foreseeable future.

While Newton’s three laws of motion apply to the movement of physical objects (pushing a rock up a hill, etc.), you can find direct correlations with the motivation required for you whenever you feel dip in your confidence levels.

Newton’s 1st law of motion

“An object will remain at rest or in a uniform state of motion unless that state is changed by an external force.”

Takeaway: If you want to change the way things are, you need to apply force (effort) to the situation to change it. Otherwise, things will never change.

Newton’s 2nd law of motion.

“The time rate of change of the momentum of a body is equal in both magnitude and direction to the force imposed on it.”

Takeaway: Focus is everything. If you work on two things, it will take twice as long to succeed as if you work on one thing. If you work twice as hard on something, you’ll get to where you want to go twice as fast.

Newton’s 3rd law of motion

For every action in nature, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Takeaway: We should not see opposition as a deterrent. In fact, the more opposition we encounter, the more sure we can be that we are making a difference in the world.

Go Big, Then Stop

What I’m talking about is a savings philosophy so effective that it can put your future finances on easy mode. It can help you to build wealth for decades while you literally do nothing. It may just be the lowest effort way to set yourself up for a nice retirement. How does it work?

You save as much as you can as early as you can, then you stop saving altogether (if you want). Go big, then stop.

Why is this strategy so effective? There are two reasons:

  • Money invested earlier in time typically grows more than money invested later in time.
  • Compounding money is easier than saving money.
  • The first point is mathematical. If we assume that markets compound by some positive rate each year (on average), then money invested earlier will grow to more than money invested later.

    The second point, however, is behavioral. It takes all sorts of willpower and planning to save money throughout your life. However, when it comes to compounding your money, it takes almost no effort at all. All you have to do is wait and the market does the hard work for you.

    For these two reasons, this strategy is an excellent way to build wealth early and set yourself up for an easier financial future. I have used this strategy over the last nine years and so far it has worked wonders.

Think About It

Decision Fatigue:

The more decisions you make in a day, the worse your decisions get, so rid your life of trivial choices.

Steve Jobs, Barack Obama & Mark Zuckerberg have been known to wear only 1 or 2 outfits to work so they don't have to choose each day and waste their time & energy in making those choices .

18th september 2021

The Steve Martin Method: A Master Comedian’s Advice for Becoming Famous

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Steve Martin is one of the most diversified performers in Hollywood –actor, comedian, author, producer – has been successful as a writer and performer in some of the very popular movies.

But how did he do it?

In Martin’s recent memoir, Born Standing Up, we gain unprecedented insight into this process. Indeed, Martin stated that one of his motivations for the book was to explicitly capture the how, not just the what.

People often ask Martin about the secret to making it in the entertainment industry. His answer often disappoints. It does not involve any tricks (or, as we might call them: “hacks”).

No secret recipe ,no formula , no self-gloating thoughts.

Instead, it’s all built on one simple idea:

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Forget all the frustration, the tricks, and the worry.

Just focus on becoming good. Really damn good. Outstanding.

Unlike anyone who has come before you.

If you can figure out how to do this one thing, recognition will follow. It will, like it did for Martin, probably come so fast that it will overwhelm you.

The restless urge to understand then innovate led him to be outstanding. Without it, he would have just become another good comedian. Like hundreds of others.

Martin credits “diligence” for his success.

Staying diligent in his interest in the one field he was trying to master; being able to ignore the urge to start working on other projects at the same time.

Mental models

Elon Musk (Tesla) is on record that he makes decisions using the same technique as Jeff Bezos (Amazon).

I found YouTube videos of them explaining their "mental models," which is what prompted this post.

Mental models are frameworks for thinking. They simplify complex situations so you can reason through them easily.

They help you make good, long-term decisions without needing to know everything about a situation.

Very few people deliberately use mental models every day. Our hunter-gatherer brain is not wired to prioritize them. Our brain is biased toward instincts and short-term objectives. This inability to plan for the future is a phenomenon known as hyperbolic discounting.

However, in every generation, a few humans manage to rewire their biology: they force themselves to always think in mental models.

This outlier discipline is how a young physics geek (Elon Musk) obsessed with clear thinking found himself the founder of PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX in a short amount of time.

In fact, Musk, Bezos, and Buffet are on record talking about the critical importance of mental models.

The problem is nobody is paying too much attention to this.

What mental models are ?

Mental models do two things: they help you assess how things work and they help you make better decisions.

These two concepts underlie everything you do.

When facing important decisions, Musk and Bezos pause to use mental models. You and I, in contrast, do a bit of Googling then roll with whatever seems to make the most sense.

Many people think that Musk and Bezos are outliers because they’re privileged, have high IQ’s, work hard, and lucked out.

Yes, that's part of it, but here's the conundrum: that also describes tens of millions of other rich, well-educated people. So, why is there only one Elon Musk?

The answer lies in our broken education system: growing up, no one taught us mental models nor instilled the discipline to use them. Musk and Bezos happened to stumble into mental models and somehow managed to take them very, very seriously.

Studying Predators

The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system.

All those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness,egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.” John Steinbeck

Two French professors wrote about the ambiguity of business fortunes in their book From Predators to Icons.

It is a kind of assault on the hero worship of self-made businessmen. They looked for patterns in a sample of 32 businessmen and found that fortunes were built on “predatory behavior.”

This included exploiting market imperfections or asymmetries, acquiring misunderstood assets, taking advantage of motivated sellers, and using political connections or loopholes in regulatory framework.

The authors focused on the early stages of each career, what they called the moment of “intense accumulation of capital.”

Like companies, people transition from startup to blue chip, from pirate to captain of the navy. Peter Thiel says a startup has to move from “zero to one.”

In the same way, people have to learn how to create and capture wealth before compounding and competing at scale. Both phases can hold lessons.

But while the second phase typically happens in the public eye, with financials and deals scrutinized in the open, the initial transition happens under the radar.

11th september 2021

Why Bronze Medalists Are Happier Than Silver Winners

It is a paradox that a silver medallist is perpetually unhappy because he is only the second boxer or the second wrestler in the world.

It is a paradox that he feels unhappy despite he is able to beat the whole population of the globe minus one is nothing; he has “pitted” himself to beat that one; and as long as he doesn't do that nothing else counts.

This echoes a sentiment that is well known in psychology: a person’s achievements matter less than how that person subjectively perceives those achievements.

For example, you might be thrilled over a 5% raise at work until you learn that your colleague down the hall earned a 10% raise.

But is there ever a case when the individual with the 5% raise is happier with his or her outcome than the person with the 10% raise?

Perhaps if Arthur only expected a 3% raise but received a 5% raise, while Emily expected a 15% raise but only received one worth 10%, then indeed Arthur would be more satisfied with his outcome, despite it being objectively lower than Emily’s outcome.

Few psychologists think that this phenomenon can be explained by counterfactual thinking. This means that people compare their objective achievements to what “might have been.”

In Defense of Being Average

There’s this guy. World-renowned billionaire. Tech genius. Inventor and entrepreneur. Athletic and talented and handsome with a jaw so chiseled it looks like Zeus came down from Olympus and carved the fucker himself.

This guy’s got a small fleet of sports cars, a few yachts, and when he’s not giving millions of dollars to charities, he’s changing out supermodel girlfriends like other people change their socks.

This guy’s smile can melt the damn room. His charm is so thick you can swim in it. Half of his friends were TIME’s “Man of the Year.” And the ones who weren’t don’t care because they could buy the magazine if they wanted to. When this guy isn’t jetsetting around the world or coming up with the latest technological innovation to save the planet, he spends his time helping the weak and helpless and downtrodden.

This man is, you guessed it, Bruce Wayne. Also known as the Batman. And (spoiler alert) he doesn’t actually exist. He is fiction.

It’s an interesting facet of human nature that we seem to have a need to come up with these sort of fictional heroes that embody perfection and everything we wish we could be.

It seems ,as humans, we have a need to conjure up these heroes to help us cope with our own feelings of powerlessness.

There are over 7.2 billion people on this planet, and really only about 1,000 of those have major worldwide influence at any given time. That leaves the other 7,199,999,000 +/- of us to come to terms with the limited scope of our lives and the fact that the vast majority of what we do will likely not matter long after we’ve died.

This is not a fun thing to think about or accept.

Kevin Kelly: The Case for Optimism

Optimists believe that bad things are produced by temporary causes that can be overcome, while pessimists believe bad things always happen, and if anything good happens it's temporary.

Optimism is therefore inherently hard to see in real life.

It is a deeper current that requires counting things carefully, not just listening to tantalizing anecdotes. As they say,it's too easy for attention to be captured by short-term bad news and underestimate the long-term impact of good news.

Optimism is also assumed to be a future-pointed thing. But optimism also springs out of a deep look at the past

We should be optimistic not because our problems are smaller than we thought, but because our capacity to solve them is larger than we thought.

4th September 2021

Believing In Yourself is Overrated. This is Better.

If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?”

It’s a good question.

A seductive one.

An empowering but innocuous phrase has been told again and again to everyone who is struggling or is trying to do something.

Believe in yourself! Fake it until you make it!

The problem is that it’s bullshit.

Great people don’t have to believe in themselves.

They don’t have to fake anything. They have evidence.

A few years ago, an interviewer asked the famous rap -singer Jay Z about his incredible self-assuredness.

It’s a good question.

He does seem like a person with unending faith in himself. How else could he rap the things that he raps?

I’d argue it wasn’t belief.

As Jay Z explained :

“People don’t realize I’ve put a lot of my life into what I’m doing right now. I didn’t just have a hit record and get lucky. I put a lot of my life into it so the things that come out of it is not due to bravado and arrogance. I have confidence because of the work that I’ve put in, and I’ve put in so much work.”

The Rabbit Hole

One of the greatest motivators is a sign of progress.

Hardship is easier to tolerate when your work is being recognized (either through external validation or financial rewards), but long journeys don’t show progress in the traditional sense.

When you have no customers, no audience, no traffic,and nobody knows or cares to know about what you’re making, the greatest motivators have to be manufactured.

Rather than fight the need for short-term rewards, you must hack your reward system to provide them.

As you craft your team’s culture, lower the bar for how you define a “win.”

Celebrate anything you can, from gaining a new customer to solving a particularly vexing problem.

What should you celebrate? Progress and impact!

But it’s dangerous to celebrate accolades or circumstances that are not linked with productivity like getting an award from an organisation where you’re one of the sponsors of the award-night program.

The easy path will only take you to a crowded place.

Be wary of the path of least resistance. It may look compelling in the short term but often proves less differentiating and defensible in the long term.

Shortcuts tend to be less gratifying over time. The long game is the most difficult one to play and the most bountiful one to win.

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

The economist J.K. Galbraith once wrote, “Faced with a choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy with the proof.”

Leo Tolstoy was even bolder: “The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”

What's going on here?

Why don't facts change our minds? And why would someone continue to believe a false or inaccurate idea anyway?

How do such behaviors serve us?

28th August 2021

The Disease of More

Success is often the first step toward disaster. The idea of progress is often the enemy of actual progress.

I recently met a guy who, despite having a massively successful business, an awesome lifestyle, a happy relationship, and a great network of friends, told me with a straight face, that he was thinking of hiring a coach to help him “reach the next level.”

When I asked him what this elusive next level was, he said he wasn’t sure, that that’s why he needed a coach, to point out his blind spots and show him what he’s missing out on.

“Oh,” I said. And then stood there awkwardly for a moment, gauging how brutally honest I was willing to be with someone I just met. This guy was very enthusiastic, clearly ready to spend a lot of money on whatever problem someone decided to tell him he had.

“But what if there’s nothing to fix?” I said.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“What if there is no ‘next level?’

What if it’s just an idea you made up in your head?

What if you’re already there and not only are you not recognizing it, but by constantly pursuing something more, you’re preventing yourself from appreciating it and enjoying where you are now?”

He bristled a bit at my questions. Finally, he said, “I just feel like I need to always be improving myself, no matter what.”

“And that, my friend, might actually be the problem.”

There’s a famous concept in sports known as the “Disease of More.” It was originally coined by Pat Riley, a hall of fame coach who has led six teams to NBA championships (and won one as a player himself).

The Locker Room

Culture is your locker room – culture among your team members, culture in your company, culture among your friends, culture in your family.

While you may be improving on an absolute basis, they are often getting worse relative to their competition.

Michael Mauboussin refers to this concept as the “Paradox of Skill”, which simply means that even though people may becoming more skilled at a certain pursuit, it is often more difficult for them to succeed because their competition is also becoming more skilled.

This means that eventually the most talented people end up competing against one another, making it very difficult to become a bonafide superstar. Hence the paradox.

Given this reality, what should talented people in competitive industries do?

My advise would be to that you should keep pursuing what YOU love, but to seek out teams with great “locker rooms” to pursue them with.

Doing so will give them a long lasting edge that isn’t talked about by many.

U.S. sports fans agree that the greatest victory in this country’s history was when a group of unknown college kids, led by head coach Herb Brooks, When asked how he assembled the team, as well as his University of Minnesota hockey teams (Brooks had taken Minnesota from a perpetual doormat to winning three Division 1 National Championships in 7 years), Brooks responded,

“The key to my recruiting was that I looked for people first, athletes second. I wanted people with sound value systems because you cannot buy values. You are only as good as your values. I learned early on that you do not put greatness into people…but somehow try to pull it out.”

If you have ever played athletics, you know exactly what Brooks is talking about. A great locker room brings out the best in people. It elevates the true leaders, convinces those with selfish streaks to put them aside, and enables a team to play beyond their talent level.

Most importantly, when things are not going well, a strong locker room is what allows you to look each other in the eye and know you are going to turn things around.

In business, a firm’s culture is its locker room and, I would argue, the most important determinant of long term success. Look no further than a discussion AirBnB founder Brian Chesky had with Peter Thiel. Chesky recounted that,

“After we closed our Series C with Peter Thiel in 2012, we invited him to our office. Half way through the conversation, I asked him what was the single most important piece of advice he had for us. He replied, ‘Don’t f*ck up the culture.

Roger Federer’s Biggest Legacy? It Might Be His Billion-Dollar Brand.

Federer is one of the few athletes in history to earn $1 billion during his playing career, a milestone he reportedly surpassed this year, joining Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Federer’s two decades of on-court achievements only begin to account for that stunning total.

About $130 million of Federer’s earnings has come from official prize money, a figure that puts him second on the all-time list in tennis to Djokovic’s $152 million.

The rest has come through sponsorships, endorsements, appearance fees at tournaments and lucrative exhibition events around the world.

Federer’s performance in this domain has been every bit as impressive as his performance on court — perhaps even more so when you consider the disadvantage he started with.

Sponsorships and endorsements tend to be easier to acquire if a tennis player comes from a major market like the United States, Britain or France.

The French have a fine expression that applies to Federer: “joindre l’utile à l’agréable,” which translates loosely as “combining business with pleasure” but is actually broader in scope, encompassing the tasks of daily life.

If you wonder how Federer managed to remain in the top 10 until age 40, part of the answer lies in his ability to embrace what some other prominent athletes might consider drudgery.

That applies to long-haul travel, news conferences in three languages and mundane one-on-one interactions with various corporate partners.

21st August 2021

Perils of processing too much information

Daniel J. Levitin, author of “The Organized Mind”, calculated that in 2011, Americans consumed five times as much information as they did in 1986, about 175 newspapers worth. Per day.

We are overwhelmed by data.

And we all have difficulty in weighing options, and maybe even keeping track of our options?

Neuroscientists say, information overload results in unproductivity and loss of drive.

Downsides are obvious.

You can't read, see or listen to everything, so you miss a lot of important stuff.

Levitin says the human mind processes only 120 bits of data per second, which means if more than two people talk at the same time, you can't keep up.

This overload causes what experts call, "neural fatigue."

Think of it as clogged drains.

Worse yet, neuroscience says our brain-intake processes don’t set priorities. Generally speaking, first in, first processed.

Are you beginning to understand why you’re have difficulty weighing options?

All of this affects day-to-day life as the trivial and significant compete for your decision-making time.

We've Learned To Train Our Bodies, But Not Yet Our Minds

Despite the fact that, on average, we burn fewer calories each day than 100 years ago, the science, methods, and effectiveness of physical exercise have drastically improved in that time.

We now understand the conclusive link between exercise and health. According to the WHO, regular exercise prevents chronic disease, reduces depression and anxiety, improves cognitive functioning, and uplifts overall well-being.

But we didn’t always know this. Sure, exercise wasn’t such a necessity in past centuries, given a more active lifestyle than in these sedentary times. But regardless, we didn’t know how good exercise really was.

And so, few trained. Power-lifters weren’t personal trainers; they traveled with the circus. You didn’t walk down the promenade and see fit, muscular bodies on an evening jog. Physical exercise, ubiquitous now, just wasn’t a big part of life.

Now, that’s changed. While not everyone trains, everyone knows that it’s good to train. Our ‘exercise consciousness’ has elevated.

But what of the mind?

There’s plenty of research supporting the fact that mental training reduces stress and anxiety, improves cognitive functioning, and generally increases physical (and emotional) well-being.

And yet, mental training as a societal convention remains in its infancy It’s growing fast, but you don’t see people slapping photos of themselves mind-training on social media (though, to be fair, such content would be quite boring).

Deep Thinking – Garry Kasparov on machine intelligence, human creativity and decision making

Chess is a fantastic microcosm for decision-making.

Amongst many things, it provides a helpful mental model for competition, strategy, advantage and positioning.

One of the good books in this domain is Deep Thinking by Garry Kasparov, in which the former chess Grandmaster recounts his matches with IBM's supercomputer Deep Blue.

Deep Thinking rightly deserves its name.

Kasparov has many insightful things to say, not only in chess, but on mastery, strategy, business, intelligence, technology, and so on.

This post covers the big lessons one can take from Mr. Kasparov, from his approach to sustained excellence, to his views on the "gravity of past successes".

Kasparovian approach

Kasparov doesn't have any general tips or tricks for success or disciplined thinking.

Since everyone is different, what worked for him may not work for others. That said, there are three traits about Kasparov that really stand out

  1. His desire for new challenges
  2. Disdain for losing and
  3. Superior work ethic and discipline.

14th August 2021

Other People’s Mistakes

George Carlin once joked how easy it is to spot stupid people. “Carry a little pad and pencil around with you. You’ll wind up with 30 or 40 names by the end of the day. It doesn’t take long to spot one of them, does it? Takes about eight seconds.”

Like most comedy it’s funny because it’s true.

But Daniel Kahneman mentions a more important truth in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow: “It is easier to recognize other people’s mistakes than our own.”

I would add my own theory: It’s easier to blame other people’s mistakes on stupidity and greed than our own.

That’s because when you make a mistake, I judge it solely based on what I see. It’s quick and easy.

But when I make a mistake there’s a long and persuasive monologue in my head that justifies bad decisions and adds important context other people don’t see.

Everyone’s like that. It’s normal.

But it’s a problem, because it makes it easy to underestimate your own flaws and become too cynical about others’.

Something Money Can’t Buy

Your truth and the truth are not always the same thing.

The truth is a fact.

Your truth is just an opinion.

Nobody values somebody who is honest about their opinions if their opinions always suck.

Knowing when to offer your truth and keep your mouth shut is a rare quality.

The line between thoughtful dialogue and disrespectful disagreement is razor-thin.

If you cross the line, you lose somebody’s confidence.

There are countless ways to do this, and once you do, it’s hard to go back. My parents taught me that all you have is your word.

Lose this, and you’ve lost everything.

Trust is the most valuable currency on the planet. And it’s something you can’t buy. You have to earn it.

And it takes time to earn somebody’s trust. You can’t force it. You can’t even be deliberate about it. It just has to show with every action you take. Eventually, your bank will fill, and you’ll have something that most people don’t.

The Infinite Game

This article is about investing the extra money , the extra money that you save from your regular profession , after spending for all your needs and desires.

There are at least two kinds of games: finite and infinite.

A finite game is played for the purpose of winning and must come to a definitive end, such as football. There are known players, fixed rules, and an agreed upon objective.

An infinite game is not bounded by time and the objective is not winning but ensuring the continuation of play. The rules may change, the boundaries may change, even the participants may change.

An infinite game continues with you or without you, like business or politics or life itself.

The dynamic is stable when you have a finite player in a finite game or an infinite player in an infinite game.

The challenge arises when we play with a finite mindset in an infinite game like the stock market.

Finite play in an infinite game is inherently contradictory.

7th August 2021

Kodawari -The Path To Greatness

Before Steve Jobs became the founder of Apple, he was a middle-class kid growing up in California, being raised by his adoptive parents Paul and Clara Jobs.

Paul, a mechanic, had a lasting impact on Jobs’ philosophy around design, and his endless pursuit of perfection — qualities that would come to define his career and success with Apple.

Growing up, Jobs once helped his father build a fence around their family-home.

While working, Paul shared a piece of advice with Jobs: “You’ve got to make the back of the fence, that nobody will see, just as good looking as the front of the fence.Even though nobody will see it, you will know, and that will show that you’re dedicated to making something perfect.”

The idea stuck with Jobs.

While at the helm of Apple, Jobs insisted that every element of the Macintosh computer be beautiful, down to the circuit boards inside.

“Look at the memory chips. That’s ugly. The lines are too close together,” Jobs said of the circuits in Isaacson’s biography.

When the computer was finally perfected, Jobs had the engineers’ names engraved inside each one. “Real artists sign their work,” he told them.

There is a word for this in Japanese: kodawari. Kodawari has been translated as “the uncompromising and relentless pursuit of perfection”.

It means that there are no shortcuts taken in crafting the best possible experience.

It means the absence of superfluity and wastefulness. It means quality first, always.

Insured by the mafia. You hit me, we hit you

Those who pay attention to business news have probably noted an interesting and curious phenomenon over the past few months: China is smashing its internet companies.

It started — or at least, most people in the U.S. started noticing it — when the government effectively canceled the IPO of Ant Financial, then dismantled the company.

Jack Ma, the founder of Ant and of e-commerce giant Alibaba, was summoned to a meeting with the government and then disappeared for weeks. The government then levied a multi-billion dollar antitrust fine against Alibaba (which is sometimes compared to Amazon), deleted its popular web browser from app stores, and took a bunch of other actions against it.

The value of Ma’s business empire has collapsed.

But things escalated when Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing app, raised $4.4 billion by listing its American Depository Shares (ADS) last month. Just 48 hours later, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced an investigation into the company. Two days later, the regulator ordered the Didi app, which has nearly 80-90% market share in China, to be pulled from the app stores and directed Didi to stop registering new users. Didn’t end there for poor Didi.

To understand the key reason for all these drastic action lies in knowing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its history.

CCP mafia is a simple organization, and the rules of the game are pretty straightforward.

The Chinese mafia craves control above all else. You can do whatever you want, wherever or however you want. But, you can never, ever, ever, ever, never have your own agenda or outshine the don.

If the don wears Calvin Klein underwear to a party, you wear Rupa; you don’t wear Victoria’s Secret for men and flaunt the elastic. If the don says don’t work with the Americans, you don’t marry them, you send them lemon, chillies, beetle leaves, turmeric, cut a chicken on their doorstep and put a curse on them.

And most importantly, you don’t talk shit about the don. It’s that simple.

Where Do Butterflies Go When It Rains?

Just like humans, when rain threatens, butterflies seek shelter. When you’re a butterfly, a single raindrop is an awfully big deal.

The average monarch butterfly weighs in at around 500 milligrams. The average raindrop weighs around 70 milligrams.

Scientific American suggested that the impact of a raindrop on a butterfly would be similar to a human being hit with a water balloon with twice the mass of a bowling ball. Yikes!

Butterflies look for shelter from rain when the skies start to grow dark. They cling to the undersides of leaves, climb deep into tall grasses, or tuck themselves into cracks of rocks or trees.

This is also how they protect themselves from strong winds. Their feet are capable of a surprisingly strong grip, and as long as they stay still in their sheltered spot, they’re likely to ride out the storm just fine.

31st July 2021

How to Think for Yourself

There are some kinds of work that you can't do well without thinking differently from your peers.

To be a successful scientist, for example, it's not enough just to be correct. Your ideas have to be both correct and novel.

You can't publish papers saying things other people already know. You need to say things no one else has realized yet.

The same is true for investors. It's not enough for a public market investor to predict correctly how a company will do.

If a lot of other people make the same prediction, the stock price will already reflect it, and there's no room to make money.

The only valuable insights are the ones most other investors don't share.

But this pattern isn't universal.

In fact, it doesn't hold for most kinds of work.

In most kinds of work —for example- to be an administrator, or being a worker in a large company where you’re in executing kind of role.

There's room for a little novelty in most kinds of work, but in practice there's a fairly sharp distinction between the kinds of work where it's essential to be independent-minded, a thinker and the kinds where it's not.

So we can divide different kind of occupations on following basis:

a) Thinking b) Non-thinking

I wish someone had told me about this distinction when I was a kid, because it's one of the most important things to think about when you're deciding what kind of work you want to do.

Do you want to do the kind of work where you can only win by thinking differently from everyone else?

How Your Insecurity Is Bought and Sold

In the 1920s, women didn’t smoke. Or if they did, they were severely judged for it. It was taboo.

People believed women should leave the smoking to men. Honey, you might hurt yourself. Or burn your beautiful hair.

This posed a problem for the tobacco industry. Here you had 50% of the population not smoking their cigarettes for no other reason than it was unfashionable or seen as impolite. This wouldn’t do. As George Washington Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company, said at the time, “It’s a gold mine right in our front yard.”

The industry tried multiple times to market cigarettes to women but nothing ever seemed to work. The cultural prejudice against it was simply too ingrained, too deep.

Then, in 1928, the American Tobacco Company hired Edward Bernays, a young hotshot marketer with wild ideas and even wilder marketing campaigns.

Bernays’ marketing tactics at the time were unlike anybody else’s in the industry. Back in the early 20th century, marketing was seen simply as a means of communicating the tangible. It was believed at the time that people bought based on facts and information. People were seen as rational actors making rational purchasing decisions for themselves.

But Bernays was more unconventional. Bernays didn’t believe that people made rational decisions most of the time.

In fact, he believed that people were fundamentally irrational and so you had to appeal to them on an emotional and unconscious level.

Whereas the tobacco industry had been focused on convincing individual women to buy and smoke cigarettes, Bernays saw it as an emotional and cultural issue. If Bernays wanted women to smoke, then he had to shift that balance and turn smoking into a positive emotional experience for women by reshaping the cultural perceptions of smoking.

To accomplish this, Bernays hired a group of women and got them into the Easter Sunday Parade in New York City.

What happened to GE?

Many of the today's successful companies would fail – today or tomorrow – or they become stagnant.

Outsiders can't see it, insiders can't see it as the decay is too slow to notice. These companies might keep giving good results for few years despite shunning the basic values & inherent strengths because they happen to be ‘too-big-too-fall on immediate basis.

My first big takeaway is that one of GE’s greatest apparent strengths was actually one of its greatest weaknesses. For many years, investors loved GE’s stock because the GE management team always “made their numbers”—that is, the company produced earnings per share at least as large as what Wall Street analysts predicted.

It turns out that culture of making the numbers at all costs gave rise to “success theater” and “chasing earnings.”

Problems [were] hidden for the sake of preserving performance, thus allowing small problems to become big problems before they were detected.

GE would sometimes artificially boost quarterly profits by selling an asset (e.g., a diesel train) to a friendly bank, knowing that it could then buy back the asset at a time of GE’s choosing.

There are a lot of ways a company can end up with a culture that rewards gaming the numbers.

My second big takeaway from Lights Out is that GE didn’t have the right talent and systems to bundle together a dizzying array of unrelated businesses.

It hired generalists.In reality, those generalists often didn’t understand the specifics of the industries they had to manage and couldn’t navigate trends in their industries.

24th July 2021

How to Be Great? Just Be Good, Repeatably

In this article you can find out whether you’re destined to be great!

If you get a ‘no’ in the answer, don’t worry. Just enjoy Netflix or forwarding shit on WhatsApp or reading some book on ‘how to be great’, written by some ‘unknown’ person. There’s nothing wrong with it.

But on the other hand, many people, in theory, want to be “great”. In fact, Google data shows that each month 1000 people search “how to be great”, 260 people search “how to become perfect”, and 2400 people search “how to be the best”, looking for discrete answers on how to get from 0 to 1.

Yet, many people in life realistically do not want to put in the effort over a sustained period of time to actually get from 0 to 1.

They are looking for the “secrets to success” that in many ways, do not exist. You know what brings success? Hard work brings success.

So before proceeding forward in this article, I implore each of you to consider that if greatness truly is a reflection of non-instantaneous, earned effort, ask yourself if that’s the life you’d like to live. Ask yourself whether you’d like to spend your days, weeks, months, and years in a constant uphill battle.

If you ultimately find that you don’t want to do that, that’s fine!

It doesn’t make you less of a person. At least you’ve broken from the holding pattern of thinking you want to do X but not understanding why you haven’t gotten there yet.

And if that’s the case, go enjoy your Netflix and chill completely guilt-free.

The willpower paradox: when confident self-talk becomes counterproductive

What is Willpower Paradox? We all have used self-talk to motivate ourselves. “I will meditate everyday”, “I will start going to the gym”, “I will complete this coding course”… It gives us a boost in confidence and the conviction that we will achieve our goals.

Such self-talk sounds harmless, but research suggests we may benefit from being a little bit more speculative when considering our goals.

People using interrogative self-talk (“Will I?”) seem to perform better than those who use declarative self-talk (“I will”).

That’s called the Willpower Paradox. But to understand it more, you first need to know the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic Motivation:

Without realising it, many of our goals originate from an external source, whether it’s societal pressure, the desire to get a promotion at work, or the fear of being judged.

These goals are driven by extrinsic motivation.

While extrinsic motivation works great in the short term, it will only last as long as you consider the external rewards to be satisfying.

Intrinsic Motivation:

In contrast, with intrinsic motivation, the reason why you act is internal. You have the desire to achieve your goals in and for themselves.

While intrinsic motivation takes longer to build, it also has longer-lasting positive effects on performance.

Why the weather forecast will always be a bit wrong

The science of weather forecasting falls to your scrutiny every single day especially if your livelihood depends too much on weather.

When the forecast is correct, we rarely comment, but we are often quick to complain when the forecast is wrong. Are we ever likely to achieve a perfect forecast that is accurate to the hour?

There are many steps involved in preparing a weather forecast.

It begins its life as a global “snapshot” of the atmosphere at a given time, mapped onto a three-dimensional grid of points that span the entire globe and stretch from the surface to the stratosphere (and sometimes higher).

Using a supercomputer and a sophisticated model that describes the behaviour of the atmosphere with physics equations, this snapshot is then stepped forward in time, producing many terabytes of raw forecast data.

It then falls to human forecasters to interpret the data and turn it into a meaningful forecast that is broadcast to the public.

The whether in the weather.

Forecasting the weather is a huge challenge.

For a start, we are attempting to predict something that is inherently unpredictable.

The atmosphere is a chaotic system – a small change in the state of the atmosphere in one location can have remarkable consequences over time elsewhere, which was analogised by one scientist as the so-called butterfly effect..

17th July 2021

Big Tech, Out-of-Control Capitalism and the End of Civilization

Hope you know that the market cap of Apple is now almost equal to GDP of India.

M-Cap of Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft put together is now more than the GDP of all every individual country except US and China.

In a sense, these tech companies have more financial power than most of the countries.

And more serious than that , they are reaching every house ,in every individual’s hands and ultimately affecting their brain.

Media diet > Food diet as ultimately the media diet informs the food diet after all.

Now the war is not to control geographies in literal sense but to control individuals by influencing their brains.

Being a billionaire is a lot harder than it looks

“Just think about it,” the luminary told me. “It’s nearly impossible to spend a billion dollars.”

I laughed at the ridiculousness of this statement, but he went on, doing the math in front of me to make his point.

“The most expensive Gulfstream jet in the world is $65 million; a couple of very fancy houses will cost you $20 million, $30 million total; many of the highest-end cars are only a few hundred thousand dollars each. You’ve done all that and you’ve still got around $900 million or so left to spend.”

I responded, “Well, you could just give it away to people and organizations in need.” “Ahh, but you can’t,” the man said to me.

“Are you just going to hand it to someone and hope they do the right thing with it? You have to build entire infrastructures to give the money away.” He went on to explain that you need to hire legions of people, often hundreds, including teams of lawyers and tax lawyers, finance experts, project managers, communications staffers, and so on, to manage the distribution of the money.

Then, the man explained, there is the “problem” that your billions will only grow, often quicker than you can give them away, with interest and rising investments.

“Being a billionaire is a lot harder than it looks,” the man said.

Dopamine Is _________

Dopamine is the story behind every unsuccessful person, every failed venture, and every addiction.

And strangely opposite is also true. Dopamine is also the reason for every successful person, a person maintaining a good physique or a company getting more successful.

The devil is cheap dopamine whereas right dopamine can do wonders for you. But how much you know about the dopamine ?

Dopamine is a chemical in your body. That’s all.

But that doesn’t make it simple. What is dopamine? Dopamine is one of the chemical signals that pass information from one neuron to the next in the tiny spaces between them.

When it is released from the first neuron, it floats into the space (the synapse) between the two neurons, and it bumps against receptors for it on the other side that then send a signal down the receiving neuron.

That sounds very simple, but when you scale it up from a single pair of neurons to the vast networks in your brain, it quickly becomes complex.

10th July 2021

Foxes and Hedgehogs

In the 8th century BC, a Greek poet named Archilochus penned a line that has stood the test of time. "The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing."

In a literal sense, it means that the fox has an array of tricks at her disposal, but is defeated by the hedgehog's singular, spiky defence.

In a figurative sense, Archilochus is highlighting the difference between those with singular vision and those with more scattered inspirations, difference between those who’re trying to master one thing vs. those who try to be master of all trades.

The Hedgehog Concept is a simple framework for identifying that unifying idea or vision. It is found at the centre of:

(1) What you are passionate about.

(2) What drives your daily living

(3) What you can be the best at

This idea was taken forward by a renowned author Jim Collins in his book named Good to Great,

This book explores why certain companies are able to achieve greatness after long periods of mediocrity.

In it, Collins referenced The Hedgehog and the Fox in building out what he referred to as The Hedgehog Concept.

It asserts that the leaders of the good-to-great companies were all hedgehogs - people with a singular, all-encompassing vision.

These leaders were uniquely capable of taking the complexity of their businesses and markets and simplifying it into a unifying idea.

Wanna know more ? Well there’re several articles on this topic on the internet but I treat this one as the best.

Casualties of Perfection

The key thing about evolution is that everything dies.

99% of species are already extinct; the rest will be eventually.

There is no perfect species, one adapted to everything at all times. The best any species can do is to be good at some things until the things it’s not good at suddenly matter more.

And then it dies.

A species that evolves to become very good at one thing tends to become vulnerable at another.

A bigger lion can kill more prey, but it’s also a larger target for hunters to shoot at.

A taller tree captures more sunlight but becomes vulnerable to wind damage. There is always some inefficiency.

Evolution has spent 3.5 billion years testing and proving the idea that some inefficiency is good.

But what can we learn from this ?

So many people strive for efficient lives, where no hour is wasted. But an overlooked skill that doesn’t get enough attention is the idea that wasting time can be a great thing.

A successful person purposely leaving gaps of free time on their schedule to do nothing in particular can feel inefficient. And it is, so not many people do it.

But if you study the lives few successful people, you would realize that most of them used to waste time and that too efficiently!

Albert Einstein put it this way:

I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.

Mozart had the same feelings:

When I am traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal or during the night when I cannot sleep–it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.

Why ambitious people have (unrelated) hobbies

Winston Churchill was a mediocre painter and a worse bricklayer, but to these two hobbies, the world owes a great debt.

But his ambition was legendary. "It is a pushing age," Churchill wrote his mother as a young man, "and we must shove with the rest." Multiple times, he shoved his way to the top of British politics, when Britain was the world's dominant power.

While at the top , his schedule was too tight !

During war-time, it was not uncommon for him to work 110-hour weeks.

Between 1940 and 1943, he traveled something like 110,000 miles by air and sea and car. A bodyguard once said that Churchill kept "less schedule than a forest fire and had less peace than a hurricane."

So how did Churchill manage? How did he not burn out and die early?

He not only survived the workload of two wars, 5 kids, 10 million written words and live into his 80s, but do so without ever losing his sense of humor?

The answer is simple: The restorative power of a good hobby.

A few centuries before Churchill, Aristotle said that this was in fact the main question of life: What do we fill our non-working hours with? What do we do for leisure?

In one of his letters, Seneca — himself a busy political advisor and writer — spoke of how difficult it is for ambitious, career-focused people to take time off to pursue other interests because they are worried about falling behind in their world. The same people who are willing to take great risks to advance their careers will not risk anything for the sake of personal happiness or even mental balance. "You must dare something to gain leisure also," he said.

03rd July 2021

Dare to Be Great

If you’re an astute investor, you must have read Howard Marks memos. They’re always full of great insights on what is happening all around us as far as markets are concerned.

But you would also notice that apart from investment related insights, these memos also contain important insights about life in general also.

For example I find this memo full of wisdom and guidelines for those who aspire to achieve something great in life.

In this memo, he talks about success and whether someone has the required ingredients to achieve greatness.

Key points mentioned are as follows:

  • Do you dare to be different : You can’t take same actions as everyone else is taking and expect for different results !
  • It is not easy to be different
  • Dare to be wrong : You have to give yourself a chance to fail.
  • Dare to look wrong : that is the crux . This is different from dare to be different or dare to be wrong, the important point is can you stand for your convictions !

Overall great writing !

Now the question is whether you would dare to go through this long note and try to question yourself on key parameters of becoming great.

Follow the '70-20-10 Rule' to Produce Your Best Work

Most of us want to produce the best work possible.

How do you pursue that goal?

One approach is to aim for excellence.

You study everything you can about your area, read obsessively about top performers, and anxiously practice your craft with an eye toward perfection.

This is one common-sense way to pursue excellence, but there's another option as well.

You could just throw quality out the window and produce a lot of work without worrying if it's much good. Which path will get you closer to your personal best?

They say that Michael Jackson went through 800 songs to get the nine that appeared on Thriller (that's almost certainly exaggerated, but the point is clear). It means that the more songs you write, the more good songs you'll write.

Few thoughtful people have devised a formula after studying the works of several successful people. This is known as 70:20:10 rule.

It says that 70 percent of your attempts will be mediocre, 20 percent will suck, and 10 percent will be amazing.

These percentages hold steady no matter what level you're working at.

Chess Fans Booed This Year's World Championship, but Computers Cheered

Chess players are more precise than ever, probably thanks to practicing against computers.

The proof?

Centipawns!

The gap between the played move and the best possible move, measured in centipawns, has steadily shrunk.

We found that moves played in World Chess Championship games have become remarkably precise, and increasingly so. This trend is not new, but it has accelerated in the last decade. This acceleration is generally chalked up to improvements to chess engines (like the one used to complete this analysis), which allow top players to analyze new ideas and variations much faster during their training.

In this year's championship, we saw an average centipawn loss under 10 for the entire 12-game match.

While this level of precision made for boring chess in the eyes of some humans, the computers must have loved it.

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