The Hubris of Fancy Metrics: Lessons from the Last Decade

As we look back on the last decade, there will be many books, podcasts, and lectures about the money made and lost and the lessons learned (and forgotten) from previous cycles. In the heady days of low-interest rates and excess cash, CEOs and investors were deified as having cracked the code, with a tour circuit of podcasts and social media posts evangelizing the latest metrics and formulas for success. Confidence was conflated with certainty, and hubris was at an all-time high.

If you can bear it, you should turn on CNBC and listen to ZIRP-era CEOs bang on about their companies performance. Most of their responses are scripted talking points. However, in 2023, we will see the return of seasoned operators who are in the details, understand the product, and get back to basics. Cash, profit, and positive cash flow unit economics will again be the focus, and the tried and proven artisans who focus on simple outcomes will rise to the forefront.

Despite the challenges of recent years, I’m excited to see the emergence of battle-worn, happy warriors who are humble, hard-working, and grounded in reality. They’re willing to grow, learn, and innovate while always focusing on the bottom line. Long live the king.

The Importance of Dissent and Free Speech: Lessons from the Court Jester

The idea of the court jester as a truth-teller has persisted throughout history. Today, comedians, poets, and social media personalities play a similar role, using humor and satire to weigh in on important issues and challenge the powerful in ways others may not be able to due to concerns about their livelihood or reputation.

The jester’s ability to speak the truth is made possible by their relative safety or anonymity. For example, anonymous social media accounts allow individuals to speak truth to power without fear of retribution, particularly in cases where powerful individuals are surrounded by sycophants and acolytes who may be unwilling to speak up.

Speaking truth to power can also have significant risks. In the past, court jesters who spoke out of turn or offended the ruling class could be executed to warn others that dissent would not be tolerated.

Today, when comedians, poets, and artists are silenced or punished for expressing dissenting views, it warns that those in power may not be willing to hear the truth. It’s a reminder of the importance of free speech and the need to protect those who speak out against the status quo.

Despite the evolution of the court jester’s role, the core responsibility of being a truth-teller remains the same. Whether through comedy, poetry, or social media, the jester has the ability to challenge the powerful and speak the truth to those who may otherwise be shielded from it.

Lessons from Falconry: The Art of Training Without Breaking Spirit

I recently listened to the Founders podcast by David Senra. He discussed insights from his re-reading of “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman” by Yvon Chouinard.

One quote from the book related to falconry really resonated with me:

“Falconry requires you to be totally absorbed in the moment, to be one with the bird, to anticipate its every move. You need to train the bird without breaking its spirit. It’s the same with surfing, climbing, or any other sport. You can’t muscle your way through it. You have to be in tune with the moment. You have to let it flow.”

This quote emphasizes the importance of being fully present and connected in any activity, whether falconry, surfing, or even business. It highlights the value of proper training and preparation while reminding us not to brute force our way through challenges but to allow things to flow naturally.

Chouinard uses this analogy to explain his approach to running a business. He emphasizes the significance of nurturing a strong company culture, investing in employee training and development, and fostering a shared purpose and commitment among team members.

Dream, Believe, Achieve: Lessons from Anatole France for Success

Anatole France once said, “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” This quote highlights the importance of having a vision and belief in oneself to achieve success.

Pessimists are often hesitant to start, always worried about potential failure or obstacles. They may have good intentions, but their negative mindset keeps them from taking action.

On the other hand, optimists are full of energy and excitement but can sometimes struggle to finish what they start. They may become easily distracted or discouraged, lacking the persistence needed to see their dreams through.

Realists are often practical and level-headed, but their focus on the present and immediate concerns can prevent them from reaching for the stars. They may miss out on opportunities for growth and expansion due to a lack of imagination and willingness to take risks.

Possibilists, however, embrace a mindset of possibility and believe that anything is achievable with hard work and determination. They have a vision for the future but also understand the importance of planning and taking action to turn their dreams into reality.

Adopting a possibilist mindset can unlock our full potential and help us achieve great things. We must dream big, plan carefully, and, most importantly, believe in ourselves and our abilities. With this approach, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

The Importance of Stepping into the Mystery and Embracing New Technologies

When it comes to new technologies like artificial intelligence, genetics in medicine, vaccines, defense technology, and climate tech, there is often a great deal of uncertainty and risk involved. This uncertainty can trigger our primal brain, telling us to stay put and not take unnecessary risks.

While this may be a natural response, it can be counterproductive. Doing nothing and staying in our comfort zones can be a greater risk than stepping into the unknown and forging ahead. We miss opportunities for growth, development, and innovation by staying put and refusing to experiment.

The history of human progress is filled with examples of people who took risks and pursued innovation, even when it was uncomfortable or uncertain. From the invention of the wheel to the creation of the internet, humans have always been driven to push boundaries and explore new frontiers.

However, when it comes to new technologies like AI, important ethical, philosophical, and engineering questions need to be considered. As we saw in the film “Contact” with Jodie Foster, a panel of experts with diverse perspectives – including representatives from religion, the military, and Congress – can help us navigate these new technologies’ complex issues.

AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work. Still, it also raises important questions about privacy, security, and the role of humans in a world dominated by machines. These questions cannot be answered by scientists and engineers alone. We need a multidisciplinary approach that brings together experts from various fields to help us understand the potential risks and benefits of AI and guide us as we progress with its development.

In the end, the success of AI will depend on more than just its technological capabilities. We must also consider the broader societal implications of this technology and ensure that it is used in ways that benefit all members of society, not just a privileged few. By bringing together a diverse panel of experts and engaging in thoughtful, nuanced discussions, we can build a brighter, more equitable future for all.

3 Key Takeaways from Dr. Kelly Starrett’s ‘Built to Move’ interview with Tim Ferris

In a recent interview with Tim Ferris, Dr. Kelly Starrett discussed his new book “Built to Move” and shared some insightful takeaways. One of the main points that resonated with me was the focus on physical balance, flexibility, and their practical application in daily life.

Starrett emphasized the importance of daily fitness for how you look and improve your overall lifestyle and well-being. In other words, fitness is not just cosmetic but a way to care for yourself by eating well and engaging in physical activity.

Toward the end of the interview, Starrett shared three key thoughts that stuck with me. First, he emphasized the importance of consistency before heroics. Maintaining a regular routine is more important than pushing yourself to extremes. Second, he spoke to the idea that change takes time. Progress may seem slow, but steady improvement is better than no improvement. Finally, Starrett highlighted the importance of community in health and fitness. It’s always easier to stay motivated when you have someone to support and encourage you.

I found Starrett’s approach to physical fitness and well-being practical and inspiring. By prioritizing balance, consistency, and community, anyone can make meaningful progress toward a healthier and happier life.

Mathematics vs. English: Which Language Stands the Test of Time?

I saw a tweet yesterday that got me thinking about the number programming language in 2023.

Is mathematics more important than English, or vice versa? While both have a unique significance in our world, we’ll explore their enduring qualities and decide which truly stands the test of time.

We all know that English is the global lingua franca. It’s the go-to language for international communication, technology, and diplomacy. But, as with any language, it can evolve and even go extinct. That’s where mathematics comes in โ€“ a language that transcends cultural and temporal barriers, remaining consistent throughout history.

So, let’s break it down:

  1. Mathematics: The Universal Language
  • Timeless and universal, math provide a solid foundation for numerous scientific disciplines.
  • It’s crucial for business, finance, and accounting ledgers (the first code base), giving us a structured way to understand and interpret our world.
  • Mathematics doesn’t have the same cultural and temporal constraints as spoken languages, making it the ultimate enduring language.
  1. English: The Global Connector
  • English is essential for communication in our interconnected world, bridging gaps between people from diverse backgrounds.
  • It’s the primary language for cutting-edge technology like AI language models like ChatGPT.
  • However, like any other language, English can evolve and even go extinct as global dynamics shift and other languages gain prominence.

Mathematics wins, thanks to its enduring, universal nature. English takes the #2 position for its significant role in global communication and technology.

From Gutenberg to ChatGPT: How Technology is Accelerating Writing and Learning

As a writer, staying curious and embracing innovative tools is key to boosting productivity and creativity. That’s where ChatGPT, an AI language model, comes in โ€“ it’s a game-changer for writers everywhere.

Exploring ChatGPT’s capabilities can spark inspiration and elevate your writing process. By letting AI tackle the grunt work, you’ll have more time to focus on generating ideas and refining your craft. Think of ChatGPT as your AI writing partner, helping you breeze through that first draft.

Remember the saying, “write drunk, edit sober”? ChatGPT is like your personal editor, transforming your thoughts into a polished end product more quickly.

With ChatGPT, you can write faster, get feedback sooner, and improve your writing rapidly. The train has left the station. Get on, or get left behind.

Think back to the 1400s and the printing press. That invention made books affordable and accessible, democratizing knowledge and sparking the Renaissance. Increased literacy led to breakthroughs in science, literature, and philosophy.

ChatGPT is like a modern-day printing press, revolutionizing writing and accelerating learning. As writers, using these tools can help us reach our full potential and create captivating content.

So, what will the ChatGPT-fueled Renaissance look like?

Photo by Saliha Sevim on

The Importance of Learning Rules and Rituals from Our Elders

My grandmother was an avid golfer who continued to play well into her nineties. For her, golf was not just a sport but also a way to stay mobile, social, and fit. During my school holidays, she would invite my brothers and me to join her for a round of golf. As beginners, we were still learning the basics, but my grandmother was fastidious about the etiquette and rules of the game. We played early in the morning, completing 9 holes before it got crowded, and we always had a great time. However, there was also a serious undercurrent of respect for the game’s rules and rituals. We were expected to wear proper attire, keep the game moving, and respect the other players on the course.

Learning rules and rituals from our elders are essential because it allows us to benefit from their tribal knowledge. This is why multi-generational living makes sense: it provides opportunities for the younger generation to learn from their elders. It’s not just in sports like golf that this applies, but also in any discipline, including business, fitness, and socializing. When we learn from those who have come before us, we can avoid mistakes and gain valuable insights that we would not have otherwise. So, let’s embrace the wisdom of our elders and continue to learn from them in all aspects of life.