Unlock Others

  • The cheapest source of capital is self-belief. Self-belief is precious and fragile.
  • “At critical moments in time, you can raise the aspirations of other people significantly, especially when they are relatively young, simply by suggesting they do something better or more ambitious than what they might have in mind...This is in fact one of the most valuable things you can do with your time and with your life.” - Tyler Cowen [Marginal Revolution - “The high-return activity of raising others’ aspirations”]
  • Steve Jobs quotes, where he says, "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
    • No Speed Limits”
      Capra taught Dr. Seuss to cut all non-essential words. John Gould did the same for Stephen King. All of these people could tell a big story in a single paragraph. But what is especially interesting is that despite formal writing education, they learned this skill from Capra and Gould respectively directly and quickly.
      This is my favorite part of the episode because of how he ties this to Derek Sivers’ revelation that there are “no speed limits”. When Sivers was at Berklee College of Music, he meets an alumni, Kimo Williams, who accomplishes what Sivers thinks is impossible — he teaches him 2 years of theory in a few lessons! Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected:
      Kimo’s high expectations set a new pace for me. He taught me that the standard pace is for chumps, that the system is designed so anyone can keep up. If you’re more driven than most people, you can do way more than anyone expects. And this principle applies to all of life, not just school. Before I met Kimo, I was just a kid who wanted to be a musician doing it casually. Ever since our five lessons, I’ve had no speed limit. I owe every great thing that’s happened in my life to Kimo’s raised expectations. A random meeting and five music lessons showed me that I can do way more than the norm.”
    • You are lucky in life if you get to experience such pace-setters because they literally redefine what is possible
    • Bill Walsh in The Score Takes Care of Itself (reminds me of “results as a lagging indicator” or how Billy Beane wouldn’t watch the games.)
      • A standard of performance is its high requirements for actions and attitudes. When Bill joined the 49ers, it was in shambles. His approach to building the 49er organization was an agenda that didn't include a timetable for a championship or even a winning season. Instead.
      • I arrived with an urgent timetable for installing, an agenda of specific behavioral norms. This includes both actions and attitudes. That applied to every single person on, our payroll. To put it bluntly, I would teach every person in the organization, what to do and how to think. The short-term results would contribute, both symbolically and functionally to a new and productive self-image…Before you become a winner, you have to believe you have the ability to become a winner. So I'm going to systematically convince every single person in my organization that that one that they have the ability to be a winner that they're part of a world class elite organization. This is the standard you have for your own life.
      • [Kris: The self-image hack feels like a motivational technique predicated on our own confirmation bias to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s the virtuous use of the same technique where you flatter someone’s self-image, “oh, you’re so good with words you could write this for me “, to manipulate them into doing something for you]
      • Give people credit. Give their aspirations room.
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  • “If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming”. Goethe
  • George Mumford on Ferris: I’m just happy that I can just be here and have this wonderful conversation about how to live in a solution, not in a problem. And how do we access the fact that we are already perfect whole and complete in terms of being a masterpiece or a divine spark? We just don’t know it or we don’t show it…My wish for everyone is for everyone to really understand they have a masterpiece in how to know ourselves so we can be ourselves so we can express ourselves so we can share ourselves. So the sharing is really important. My hope is that we all understand that we have to take personal responsibility in our inner game. And if we don’t like what we are experiencing, we can change it, but we have to be willing. ..not blame with denial, prevent us from taking responsibility and being able to share the focus on the solution. So if we’re going to criticize somebody, it’s one thing to say, I don’t like this. It’s another thing to say it and then give them an option that’s helpful.
  • Agents of their own destiny are less scared and less insecure. More empowered. Better decision-making—> Better outcomes —> More agency —> Higher citizenry —> Incentive for honest and benevolent leadership and accountability Insecure people can be manipulated. Kill the -isms at their root. Help people learn so they can increase their agency.
    • Sal Khan’s north star is personalized mastery learning because it increases self-esteem and well-being. It’s the maximum leverage point because our largest problems and conflicts stem from what’s in our minds. This is highly adjacent to my own “agency” argument.
  • Is my motivation for X from inspiration or insecurity?
    • Also https://medium.com/personal-growth/beyond-insecurity-the-positive-power-of-the-right-kind-of-ambition-f98504d6c0d7
      • There is a big but subtle difference between ambition driven by insecurity and ambition driven by the desire to self-actualize. The former is born out of not feeling enough — its source is either self-hate, or self-disrespect, or a combination. The latter, however, is simply an affirmation of life — it is an attempt to do the most that one can do with the body one has been given. It doesn’t compete with others but with itself. It doesn’t project its own hate and moralizing onto the world because it has already dealt with them internally.
  • Confidence is key. Narrative follows price
    • Reflexivity: a constant dialogue between your inputs and outputs. Confidence/optimism are critical because of this fact since it can cause you to succeed.
    • Devon Erikson: Courage can be a function of knowledge…learn knowledge. Learn how you can succeed, practice, see other people who are like you succeeding
    • Todd Simkin from SIG:
      • One of the things that I frequently see from the outside, when talking to non-traders or non-finance people about our role, is they say, “Man, what you’re doing looks really risky.” What they often mean is, “What you’re doing looks really reckless.” They do not make a distinction between measured risk and the ability to see where you’re taking appropriate risk for the amount of capital that you have or the amount of information available on the market. They equate doing something that is going to have a big outcome one way or another as risky. However, I can take tons of positions that look risky, but are really just reckless. That really just means I haven’t given anything enough thought and therefore, this is not a smart risk for me to take.
        Likewise, I can take positions that have huge outcomes, bigger outcomes than what we would normally see, but it’s because I’ve got much better research, much better information, and a much better handle on what the risk looks like. I can offset that risk with hedges or I can naturally offset that risk with other positions that we have. Then, I’m not doing something that’s reckless. In fact, I’m doing something that is reducing our risk of ruin, which is better for us. But it looks riskier to people who don’t understand that underlying concept.
        Being able to talk through that with somebody and develop their education around that is important. I firmly believe that I can get anybody to understand it, if you give me enough time with them and I can really talk through different examples and different scenarios with them. That’s exactly what our approach is to developing traders as opposed to looking for natural-born traders.
        I don’t need somebody who comes in, Wild West style, slinging their guns ready to take on gigantic risks where they don’t have good underlying information. That’s reckless. That’s not what I want. But I can take somebody who is not inclined to put on risky positions and explain why this ends up working out best in the long run. I can get them to feel that this is not a risky endeavor, just because they take on a position that has volatility but in fact, has positive expectancy. We can talk through the appropriate balance.
  • Role models are matter. We are social animals. This can be weoponized against us but also used for good.
    • A hero is someone who embodies a personal aspiration. It’s someone who I keep in mind as a model for behavior. A teacher with a loving but firm demeanor. A parent that stays calm when the children turn the living room into a winter wonderland out of tiny cut-up styrofoam (this happened in my house). I wish I kept a picture but I was too busy overreacting with the giant a-hole daddy voice).
      Visualizing heroes is how I hack our preloaded “mimic others” bloatware for good use. You can have a stable of heroes for different situations. They can be celebrities, people you know, or even fictional.
      Devon Erikson:
      Even the most altruistic individuals overestimate how good other people are. There are people who are motivated by their own internal feelings about what they've done, and there are some who are motivated by reinforcement from others about what they've done. You're not entirely immune to that yourself. You didn't just sit in your office and say, "I did a good thing today." You received a phone call from an artist who said, "You've changed my life," and you felt better. That made you feel good. So, you're not completely immune from the need to have your decisions reinforced by other people. None of us is. We're social animals. We are pack animals. When other people around us approve of what we do, that is a really powerful reinforcement.
      Status-seeking is beneficial because it provides us with a positive method to influence others' behavior, rather than resorting to laws and threats of punishment. We can reward them for engaging in pro-social activities. However, a prerequisite for this is a healthy model of what we reward with status. We should idolize those who make sacrifices that contribute to our welfare, not those who engage in detrimental actions.
  • Mike Bloomberg on enabling talent:
    • So, your company is launching a new project, right? Who are you going to put in charge of it? This is how Bloomberg made that decision. "I've always believed in markets rather than central planners' ability to make efficient selections. In many of our new ventures, we don't appoint a manager at the beginning. We simply throw everyone interested into the deep end of the pool and then stand back. It becomes obvious very quickly who the best swimmers are. We just watch who people go to for help and advice. And later, when we formalize a management appointment, no one is ever surprised. The leverage we gain from employing creative people and letting them do their own thing is incredible."
  • Gurwinder: Never argue with stupid people. It's easier to win an argument with a genius than an idiot.
  • A meaningful percentage of the population has a stubbornness, set of beliefs, or destructive thought pattern that makes them “hopeless” (see the excerpt called On Growth Mindset) or unable to learn. Perhaps these beliefs are even reasonably inferred from experience — this is not a matter of judgement but practicality — you need to figure out how to route around them. (I do not feel this way about youths. They all deserve a chance even if you aren’t the right one to help them along).