It’s been a challenging 2020 to say the least. In California, we have been in lockdown since March. We have had mass protests, mass unemployment and mass bankruptcies of main street businesses. Yet housing sales, the stock market and ecommerce have skyrocketed.

All of this points to the K-Shaped recovery. Some folks are doing very well, while others have seen their lives and lifestyle decline precipitously. It’s a really strange and painful time.

But like all things in life, every situation can be seen positively and negatively. …

Once You Choose Hope, Anything’s Possible — Christopher Reeves

  1. I have major issues personally with uncertainty. Something I need to work on.

“Humans abhor uncertainty, and will do just about anything to avoid it, even choosing a known bad outcome over an unknown but possibly good one.”

“Life is ephemeral. Everything we know and love will one day cease to exist, ourselves included. That is life’s one certainty. The cherry blossom is lovely not despite its transience but because of it. This has always been the case.

The pandemic has driven home our own transience. And while it may be too much to ask to celebrate this truth under such dire circumstances, we can learn to tolerate the unknown, and perhaps even catch glimpses of the beauty underlying life’s uncertainties.” …

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this topic.

Why do superstars do so well in one company but flame out in another. I’ve watched this and even experienced this personally in my 21 year career in tech. Having been an early employee (17 or 18) in a startup that scaled to 150 people in a year and then the reverse during the dotcom bubble bursting in 2000. Joining Yahoo! when it was less than 3000 people worldwide, then growing to over 15,000 employees. Also joining 500 Startups when it was sub 30 people and watching it grow to over 150 people in two years. …

Being a long time prepper, one of my favorite books has been Neil Strauss’ “Emergency” which came out in 2009. It is a story of how he goes down the rabbit hole of the prepper movement. Neil literally becomes “Batman” as I tell most of my friends when I recommend it to them. I re-read this book every year, it’s that much fun. The real point of this is it’s a guide for how someone to truly become independent and free.

It’s a guide to the power of Diversification & being Un-Cancellable. Of not being dependent on one country and having all your eggs in one basket. This is something that many of us who grew up in the very prosperous western world of the United States, Canada and Western Europe do not really understand because we have had a long period of prosperity and stability for the last 5 decades. But for those folks who grew up in China, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Russia, Cyprus or South Africa for example , or the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, all understand or have experienced how things can quickly fall apart. …

Never Lose Hope, Storms Make People Stronger and Never Last Forever — Roy T. Bennett

  1. I really want to read this book now.

“Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China’s Countryside: a deep dive into how technology is transforming rural life in China, particularly for young people.

A new generation of China’s young people are moving from cities back to the countryside where they grew up, bringing with them new technologies, and a drive to unsettle the old ways.Travelling … on Twitter: “It’s not Silicon Valley anymore. It’s Technology. Tech is now remote-first. Moving to the Bay Area is no longer necessary. And outages, fires, prices, and dysfunction are driving out the people already there. The place is less appropriate as a metonym for the concept.”

This meme has been going around Silicon Valley for the last 2 to 3 years. But this was crystalized to me in an interesting interview I heard between Balaji Srinivasan & Kyle Tibbitts.

Tech workers already spend 10 hours a day working online so going remote is very natural. Covid only sped up the process. Much of this move was exacerbated by a nutty closed-minded politically correctness (left wing in this case, btw I am also left wing but more centrist), a growing crazy expensive cost structure, rising taxes, local government mismanagement and never ending lockdowns & school closures in Northern California. This rapid decline of quality of life has led to these tech founders and workers moving somewhere else. One only needs to look at the long steady migration of Californians to Oregon, Colorado or Texas in recent years. …

I was re-watching the excellent movie “Moneyball” last week which was based on Michael Lewis’ also excellent book. The story of how the Oakland A’s in 2002 were able to win a record 20 games in a row despite having a budget that was a fraction of other Major baseball teams. They did this by finding & investing in overlooked players and playing them in different unorthodox ways. This was widely criticized and seen as heretical by most of baseball at that time. Yet it worked. …

“It is the lot of man to suffer.” — Disrael

  1. I’m a big fan and really digging his new book too.

“To conclude that life is all about luck, he said, is to surrender to fatalism: “Quit letting yourself off the hook, McConaughey. If that’s true, then run every red light. You’ve got your hands on the wheel. You’re making choices. They matter.”

2. “But the Fed also owes much of its current success to the fact that it is led by Powell — who is not an economist, unlike his three immediate predecessors, but a bureaucratic operator skilled at making friends and forging consensus. In the popular imagination, the Fed is a nonpolitical entity, almost godlike in its distance from electoral pressures. …

Chris Dixon’s writing has long influenced a lot of my thinking. He wrote:

“It’s a good bet these present-day hobbies will seed future industries. What the smartest people do on the weekends is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years.”

(Source: What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years)

As a longtime Silicon Valley resident, I’m always fascinated by technology trends.

You read all the latest books both non-fiction and science fiction, you talk to many young startups, you read anything and everything whether they are science papers, articles or subscribe to newsletters like or You can also use Google word searches for new keywords. …

The SMB (Small & Medium Business) main street was devastated in 2020 due to the Pandemic, economic issues and government enforced lockdowns. At least 100,000 small businesses have shut down this year.

But out of the ashes we will see the green shoots of new business life emerge. And surprisingly in 2020, due to many company closures and job losses, we’ve seen a 40% increase of new business registrations in the USA over 2019. A very unexpectedly quick blossoming (to me) of new SMB businesses. …


Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store