Be a Live Player: How to be Exceptional in Life

Marvin Liao
2 min readNov 19, 2022

I learned an interesting new term called “Live Player” from brilliant thinker Samo Burj. Its defined as “A live player is a person or well-coordinated group of people that is able to do things they have not done before.” These are people who are dynamic, adaptive, very responsive and constantly learning. This is in contrast to Dead Players: “A dead player is a person or group of people that is working off a script, incapable of doing new things.”

You can find more in this interview: & also here:

What determines a Live Player?

“What are signs that a player is alive? One strong sign is a player doing things outside of their expected domain — in a new, unexpected domain — which indicates that they can figure out new things for themselves.

Another sign of a live player is exceptional individuals gravitating towards them. Such individuals tend to be good at assessing others, and will tend to seek out others who are also exceptional. If they cluster around a person or group, there is something exceptional about that person or group. Successfully reverse-engineering an attack is another, albeit weak, sign of a live player. Those who can make novel moves will also tend to be able to reverse-engineer moves, but those who can reverse-engineer moves often lack the ability to create novel ones.”

Some live examples of “Live Players” are: Tom Ford, Elon Musk, Madonna, Napoleon, Jeff Bezos & Tim Ferriss.

Individuals who are capable of great change in their lives and careers, adaptive as hell and greatly impactful in the world.

This concept is so personally fascinating to me. I think about many of the people I look up to and many of them fit this characterization of a live player. When I think of the people I detest, they all seem to fit the “Dead Player” characterization. These would include many of the bureaucrats in government, the stodgy yet corrupt politicians all over the world, Big company people and elitists in academia and across the media establishment, whose gross incompetence came to the fore during the 2020–2021 pandemic.

I find that based on my career, I’ve unintentionally pursued the “Live Player” life, albeit with much less impact & success than many of the very gifted individuals previously listed. But still, this style of living through constant learning and adapting is why I enjoy my life so much (most of the time).

So the point is: be a “Live player.” We need you! All innovation and progress relies on this. As Samo Burj states correctly: “Societies with few live players will stagnate; societies with many live players will develop and adapt.



Marvin Liao

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