Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads August 8th, 2021

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. “FOLLOW THE MONEY. If there is anything you should keep from this read, that is it. Instead of applying to every sales position that might take you, ensure you’re building your career in a booming industry or hyper growth org: 1) It will propel your sales career more than any other single variable (more career opportunities down the road); 2) High demand for your product/service will significantly increase your chances to crush your compensation plan; 3) You will build confidence in your selling skills faster; and 4) you will be happier overall.”

2. “While U.S. politicians struggle to make up their minds about crypto, foreign workers have been taking things into their own hands and using it as a tool to avoid the exorbitant remittance fees that have plagued them for years.

Crypto and blockchain technology offers migrant workers around the world the opportunity to save money on fees by cutting out middlemen, radically accelerating the speed of their transactions, and increasing security and peace of mind when sending their hard-earned salaries across borders back to their families.

Above all, it offers the opportunity of a fairer world, powered by cellphones and the internet, where being born in Lagos, Dhaka, or Manilla, no longer means being forced to play by a set of unfair rules that keeps the door to progress barred. The technology is already in place to make this change possible. The only question now is how fast this new world can emerge.”

3. Seems like a good explanation of the data.

“Generally the things we do trust each other on are normal, everyday things, while the things we don’t trust each other on are all political. We don’t trust each other to stay informed about issues, to respect the rights of people who aren’t like us, to cast informed votes, or to have civil conversations with people with different views.

That suggests that when Americans say they don’t trust each other, what they’re actually distrustful of is the opposite political tribe.”

4. This is fascinating, the fracturing of the so-called creative class.

“In 2021, the creative class seems as much a victim of its own success as those excluded from it due to geography, credentials, or ideology. I’m in my mid-30s now and virtually everyone I know has a raft of legitimate complaints about housing costs, childcare costs, student debt, unrealistic work schedules, and on and on. My peers are in no sense the worst-off members of American society. They are the bobos. They are the creative class. They are the meritocrats. They are the “winners.”

5. “That figure captures an aspect of the creator economy that’s not contextualized in most media coverage: that building a solo content business is often a slow slog. Most articles about successful creators are written after they’ve already achieved stardom, and those same articles often gloss over the years the creators spent sending out content into the void.”

6. “The practice is known as “lawfare.” By using their billions-deep pockets to hire the best lawyers and firms — and knowing that lawyers, especially in places like the U.S., rarely bother to do due diligence about the source of clients’ funds — the oligarchs aim to spend journalists and their outlets into submission. This strategy appears to have spiked in recent years, on both sides of the Atlantic.”

7. Rise of the Solo Capitalists.

“But it’s getting increasingly common to see deals like Playco’s, where solo VCs invest in and even lead Series A or late-stage rounds. Their rise comes as investors of all sorts clamor to pour funds into the booming venture capital asset class, and many founders view certain solo VCs as a special talent who can give their startup a boost.

What’s more, these newer entrants into the venture game are raising funds in the hundreds of millions of dollars and special-purpose funding vehicles with backing from top-tier limited partners. In some cases, this has enabled a nascent group of investors to beat out traditional venture firms for hot deals.

Among other solo investors making waves with their solo VC model are Lachy Groom, an early Stripe employee, and Elad Gil, a former Twitter executive who co-founded Color Genomics.”

8. Good to Know. List includes New Zealand, Tasmania, Iceland, Ireland, UK & Canada & USA. (honestly not sure why US on there, place is a societal mess).

9. “These leaders come into office promising to lift their countries out of crisis by safeguarding human rights, building new democratic institutions, and securing the rule of law. For a while, their countries seem to make strides, and the West holds them up as models for reform. In time, however, these once-promising leaders abandon their early commitments and fall from grace as their countries slip back into crisis.”

10. “There is a third model, however, different from both the chess board and the jungle: the video game. In a video game it is primarily through play that we discover the rules, and rarely are the rules spelled out for us before we play. Sometimes a weapon may be used as a ladder to climb over a wall, but you could easily play many rounds of the game before discovering that possibility. This is a more accurate image of world politics, where nothing is clear before you test the ground.”

11. So much insight packed in this. Will be re-reading this a few times.

“My high-level answer is that technology is the driving force of history. Technology favored centralization in the US from arguably 1754–1947 (join or die in the French and Indian War, unified national government post-Civil War, railroads, telegraph, radio, television, movies, mass media in general, and mass production) and is now favoring decentralization from roughly 1947 to the present day (transistor, personal computer, internet, remote work, smartphone, cryptocurrency).”

“Put another way, what’s the most powerful force on earth? In the 1800s, God. In the 1900s, the US military. And by the mid-2000s, encryption. Because as Assange put it, no amount of violence can solve certain kinds of math problems. So it doesn’t matter how many nuclear weapons you have; if property or information is secured by cryptography, the state can’t seize it without getting the solution to an equation.”

12. Good for them. I don’t use Superhuman but well done!

13. This is super interesting. For those who care about education. Check out Arizona State University.

“ASU hasn’t made progress without its critics, namely the claim that it’s become a moneymaking credentialing machine, handing out degrees to anyone who pays and corporatizing The Great American University. And again, because I don’t have experience with university administration, I certainly wondered, while learning about ASU, how many of their claims are marketing versus substance.

Firstly, their efforts are generating positive results. The business critique might be concerning if ASU were churning out graduates who were ill-prepared and saddled with student debt. But ASU has ranked well in terms of preparing students for life after college, and was named a Best Value College by The Princeton Review this year. As discussed in this post, they’ve significantly improved their rankings as a research university, while also increasing college access and affordability. ASU might run like a business, but they seem to actually be running well.”

14. “If you are a young person working in and around the VC ecosystem, you have a big choice to make right now about how you want to spend your career.

If you want to be in private equity (and let’s be clear, those folks get paid really well), then staying at a mainline VC firm makes a ton of sense. There is every reason to believe that firms like Andreessen Horowitz will indeed turn into the next Blackstone, Fortress or KKR, if not the next Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley — and will certainly be in direct and brutal competition with the whole field. A reasonably early partner, pre–initial public offering, at these firms can anticipate a very lucrative career.

However, if you want to be a venture capitalist leading the next era, you should look for opportunities no one else is funding because they are too weird, too crazy or too small — at least today.

With the speed at which information spreads now, the cycles of real VC opportunities will come faster and last for shorter periods. Even areas like crypto, which were fringe a few years ago, have already been subsumed by mainstream finance, at least for certain types of opportunities.”

15. “If states could learn to read novels as a kind of literary seismograph, Wertheimer argues, they could perhaps identify which conflicts are on the verge of exploding into violence, and intervene to save maybe millions of lives.”

16. This tweet thread is right on. The Sovereign Individual is here.

17. Just got this book. Should be a good read. The MemeLord Elon is a great man but would not want to work for him.

18. “It’s the pain and discomfort that makes attaining difficult goals so damn rewarding, while simultaneously reinforcing positive habits.

True growth and learning occurs when we’re pushed outside our perceived mental and physical limits. While pushing yourself will undoubtedly lead to failure, you have to view this as a necessary part of the process. No one is saying you have to like it — quite frankly, you shouldn’t. Most people fear failure, but it can be your greatest mentor if you just learn to embrace it. Remember, we learn more from our failures than we do from success.

On the other hand, if you choose to stay in your comfort zone, you’ve accepted complacency as a way of life — and complacency kills both on the battlefield and in life.”

19. About time but this move makes sense and is in Japan’s best interest. China under Xi is biggest threat to everyone in Asia.

20. No brainer. Mexico and Portugal for me.

21. No surprise. ROI of tax dollars paid, declining quality of life and eroding freedom in USA is a driver.

22. Awesome discussion as always. #AllinPodcast

23. “Mobility restrictions produce fundamental inequalities that are difficult to justify in a world of remote work. Trade, capital, knowledge, and communication flow freely across borders — yet human beings still face restrictions.

The internet enables us to work from anywhere, but until we fix the bugs in the systems governing global movement, we’ll fail to unlock the potential of that shift. Digital nomads represent a new way of seeing and navigating the world — one that lets individuals share in the fruits of globalization.”

24. Super cool company/fund for Biotech. The Product Board.

“I invested some of my own money with like-minded individuals and the idea was that this isn’t meant to be kind of an asset management business where we’re raising capital and earning fees on managing capital and then returning it once we’ve made our investments and sold them.

This is more about there being a persistent meaning for the rest of our lives, and an opportunity to realize new technologies that can affect positive outcomes in food and agriculture with such a broad set of opportunities.”

25. Fully agree with this.

“Many of us come from backgrounds in countries such as the United States and elsewhere in the West — places which have traditionally been revered as the foundation of the “world’s best” when it comes to building a life.

Now, many of us also are questioning that: We may have had glimpses that we want something different, we don’t fit into our ‘home’ culture, or we are inspired by what might be possible if we took the leap and lived abroad.”

26. “The LP world is kind of very secretive, very opaque, keeping cards close to the chest,” Douvos said. “And I think that’s changed as well as LPs have made themselves, both as institutions and individuals, kind of eager to trumpet their position in funds that are perceived to be hot.”

27. “For some, the false narrative that America loses all its wars might seem like it would be a deterrent to future military misadventures. No one wants to play a game they always lose, right? But in fact, I don’t think it works like that. When you have an unfavorable win-loss record, the urge is often to fight more and improve your record. When people feel their honor has been slighted, they often feel the need to get it back. Thus, a sense of recent descent from military glory probably inspires belligerence among those who feel like, in Trump’s words, “we never win anymore”. In particular, the people on the Right who think we lose wars because of wokeness will want to prove that their own cultural prerogatives lead to enhanced military effectiveness.

So the false claim that America loses all (or most) of its wars isn’t helping anything. It just encourages more wars. The right message is that war isn’t worth it, even when you rack up a W. Sometimes you have to fight, but 9 times out of 10, the only winning move is not to play.”

28. “Satellites have tons of familiar applications, from predicting the weather to tracking delivery drivers and beaming live sports to our televisions.

Now, so-called NewSpace innovators are broadening the industry, using images of Earth to develop creative applications that solve a broad range of problems.

Orbiting eyes in the sky have been used to uncover China’s Uyghur internment camps, predict the price of copper and help indigenous communities fight deforestation. They could change the way we buy coffee or rent an apartment.

But the meteoric rise of satellites is raising red flags about surveillance and space pollution — and critics are wondering if the arm of the law can reach beyond the atmosphere to solve the problems raised by fast-evolving tech.”

29. “But like every speedrunner, to achieve that velocity, FTX has had to make concessions. In particular, the exchange has played fast and loose with regulation, shrugged off accusations of conflicts of interest, and largely ignored retail traders.

Those lapses may take a toll. Believers will note that the company seems to have the capital, connections, and will to resolve its most significant problems. Of course, only time will tell how effective FTX is in filling the gaps.”

30. “Career success used to be a ladder-climbing game. Find a booming industry, work your way into a prestigious firm, then grind it out for a couple of decades until you reach the top. At some point, the ladders got crowded. Baby Boomers lingered in their perches, preventing younger workers from advancing. Realizing this game was no longer worth playing, many millennials and Gen-Zers have abandoned ladder-climbing in favor of building their own elevators.

Kyla Scanlon is a master elevator builder. After starting her blog at age 18, she has spent the past five years creating content. Six months ago, she left her job at an investment management firm to help run On Deck’s Investing Fellowship and pursue her goal of reshaping financial education. Meanwhile, she’s grown followings on TikTok and YouTube — and has partnered with influential business news brands like Morning Brew and Colossus.”



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
Marvin Liao

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