Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Jan 9th, 2022

Marvin Liao
12 min readJan 9, 2022


“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you” — Barbara Sher

  1. I’m 110% down with this.

“Controlling your time and the ability to wake up and say, “I can do whatever I want today”

2. This is pretty damn fascinating for history buffs. A meeting of the military worlds in old times.

3. It’s like America continually shoots itself in the foot. No wonder no one takes this country seriously anymore. America is like a blind, arrogant and mentally handicapped giant.

“If New England’s refusal to use natural gas from right next door is ironic, how it sources liquefied natural gas (LNG) is downright perverse, albeit for reasons mostly beyond its control. We’ve written before about how the US has become a substantial player in the LNG market, and how the energy crisis in Europe spread to Asia, causing a bidding war for LNG supply.

As luck would have it, New England is a now victim of that bidding war and is facing the prospect of dramatically less LNG supply this winter.”

4. “If there’s one phrase that characterizes our age, it’s ‘elite failure’. Nobody is really in charge anymore; there is no secret room with all the competent people making the pivotal decisions.

From the US government to The Times, the world is now run by a Zoom screen of hollow, indecisive people — absolutely scared shitless of Twitter and Slack threads — wincing from hard realities and public stands in favor of performative posturing and backroom deals; all the while, our elites shamble feebly around the institutions that a greater generation once built … including and especially the management of Apple.”

5. What a strange time.

“The view may be nihilistic, but in the current scenario, it isn’t entirely wrong. So much of the economy feels like a scam — the gig economy, student loans, the hope of retirement, a 9-to-5 job. Consumers are always being tricked and squeezed by corporations.

The promise of the middle class is fading fast, so for a lot of people, it just feels like you might as well lean into whatever financial chaos is available to try to hit it big. If housing prices are so high you’re never going to be able to own a home, why not try your hand at real estate in whatever the metaverse is?

If you buy into the idea that a lot of this investing is pretty divorced from reality, then the question is how long this lasts. For now, the music’s still playing, so people are dancing. How long the song keeps going depends on how long the people holding onto the assets can keep singing.”

6. The Nancy Martin effect. Interesting.

“You are probably familiar with the Nancy Meyers Effect. Meyers, of course, is the director who specializes in films about well-off types who seem chill and cool despite their status. Meyers is a master at writing rich characters, in both senses of the word: people who have stuff from The Row, but describe it as “this old thing”; people who own expensive cookware, but aren’t afraid to use it.

The Nancy Meyers Effect, then, is the thing that happens when you watch her movies: even if you’re a proud Jacobin subscriber, you’re glad to spend two hours in a world where owning a wine cellar is a thing to be proud of.”

7. Africa is crucial for the clean energy economy.

8. History certainly rhymes. Hope we learn from history here. (we probably won’t though).

9. I like this. Short, simple and sweet. Pick an execution methodology and stick to it.

10. Very good description of China & what’s happening in the tech industry there. Well worth a read.

“There’s a little joke that the ideal company is led by a Beijinger, who would provide the vision, leadership, and government-relations savvy; its finances would be led by someone from Shanghai, and its operations managed by someone from Shenzhen (who would hire people from Sichuan and Anhui to do the actual work).

Entrepreneurial friends say that doing business is most straightforward in Shenzhen: people there get together over dinner, discuss how to allocate the workload, and then do things the next day. Dinner in Beijing features lots of drinking, bluffs about one’s connections in high places, and then little follow up.”

“The Chinese leadership looks more longingly at Germany, with its high level of manufacturing backed by industry-leading Mittelstand firms. Thus Beijing prefers that the best talent in the country work in manufacturing sectors rather than consumer internet and finance. Personally, I think it has been a tragedy for the US that so many physics PhDs have gone to work in hedge funds and Silicon Valley. The problem is not that these opportunities pay so well, rather it is because manufacturing has offered dismal career prospects.

“If Beijing were only brutal or unpredictable, then people wouldn’t be so on edge. But it is both. No one is sure how far the state will prosecute its values-based agenda.”

11. Seems like a contrarian investment. Oil!

12. “No matter how brilliant, none of what we do lasts. But what does matter in avoiding misery is living and working by your own standards. It’s when you operate using only an inner scorecard that you will gain independence of mind.

And it’s the independence of mind that allows you to sit on your ass when you’ve got something good while allowing you to not be swayed by stagnant or destructive herding behavior. Recognition and rewards must be the extra. And as the next section argues, there’s good reason to think that the deserved rewards will come on their own.

Many things in life follow a compounding trajectory if little improvements are present every day. Things such as relationships, knowledge, and fitness. But notice that the compounding halts as soon as you change these things around too much rather than sitting on what works for you.

When you’ve got something good, it’s working, and you’ve spent a lot of energy getting there, it’s probably best to sit on your ass and enjoy the ride.”

13. “In his early career, Bertolini was unapologetically competitive, aggressive, and at times, ruthless. He was so well known for his bare-knuckled, iron-fist leadership that his employees had given him the moniker, “Darth Vader.”

“I was tough,” he says. “People used to hum the Darth Vader tune when I walked around the office. It was like, ‘Here he comes.’”

By all measures, he had made it. He was making tons of money, living in a mansion, and earning respect in his field. But it came at a cost. He was spending more and more time away from his family, and inadvertently creating a work culture that didn’t necessarily reflect his values.

Then came his first wake-up call.”

14. Lessons from world class chair makers & marketers.

“We don’t write about the Eameses to compare ourselves to them, but rather to learn from them. With Doomberg, we aspire to create a great brand and to market it to the best of our abilities. Many writers recoil at the thought of having to proactively promote their content — they feel producing great writing should be enough, and that engaging in purposeful marketing somehow cheapens their work. On the contrary, we believe failing to do so merely condemns it to the crowded bin of great writing rarely read.”

15. “Consilience Ventures is creating the world’s biggest tokenized sweat equity ecosystem. We have the startups, the investors, the experts and the tech to underpin it. No one has pushed the model as far as we have from a technical or legal standpoint.

We’re creating a world where startups grow, experts get paid and investors make returns. We’re creating automated systems that allow startups to earn as they achieve preset milestones.

Entrepreneurs get access to a highly-curated network of experts who can provide the hands-on support they need to grow, but they can do it without money. Because experts have skin in the game through the value of the tokens they earn, they will give their startups their full attention and go the extra mile to help.

Tokenizing sweat equity is not a guarantee of success, but it makes success much more likely, along with a higher valuation when you get there. In addition, it helps reduce the impact of luck, so if you win, it’s because you found customers, not because you found investment.”

16. “So the last thing I am suggesting for Your SaaS New Year’s Resolution is to get distracted, or take your eye off the ball. But I am suggesting, as founders and execs, you think about doing (x) one new thing that (y) builds on your core, doesn’t fundamentally change what you’re doing but (z) could inflect the curve 10% and not be terribly distracting.

Find a way to add a relatively low-stress, low-dilution layer to what you are doing now. It won’t materially change your MRR at first. But it will have a magical effect by year-end.”

17. The case against Crypto. I always read everything and anything. I read cases for and against. Still haven’t fully made my mind up yet.

But my sense is that it seems inevitable as technology decentralizes. I guess we will see in 10–20 years.

18. “In general, the studio structure is really smart in a world where there’s a lot of capital coming into the market downstream,”

19. Good thread on the gaming industry.

20. “Cryptocurrency has become both a libertarian paradise and the most vulgar capitalist society you’ve ever seen. Every single action is a financial transaction and said transactions can be made faster by spending more money. Access within this so-called egalitarian system is entirely based on how many resources you have and how quickly you can mobilize them, which is alarmingly similar to the systems that crypto zealots claim to despise.

And the more popular a system is, the more money that’s required to spend to make things happen on it. It’s also important to remember that the only way into these systems is either through farming coins using computers that cost money, or paying money to acquire tokens to use within the system.

The consistent pro-crypto argument is that big companies control the platforms we use every day, and decentralization is the only way for us to be truly “free.” The problem is that there is no real difference between a web3 company that has transferrable ‘votes’ and a regular company — those with the money still have the power, except they have the ability to directly monetize each vote.

Democracy is quite literally for sale by the company (and regularly sold to wealthy investors before anyone else!), and those buying votes under the auspices of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ are really just participating in an even more corrupt and punishing system than we have in the real world.”

21. “In fact, there is a HIGH chance that the company you work for today will be disrupted by small numbers of individuals. People like Joe Rogan have crushed the media space. People like Daniel and Vitalik Buterin and SBF have individually caused significant pain to the financial services industry and NFTs which can be made from thin air are going after the entire Art industry (historically a niche/fringe market for the majority of the population).

Even if you’re not in tech you can do this by simply putting your “life online”. If you notice a common thread amongst people with large followers on social media it is that they continuously *try* to live life.

Instead of selling like your boss is reading, sell like you’re trying to get a close friend to understand what you do. After that we can all but guarantee you will grow *if* you are skilled in an industry (no you don’t need to be the best at everything, you simply need to be *good* as most people won’t even try).”

22. “This past year shows that government can have a large role in shaping how remote work plays out. Expanding broadband access to ensure that the ability to do remote work is equitably distributed, liberalizing zoning laws, investing in amenities to attract knowledge economy workers, and ensuring that the gains from growth do not solely accumulate to the most well-off — that’s all in policymakers’ hands.”

23. For those who want to understand why we have a supply chain mess in the world.

“Consumers are just buying more stuff than ever and our infrastructure, frankly, isn’t ready for it. It’s getting held back by dilapidated port infrastructure, by congestion, non-automated ports, and bad rail connections to the ports. We’re just recognizing the pain of 20 years of not investing in our infrastructure. And we’re feeling all that pain in one year right now.

It’s increasingly difficult for truckers to pick up or drop off containers at ports and warehouses, leading to today’s congested ports, lots, and railyards. So boats can’t get in, we don’t have enough containers, a lot of the empty containers are stuck on the chassis, we don’t have enough chassis because we don’t have enough warehouse space, and we don’t have any space in the warehouses because we can’t move the goods out fast enough.

Until we can focus on what actually clears the ports, rail yards and warehouses, and goods can begin to move at a pace that aligns more closely with the growth in consumer demand, there’s nowhere for the containers to go, and the number of ships waiting to unload will continue to grow.”

24. “Journalism used to be about fanatically pursuing the truth. It didn’t matter where the truth took you, the journalists job was to find it. There was no agenda. There was no adherence to a dogmatic view of the world. Find the truth and share it.

While it may seem crazy, Joe Rogan has filled that void for the digital native generation. He would never claim to be a journalist, but rather positions himself as a regular guy who likes to workout, go hunting, eat healthy, and learn about the world. That vulnerability and transparency is attractive to people who feel like they are being lied to or manipulated by the mainstream media. Joe Rogan is the most dangerous man in the intellectual arena right now because he is the most genuine pursuer of truth.”

25. Good tweet thread on state LP land for VCs in 2022.

26. This is a very helpful guide for prepping for your Series A.

27. Long overdue move. We need to bring back manufacturing to the USA & allied countries.



Marvin Liao

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