Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads January 17th, 2021

“It’s never too late to become who you want to be. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. This whole thing is worth reading. Surprise 5 is good news if it plays out.

“The economy develops momentum on its own because of pent-up demand, and depressed hospitality and airline stocks become strong performers. Fiscal and monetary policy remain historically accommodative. Nominal economic growth for the full year exceeds 6% and the unemployment rate falls to 5%. We begin the longest economic cycle in history, surpassing the cycle that lasted from 2010 to 2020.”

2. I love this! Lots to learn here.

“Richards describes her and her husband’s financial situation as“Fat FIRE” — a financially independent lifestyle that doesn’t include the sort of bare-bones living that characterizes the FIRE movement.”

3. This is really useful for SaaS company investors.

4. Fun interview. Was supposed to go to Iceland in 2020. Oh well, maybe 2022. Still seems like a fun place to hang out for a few months.

“Everybody is on Zoom anyway. It used to matter where you were physically. Right now, we are in this café where you bump into someone and something interesting comes out of that chance encounter. If you do it all on Zoom, your physical location doesn’t matter anymore. So I started looking at places that are remote but highly educated and entrepreneurial. Then I crossed that with how each place was handling Covid, since if the pandemic is bad they’ll be shut down too. That got me down to New Zealand, Taiwan and Iceland. And of those, two of them were solving the problem by not letting anybody in.

Only Iceland was solving the problem in a way that allowed visitors, because deCode Genetics is here, there is a good healthcare system, and everyone is tested at the border. That reduced the options from 195 countries to one, which is how I decided Iceland would be a good place to work during the pandemic.”

5. This is probably more relevant to us than ever.

“Instead of listening to doom and gloom, what might happen if you were to listen to positive and constructive media? Might the infectious positivity begin to influence your mood? You will find yourself often repeating ideas and themes that you hear. Subconsciously, you absorb what you see and hear. Focusing on self-improvement podcasts or blogs could incentivize you to better yourself. They may even convince yourself that you are worthy of caring about.

And once you start caring about yourself, you begin to take care of yourself. You begin stacking little wins. Something as simple as cleaning your room or making your bed can be the nudge you need to get started. Next you might start spending less time online and more time at the gym or going for runs. This all creates a positive feedback loop. You work out. You get endorphins. You feel better about yourself. You decide to get up early. You clean up more of your living space. You keep working out and get back in shape. Then you buy nicer clothes because you’re proud.”

6. “Decentralization doesn’t just impact money, it impacts every single industry with a middle man. Since the middle man can control the flow of content: facebook, twitter, etc. They will now have to face competition from decentralized servers that run with censorship resistant platforms. This is admittedly several years away, but the changes we saw over the past week have accelerated the move in this direction by a minimum of five years.”

“Acceleration of the Digital World: The one benefit here is that a smart individual can now scale a business into the millions and even billions of dollars without a single hire. Think we’re kidding? We’re not. In the future with software scaling at the rate it is today, you’re going to watch as all processes become automated. This leaves the following for work: creativity/becoming a producer. If you cannot produce or create, the world is going to speed past you.”

7. Net net: take vitamin D. Can’t hurt.

8. This seems really spot on these days whatever side of the political spectrum you are.

9. This is not going to win Mr Danco any popularity contests in Canada cuz most of this is true. Not sure I agree with the point on milestones but get the point of mindless milestones over growth.

“My hope is that people in Canada reading this will realize that the problem facing us isn’t a lack of anything. The problem with our startup scene isn’t a lack of money, startups, investors, hustle, great Universities, technical talent, or creativity. Our problem is actually the presence of actively bad things: all of our non-dilutive (but extremely expensive!) innovation credits, the presence of incubators & entrepreneurship programs, & the accidental costs of milestone thinking. If we want to build a real startup community in Canada, we need to let go of those crutches, & choose the Infinite Game.

That’s part of why I think that if any city in Canada has the potential to actually develop a Bay Area grade startup scene (smaller, sure, but actually the real thing), it’s clearly Montreal. Of the major cities in Canada, Montreal is the only one that naturally has an infinite game mindset. (But it really, really does. Montreal is a special place.) If Montreal weren’t in Quebec, it would be an unstoppable startup scene.”

10. “If comparing yourself to a different set of peers is going to motivate you or give you peace of mind, by all means, switch. It’s up to each of us, isn’t it?”

11. For all the guys out there.

“Our environments and lifestyles do affect our bodies. And many men are slowly castrating themselves through their lifestyles.

Increasing your testosterone levels, and thus your general vitality, should be of paramount focus for all men.

High testosterone levels are a representation of overall good health.”

12. “We will see decentralized websites, decentralized mobile apps, decentralized social networks, and much more. The risk of a centralized organization imposing their will, regardless of the validity of that decision, has become too great to ignore now. It was previously believed that decentralization was only a fascination of those who were paranoid, but now we are seeing that it is becoming a business imperative at a breakneck speed.

This transition won’t happen overnight. It also won’t only be about decentralization. We are likely to see a significant rise in privacy technologies, along with decentralization. These renewed focuses will leverage technology to equalize power on the internet. The days of large centralized companies overseeing their dictatorships without fear of being held accountable are over. The people can’t change the status quo, but they can vote with their feet and start using new technology stacks.”

13. Good case for Digital Nomad-ism.

14. This is pretty crazy to say the least. I’m still processing everything that happened last week.

15. Man has a point.

“Under some f*ked up version of wokeness, we have decided that stupid people are a special interest group who warrant empathy and latitude re the damage they levy. We excuse Trump’s mob, as they are the ones America left behind or who didn’t have access to higher education. No, they’re just stupid — even the ones with “Senator” before their name. The President and his mob registered a deep blow to our democracy and global standing … with no commensurate benefit…..

We need to recognize that stupid is a thing and, per Professor Cipolla, encourage our youth to discern how not to be stupid and to aspire to be “intelligent,” which also is a thing … and a noble thing, and not derived from a place of privilege that demands apology and self flogging. The right has become so weird, the left so weak, that we should see something resembling a third option (e.g., Independent) accrue momentum and elected leaders.”

16. “The new coronavirus achieved in days what both progressives and nationalists had long been fighting for. Powerful economic interests were sidelined, whole industries had to temporarily close down, oil consumption plummeted, national borders were closed and export bans imposed. It was a humbling experience, as the ripples of politics paled by comparison to the giant natural wave of the pandemic, but also a conversion moment, where one could finally see the social and economic system for what it is. The great pause reveals a hidden truth and, once revealed, it cannot be forgotten.

What has come to an end is not capitalism but the idea of capitalism as a system standing above economic agents.”

17. Man, so interesting. Bitcoin mining in the arctic of Russia.

18. Actually I really like that Toast allowed laid off ex-employees to sell vested shares in secondaries. Good for the company that they were able to turnaround the company in the pandemic.

“At the time, the company gave ex-employees 10 years to exercise their options, though many of the people laid off had only been employed at Toast for a few months, according to a LinkedIn search.”

19. I’m fascinated by the African market. Been tracking Tim Staermorse’s investment work for a while.

“In a world where financial valuations have reached new heights, it is hard to find investments with sound fundamentals. Sometimes, you need to look a little farther afield. This is why investing in the stock market in Africa is an interesting option for more adventurous investors.”

20. I really like this kid. One of the stars of Cobra Kai.

21. Fitness tips from Laird who has definitely aged well.

22. I totally get why this is flourishing in America.

“As we head into an era that seems destined to be marked by escalating vigilantism and political violence — or, if we’re very lucky, just the fear of them — it’s time to reckon with the whole of American tactical culture. For all its power to shape this moment, that culture has roots that long precede it. The tactical world is a byproduct of years of rampant mass shootings and of our nation’s longest wars, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s a space where paramilitary ideas thrive and where ordinary gun owners learn to see themselves as potential heroes; but it’s also where many Americans have simply gone looking for a way to negotiate living in a country where there are more firearms than people.”

23. “Rededicating Harry’s to building its own family of brands has also allowed the founders to rally the team around the promise of an even bigger payoff in the future. The new vision for Harry’s, in fact, might promise an even greater rush than getting acquired ever could have. If joining Edgewell was going to push the Harry’s team straight into the big leagues — well, not joining it did so anyway.”

24. This is a bit of a damning comment on European rich.

“Most of the European successful entrepreneurs are in their 40s or 50s, a few generations later than the digital natives, and with a lower risk appetite to challenge the establishment.

Compare this to the US where old companies like HP, IBM or Oracle, are being constantly challenged, or being replaced by the FAANG, which are also now being replaced by kids in their 20s building a new tech startup in the their parents bedroom.

Related — in Europe, the newcomers, as many as they are, are usually eating the lunch of the rich people family businesses — if they decide that it is worth keeping their startup company in Europe and not flying over to the better US environment.”

25. Profile on the The Points Guy and the fascinating business of airline miles.

“Since 2010, The Points Guy has published over 30,000 blog posts: hotel, airline and cruise-ship reviews, next to wonkish analyses of rewards-program fine print. (Some typical headlines: “Why the Amex Gold Is the Perfect ‘In Between’ Credit Card”; “How to Get to Puerto Rico on Miles and Points”; “Why I Canceled Bora Bora Again.”)

Kelly is only the face of the site; the “guy” is now voiced by a 30-person team of credit-card experts, aviation reporters and expats from legacy travel media. Older travel publications sell a daydream: crisp ocean vistas, street side cafes, European hamlets with more steeples than people. The Points Guy sells that daydream as a promise, upholding a sworn oath to help you “maximize your travel.”

26. “If you think about this, we may see the repeat of the 1990s equivalent. In the 1990s, you made a lot of money if you took existing businesses in the analog world and brought them online. In the 2020s, you are probably going to make a lot of money if you take existing businesses and figure out how to build decentralized versions.

You obviously need to pick the right teams. You need to pick the right markets to go after. And you need great execution to ensure that it gets global scalability.

But the blueprint is right in front of us. Decentralization is going to be the future of the technology industry. I can’t wait to see what entrepreneurs build next.”

27. This is something I know many people, including myself, struggle with: Trading time for money.

We should be thinking about how to leverage our time through productization.

28. Video games are now front and center to dominate the entertainment industry.

“The shift was corroborated last spring, when Adweek reported that the gaming industry’s revenue (at $139bn a year) had outstripped the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL combined. By this December, lockdown life further fattened the industry. The global gaming industry is set to take in $180bn for 2020 — a 20% increase in revenue, and more than sports and movies worldwide.”

We’re in the midst of a cultural shift. As Trevor McFedries, the co-founder of Brud (the studio behind the world’s most famous CGI influencer, Lil Miquela), tweeted last month: “Gaming is replacing music as the lynchpin of emergent social scenes and it makes everyone 30+ I talk to really uncomfortable.”

29. Learned a new term: “Genericiding”

30. A strong case for Lisbon as digital nomad center. I will be spending more time in Lisbon after this Covid mess is over. Definitely considering it to be one of my bases in future.

31. So many parallels in America to Roman Empire. Recommend reading “The Storm before the Storm” by Duncan and “Rubicon” by Holland.

“Yet the history of the Roman Republic, even as it provided inspiration, also served as a warning. For many centuries, the great ideal of shared citizenship had encouraged the Romans to temper their competitive instincts for the common good. To place personal honour above the interests of the entire community was seen as the behaviour of a barbarian — or worse yet, a king.

Gradually, however, over the course of the centuries, this taboo began to lose its hold. The more of a superpower the Roman Republic became, and the richer the potential pickings on offer to its most powerful men, so the more it began to totter under the weight of its own greatness. The bonds of shared citizenship stretched, then frayed, then snapped. Rome imploded into civil war. The venerable edifice of her republican system of government was reduced to rubble. And in its place an autocracy emerged: the rule of the Caesars. The lesson offered was a sombre one, and weighed heavily on the minds of the Founding Fathers.”

32. Uh oh.

“China’s relentless push to build a state backed digital currency, the economic disaster the global pandemic wreaked upon the world, and the incredible rise of decentralized cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum has accelerated the timeline to kill off cash.

The only real question now is what will replace it?

Will it be decentralized, borderless, open source, privacy preserving money like Monero, or will it be nation state driven digital surveillance money?

More and more it looks like nation states have the advantage.”

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

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