Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads May 2nd, 2021

“For the master, surrender means there are no experts. There are only learners.” ― George Leonard

  1. “Making hard decisions can cause analysis paralysis aka FOBO (Fear of better options). It can lead to indecisiveness or what I call, half in half out decisions. And as we face more hard decisions on a daily basis, our minds can become fatigued from the constant weighing of options.

We also experience analysis paralysis and doomsday scenario building. When we drag our feet with making hard decisions even when we know the decision we ought to make. We do this when our minds come up with crazy disaster outcomes from the choices we contemplate.”

2. “In particular, as you get a little bit older, the greatest secret that has been the most liberating thing to me was as soon as I stopped trying to be right all the time, everything clicked. Everything. When I stopped trying to be right and instead to be loving, or instead to learn something, everything else, all that insecurity, fell away. That artifice and bravado vanished. I really found projects and life fulfilling in ways that I hadn’t before, which is part of what our Wrexham journey is about. I don’t want to be right; I want to learn.”

3. Cool story.

“The product she would eventually create — Liquid Paper, a white correction fluid used to conceal handwritten or printed typos — would become one of the world’s most popular and enduring office supplies.

Graham wasn’t a chemist or an engineer. She was a single mom from Texas who had a brilliant idea while working a 9-to-5 job as a secretary.

But she was also a budding product marketing genius: Over several decades, she identified a need in the market, organically grew her business, staved off competition, and bootstrapped her way to a $47.5m exit — $173m in today’s money.

And she did it all during a time when women were discouraged from pursuing business ventures.”

4. I have this problem myself.

5. Form Capital: One of the top new micro VC Funds coming out. They have a very differentiated offering and I have heard good things.

“I do think there are a number of funds that raised more than they should have; I think there’s a danger zone somewhere around $80 million where you’re forced to be a lead investor and you can’t be a collaborative investor and so it becomes this slug-it-out, duke-it-out [situation] with other other funds as to who’s going to be the lead writer on a given deal . . .

part of the joy of being a small fund manager is more flexibility in terms of constructing a portfolio. In the cases where we may get squeezed down a little bit, or we want to invest at a slightly higher valuation than is typical, we can paint outside the lines a tiny bit more.”

6. Jeff Yass & SIG, the Hedge Fund Powerhouse very few have heard of.

“Yass bootstrapped Susquehanna in part with startup capital plucked from racetrack pots and poker tables in the 1970s and early 1980s. He then applied his gambling instincts to options markets during the 1980s bull market, and his skill for handicapping odds and finding an edge set him apart. Yass’s number one trading rule is also the mantra of every poker pro: there is no surer way to win, than to bet against someone who is dumber or less experienced than you, otherwise known as the “mark” at any poker table. On Wall Street, Robinhood is in the business of cultivating and serving up millions of marks daily.

“All of sports betting, all of playing poker, and all of options trading is making sure you’re betting against someone you’re smarter than,” Yass told the Bet The Processpodcast a year ago. “If you’re not asking yourself, am I the sucker, or am I the [bait], you get arrogant and you get crushed.”

7. Great write up on Prospera in Honduras. One of the latest and most promising Charter cities. ht/ Garrett.

“The idea behind charter cities is: Shenzhen, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the rest of the rich world aren’t rich because their citizens are morally superior to those of their poorer neighbors. They’re rich because they have better legal systems, less corruption, stronger rule of law, and more competent administrators.

Próspera’s not a place, it’s a platform. It’s a government with a charter, laws, legislators, officials, contracts, partnerships, etc. Anywhere can become part of Próspera — if someone has land in a totally different part of Honduras and wants to be part of Próspera they can.”

8. “the way that you earn reputations in both cultures is by facing challenges and overcoming them successfully. In commerce, the way you earn trust and status is by finding opportunities to do a hard kind of commerce, that people really want, and then successfully following through. Same with software development: the way you earn trust and status is by finding opportunities to take on hard, complex problems, that people really want solved, and then successfully following through.

Without those challenges, these worlds stop working. The participants’ purpose requires challenge, and requires unforeseen stressors. Without them, commerce becomes frictionless, low-trust Amazon purchases. Without them, software development becomes just a 9-to-5 chore with no joy or craft.”

9. “One of the best analogies I’ve heard: When a musician starts out, they’re playing at a dive bar for like 10 people. And then at some scale, they end up headlining Coachella and there’s hundreds of thousands of people in the stands. But when they’re in the little dive bar, after they’re done playing, they go have a beer with everyone and meet them. And the bigger you get, you kind of lose that connection with people. So that’s what we’re trying to solve.”

10. What a great write up on Miami. I kind of want to visit now after over a decade.

11. “You should not think of investing as a method of preparing for retirement. Instead, you should think of it as a tool for empowering the lifestyle you want at various life stages. Lifestyle investment strategies are different from much of the common investment advice out there. It’s a method that promotes adaptation, short and medium term planning, and a willingness to take on risk.”

12. Not quite the same as feudalism……but…..

“A thousand years ago, noblemen, from time to time, became overly confident in their ability to keep the serfs on the farmland and demanded taxes beyond the customary “one day’s labour in ten”. When they did, the serfs of old often voted with their feet and simply moved. Today, this is still possible.

If the reader presently contributes more than one day’s labour in ten to his government, he may wish to consider voting with his feet.”

13. Their company, they can do what they want. I think its a good idea.

“It’s precisely that. We’re compressing X to allow for expansion in Y. A return to whole minds that can focus fully on the work we choose to do. A return to a low-ceremony steady state where we can make decisions and move on. A return to personal responsibility and good faith trust in one another to do our own individual jobs well. A return to why we started the company. A return to what we do best.”

14. “But although the fact hasn’t received much media attention, China’s government has stumbled badly on a couple of things in the past few years. These state failures aren’t big enough to threaten the country’s development, but they’re small narrative violations that may indicate that the omnipotence of China’s rulers has been oversold.

It’s not clear yet whether China is suffering some kind of long-term institutional issues — ossification of vested interests, complacency, internal struggles, etc. — or whether it’s simply the case that no government can win them all. But observers outside China should quietly take note of the government’s modest stumbles, and question any tacit assumptions of Chinese state omnipotence they may hold.”

15. This will end well. NOT. But no surprise as it is a bull market.

“Many employers are experiencing an exodus in the workforce of young people who are looking to make their fortune trading amidst the current crypto bull run.”

16. “From getting us through the most extreme lockdown to emerging as a cryptocurrency stock almost overnight, it’s been a big year for memes. But while the burgeoning impact of memes can be felt across various industries (including those NOT owned by Elon Musk), it’s the entertainment industry that appears to have massively capitalised on these humorous short snippets of content.”

17. No surprise. The Oscars suck. And pretty much have for the last decade.

18. I like this.

“I always thought I was actively carving myself a path towards freedom. Or at least I thought I was. After reading his tweet over and over again, I realized I wasn’t.

I’m living in my dream apartment, dating an amazing partner, making good money, living in my favorite neighborhood in the world, and have a tight circle of friends.

But none of that means I’m free.

Sure, I can buy a fancy car and book a cabin in the mountains for the weekend. But where would my mind be on that drive?

It would be running through what work I’m behind on, which clients I need to check in with, and endless plans to grow quicker and go faster.

It wouldn’t be on the road. And that’s my point. That’s why I’m not free, because I know if I bought that car and booked that cabin, I still wouldn’t be present.”

19. Lots of good quotes here from one of the most underrated & hated short sellers around. Muddy Waters. I understand his rage.

“Block runs a small firm — its assets are now around $260 million — but punches above his weight in influence.

Block, says Anderson, isn’t just “messing” with people for fun. “He enjoys holding truth to power. He’s going after people who are running scams and crooked management teams and their supporters, whether it be investment banks or auditors who are earning handsome fees to look the other way.” “

“Block, who’d studied Mandarin and once believed that China was the future, was disillusioned. “What I saw there was a society where rules didn’t matter and everybody was breaking rules, and it was a fucked-up place as a result,” he says.”

20. Awesome news. Go Ouriel & the ZenGo team!

21. “In accessing global opportunities as an investor, we are operating in a similar manner as large scale enterprises that also look globally for corporate development: the very companies that venture is funding and building will need to be truly global in order to be successful and get to the size to deliver the returns that most investors want and need to see.

Furthermore, if you invest in a certain sector it is almost illogical to not look at a sector globally. Do you invest in agri-tech, drones, health tech ? What is happening in each area in Europe and Asia? And if you start researching that and you come across great opportunities you would love to invest in but your mandate restricts you from doing so, would that be palatable? Of course not.”

22. “It’s not just the countries you know and are familiar with that are developing, it’s all of them. And among them, there are some that will do extraordinarily well in the foreseeable future.

That is where you will find your best investments — where the world is growing and developing. Higher interest rates, better yields, wide-open opportunities… they are all out there. You just have to shift your mindset and think globally.”

23. “Now (finally!) the technical and business tailwinds are coming together to make it possible. The cost and ease of getting to space are about to improve by many orders of magnitude. This will drive the space industry to be one of the biggest sources of growth over the next 10–20 years.[1] It will make existing technologies cheaper and more ubiquitous, like allowing worldwide high-speed internet in even the most remote, rural areas. It will also open up a host of new possibilities previously only imagined in science fiction.”

24. I’m with Mr Solana. Media bashing of tech is getting tiresome. Maybe we do need more hard-driving leadership. (I should note, I am not a Jobs- style of abusive management either).

“Travis became the media bogeyman he did by performing things the media loathes: unapologetic “baller” business ambition, masculinity (as defined, at least, by nega-masculine writers living in Brooklyn and San Francisco), and an apparent contempt for local government.

But none of these things are necessarily bad, and it’s actually quite bizarre our cultural gatekeepers have internalized a sense that phrasing so uncontroversial as the “champion’s heart,” for example, should be termed a “radioactive value.” I’m not sure where everyone else has been living for the last year, but it seems to me the United States is presently embroiled in an existential fight with rot. Champions are in short supply. The champion’s heart? I don’t hate it.”

25. Probably one of the most proficient “Meme” VCs right now. New breed of small fund VCs.

“It just kind of happens where [my investments] are people who understand the culture of the internet, to understand memes and understand wit and humor and appreciate that a little bit more,” he said. “Those are probably the people that are more naturally intuitive investments, so it definitely does skew that direction.”

26. It’s all trade offs. I definitely jumped at these roles in my 20s.

“You know what you’re getting into, and like most jobs, if you want to reap rewards you’re probably going to have to jump through hoops and do some stuff that’s painful along the way.”

27. I’m a customer and fan of this company. Congrats Chris Herd & team.

28. 110% agree with this. Mixing is the key. This leads to a much more interesting life.

“So many interesting artists, designers, ideas and entrepreneurs are successful because they find a unique combination of passions at a synergistic intersection.

Pursuing several concurrent paths of personal development opens you up to so much. By embracing several passions that feed off each other, you open up a world of possibility you otherwise would miss.”

29. Still the best podcast around. Smart folks talking rationally and thinking for themselves about political, business, geopolitical and cultural issues.

30. So many great places listed here. The point is about having a great quality of life at a good price. ie. Value which is not something you will get in most US/Western European cities.

Then you invest any remaining money into assets. On the list: I favor Taiwan, Georgia (the country), Argentina & Vietnam & Mexico. Ukraine, Portugal & Serbia goes without saying.

31. “many Bitcoin critics see it as just a Visa-like payment platform, and analyze its performance and costs by “transactions per second.” But Bitcoin is not a fintech company competing with Visa. It is a decentralized asset competing to be the new global reserve currency, aiming to inherit the role gold once had and the role the dollar holds today.

The world relies on the U.S. dollar and U.S. treasuries, giving America unparalleled and outsized economic dominance. Nearly 90% of international currency transactions are in dollars, 60% of foreign exchange reserves are held in dollars and almost 40% of the world’s debt is issued in dollars, even though the U.S. only accounts for around 20% of global GDP. This special status that the dollar enjoys was born in the 1970s through a military pact between America and Saudi Arabia, leading the world to price oil in dollars and stockpile U.S. debt.

As we emerge from the 2020 pandemic and financial crisis, American elites continue to enjoy the exorbitant privilege of issuing the ultimate monetary good and numéraire for energy and finance.”

32. I like this story. Leaning into what makes u different. Good for her.

“In modelling, looking different is a blessing not a curse and it gives me a platform to raise awareness of albinism.”

33. This is one of the best tweet storms on predictions for future of work that will appear before 2025.

34. I normally bag on these things but this could work. Another influencer trying the VC thing. But glad he is thinking big & understanding the importance of ownership and equity.

“A lot of social media creators get pigeonholed or told they have to grow their account really large, go for brand deals, try to become a musician or become an actor,” Richards said. “They’re kind of held to that stigma. We want to break that. That’s what we’re all about, proving people wrong.”

35. This politicization of everything is the reason the USA, Canada & Western Europe are going down the tubes. This is why freedom of speech, rational discussion and questioning media narrative is even more critical these days.

“In other words, knowledge is useful in large part because it leads to more knowledge. Suppressing a piece of knowledge also suppresses everything else you might subsequently learn as a result.”

36. This sums up Digital Decolonization. Great write up here.

“Most societies around the world are nearly two-thirds under the age of thirty-five. They were not raised with the mindset of people of my generation with a certain view of America’s role of leadership in the world. They have assumed access to technology with easy, convenient, available information, products, and services. They are global day one, because bottom up experiences are one click away. And dissatisfied by top-town institutions’ inability to act, they are taking the reins of impact themselves.

In my world, the old American playbook as access to technology increased was to show up where a market was big enough, or outsource where labor markets were cheap enough. And for years overall, that worked. The Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google, or Intel of almost anywhere has been, well, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google, and Intel.

This is no longer the case. For the first time, billions of people have local and regional choice. They no longer have to accept only one-stop-shop products from the United States but have access to services more attuned to their realities and cultural differences.”

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