#49 To understand is to know what to do
Multidisciplinary approach to thinking, Trouble with optionality & more
This snippet from Now you get it caught my attention,
All past declines look like opportunities and all future declines look like risks. It’s one of the great ironies in investing. But it happens for a reason: When studying history you know how the story ends, and it’s impossible to un-remember what you know today when thinking about the past. So it’s hard to imagine alternative outcomes when looking backward, but when looking ahead you know there are a thousand different paths we could end up on.
So true, yet so difficult to truly live by.
Morgan Housel serves 'common sense' and 'age old wisdom' in a more palpable manner. We all love it. The bitter truth feels more acceptable & enjoyable when served in a fancier packaging. Isn’t it?
I stumbled upon “the multidisciplinary approach to thinking” by Peter Kaufman last week. Here’s the crux of Peter’s message as summarised by Shane Parrish.
Using a true multidisciplinary understanding of things, Peter identifies two often overlooked, parabolic “Big Ideas”: 1) Mirrored Reciprocation (go positive and go first) and 2) Compound Interest (being constant). A great “Life Hack” is to simply combine these two into one basic approach to living your life: “Go positive and go first, and be constant in doing it.”
Very powerful message.
The long post (script of Peter’s talk) is a fascinating read. It covers examples from a diverse range of fields & explained how they lead to his key idea. And he does it in a 'simple' way.
In the start, Peter talks about reading 144 long-form interviews from Discover magazine in ‘index fund style’. How did it help him?
Now I will tell you that out of 144 articles, if I’d have been selecting my reading material, I probably would have read about fourteen of them. And the other 130? I would never in a million years read six pages on nanoparticles.
I’ve forced myself to read & explore different fields beyond the discipline I am involved in. I have enjoyed it every bit. This newsletter tries to bring some of that learning in one place for myself and many of you who read it. I hope you enjoy it equally.
In the last post (#48) I had covered “Career Advice” by Moxie Marlinspike. One of the key takeaways from that essay was that “You are your job. Your job will change you.”
The trouble with optionality by Mihir Desai has a similar lesson too. He starts from a different direction though. He is arguing against the case of optionality in career. If you have done your finance 101, you will know the meaning of optionality. Or for the uninitiated (and a quick recap), here is a simple definition in his words:
Optionality is the state of enjoying possibilities without being on the hook to do anything.
And, here is the core idea from his essay.
The shortest distance between two points is reliably a straight line. If your dreams are apparent to you, pursue them. Creating optionality and buying lottery tickets are not way stations on the road to pursuing your dreamy outcomes. They are dangerous diversions that will change you.
You can see why I related it to Moxie’s advice.
25 thinking tools by Scott Young is a unique take on picking mental models. He takes a profession and identifies (one of) the prominent ways in which experts in those professions tackle a problem. The connection with profession makes the whole approach more relatable. Sample these:
Economist: How do people react to incentives?
Engineer: Can I model this and calculate?
Doctor: What’s the diagnosis?
Scientist: Make a hypothesis and test it
Soldier: Routine and discipline prevent deadly mistakes
Inside the cultish dreamworld of Augusta National is like a Netflix documentary. It will take you to a journey unlike anyone you’ve ever taken. I did not know about “Augusta National” before I read this, and that does not change anything in my life. Yet, for the 25-30 minutes it took me to read through this long post, I was in a different world. A fascinating read on the place that is “an environment of extreme artifice, a fantasia of the fifties, a Disneyclub amid the Georgia pines.”
I love Seth Godin’s writing. I’m confident some of you would have sighed - “we know!”
He writes simple, relatable and actionable notes. So when I came across this note from him titled “A manifesto for small teams doing important work”, I had to pay attention.
It hits the bulls-eye in terms of defining the cultural norms for small teams.
Now, we can all be that small team and learn all these by committing some mistakes and hopefully learning from it. Or, maybe we pay attention to Seth’s note and start using some of these.
Siddhant shared this bit about r/place on Reddit. Here’s his message. You can see why it was difficult to not check this thing out.
It's a collaborative art thingie where everyone gets to place a pixel and then they lock it at the end of a two-three day period. It was first done a few years ago, but they reinstated it this weekend! Ending soon.
Fun fact: r/place was the brainchild of Wordle's founder in his Reddit days :)
Here is a time lapse of two days worth of what happened: Youtube.
Really interesting experiment. As per Wikipedia, Over 1 million users edited the canvas, placing a total of approximately 16 million tiles, and, at the time the experiment was ended, over 90,000 users were actively viewing or editing. The experiment was commended for its representation of the culture of Reddit's online communities, and of Internet culture as a whole.
Some random goodness from the internet:
Twitter: 'Mikan art' is the seasonal celebration of the mandarin season, using the peel to create animals, objects & whatever takes your fancy.
Twitter: An educational thread around naming conventions in South East Asia.
Instagram: Japanese artist, miniature, pop up book - do I need to say anything else? Just check @miniature_pop_up_book out!
Web: visualcapitalist.com curates content from visual storytellers from across the world. There are some really cool infographics here. Sample these: what happens in an internet minute, esports companies vs sports teams and nuclear warheads
Web: Peter Tarka’s dribble page has some really cool, colourful yet calming illustrations.
Before we sign off, here's a quick tip from Nikita Bier. I have not yet faced the need to put it to use, but will surely give it a shot when the right time comes ;)
That's all for this week, folks!
I’m hitting the 50th post next week. Yay! I’m looking to try some new ideas & formats from next week. Any feedback/suggestions that could make this newsletter more useful to you? Comment or revert back to the email you received.
If you enjoyed this post, show your love by commenting and liking it. I write this newsletter to share what I learnt from others. If you learnt something from this today, why not share it with a couple of your friends to continue this chain?