Discover more from Stay Curious
📚 Fake ambition, Better decisions, Birds & Frogs and Kayfabes
Ideas from Shreyas Doshi, Todd Simkin, Deb Liu & more
Hi and welcome to the post #123.
I’ve got a couple of podcast episodes in today’s recommendations. Don’t miss them out.
Here’s a quick glimpse to the lineup:
🤖 Fake ambition
❓ Making better decisions
🎧 Following & breaking rules
🕳️ Tunnels and RNGs
🔐 Emotional support system
🗡️ A super fun game
And much more…
Let’s get started.
1. Fake Ambition
Elizabeth’s “Dear Self; we need to talk about ambition” is meant to be a counter to poorly universalized advice on ambition. Its premise is based on a couple of fundamental truths that are hardly spoken:
Your life is, in some sense, a series of definitions of success.
Creating your own definition of success feels scary; enacting it feels impossible. The fact that school lays out neat little hoops for you to jump through is a feature.
It’s a fine read, I loved the part about fake ambition. It highlights a critical risk that we all trade with in our ‘career’ and ‘learning journeys’ but are highly ignorant about.
2. Todd Simkin on Making Better Decisions
The Knowledge Project Podcast’s episode with Todd Simkin revolves around the theme of “making better decisions.” Todd comes with a rich experience in trading & making investment decisions for a living. Here’re some of my favorite excerpts from the episode:
Heuristics are the shortcuts that we take that are mentally freeing. It would be really hard to always work from first principles. It’s so much easier if you can have a heuristic that you can fall back on that just tells you what to do next without having to stop and think through the process.
Todd: There are definitely places where we know that we enjoy the search for answers, but they tend to be separate and self contained. Nobody ever goes out and buys a printed book of Sudoku puzzles that are already printed and completed. But there are other contexts where you’re absolutely right, where people say, “I’m afraid that if I don’t know the answer here and I don’t know who to ask for the answer that I’m going to look foolish by trying to figure it out on my own. I’m going to make mistakes as I try to go through this.”
My father said, “Todd, come into the living room. Sit down. I want to talk to you.” I sat down in my towel and thought that this was going to be a couple seconds of, “You can’t quit lacrosse,” which would have made some sense, sort of a heavy handed edict. But instead he said, “You know I’ve been thinking about it all night and it’s really been bothering me thinking about the fact that you’re quitting. It really bothers me because I haven’t heard why you want to quit other than the fact that you’ve been frustrated with your coach. There’s not enough here. It doesn’t make sense, so you’re going to have to explain to me in a way that it makes sense in order for me to be supportive of this.”
3. Shreyas Doshi on Following & Breaking rules
I’m taking the liberty to share another episode from “The Knowledge Project Podcast”. This time it is Shreyas Doshi and Shane Parrish discussing better teams and better products and nuances of decision making. Here is one of my favorite bits from the episode:
So following rules is very comfortable, because if we follow all the rules and it doesn’t work out, we can just point at the rules and say, “Look, we followed all the rules; we followed the process. We came to all the product reviews; we showed you all the mockups and all the intermediate artifacts, as the rules said. And so therefore, now if this product failed in the market or failed to win, don’t blame me. I followed the rules.” And this is how a lot of operators operate in organizations.
Shane Parrish: I call that the McDonald’s problem because I used to work in tech as well, and people would do this all the time, where it’s like “I followed all the rules; I got the wrong outcome.” And I would say, “Well, if all you do is follow the rules, you should be getting minimum wage because what we’re paying you for is judgment. You need to know when to opt out, when that doesn’t make sense, or where it’s leading down the wrong path,” and that drove people crazy.
4. Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow?
A couple of interesting posts that cover historical context in a highly engaging way. Their key ideas are not even about this history!
Why tunnels could build tomorrow's cities. By Anna-Sofia Lesiv. A good primer on the history of tunneling, technology involved and current progress. Elon Musk’s The Boring Company is actually connected to this world. So silly of me to think that “the boring company” was just another quirk of his.
“Though the TBM works faster than an army of men with pickaxes, it still doesn’t work very fast. Modern TBMs advance at a rate of 15 meters per day on average, which is an improvement over Brunel’s shield tunneling method that advanced at an average of four inches per day, but is still some 14 times slower than a snail’s pace.”
Totally Random by Tom Mcnichol. A quick primer of Random Number Generators starting with simple coins & dice to modern day lava lamps and webcams.
The first RNGs were dice. They date back to ancient Sumeria and Egypt, and were used as the key element in games of chance. As RNGs go, dice are pretty efficient. As long as they aren't loaded, or the environment isn't otherwise altered to favor certain outcomes, throwing dice produces a reliable stream of random numbers.
Birds and Frogs in Physics by Ashutosh Jogalekar. A journey down the rabbit hole of discoveries and experts that shaped our understanding of ‘physics’. If you are wondering what birds and frogs are, here’s a brief definition:
Birds are thinkers who look at the big picture and survey the landscape from a great height. Frogs are thinkers who love playing around in the mud of specific problems, delighting in finding gems and then polishing them so that they become part of the superstructure that birds survey.
5. Power and Perils of Kayfabe
I learnt a new concept – Kayfabe – in Deb Liu’s “Power and perils of Kayfabe.”
Here’s how she defines the term:
Kayfabe is a term used in professional wrestling to describe the practice of maintaining the illusion that everything is real. This includes the scripted personas, rivalries, and storylines. Kayfabe is the tacit agreement between professional wrestlers and their fans to pretend that the overtly staged wrestling events, stories, and characters are genuine.
This core idea is much more prevalent in all walks of life - in families, companies, and cultures. She has shared a bunch of example, but you can use the references to identify your own “Kayfabe” easily.
6. Light reads & videos
Some interesting blogs & videos from not so usual topics of interest.
Daryl Davis: the secret to get others to like you. By Ankesh Kothari. Ankhesh weaves a beautiful story around how Daryl Davis did it and what we can learn from him.
“Some people collect stamps. Others collect coins. Daryl Davis collects Ku Klux Klan robes.”
Elon Musk's five-step process for improvement. He explains it in just 90 seconds.
10 Emotional support items by Jessica Hagy. As she says, treasure looks different to everyone. You’ve to visit this to experience this one.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
Slices - a puzzle game. Looks simple at the start, but don’t take that for granted.
Are any words the same in all languages? You will be surprised to know the answer!
A brief story of Diwan Singh, one of the most sought-after tanpuriya. An unsung champion who has kept the manual tanpuras creating their magic for decades.
“Musicians will tell you how much patience and aural sensitivity it takes to tune a tanpura – the pegs have to be tweaked just so, the beads over the bridge have to be set to perfection and the slender threads (jiva) inserted between the strings and the bridge have to be placed just right to yield the resonant buzz of the jawari.”
And here’s a snapshot of a tweet from Arnav that shares highly valuable operating maxims. The last one “Very demanding, Very supportive” does not get its due coverage.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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