Articles Dragos Novac

facts of life

made by hugh

If you don't like the game, change the game

There is always this question about competition as a form of validation, where we go for things that lots of other people are going for.

It's not that there is wisdom of crowds, it's not that lots of people trying to do something is the best proof of that being valuable. I think it's when lots of people are trying to do something, that is often proof of insanity.

There are twenty thousand people a year who move to Los Angeles to become movie stars, about twenty of them make it. I think the Olympics are a little bit better because you have, you can sort of figure out pretty quickly whether you’re good or not, so there's little less of a deadweight loss to society.

You know the sort of educational experience that at a place, the pre-Stanford educational experience, there is always sort of a non-competitive characterization. I think most of the people in this room had machine guns and they were competing with people with bows and arrows, so it wasn’t exactly a parallel competition when you were in junior high school, in high school.

There is always the question: does the tournament make sense as you keep going?

There is always this question if people going on to grad school or post doctoral educations, does the intensity of the competition really make sense.

There is the classic Henry Kissinger line describing his fellow faculty at Harvard, “The battles were so ferocious because the stakes were so small,” describing academia and you sort of think on one level this is a description of insanity.

Why would people fight like crazy when the stakes are so small, but it's also, I think, simply a function of the logic of a situation.

When it's been really hard to differentiate yourself from other people, when the differences are, when the objectives differences really are small, you have to compete ferociously to maintain a difference of one sort or another. That's often more imaginary than real.

That's Peter Thiel from the below presentation - Competition is for losers

 

Taiwan

Taiwan is an island next to China, in its South East part.

- it has 39k km2 and 23 million people
- ex colony owned by the Dutch, then by the Chinese, Japanese and again by the Chinese. Independent state since 1955, with its own constitution, even though the Chinese officials consider them rebels. It's complicated, due to long and tumultuos history
- the official language is Chinese, the capital is in Taipei. It has 5 cities with at least 1 million people, 3.9M live in the most populated one.
- driving is on the right side of the road, official time is GMT+8.
- it has one of the most advanced economies in the worls, currency is New Taiwan dollar: 1 euro = 40 TWD

The hundreth monkey effect

The hundredth monkey effect is a studied phenomenon in which a new behavior or idea is claimed to spread rapidly by unexplained means from one group to all related groups once a critical number of members of one group exhibit the new behavior or acknowledge the new idea.

The theory behind this phenomenon originated with Lawrence Blair and Lyall Watson in the mid-to-late 1970s, who claimed that it was the observation of Japanese scientists.

from here

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

taken from here

how startup valuation works

more explanations and details here.

the never list

Never sell a service or product that you cannot deliver.

Never work for someone who isn't as smart as you are.

Never work for or with people with a lesser moral code than your own.

Never cut any corners, there is no such thing as a free lunch and everything has a cost, even if you can't see it right in front of you.

Never keep a bad client just because they're willing to keep paying you.

and so on

circa 1949 New York

taken from here

food for thought

Airbnb probably has one of the most interesting business models invented this century, and Brian Chesky, one of its founders, is also awesome:

Brian's Rules
Chesky has absorbed management lessons from the pros, but he has also developed his own leadership principles

1. GO TO THE SOURCE
If you have limited amount of time to learn something, spend most of your available time identifying the best source on the topic - then go to that person: "If you pick the right source, you can fast-forward"

2. AMPLIFY YOUR MOVES
Devote your energy to actions that have the greatest impact. "It's like chess," Chesky says. A few key moves can give you the leverage to make other moves.

3. DON'T LEAD BY CONSENSUS IN A CRISIS
"Usually in a crisis you have to go left or right, and everyone wants to go middle. And middle is the storm"

4. REFILL THE RESERVOIR
The best CEOs take inspiration from their outside lives. "If you stop going to fairs, concerts and bars, and you're just working, you lose touch with all that. You have to refill the reservoir."

A good quote

The things you learn in maturity aren't simple things such as acquiring information and skills. You learn not to engage in self-destructive behavior. You leant not to burn up energy in anxiety. You discover how to manage your tensions, if you have any, which you do. You learn that self-pity and resentment are among the most toxic of drugs. You find that the world loves talent, but pays off on character.

You come to understand that most people are neither for you nor against you, they are thinking about themselves. You learn that no matter how hard you try to please, some people in this world are not going to love you, a lesson that is at first troubling and then really quite relaxing.

One of the enemies of sound, lifelong motivation is a rather childish conception we have of the kind of concrete, describable goal toward which all of our efforts drive us. We want to believe that there is a point at which we can feel that we have arrived. We want a scoring system that tells us when we've piled up enough points to count ourselves successful.

So you scramble and sweat and climb to reach what you thought was the goal. When you get to the top you stand up and look around and chances are you feel a little empty. Maybe more than a little empty.

You wonder whether you climbed the wrong mountain.

But life isn't a mountain that has a summit, Nor is it -- as some suppose -- a riddle that has an answer. Nor a game that has a final score.

Life is an endless unfolding, and if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery, an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our own potentialities and the life situations in which we find ourselves.

from a 1990 speech - Personal Renewal