21 ideas from 2021:
1. The Mind Creates Reality: The American Psychological Association once invited William James to give a talk on the first 50 years of psychology research.

He simply said: “People by and large become what they think of themselves.”

Then, he left.
2. Make One Person Responsible: If you want to get something done, it’s tempting to put a huge number of people in charge. But often, when too many people are in charge, nobody accepts responsibility.

This saying is illustrative: “A dog with two owners dies of hunger.”
3. Kanye West, on Genius: "If you guys want these crazy ideas, these crazy stages, this crazy music, this crazy way of thinking, there’s a chance it might come from a crazy person.”
4. The Knife Theory of Hiring: When you first start a company, you need Swiss Army Knife people who can do a little bit of everything. Once your company gets big, you need a bunch of kitchen knife people who do one thing very, very well.
5. Sayre’s Law: In a dispute, the level of emotions are inversely related to what’s at stake. That’s why unimportant events can inspire such passionate arguments. In parts of academia, they say: “The battles are so fierce because the problems are so trivial.”
6. Braess’ Paradox: Adding capacity to a system can counterintuitively slow things down. Highways are the classic example. For years, road designers have observed that adding more roads to a network can actually increase congestion and slow the flow of traffic.
7. Current vs. The Wind: Novice sailors focus on the wind. Experienced ones study the currents. Since the winds change every day, the knowledge is ephemeral. But currents are persistent and predictable, even if they’re hard to see. Focus on the currents in life.

(h/t Seth Godin)
8. Akrasia: In theory, we know how to behave. But in practice, we don’t always do it. The Ancient Greeks called this phenomenon “akrasia,” which translates to “weakness of will.” It describes our tragic proclivity to act against our best interests, even when we know what to do.
9. Paradox of Consensus: Under ancient Jewish law, if a suspect was unanimously found guilty, they were deemed innocent. Total agreement signaled a systematic flaw in the judicial process. Often, when everybody is thinking alike, nobody is thinking at all.
10. The Paradox of Weirdness: The weird parts of ourselves are actually the thing that’s normal. People are actually weird. It’s how we’re born. What’s weird is the way social conditioning makes us seem more similar than we really are.

(h/t @tylercowen)
11. Make Uphill Decisions: If you’re split between two decisions and don’t know which one to choose, default to the one that’s more difficult in the short-term.

(h/t @naval)
12. Nullius in Verba: This is Royal Society’s old motto. It translates to “take no one’s word for it.” Be curious. Figure things out for yourself. Move through the world with a posture of productive skepticism and when it comes to truth, do your own investigations.
13. Otium: The Latin word for leisure. But not the lazy kind of leisure where you sit around and do nothing. It’s the Ancient Roman kind where you play sports, contemplate life, and consume great art. This is how I aspire to spend my weekends.
14. Luxury Beliefs: People have always signaled status by buying expensive things. But now they do it by holding certain beliefs, which confer status on upper class people while inflicting costs on lower class ones.

(h/t @RobHenderson)
15. Pre-Headline vs. Post-Headline People: Pre-headline people know about things before they make it into the news. Post-headline people only know about things after they’re printed and become well-known. Pre-headline people have the edge in life.

(h/t @balajis)
16. Robustness Principle: A design guideline for software developers that applies to many things in life: “Be conservative in what you do, but liberal in what you accept from others.”
17. Serving vs. Served: Self-sacrificial service is the great paradox of life. The more you give, with no expectation of reciprocity, the happier you will be. In a world of utility-maximizing selfishness, this is counterintuitive and counter cultural.

(H/t @BrentBeshore)
18. Yuck and Yawn: If you want to start a profitable business, look for opportunities that are smelly (like trash collection) or ones that are boring (like niche materials). Avoid sexy industries like the ones prestige-thirsty MBA students tend to pursue.

(H/t @AumEnergy)
19. The Story of Damocles: A man once got to be king for a day and sit on the king’s luxurious throne. From afar, the throne looked peaceful. But to his surprise, a sword hung above it. Immediately, Damocles learned that with great power comes great fear, anxiety, and danger.
20. Planck’s Principle: Scientific knowledge doesn’t change because scientists change their mind. Rather, it changes as old scientists die, new ones are born, and a new generation of scientists gains influence.
21. The Stupid Test: Peter Thiel once said: “As an investor, you want to find things that are so stupid that people are embarrassed to invest in them.“ Often, the best opportunities are the simplest. Unfortunately, people miss them because they think good ideas must be complex.
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More from @david_perell

May 28
For years, I've been obsessed with a philosopher named René Girard.

This is one of the best lessons I learned:
Studying Girard made me see how much the drive for prestige shapes our ambitions. He forced me to ask myself: “What opportunities can’t I see because they’re not prestigious enough?”
The very best opportunities are rarely prestigious when there’s big money to be made with them. In my experience, the lust for prestige is the strongest amongst high-status people.
Read 10 tweets
May 23
Kendrick Lamar has the #1 album in the world right now.

Here's what you can learn from his note-taking system:
1. Note-taking is the closest thing we have to time-travel.

By taking notes, Kendrick conserves precious ideas, develops them over time, and eventually turns them into art.

Taking notes doesn't just help him save ideas. It helps him return to a different state of consciousness.
2. Your brain is for having ideas, not storing them.

Save ideas on a trusted computer instead of your forgetful brain.

Kendrick doesn’t write down every single idea. Instead, he collects just enough information to return to his emotional state when he wrote those notes.
Read 8 tweets
Apr 19
There's an epidemic of people who bash Christianity but have never read the Bible.

The problem is worst among educated people who assume there's no "alpha" in reading books that everybody else has read.

This is the premise of my new essay.

I’m not here to convert you, and if it gives you any comfort, know that I’m not a believer myself.

This is about educating yourself, not becoming religious.

I do believe one thing strongly though: Reading the Bible is a contrarian activity that shouldn’t be contrarian at all.
Even if the Bible is the best-selling book of all time, the majority of highly educated people today, especially in major cities, aren’t familiar with it.

Instead, they spend their time with contemporary writing that has a fraction of the depth you’ll find in The Bible.
Read 9 tweets
Apr 12
What I got wrong about entrepreneurship:
As a kid, I dreamed of becoming a professional golfer.

To improve, I obsessively studied the physics and biomechanics of the golf swing before something unexpected happened.

I saw how often experts on television were dead-wrong about aspects of the game they took as gospel.
Seeing how often experts were wrong was one of the first things that made me believe I could become an entrepreneur.

Eventually, I grew so frustrated with the asinine dogmas that plagued the game that I decided to start a golf instruction company.

That's when I made a mistake.
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Feb 23
If you've ever wanted to build an online business, this thread is for you.

Here are the principles of online marketing:
1. Out-Teach Your Competition:

When people learn from you, they promote you.

Everybody likes helpful people, so share your best ideas regularly and adopt a service mentality.

The more you help others, the more they'll help you in return.
2. Ride Trends:

The Internet is a global conversation. Nearly every social media promotes trending ideas. Aligning yourself with the talk of the day will serve as turbo boost for your creations.

One example: Mr. Beast's video about Squid Games instantly became a viral hit.
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Feb 17
Imitate, then Innovate is my motto for improving at any skill.

It’s counterintuitive, but the more we imitate others, the faster we can discover our unique style.

Modern creators do the opposite though.

They stubbornly insist on originality, which they hold as their highest virtue — even when it comes at the expense of quality.
What does productive imitation look like?

Look at Quentin Tarantino. When people think of him, they see a singular talent for making original movies.

But he's famous for building upon scenes from other movies, and once said: “I steal from every single movie ever made.”
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