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

Mar 3
Mean Girls is so popular because it reveals the dark parts of our psychology. People who don't know what they want adopt other people's desires until their models become their enemies.

The movie begins with Regina George as the high school queen bee. Cady is new to the high-school world. She’s naive to the social hierarchy of her new world. Cady isn't in touch with her authentic desires. Instead of developing her own wants, she takes on Regina's as her own.
When Regina sees that Cady is attractive, she invites her to join her clique: “The Plastics.” Regina wants Cady to live inside her system. She believes that by owning the hierarchy, she can stay on top. By keeping her potential enemy close, Regina thinks she can limit her power.
Read 23 tweets
Mar 2
Successful entrepreneurs are masters in the art of repetition. They identify the most important variables for their company, codify them into mantras, and relentlessly repeat them without ever losing excitement.
The value of repetition has long been known in religious domains — where depth is prioritized over novelty. The sermons get repeated. The prayers don’t change. Through repetition, the tenets of faith grow from an intellectual experience to a visceral and embodied one.
CEOs are the preachers of the business world. Their actions, in addition to their words, are like a mini-sermon.

Repetition leads to alignment. Like coxswains on a rowboat, they pull the boat forward via alignment and synchronization instead of pedaling the oars themselves.
Read 9 tweets
Jan 30
Frank Slootman has taken three companies public, one of which was the largest software IPO of all time.

Here's his playbook for business: Image
Slootman has led three companies: Data Domain, Service Now, and Snowflake — the largest software IPO in history, at a $70 billion valuation.

His Amp It Up philosophy is built on three pillars: increase the tempo, raise the standards, and narrow the focus.
Principle #1: Increase the Tempo

Without effective leadership, companies become sluggish. Malaise sets in. “I’ll do it right now” turns into “I’ll do it tomorrow,” which turns into “I’ll get it to you next week.” Good leaders inject their organizations with energy and intensity.
Read 27 tweets
Jan 27
Surprised by how many great scientists were intensely spiritual too. Makes me wonder if reason and religion are fundamentally connected, even though we see them as opposites.
Some examples: David Bowie, Albert Einstein, and Nikola Tesla.
“Spiritual innovators have always been ignored and oppressed, even though they made tons of people tons of money even though they became very rich and powerful and influential the spiritual aspects of their inspiration were oppressed.”

Such a good essay.

Read 4 tweets
Jan 18
At the highest levels of success, good taste becomes a differentiator, but I know so few people who work seriously to improve their taste.
Though reasonable minds can disagree on what quality looks like, hierarchies of value absolutely exist. This becomes obvious once you start creating things.
One of my favorite interview questions: “How do you cultivate your taste?”

If they’re serious about their craft, they’ll light up and give you an inspired answer.
Read 7 tweets
Jan 1
Whenever I set goals, I send them to one of the best entrepreneurs I know. Every time, he tells me they're not ambitious enough. Then we work together to set a bigger vision.

Feel like setting bigger goals is the closest thing to a free lunch that exists.
Immediately reminded of this line from @tylercowen. Image
When Henry Ford met Thomas Edison, he told him about his vision to build cars.

Years, later Ford wrote: “That bang on the table was worth worlds to me. No man up to then had given me any encouragement.” Image
Read 4 tweets

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