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September 14, 2020
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." - Rumi
It may seem a bit crazy to try and start a company now - the world is so uncertain the only thing we can count on is failing to predict what will happen. But we should not surrender to doom and gloom. In fact, some of the world’s best companies have been started in adverse times such as these.
As the author of the article states, many of the advantages that incumbents had over startups quickly turned to disadvantages during a downturn. Large working spaces and office perks now become liabilities when trying to conserve cash. Businesses have to streamline focus to their core lines, having even less resources for innovation.
Startups have the greater advantage of being able to move more quickly, nimbly and at lower cost. During this time, acquiring talent and iterating towards product-market fit is easier. You also find the market is open to trying new things, and getting trial customers or sales calls is that much easier.
🔖 Read: The 10x advantage of starting a company right now (9/10)
The techniques for mental toughness will surprise you. The first one is thinking like an optimist. Choosing the positive interpretation of a particular situation and outcome. This is so powerful, as it implies that it is a habit that we can all work on and get better at. By being a choice, it is a power that is available to all of us.
The second technique is to resist catastrophic thinking, the tendency to assume the worst outcomes. This can make thinking optimistically difficult, so it's important to keep away from the negative thoughts.
The last technique is not something I expected from the army - gratitude and generosity. This is something I expected to have come from the spiritual wisdom of Tibetan monks or similar, but I guess it’s actually one of those universal superpowers that has been around for many years. It looks like modern science has caught up to one of the meditative practices of old and I’m quite grateful for that.
🔖 Read: Three techniques the US Army uses to instill Mental Toughness (10/10)
Guru Tim Ferriss is back, and this time he is talking Stoicism. Stoicism is a philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in early 3rd century BC. Philosophy can be thought of as an operating system for managing the mind and living a better life. Some of the famous Stoics include Seneca and Emperor Marcus Aurelius, but for more recent wisdom I look to Tim and Ryan Holiday.
One of the aspects that Stoicism brings to the fore is the concept of death and one’s relation to it. There are many viewpoints around death but one of the most empowering ones you will find comes from this philosophy. We’ve all been suddenly reminded of our fragile mortality recently. While unpleasant, we can use this moment to our favour by reaffirming what is truly important to us, and to course-correct should we find ourselves astray.
At the end of it all, death reaffirms the transient nature of life. Every moment is unique. Every emotion is an experience. Release the negative ones - they do not last. Be grateful for the positive ones - they too, do not last. And then engineer more positive emotion-inducing activities into your life.
📺 Watch: Life is Short: How to add a sense of urgency | Tim Ferriss (10/10)
Thinking is something we all do, so you may be tempted to think (pun intended) that we all do it the same. But in any organisation or group that you are in, you will find that, given the same information, people will come to varying conclusions. Some will completely miss the point, go off on a tangent or fail to draw solid conclusions and implications. On the other hand, others can cut through to the heart of the idea, isolate the important information and draw fantastic, rational conclusions that make sense when it's explained to you.
How do they do it? How do they think better, faster, and more fluently? It comes from practice. And that means they think this way, or rather they trained themselves (and still train themselves) to think this way. The article shared below provides some good markers on how to start thinking better and more clearly. What’s interesting is that the majority of the advice is on avoiding the common ways of thinking badly. Stop that and you’re already a better thinker.
🔖Read: How to think: The skill you’ve never been taught (9/10)
You may have heard the big announcement recently from another of Elon Musk’s companies, Neuralink, that they have an early prototype.
Neuralink wants to connect your brain to the computer. In an attempt to avoid super-intelligent AI from taking over, the company instead wants a future in which we merge with AI. The key to doing so is a device that can connect with the brain. They have been working on it for a few years and unveiled the latest tech by demonstrating it on a pig.
I first came across Neuralink 3 years ago through an amazing post on the blog, Wait But Why, one of my all-time favourites. The author writes in-depth posts, explaining difficult concepts with simplicity and genius. In addition, his accompanying, often hilarious sketches, make the posts like one long comic book.
In this post, he starts at the very beginning - the origin of the brain. You get to understand how this complex organ has evolved over the years into the various forms in different species until we reach the model that all humans share - the human brain. Something we often call the most complex thing in the universe.
🔖 Read: Neuralink and the Brain’s magical future (10/10)
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