Marvin’s Best Weekly Reads Dec 26th, 2021
“I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I Love to play.”--Boris Becker
"Everyone focuses on startup growth. What about this sales and marketing strategy? What about a freemium model? Should we invest more in this? While that deservedly gets attention, when startup growth is working, even more attention needs to be paid to personal growth.
So, how do you grow faster than the startup?
Invest in yourself.
Invest in a peer group.
Invest in learning. Find entrepreneurs you admire and read their books. Find authors that write about topics you care about and read their blogs. Find conferences and programs where you can immerse yourself.
Invest in a coach. Find a business coach that you meet with regularly. Commit to a program and process. Let someone else help you maximize your potential.
Invest in yourself in a systematic way. Carve out the time. Put in on your schedule. Make the commitment."
"In SaaS 1.0 companies made all their revenue from subscriptions
In SaaS 2.0, companies embedded online payments and started monetizing the transaction volume flowing through their platform directly.
In SaaS 3.0 is an extension of that model to provide even more (typically financial) services to the customers on the platform.
The goal of the SaaS 3.0 model, especially for vertical SaaS type companies that serve a well-defined customer base (e.g., restaurants, eCommerce platforms, breweries, barbers, etc.), is to try to become the one-stop shop for their customer segment, including being the go-to for their lending, spending, protecting and operating needs."
"To me, an "effective" homepage should be consistently producing signups.
People should be coming from google searches, word-of-mouth recommendations, review sites. When they land on your site, it should quickly let them know that they're in the right place. And then, they should be signing up for a trial.
Your visitor-to-trial conversion should be around:
0.75% - 1% (credit card upfront)
5%+ (no credit card)
I don't believe vague headlines, value-props, and sentiment-based "benefit-driven" work, but don't take my word for it; test your own assumptions!"
"We were talking about my approach to inversion when he mentioned Peter Attia’s “Centenarian Challenge” mental model of thinking about longevity. His idea is that people should start with the ambitious goal of being a healthy 100-year-old. From there, he lists a number of physical feats that this centenarian would be able to perform.
Get up off the floor with his support.
Pull himself out of a pool.
Pick up a child that’s running at him.
Walk up and down three flights of stairs with 10 lbs. of groceries in each hand.
Lift a 30 lb. suitcase and put it in the overhead bin
From there, you work backward and determine what that means you’d need to do at 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, and so on… to be on track to reach that goal."
Agreed. Everyone needs to live abroad at least once.
"And ultimately, that’s the most important reason to live abroad — to reexamine your relationship to your own country. You’ll see both the good and the bad in your own country that previously you only thought of as neutral and normal.
Some people live overseas and decide that their home country was overrated all along, and decide never to come back. Others realize they love all kinds of things about their country that they took for granted before, and move back and feel happier at home than they would have if they had never seen the alternative."
"Let me save you a trip to the library and summarize them here in three simple sentences:
Your mental state controls your performance.
You can learn to control your mental state.
Ergo, you can learn to control your performance and can thus program success.
Learn the simple tricks to control your mindset and you stack the deck of life in your favor. It is a compelling and unfalsifiable logic flow that has stuck with me for decades. It was my ticket out of poverty and it cost me nothing.
We all have days where everything goes our way. We are in the flow. I call them green light days, because every traffic light seems to turn green as you approach. We tend to get a lot of useful work done on such days. All too often, we have the opposite experience in life. Nothing works, everything frustrates, and all lights are red. Not much gets done on red light days.
The key difference between those two experiences is usually an artifact of your pre-existing mental state. If you attack each day with positivity, hope, and good cheer, you usually end up with positive, hopeful and cheery experiences. If you slump out of bed annoyed, grumpy, and jaded, the world will give you a dark experience in return."
"We are on the cusp of a significant mass starvation event of our own making. Soon, tens of millions of the world’s most impoverished people will die from an inability to feed themselves, while many of those comfortably getting by now – especially in the Western World – are in for a shock.
The leaders who put us in this position are doubling down on their misguided energy policies and will continue to do so until they are overthrown. I doubt they will go peacefully. Between now and then, they will use all manner of surveillance tools to spread Orwellian propaganda, misdirect blame, and crush dissent. Leading technology companies will greedily facilitate this modern incarnation of the Great Leap Forward, imaginary utopian ends justifying all manner of grotesque means."
Another Africa focussed fund. Lots of activity happening there.
Don't know these folks but have been watching the amazing progress of South Park Commons for a while. Bullish on their and Ondeck's model. The New Guild.
"The connections lead to more than friendship and fresh ideas, seemingly. According to Agarwal, upwards of 50% of the organization’s members find their cofounders or founding employees within the community, which underscores another way that South Park Commons sees itself as distinctive.
Unlike a Y Combinator, which meets with nascent teams, or VCs who keep tabs on operational execs at big companies, SPC says it’s focused on capturing people who are plainly talented and probably much in demand but who, though they’ve left their last gig, aren’t immediately sure of their next move and mostly just want a little time to figure it out.
It’s looking to capture people whose next move is simply to freely explore ideas, squishy though it might sound. “We’re really like a learning community that helps people in the ‘negative one to zero phase’ get to the point of being able to start a company,” says Agarwal, “and if startups come out of that process, the fund invests.”
"I think of my house as a factory. The products of my factory are the health, well-being, and comfort of my loved ones. For most home factories, the four main inputs are goods and services, water, electricity, and natural gas. The two main waste outputs are garbage and sewage. My personal preparedness plan involves modeling my response to losing any of these inputs or outputs for various lengths of time. In the most extreme scenario, I believe I could guide my family through losing all six for at least 30 days, however uncomfortably. I figure if things get that bad, 30 days is about as long as I’d like to stick around anyway.
Under the category of goods and services falls food, medicines, hygiene supplies, and all manner of maintenance and repair work needed to keep a home functioning properly. What if Amazon stopped delivering? What if your pharmacy closed indefinitely? The plumber didn’t answer the phone?
Most people think prepping just involves storing hundreds of pounds of dried goods in mylar bags. I have nothing against that, but there are more practical approaches. The simplest is to just double the working capital of your pantry, medicine cabinet, and other consumables versus what you normally carry today. That alone will bridge you through most emergencies."
Reading this is infuriating. We are run by unserious idiots in the West, losing all our geopolitical advantages.
"Energy is life. Those projects will get developed. The geopolitical power vacuum we are creating will get filled. We might not be serious, but our enemies are ruthlessly so. They raise a toast to our self-inflicted demise."
"As the opening quote of this piece captures so well, we live in a time where few understand how things get made. It is fine to not know where stuff comes from, but it isn’t fine to not know where stuff comes from while dictating to the rest of us how the economy should be run. In some small way, maybe this piece will educate a few influential minds to participate in a better-informed debate.
We are experiencing the early phases of runaway inflation. On what seems like a daily basis, we observe critical inputs into our economy going vertical in price. If you crimp the supply of critical inputs with no workable plan to replace them, inflation is the unavoidable outcome. Energy is stuff. Energy is life. What’s the price elasticity of demand for life, and who can afford to pay it?
Nobody could have seen this coming, they’ll say. We did."
Don't read this if you don't want to get angry. It’s a long one.
So many issues and so many people responsible for the mess we are in right now. It's also why there is so little trust in almost all of our institutions in the west.
The first Metaverse in history as a way to deal with a crappy reality?
"Every year, just after Thanksgiving, it emerges en masse at nurseries, big-box retailers, fundraisers, and holiday parties.
It’s one of the most popular plants in the world, with annual sales of ~90m unitsand a global retail impact of nearly $1B.
But behind the beautiful, blood-red bracts of the poinsettia, there’s a story rife with geopolitics, patent wars, a dethroned monopoly, and complex supply chains.
How did this Mexican shrub become America’s best-selling holiday plant?"
Pretty excited to check this book series out.
A very great perspective here. Looking into the new world of work and investing in 2022.
"Most importantly, do whatever it takes to begin earning location-independent income. 2022 will be the year that people start to separate from late industrial age practices and reap the benefits of the digital age. By earning remote income, you’ll be well on your way to taking advantage of many of these benefits.
Finally, think for yourself. You are responsible for the trajectory of your life. Embrace a Sovereign Individual mindset and pursue as many digital age opportunities as you can. 2022 will reward those that are willing to adapt to frontier concepts."
"If you’re going to live for the next 60 years (most of you are), it is wise to go ahead and give up on the old belief system. Going to school and slaving at a 9-5 is on the decline. Trusting major corporations/governments to save you is also on the decline. Save yourself first, go through the binge degenerate phase and move on to helping the people who are worth saving (Note: you will learn that 97% of people don’t even want to get ahead in life, they prefer netflix and sugar)
On that note. Toss away your new years resolution list and realize there is no such thing as a resolution, only effort to improve yourself since it’s just a single player video game."
I really really hope this does not happen. It's not good for anyone. Not for Ukraine, Russia or really any country if Russia invades Ukraine.
This is an interesting plan for being diversified and anti-fragile.
This is pretty scary stuff. The Cyberwar going around us.
We have much to learn from Russia re: Counter Insurgency & Hybrid war.
"Today, Russian expeditionary counter-irregular packages draw from professional volunteer brigades and battalions, including force multipliers such as special operations forces, drone forces, military police, and private military contractors. When integrated with air power, these force packages allow Moscow to conduct sustained operations abroad with a relatively small and scalable footprint on the ground.
This ability to tailor force composition to create expeditionary counter-irregular task forces is new in the Russian experience, and represents a watershed in expeditionary mobility and command organization. The Russian kill chain is now shorter, its forces are more specialized and capable, and it retains the ability to rapidly scale Moscow’s investment abroad in a way new to Russia’s historical experience as a continental power."
"The reason that remote work is so threatening to a lot of corporate thinkers is that it largely devalues the middle management layer that corporate society is built on. When you’re in person, a middle manager can walk the floors, “keep an eye on people” and, in meetings, “speak for the group.” While this can happen over Zoom and Slack, it becomes significantly more apparent who actually did the work, because you can digitally evaluate where the work is coming from.
Remote work ultimately disproves the notion that anyone can be a manager. Management is tough, managing people is tough, motivating people is tough. It is really difficult to get the best out of someone, to find what they’re good at within an organization and then give them the means and motivation to thrive.
It is also equally tough to deal with how some people within an organization have a ceiling - they will never be better than they are, and giving them a managerial title (because they’re not worth more money) is an actively abusive thing to do."
"Aron’s behavior is the exception that proves the rule. No serious CEO with real prospects for profit would flail about on social media, stitching himself to whatever nonsense is currently trending online. They are too busy doing the serious work of capturing profits. Instead, Aron and his team have been busy dumping stock, selling more than $80 million worth and counting so far this year. Apparently, insiders at AMC aren’t so confident that a short squeeze is imminent.
In a Greater Fool’s trade, a speculator takes a position in a questionable security in the hopes that a more foolish investor will bail them out at a higher price. This happens regularly, especially in market booms like the one we’ve experienced in the past 18 months, and the ending is never different. Eventually, the supply of new foolish money dries up, momentum behind the movement fizzles, and the price of the security reverts to fair value.
The underlying business at AMC is in terminal decline, the capital table is wrecked, the stock has been diluted so extensively it would make a penny stock promoter blush, and we believe the fair value of AMC is zero. Could it double or triple from here before reality is confronted? Absolutely, which is why we have no position and have no intention to take one."
"Seriously, name me some wealthy guys who day-traded their way to billions—everyone on the billionaire list created an amazing company, invested in an amazing company, or financially engineered a mediocre company. Seriously, no one day-traded their way there. It takes a holiday, when I’m focused on hiking around calderas to realize how petty the day-to-day trading is. We all fixate on it and worry what the most recent quote signifies, but zero value is gained."
Really interesting and some "way out there" forecasts. Alt investments become mainstream & it’s about time.
I'm a fan of Radigan Carter. This is a very interesting interview and I recommend listening to this if you want to learn how to be an independent investor.