What I Read This Week: 2023-01
Every January, Make Two Lists by David Cain
I say “spend your life on” rather than “spend time on” or “doing” because we generally don’t regard our day-to-day behaviors as things we’re choosing to spend our lives on. Actions like watching another science video on YouTube, or texting your friend to tell him you’re staying in tonight, don’t seem to carry the weight of more obviously life-defining choices like what city to live in or what career to pursue, but they can define our lives just as much. Scrolling through AskReddit threads for twenty-five minutes, if that’s a somewhat normal event in your life, does not come with a sense that you’re deciding what your life should be used for—but that is what you’re doing. How we direct our moment-to-moment energies is how we spend our days, and how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
The index mindset (2021) by John Luttig
This pro-index tendency pervades the private tech markets, startups, and even our culture through what I call the index mindset: a focus on preservation over creation, optionality over decisiveness, general over specific. Public companies are an obvious thing to index, but the index mindset manifests in many domains.
The index mindset is comfortable — avoiding decisions requires the least amount of effort. But if you index across every domain, you lose your differentiating features, becoming an average of everyone else.
Prototyping and Practicing by Jim Nielsen
I can’t help but watch all this and think: don’t ever complain about “throwing away” prototype work. The prototypes are the work, which means they are part of the final product even if you threw them away materially.
You Need to See Things Differently to Do Things Differently by David Cain
You can slowly—horizontally—get better at something just by doing a lot of it. The problem is that the “it” that you’re doing can only be that thing as you’ve always understood it. If there are oversights and misunderstandings in the way you see the thing, you’re practicing them too.
Horizontal growth exhausts itself eventually. You reach a point where can’t do the thing any better or faster in the limited way you see that thing. You get stuck, and stay stuck until you stumble across another way of seeing.
It’s Time to Work by Nick Maggiulli
I don’t say this because I have anything against investment research, but to point out something that the investment industry doesn’t want you to know—most people don’t get rich through their investment decisions, they get rich through their income. They get rich through their work. Even those who do get rich from their investments, typically, had to work to get the money they used to invest in the first place.
As Britney Spears succinctly put, you better work.