Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Zero To One

Peter Theil wrote of the concept of Zero to One in his book titled the same. Here's the summary (thanks goodreads.com):



Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1.
 This concept explains why I still use my Nexus 5, a 5 year old phone, today. I could upgrade and go from 1 to 1+n (in my opinion n is a small number) but I don't really care. I can do (almost) everything with my current phone as with the latest. The new one is a bit faster, has a later os, fingerprint scanner, etc. Whatever its an incremental upgrade. Going from a non-smart phone to a smart phone was a 0 to 1 upgrade.

It also explains why companies that do go from 0 to 1 are super successful: they are doing something new and don't have competition. Another concept similar to this is Red Ocean / Blue Ocean. Imagine a red ocean where many sharks roam and there is blood in the water. This is like when there is a bloodbath of many companies all competing with each other. Then there is a the Blue Ocean where no companies are. If you successful thrive in the blue ocean than you will own all of it. Companies like Google and Facebook have done this.

However, beware of playing in the blue ocean or going from 0 to 1. Because of survivor-ship bias we don't see all the companies that played in the blue ocean and died because there was not enough opportunity there. Although its incredibly profitable, it also is incredibly difficult and risky. I've heard many recommendations that indie developers should stick to the red ocean because that means there there is a demand, the market is already validated. Indie developers do not have enough resources to work in the blue ocean. Doing this means not creating something new, not going from 0 to 1.

However, creating something completely new even for an indie dev is fun and still can be rewarding. 0 to 1 is an important concept to understand and all entrepreneurs should know where they stand and the tradeoffs.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Digital Minimalism

Cal Newport is the author of "So Good They Can't Ignore You" , one of my favorite books. Check out a previous post about the book's main topic: "Follow Your Passion" is bad advice.

Today I wanted to point out some topics from Cal's newest book: Digital Minimalism. I just got done with listening to the eBook and thought it was great. I'd recommend it. Here are some bullet points:

  • Thoreau noted that the farmers were not able to escape their harsh conditions with more work. Feels sorry for those that inherits farms, etc. because they are hard to get rid of.
  •  Clutter is cost. Must balance between cost of time and attention
  • Nietzsche, Descartes, Newton, Kant, Pascal, Wittgenstein, etc. are examples of men that never had families or close ties but lead remarkable lies. We are wrong to assume intimacy is the peak.
  •  "Solitude Deprivation"- we are living in a time where we are depriving ourselves of the gift of solitude. We try to avoid boredom at all costs.
  • In our downtime the brain automatically spends its free time thinking about social networks
  •  Receiving likes from people we don't know well does not correlate with happiness
  • Analog cannot differentiate between phone and interaction in front of us. the social-ness takes away positive experiences in front of us
  •  "one click approval mechanism" - Clicking like is just one bit of information. It does not replace a rich flow of information that we get from face to face communication
  • If you don't check and respond on instant messengers that often (it is asynchronous), then it won't be treated like dialog. Thus it paradoxically strengthens the relationship as you seek higher quality conversations. Do not treat (social media) it as a replacement for real conversation 
  • Chase high quality leisure - Aristotle
  • A nod to the FI community and particularly MMM. Work in the physical world. Happiness through meaningful work and connection.
  • Computer programming is good but it misses the physical world (This hit home since I code 16 hours a day. Although I do miss building physical stuff)
  • Replace passive interaction with screen with active interaction. Use the technology as support (i.e. use YouTube to learn how to change your oil, or do a muscleup), not the primary.
  • Fix or build something every week
  •  Social media companies want you to focus on why you use them not how you use them because the majority of people can get the same value in 20-40 minutes
  • Embrace slow media (well thought out curated - not "breaking" news) or as Tim Ferris says: low information diet
  • To what end? - Thoreau. Are we degrading our humanity (with this technology) ?