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Esteban

Esteban

1 month ago

The Berkus Startup Valuation Method: What Is It?

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

cdixon

cdixon

4 months ago

2000s Toys, Secrets, and Cycles

During the dot-com bust, I started my internet career. People used the internet intermittently to check email, plan travel, and do research. The average internet user spent 30 minutes online a day, compared to 7 today. To use the internet, you had to "log on" (most people still used dial-up), unlike today's always-on, high-speed mobile internet. In 2001, Amazon's market cap was $2.2B, 1/500th of what it is today. A study asked Americans if they'd adopt broadband, and most said no. They didn't see a need to speed up email, the most popular internet use. The National Academy of Sciences ranked the internet 13th among the 100 greatest inventions, below radio and phones. The internet was a cool invention, but it had limited uses and wasn't a good place to build a business. 

A small but growing movement of developers and founders believed the internet could be more than a read-only medium, allowing anyone to create and publish. This is web 2. The runner up name was read-write web. (These terms were used in prominent publications and conferences.) 

Web 2 concepts included letting users publish whatever they want ("user generated content" was a buzzword), social graphs, APIs and mashups (what we call composability today), and tagging over hierarchical navigation. Technical innovations occurred. A seemingly simple but important one was dynamically updating web pages without reloading. This is now how people expect web apps to work. Mobile devices that could access the web were niche (I was an avid Sidekick user). 

The contrast between what smart founders and engineers discussed over dinner and on weekends and what the mainstream tech world took seriously during the week was striking. Enterprise security appliances, essentially preloaded servers with security software, were a popular trend. Many of the same people would talk about "serious" products at work, then talk about consumer internet products and web 2. It was tech's biggest news. Web 2 products were seen as toys, not real businesses. They were hobbies, not work-related. 

There's a strong correlation between rich product design spaces and what smart people find interesting, which took me some time to learn and led to blog posts like "The next big thing will start out looking like a toy" Web 2's novel product design possibilities sparked dinner and weekend conversations. Imagine combining these features. What if you used this pattern elsewhere? What new product ideas are next? This excited people. "Serious stuff" like security appliances seemed more limited. 

The small and passionate web 2 community also stood out. I attended the first New York Tech meetup in 2004. Everyone fit in Meetup's small conference room. Late at night, people demoed their software and chatted. I have old friends. Sometimes I get asked how I first met old friends like Fred Wilson and Alexis Ohanian. These topics didn't interest many people, especially on the east coast. We were friends. Real community. Alex Rampell, who now works with me at a16z, is someone I met in 2003 when a friend said, "Hey, I met someone else interested in consumer internet." Rare. People were focused and enthusiastic. Revolution seemed imminent. We knew a secret nobody else did. 

My web 2 startup was called SiteAdvisor. When my co-founders and I started developing the idea in 2003, web security was out of control. Phishing and spyware were common on Internet Explorer PCs. SiteAdvisor was designed to warn users about security threats like phishing and spyware, and then, using web 2 concepts like user-generated reviews, add more subjective judgments (similar to what TrustPilot seems to do today). This staged approach was common at the time; I called it "Come for the tool, stay for the network." We built APIs, encouraged mashups, and did SEO marketing. 

Yahoo's 2005 acquisitions of Flickr and Delicious boosted web 2 in 2005. By today's standards, the amounts were small, around $30M each, but it was a signal. Web 2 was assumed to be a fun hobby, a way to build cool stuff, but not a business. Yahoo was a savvy company that said it would make web 2 a priority. 

As I recall, that's when web 2 started becoming mainstream tech. Early web 2 founders transitioned successfully. Other entrepreneurs built on the early enthusiasts' work. Competition shifted from ideation to execution. You had to decide if you wanted to be an idealistic indie bar band or a pragmatic stadium band. 

Web 2 was booming in 2007 Facebook passed 10M users, Twitter grew and got VC funding, and Google bought YouTube. The 2008 financial crisis tested entrepreneurs' resolve. Smart people predicted another great depression as tech funding dried up. 

Many people struggled during the recession. 2008-2011 was a golden age for startups. By 2009, talented founders were flooding Apple's iPhone app store. Mobile apps were booming. Uber, Venmo, Snap, and Instagram were all founded between 2009 and 2011. Social media (which had replaced web 2), cloud computing (which enabled apps to scale server side), and smartphones converged. Even if social, cloud, and mobile improve linearly, the combination could improve exponentially. 

This chart shows how I view product and financial cycles. Product and financial cycles evolve separately. The Nasdaq index is a proxy for the financial sentiment. Financial sentiment wildly fluctuates. 

Next row shows iconic startup or product years. Bottom-row product cycles dictate timing. Product cycles are more predictable than financial cycles because they follow internal logic. In the incubation phase, enthusiasts build products for other enthusiasts on nights and weekends. When the right mix of technology, talent, and community knowledge arrives, products go mainstream. (I show the biggest tech cycles in the chart, but smaller ones happen, like web 2 in the 2000s and fintech and SaaS in the 2010s.) 

Tech has changed since the 2000s. Few tech giants dominate the internet, exerting economic and cultural influence. In the 2000s, web 2 was ignored or dismissed as trivial. Entrenched interests respond aggressively to new movements that could threaten them. Creative patterns from the 2000s continue today, driven by enthusiasts who see possibilities where others don't. Know where to look. Crypto and web 3 are where I'd start. 

Today's negative financial sentiment reminds me of 2008. If we face a prolonged downturn, we can learn from 2008 by preserving capital and focusing on the long term. Keep an eye on the product cycle. Smart people are interested in things with product potential. This becomes true. Toys become necessities. Hobbies become mainstream. Optimists build the future, not cynics.


Full article is available here

Rick Blyth

Rick Blyth

3 months ago

Looking for a Reliable Micro SaaS Niche

Niches are rich, as the adage goes.

Micro SaaS requires a great micro-niche; otherwise, it's merely plain old SaaS with a large audience.

Instead of targeting broad markets with few identifying qualities, specialise down to a micro-niche. How would you target these users?

Better go tiny. You'll locate and engage new consumers more readily and serve them better with a customized solution.

Imagine you're a real estate lawyer looking for a case management solution. Because it's so specific to you, you'd be lured to this link:

instead of below:

Next, locate mini SaaS niches that could work for you. You're not yet looking at the problems/solutions in these areas, merely shortlisting them.

The market should be growing, not shrinking

We shouldn't design apps for a declining niche. We intend to target stable or growing niches for the next 5 to 10 years.

If it's a developing market, you may be able to claim a stake early. You must balance this strategy with safer, longer-established niches (accountancy, law, health, etc).

First Micro SaaS apps I designed were for Merch By Amazon creators, a burgeoning niche. I found this niche when searching for passive income.

Graphic designers and entrepreneurs post their art to Amazon to sell on clothes. When Amazon sells their design, they get a royalty. Since 2015, this platform and specialty have grown dramatically.

Amazon doesn't publicize the amount of creators on the platform, but it's possible to approximate by looking at Facebook groups, Reddit channels, etc.

I could see the community growing week by week, with new members joining. Merch was an up-and-coming niche, and designers made money when their designs sold. All I had to do was create tools that let designers focus on making bestselling designs.

Look at the Google Trends graph below to see how this niche has evolved and when I released my apps and resigned my job.

Are the users able to afford the tools?

Who's your average user? Consumer or business? Is your solution budgeted?

If they're students, you'll struggle to convince them to subscribe to your study-system app (ahead of video games and beer).

Let's imagine you designed a Shopify plugin that emails customers when a product is restocked. If your plugin just needs 5 product sales a month to justify its cost, everyone wins (just be mindful that one day Shopify could potentially re-create your plugins functionality within its core offering making your app redundant ).

Do specialized users buy tools? If so, that's comforting. If not, you'd better have a compelling value proposition for your end customer if you're the first.

This should include how much time or money your program can save or make the user.

Are you able to understand the Micro SaaS market?

Ideally, you're already familiar about the industry/niche. Maybe you're fixing a challenge from your day job or freelance work.

If not, evaluate how long it would take to learn the niche's users. Health & Fitness is easier to relate to and understand than hedge fund derivatives trading.

Competing in these complex (and profitable) fields might offer you an edge.

B2C, B2M, or B2B?

Consider your user base's demographics. Will you target businesses, consumers, or both? Let's examine the different consumer types:

  • B2B refers to business-to-business transactions where customers are other businesses. UpVoty, Plutio, Slingshot, Salesforce, Atlassian, and Hubspot are a few examples of SaaS, ranging from Micro SaaS to SaaS.

  • Business to Consumer (B2C), in which your clients are people who buy things. For instance, Duolingo, Canva, and Nomad List.

  • For instance, my tool KDP Wizard has a mixed user base of publishing enterprises and also entrepreneurial consumers selling low-content books on Amazon. This is a case of business to many (B2M), where your users are a mixture of businesses and consumers. There is a large SaaS called Dropbox that offers both personal and business plans.

Targeting a B2B vs. B2C niche is very different. The sales cycle differs.

  • A B2B sales staff must make cold calls to potential clients' companies. Long sales, legal, and contractual conversations are typically required for each business to get the go-ahead. The cost of obtaining a new customer is substantially more than it is for B2C, despite the fact that the recurring fees are significantly higher.

  • Since there is typically only one individual making the purchasing decision, B2C signups are virtually always self-service with reduced recurring fees. Since there is typically no outbound sales staff in B2C, acquisition costs are significantly lower than in B2B.

User Characteristics for B2B vs. B2C

Consider where your niche's users congregate if you don't already have a presence there.

B2B users frequent LinkedIn and Twitter. B2C users are on Facebook/Instagram/Reddit/Twitter, etc.

Churn is higher in B2C because consumers haven't gone through all the hoops of a B2B sale. Consumers are more unpredictable than businesses since they let their bank cards exceed limitations or don't update them when they expire.

With a B2B solution, there's a contractual arrangement and the firm will pay the subscription as long as they need it.

Depending on how you feel about the above (sales team vs. income vs. churn vs. targeting), you'll know which niches to pursue.

You ought to respect potential customers.

Would you hang out with customers?

You'll connect with users at conferences (in-person or virtual), webinars, seminars, screenshares, Facebook groups, emails, support calls, support tickets, etc.

If talking to a niche's user base makes you shudder, you're in for a tough road. Whether they're demanding or dull, avoid them if possible.

Merch users are mostly graphic designers, side hustlers, and entrepreneurs. These laid-back users embrace technologies that assist develop their Merch business.

I discovered there was only one annual conference for this specialty, held in Seattle, USA. I decided to organize a conference for UK/European Merch designers, despite never having done so before.

Hosting a conference for over 80 people was stressful, and it turned out to be much bigger than expected, with attendees from the US, Europe, and the UK.

I met many specialized users, built relationships, gained trust, and picked their brains in person. Many of the attendees were already Merch Wizard users, so hearing their feedback and ideas for future features was invaluable.

focused and specific

Instead of building for a generic, hard-to-reach market, target a specific group.

I liken it to fishing in a little, hidden pond. This small pond has only one species of fish, so you learn what bait it likes. Contrast that with trawling for hours to catch as many fish as possible, even if some aren't what you want.

In the case management scenario, it's difficult to target leads because several niches could use the app. Where do your potential customers hang out? Your generic solution: No.

It's easier to join a community of Real Estate Lawyers and see if your software can answer their pain points.

My Success with Micro SaaS

In my case, my Micro SaaS apps have been my chrome extensions. Since I launched them, they've earned me an average $10k MRR, allowing me to quit my lousy full-time job years ago.

I sold my apps after scaling them for a life-changing lump amount. Since then, I've helped unfulfilled software developers escape the 9-5 through Micro SaaS.

Whether it's a profitable side hustle or a liferaft to quit their job and become their own Micro SaaS boss.

Having built my apps to the point where I could quit my job, then scaled and sold them, I feel I can share my skills with software developers worldwide.

Read my free guide on self-funded SaaS to discover more about Micro SaaS, or download your own copy. 12 chapters cover everything from Idea to Exit.

Watch my YouTube video to learn how to construct a Micro SaaS app in 10 steps.

Nick Nolan

Nick Nolan

2 months ago

In five years, starting a business won't be hip.

Photo by Daryan Shamkhali on Unsplash

People are slowly recognizing entrepreneurship's downside.

Growing up, entrepreneurship wasn't common. High school class of 2012 had no entrepreneurs.

Businesses were different.

They had staff and a lengthy history of achievement.

I never wanted a business. It felt unattainable. My friends didn't care.

Weird.

People desired degrees to attain good jobs at big companies.

When graduated high school:

  • 9 out of 10 people attend college

  • Earn minimum wage (7%) working in a restaurant or retail establishment

  • Or join the military (3%)

Later, entrepreneurship became a thing.

2014-ish

I was in the military and most of my high school friends were in college, so I didn't hear anything.

Entrepreneurship soared in 2015, according to Google Trends.

Screenshot from Google Trends

Then more individuals were interested. Entrepreneurship went from unusual to cool.

In 2015, it was easier than ever to build a website, run Facebook advertisements, and achieve organic social media reach.

There were several online business tools.

You didn't need to spend years or money figuring it out. Most entry barriers were gone.

Everyone wanted a side gig to escape the 95.

Small company applications have increased during the previous 10 years.

Screenshot from Oberlo

2011-2014 trend continues.

2015 adds 150,000 applications. 2016 adds 200,000. Plus 300,000 in 2017.

The graph makes it look little, but that's a considerable annual spike with no indications of stopping.

By 2021, new business apps had doubled.

Entrepreneurship will return to its early 2010s level.

I think we'll go backward in 5 years.

Entrepreneurship is half as popular as it was in 2015.

In the late 2020s and 30s, entrepreneurship will again be obscure.

Entrepreneurship's decade-long splendor is fading. People will cease escaping 9-5 and launch fewer companies.

That’s not a bad thing.

I think people have a rose-colored vision of entrepreneurship. It's fashionable. People feel that they're missing out if they're not entrepreneurial.

Reality is showing up.

People say on social media, "I knew starting a business would be hard, but not this hard."

More negative posts on entrepreneurship:

Screenshot from LinkedIn

Luke adds:

Is being an entrepreneur ‘healthy’? I don’t really think so. Many like Gary V, are not role models for a well-balanced life. Despite what feel-good LinkedIn tells you the odds are against you as an entrepreneur. You have to work your face off. It’s a tough but rewarding lifestyle. So maybe let’s stop glorifying it because it takes a lot of (bleepin) work to survive a pandemic, mental health battles, and a competitive market.

Entrepreneurship is no longer a pipe dream.

It’s hard.

I went full-time in March 2020. I was done by April 2021. I had a good-paying job with perks.

When that fell through (on my start date), I had to continue my entrepreneurial path. I needed money by May 1 to pay rent.

Entrepreneurship isn't as great as many think.

Entrepreneurship is a serious business.

If you have a 9-5, the grass isn't greener here. Most people aren't telling the whole story when they post on social media or quote successful entrepreneurs.

People prefer to communicate their victories than their defeats.

Is this a bad thing?

I don’t think so.

Over the previous decade, entrepreneurship went from impossible to the finest thing ever.

It peaked in 2020-21 and is returning to reality.

Startups aren't for everyone.

If you like your job, don't quit.

Entrepreneurship won't amaze people if you quit your job.

It's irrelevant.

You're doomed.

And you'll probably make less money.

If you hate your job, quit. Change jobs and bosses. Changing jobs could net you a greater pay or better perks.

When you go solo, your paycheck and perks vanish. Did I mention you'll fail, sleep less, and stress more?

Nobody will stop you from pursuing entrepreneurship. You'll face several challenges.

Possibly.

Entrepreneurship may be romanticized for years.

Based on what I see from entrepreneurs on social media and trends, entrepreneurship is challenging and few will succeed.

You might also like

Johnny Harris

Johnny Harris

8 months ago

The REAL Reason Putin is Invading Ukraine [video with transcript]

Transcript:

[Reporter] The Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Momentum is building for a war between Ukraine and Russia.
[Reporter] Tensions between Russia and the West
are growing rapidly.
[Reporter] President Biden considering deploying
thousands of troops to Eastern Europe.
There are now 100,000 troops
on the Eastern border of Ukraine.
Russia is setting up field hospitals on this border.
Like this is what preparation for war looks like.
A legitimate war.
Ukrainian troops are watching and waiting,
saying they are preparing for a fight.
The U.S. has ordered the families of embassy staff
to leave Ukraine.
Britain has sent all of their nonessential staff home.
And now the U.S. is sending tons of weapons and munitions
to Ukraine's army.
And we're even considering deploying
our own troops to the region.
I mean, this thing is heating up.
Meanwhile, Russia and the West have been in Geneva
and Brussels trying to talk it out,
and sort of getting nowhere.
The message is very clear.
Should Russia take further aggressive actions
against Ukraine the costs will be severe
and the consequences serious.
It's a scary, grim momentum that is unpredictable.
And the chances of miscalculation
and escalation are growing.

I want to explain what's going on here,
but I want to show you that this isn't just
typical geopolitical behavior.
Stuff that can just be explained on the map.
Instead, to understand why 100,000 troops are camped out
on Ukraine's Eastern border, ready for war,
you have to understand Russia
and how it's been cut down over the ages
from the Slavic empire that dominated this whole region
to then the Soviet Union,
which was defeated in the nineties.
And what you really have to understand here
is how that history is transposed
onto the brain of one man.
This guy, Vladimir Putin.
This is a story about regional domination
and struggles between big powers,
but really it's the story about
what Vladimir Putin really wants.
[Reporter] Russian troops moving swiftly
to take control of military bases in Crimea.
[Reporter] Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops
and a lot of military hardware
at the border with Ukraine.

Let's dive back in.
Okay. Let's get up to speed on what's happening here.
And I'm just going to quickly give you the highlight version
of like the news that's happening,
because I want to get into the juicy part,
which is like why, the roots of all of this.
So let's go.
A few months ago, Russia started sending
more and more troops to this border.
It's this massive border between Ukraine and Russia.
They said they were doing a military exercise,
but the rest of the world was like,
"Yeah, we totally believe you Russia. Pshaw."
This was right before this big meeting
where North American and European countries
were coming together to talk about a lot
of different things, like these countries often do
in these diplomatic summits.
But soon, because of Russia's aggressive behavior
coming in and setting up 100,000 troops
on the border with Ukraine,
the entire summit turned into a whole, "WTF Russia,
what are you doing on the border of Ukraine," meeting.
Before the meeting Putin comes out and says,
"Listen, I have some demands for the West."
And everyone's like, "Okay, Russia, what are your demands?
You know, we have like, COVID19 right now.
And like, that's like surging.

So like, we don't need your like,
bluster about what your demands are."
And Putin's like, "No, here's my list of demands."
Putin's demands for the summit were this:
number one, that NATO, which is this big military alliance
between U.S., Canada, and Europe stop expanding,
meaning they don't let any new members in, okay.
So, Russia is like, "No more new members to your, like,
cool military club that I don't like.
You can't have any more members."
Number two, that NATO withdraw all of their troops
from anywhere in Eastern Europe.
Basically Putin is saying,
"I can veto any military cooperation
or troops going between countries
that have to do with Eastern Europe,
the place that used to be the Soviet Union."
Okay, and number three, Putin demands that America vow
not to protect its allies in Eastern Europe
with nuclear weapons.
"LOL," said all of the other countries,
"You're literally nuts, Vladimir Putin.
Like these are the most ridiculous demands, ever."
But there he is, Putin, with these demands.
These very, very aggressive demands.
And he sort of is implying that if his demands aren't met,
he's going to invade Ukraine.
I mean, it doesn't work like this.
This is not how international relations work.
You don't just show up and say like,
"I'm not gonna allow other countries to join your alliance
because it makes me feel uncomfortable."
But what I love about this list of demands
from Vladimir Putin for this summit
is that it gives us a clue
on what Vladimir Putin really wants.

What he's after here.
You read them closely and you can grasp his intentions.
But to grasp those intentions
you have to understand what NATO is.
and what Russia and Ukraine used to be.
(dramatic music)
Okay, so a while back I made this video
about why Russia is so damn big,
where I explain how modern day Russia started here in Kiev,
which is actually modern day Ukraine.
In other words, modern day Russia, as we know it,
has its original roots in Ukraine.
These places grew up together
and they eventually became a part
of the same mega empire called the Soviet Union.
They were deeply intertwined,
not just in their history and their culture,
but also in their economy and their politics.
So it's after World War II,
it's like the '50s, '60s, '70s, and NATO was formed,
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
This was a military alliance between all of these countries,
that was meant to sort of deter the Soviet Union
from expanding and taking over the world.
But as we all know, the Soviet Union,
which was Russia and all of these other countries,
collapsed in 1991.
And all of these Soviet republics,
including Ukraine, became independent,
meaning they were not now a part
of one big block of countries anymore.
But just because the border's all split up,
it doesn't mean that these cultural ties actually broke.
Like for example, the Soviet leader at the time
of the collapse of the Soviet Union, this guy, Gorbachev,
he was the son of a Ukrainian mother and a Russian father.
Like he grew up with his mother singing him
Ukrainian folk songs.

In his mind, Ukraine and Russia were like one thing.
So there was a major reluctance to accept Ukraine
as a separate thing from Russia.
In so many ways, they are one.
There was another Russian at the time
who did not accept this new division.
This young intelligence officer, Vladimir Putin,
who was starting to rise up in the ranks
of postSoviet Russia.
There's this amazing quote from 2005
where Putin is giving this stateoftheunionlike address,
where Putin declares the collapse of the Soviet Union,
quote, "The greatest catastrophe of the 20th century.
And as for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy.
Tens of millions of fellow citizens and countrymen
found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory."
Do you see how he frames this?
The Soviet Union were all one people in his mind.
And after it collapsed, all of these people
who are a part of the motherland were now outside
of the fringes or the boundaries of Russian territory.
First off, fact check.
Greatest catastrophe of the 20th century?
Like, do you remember what else happened
in the 20th century, Vladimir?
(ominous music)

Putin's worry about the collapse of this one people
starts to get way worse when the West, his enemy,
starts showing up to his neighborhood
to all these exSoviet countries that are now independent.
The West starts selling their ideology
of democracy and capitalism and inviting them
to join their military alliance called NATO.
And guess what?
These countries are totally buying it.
All these exSoviet countries are now joining NATO.
And some of them, the EU.
And Putin is hating this.
He's like not only did the Soviet Union divide
and all of these people are now outside
of the Russia motherland,
but now they're being persuaded by the West
to join their military alliance.
This is terrible news.
Over the years, this continues to happen,
while Putin himself starts to chip away
at Russian institutions, making them weaker and weaker.
He's silencing his rivals
and he's consolidating power in himself.
(triumphant music)

And in the past few years,
he's effectively silenced anyone who can challenge him;
any institution, any court,
or any political rival have all been silenced.
It's been decades since the Soviet Union fell,
but as Putin gains more power,
he still sees the region through the lens
of the old Cold War, Soviet, Slavic empire view.
He sees this region as one big block
that has been torn apart by outside forces.
"The greatest catastrophe of the 20th century."
And the worst situation of all of these,
according to Putin, is Ukraine,
which was like the gem of the Soviet Union.
There was tons of cultural heritage.
Again, Russia sort of started in Ukraine,
not to mention it was a very populous
and industrious, resourcerich place.
And over the years Ukraine has been drifting west.
It hasn't joined NATO yet, but more and more,
it's been electing proWestern presidents.
It's been flirting with membership in NATO.
It's becoming less and less attached
to the Russian heritage that Putin so adores.
And more than half of Ukrainians say
that they'd be down to join the EU.
64% of them say that it would be cool joining NATO.
But Putin can't handle this. He is in total denial.
Like an exboyfriend who handle his exgirlfriend
starting to date someone else,
Putin can't let Ukraine go.
He won't let go.

So for the past decade,
he's been trying to keep the West out
and bring Ukraine back into the motherland of Russia.
This usually takes the form of Putin sending
secret soldiers from Russia into Ukraine
to help the people in Ukraine who want to like separate
from Ukraine and join Russia.
It also takes the form of, oh yeah,
stealing entire parts of Ukraine for Russia.
Russian troops moving swiftly to take control
of military bases in Crimea.
Like in 2014, Putin just did this.
To what America is officially calling
a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He went down and just snatched this bit of Ukraine
and folded it into Russia.
So you're starting to see what's going on here.
Putin's life's work is to salvage what he calls
the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century,
the division and the separation
of the Soviet republics from Russia.
So let's get to present day. It's 2022.
Putin is at it again.
And honestly, if you really want to understand
the mind of Vladimir Putin and his whole view on this,
you have to read this.
"On the History of Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,"
by Vladimir Putin.
A blog post that kind of sounds
like a ninth grade history essay.
In this essay, Vladimir Putin argues
that Russia and Ukraine are one people.
He calls them essentially the same historical
and spiritual space.

Kind of beautiful writing, honestly.
Anyway, he argues that the division
between the two countries is due to quote,
"a deliberate effort by those forces
that have always sought to undermine our unity."
And that the formula they use, these outside forces,
is a classic one: divide and rule.
And then he launches into this super indepth,
like 10page argument, as to every single historical beat
of Ukraine and Russia's history
to make this argument that like,
this is one people and the division is totally because
of outside powers, i.e. the West.
Okay, but listen, there's this moment
at the end of the post,
that actually kind of hit me in a big way.
He says this, "Just have a look at Austria and Germany,
or the U.S. and Canada, how they live next to each other.
Close in ethnic composition, culture,
and in fact, sharing one language,
they remain sovereign states with their own interests,
with their own foreign policy.
But this does not prevent them
from the closest integration or allied relations.
They have very conditional, transparent borders.
And when crossing them citizens feel at home.
They create families, study, work, do business.
Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine
who now live in Russia.
We see them as our own close people."
I mean, listen, like,
I'm not in support of what Putin is doing,
but like that, it's like a pretty solid like analogy.
If China suddenly showed up and started like
coaxing Canada into being a part of its alliance,
I would be a little bit like, "What's going on here?"
That's what Putin feels.
And so I kind of get what he means there.
There's a deep heritage and connection between these people.
And he's seen that falter and dissolve
and he doesn't like it.
He clearly genuinely feels a brotherhood
and this deep heritage connection
with the people of Ukraine.
Okay, okay, okay, okay. Putin, I get it.
Your essay is compelling there at the end.
You're clearly very smart and wellread.
But this does not justify what you've been up to. Okay?
It doesn't justify sending 100,000 troops to the border
or sending cyber soldiers to sabotage
the Ukrainian government, or annexing territory,
fueling a conflict that has killed
tens of thousands of people in Eastern Ukraine.
No. Okay.

No matter how much affection you feel for Ukrainian heritage
and its connection to Russia, this is not okay.
Again, it's like the boyfriend
who genuinely loves his girlfriend.
They had a great relationship,
but they broke up and she's free to see whomever she wants.
But Putin is not ready to let go.
[Man In Blue Shirt] What the hell's wrong with you?
I love you, Jessica.
What the hell is wrong with you?
Dude, don't fucking touch me.
I love you. Worldstar!
What is wrong with you? Just stop!
Putin has constructed his own reality here.
One in which Ukraine is actually being controlled
by shadowy Western forces
who are holding the people of Ukraine hostage.
And if that he invades, it will be a swift victory
because Ukrainians will accept him with open arms.
The great liberator.
(triumphant music)

Like, this guy's a total romantic.
He's a history buff and a romantic.
And he has a hill to die on here.
And it is liberating the people
who have been taken from the Russian motherland.
Kind of like the abusive boyfriend, who's like,
"She actually really loves me,
but it's her annoying friends
who were planting all these ideas in her head.
That's why she broke up with me."
And it's like, "No, dude, she's over you."
[Man In Blue Shirt] What the hell is wrong with you?
I love you, Jessica.
I mean, maybe this video should be called
Putin is just like your abusive exboyfriend.
[Man In Blue Shirt] What the hell is wrong with you?
I love you, Jessica!
Worldstar! What's wrong with you?
Okay. So where does this leave us?
It's 2022, Putin is showing up to these meetings in Europe
to tell them where he stands.
He says, "NATO, you cannot expand anymore. No new members.
And you need to withdraw all your troops
from Eastern Europe, my neighborhood."
He knows these demands will never be accepted
because they're ludicrous.
But what he's doing is showing a false effort to say,
"Well, we tried to negotiate with the West,
but they didn't want to."
Hence giving a little bit more justification
to a Russian invasion.
So will Russia invade? Is there war coming?
Maybe; it's impossible to know
because it's all inside of the head of this guy.
But, if I were to make the best argument
that war is not coming tomorrow,
I would look at a few things.
Number one, war in Ukraine would be incredibly costly
for Vladimir Putin.
Russia has a far superior army to Ukraine's,
but still, Ukraine has a very good army
that is supported by the West
and would give Putin a pretty bad bloody nose
in any invasion.

Controlling territory in Ukraine would be very hard.
Ukraine is a giant country.
They would fight back and it would be very hard
to actually conquer and take over territory.
Another major point here is that if Russia invades Ukraine,
this gives NATO new purpose.
If you remember, NATO was created because of the Cold War,
because the Soviet Union was big and nuclear powered.
Once the Soviet Union fell,
NATO sort of has been looking for a new purpose
over the past couple of decades.
If Russia invades Ukraine,
NATO suddenly has a brand new purpose to unite
and to invest in becoming more powerful than ever.
Putin knows that.
And it would be very bad news for him if that happened.
But most importantly, perhaps the easiest clue
for me to believe that war isn't coming tomorrow
is the Russian propaganda machine
is not preparing the Russian people for an invasion.
In 2014, when Russia was about to invade
and take over Crimea, this part of Ukraine,
there was a barrage of state propaganda
that prepared the Russian people
that this was a justified attack.
So when it happened, it wasn't a surprise
and it felt very normal.

That isn't happening right now in Russia.
At least for now. It may start happening tomorrow.
But for now, I think Putin is showing up to the border,
flexing his muscles and showing the West that he is earnest.
I'm not sure that he's going to invade tomorrow,
but he very well could.
I mean, read the guy's blog post
and you'll realize that he is a romantic about this.
He is incredibly idealistic about the glory days
of the Slavic empires, and he wants to get it back.
So there is dangerous momentum towards war.
And the way war works is even a small little, like, fight,
can turn into the other guy
doing something bigger and crazier.
And then the other person has to respond
with something a little bit bigger.
That's called escalation.
And there's not really a ceiling
to how much that momentum can spin out of control.
That is why it's so scary when two nuclear countries
go to war with each other,
because there's kind of no ceiling.
So yeah, it's dangerous. This is scary.
I'm not sure what happens next here,
but the best we can do is keep an eye on this.
At least for now, we better understand
what Putin really wants out of all of this.

Thanks for watching.

Taher Batterywala

Taher Batterywala

2 months ago

Do You Have Focus Issues? Use These 5 Simple Habits

Many can't concentrate. The first 20% of the day isn't optimized.

Elon Musk, Tony Robbins, and Bill Gates share something:

Morning Routines.

A repeatable morning ritual saves time.

The result?

Time for hobbies.

I'll discuss 5 easy morning routines you can use.

1. Stop pressing snooze

Waking up starts the day. You disrupt your routine by hitting snooze.

One sleep becomes three. Your morning routine gets derailed.

Fix it:

Hide your phone. This disables snooze and wakes you up.

Once awake, staying awake is 10x easier. Simple trick, big results.

2. Drink water

Chronic dehydration is common. Mostly urban, air-conditioned workers/residents.

2% cerebral dehydration causes short-term memory loss.

Dehydration shrinks brain cells.

Drink 3-4 liters of water daily to avoid this.

3. Improve your focus

How to focus better?

Meditation.

  • Improve your mood

  • Enhance your memory

  • increase mental clarity

  • Reduce blood pressure and stress

Headspace helps with the habit.

Here's a meditation guide.

  1. Sit comfortably

  2. Shut your eyes.

  3. Concentrate on your breathing

  4. Breathe in through your nose

  5. Breathe out your mouth.

5 in, 5 out.

Repeat for 1 to 20 minutes.

Here's a beginner's video:

4. Workout

Exercise raises:

  • Mental Health

  • Effort levels

  • focus and memory

15-60 minutes of fun:

  • Exercise Lifting

  • Running

  • Walking

  • Stretching and yoga

This helps you now and later.

5. Keep a journal

You have countless thoughts daily. Many quietly steal your focus.

Here’s how to clear these:

Write for 5-10 minutes.

You'll gain 2x more mental clarity.

Recap

5 morning practices for 5x more productivity:

  1. Say no to snoozing

  2. Hydrate

  3. Improve your focus

  4. Exercise

  5. Journaling

Conclusion

One step starts a thousand-mile journey. Try these easy yet effective behaviors if you have trouble concentrating or have too many thoughts.

Start with one of these behaviors, then add the others. Its astonishing results are instant.

Karthik Rajan

Karthik Rajan

4 months ago

11 Cooking Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier 

Quick, easy and tasty (and dollops of parenting around food).

My wife and mom are both great mothers. They're super-efficient planners. They soak and ferment food. My 104-year-old grandfather loved fermented foods.

When I'm hungry and need something fast, I waffle to the pantry. Like most people, I like to improvise. I wish I knew these 11 hacks sooner.

1. The world's best pasta sauce only has 3 ingredients.

You watch recipe videos with prepped ingredients. In reality, prepping and washing take time. The food's taste isn't guaranteed. The raw truth at a sublime level is not talked about often.

Sometimes a radical recipe comes along that's so easy and tasty, you're dumbfounded. The Classic Italian Cook Book has a pasta recipe.

One 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes, one medium peeled onion, and 5 tablespoons of butter. And salt to taste.

Combine everything in a single pot and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Toss the onion halves after 45 minutes and pour the sauce over pasta. Finish!

This simple recipe fights our deepest fears.

Salt to taste! Customized to perfection, no frills.

2. Reheating rice with ice. Magical.

Most of the world eats rice. I was raised in south India. My grandfather farmed rice in the Cauvery river delta.

The problem with rice With growing kids, you can't cook just enough. Leftovers are a norm. Microwaves help most people. Ice cubes are the frosting.

Before reheating rice in the microwave, add an ice cube. The ice will steam the rice, making it fluffy and delicious again.

3. Pineapple leaf 

if it comes off easy, it is ripe enough to cut. No rethinking.

My daughter loves pineapples like her dad. One daddy task is cutting them. Sharing immediate results is therapeutic.

Timing the cut has been the most annoying part over the years. The pineapple leaf tip reveals the fruitiness inside. Always loved it.

4. Magic knife words (rolling and curling)

Cutting hand: Roll the blade's back, not its tip, to cut.

Other hand: If you can’t see your finger tips, you can’t cut them. So curl your fingers.

I dislike that schools don't teach financial literacy or cutting skills.

My wife and I used scissors differently for 25 years. We both used the thumb. My index finger, her middle. We googled the difference when I noticed it and laughed. She's right.

This video teaches knifing skills:


5. Best advice about heat

If it's done in the pan, it's overdone on the plate.

This simple advice stands out when we worry about ingredients and proportions.

6. The truth about pasta water

Pasta water should be sea-salty.

Properly seasoning food separates good from great. Salt depends is a good line.

Want delicious pasta? Well, then kind of a lot, to be perfectly honest.

7. Clean as you go

Clean blender as you go by blending water and dish soap.

I find clean as you go easier than clean afterwords. This easy tip is gold.

8. Clean as you go (bis)

Microwave a bowl of water, vinegar, and a toothpick for 5 minutes.

2 cups water, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and a toothpick to prevent overflow.

5-minute microwave. Let the steam work for another 2 minutes. Sponge-off dirt and food. Simple.

9 and 10. Tools,tools, tools

Immersion blender and pressure cooker save time and money.

Narrative: I experienced fatherly pride. My middle-schooler loves science. We discussed boiling. I spoke. Water doesn't need 100°C to boil. She looked confused. 100 degrees assume something. The world around the water is a normal room. Changing water pressure affects its boiling point. This saves energy. Pressure cooker magic.

I captivated her. She's into science and sustainable living.

Whistling is a subliminal form of self-expression when done right. Pressure cookers remind me of simple pleasures.

Your handiness depends on your home tools. Immersion blenders are great for pre- and post-cooking. It eliminates chopping and washing. Second to the dishwasher, in my opinion.

11. One pepper is plenty

A story I share with my daughters.

Once, everyone thought about spice (not spicy). More valuable than silk. One of the three mighty oceans was named after a source country. Columbus sailed the wrong way and found America. The explorer called the natives after reaching his spice destination.

It was pre-internet days. His Google wasn't working.

My younger daughter listens in awe. Strong roots. Image cast. She can contextualize one of the ocean names.

I struggle with spices in daily life. Combinations are mind-boggling. I have more spices than Columbus. Flavor explosion has repercussions. You must closely follow the recipe without guarantees. Best aha. Double down on one spice and move on. If you like it, it's great.

I naturally gravitate towards cumin soups, fennel dishes, mint rice, oregano pasta, basil thai curry and cardamom pudding.

Variety enhances life. Each of my dishes is unique.

To each their own comfort food and nostalgic memories.

Happy living!