What is Bionic Reading?
Senses help us navigate a complicated world. They shape our worldview - how we hear, smell, feel, and taste. People claim a sixth sense, an intuitive capacity that extends perception.
Our brain is a half-pool of grey and white matter that stores data from our senses. Brains provide us context, so zombies' obsession makes sense.
Bionic reading uses the brain's visual information and context to simplify text comprehension.
Stay with me.
What is Bionic Reading?
Bionic reading is a software application established by Swiss typographic designer Renato Casutt. The term honors the brain (bio) and technology's collaboration to better text comprehension.
The image above shows two similar paragraphs with bionic reading.
Notice anything yet?
This Twitter user did.
I did too...
Image text describes bionic reading-
New method to aid reading by using artificial fixation points. The reader focuses on the highlighted starting letters, and the brain completes the word.
How is Bionic Reading possible?
Do you remember seeing social media posts asking you to stare at a black dot for 30 seconds (or more)? You blink and see an after-image on your wall.
Our brains are skilled at identifying patterns and'seeing' familiar objects, therefore optical illusions are conceivable.
Brain and sight collaborate well. Text comprehension proves it.
Considering evolutionary patterns, humans' understanding skills may be cosmic luck.
Scientists don't know why people can read and write, but they do know what reading does to the brain.
One portion of your brain recognizes words, while another analyzes their meaning. Fixation, saccade, and linguistic transparency/opacity aid.
Let's explain some terms.
Fixation is how the eyes move when reading. It's where you look. If the eyes fixate less, a reader can read quicker. [Eye fixation is a physiological process](Eye fixation is a naturally occurring physiological process) impacted by the reader's vocabulary, vision span, and text familiarity.
Saccade - Pause and look around. That's a saccade. Rapid eye movements that alter the place of fixation, as reading text or looking around a room. They can happen willingly (when you choose) or instinctively, even when your eyes are fixed.
Linguistic transparency and opacity analyze how well a composite word or phrase may be deduced from its constituents.
The Bionic reading website compares these tools.
Text highlights lead the eye. Fixation, saccade, and opacity can transfer visual stimuli to text, changing typeface.
## Final Thoughts on Bionic Reading
I'm excited about how this could influence my long-term assimilation and productivity.
This technology is still in development, with prototypes working on only a few apps. Like any new tech, it will be criticized.
I'll be watching Bionic Reading closely. Comment on it!
More on Productivity
11 months ago
Working from home for more than two years has taught me a lot.
Since the pandemic, I've worked from home. It’s been +2 years (wow, time flies!) now, and during this time I’ve learned a lot. My 4 remote work lessons.
I work in a remote distributed team. This team setting shaped my experience and teachings.
Isolation ("I miss my coworkers")
The most obvious point. I miss going out with my coworkers for coffee, weekend chats, or just company while I work. I miss being able to go to someone's desk and ask for help. On a remote world, I must organize a meeting, share my screen, and avoid talking over each other in Zoom - sigh!
Social interaction is more vital for my health than I believed.
Online socializing stinks
My company used to come together every Friday to play Exploding Kittens, have food and beer, and bond over non-work things.
Different today. Every Friday afternoon is for fun, but it's not the same. People with screen weariness miss meetings, which makes sense. Sometimes you're too busy on Slack to enjoy yourself.
We laugh in meetings, but it's not the same as face-to-face.
Digital social activities can't replace real-world ones
Improved Work-Life Balance, if You Let It
At the outset of the pandemic, I recognized I needed to take better care of myself to survive. After not leaving my apartment for a few days and feeling miserable, I decided to walk before work every day. This turned into a passion for exercise, and today I run or go to the gym before work. I use my commute time for healthful activities.
Working from home makes it easier to keep working after hours. I sometimes forget the time and find myself writing coding at dinnertime. I said, "One more test." This is a disadvantage, therefore I keep my office schedule.
Spend your commute time properly and keep to your office schedule.
Remote Pair Programming Is Hard
As a software developer, I regularly write code. My team sometimes uses pair programming to write code collaboratively. One person writes code while another watches, comments, and asks questions. I won't list them all here.
Internet pairing is difficult. My team struggles with this. Even with Tuple, it's challenging. I lose attention when I get a notification or check my computer.
I miss a pen and paper to rapidly sketch down my thoughts for a colleague or a whiteboard for spirited talks with others. Best answers are found through experience.
Real-life pair programming beats the best remote pair programming tools.
Here are 4 lessons I've learned working remotely for 2 years.
Socializing is more vital to my health than I anticipated.
Digital social activities can't replace in-person ones.
Spend your commute time properly and keep your office schedule.
Real-life pair programming beats the best remote tools.
Our era is fascinating. Remote labor has existed for years, but software companies have just recently had to adapt. Companies who don't offer remote work will lose talent, in my opinion.
We're still figuring out the finest software development approaches, programming language features, and communication methods since the 1960s. I can't wait to see what advancements assist us go into remote work.
I'll certainly work remotely in the next years, so I'm interested to see what I've learnt from this post then.
This post is a summary of this one.
1 year ago
How to Use Obsidian to Boost Research Productivity
Tools for managing your PhD projects, reading lists, notes, and inspiration.
As a researcher, you have to know everything. But knowledge is useless if it cannot be accessed quickly. An easy-to-use method of archiving information makes taking notes effortless and enjoyable.
As a PhD student in Artificial Intelligence, I use Obsidian (https://obsidian.md) to manage my knowledge.
The article has three parts:
- What is a note, how to organize notes, tags, folders, and links? This section is tool-agnostic, so you can use most of these ideas with any note-taking app.
- Instructions for using Obsidian, managing notes, reading lists, and useful plugins. This section demonstrates how I use Obsidian, my preferred knowledge management tool.
- Workflows: How to use Zotero to take notes from papers, manage multiple projects' notes, create MOCs with Dataview, and more. This section explains how to use Obsidian to solve common scientific problems and manage/maintain your knowledge effectively.
This list is not perfect or complete, but it is my current solution to problems I've encountered during my PhD. Please leave additional comments or contact me if you have any feedback. I'll try to update this article.
Throughout the article, I'll refer to your digital library as your "Obsidian Vault" or "Zettelkasten".
Other useful resources are listed at the end of the article.
1. Philosophy: Taking and organizing notes
Carl Sagan: “To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”
Before diving into Obsidian, let's establish a Personal Knowledge Management System and a Zettelkasten. You can skip to Section 2 if you already know these terms.
Niklas Luhmann, a prolific sociologist who wrote 400 papers and 70 books, inspired this section and much of Zettelkasten. Zettelkasten means “slip box” (or library in this article). His Zettlekasten had around 90000 physical notes, which can be found here.
There are now many tools available to help with this process. Obsidian's website has a good introduction section: https://publish.obsidian.md/hub/
We'll start with "What is a note?" Although it may seem trivial, the answer depends on the topic or your note-taking style. The idea is that a note is as “atomic” (i.e. You should read the note and get the idea right away.
The resolution of your notes depends on their detail. Deep Learning, for example, could be a general description of Neural Networks, with a few notes on the various architectures (eg. Recurrent Neural Networks, Convolutional Neural Networks etc..).
Limiting length and detail is a good rule of thumb. If you need more detail in a specific section of this note, break it up into smaller notes. Deep Learning now has three notes:
- Deep Learning
- Recurrent Neural Networks
- Convolutional Neural Networks
Repeat this step as needed until you achieve the desired granularity. You might want to put these notes in a “Neural Networks” folder because they are all about the same thing. But there's a better way:
#Tags and [[Links]] over /Folders/
The main issue with folders is that they are not flexible and assume that all notes in the folder belong to a single category. This makes it difficult to make connections between topics.
Deep Learning has been used to predict protein structure (AlphaFold) and classify images (ImageNet). Imagine a folder structure like this:
- /Proteins/ - Protein Folding - /Deep Learning/ - /Proteins/
Your notes about Protein Folding and Convolutional Neural Networks will be separate, and you won't be able to find them in the same folder.
This can be solved in several ways. The most common one is to use tags rather than folders. A note can be grouped with multiple topics this way. Obsidian tags can also be nested (have subtags).
You can also link two notes together. You can build your “Knowledge Graph” in Obsidian and other note-taking apps like Obsidian.
My Knowledge Graph. Green: Biology, Red: Machine Learning, Yellow: Autoencoders, Blue: Graphs, Brown: Tags.
My Knowledge Graph and the note “Backrpropagation” and its links.
Backpropagation note and all its links
Why use Folders?
Folders help organize your vault as it grows. The main suggestion is to have few folders that "weakly" collect groups of notes or better yet, notes from different sources.
Among my Zettelkasten folders are:
My Zettelkasten's 5 folders
They usually gather data from various sources:
MOC: Map of Contents for the Zettelkasten.
Projects: Contains one note for each side-project of my PhD where I log my progress and ideas. Notes are linked to these.
Bio and ML: These two are the main content of my Zettelkasten and could theoretically be combined.
Papers: All my scientific paper notes go here. A bibliography links the notes. Zotero .bib file
Books: I make a note for each book I read, which I then split into multiple notes.
Keeping images separate from other files can help keep your main folders clean.
I will elaborate on these in the Workflow Section.
My general recommendation is to use tags and links instead of folders.
Maps of Content (MOC)
Making Tables of Contents is a good solution (MOCs).
These are notes that "signposts" your Zettelkasten library, directing you to the right type of notes. It can link to other notes based on common tags. This is usually done with a title, then your notes related to that title. As an example:
An example of a Machine Learning MOC generated with Dataview.
As shown above, my Machine Learning MOC begins with the basics. Then it's on to Variational Auto-Encoders. Not only does this save time, but it also saves scrolling through the tag search section.
So I keep MOCs at the top of my library so I can quickly find information and see my library. These MOCs are generated automatically using an Obsidian Plugin called Dataview (https://github.com/blacksmithgu/obsidian-dataview).
Ideally, MOCs could be expanded to include more information about the notes, their status, and what's left to do. In the absence of this, Dataview does a fantastic job at creating a good structure for your notes.
In the absence of this, Dataview does a fantastic job at creating a good structure for your notes.
2. Tools: Knowing Obsidian
Obsidian is my preferred tool because it is free, all notes are stored in Markdown format, and each panel can be dragged and dropped. You can get it here: https://obsidian.md/
Obsidian is highly customizable, so here is my preferred interface:
The theme is customized from https://github.com/colineckert/obsidian-things
Alternatively, each panel can be collapsed, moved, or removed as desired. To open a panel later, click on the vertical "..." (bottom left of the note panel).
My interface is organized as follows:
How my Obsidian Interface is organized.
This is where I keep all relevant folders. I usually use the MOC note to navigate, but sometimes I use the search button to find a note.
I use nested tags and look into each one to find specific notes to link.
Easy-to-use menu plugin cMenu (https://github.com/chetachiezikeuzor/cMenu-Plugin)
The global graph shows all your notes (linked and unlinked). Linked notes will appear closer together. Zoom in to read each note's title. It's a bit overwhelming at first, but as your library grows, you get used to the positions and start thinking of new connections between notes.
Your current note will be shown in relation to other linked notes in your library. When needed, you can quickly jump to another link and back to the current note.
Finally, an outline panel and the plugin Obsidian Power Search (https://github.com/aviral-batra/obsidian-power-search) allow me to search my vault by highlighting text.
Start using the tool and worry about panel positioning later. I encourage you to find the best use-case for your library.
An additional benefit of using Obsidian is the large plugin library. I use several (Calendar, Citations, Dataview, Templater, Admonition):
Obsidian Calendar Plugin: https://github.com/liamcain
It organizes your notes on a calendar. This is ideal for meeting notes or keeping a journal.
Calendar addon from hans/obsidian-citation-plugin
Obsidian Citation Plugin: https://github.com/hans/
Allows you to cite papers from a.bib file. You can also customize your notes (eg. Title, Authors, Abstract etc..)
Plugin citation from hans/obsidian-citation-plugin
Obsidian Dataview: https://github.com/blacksmithgu/
A powerful plugin that allows you to query your library as a database and generate content automatically. See the MOC section for an example.
Allows you to create notes with specific templates like dates, tags, and headings.
Templater. Obsidian Admonition: https://github.com/valentine195/obsidian-admonition
Blocks allow you to organize your notes.
Plugin warning. Obsidian Admonition (valentine195)
There are many more, but this list should get you started.
3. Workflows: Cool stuff
Here are a few of my workflows for using obsidian for scientific research. This is a list of resources I've found useful for my use-cases. I'll outline and describe them briefly so you can skim them quickly.
3.1 Using Templates to Structure Notes
3.2 Free Note Syncing (Laptop, Phone, Tablet)
3.3 Zotero/Mendeley/JabRef -> Obsidian — Managing Reading Lists
3.4 Projects and Lab Books
3.5 Private Encrypted Diary
3.1 Using Templates to Structure Notes
Plugins: Templater and Dataview (optional).
To take effective notes, you must first make adding new notes as easy as possible. Templates can save you time and give your notes a consistent structure. As an example:
An example of a note using a template.
### [[YOUR MOC]] # Note Title of your note **Tags**:: **Links**::
The top line links to your knowledge base's Map of Content (MOC) (see previous sections). After the title, I add tags (and a link between the note and the tag) and links to related notes.
To quickly identify all notes that need to be expanded, I add the tag “#todo”. In the “TODO:” section, I list the tasks within the note.
The rest are notes on the topic.
Templater can help you create these templates. For new books, I use the following template:
### [[Books MOC]] # Title **Author**:: **Date:: **Tags:: **Links::
A book template example.
Using a simple query, I can hook Dataview to it.
dataview table author as Author, date as “Date Finished”, tags as “Tags”, grade as “Grade” from “4. Books” SORT grade DESCENDING
using Dataview to query templates.
3.2 Free Note Syncing (Laptop, Phone, Tablet)
No plugins used.
One of my favorite features of Obsidian is the library's self-contained and portable format. Your folder contains everything (plugins included).
Ordinary folders and documents are available as well. There is also a “.obsidian” folder. This contains all your plugins and settings, so you can use it on other devices.
So you can use Google Drive, iCloud, or Dropbox for free as long as you sync your folder (note: your folder should be in your Cloud Folder).
For my iOS and macOS work, I prefer iCloud. You can also use the paid service Obsidian Sync.
3.3 Obsidian — Managing Reading Lists and Notes in Zotero/Mendeley/JabRef
Plugins: Quotes (required).
3.3 Zotero/Mendeley/JabRef -> Obsidian — Taking Notes and Managing Reading Lists of Scientific Papers
My preferred reference manager is Zotero, but this workflow should work with any reference manager that produces a .bib file. This file is exported to my cloud folder so I can access it from any platform.
My Zotero library is tagged as follows:
My reference manager's tags
For readings, I usually search for the tags “!!!” and “To-Read” and select a paper. Annotate the paper next (either on PDF using GoodNotes or on physical paper).
Then I make a paper page using a template in the Citations plugin settings:
An example of my citations template.
Create a new note, open the command list with CMD/CTRL + P, and find the Citations “Insert literature note content in the current pane” to see this lovely view.
Citation generated by the article https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.01.24.22269144
You can then convert your notes to digital. I found that transcribing helped me retain information better.
3.4 Projects and Lab Books
Plugins: Tweaker (required).
PhD students offering advice on thesis writing are common (read as regret). I started asking them what they would have done differently or earlier.
“Deep stuff Leo,” one person said. So my main issue is basic organization, losing track of my tasks and the reasons for them.
As a result, I'd go on other experiments that didn't make sense, and have to reverse engineer my logic for thesis writing. - PhD student now wise Postdoc
Time management requires planning. Keeping track of multiple projects and lab books is difficult during a PhD. How I deal with it:
- One folder for all my projects
- One file for each project
I use a template to create each project
### [[Projects MOC]] # <% tp.file.title %> **Tags**:: **Links**:: **URL**:: **Project Description**::## Notes: ### <% tp.file.last_modified_date(“dddd Do MMMM YYYY”) %> #### Done: #### TODO: #### Notes
You can insert a template into a new note with CMD + P and looking for the Templater option.
I then keep adding new days with another template:
### <% tp.file.last_modified_date("dddd Do MMMM YYYY") %> #### Done: #### TODO: #### Notes:
This way you can keep adding days to your project and update with reasonings and things you still have to do and have done. An example below:
Example of project note with timestamped notes.
3.5 Private Encrypted Diary
This is one of my favorite Obsidian uses.
Mini Diary's interface has long frustrated me. After the author archived the project, I looked for a replacement. I had two demands:
- It had to be private, and nobody had to be able to read the entries.
- Cloud syncing was required for editing on multiple devices.
Then I learned about encrypting the Obsidian folder. Then decrypt and open the folder with Obsidian. Sync the folder as usual.
Use CryptoMator (https://cryptomator.org/). Create an encrypted folder in Cryptomator for your Obsidian vault, set a password, and let it do the rest.
If you need a step-by-step video guide, here it is:
So, I hope this was helpful!
In the first section of the article, we discussed notes and note-taking techniques. We discussed when to use tags and links over folders and when to break up larger notes.
Then we learned about Obsidian, its interface, and some useful plugins like Citations for citing papers and Templater for creating note templates.
Finally, we discussed workflows and how to use Zotero to take notes from scientific papers, as well as managing Lab Books and Private Encrypted Diaries.
Thanks for reading and commenting :)
Read original post here
6 months ago
Every time I use this 6-part email sequence, I almost always make four figures.
(And you can have it for free)
Master email to sell anything.
Most novice creators don't know how to begin.
Many use online templates. These are usually fluff-filled and niche-specific.
They're robotic and "salesy."
I've attended 3 courses, read 10 books, and sent 600,000 emails in the past five years.
This *proven* email sequence assures me a month's salary every time I send it.
What you will discover in this article is that:
A full 6-part email sales cycle
The essential elements you must incorporate
placeholders and text-filled images
(Applies to any niche)
This can be a product introduction, holiday, or welcome sequence. This works for email-saleable products.
Email 1: Describe your issue
This email is crucial.
How to? We introduce a subscriber or prospect's problem. Later, we'll frame our offer as the solution.
Why it still hasn't been fixed
Resulting implications for the customer
This puts our new subscriber in solve mode and queues our offer:
Email 2: Amplify the consequences
We're still causing problems.
We've created the problem, but now we must employ emotion and storytelling to make it real. We also want to forecast life if nothing changes.
What occurs if it is not resolved?
Why is it crucial to fix it immediately?
Tell a tale of a person who was in their position. To emphasize the effects, use a true account of another person (or of yourself):
Email 3: Share a transformation story
Whether in an email, landing page, article, or video. Humanize stories. They give information meaning.
This is where "issue" becomes "solution."
A tale of success
A new existence and result
tools and tactics employed
Start by transforming yourself.
Email 4: Prove with testimonials
No one buys what you say.
Emotionally stirred people buy and act. They believe in the product. They feel that if they buy, it will work.
Social proof shows prospects that your solution will help them.
Earlier and Later
Proof this deal works:
Email 5: Reveal your offer
This is it. Until now, describing the offer and offering links to a landing page have been sparse in the email pictures.
We've been tense. Gaining steam. Building suspense. Email 5 reveals all.
In this email:
a description of the deal
A word about a promise
recapitulation of the transformation
and make a reference to the urgency Everything should be spelled out clearly:
Email no. 6: Instill urgency
When there are stakes, humans act.
Creating and marketing with haste raises the stakes. Urgency makes a prospect act because they'll miss out or gain immensely.
Urgency converts. Use:
Urgency and conversions. Limited-time offers are easy.
Use this proven 6-part email sequence (that turns subscribers into profit):
Introduce a problem
Amplify it with emotions
Share transformation story
Prove it works with testimonials
Value-stack and present your offer
Drive urgency and entice the purchase
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11 months ago
If you don't crush these 3 metrics, skip the Series A.
I recently wrote about getting VCs excited about Marketplace start-ups. SaaS founders became envious!
Understanding how people wire tens of millions is the only Series A hack I recommend.
Few people understand the intellectual process behind investing.
VC is risk management.
Series A-focused VCs must cover two risks.
1. Market risk
You need a large market to cross a threshold beyond which you can build defensibilities. Series A VCs underwrite market risk.
They must see you have reached product-market fit (PMF) in a large total addressable market (TAM).
2. Execution risk
When evaluating your growth engine's blitzscaling ability, execution risk arises.
When investors remove operational uncertainty, they profit.
Series A VCs like businesses with derisked revenue streams. Don't raise unless you have a predictable model, pipeline, and growth.
Please beat these 3 metrics before Series A:
Achieve $1.5m ARR in 12-24 months (Market risk)
Above 100% Net Dollar Retention. (Market danger)
Lead Velocity Rate supporting $10m ARR in 2–4 years (Execution risk)
Hit the 3 and you'll raise $10M in 4 months. Discussing 2/3 may take 6–7 months.
If none, don't bother raising and focus on becoming a capital-efficient business (Topics for other posts).
Let's examine these 3 metrics for the brave ones.
1. Lead Velocity Rate supporting €$10m ARR in 2 to 4 years
Last because it's the least discussed. LVR is the most reliable data when evaluating a growth engine, in my opinion.
SaaS allows you to see the future.
Monthly Sales and Sales Pipelines, two predictive KPIs, have poor data quality. Both are lagging indicators, and minor changes can cause huge modeling differences.
Analysts and Associates will trash your forecasts if they're based only on Monthly Sales and Sales Pipeline.
LVR, defined as month-over-month growth in qualified leads, is rock-solid. There's no lag. You can See The Future if you use Qualified Leads and a consistent formula and process to qualify them.
With this metric in your hand, scaling your company turns into an execution play on which VCs are able to perform calculations risk.
2. Above-100% Net Dollar Retention.
Net Dollar Retention is a better-known SaaS health metric than LVR.
Net Dollar Retention measures a SaaS company's ability to retain and upsell customers. Ask what $1 of net new customer spend will be worth in years n+1, n+2, etc.
Depending on the business model, SaaS businesses can increase their share of customers' wallets by increasing users, selling them more products in SaaS-enabled marketplaces, other add-ons, and renewing them at higher price tiers.
If a SaaS company's annualized Net Dollar Retention is less than 75%, there's a problem with the business.
Slack's ARR chart (below) shows how powerful Net Retention is. Layer chart shows how existing customer revenue grows. Slack's S1 shows 171% Net Dollar Retention for 2017–2019.
3. $1.5m ARR in the last 12-24 months.
According to Point 9, $0.5m-4m in ARR is needed to raise a $5–12m Series A round.
Target at least what you raised in Pre-Seed/Seed. If you've raised $1.5m since launch, don't raise before $1.5m ARR.
Capital efficiency has returned since Covid19. After raising $2m since inception, it's harder to raise $1m in ARR.
P9's 2016-2021 SaaS Funding Napkin
In summary, less than 1% of companies VCs meet get funded. These metrics can help you win.
If there’s demand for it, I’ll do one on direct-to-consumer.
10 months ago
The world's 36th richest man uses a 5-step system to get what he wants.
Ray Dalio's super-effective roadmap
Ray Dalio's $22 billion net worth ranks him 36th globally. From 1975 to 2011, he built the world's most successful hedge fund, never losing more than 4% from 1991 to 2020. (and only doing so during 3 calendar years).
Dalio describes a 5-step process in his best-selling book Principles. It's the playbook he's used to build his hedge fund, beat the markets, and face personal challenges.
This 5-step system is so valuable and well-explained that I didn't edit or change anything; I only added my own insights in the parts I found most relevant and/or relatable as a young entrepreneur. The system's overview:
Have clear goals
Identify and don’t tolerate problems
Diagnose problems to get at their root causes
Design plans that will get you around those problems
Do what is necessary to push through the plans to get results
If you follow these 5 steps in a virtuous loop, you'll almost always see results. Repeat the process for each goal you have.
1. Have clear goals
a) Prioritize: You can have almost anything, but not everything.
I started and never launched dozens of projects for 10 years because I was scattered. I opened a t-shirt store, traded algorithms, sold art on Instagram, painted skateboards, and tinkered with electronics. I decided to try blogging for 6 months to see where it took me. Still going after 3 years.
b) Don’t confuse goals with desires.
A goal inspires you to act. Unreasonable desires prevent you from achieving your goals.
c) Reconcile your goals and desires to decide what you want.
d) Don't confuse success with its trappings.
e) Never dismiss a goal as unattainable.
Always one path is best. Your perception of what's possible depends on what you know now. I never thought I'd make money writing online so quickly, and now I see a whole new horizon of business opportunities I didn't know about before.
f) Expectations create abilities.
Don't limit your abilities. More you strive, the more you'll achieve.
g) Flexibility and self-accountability can almost guarantee success.
Flexible people accept what reality or others teach them. Self-accountability is the ability to recognize your mistakes and be more creative, flexible, and determined.
h) Handling setbacks well is as important as moving forward.
Learn when to minimize losses and when to let go and move on.
2. Don't ignore problems
a) See painful problems as improvement opportunities.
Every problem, painful situation, and challenge is an opportunity. Read The Art of Happiness for more.
b) Don't avoid problems because of harsh realities.
Recognizing your weaknesses isn't the same as giving in. It's the first step in overcoming them.
c) Specify your issues.
There is no "one-size-fits-all" solution.
d) Don’t mistake a cause of a problem with the real problem.
"I can't sleep" is a cause, not a problem. "I'm underperforming" could be a problem.
e) Separate big from small problems.
You have limited time and energy, so focus on the biggest problems.
f) Don't ignore a problem.
Identifying a problem and tolerating it is like not identifying it.
3. Identify problems' root causes
a) Decide "what to do" after assessing "what is."
"A good diagnosis takes 15 to 60 minutes, depending on its accuracy and complexity. [...] Like principles, root causes recur in different situations.
b) Separate proximate and root causes.
"You can only solve problems by removing their root causes, and to do that, you must distinguish symptoms from disease."
c) Knowing someone's (or your own) personality can help you predict their behavior.
4. Design plans that will get you around the problems
a) Retrace your steps.
Analyze your past to determine your future.
b) Consider your problem a machine's output.
Consider how to improve your machine. It's a game then.
c) There are many ways to reach your goals.
Find a solution.
d) Visualize who will do what in your plan like a movie script.
Consider your movie's actors and script's turning points, then act accordingly. The game continues.
e) Document your plan so others can judge your progress.
Accountability boosts success.
f) Know that a good plan doesn't take much time.
The execution is usually the hardest part, but most people either don't have a plan or keep changing it. Don't drive while building the car. Build it first, because it'll be bumpy.
5. Do what is necessary to push through the plans to get results
a) Great planners without execution fail.
Life is won with more than just planning. Similarly, practice without talent beats talent without practice.
b) Work ethic is undervalued.
Hyper-productivity is praised in corporate America, even if it leads nowhere. To get things done, use checklists, fewer emails, and more desk time.
c) Set clear metrics to ensure plan adherence.
I've written about the OKR strategy for organizations with multiple people here. If you're on your own, I recommend the Wheel of Life approach. Both systems start with goals and tasks to achieve them. Then start executing on a realistic timeline.
If you find solutions, weaknesses don't matter.
Everyone's weak. You, me, Gates, Dalio, even Musk. Nobody will be great at all 5 steps of the system because no one can think in all the ways required. Some are good at analyzing and diagnosing but bad at executing. Some are good planners but poor communicators. Others lack self-discipline.
Stay humble and ask for help when needed. Nobody has ever succeeded 100% on their own, without anyone else's help. That's the paradox of individual success: teamwork is the only way to get there.
Most people won't have the skills to execute even the best plan. You can get missing skills in two ways:
Others' (requires humility) light
On knowing what to do with your life
“Some people have good mental maps and know what to do on their own. Maybe they learned them or were blessed with common sense. They have more answers than others. Others are more humble and open-minded. […] Open-mindedness and mental maps are most powerful.” — Ray Dalio
I've always known what I wanted to do, so I'm lucky. I'm almost 30 and have always had trouble executing. Good thing I never stopped experimenting, but I never committed to anything long-term. I jumped between projects. I decided 3 years ago to stick to one project for at least 6 months and haven't looked back.
Maybe you're good at staying focused and executing, but you don't know what to do. Maybe you have none of these because you haven't found your purpose. Always try new projects and talk to as many people as possible. It will give you inspiration and ideas and set you up for success.
There is almost always a way to achieve a crazy goal or idea.
Enjoy the journey, whichever path you take.
2 months ago
Is it bad of me to want our portfolio companies to generate greater returns for outside investors than they did for us as venture capitalists?
Wishing for Lasting Companies, Not Penny Stocks or Goodwill Write-Downs
Get me a NASCAR-style company-logoed cremation urn (notice to the executor of my will, theres gonna be a lot of weird requests). I believe in working on projects that would be on your tombstone. As the Homebrew logo is tattooed on my shoulder, expanding the portfolio to my posthumous commemoration is easy. But this isn't an IRR victory lap; it's a hope that the firms we worked for would last beyond my lifetime.
Venture investors too often take credit or distance themselves from startups based on circumstances. Successful companies tell stories of crucial introductions, strategy conversations, and other value. Defeats Even whether our term involves Board service or systematic ethical violations, I'm just a little investment, so there's not much I can do. Since I'm guilty, I'm tossing stones from within the glass home (although we try to own our decisions through the lifecycle).
Post-exit company trajectories are usually unconfounded. Off the cap table, no longer a shareholder (or a diminishing one as you sell off/distribute), eventually leaving the Board. You can cheer for the squad or forget about it, but you've freed the corporation and it's back to portfolio work.
As I look at the downward track of most SPACs and other tarnished IPOs from the last few years, I wonder how I would feel if those were my legacy. Is my job done? Yes. When investing in a business, the odds are against it surviving, let alone thriving and being able to find sunlight. SPAC sponsors, institutional buyers, retail investments. Free trade in an open market is their right. Risking and losing capital is the system working! But
We were lead or co-lead investors in our first three funds, but as additional VCs joined the company, we were pushed down the cap table. Voting your shares rarely matters; supporting the firm when they need it does. Being valuable, consistent, and helping the company improve builds trust with the founders.
I hope every startup we sponsor becomes a successful public company before, during, and after we benefit. My perspective of American capitalism. Well, a stock ticker has a lot of garbage, and I support all types of regulation simplification (in addition to being a person investor in the Long-Term Stock Exchange). Yet being owned by a large group of investors and making actual gains for them is great. Likewise does seeing someone you met when they were just starting out become a public company CEO without losing their voice, leadership, or beliefs.
I'm just thinking about what we can do from the start to realize value from our investments and build companies with bright futures. Maybe seed venture financing shouldn't impact those outcomes, but I'm not comfortable giving up that obligation.