Ego = My Weakest Self, Ever!

Posted: September 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

We are a set of instructions for a baseline of code written for the conditions of a very hostile environment in which survival was our primary motivation. But even now, in our safe environment, our whole being is still concentrated solely on surviving. It’s like the mentality of people in war zones or death camps, but with the volume down. The Victor Frankl kind of experience.
In a way, we are like an offroad vehicle. We are created to survive all kinds of conditions. We are slow, heavy and every single change of direction takes sooo much time unless you jerk that wheel off in an emergency situation.
But deep inside, we all want to be fast & agile. If you want to be fast & agile, you need to get off all the weight off! Upgrade yourself into a machine that can be driven intuitively. Change of direction is instant, braking and accelerating are mind-blowingly fast. Be like rules unlimited F1 monster single-seater. You’re touching the limit of what is humanly possible. You’re light, yet powerful. You can change direction, brake and accelerate in ways you’re truly touching what is humanly possible. That’s what we want deep inside and what we can do. This is our potential. Yet, we are behaving like a bulldozer trying to take Parabolica flat… this bulldozer refuses to change direction, it’s crashing straight into the wall causing havoc. Nobody wants such an unruly bulldozer at their playground. But when we are fast & agile. It’s magic! Confidence is sky-high. We adapt & inspire. We are magnets for attention & love. The eyes of the public are on us, in awe!

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We are these insanely powerful biological machines that have more power than any or all computers in the world, yet we are using less than 1%. We’re like a supercomputer on DOS!

When the code, that is embedded by default in us, is written to protect 80% of the time and grow just 20%… just block the safety-conscious output from this code!
We have experienced a lot of things from birth to now and our ego is built on the negative experiences. When we were the weakest, we were the most at risk. The ego took that experience as input and created an instant reactionary output to protect the weakest version of us. The ego is our subconscious, it’s not consciously learning from the experience because it’s afraid we don’t have the time to do it. At the end of the day, the code for the EGO IS JUNGLE BASED!
If the conscious was the one writing the ego code, we would rationalize and look for ways to improve ourselves and gain from these experiences. Instead, the ego code only looks for way to preserve ourselves, not grow from the negative experiences.

Note to myself. The feeling of understeer, the refusal to accept the current state of now, like when you’re sleepy and PFC is tired, thus the unconscious ego is stronger, you should accept it and just be there. But take it with a smile. You have the choice of your mood. Choose smile & fun :) Do the stupid tasks, sim race, call friends, etc. Choose smile & fun! :)

Still, like in aikido, you can use the ego for good. Improve yourself, be selectively self-critical.

Turn The Ego from Enemy to Friend

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi

Our ability to adapt & learn was strongest when we were kids. The neuroplasticity in kids is amazing. But their mood is also adapted to this state of massive neuroplasticity and adaptability. The ego is weak. It’s only present in them when outside factors limit their freedom with force in the form of ultimatums or just sheer repeating, annoyance.
When you’re like a kid in happy go lucky mode, you giving full control of your PFC – your adaptable super-fast learning self. Your ego, the fixed mindset – it’s fucked, it’s silent.
The older you get, the less you learn and the more you suffer. Reject the mainstream concept of getting old, it’s basically slow form of dying and ultimate control of your ego, thus life-long suffering.
Even in a tough situation, be like David Goggins during the BUD/S. Singing kid songs while holding the boat above his head in the freezing ocean, and then… against all expectations, challenging the authority to try and push him more! Everything for your inner kid is easy. Suffering is for the ego. Pain is your ego speaking! Can’t break me is your inner kid speaking. Learn to love the pain and you’ll silence it. Your ego will see how constantly sending pain signals to your brain is all in vain. It will stop and the inner kid will win!

Remember, effectively, our reactionary ego outputs are our weakest self in fear. And it is our weakest self EVER in our lifetime. It’s so freaking crazy, the ego is rejecting the reality. At the moment of these reactionary outputs, the ego is reliving the past.

Ego is my weakest self from the past reacting in the present!

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I love Dr. Weil, he’s one of the first I heard talking about mushrooms and their powers for not just being used as a psychedelic, but general health. Sadly, his talks aren’t heard by the agriculture industry or the food markets. There are so few mushrooms available in supermarkets or any kind of markets for that matter, massive untapped potential…
Anyways, the book is just touching on mushrooms, they are not the central topic. Integrative medicine is the central topic of his book, the power of your brains and society on our health being.
The first interesting point he makes is about serotonin. It’s a media darling, but we still don’t fully understand how it works when we are talking about its relationship with depression and anxiety. It is true that drugs that are lowering serotonin levels can actually improve depression and we are like wtf!?
As a life long asthmatic since 4 years old, I know full well how important is the physical activity for my mood. Sadly, I know that from the last few years. Before that, during my teenage years, I wasn’t physically active, genetically I’m predisposed to be athletic in terms of endurance and this played with my mind. If I can beat most kids, why need to specifically train?
At the time antihistamines and allergies were not very well understood. I had no idea that serotonin uptake and reuptake drugs were born out of antihistamine research! Thanks, Dr. Weil!!! Now having read a bit more about how vital is histamine I can understand a few things about my childhood.
Some 6 years ago I calculated that in a calendar year I was up to 45 days sick! All viruses would catch me, hay fever was terrible, etc. That’s massive damage in quality of life. But I still didn’t know the role of histamine in my mood. It’s true when you’ve got some allergic reaction you’re quite into yourself, easily being annoyed and procrastination becomes a lifestyle! With constantly high inflammation through my allergy, then the high levels of histamine… it’s no wonder I wasn’t very active physically and most importantly had some trouble concentrating, thus procrastinating on the important stuff – like reading for exams, etc. Most of the time I would have read the school subject just once, veeery slowly with a lot of pauses. Somehow, I was the happiest kid in class and there was one teacher in particular who was annoyed at my always smiley persona.
I’ve always had a good diet, only during my student years I picked up on eating a bit too many sweets, thus my gut biome must have been quite good during my school years -> serotonin levels excellent and… I’ve been smiley :)

Having said smiley, I’m turning to laughter therapy. During the baroque era I believe, in France, the “laughing gas parties” were very popular. The king has been a big fan and all the royalties were often taking part in these parties which were nothing more than laughing gas in the air. Nowadays, because of our idiotic governments, actually laughing gas is a controlled substance to an extent and it’s not easy to be obtained. It can be neurotoxic, I believe, but still, it’s an instant remedy for depressive moods and can be great morning starter. But it’s not easy to be obtained.
On the topic of laughter, it’s amazing just how few comedies are produced! It’s so sad and all comedies are trying to give you some kind of life lessons. These lessons spoil the whole laughing experience. There are almost no new pure comedies in the good old Leslie Nielsen way! Even comedy shows are now under pressure to be politically correct… No wonder depression is an epidemic :( Everybody has gotten so damn serious into themselves.
I still have some movies to watch from Patrick Bet-David’s list for entrepreneurs and I don’t plan on watching any more Hollywood bs. Comedy Central here I come!!! Only comedy specials from now on, just like when I was a kid. Laughter is better than meditation, you’re not just in the moment, but you are improving your mood to the Nth degree :)

I was glad to see that I have followed Dr. Weil’s rules for information overload to the point. It’s absolutely pointless to listen for at least 1 hour a day about politics when the only way you can influence is by voting once every 2 years. None of us has ever prepared for another decision so thoroughly. That’s dedicated roughly at least 700h for that one vote, of course, if you’re a voter!
TV and news websites are a waste of time, the world would be a much better place without the constant news cycle that you actually can not trust anyway. You’d be having way more time to develop yourself into a better human being and this will be much more beneficial for society than wasting your time on information overload for one single decision that you might not even take or screw up completely. I mean, Hitler got to the top in a democratic way ;)
Mental nutrition is a great way to put it. All we consume as information is mental nutrition, just like we are looking at what we eat, we should look at what kind of information we are consuming.

Omega 3 and walnuts – that’s something that I eat every single day. What I learnt, and what I’m a bit ashamed that I didn’t know, turns out walnuts and other nuts actually provide a precursor for Omega 3 in the body, but this body process is quite inefficient. So in effect, you really need to take lots of Omega 3! No escaping this fact.
Same applies for the tryptophan-rich foods first thing in the morning. Take your proteins, boys! Dopamine is what drives us and makes us take action. Start the day strong!
Lately, I’ve taking fruits and veggies, but in reality, I’ve been relying on my anyways good mood to take me through the day. Still, I’ve found a difference between my power and endurance in morning and afternoon workouts. Without enough dopamine in the bloodstream, my body was giving up too early. I had to take coffee to give me some euphoric mood and plow through the workout :)
Reminder: Proteins, first thing in the morning!!!

Back in February, I was in the weight gaining mode for strength and size. Lots of protein & Omega 3 to stop the inflammation from the tearing of my muscles. Eating so much isn’t my thing, so I stopped. Problem is, I stopped all protein shakes and Omega 3 as I thought I’m eating enough fish and greens anyway! This turned me into depression, which for some reason I attributed to the changes in my gut microbiome after eating like a pig for 3 weeks! Wrong. Now I see how I’ve changed my chemical neurotransmitter and hormonal balance by stopping protein and thus dopamine PLUS stopping Omega 3 and getting brain inflammation that we like to call brain fog or depression. Suddenly from being euphoric I went to being lazy & boring.
Another thing I didn’t know is how there was such a big difference in Vit D and Omega 3 levels between the Scandinavians and Iceland. Eating fish or supplementing is uber important, Icelanders primarily eat fish and thus don’t have season mood swings. Scandinavians eat all kinds of meat and have more varied cuisine. It’s absolutely insane, that not everyone in our society is supplementing with Omega 3 and Vit D! The world would be a much better and happier place :) In fact, Vit D – which is a hormone actually, high doses of it were seen as a drug during communism. People were suddenly happy and when they are happy, they are confident – ban it! I know this because one elderly lady who was a pharmacist told me “It is a banned drug” when I asked for 5000 UI Vit D3 pills :) You can’t get that much, you’ll grow a smile!

Eating anti-inflammatory is super important when we take into consideration the alternative. If you gain 10 kg of fat, you get 17% higher chance of being depressed! I literally can not imagine what it must be like to be fat… it must be a terrible experience. OK, sometimes being depressed is good. Especially when you’re a writer of novels and honestly, when I’m very confused or heartbroken in my love life(but never when I’m frustrated!!!), somehow I’m able to attract girls in another strange way. Women are just so emphatic that they fell for my depressed self.

Nootropics. One major thing that I learnt and implemented straight away is eating curcumin with black pepper, apparently, it’s much better absorbed. I like black pepper, so it’s a good excuse to eat a bit more :)
Another nootropic for better mood is St. John’s wort(yellow cantarion) and SAM-e. I’ll be trying St. John as it is so commonly available. SAM-e seems to be hard to find and way more expensive than St. John. What else? Rhodiola etc., the common Ayurveda menu :) Valeriana of course, which is amazing, but according to him, I need to take 3x the dose! Valeriana along with St. John, it’s something that has been used in Eastern EU for centuries. Never underestimate grandma medicine! I was surprised how Dr. Weil was talking about St. John together with Kava, because I was under the impression Kava is super strong. But St. John is actually w/o any side effect unlike Kava and it’s easy to be found, it doesn’t need to be imported from NZ or Australia. At the end of the day, Kava’s effects are equal to alcohol!!!
Another reminder I got was to get going on multi-vitamins again for the winter. Most of them are water-soluble etc., so you take it basically as a measure against malnutrition for one of them.

Gratitude journals – I need to continue with my own. It really puts your life into a bigger perspective after you’ve done your journal in the morning. You’ve got more tolerance and it’s harder to get upset.
The helpers high is another super powerful way to feel great. It’s an amazing high, but one should use it in moderation because then your life might get neglected as I’ve done on several occasions.

As I’m writing this, I’m actually sleep-deprived but cheerful. No headache or bad mood, no stress whatsoever. I’ve slept 7h, I know I’m not as smart as I can be, my coordination is a bit hampered as I already managed to knock down a couple of things, my short term memory also isn’t perfect. But before, I’d be having bad mood and headache. Taking care of my brain is giving me amazing opportunities to enjoy even my worst days :)

In short: Omega 3, St John, gratitude journal, proteins 1st thing in the morning & stand up comedies :) Sounds so much fun, doesn’t it?

What is missing in this book? I was hoping for more information on mushrooms and breathing. 4-7-8 breathing is quite powerful and Dr. Weil focuses 100% on it.
Also, most importantly I was expecting more on spontaneity, because just being healthy doesn’t mean you’re going to be spontaneous, meaning free and in the moment.

Overall, I think this book is absolutely excellent for a first read for people who have an unhealthy lifestyle. The book covers all the basics everyone should address! Dr. Weil understands how important it is to have fun while doing what you’re doing. I.e. meditation isn’t something many A-type personalities like me can enjoy and he’s absolutely right to suggest mindfulness in any activity as an alternative to standing meditation. Gardening, or in my case washing the dishes and perfectly loading the dishing machine are activities that can be turned into meditation and you’ve got a sense of accomplishing something, even if it is so small. Also, during many activities, you can get into the flow and thus switch off the monkey mind ;)
Dr. Weil is a master and the book is very, very easy to read, yet it is very informative. Excellent read!

Pensive business people in a line. Isolated on white.

Pretty, cool new concept from Michael Gervais’ Finding Mastery podcast.

It’s quite odd though. I need to come up with some social fear challenges that don’t require a lot of effort. One of the ideas, even though it still requires effort, is to create a negative Instagram account offering my worst. I need to stay in funky mode and just break all the rules. Post pics on the toilet, shitting reports, bad moods, worst selfies ever, what I didn’t do, doubts, fears etc. Problem is, it will still require the pic taking etc.
But I need somehow to find a permanent fix for this. When my T levels go down a bit after some cortisol is built up in my system or bad sleep etc., my stupid ego goes into defend mode and I’m starting second-guessing daring behavior. Confidence is down, you don’t feel playful, you’re not in the moment and the freedom of outcome is absolutely not present. Somehow you start caring about the opinion of people you shouldn’t give a fuck about. Social fears are absolutely useless. Yet, somehow the ego wakes up and uses them to protect itself.

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My conscious is fully aware of what I’m capable off, but my unconsciousness is somehow finding the most idiotic doubts and puts them on display in my imagination. Then confidence goes down a bit and it all goes round and round.

Must find a way to stay into the happy-go-lucky mode. Certainly starting the day with my routine helps a lot. Cold showers and baths too. They should be a constant in my life. But the last 5% are lately missing and it’s quite annoying.
I need my spontaneity and absolute peak confidence back. Every day flow :)
I’ve been able to reach these states previously for almost 2 years without any supplements/nootropics etc. Now I know so much about bio/brain hacking, I don’t have any excuses for failure.
That feeling of being at 95% is killing me. It reminds of that one time I had 95% throttle while sim racing GP2… you’re doing your best, at that time I think I was even in flow, but the lap time wasn’t present – I was like 15 kph slower down the straight at Barcelona. Braking and minimum cornering speed were absolutely spot on, but that little technical problem with the throttle pedal meant I was several seconds off the pace. Now it’s kind of the same, most likely it’s something small that I need to tweak or it’s just requiring pure consistency for a period of time…
Will see :)

Loonshots by Safi Bahcall

Posted: September 8, 2019 in finance, markets, startups

Safi is a pleasure to read, he’s a true man of Renaissance and a terrific storyteller. Great stories about a bunch of phony “innovators” celebrated in our society that I didn’t know about – namely Adam Smith. The guy was actually socialist :) Of course, it’s no wonder the theory of efficient markets doesn’t add up, it’s a wonder that we are still discussing it. Warren Buffett and most successful investors have already disproven it as it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Noble prizes have been given for this :) Even the best chess player is highly emotional and fully logical only during limited periods on the chess table.

Anyways, Safi makes you realize the importance of storytelling/social skills for innovators. Most big innovators have failed in this domain and their names are forgotten, but someone who’s nowhere near as brilliant as them with good storytelling skills steals the show. Newton, Adam Smith, Edison on one side and Tesla, Akira Endo who’s the modern epitome of this on the other side, the victims.

The 3 fails rule is something that we should remember, especially when we go to achieve very complicated ventures. It’s real simple. If a drug/project hasn’t failed 3 times, it’s still not ready for the market! If great drugs take at least 3 failed attempts to reach the market… why do we need to stop after 1-2 for something that is in orders of magnitude less complicated like a business or a personal goal?

The ability to balance between income-producing activities – the arrogant current income-producing front soldiers, and the future income-producing activities with their risk-taking dreamers. One should balance between the two, it’s easy the ones who are bringing the money to stop the financial flow towards failed research activities and thus cutting them short before their maturation point. But it’s equally easy, to put the disciplined hard-working soldiers in the secondary importance basket like Steve Jobs did during his first stint at Apple. Later on, he learned from this mistake and enabled successful consumer products to live their full lives, bring the money because only then there would be plenty of money for R&D. Tim Cook represents the soldiers, Jony Ivy the dreamers. They are co-working together, not against each other like during Jobs’ first stint at Apple. They’re respecting each others jobs and contributions to the company.
Of course, the dreamers should be always aware of product-market fit, otherwise, their products will arrive too early to the market and won’t produce revenue, let alone profit.

The Bush-Vail rules. This guy Vannevar Bush, he’s one hell of an unsung hero! Effectively, he’s the main reason behind Germany’s loss in WWII and the birth of the tech industry. The technological advances his system had enabled proved the deciding factors in limiting the losses and then beating Germany & Japan(sorry Italy, if it was race cars I know you would have done much better). The Bush-Vail rules enabled America to catch up in technology on Nazi Germany and win WWII.

180 people Google team, 150 magic number, Soft equity vs hard equity.
I absolutely love the angle of corporate/team politics. The way McKinsey evaluates performs is fantastic. They take people from different countries to evaluate and choose who to promote because personal relationships can be very damaging for the purpose of promoting the right talent. As we all know, like attracts like and no company in the world needs just 1 type of character. It’s all about having character and approach diversity. This is such a complicated subject, I don’t think many executives or entrepreneurs are thinking about this. Thinking both short and long term for the type of talent in terms of character traits that you will need for your venture. But at the end of the day, this requires massive ability to simulate the future in your head in terms of social interactions and that’s why one needs to have very broad human psychology knowledge… otherwise, you’re just trying your luck.
We tend to downplay the importance of soft equity, but social approval and status play a major role in human happiness… if you are taking 1 mln, but your colleagues are told you’re making just 200k and you know that you’ll lose this salary if you tell anyone. You’re going to have the million, but won’t know what to do with the money and all your peers will treat you like a normal employee… your level of happiness will be the same as theirs, even a bit lower because of the frustration that this secret can create in you.
Having large teams of 100-150(150 is apparently the magic number for innovative teams) people with just one leader who is rubber-stamping the good and bad projects doesn’t seem optimal to me. I can see the math working, but I can also see this leader believing in the projects he/she feels are closest to their heart and believing in those innovators who are most charming. There are still many holes in this ship through which innovation flows out into the deep ocean of great unrealized ideas. People work best in small non-hierarchical teams… teams where they feel like a tight-knit family, helping each other, inspiring each other. Having 150 people teams is just a madhouse. Co-working from time to time, socializing… that’s great, but within these 150 people teams there should an option where small teams are spontaneously founded and supported.

Finding the limit tactics with tire operating windows, finding grip. This analogy matches nicely with the Innovation Equation – this is a must read article that is capturing some of the big lessons of the book: https://hbr.org/2019/03/the-innovation-equation
Basically, you need to work around the limit. Because real life isn’t simulation, you start from the low numbers and then work your way up. But you shouldn’t be afraid to make big jumps when there’s no impact and measures don’t work. In general of course, if your job is to boost the front line troops then you need discipline and you don’t need much innovation – you only need a working feedback system. Hence, you have a management structure with a lot of levels and promotion incentives.
If on the other hand, you need your team of dreamers to come up with the next loonshots… then anarchy is what you need! :) 150-200 member teams, lots of freedom.

Safi is also talking about the cliff in racing terms. This means that often times, just like in tire management, you have a function which is linear or flat, but at a certain point – all hell breaks loose and suddenly you’re either in heavens or hell. The performance either goes thru the roof or thru the floor. It’s a very narrow working window. With innovation in teams, this narrow working window is around the 150 mark.

2.5 times rule

Being at the right place, at the right time. It takes time and the effort of so many people for technologies to mature. You can very easily be too early at the party when you get over-excited about a certain form of technologies and then be one of the unsung heroes who had the vision… but it serves you no purpose. As a company, one should be smart in their investment strategy for loonshots and co-ordinate it with the expected development of other technologies that might have an impact on these loonshots. The aim is to be at the right time at the right place. If you come too early, you’ll burn a lot of cash and probably a lot of the supporting technology or the market itself won’t be ready. Your great product would be a failure thru no fault of your own. On the other hand, if you invest a little and just keep an eye on this technology, then when you see it’s about to get funky on the market, you’ve got your cash intact and time on your hand to push the pedal to the metal and cross the finishing line at full speed. The timing makes a GIANT difference. Sense of timing is extremely important and it takes someone with a very wide range of knowledge and experience to make it just right.

The Warren Buffett vs Ray Dalio approach to innovation. Warren Buffett is someone who has built his net worth based on investing in a few but extremely well researched long-term bets. He’s not a fan of summer-winter portfolios, he’s betting only on stocks that are very likely in his opinion to withstand any winds. Sadly, most of these stocks are not tech companies. In the tech sphere disruption is to be expected, the brand long-term is of little value if your company has missed a train – Nokia is case in point.
Ray Dalio, on the other hand, is the seasons portfolio guy. He’s betting on more stocks and he’s hedging his risks. But this approach, when you get really good with your percentages ratio and have a little ego, then it’s also paying off handsomely. In tech, we need to be using the Ray Dalio approach. Bet wisely on competing forms of technologies and hedge our bets. If we don’t hedge, we are getting exposed to the gust winds in early-stage tech development and we can nose-dive crashing into the ground. Expect the unexpected, be open-minded and cover all scenarios.

Limiting your chances to fail, because failing means bruises that are limiting your movements. You can crash a limited number of times before you got no resources, that’s why failing efficiently is important in order to survive.
It’s important to be over-prepared for all scenarios to go to the end. Like a season of wet weather races. The most consistent and adaptable wins, not always the fastest/biggest risk-taker. Just be a Fisichella, before trying to be a Schumacher. If you’re trying to be a Schumacher you’ll crash and get lots of DNFs until you become sufficiently skilled and experienced, while Fisichella will be scoring points consistently. Over prepare and play the long game. Winners are often risk-takers, but risk-takers are also those who don’t finish. When you get experience and resources, then you can take risks like Schumacher in the rain and they’ll pay off handsomely.

Having the startup hat still on, it makes you wonder how on Earth it costs 2 bln to bring a drug to the market? To develop a car like Toyota Corolla costs you that much. Most likely this part of medicine needs a major shakeup. Sounds a bit like the huge difference in startup success rate between the European Union development programs backed startups and those backed by i.e. Y Combinator. I’m not sure if there has ever been an EU backed unicorn startup! :)

Bonus/rewards/incentives scrutineer officer. That’s a great idea. Obviously, the workforce just like F1 teams is reading thru the rules and use them to their own advantage. They don’t necessarily look to play by the spirit of the rules and as a result, often incentives are counterproductive. I think one of the funniest examples of incentives was in India under British rule when they announced they would be paying for every killed cobra – people started making cobra farms!
Having a chief incentives officer will help to tune the rules in such a way that the workforce plays to achieve their intended result, not skew them in whatever way it fits them. Everyone should have their own Charlie Whiting ;)
You can play conservatively with the incentives in order to avoid loses and achieve higher efficiency, but still, not enough skin in the game as Taleb would say. Not enough empowering and too much pressure can turn off the risk-averse innovators.  We all know there are star performers and also-runs, you should reward the innovators, you shouldn’t frustrate them because then they’ll become also-runs.
I love this quote from Safi’s Linkedin page: Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet once said: “95 percent of behavior is driven by incentives.” Later they amended that to, “The 95 percent was wrong. It’s more like 99 percent.”
Charlie & Warren are massively efficient. But at the end of the day, if you play the tech business game you need R&D investment. Loonshots as a book gives you some principles for your limits. First, it’s just like you’re a DJ and you have a slider on the deck. This slider is for finding the best balance between spending on the soldiers who are bringing you the cash and spending on the dreamers who are bringing you, remember – potentially the cash for the future. The same DJ deck slider image applies when we are talking about the levels of management and size of teams – how much risk are you willing to take and how much crazy can you go at producing many loonshots that will have huge ROI?

The Needham question. I didn’t know about this, but I’ve been thinking the same while reading all those Chinese & Indian history and culture books. The reason we got the Renesense in Europe is the weakened church. The church or religion is a set of rules that nobody should dare to question. It’s limiting, to social development and technological development.
I liked a lot the connection between the lack of adoption and large infrastructural developments like castles, walls, etc. I mean, the Chinese wall is one of the most idiotic ventures ever… it’s absolutely useless, lacks any logical structure, it was way too big of a project and as a result, the Chinese empire’s technological development was slowed down due to lack of funding and focus.
The same applies today. Many countries, incl. mine home country Bulgaria, focus on infrastructure projects and have miniature investment in R&D or higher education. Infrastructure is a luxury and it can be seen as such even for startups or personal spending. I.e. when the infrastructure of a country is full of potholes, what are the negatives in terms of money lost? Maybe slower trips, but less injured people on the road due to the slower speeds. More broken down cars, but this also creates jobs and the upside of less broken cars is miniature compared to the investment in this infrastructure. So why spend 100s of billions on this when the potential profit is small? It’s just a luxury. The same applies to personal spending. Will buying a new expensive car have any ROI? Nope. I love cars, but road cars are nowhere near like race cars or race karts. Even in terms of fun, it’s a massively bad investment to buy an expensive fast car. It’s just a mode of transport and you’ll even be spending more money on its maintenance. It’s all a personal feeling of accomplishment, luxury, etc. I can afford this… well, maybe you can, but isn’t it stupid? You’re better off investing in your education, self-actualizing or activities that bring you long-term joy. The ROI is always much higher and then suddenly you can afford a new luxury car because it’s peanuts for you!
For the countries, this search for prestige with grandiose projects is equally stupid and just driven by ego. This focus on grand construction projects killed Egypt, Rome, China, India, and all the communist states.
The second reason behind the Chinese/Indian/Islamic lack of adoption for discoveries is religion. The set of beliefs you are not supposed to question, it’s crazy! Most importantly you don’t question the authority of the guy who came up with this set of rules. Usually, it’s someone who just got SUPER HIGH! What a madness.
In Europe slowly but surely the scientific community managed to shut the fuck up the church and Europe flourished. In Asia, religion and authorities to this day are fiercely respected. You are not supposed to go against social norms… When you get rid off these ancient limits, people feel free and when they feel free… imagination takes control! Happiness and collaboration take over. Things start to happen, innovation becomes the norm rather than the exception.
The Needham Question is there in the book to cap the problem of politics. The difference between successful companies or countries is the chance of the most skilled workforce to come to the top. Politics is the one reason that prevents talent from rising to the top. Take a look at monarchies and communism, they are super highly structured and politics play a major role there. How are such countries doing? Quite bad.
The more levels of management, the smaller teams managers have to manage… this all creates politics. It’s poison, the poison that creates the feeling of being unappreciated that results in the “I don’t care” attitude. Passion is killed, innovation does not happen w/o passion. Killing politics and preventing the less than capable people to rise to the top through being bullies or just having a closer connection with the top management is uber important and Safi explores some of the ways to do this. IMHO, promoting people who don’t have management training or education is a bit stupid, they should always be paired with coaches or simply have people like McKinsey consulting them in close. Otherwise, they tend to do a lot of basic mistakes and massively oversimplify things. Engineering has nothing to do with managing people.

I think this is the best book I’ve read in the last couple of months. As Safi says, everybody talks about company culture, but structure is not part of this talk. Which obviously is quite limiting. The book is very useful, I just adore people who are questioning the common beliefs and look for ways to improve any form of traditional common sense thinking. I still believe though, that Safi’s look is very generalistic. People in different industries are widely different and you need to empower them in different ways. Some need absolute freedom, others need support. Take a look at Adrian Newey… he’s got the freedom, but he admits he should be given boundaries. In today’s world though, we should push the slider way more to innovation – that’s the whole point of the book! Take risks, not one, but many.

This is another excellent short summary of the book: https://alexandbooks.com/archive/loonshots-by-safi-bahcall

P.S. There is one instant money saver in this book. The story of Polaroid and its founder. It’s been always quite strange to me how the polarized bullet-proof Japanese Caracoat visor that Lewis Hamilton is using on his full-on CFRP custom-built uber light helmet costs 90-120 EU, yet somehow just mere sunglasses from these so-called quality brands cost even more!? I have long suspected that Ray-Ban sunglasses, in particular, are extremely low quality at a huge price. Well, it’s absolutely true. It’s either Lewis and the whole Mercedes team are stupid, or customers are stupid. Surprise, surprise, turns out, customers are pretty damn stupid. Again.
2/3 of soldiers in WWII had polarized glasses, it’s such an old and easy to produce technology… Ray-Ban aviator glasses are called aviator because Edwin Land, the guy who invented them, sold them to the Department of Defense. Mustang pilots were wearing them, hence aviator sunglasses. Polarized coating is on all kinds of other products and costs peanuts. In short, cheap glasses are as good as expensive ;) The story of Edwin Land who invented is striking though. He’s a genius, but quite often he was ahead of his time and he was always CEO and all of his efforts – meaning people and money were put into R&D. Which obviously left him with no soft landing when R&D failed, and it often obviously did. DoD was quite fond of him, his inventions were a major part of their counterintelligence operations and they are now a major part of our lives – LCD, 3D, etc. He’s a forgotten hero in the modern tech world.

 

“Fear of rejection to the current state of human evolution is like the appendix to the heart.” I think that says it all, great quote. Rejection is mostly completely useless and absolutely massively counterproductive.

Overall, I think the book is great for 99% of people, but not very good for those who are more trained in rejection. It is mostly lacking depth. I think every self-respecting man should go through pickup/seduction in order to become a complete man, i.e. Zan Perrion has much more inspiring and concrete talks on this topic of rejection(Note to myself, finish the Alabaster girl!). Being rejected by a stunning woman hurts, I mean like a lot! Nothing can put a dent on your confidence like a woman and nothing can give you confidence like a woman. I’ve been told the same applies the other way around too :)

The freedom of outcome concept is also present, though maybe the author Jia Jiang didn’t mean it that way, it inspired me to use freedom of outcome to the overall exercise. Up until now, I’ve been using the freedom of outcome for individual approaches, but never for the whole campaign, if I use war analogies. It’s been like, you lose a battle, but you don’t care as long as you obtain the end goal – phone number, date, pull, etc. When you internally believe this, that nothing matters and you’re just trying and don’t care about anything… you project a sense of lightness, freedom and you’re not needy for their approval in any way, shape or form. It is what it is – the immortal words of JP Montoya :) But when you go one up and rationalize that even if you get rejected hundreds of times, I mean 100%, ALL of your approaches… you rationalize you’ve still learnt something new, lost nothing, world continues to move, then this adds a whole new dimension.
Now combine this with the desire to make someone happy and enrich their day… now we are talking about using the nuclear option :) Magnetic attraction.

I love this quote as well: Before goodbye, ask why? :) That is so true! Most people are willing to give you a reason why they’re rejecting you. Feedback is SO important, it’s like telemetry in racing, you’re learning so much faster with feedback. Which reminds me of another rejection quote: Getting a No is merely feedback! :)

Tbh, Jia just got very, very lucky with a video going viral and that’s about it really… there are 1000s of people or even coaches that can teach these lessons. But still, I appreciate a lot his cause. 99% of people live in a world where rejection, the fear to ask is ruling or at the very least impacting their lives MASSIVELY! Think about the girl you couldn’t get enough courage to ask out, the job you missed after you didn’t even apply, the proposal you didn’t present to the big investors, how you didn’t take the phone of another investor, the cold calls you didn’t make etc. I can go on and on. The fear of rejection is probably the #1 difference between successful and not-successful people or at least the root of it.
Jia Jiang doesn’t go very deep into the reasons why we fear to be rejected and why people can say yes to your request. It’s the ego. Both parties – the lower their ego, the more they are into the moment… the easier it is to collaborate. The ego is what keeps these 99% of all people from exploring ways to improve. Every time I’ve mentioned pickup, cold approaching girls… all boys/men say it’s useless, they can do it anyway, blah, blah… Truth is they can not unless they’re drunk as it is against our biology like Jiang explains from neurochemistry point of view. GABA helps? :) Only when they’re down and their ego is in shambles, they’re willing to take the risk, expose themselves and improve. Before that, it’s “I can do it if I want”. Truth is they can’t :) Fear is ruling them at that moment.

Something else for the future that I need to research is how on Earth Chinese businesses make millions of products, don’t really care about failure etc., but somehow internally they’re soooo afraid of “losing their face”. This is absolutely the #1 fear in that part of Asia. Probably Jia’s book can be absolute #1 best seller in China if it goes through their censorship.

Also, he gave me the inspiration to explore another kind of rejection. Mass public rejection. Think Monica Lewinsky, a young girl branded by the whole media of being a slut, risking the marriage of the President and on top of it, she internally knows that it’s not fair… that poor charming Billy boy is a mass rapist, yet nobody is willing to believe or defend the young intern. That must have hurt, the whole sense of rejection and injustice.
In general people with huge ego make the comebacks easy. Think Flavio Briatore, most corrupt politicians, they’re all insanely egotistical. They have such strong egos, that they never accept that what they did was wrong. Lance Armstrong is a perfect case.
Pat Symonds, on the other hand, is the other approach. He was closer to Monica Lewinsky than to Lance Armstrong in his big public mistake. He was obviously pushed by Briatore, but because he’s such goodwill and capable person, slowly but surely everybody accepted him back in the sport with open arms. Most people don’t have much good to say about Briatore, but the vast majority of people absolutely enjoy Pat Symonds company and he’s in no way arrogant or ego-driven. He just loves racing and his sincere approach seems to have paid off. Just wishing more hardworking people like Pat have the courage to come back and continue pursuing their dreams.
Anyways, I need to come up with some challenges where I’m absolutely exposed in front of my friends in order to train my rejection muscle.

This thing that Jia is talking about rejection muscle, it’s absolutely true. This muscle is a bit like your stomach or neck muscles. It’s very hard to train and requires massive maintenance. After over 1 year without a single cold-approach, my confidence is seriously down and it will take me some work to get back to my average, let alone top form. Even though the top form most likely will be mega compared to my best 2.5 years ago.
One more thing. He never talked about confidence & pressure in the book. That’s the freaking key! But it’s such a long and complicated topic.

Anyways, this book is an excellent first step into breaking the chains of our completely useless fears of rejection. When you are getting rejected, it’s only your current version at that moment being rejected. You’re only rejected by the current version of the approached individual in that very same moment. Nothing else, nothing more. Even in 10 minutes the situation might be the opposite. It’s temporary, not a permanent condition. Rejection isn’t forever!

One word – amazing! Just like Adrian Newey, this book delivers so much, not on the technical stuff, but on the approach and mindset. It’s rare when a book over-delivers. The title implies that it will be highly technical, but Adrian doesn’t complicate things. He’s just giving simple explanations and talks about how his way of thinking and decision making was made, the lessons and negatives.

Often times I’m super frustrated with normal technology, from home appliances to software… I believe every engineer should read this book. IMHO, F1 engineers are the best simply because of the passion and drive they have for the sport. You’re always going to be much better if you have passion than the next guy who is doing something as a job. The quality and reliability are rarely anywhere near the levels of major motorsport. I’m not QA engineer, but so often you buy products from big brands where if I was CEO, I’d fire the QA boss right away. The attention to detail is lacking is non-existent in many everyday products, oftentimes you know for sure they haven’t tested the product at all, it’s very frustrating.  The same applies to concept thinking. Adrian is one of those people who have never gone to work, his passion, not hobby, his passion is the way he is earning his paycheck and obviously, he’s the best-paid engineer in the world. I seriously doubt if there is anyone in Silicon Valley taking 20mln pounds retainer for so many years :) His salary for joining McLaren back in 1997 was $8 mln! Nowadays Adrian is dealing with the new rules in F1 and the Aston Martin supercar, but I hope one day he’s going to use his talents in the maritime and aircraft industries. The ships we are using to deliver our goods from Asia are more responsible for global warming than our cars, of course the media is not exactly smart and have no idea of this fact. The design of the vessels is pretty basic. We’ve been using wings in fluids for over 1 century, yet just recently due to America’s Cup wings are gaining traction in watercrafts. It’s absolutely amazing! Someone like Adrian can create a far more efficient and faster cargo ship than those ancient ships and yachts we have now. CFD and the knowledge in fluid dynamics in F1 and motorsport is second to none, this knowledge and talent should be used for better ships, better wind farms, flood prevention(boy, is that relevant?) and of course better aircraft! It took Airbus and Boeing decades to implement wing elements developed in racing… it’s absolutely insane to have the same airliner design concept for over half a century! That’s madness! There’s so much that you can improve through more efficient use of current technology, every now and then any industry needs to reinvent itself. This is right now happening with the automotive industry to an extent.

The chapters where he was talking about school killing all of his creative juices were very much on point, especially about Repton – what an animal house! Many people think of these experiences as character building, it’s true to an extent, but it’s also true that once you go through such experiences part of you is being killed. Often most people, even if one teacher was an asshole to them later in life, they would rationalize his or her behavior and find something positive. Vast majority of people are like this, but if you keep your mouth shut, such teachers and institution will continue to kill minds. Like Adrian, even though I had As, I hated my time at school. I hated with passion everything that required remembering and I don’t think I learned much in school or university. And it’s not down to the school or university, even at Harvard it would have been the same. The whole system with authority from above is what is killing creativity.  Repton has been an extreme version and I’m glad that Adrian and Jeremy Clarkson are publicly denouncing this school to which parents send their kids for torture and on top of it are paying a lot of money for this “service”.
Mostly in school/university, you learn to persevere and continue reading. Actually, they even teach you to read the wrong way… Part of the secret of Adrian’s success is that he has kept his inner child alive, the curious nature that is rejecting authority is responsible for these groundbreaking designs! It’s important for us, after the days of school/university.

Strangely though, maybe because he didn’t have enough time, but he didn’t help his son Harrison to become the next big thing. He left him to fight for it.

Lesson #1 for me, is that you need to keep your inner child in order to have your creative juices flowing. Adrian was simply struggling for air at McLaren, Ron Dennis being very strict, the team being super bureaucratic. It’s no wonder that when McLaren was a top team with Red Bull being a new team, Adrian took this risk and in no team Red Bull were a dominating team. That’s the power of freedom!

Of course, Adrian could have handled his personal life better, but it takes a special kind of a woman to marry a guy who’s married to his passion first and then to her. He’s a creative genius and it’s normal for him to be absent-minded, unattending etc. All traits that don’t go well in families and with wives in particular. He reminds me a lot to Warren Buffett, the same passion and joy for his favorite hobby.

Freedom, that’s the lesson! Reject the mainstream, always questioning the common sense and looking to challenge even the basics. The traits Adrian had as a child, that sense of freedom which was inspired in him by his mother, he still has them today and they’re helping him to win. He’s not one willing to bend under the authority and he knows his own prices fully well. He’s never afraid of asking for what he deserves to be paid and as a result, he’s been paid millions for his work for over 30 years. Not bad for an engineer, huh? Who says they can’t hustle a great deal? ;)
Actually, with the way Adrian has been guiding his design office for decades and the way he can get what he wants… I’m sure he can be an amazingly successful entrepreneur! I hope he does go in ventures outside of the racing/automotive worlds. He has so much to offer to the world!

I have read this book at the start of this year, but just got reminded of the lessons in it by reading Mark Webber’s Aussie Grit.

Aussie Grit by Mark Webber

Posted: September 7, 2019 in racing

First, my biggest shock is the uber unprofessional and egotistical way Mercedes reacted on his Le Mans airborne crashes. You see the true strength of an organization during such times, not when you’re overspending easily your competitors and thus beating them. The whole notion, that a driver would lie about being airborne in a car with a broken airbox is beyond idiotical.
The management and engineers obviously had way too much confidence in their competences and thoroughly missed on checking the basics. Obviously, running on a smooth oval won’t be the same as the bumpy Mulsanne straight at Le Mans that is daily driven by commuters and lorries. No wonder they had both big mechanical and aerodynamics problems.
It’s a waste of time to go to a smooth circuit only “because the weather was great” in preparation for a bumpy street circuit, but they had the giant budget and basically wasted in on unrepresentative tests(I’d say holidays).
Also, they failed to support Mark in PR after the accident. It’s evident that they never apologized, instead they preferred to maintain their pride… It’s evident, how even championship-winning and dominating organization can behave like complete and utter assholes/amateurs, but thanks to their funding they can still win. The way they had treated their drivers is simply disgusting. At the end of the day, they were lucky not to kill MANY people in these accidents.
I’ve long had limited respect for Mercedes as a brand, it’s too political… too many egos and too many layers of decision-makers. Also, they have this habit of entering a category and beat everyone else by overspending them, they don’t win on efficiency. Those who win on efficiency, they deserve more respect. Having read these stories, it’s no wonder Mercedes now are winning with teams based in Brackley and Brixworth in England. Toto Wolff is also the opposite to the old school German managers, he’s very… definitely not German as in tough, lacking feelings and uncompromising. He’s a very cosmopolitan type of personality, excellent modern team boss.

The second lesson is about loyalty and love. Ann Neal, Mark’s partner is far from having supermodel looks. Also, she’s quite a bit older than him. Mark, on the other hand, looks like a runaway male model. He could have gotten any girl he wants even back in his FFord days. Girls love racing drivers, the whole danger aspect is very attractive for them. But he chose Ann over the beauty queens, he even broke up with one prima-donna to get back to Ann. IMHO, girls who take a lot of care on themselves are usually very romantic, often even very loyal and human, but they lack the tenacity and drive to be in a long-term relationship. They are most of the time very insecure in themselves. Yet, somehow they tend to oversimplify things and believe the man should be able to deal with whatever they can’t deal with. Which is fine when you only have fun as you don’t encounter any hardships at these moments of joy… But I still believe, truly naturally beautiful girls are so often extraordinary good people, they can inspire you and have unique, the serene outlook for life. Ann being older and gone thru tragedy, she’s a fighter. Amazing woman.

Mark and Ann also took some quite big risks on first glance. I think they were probably fearing a bit too much when they took these decisions. But they were all calculated risks, maybe except for Briatore’s 10-year deal… but Flavio is a bull in a china shop. Joining Williams was the better choice for Mark simply because at the time the decision was made, Williams was just the stronger team – better founding, better facilities, more experience, etc. Patrick & Frank are also definitely much more predictable than Flavio… then, of course, going to Red Bull with Adrian Newey was no risk at all! It took them basically 2 years to produce a winning car, even if it was run by Toro Rosso :)
Many young drivers will read and think it’s OK to take such risks, especially skipping one category to go to a higher one, but it’s fair to say that Mark was always exploring all his options very thoroughly and then took the risk. They were networking, testing, etc. all in advance. It wasn’t a dumb arrogant self-belief, it was his pace in the cars that was the final decider.
Getting back to F3000 after his stint at Mercedes was not a risk, he had driven so much with Mercedes, tire tested with Bridgestone, had a legendary teammate in Bernd Schneider… he was for sure one of the favorites for the title, the big question was the team. They had massively underperformed the previous year with Oliver Gavin, effectively ending Gavin’s career in single-seaters. But Mark was very fast in testing straight away…

The first advice he was given for working with Dr. Marko – just laugh at him, it was so right! Mark was acknowledging him way too often, he should have destroyed him given his close relationship with Mateschitz. Why even talk with this guy? He should have placed traps around him and just used his inability to control temper as a way to destroy his credibility in front of the team and Dietrich in particular. Then, just shoot! Also, when a partner like Ann just can’t a certain environment… I don’t understand why they didn’t have someone else there to help? Someone who could thrive in this environment… for me, it’s just a career weakness.
Mark was too fair and naive. There have been so many opportunities for him to destroy Marko & Sebastian. It’s a shame. Vettel’s weakness was obvious to him & Ann, yet they never exploited it. If Nico Rosberg with his 2015/6 approach was at Red Bull, with the same speed as Mark, he would have destroyed Vettel. Bouncing back isn’t one of Vettel’s strong points, he needs a lot of support from the team both not to fall down in confidence and bounce back.
But above all, the big question is why Christian Horner still to this day hasn’t destroyed Marko? The guy is simply mental. That moment when he ruined DC’s last British GP is crazy! Yet, like I was behaving previously, Christian is trying to be good with everybody.
Mark, Christian, and Adrian all can’t stand Marko, together they are much stronger than him. These 3 are the team, at the end of the day the team is Austrian only by ownership and Dietrich will be super timid to avoid any major shakeup that might endanger his huge investment just as it is paying off with Adrian designing these amazing cars!
But they were just never together, they were only defending. Never attacking. It’s amazing they never put an ultimatum on Dietrich to kick the guy out.
Makes me very happy that I’ve researched about NPD. Dealing with bullies is a very valuable life skill that even successful people like Mark haven’t mastered or even have a basic understanding of it.

Also, Mark isn’t one to praise his own achievements. He’s just too humble… it’s something that I should work on too. It’s this feeling of being a misfit, not enough… the boy from Queanbeyan(like there are any F1 drivers coming from downtown London or NYC!). This feeling of being exposed and not enough is what prevents him and to an extent prevents me as well of simply stating our own abilities and achievements. Always trying to downplay everything about ourselves. This leads people to underestimate you.
Mark raced for many years with an insert in his leg. He challenged both Sebastian and Alonso down to the final round with a less than perfect physical condition in a team openly supporting his teammate! Before this book, Mark was a nearly man for me, now he’s a world champion! Yes, Vettel had great years where he dominated, but clearly, he had all the support from Red Bull, while his teammate had to navigate a constant negative attitude towards him from the team management. IMHO, the struggles Vettel had afterwards in Ferrari show his true colors. He’s just not capable to withstand pressure to the extent to which he can be labeled a legend of the sport. He has as many titles and wins as Alain Prost, but… nope. Not in Prost’s category. He seems to have been lucky to be at the right place at the right time when Marko had to support his junior driver in order to finally win. Now, Charles Leclerc, his first teammate that isn’t supporting him… he’s probably going to end Sebastian’s career. It’s a shame, because he’s such a happy go lucky character, but being shielded by Red Bull prevented him from growing. He’s absolutely no Schumacher.

One further note following Nigel Mansell’s autobiography – both struggled massively in their careers following absolutely unnecessary outdoor sports injuries on bikes. The thrill I’m getting even from downhill… it’s not even as big as rental karting and the flow is less than in sim racing. Going back to basics – stationary bike and rowing machine with lots of clothing on while listening to books, podcasts or just EDM :)

Finally, what I don’t like in most F1 driver biographies is the lack of writing about driving these machines… it’s mostly events that did happen. It’s very hard for people outside of racing to comprehend why these guys are taking such crazy risks that might ruin their future, their whole family future all in the name of one goal – go racing. The source of this crazy passion, the motivation is missing from these books. Maybe they should have read more from Nabokov :)

I’d love to see Mark come back in racing, he’s now retired and can be very helpful in the FIA.

Link to the book: https://amzn.to/2zV1rs5