Weekly Learning Journal 1 (17/08/2020)

Table of Contents

Hi RIP readers,

As you probably know I keep track of what I read/watch/listen/consume in terms of inputs. I use Roam for my Personal Knowledge Management, productivity and daily journaling. Yes, it’s not free and it’s not cheap, but as a beta user I’m still enjoying it for free 😉

Anyway, I always wanted to share more of what I “consume” in terms of high quality online content. I tried with “Eleven Gems on the Net” series, and I tried again with CuriosiTips. I also tried to add a Learning/Curiosity section in each monthly update. I loved it, and I got amazing feedback as well… but it was time consuming.

So I’m trying a new format: just “dump & edit” my Roam notes and links here, on a weekly basis. I’ll publish a post every Monday, hopefully early in the morning. It should be lightweight for me and hopefully valuable for you. Welcome to WLJ, RIP’s Weekly Learning Journal 🙂

I hope you enjoy!


Sloww: The Five Balls of Life (7/10)

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Sloww shared a short story, Five Balls by Brian Dyson, a story about Balance.


Cal Newport on Problem Solving and Communication Network (6/10)

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A poorly connected communication network reaches better solutions, but slowly. A strongly connected communication network (a lot of emails, slack, and so on) reaches a pretty good solution fast, but then gets stuck.


Derek Sivers donated 250k USD (all his new book proceedings) to charity (6/10)

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Derek Sivers old personal story: 232 Sand Dollar Shells (8/10)

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Connected to the previous entry. The excitement is in curiosity and discovery, not in accumulation and money.


Grant Snider illustration about Balance (8/10)

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Amazing!

… this is just a part of the whole animation, go read it all 🙂

Derek Sivers on how to Learn Javascript (7/10)

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I like Derek, I’ve read almost everything he published on his blog (didn’t buy any of his books though). He’s one of that kind of person which is hard to define “who he is” and “what he does”. Those are the people I love the most 🙂

He’s also a self taught software engineer, and he build things from scratch all the time. He built his website without using frameworks. He advocates a kind of “first principle programming”, i.e. do not depend on frameworks that comes and go, and learn the basics!

In this article he recommends how to learn JS, but the same principles apply to many other fields, even outside computer programming.


Nick Maggiulli “the most important number in personal finance” (6/10)

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It’s about Wealth Discipline Ratio, an improved version of Lifetime Wealth Ratio introduced by JMoney in 2014. Link (7/10).

Nice concept, I’ve also mentioned mine approximated LWR on one of my Hooli story posts.

Nick tried to build on top of that, but in my opinion the changes he proposed are ok-ish but don’t cover all the issues with LWR. Anyway, a good read. It’s nice to see a real “expert” in the field validate a blogger drunk rant 6 years later 🙂


Mad Fientist fourth ER anniversary (7/10)

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Less interesting compared to previous editions (1, 2, 3) though.


Mr Money Mustache about “the sweet spot” (5/10)

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MMM is not blogging much these days, and it’s reflected in the quality of his posts.


Ben Carlson “Why Would Anyone Own Bonds Right Now?” (6/10)

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Some sad truths about bonds, and what could be the reasons to hold them in this central bank induced low yield environment. Not convincing enough though.


Italian – Wesa about the abundance of creative production today (8/10)

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Nice analysis of current abundance of content. What will we remember of last decade? And what about future decades?


The School of Life about why Science can be as comforting as Religion (7/10)

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Ethan Hawke TED Talk about Passion and Creativity (7/10)

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A nice motivational talk, but like XKCD once saidevery inspirational speech by someone successful should have to start with a disclaimer about survivorship bias


CGP Grey explaining himself why he was wrong on his video about Tekoi (8/10)

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I honestly don’t like the CGP Grey Indiana-Jones-like videos, and I didn’t like the original Tekoi one.

But this one to apologize and correct himself, also introducing a classification of possible errors and his mental approach to avoid and/or cope with them is pure gold.

The cost of perfection is infinite

— CGP Grey


The Plain Bagel video on ESG, i.e. Ethical Investing (7/10)

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A nice, complete analysis of pro and cons of investing in ESG funds (Environmental, Social and Governance factors) by my second favorite Canadian CFA Youtuber!


Fight Mediocrity video about Dorian Yates (7/10)

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Dorian Yates is a famous bodybuilder, who lived 12 years “as a monk”.

Nice video on focus, grit, getting out of comfort zone and so on.


Thoughy2 video about Neurotransmitters… and Balance (7/10)

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On a personal note: I think I’m having many Amygdala hijacks episodes lately. When Adrenaline and Cortisol are produced and you enter in “Fight or Flight” situation and you can’t think clearly.


Italian – Wesa video about Learning and Curiosity (9/10)

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Learn! It’s cheap, rewarding, fun, fulfilling. Do that!


Italian – Wesa video about internet, reputation, anxiety, YouTube, Twitch, streaming, video games, integrity, authenticity, and Death (8/10)

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A lot of philosophy gems here. Maybe you can relate if you’re a content creator, or have an ongoing existential crisis.


Jane Goodall interview with Chris Anderson (head of TED) (8/10)

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It’s always a pleasure to listen to Jane Goodall. You can still be an idealist at age 86!


ItalianInvestitori Ribelli podcast episode with Incassaforte Podcast guys (6/10)

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investitori Ribelli are a couple of Italians living in UK. They invited me on their podcast. We recorded the episode on Friday August 14th. The same day I listened to a couple of episodes of their show. A nice discovery in an almost empty “investing in Italy” landscape.


Nat Eliason about Commitment, Optionality, Investment (9/10)

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This article started a rabbit hole of few other articles. The idea that broke my brain is that “pursuing more options is not always a good thing”, which I think it used to be one of my strongly held belief.

I read “The Trouble with Optionality” commencement speech by Mihir Desai few months ago, but this new sequence was a punch in the face!

I also extracted notes on this article:

  • Maximization Fallacy: The belief that you’ll be happier trying to find something perfect, than something good enough that you can improve on.
  • Are you a satisficer or a maximizer? A satisfacer picks a solution that’s good enough, a maximizer needs to take the best solution. Of course it’s a spectrum.
  • If you hang out with entrepreneurial or wantrepreneurial types, then you may know someone with Attention Deficit Entrepreneur Disorder. It’s exactly what it sounds like. An entrepreneurial person who can’t focus on one project, or even one set of projects. Who keeps spinning up new ideas, buying new domain names, talking to their friends about the next big idea they’ve come up with.
    • This is me…
  • The Fetishization of Options: “Choose the plan with the most options. The best plan is the one that lets you change your plans. (Example: renting a house is buying the option to move at any time without losing money in a changing market.)” – Derek Sivers
  • Part of the problem with option optimization is that it makes us unhappy. In The Paradox of Choice, Schwartz provides a few simple rules for managing choice overload. One of those rules is to make non-reversible decisions: “Don’t worry about opportunity cost too much. Stick to things you always buy, avoid “new and improved,” don’t scratch unless there’s an itch, and remember that you can never take advantage of every single opportunity in the world so stop trying to find all of them… Make your decisions non-reversible.”
  • Why should we make non-reversible decisions? Because if we don’t, we engage in Counterfactual Thinking, a term popularized by Kahneman and Tversky that describes our tendency to imagine different histories and futures in our heads, envisioning all the things that could have gone, or could go, differently, if something else had happened in the past.
  • If Flow State is the peak productive state, which it seems to be, then reaching peak productivity is largely a function of ignoring all of the options you have for other things you could be working on.
  • This works on the micro scale, applied to the task at hand, but we can also draw it out to the macro: Just as constant task switching erodes your short-term productivity, constantly changing your big picture focus will destroy your long-term productivity.
  • The opposite of HODL is “buy high and sell low.” Instead of sticking with your investments, you get freaked out and sell when they dip, and get exuberantly stupid and buy when they peak. It’s a perfect analogy for what we do in the other areas of our lives where we fail to sufficiently commit.
    • First, we buy high: latching on to something that’s exciting now. The latest Tinder match. The newest idea. The sexiest diet. And then we ride it for as long as the excitement lasts.
    • When it gets difficult, boring, or something sexier comes along, we quit (sell low).
    • To put it another way, we ride new things out till they hit The Dip, then abandon ship for the next thing that hasn’t hit its dip yet. The next honeymoon phase. The next exciting domain purchase. The new thing we’re going to be better than 80% of other people at.
    • But as anyone who’s stuck with something for long enough knows, that dip is a necessary phase in the progression of whatever you’re doing. A relationship needs to move out of the honeymoon phase and start having some real disagreements to grow. A business needs to have some scary, difficult periods to create a moat that other businesses won’t easily cross. A fitness regime, or diet, will naturally get boring and frustrating at some point.
      • This is me again…
    • And here’s the thing: you (and I) likely agree with that paragraph, but we completely ignore how the need to traverse the dip applies to certain domains. I completely understood the need to stick it out through a boring weight lifting plateau, but it took a year and a half of nomadic travel to realize that applied to cities as well.
      • So true!! Same for me! I know how to stick with frugality, avoid compulsive spending, don’t smoke… but I have no idea how to hold a diet for more than a week! And I’d add: I tend to judge those who can’t stick with a good habit I’m able to, while I don’t recognize that I’m on the other side of the judgement on the fields I’m not able to stick to!
  • Focusing on Commitment runs up against the maximization impulses we know we have. Instead, forget commitment. Think about what you want to invest in.
  • You’re not committing to working out, you’re investing in your health, whether that means looking good at the beach or being able to run around with your grandkids.
    • As I see it, it’s like focusing on the system not the goal. The habit, not the goal. The process, not the goal. The means, not the ends.
  • You’re not committing to someone, you’re choosing who you want to invest in developing a relationship with.
  • Investment and foregoing options is necessary for any growth.

Neil Soni post “The Optionality Trap” (9/10)

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Part of the previous rabbit hole.

Extracted notes on this as well:

  • Over the course of a lifetime, this optionality maximization mentality turns us into habitual option collectors and prevents us from reaching our goals.
  • Quoting Mihir Desai: The Yale undergraduate goes to work at McKinsey for two years, then comes to Harvard Business School, then graduates and goes to work Goldman Sachs and leaves after several years to work at Blackstone. Optionality abounds!
  • The optionality trap is something that ensnares us, not through outside forces, but through our own risk aversion and indecisiveness. My opinion is that the optionality trap originates from an aversion to being hurt emotionally. A desire to avoid emotional pain is of course, completely natural. But in this avoidance lies an emotional stuntedness that prevents us from ever trying anything worthwhile and learning through the process.
    • My note: am I also falling in the optionality trap by saving all bookmarks, wanting to retain all knowledge, reading 100s of articles on 10000s of subjects instead of going deep on a few o them? Is shallowness a form of optionality trap?
  • Neil Soni mentions an amazing medium story titled The Risk Not Taken, by Andy Dunn (more on this below).
  • If we choose the path that doesn’t speak to our souls but feels safer, there’s a very strong likelihood that we’ll ask that dreaded question years later: What if? What if we took the plunge?
    • this looks like Jeff BezosRegret Minimization Framework
  • Quoting Andy Dunn: “If you can’t decide what to do, get on the road. You won’t find the answer. It will find you“.

Andy Dunn post “The Risk Not Taken” (8/10)

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The “Decision Elf” said to him twice in his life (so far): “The risk not taken is more dangerous than the risk taken“.

There are costs associated to not taking risk. Get out of your comfort zone. Both in money management (do not save for the sake of saving, invest it!), and in any major life decision.

I took notes:

  • The point the author wants to make is that there is a lot of risk into not taking risks.
  • This article resonates a lot with a More To That post titled The Day You Decided to Take the Leap (Note for the post: I could continue the rabbit hole… I took notes of the MTT post as well, but let’s stop here!)
  • Andy, the author mentioned that for three years he was always half broke, financially. He had a revelation moment when his bank account said “insufficient funds” while withdrawing money for a cash only restaurant where he brought a date.
  • He says his two most important decisions hadn’t been made by him, rather they came visiting him.
    • I’ve found that I don’t make decisions. Instead they come to me like a visitor does to your doorstep“.
  • He calls this “entity” representing the decision, The Decision Elf
    • If you can’t decide what to do, get on the road. You won’t find the answer. It will find you.
  • First decision was “drop everything off and start traveling”
    • Before taking the decision, he was rationalizing and considering murder rate of El Salvador, then the Decision Elf said “The risk not taken is more dangerous than the risk taken
    • So he started traveling and learned a lot of things: “Live somewhere else, on the terms of the people who live there, for six months. It will change your life.
      • My note: this is classical Survivorship Bias though.

  • The risk is not in doing something that feels risky. The risk is in not doing something that feels risky
    • My note: There’s more risk in not taking a risky action (thus, keeping doing what you always did) than in taking a risky one. This about me deciding to move to Milan in 2007. It was a risky move, but had I not taken for the comfort of staying in Rome and keep pushing a failed academic career now I won’t be here, as a Millionaire, in Zurich with my family.
    • the only regrets octogenarians have are for the risks not taken
      • My note: Nice mention of the regrets of the dying.
    • If the risk taken does pan out, it is good. But if it doesn’t we find a way to justify the risk taken as learning.
      • My note: our Confirmation Bias helps us finding the positive even if a risky move did us harm.
  • Andy second decision was to start a company instead of accepting a full time job
    • My note: another Survivorship Bias example.
    • The day after the Decision Elf visited me in the shower I saw a close friend at Stanford. I informed him of my decision to start a company instead of taking the job. I’ll never forget what he said because it rang true to the moment: You’ll never starve, and you’ll always have a place to sleep. Worst comes to worst, you can always stay on our couch.
    • Don’t ask your parents what to do. Instead inform them of your plans, and ask them what risks they took at your age
    • We honor the sacrifices of our forebears not by doing precisely what they would choose for us at that moment, but by following the spirit of them wanting us to be happy. We do not do the bidding they would prescribe for us a generation away, but instead by doing what they might choose for themselves if they were our age. If they’ve done well by us and we by them, perhaps we accomplish more each generation as we go.

Nat Eliason post “30 years thinking” (7/10)

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Yeah, I like Nat a lot. I’ve read almost everything he published. He’s 16 years (!!!) younger than me, but I consider him a virtual mentor of mine on so many fields.

Think long term. 30 years in the future.


Mike Winnet‘s Contrepreneur Bingo while watching a webinar of a fake guru whose name I don’t even remember (6/10)

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Mike Winnet videos are entertaining, and helps you recognize Fake Guru tactics!


Thomas Frank video on How to Make Money Online (7/10)

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I like this guy. I like the way he exposes concepts in the field of productivity. Nothing original, but well exposed. High quality.


Nat Eliason post about How To Blog (10/10)

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This is one of the best articles about monetization, content quality and everything about blogging I’ve ever read.

This dwarfed any other article on the same topic I saved.

I need to read and re-read it many times.

If I ever decide to pull the trigger on employment and go all-in with blogging/entrepreneuring this article will be the lighthouse.

I need to extract notes about it, but it left me with a series of “wow…” and I hadn’t grabbed the pieces of my brain on the floor after the explosion yet.

Seriously, wow!

Thanks Nat!

I expected this article yet another “how to launch a blog” whose sole goal would be to recommend you to sign up with BrownHost, the shittiest host ever with the best referral program, but I was soon reminded that Nat is not the affiliate-addicted blogger-next-door:

Then he switched on how to create content, writing habit, the writing itch, some basic SEO – and how to not care about it if it damages what you want to deliver – other great recommendations (btw, he also wrote a great article on writing quality).

Then he switched to traffic and monetization and got 100% transparent with his experience so far.

And WOW! This is the jaw breaking part. I love how he approached it, and holy crap what are the results!

I myself purchased his Effortless Output with Roam course few months ago for 100 USD, and I think it’s very high quality! He just wrote an enthusiast post about Roam – a post that convinced me to try the product while it was in closed beta – and few days later he executed on the success of that post and… published a course on it. A rich course, with many videos (and he keeps adding content!).

it’s just… brilliant!

It’s how I want to operate if I ever want to go that way.

That’s how he’s making out of his blog, not considering Roam course and his company Growth Machine, also born out of a successful post.

You can find the breakdown for each subcategory on the post.

If you factor in revenues from his Roam course:

Wow.

Congrats bro, happy to be a small yellow block in this picture 🙂

And still, he gives away 99% of his content for free. Amazing business model!


Nat Eliason about Deliberate Practice (8/10)

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Ok, I’m into another rabbit hole.

I still haven’t found a topic that Nat touched superficially or in the wrong way. including FIRE, including Passive Income. Ok, maybe Budgeting

Anyway, Deliberate Practice is a topic I love a lot. When I dream about revolutionizing education, I’d put deliberate practice at its center. The most inspirational figure so far is Cal Newport, and his great trilogy on how to become a valuable worker: So Good they Can’t Ignore You, Deep Work, and Digital Minimalism. Well collected into this 2015 talk at Adobe 99U conference.

Nat showed me how to go one level deeper, pointing to original research by Anders Ericsson (the researcher who defined the term in the 70s), and his book Peak.

I haven’t read the book, but it seems like I should.

Anyway, Nat also wrote a follow up post with concrete examples of deliberate practice here. Enjoy 🙂


Kurzgesagt video on Asteroid Mining (7/10)

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Their videos are always pleasant to watch, especially if you’re a futuristic dreamer like I am 🙂


Marbula League 2020 (15/10)

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The season is over. It’s been a NO-SPOILER season for a O’Rangers fan like me!


That’s all for this week!

9 comments

    1. Yeah, it sucks… it’s Tiago Forte’s fault, whatever enters the Forte Labs gets inflated in price 🙁
      Anyway, I have lifetime access because I purchased the course when it was 100 USD 🙂

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