December 14, 2020
As we look to end the year that was 2020, I thought of curating reads that may be useful to reflect on the past and plan for the future. Apart from insights, I have shared resources that can help you DO i.e. apply and get tangible benefit.
Self-reflection entails asking yourself questions about your values, assessing your strengths and failures, thinking about your perceptions and interactions with others, and imagining where you want to take your life in the future.
~ Robert L Rosen
I came to know about Mark Cuban in 2011 when I had a chance to pitch my startup to him and Daymond John at the Babson Shark Tank. That was followed by one of the most insightful discussions over lunch I’ve ever had. The clarity of thought that Mark Cuban possessed made me re-think how I should look at stuff. Since then I’ve tried to read all I can about Mark Cuban and the incredible things he’s achieved.
From Kevin Gao’s letter in 2017, here’s a long read on Mark’s thoughts on the book ‘The Number’ by Alex Berenson.
After taxes, I (Mark Cuban) walked away with about $2 million from the sale of MicroSolutions in 1990. That was going to be my nest egg, and my goal was to protect it at all costs and grow it wisely. I was a widows and orphans investor.
I saw Raleigh using the information I gave him to make money for his clients. He finally broke me down to start using this information to my advantage to make some money in the market.
For years on end, a company’s price can have less to do with a company’s real prospects than with the excitement it and its supporters are able to generate among investors. That lesson was reinforced as I saw the Gandalf experience repeated with many different stocks over the next 10 years. Brokers and bankers market and sell stocks. Unless demand can be manufactured, the stock will decline.
If the value of a stock is what people will pay for it, then Broadcast.com was fairly valued. We were able to work with Morgan Stanley to create volume around the stock. Volume creates demand. Stocks don’t go up because companies do well or do poorly. Stocks go up and down depending on supply and demand. If a stock is marketed well enough to create more demand from buyers than there are sellers, the stock will go up. What about fundamentals? Fundamentals is a word invented by sellers to find buyers.
I get asked every day to invest in private companies. I always ask the same couple of questions. How soon till I get my money back, and how much cash can I make from the investment? I never ask what the PE ratio will be, what the Price to Sales ratio will be. Most private investors are the same way. If you really think of it, when a stock doesn’t pay dividends, there really isn’t a whole lot of difference between a share of stock and a baseball card.
I know that it sounds crazy, but the stock market has gone from a place where investors actually own part of a company and have a say in their management, to a market designed to enrich insiders by allowing them to sell shares they buy cheaply through options. Companies continuously issue new shares to their managers without asking their existing shareholders. Those managers then leak that stock to the market a little at a time. It’s an unlimited dilution of existing shareholders’ stakes, death by a thousand dilutive cuts. If that isn’t a scam, I don’t know what is. Individual shareholders have nothing but the chance to sell it to the next sucker.
Volume, The Number, whisper numbers, insiders granting themselves millions and millions of options – these are the games that Wall Street plays to keep on enriching themselves at the expense of the public. I know this. I may be a cynic when it comes to the stock market, but I am an informed cynic, and that has helped me make some very, very profitable decisions in the market.
I first came across a framework to organize what’s important in my life through a colleague and good friend Peter Schibli during my stay in Auckland in 2015. I’ve been using an evolved version of that framework since and it has helped me design a better life.
Here’s a holistic guide on reflecting on the year gone by and planning your life for 2021 by Steve Schlafman.
Start the process now! Give yourself about 2 weeks to finish the process.
Be bold, honest, and genuine – BE YOU.
Take the time to go through and answer all the questions regarding your personal and professional life.
One question that I felt was missing in The Ultimate Annual Review and needed attention:
What are you grateful for?
I’m grateful to be alive and live through a pandemic in 2020! I am grateful to have a caring family, friends who I can depend upon, work on my fitness, and the fortune to do some of the things that bring meaning to me. So – what are you grateful for?
“If the proximate purpose of technology is to reduce scarcity, the ultimate purpose of technology is to eliminate mortality.” This could well have been the quote for this newsletter. Only, I found self-reflection a more important quote given the time of the year.
In this masterpiece, Balaji Srinivasan covers a lot… in less. Read on to know more.
Is the proximate purpose of technology to reduce scarcity? Think about how a breakthrough is described: faster, smaller, cheaper, better. All of these words mean that with this new technology, one can do more with less.
Is the ultimate purpose of technology to eliminate mortality? Well, mortality is the main source of scarcity. If we had infinite time, we would be less concerned with whether something was faster. The reason speed has value is because time has value; the reason time has value is because human life has value, and lifespans are finite. If you made lifespans much longer, you’d reduce the effective cost of everything.
Life extension is the most important thing we can invent AND it’s actually feasible TODAY.
The point of doing a startup after all is to build something you can’t buy. Money can’t yet buy you a trip to Mars. Or a neural implant. Or a medical tricorder.
We need to consciously build a parallel tech-driven decentralized media ecosystem, and we need it to become the first point of call for anyone seeking to learn about technology.
From the 2014 archives of Mr. Money Mustache, read this article on why and how you can get to the most important things of your life instead of running a rat race.
By locking in an incredibly expensive lifestyle (the Pit), people who fall into this trap have become dependent on their high incomes just to stay afloat. The slightest nudge to the unstable house of cards – unemployment, divorce, illness, or even a stock or housing market crash, can leave them broke and desperate.
People in the Void usually end up worn, stressed, physically unfit and unfulfilled. Despite leading such “successful” lives, they wonder why life does not feel like a complete success. So they keep seeking more profit in hopes of filling the void.
If you’re under 40 and making over $75,000, you’ve already made it big. In India, I suppose if you’re making over INR 20 lacs then you’ve already made it big. 10 years of slightly-less-ridiculous-than-average living will buy you financial independence for life.
If you have food, friends, and a comfortable place to live, you are all set to live an incredible life. Everything you buy and every experience and commitment you add to the plate beyond this point is a trade-off: a guaranteed reduction in cash and free time, in exchange for a possible increase in thrills delivered by fun or novelty.
The Power of No means saying “No” to even fun-sounding activities, when you realize your life is already full enough of good things.
Life is not a contest to see who can accomplish the most. It’s simply a series of days where your goal is to wake up, have a great time, and go to bed even happier than when you woke up. You can still make the most of your life, but running on permanent overdrive is generally counterproductive.