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The Anthology of Balaji by Eric Jorgenson

The Anthology of Balaji by Eric Jorgenson

Rating: 8/10

Date Read: June 30, 2024

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My Thoughts

It was a great read!

  • Made me much more optimistic about the future (even though I was pretty optimistic already).
  • Gave me a gazillion ideas for side projects to build (search on this page for “project ideas” too see a few).
  • Helped me think about technology in a new light, the possibilities are endless.
  • Introduced me to many new ideas to look into further.
  • Motivated me to do and share more.

Eric Jorgensen did a great job compiling/writing this. Makes me want to learn about Balaji a great deal more.


In this book, Balaji, shares deep insights into the future of technology, its impact on society, and the possibilities it opens for innovation and entrepreneurship. He also discusses the transformative power of technology in reducing scarcity and reimagining traditional systems, from cities and countries to regulatory bodies like the FDA.

Balaji argues that the tech industry has reached a pivotal point where starting new ventures like Bitcoin, startup cities, and even new countries might be easier and more effective than attempting to reform existing institutions. He believes in the critical role of technology in eliminating mortality and fundamentally changing sectors lagging due to regulation and subsidies, such as education, healthcare, and finance.

The book shows the potential of emerging technologies like cryptocurrency, AI, robotics, and digital nomadism, highlighting their early stages of adoption despite their transformative capabilities. Balaji also critiques modern education systems and suggests that digital tools offer a more personalized and efficient learning path.

Furthermore, Balaji discusses the alignment of media with truth, advocating for tools that track and verify the accuracy of tech journalism, and he foresees a significant shift in the way we perceive and interact with the physical world through advancements in VR and robotics.

Throughout the anthology, there is a strong focus on the philosophy of building over arguing, encouraging entrepreneurs to create alternatives rather than getting entangled in debates. By leveraging a deep understanding of history and a strategic view of the future, Balaji calls for a new era of builders and innovators who can think beyond the constraints of current systems to shape the future of technology and society.

This book is a call to action for tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and thinkers to leverage technology not just for incremental improvements but for monumental shifts in how we live and work.

Actionable Advive

  • Embrace New Ventures Over Reform: Rather than trying to reform outdated systems, consider starting new initiatives. For example, instead of fixing old regulations, launch new technologies like Bitcoin or start new cities.

  • Identify and Address Your Weaknesses: Self-awareness is crucial for personal and professional growth. Regularly assess your weaknesses and actively work on turning them into strengths.

  • Leverage Technology for Scalability: If you’re in a field like academia or research, think about how starting a business might provide you with more resources and a broader impact than traditional grant-dependent paths.

  • Regularly Reset Your Perspective: Treat every few years as a new beginning. Use it as an opportunity to leverage your accumulated resources such as your network, knowledge, and capital.

  • Reduce Conservatism in Innovation: Encourage risk-taking in safe environments, especially in sectors like medicine and technology, to drive systemic improvements and innovations.

  • Utilize Emerging Technologies: Keep an eye on and engage with emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, VR, and biotech. These fields are ripe with opportunities for groundbreaking work and investments.

  • Digital Literacy and Media Consumption: Critically evaluate the media you consume and consider developing tools to parse and verify the accuracy of information, especially in technology journalism.

  • Building Full-Stack Startups: When entering traditional industries with technology, consider a full-stack approach where you control all aspects from production to customer interaction, which can significantly reduce dependency on outdated systems.

  • Focus on Learning and Adaptability: Always be learning and adapting. Use the power of the internet and digital tools to stay updated with the latest developments in your field and beyond.

  • Prioritize Projects That Scale: Focus on projects and startups that have the potential to scale massively. Use technology to build solutions that address large, underserved markets.

  • Build With a Philosophy: Adopt the “win and help win” mentality over “live and let live.” Focus on creating value that helps others succeed while ensuring your own success.

  • Invest in Personal Growth: Allocate time to learning new skills and improving existing ones, particularly those that can leverage technological advancements.

  • Innovate by Doing: Start building and experimenting with your ideas as soon as possible. Learning through practical implementation can lead to faster and more robust innovations.

  • Engage With History and Global Perspectives: Study the history and practices of other cultures and industries to better understand potential technological impacts and innovations.


  • now the view of many in tech who realize that just as it was easier to start Bitcoin than to reform the Fed, it will actually be easier to start a new city than to reform San Francisco, and easier to start a new country than to reform the FDA. Note: would love to read more about this

  • Knowing what I was weak at allowed me to become strong. Note: Figure out your weakness!

  • I founded a startup because we could get larger data samples and make a bigger difference to the world as a profitable com- pany than in academia relying on grants.

  • Every few years, I feel like my life starts anew. I’m in my forties now, but I feel like I’ve just started because I built up various resources like distribution, network, and capital.



  • If the purpose of technology is to reduce scarcity, then the ultimate purpose of technology is to eliminate mortality. At first that sounds crazy. But let’s start here: the purpose of technology is to reduce scarcity. Think about how a breakthrough is described: faster, smaller, cheaper, better. All these words mean that with a new technology, we can do more with less.

  • In 2009, it would have been remarkable to claim “$100 billion in equity value is being held back by outdated taxi and hotel regulations.” Uber and Airbnb showed it was true. The “next big thing” was being held back by those eighty-year-old regulations. Very, very few people were thinking about them. These things are so remarkable and hard to understand that they go unseen constantly. Note: The next big opportunity can be very near it is just hidden from sight.

  • Today, we don’t have the same level of risk tolerance. People want an extremely high level of safety, but they don’t realize we can be too conservative. Being too conservative on safety actually leads to systemic risk. Systemic risk happens when you stop taking risks and get stuck with a system that no longer improves. A direct example is new medicine. Someone has to be first to try a new surgery or drug. The people taking the risk are heroes. They should get awards and prizes. As a society, we should allow this and reward them. Without someone taking that risk, millions of people won’t get a cure.

  • When I hit the Enter key to send an email, many, many things happen. I depress the key, the capacitor changes when I hit that key, the wireless keyboard has Bluetooth to send it to the laptop, the laptop captures that event and turns it into packets, and so on. Five hundred things are happening, and you’re not thinking about any of those things. Progress is abstraction.


  • Prices are up in education, healthcare, and real estate, but they’re down in computers and telecommunications. In every area technology touches, the price decreases.

  • A subsidy is similar to a regulation because it casts a particular way of doing things into stone. That’s why we still have yellow school buses and number two pencils. These decisions are set in budget appropriations, locked in, and then they become lagging aspects of the system. Law, medicine, education, finance, real estate…all of these are lagging areas that are regulated or subsidized.

  • There is so much emerging tech to be excited about: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and crypto in general; startup cities; reversing aging; brain-machine interfaces; transhumanism; robotics; digital nomadism; AI-assisted content creation, including AI video and decentralized video; virtual reality as a replacement for offices; augmented reality for productivity; telemedicine; personal genomics; CRISPR; health tracking; pure biomedicine as well as consumer biomedicine, which overlaps with quantified self. 3D printing in metals is a little more speculative, but I think that’s getting better quietly. Pseudonymity aided by crypto and AI voices and faces is also emerging. I think we’ll build an entire pseudonymous economy.

  • I have to remind myself that these things are still new to 99 percent of the population. The way to calibrate this is to ask the average person, “What are the top five 3D printers?” or “What are the top five drones?” Most people can’t go into the full list. Maybe they can name one or two, but they can’t tell you all the innovation that’s happening, so it’s still early in that space.

  • The incredible thing many people don’t get? Technology is just getting started. We’re only at the base of the exponential.

  • Democrats need to learn experts aren’t always right. Republicans need to learn experts aren’t always wrong. Libertarians need to learn that a state can succeed. Progressives need to learn that a state can fail.

  • Google founder and computer scientist Larry Page said any law more than fifty years old has to be re-examined. Any law written before the internet needs to get re-examined, or it’s going to collapse. Cryptocurrency is going to cause the same situation

  • You can summon the CEO of Facebook to Congress. You can’t summon the “CEO of email” to Congress. There is no CEO. That’s where this is all going.

  • Downsides are obvious. You have kids who are less able to make eye contact because they’re staring at a screen all day. Literally, maybe, their eyes physically can’t focus at medium distance as much anymore. It’s harder for kids to focus on books and to do deep reading because they’re constantly distracted by notifications. The upsides, of course, are they have access to the Library of Alexandria for free any time. If they’re really good at math or computer science or have any other interest, they can find likeminded communities. They’re not forced into twelve years of one-size-fits-all quasi-jail at modern American public schools. Instead, they can self-educate, self-advance, and level up. I think lots of kids are going to be remote working at a much earlier age. We certainly will have 20-something billionaires. We’ll probably have a teenage billionaire soon, if we haven’t already had one. On balance, I think it’s probably positive on the net, though we want to figure out some way to ameliorate those downsides. Note: Reading use of technologies by children. This is a topic I need to think hard about as Theo is growing up.


  • I think it’s interesting to make a table of every fee in finance and ask which of them are actually going to be around in twenty years.

  • with VR, the metaphor of “building” on a frontier becomes more real. We can build structures that combine online and offline features.

  • Over the last few decades, a significant part of the value of being physically present in America has been digitized. COVID19 and remote work accelerated digital life and further reduced the value of the physical. The cloud is becoming primary, the land secondary.

  • Even when the goods themselves can’t be digitized, the interfaces to them will be. Note: Think about the examples

  • Robotics is sort of happening in our peripheral vision now. In the 2020s, we’re going to see more actual robots in the field. That’s going to come pretty quickly, because once a robot can do something, you’ve turned labor into capital. All labor can become capital. When that happens, being really good at engineering just gets higher and higher and higher leverage.

  • I’m increasingly thinking of the physical world as a printout of digital wealth. Ask yourself: what can hitting a button do? In 2010, one button could print a PDF. In 2020, one button can deliver any item. In 2030, maybe one button can build anything.


  • humans to outsource some of our metabolism to the fire and allocate more scarce calories for brain development. This relaxed an evolutionary constraint, which made us smarter and more human. We’ve been coevolving with technology for a very, very long time, throughout evolutionary timescales. Technology is actually what makes us human. It’s what distinguishes man from animal.



  • Learn to determine what is true. Pursue health because, without that, you have really nothing else. Then wealth is important, but it’s third—though it’s important to have that third.

  • Many people think “peer review” means “independent replica- tion and confirmation of results.” Peer review usually means months of delay while a few folks in your field write an email- length criticism of the paper and ask for more work. Peer review is not a panacea.

  • Given how many hunches have been marketed to us as science, the emphasis on independent replication as the core of science is just such a ripcord. Only trust as scientific truth what can be independently verified.

  • Science also progresses by improved instrumentation and better recordkeeping. Star charts enabled celestial navigation. Gregor Mendel’s careful counting of pea plants led to modern genetics. Johann Balmer’s documentation of the exact spac- ing of hydrogen’s emission spectra led to quantum mechanics. Things we believed to be beyond human ken—the stars, the genome, the atom—became things we can comprehend by simply counting them.

  • Sometimes you have the practical phenomenon, but you don’t have the theory underneath it. Then that stimulates the advancement of theory to figure out why the thing actually works. For example, people first got steam engines working and only then discovered the thermodynamic theory from that. The practice often leads to the theory rather than vice versa. The limits of our understanding are more of a bug than a feature.

  • I see a strong correlation between lack of technical ability and naive trust in social authority. The only true authority is raw data.

  • Everybody has strong opinions about people they’ve never met based on tales told by people they do not know.

  • We have a huge problem in every area where social consensus determines truth. It’s much, much deeper than people think. Note: When you are talking about a group of people they are dumb even if individually they are smart.

  • Crypto oracles are more important than people think. Today it’s global consensus on price history; tomorrow it’s global consensus on history.

  • Non-obvious truths are always unpopular in some way, because they are either very technical or very sacrilegious. Popular communication channels are biased toward telling you obvious things or false things—or both.


  • Code is how machines know what to do. Media is how humans know what to do. If you ran a computer program over your media diet, you could figure out what concepts you are reinforcing through repetition. The program could show “nutritional facts” on your media diet, like you see on your food. Tags: project idea

  • Pageview-driven clickbait-headline media companies have put a lot of people out of business. They attack a lot of people. Their basic business model is to try to destroy somebody’s reputation to earn $5 in clicks


  • I want a tool to parse tech journalists’ predictions and convert them into a public record of picks. We could backfill previous years from their existing writing. The resulting rank ordering would let you know who correctly called the future. Then we could uprank the authors with early positive sentiment toward winners, especially if writers’ predictions were early and contrarian. Tags: project idea


  • If you go to Google Trends and type in a recent headline, you’ll see the topic often goes totally vertical. Everybody cares about the topic suddenly. Then interest in the topic drops off just as quickly. People go manic over something they didn’t even know about two weeks ago. It’s life and death to them; they’re willing to fight, kill, and burn things down. Then, three weeks later, they don’t care at all and will never care again.

  • If writing the Great American Novel on your laptop or building a billion-dollar startup in your dorm room is possible, breaking the story of the year as a citizen without any access to tradi- tional institutions is absolutely possible.

  • Media corporations are against free speech for the same reason Microsoft was against free software. They are for-profit corporations that want to eliminate all competitors. But they’ll lose. Every citizen is becoming a journalist, and every company is becoming a media company.



  • As a guiding philosophy, “win and help win” will always outcompete “live and let live.”

  • Money seems to be locally zero-sum (after a trade happens, Person A has –$1, Person B has +$1), but actually money is glob- ally positive-sum. In a voluntary exchange, A and B both gain in wealth because they both get non-monetary benefit from making the trade.

  • After my first big liquidity event, I had around ten years of personal runway (the number of years one can go without working). That’s when I became kind of invincible, in a sense. Saving money and separating from organizations made me intellectually independent. It was like giving myself tenure.

  • I don’t buy cars or homes. After I earned a big payout, when- ever I could save time with money, I did. That’s the single biggest change I have made. I spend my money on being able to work harder. It sounds funny, but it’s true.

  • Once you get that first win under your belt, you build the confidence you’re able to do it again and again. Note: Just need to get this first break.

  • When you think about oil, steel, or pharmaceuticals, you do not think, I’m gonna go and start that in a garage. But that’s what these people did.

  • Samuel Kier started an oil refinery on Seventh and Grant in downtown San Francisco, which is insane. An oil refinery is a multibillion-dollar facility. To visualize starting one in your apartment in a city is almost laughable; it’s astonishing to think that’s where the oil refining industry began. In 1921, Banting and Best came up with the idea of using insulin to treat diabetes. By 1922, they had extracted insulin, tested it on themselves, tested it on animals, and put it in a patient’s arm. In 1923, Banting and Best won the Nobel Prize.

  • People forget how completely non-obvious the entire digital revolution has been every step of the way. 1995: “WWW will fail.” 2002: “Google will fail.” 2007: “iPhone will fail.” 2013: “Facebook will fail.”

  • Don’t argue about regulation. Build Uber. Don’t argue about monetary policy. Build Bitcoin. Don’t argue about anything; just build an alternative. Don’t argue with words. Build prod- ucts based on truths many people can’t grasp. If it works, they’ll buy it. Their incomprehension is your moat.

  • We are entering a golden age for builders. Consider open source, 3D printing, app stores, and crowdfunding. One person can de-risk, prototype, and accept payments from around the globe. To influence the direction of tech, pick up a keyboard or put capital at risk. You can build something.


  • People tend to think an institution will endure just because it has so far. It’s hundreds of years old and blah, blah, blah. But I don’t think many institutions that predated the internet will easily survive the internet. These inherited institutions are incompetent and increasingly considered less legitimate. There’s a loss of faith in banks. There’s a loss of faith in the media. There’s a loss of faith in politics. There’s a loss of faith in secondary education and higher education.

  • Don’t do a startup unless you’re ideologically driven to make it succeed. You need something beyond economic motivation, because startups are very hard. There are much lower-risk ways to earn money than a startup. Building a startup is an extremely stressful journey toward infinity.

  • Don’t do a startup unless you’re ideologically driven to make it succeed. You need something beyond economic motivation, because startups are very hard. There are much lower-risk ways to earn money than a startup. Building a startup is an extremely stressful journey toward infinity.

  • Good founders don’t just have ideas; they have a bird’s eye view of the idea maze. Most of the time, people see only the journey and result of one company. They don’t see the paths not taken and don’t think at all about the companies that fell into various traps and died before reaching customers. Note: Confirmation bias is a very important principle to know.

  • There are always so many things that didn’t happen that we don’t think about, which we sometimes should.

  • Since human nature is constant across space and time, other countries and past cultures are worthy of study. You can see how what worked elsewhere might also work here in our coun- try and culture. Entrepreneurs who know the history of their industries understand which assumptions will be invalidated with new technology.

  • History is the closest thing we have to a physics of humanity. It provides many accounts of how human actors collide and interact with each other. The right course of historical study encodes, in compressed form, the results of innumerable social experiments. You can learn from human experience rather than re-deriving societal law from scratch. Learn some history so as not to repeat it.

  • It is very hard to Twitter or TechCrunch your way to real inno- vation. To innovate, you have to tune out a lot of what the Valley is thinking.

  • Set aside everything tech people are talking about, and look at the rest of human civilization. Look for the areas technology has not moved into yet. That’s where the opportunities will be.

  • In addition to technologies nobody knows about from the lab, other opportunities are technologies people have already written off. Look for things people think of as “dead” or as not having worked and find out why.

  • A framework I use often is the evolution from the physical ver- sion to the intermediate form, and then to the internet-native version. If you’re into electrical engineering, you can think of this as the evolution from analog to analog/digital, and then to native digital. We transitioned from paper to a scanner that scans paper into a digital version, and then to a native digital text file that begins life on the computer. We transitioned from face-to- face meetings to Zoom video meetings (a scanner of faces), and then (soon?) to native digital VR meetings. We transitioned from physical cash to credit cards and PayPal (a scan of the pre-existing banking system), and then to the native digital version of money: cryptocurrency. Note: Very interesting observation. Haven’t looked at it that way. Any way I can use it?

  • Look for places where we’re still stuck at the scanned version—where we’ve taken an offline experience and put it online but hav- en’t fundamentally innovated. These are opportunities for innovation.

  • Many industries will evolve like this: 1. Human Service 2. Semi-automated service 3. Fully automated Human, then human/machine pair, then machine.

  • From a founding and investing standpoint, you have to con- sider strategic questions. What kinds of platforms are there? What new platforms cure such a pain point that people get on it? Then what else can be deployed on that platform?

One of those new platforms is going to be crypto. Lots of people getting crypto wallets is good. We can deploy all kinds of new software once most people have wallets.

AR glasses are coming too. It might be Facebook’s version three or version four. Apple and Google are also working on them. We might just get a bunch of models at the same time. It’s like anticipating the iPhone. AR glasses are an incredibly predict- able invention you can start thinking about now.

  • If you are using software to go after a physical legacy industry, one option is to do it “full stack.” Replacing just one layer of an outdated legacy stack is hard.

Customer acquisition and integration costs can kill you. That’s when you go full stack.

You cannot automate something until you’ve done it manually many times.

Some specific examples of full-stack startup ideas in a few verticals are law, medicine, architecture, accounting, and restaurants.

→ Full-stack law firm: Template all contracts, use law APIs as core technology, and try to hyperdeflate legal costs.

→ Full-stack clinic: Employ mobile EMR/EHR, quantified self, genomics, telemedicine, and doctors with technology skills. Accept insurance (preferably cash subscriptions).

→ Full-stack architecture: Put APIs at the core of a new con- struction company. Start with unmanned buildings like data centers to de-risk early versions. Work toward the ultimate goal of hitting the “Enter” key to build a building with drones and prefabrication.

Full-stack accounting firm: Given a bank account, auto- prepare it all, from tax to diligence to S-1 with legal sign-off. → Full-stack restaurant: Implement mobile orders, payments, and reservations. A/B test dynamic menus with supply chain integrations, and use robots for food preparation and delivery.

  • If the goal is full stack, always talk to executives in the field early on. A few words can save years of work to identify key cost centers and hard parts. You can start all of these as “just” a new clinic/restaurant/accountant/architect/law firm. Think big, start small. Prove, then scale.

  • The 6 Ps are a useful checklist. Product—What are you selling?

Person—To whom?

Purpose—Why are they buying it?

Pricing—At what price?

Priority—Why now?

Prestige—And why from you?

Seems obvious, but many companies (especially in healthcare) can’t easily answer these.

  • To attract attention is to attract negative attention. People expect product launches to be a time for compliments. Actually, launching a product often means people either ignore you or attack you. The attacks come if you are actually solving a problem. Your solution may be ten times better on one axis, but it is always inadequate in some other way. When you launch something new, people will say, “This product sucks, this company should die, and you are a horrible person.” Actual translation? Sell more units.

  • The crowd’s expectations change quickly. Many will strike out at you casually. Later, they will recant, also casually! That’s the bit to remember: most hatred is a mile wide and an inch deep. Strip away the negative adjectives and distill legitimate criticism into bugs to fix. Then just plow on.

  • With most businesses, the main problem is indifference— people don’t even care. If you polarize people and 20 percent (or less) who hear about you love you, you can make a business from that.

  • Once your company starts, you will find launch means hatred. No longer an abstract innovation, your product is now taking “their” revenue! It’s not just competitors who will hate you. It’s all their supporters; the incumbents have marketing teams and loyal fans. They’ll come up with good reasons to hate you because a new product can never be superior in all respects. It must be better in one key feature. They’ll attack you as deficient on the other features, as unsafe, with no track record. You need to sell anyway—and make updates fast. Things get worse if your product takes off. Rapid growth means ten times more users than the system was designed for. Everything and everyone is stressed to the max. There will likely be some failures just as the spotlight is on you. Competitors and regulators will seize on them and highlight them.

  • What I prefer is a tiny team of well-rounded athletes, employees who are smart, hard working, and work well together. Then there are no politics because everybody was selected for alignment.

  • I look for people who can communicate their knowledge effectively. Can I learn something from their writing? Writing is import- ant in remote work because you engage with people through writing. Did they write their blog posts like mystery novels where you have to read for a while before figuring out what they’re saying, or did they put the headlines first?

  • There’s a difference between casual conversation versus writing something for instructions. To be effective, pull key information to the beginning and communicate it in the head- line. Then you should communicate it again in the subtitle, communicate it again in a slightly different way in the opening sentence, and expand on it in the opening paragraph.

That’s how you should write internal memos. That’s how you should write Slacks. State the most important thing first. I look for folks who can do that and who are underpriced relative to their potential.

  • People who are skilled in areas are actually pretty impressed if someone puts in the work to at least learn the basic vocabulary of their spaces. Let’s say you’re an engineer working with people who are self-taught. Maybe their code isn’t wellstructured, but they’ve managed to scrape some data to get an analysis together and make some graphs and charts. You’re always going to think, Okay, these people are resourceful. I respect that

  • Before candidates join your company, have them write out what they would consider success, mediocrity, and failure: bull, base, and bear. Where do they want to be in a year or four years?

  • Use the same technique for dividing up labor between a manager and an employee. Do a two-by-two table with four quadrants: What does the manager expect from themself? What does the manager expect from the employee? What does the employee expect from themself? What does the employee expect from the manager? This type of table is so simple, but you should create one at every one-on-one, and you should do a one-on-one every week. It completely rectifies miscommunication. By putting into writing what you expect of yourself and another person, you’re holding yourself accountable in front of that person, just like that person is holding themself accountable in front of you. Both of you know what you expect from the other. Tracking the tables in a simple document over time is super useful as a manager because it allows you to point back to what was agreed on, and the employee can do the same. It is not an adversarial thing, but it is useful to keep aligned. Everybody doesn’t always nail everything. New things come up. It’s not meant to be signed in blood.

  • Startup = Growth. If you don’t consciously optimize your company for growth, you will be outgrown by a competitor who has.

  • The realism to know what is impossible, the imagination to know what is possible.


  • Write out your goals. It’s amazing how few people do. By writing out your goals, you prevent a random walk through life. So many people just wander through life.

  • I lie awake at night and think, Okay, here’s what I’ve learned today. How does that fit into my broad collection of ideas? Where are the contradictions, overlaps, and so on? Most people do not do this. They just compartmentalize. They’ll learn something, but they won’t try to propagate it through other things they know to see if it conflicts with other ideas. Note: Maybe don’t do this awake at night, but some time before going to bed so that you can clear your mind in that way.

  • You have 168 hours per week, ~112 awake. Substitute capital for time, technology for both. Avoid travel. Cancel meetings. Focus on doing. You can work sustainable seventy-hour weeks if you work when you want, sleep when you want, wake up when you want, work out when you want, and never travel.

  • What you choose to load into your brain first thing in the morning is the most precious, precious space. Perhaps your first few hours should be offline with pen and paper, writing things out. Some offline time is good, so you don’t just immediately jack into the internet. Note: Yeah, I need to replace twitter with something else. perhaps reading a book in reader. Also not sure how I feel about listening to podcast. On one side it’s good on another kind of loading my brain with other peoples thoughts.

  • The newest technical papers and the oldest books are the best sources of arbitrage. They contain the least popular facts and the most monetizable truths. What do you know to be true that others cannot or will not bring themselves to admit? There is your competitive advantage. Note: Where does balaji look for newest papers?

  • Even if you are learning something where there is a known correct answer, it’s easier to try and fail than to go and look up the documentation. Reading the documentation front to back is much harder before you start trying. Start, then learn. You have to learn while doing.

  • You can’t really learn something without using it. One day of immersion in a new language beats weeks of book learning.

  • You can understand any mathematical concept in six ways: verbal, visual, algebraic, numerical, computational, and historical.

  1. Verbal—explain in words 2. Visual—make a graph 3. Algebraic—write the equation 4. Numerical—do a numerical example 5. Computational—code a solver or algorithm 6. Historical—tell where it came from A good example is net present value. You can understand it verbally, visually, algebraically, numerically, computationally/ algorithmically, and historically. I find that my depth of understanding improves when I do all six. You learn math best with pen and paper, and sometimes with hardcover books. You can apply this concept to other things. I take an idea or problem and restate the verbal as a sketch, or restate a sketch as numbers. Often, I see things I couldn’t before.
  • The ideal is you are a full-stack engineer and full-stack creator. That’s using both your right brain and left brain. For engineering, that means you master computer science and statistics. Knowing physics and continuous math is also good. That’s actually quite valuable, and you might need to use continuous math with AI nowadays. Every domain has algorithms and data structures, which means computer science and stats are useful anywhere. You can walk into Walmart and start writing code for shopping carts or basket pricing. You can walk into American Airlines and write code for flight scheduling. You can walk into Pfizer and start on drug preparation and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

  • Becoming a full-stack creator is also important. Social media is about to become far, far, far more lucrative and monetizable than people realize. They think it’s over or stagnant. But we’re just getting started. Many who want to build billion-dollar companies will have to also build million-person media followings.

  • Not everyone is Turing, just like not everyone is Tolstoy. But universal computer literacy is like universal literacy.

  • For those who aren’t good at engineering—well, get good at content. Content is as important as engineering nowadays. Every new company could have a founding influencer on par with the founding engineer. Today, a founding engineer and a founding influencer are building a company. Tomorrow, a founding influencer and a founding engineer may be building a country.

  • The other interesting thing is VCs are incentivized to build people up. As an investor, you want to invest in somebody and make them richer than yourself. Peter Thiel invested $500,000 in a young Mark Zuckerberg building Facebook. Thiel earned a billion dollars on that investment, but obviously Zuckerberg earned many billions. Being incentivized to make other people richer, to build people up, is very unusual.


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