Reflections for the morning

A purely functional approach to solving a user problem tends to lead to an overall disjointed user experience. A purely experiential approach to solving a user problem tends to lead to an unruly infrastructure that becomes harder and harder to maintain overtime.

The discipline is to explore the different alternatives to tease out the intersection that best satisfies form and function at each crossroad of a product’s development.

The second order constrain is the trade off between time/resources and variants explored.

The third order constrain is the utilization of time to build capababilty to translate resources to number of variants to be explored.

Time is thus the highest order constrain to building a strong solid foundation. Trees that grow taller and has denser trunks tend to have a longer time maturity. A by-product is their fire resistance. The sequoia tree avoids unnecessary extravagance but conserves all its energy to grow quietly, adamantly and deeply to achieve a majestic presence overtime.

Friday morning coincidence

I was driving to Edmodo this morning when SIRI recited to me  the section of the book on the Muses and the higher spiritual planes. I was stopped at the intersection just shortly after SIRI mentioned the vision the author had of becoming one with an eagle during his meditation when I saw this giant bird with a great wing span landing to perch on lamppost that I was about to drive under.

I was the very first time I saw such a bird in this parts of town. Must be a coincidence.

I wonder if Seth Godin’s recommendation of this book was resultant of similar experience he had when reading this book

Key takeaways from discussions with Ved and observations around me during the day

  • Product management is the function that allows you to cut across the operations of all other functions in a Tech company
  • strategic partnership is focused on maintaining relationship for the sake of maintaining relationships
  • Fund raising is focused on being a good sales person. One becomes a good sales person by telling a good story thereby painting the big picture / a.k.a the Vision which will get investors excited enough act upon the call to action.
  • The fundamental difference between a human leader and a human follower is not skill-set but the ability to effectively self-regulate his own neural chemistry
    • domain specific skill sets get acquired overtime
    • leading will put subject in situations which will trigger off more neural chemistry than otherwise.

Reflections on bad trades – the narrative fallacy or apophenia

The main challenge with sticking to the strategy of loss aversion & reversion to mean is, as Charlie Munger has said it, being able to stand there and do nothing when no trading pattern emerges for multiple days in rows.

During this period of time, restlessness creeps in and the mind becomes more susceptible to the narrative fallacy or apophenia ( seeing patterns and trajectories when none exists). Inevitably one gets tricked into nursing grandiose visions of what the future might be and while leaving the physics of reality behind…

Actual costly examples:

  • Spotify 2nd May 2018 @168 when it continue its climbs
    • net loss on the swing -USD1,016.04
  • Tesla 10th May 2018 @ USD308 when it continue its climb
    • net loss on the swing -USD5138.85
  • DocuSign 18th June 2018 @ USD65.66 when it continued its climb
    • net loss on the swing -USD6023.37
  • Dropbox 18th June 2018 @ USD42.53 when it continued its climb
    • net loss on the swing -USD928.21

Accumulative screw ups: -USD12,986.72

Had I not succumb to the siren calls of the narrative fallacy and retained my ability to sit and down nothing, I might have the opportunity to enter on the dip instead of the up.

Nevertheless all hope is not lost, the path remains clear and apparent. That is to diligently practice the craft of adhering to the script while acknowledging the psychological biases.

Ironically, the practice of investment is synonymous with the practice of mindfulness.

Knowing what you want and optimizing for that

While chatting with Adi today, I realized two huge reason why people continue showing up for work is because of habit and fear.

I recalled this irony I read somewhere else where people started out wanting to change the world but ended up becoming really wealthy but never really achieving what they originally set out to do. Its a tragedy.

A few symptoms resulting from a lack of clarity in what you want are FOMO and the need of keep up with the Jones.

If you judiciously worked back from what you want to what you need to do, you will very quickly realize there are a lot of things you are doing now that might be totally redundant. Dropping of these redundant efforts will immediately increase you overall quality of life by freeing up more time while simultaneously getting you closer to what you want.

Related readings

Keys take aways from “Be Slightly Evil”

  • The more universal truths you uncover about the world, the less the number of moral opinions you will need
  • In life, you will eventually be forced to decide between being somebody or doing something
  • The unreasonable person adapts surrounding conditions to himself
  • The straight path in your head turns to spaghetti in the real world vice versa
  • The straight and narrow path grounded in truth seeking is the faster road to meaningful destinations
  • Power handed to the untrained mind leads inevitably to mental damage
  • The ability to see reality as it really is, in minimally deluded ways, leads inevitably to the earning of authority
  • A CEO’s job is to interpret external realities for a company, A.G. Lafley
    • survive a lack of incoming empathy
    • generate a positive atmosphere and empathy for others under your “information protection” umbrella
    • A startup team of two is better than solo entrepreneurs due to the sharing of “information parenthood”
  • Idealism believes in change and creates believers who don’t change whereas the opposite is true
    • The idealist goes into Zen Retreat and remains unchanged after he is done
    • The realist starts a business and is forced to change
  • Path to freedom
    • Integrating the self (addiction) and the shadow (aversions) to cover your whole personality
    • Myer Briggs cognitive function
      • first four functions represent your self
      • last four functions represent your shadow – usually triggered by stress
  • Status
    • If status doesn’t matter to you, it becomes available to you as a tool to control those whom status does matter
    • consciously cultivate away this felt need
  • The easiest way to figure out someone is to look at the information they choose to consume
  • Handling information
    • Truth telling
      • requires you to calmly separate your feelings from facts and tell yourself the truth before you tell others
      • cursing and candor both reflect an inability to bear the stress of being otherwise
    • Cold blooded listening
      • listen for the data behind heated words
      • don’t take what you hear  about your personality as worth responding to
      • freely draw your own conclusion about the data received
    • Dissemination
      • the larger the group the fewer the key beliefs allowed to be conveyed
      • at the level of human civilization use extremely simple but very fertile fill-in-the-blanks messaging
  • Handling negotiation
    • most work is done away from the actual negotiating table
    • Discovery pre-work conversation to tease out what people know and the trust relationship
    • the more there is that mutually greed upon, the less there is to negotiate
    • ignore sunk cost
  • Choose to be effective instead of being liked
  • On money
    • aim to be anti-fragile
    • even millionaires are stuck in the psychology that the money is transient
    • salary men are stuck in the illusion that the pay check will extend indefinitely into the future


  • The fighter who changed the art of war, Boyd
  • 48 Laws of Power
  • The Alchemist, Paul Coelho
  • The Redemptive Self, McAdam
  • The origins of political order, Francis Fukuyama
  • Yes, Minister
  • Glengarry Glen Ross

Book Summary: The Art of Happiness

Key Points

  • happiness is determined by one’s state of mind than external events
    • each person is born with a genetic happiness baseline
    • how we perceive our situation
    • how satisfied we are with what we have
    • Learning and Education is the first step to become happy through the process of Mental Conditioning
  • The purpose of our existence is to seek happiness
    • Happiness is different from pleasure
    • 4 factors
      • Wealth – how much resources we have at our disposal
      • Worldy satisfaction – health, friendship
      • Spirituality – alignment between our endeavours, our mental attitude and our mission & purpose in life
      • Enlightenment – true and unbiased perception of reality
  • Buddhism – systematic training of the mind towards happiness
    • inner discipline to bring calmness of mind – practice of Dharma
      • identify and cultivate positive mental states
      • identify and eliminate negative mental states
      • One mental state displaces the other mental state
    • cultivating happiness benefits oneself and others around them
      • happiness is contagious
      • happiness inhibits prejudice, instinctual bias against others we perceive as different
      • most parts of life relies on help from other individuals
    • Compassion and Happiness mutually reinforces each other
  • Intimacy
    • Learning to be vulnerable – basis for relationship of any kind that is not tied to material conditions
    • steps
      • understand and appreciate the background of the person
      • stay open-minded
      • be honest
    • Restricting intimacy to just that “Special One” is too limiting
      • Romance is overrated
  • Pain versus Suffering
    • Living a physical life is learning about how to face pain and still remain a warm human being
    • Pain is a very important mechanism that keeps us alive and away from danger
    • Suffering stems from ignorance, craving and hatred
    • Karma is a very active process
      • to deeply understand underlying cause and effects
      • Stop blaming our circumstances of things beyond our immediate control and start focusing our attention on actionable items
      • stop contributing to factors now to effects that want to mitigate from happening in the future
      • a wrongful understanding – blaming everything on past life !?!
    • Tibetan practice: TongLen – cultivates compassion
    • Magnitude of meaning increases threshold to withstand pain
  • How to perceive “Enemy”
    • Think Weight training
    • A great opportunity for growth
    • There are very few of them. They are hence very precious
    • They are a great opportunity to learn about patience
    • Cleansing of hatred in self
    • Cultivation of compassion in moments when patience is tried
  • Flexible thinking
    • develop ability to entertain a variety of view points
    • Rigidity is a sign of being to fixated on a specific Point of View
    • Emphasize on common ground  results in feelings of connection with all human being leads to compassion and altruism
  • Values – Bedrock foundation
    • I want to be happy and don’t want to suffer
    • Other human beings like myself also want to be happy and don’t want to suffer
    • Suffering unifies all living creature
  • Balance
    • Avoid extremes – a sign of narrow mindedness
    • skillful approach to life
    • having realistic expectations
  • Mental states
    • One displaces another
    • Tolerance and Patience is a cure for all other negative mental state
    • Patience – sustains will power
    • Humility
      • patience
      • self-discipline
      • restrain
    • Forgiveness
      • results from tolerance and patience
    • Sincere Motivation – cures fear and anxiety
    • Self-confidence – being honest and straight-forward about one’s own abilities

Further Readings

  • Intimate Behavior, Desmond Morris
    • Hold me tight
    • Put me down
    • Leave me alone