Influence: How Salespeople Use Your Mental Shortcuts Against You

I often think about what makes me dislike the “sales” part of being an entrepreneur, and this article outlines exactly why.

The article is a summary of Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, and gives six examples of how people can convince you into thinking, acting, and consuming a certain way.


This Is The Sign of a Great Thinker

Wisdom isn't found in certainty. Wisdom is knowing that while you might know a lot, there's also a lot you don't know.

Wisdom is trying to find out what is right rather than trying to be right.

Wisdom is realizing when you're wrong, and backing down graciously.


The Cold War Over Hacking McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines

Of all the mysteries and injustices of the McDonald’s ice cream machine, the one that Jeremy O’Sullivan insists you understand first is its secret passcode.

Press the cone icon on the screen of the Taylor C602 digital ice cream machine, he explains, then tap the buttons that show a snowflake and a milkshake to set the digits on the screen to 5, then 2, then 3, then 1. After that precise series of no fewer than 16 button presses, a menu magically unlocks. Only with this cheat code can you access the machine’s vital signs: everything from the viscosity setting for its milk and sugar ingredients to the temperature of the glycol flowing through its heating element to the meanings of its many sphinxlike error messages.


Confessions of an Overnight Millionaire

To me, there’s no option but to give the money back. Being a tech worker is not like banking, where you know you’re not doing good for society. A lot of tech workers delude themselves into thinking they’re being “mission oriented.” I was never quite delusional enough to believe that. I was just hoping I didn’t do net harm, which in itself is hard to avoid in this industry. I want to spend and donate as much as I can in my lifetime, and if I’m able to have the money create meaning, that’d be good. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with it yet, though.


It's Quitting Season

Powering through is often passive.

What you're doing is avoiding the harder thing, which is confronting the uncertainty of change. You're protecting yourself from the fear of regret.

Worse, by continuing to barrel through towards an inevitable dead end, you're cheating yourself out of all the opportunities quitting might bring.


Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful

For the families of soldiers missing in action in Vietnam that Boss studied early in her career, or the family members of victims of plane crashes where the bodies aren’t recovered, this type of thinking means thinking: “He is both living and maybe not. She is probably dead but maybe not.”

“If you stay in the rational when nothing else is rational, like right now, then you’ll just stress yourself more,” she says. “What I say with ambiguous loss is the situation is crazy, not the person. The situation is pathological, not the person.”

An analogous approach during the pandemic might be, “This is terrible and many people are dying, and this is also a time for our families to come closer together,” Boss says. On a more personal level, “I’m highly competent, and right now I’m flowing with the tide day-to-day.”


100 Years of Turbulence

The Wright brothers won every patent case they fought, and it did them absolutely no good. The prospect of a fortune wasn't what motivated them to build an airplane, but ironically enough they could have made a fortune had they just passed on the litigation.

The use of the Wright Brothers’ tale as a pivot into what’s happening in today’s world of software patents is what makes this article a must read.


Commenting vs. Making

I gained a lot of appreciation for people who make things, and lost a lot of tolerance for people who only pontificate. I found myself especially frustrated with my past self, whose default was to complain and/or comment, then wonder why things didn’t magically get better.


The Tim Ferriss Show - Paul Conti, MD — How Trauma Works and How to Heal from It

Ok, I know posting another Tim Ferriss episode is going to make me look like a fanboy, but I don't care. This episode was flat out exactly what I needed in my life right now.

Dr. Conti and Tim discuss how trauma leads to all kinds of mental disorders like anxiety and depression. They also go over a few ways of addressing trauma.

If you're struggling with your mental health these days, give this episode a listen. I've got the book on my list as well.


The Trouble with Optionality

The shortest distance between two points is reliably a straight line. If your dreams are apparent to you, pursue them. Creating optionality and buying lottery tickets are not way stations on the road to pursuing your dreamy outcomes. They are dangerous diversions that will change you.

By emphasizing optionality, these students ignore the most important life lesson from finance: the pursuit of alpha. Alpha is the macho finance shorthand for an exemplary life. It is the excess return earned beyond the return required given risks assumed. It is finance nirvana.

But what do we know about alpha? In short, it is very hard to attain in a sustainable way and the only path to alpha is hard work and a disciplined dedication to a core set of beliefs. Given the ambiguity over the correct risk-adjusted benchmark, one never even knows if one has attained alpha. It is the golden ring just beyond your reach—and, one must enjoy the pursuit of alpha, given its fleeting and distant nature.

Ultimately, finding a pursuit that can sustain that illusion of alpha is all we can ask for in a life’s work.