Sunday Wisdom No. 67

We call everyone who invests money “investors” like they are cricket players. When you realise how wrong that notion is, you see how vital it is to identify what game you’re playing.

Welcome to Issue 67!

👋 Hi, I’m Abhishek. Welcome to Sunday Wisdom—a weekly advice column on decision-making, clear thinking, creativity, and everything else that’s stressing you out in business and life. I appreciate you being here. If you are loving Sunday Wisdom, you can buy me coffee or share this newsletter with a friend.


What I’m Thinking

What Games are You Playing?

“Should I invest in Bitcoin, or Apple, or only in index funds?” All of us take stock tips from financial channels, newspapers, and YouTube videos. Amateurs ask experts for investment advice.

But just because a stock is recommended by others has nothing to do with whether you should buy it or not. The answer depends upon who you are, and what game you are playing.

Do you have a 25-year horizon, or are you looking to cash out in 10 years? Are you planning to sell within a year, or are you a day trader?

In a game of cricket, all the “players” are playing the same game. They all follow the same rules, and have similar sets of goals. Taking cue from that, we call everyone who invests money “investors”. When you realise how wrong that notion is, you see how vital it is to identify what game you’re playing.

Read the Full Essay


5 Rules to Become a Better Reader

Reading more is not about reading fast. It’s about reading at a comfortable pace; but doing it regularly. People have a hard time reading not due to lack of time, but due to lack of practice.

Only a couple of years ago I used to struggle to finish even one book a month. But now breezing through 3 or more books every month has become second nature to me. What changed? Nothing much, except that I’ve set up my system of reading books. That’s what I talk about in this video. My 5 rules to become a better reader.

Watch the YouTube Video


What I’m Working On

If you are new here, here’s a bit of a background for context: I plan to do an online workshop with the readers of Sunday Wisdom within the next few months. I had floated a form to know your expectations. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas.

Many longtime readers have shared their ideas. It would be great if new readers fill it out as well. I’m lucky to have readers from 5 continents. It would be nice to explore all the cools things we can do together.

The strength of one workshop cohort will not be more than 8 people. This would allow maximum interaction between ourselves. We’ll not only learn from each other, but also make great friendships.

Workshops can be a big waste of time, especially those following a traditional format. This one won’t be like that. That’s a promise! I’ll put all the effort to make sure that you not only learn new things, but also have a great time.

This form will be open for submissions until next Sunday. Take 5 minutes to fill it out. Help us create an awesome workshop!

Take the 5 Minute Survey


What I’m Learning

Mental Errors

Wishful Thinking: We put more weight on the present knowledge that is pleasant to us, and simultaneously ignore the knowledge that is not so nice.

Conservatism: We have an insufficient ability to change our common views and beliefs with new data or evidence. 

Conformism: We weigh our knowledge in accordance with our community.

Binary Thinking: We think in binary terms. Our language reflects that. Good-evil, smart-stupid, beautiful-ugly, tall-short, fast-slow, and so on.

All-or-Nothing Thinking: Any result other than the best is considered a failure. It causes stress and depression in people. 

Overgeneralisation: We put very broad types of information into the same category.

Self-Projecting Thinking: We use our way of thinking to deduce the thoughts of others.

Human-Centric Thinking: Humans are part of nature. We follow its laws. Despite that, we neglect nature and the life of other species at scale.

False Associations: We make connections very fast based on tiny data.

— Major Flaws of Human Thinking


The Benefits of Not Caring

Everyone cares what somebody thinks about them, but caring too much makes you a sheep. What you should do is trade being short-term low-status for being long-term high-status. You have to eventually be right about an important but deeply non-consensus bet.

As long as you are right, being misunderstood by most people is a strength. This gives you and a small group of rebels the opportunity to solve an important problem that might otherwise get ignored.

Most innovators don’t care much about what other people think. They spend time putting their head down, doing the work, and not worrying about consensus.

The Strength of Being Misunderstood


Borrow Your Creativity

Most people think don’t think they are creative. They treat creativity as something innate that one has to be born with. It isn’t so.

Our creativity comes from without, not from within. We are influenced. We are not self-made. We are dependent on one another for ideas and inspiration. Admitting this to ourselves isn’t an embrace of mediocrity or derivativeness, it’s a liberation from our misconceptions. It’s an incentive to not expect so much from ourselves, and to simply begin creating.

— Creativity is a Remix


Transfer of Knowledge

When you apply widely known techniques from one field to another, it can give you an unfair advantage over others.

Examples:

  • Obama’s campaign was the first to widely use A/B testing in their website and “modern” email marketing tactics to presidential elections, although these techniques were widely used by tech startups.

  • Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign implemented Twitter and Facebook ad targeting in a way that no other candidates had before. This playbook was being run by Silicon Valley for a decade beforehand.

  • Billy Beane applied statistics in baseball to create amazing teams at a fraction of the price in ways that defied the standard practices of the time.

  • The Black-Scholes options pricing model was a difficult and “unsolved” problem in finance until a chance encounter with a physicist, who immediately recognised it as a solved problem in physics: gas diffusion.

— Always Start a Food Business, Especially in a Pandemic


Makers v Managers

There are two types of schedule: the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule. 

The manager’s schedule is for bosses where each day is cut into one hour intervals. You change what you’re doing every hour. Having meetings is the norm in this schedule. Find open slots, book them, and you’re done.

But when you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon. For example, if you know your schedule is about to be broken up by a meeting in the afternoon, you are less likely to start something ambitious in the morning.

Problems arise when these schedules crash. Makers know that they’ll have to compromise a bit, and attend some number of meetings. All that is required is for managers to understand the cost. That rarely happens.

— Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule


👋 That’s All!

One last thing. Reading this post won’t help, unless you swallow, chew, and digest these ideas. I urge you to become a demanding reader—one who questions the author, seeks answers, and doesn’t shy away from sharing opinions and interpretations.

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