Optionality, Getting Started, Car Connectivity, NFTs, mentoring, and other recent thoughts

Management

“Understanding is a poor substitute for convexity (antifragility)” — Taleb explains the strategy behind cultivating optionality in business and in life, and how that can lead to outsized rewards.  I first encountered his explanation of this in his book The Black Swan and it has always resonated.  It is why software VC has been so successful — a portfolio of low capital cost trials can lead to great outcomes (and wow the trend is not slowing down — look at unicorn births this year).  It is why well-run software companies can be so successful — again a portfolio of low capital cost bets, with active pruning and management, can lead to great outcomes.  I struggled and was unable to explain this dynamic to my last employer, they could not appreciate the value of creating and encouraging optionality in the business.  

“You don’t have to fix it all now. Just start by starting” — a great thread from Nate Howe on digging into problems.  I especially love a couple of his conclusions:

  • “An imperfect solution now is better than a perfect solution that will never happen.” — I have learned this over and over in my life.  I have seen a lot of time wasted trying to find the perfect solution when we could have very well implemented an OK solution and moved on. 
  • “Doing the thing is often less painful than thinking about doing the thing.” — Yes yes!   I almost always feel better just digging in and working on a problem, rather than letting it sit and fester on a todo list somewhere.  

“Code is easy.  People are hard.” — I also enjoyed this article from the Credit Karma Chief People Officer on how she does her job, approaching it as if she is the PM for the tools and systems in the company.  I wouldn’t follow all her practices (for instance, gamifying recognition, ugh), but I love the thoughtfulness and intentionality she brings to the role.

Technology

GM/ATT announce that select cars will have 5G in 2024.  Only 3-5 years after you had it on your phone!  Car connectivity is completely f&*ked up.  OEMs sign long term contracts that are uneconomic and don’t allow for the explosion of connectivity that people and apps want.  Personal phone data plans runs rings around car connectivity plans and will continue to do so.  OEMs need to open the car up and allow carriers to compete for connectivity, allow people to bring their own data plans, etc.  The current model just kneecaps the automotive software space.

I feel like such a dinosaur when I read about Bored Ape Yacht Club.  I may just buy a few NFTs on Opensea.io to learn how it all works.  This article digging into the definition and quantification of “legitimacy” seems interesting.  And here is a good high level walk thru some of the current trends.

Tissue-culture meat seems like an important development.  

Nice overview at Not Boring about emerging technologies, I love the Gartner Hype Cycle chart. Ooh, NFTs may be at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations”.

Mentoring

I recently had a young college student (entering junior year) ask me for some career and schooling advice.  He is a CS major and interested in AI, tho he hasn’t done much in his classwork yet.  He really wants an internship in the space.  I am not sure I had the best advice but i gave him some counsel:

  • Get familiar with the AI frameworks getting a ton of investment from Microsoft, AWS, Google.  It is easy to spin up little experiments with these, and they are investing a ton of time in them.
  • Get familiar with the data input and data management side of these frameworks.  That is where so many of the problems lie in actual use of AI
  • Get comfortable with production software tool chains.  Source control, test frameworks, build systems, test flights, monitoring, etc.  You will need to be familiar with these in your career.
  • Go to the websites of your top 5 internship candidates and read the info they have about interns, about past candidates.  Go to your career office at your college and see what interns they have hired and see what background those interns had.  Identify the gaps in your background, and make yourself into a compelling candidate.

If anyone has better counsel I would love to hear it.  I’d like to help this young person and others like him find success.

Tools

Finally installed textsniper.  Should have done this long ago.  

github.dev is nice.  just press the . key while looking at a github.com repo.

Trying out wikilens.  Always looking for a better way to manage and edit my content.

Random

These best of the month pics from Nature are just awesome.  Many of them come from Schmidt Ocean Institute, where there are many more pics.

Dyson spheres around black holes could be powering alien civilizations.

Gravitational lensing photo thanks to Hubble.

A great source of potential reads — 50 favorite SF/Fantasy books of the past decade — I’ve read a lot of these but there are some new gems in there.  There are also some stinkers.

This event sounds strangely intriguing — Helena Bonham Carter and Tobias Menzes reading Keynes love letter correspondence.

3 thoughts to “Optionality, Getting Started, Car Connectivity, NFTs, mentoring, and other recent thoughts”

  1. Great post John– I particularly appreciated Nate Howe’s points about imperfect solutions and the act of doing. This is especially true in early stage startups (or, starting anything frankly). Placing bets, iterating, learning, adapting, generating momentum.

  2. Nice post. Enjoyed seeing an actual photo of gravitation lensing. I think your advice for a student seeking advice is a great start. Comfortable using available tools like Jupyter notebooks, working with data tools and data transforms and familiarizing with cloud services. How to problem solve can be learned by exploring examples of problems and solutions. The book, A Practical Guide to Quantitative Finance Interviews has real world problems and solutions. The Data Science design Manual and System Design Interview – An Insiders Guide.

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