Remember Martin: Least Recently Used Rule for buffer overflow

Just finished Algorithms to live by. Lots of amazing principals in there which my nerd brain geeked out about. Of particular interest is the Least Recently Used Algorithm.

Turns out I have been using this all along to manage my closets and sort my to do lists of “someday” tasks. The term comes from computer buffer (cache) management. There is a limited amount of fast cache memory in a computer. To manage what is close at hand in this fast memory, the computer needs an algorithm for what to keep and what to replace. Turns out Least Recently Used is the best to get rid of when a choice has to be made. Get rid of the least recently used thing. Same with clothes. This is much better than a static algorithm that says something like “if it is more than x years old”. I also use this for “someday” to do list entries. When I put something on the to do list if when going through it again, the ones i have not considered or remembered recently get thrown off. Regardless of the length of time they have been there.

Remember Martin: Be wary of spectacle

I am in transit again. Sea->lax. In the airport lounge working. Monday night football is on. The Seahawks. Many of my friends are there. Many of them took the whole day off to go to the game. An entire day watching grown men play a game that most of them had exactly zero stake in.

This reminds me that my attention is one of the few things I actually have to give the world. There is a limited amount of it. Distractions are always pulling at my attention. But being a “sports fan” is another level of distraction. It is actually a commitment to watch the spectacle every time it is on. It is not a short term distraction like a game of poker. It can become an identity. People become attached to their status as a “fan”. All that time, all that attention toward a spectacle that does not improve the world or themselves in any way. Ok, if you are in that business and that is your life I understand being part of the spectacle. But what could be accomplished in the world if all the attention of all the fans of Monday night football did something else? It seems like an enormous squandering of an incredibly precious resources.

This is not a call to stop watching sports for anyone else. Only a reminder to myself why I chose to NOT be a “fan” of any spectacle sport. I have made the affirmative decision that I would rather spend my time doing just about anything else. It is an absolute negative return on investment for me. At one time I had season tickets to the Seattle Sonics. But I used those times to go with friends and family to create memories and close business deals. I have never read a sports page or online stat site in my life. The minute the game is over I am on with life. I use the spectacle as a connection framework to improve relationships. It is good for that. But I have never been attached to the games or teams themselves.

Remember Martin: be wary of spectacle. Be very choosy with your attention. If you attend spectacle do so in support of a personal relationship with those you are with. Not a commercial entity.

As this about any investment you are considering making…

I do a lot of private investments, over 90 so far.  People are pitching me all the time.  I have made many bad investments and a couple of good ones.  The other day this questions popped into my head after one pitch:

“Am I getting paid or getting laid?”

“getting paid” means investing in a strong business with good fundamentals, strong team, and great growth (actual not pro forma).  Even if the business isn’t profitable, if there are solid fundamental margins, they are able to attract customers at a good cost and they are solving a real need, the business is likely to work.  As I evaluated all my investments, the ones that I was “getting paid” returned about 4X the average return.

“getting laid” means investing in a sexy dream.  The team may be great, the market is huge, the product idea sounds amazing, but the execution has not delivered the fundamentals yet. There is still much execution to turn the dream into a product and a business.  Many times founders want a valuation of over $10M for their dream with little or no execution.  As I evaluated all my investments, these tended to perform below average.  Basically because it took more money than the founders thought to execute and “get paid”.

Now the Unicorn is BOTH.  A strong fundamental business in a huge sexy dreamy market.  There have been a couple of those, having nothing to do with my intelligence in picking them, just pure dumb luck.  The Unicorns performed 10-20X the average. That is why they are unicorns.

I am not telling you how to invest, or which type to invest in.  This is just one of may questions I ask myself before investing.   I weigh this against the valuation, stage, management team, my investment size, risk tolerance at the time, and make a decision.  What asking this question has done for me is to REDUCE the number of “getting laid” deals I do.  Not because there is anything wrong with them, but I can identify them up front more easily and I know the average returns are less.  So I tend to pass.

DO THIS: Use failure as a “reset” time

Was reading an interview with Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk and he mentioned this about Brad Pitt:

“Brad Pitt had made some movies he wasn’t particularly happy with – one was Meet Joe Black – and he said every movie is the antidote to the one you just made; that the real blessing of failure is that it is the only thing that gives you the isolation and time to reinvent yourself. If you’re moving from success to success, you don’t have that daydreaming period that will allow you to come up with something new and unique.”

That parallels my experience.  Failure is never fun.  I have been fired before.  I have had companies fail. I have had investments fail, losing millions.  But after failure, a weird thing happens: space opens up.  You are free of the responsibilities to make your last thing “successful” and have the open space to daydream and create.  Remember this: failure opens up space.

 

DO THIS: One and One

I overheard a conversation about New Years resolutions last week. In it the guys were talking about long lists of New Years resolutions. And I of course was thinking about my own. But then for some reason a snippet from Milan Kundera quote popped into my head “there are only two ways to define the self: addition and subtraction.” That has always rung true to me. I switch between addition and subtraction. When the to do lists get too long often I will simplify it to just one of each. Out of all the possible things I could do (addition) and not do (subtraction), what is the most impactful one of each I tan think of for this project? For 2019 mine are

Add: more personal time with my employees at upgrade labs

Subtract: poker

Martin talks to TA McCann about how to live to 200

My friend TA McCann just started a new podcast, How to Live to 200.  I was one of his first guests.  We talk about how I got sucked into the Biohacking world, some of the quantified ways I have gotten younger over the last year, and a few peeks into the crystal ball on upgrades coming down the pipe for the rest of us.

Do This: be a philosopher and discover real life solutions

solve life’s practical problems

 

In college, studying philosophy was an excruciating exercise in memorization and focus on minutia between different schools of philosophy.  It seemed very dry and very dead.  The idea that all of these different schools were trying to get at the same thing; how to live life well and what that means was totally lost on me.  That is often a failing of the industrial-academic approach to teaching something.  I have found it easier to learn something when I have a practical problem in search of a solution.  So it has been lately for me with philosophy and I am glad for that perspective.  Here are a few practical real life problems for which I have found solutions in no small part from philosophy and especially Stoic philosophy:

  • How to be in a crowd and in the spotlight as a natural introvert. (post coming soon)
  • How to beat the flinch.
  • How to have an argument with someone you love.
  • How to accept reality and live in the present.

Do This: Do Not stay on top of everything 

Last week I was reminded of this by the daily stoic passage 


In the end you are what is in your head. So what if you cut down on media consumption and worry about external events?  Would there be more room in your head for other things?   Say yourself?  Or things in your control?  Yes.  

This is the same message of mark Manson’s new book and the 40 years of zen program and the core idea of stoic thought.   Be very conscious of what you give a fuck about.  Fucks are expensive cognitively. Free up headspace spent on external events, the past and the future and you have more resources for what is right in front of you.  Your life. 

DO THIS: Be tolerant of others and strict with yourself. 

Stoicism came of age in a time of political turmoil as well.  Remember that Stoicism isn’t about judging other people. It’s not a moral philosophy you’re supposed to project and enforce onto the world. No, it’s a personal philosophy that’s designed to direct your behavior.
This is what Marcus Aurelius meant when he said: “Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”
Be open to the idea that people are going to be fools or jerks or unreliable or anything else. Let them be. That’s their business. That’s not inside your control.
But you have to be disciplined with yourself, and your reactions. If someone acts ridiculous, let them. If you’re acting ridiculous, catch the problem, stop it and work on preventing it from happening in the future. What you do is in your control. That is your business. Be strict about it.
This is especially important to remember at a time when many people seem to be consumed with every tweet or quip from certain politicians.  Leave other people to themselves. You have enough to worry about. 

This does not mean “sit down and shut up” like some will infer.  If other people are doing something that does intersect with something in your control than you can and must act.  But don’t keep reposting “outrage”.  Don’t let other people into your head.  Don’t let the monkey in your head run wild worrying about other people. Focus the monkey on what is in your own control.