The Daily Concept App – Launched

Just launched The Daily Concept, a free Android app available for download on Google Play Store. What do you gain by using it? You get to develop your crystallized intelligence by learning a new concept each day from various domains like Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Sciences, Arts and so on.

Download link:
The Daily Concept

iOS version coming soon.

Screenshots:

The Daily Concept - animism

The Daily Concept - Now Print!

The Daily Concept - Ohno's Law

Bitcoin: Hindsight and the Law of Accelerated Returns

Did anyone actually followed my advice and bought bitcoins back in December 2013? I hope so because four years ago 1 Bitcoin was < $600 and now it’s < $20000. The ROI on this one is tremendous, it’s more than 3000%.

time to buy bitcoins

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that the most powerful force in the Universe is the compound interest. Well, he didn’t knew about Bitcoin.

My abstract image for Bitcoin is that of a currency that actually represents freedom and privacy, two qualities that a lot of people are willing to  pay a heavy price in order to achieve. This being said, no matter how hard governments and authoritarian powers try to crackdown and to control it its value will only go up. Now, in hindsight, it turns out that the states and governments are starting to bow in the face of Bitcoin and not the other way around (central banks will start in 2018 to hold reserves of cryptocurrencies).

When you buy one Bitcoin you get instant value for it, you get freedom and anonymity,  you get a currency that it’s in limited number, the maximum number of bitcoins that can be mined being somewhere around 21 million (the real number is even smaller because there are reportedly millions of Bitcoins that got lost).  When you get a Dollar you get a fiat currency that it’s not backed up by any reserve of gold and it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Add to this the money multiplier effect that is used by banks to virtually increase the money supply.

Will Bitcoin continue it’s rocketing path up? It’s quite probable because the hype is only starting up, blockchain startups are popping up everywhere and more and more people are aware of cryptocurrencies. We are living very interesting times, the new technology is doing things that were not possible in the past, you can now be among the top 50 richest men in the world and nobody knows who you are (Satoshi Nakamoto), you can carry your considerable wealth with you in a special physical crypto wallet and you can walk the streets being completely unknown.

I’m not sure if the old economic laws are still applicable, a bubble might never come despite what the old dinosaurs in economy are saying,  technology brings change and returns that are increasing exponentially. Ray Kurzweil, the futurist who came up with the Law of Accelerating Returns stipulates that humans are linear in nature and technology is exponential. When you take a human, linear activity like the economy and bind it to a currency that is also bound to an exponential technology you might get very interesting results. We have to wait and see what happens.

This being said, it’s also never bad to be cautious, getting a positive return on your investment is not astrophysics or rocket science, it’s simply ‘buy low and sell high’, if you managed to buy Bitcoins at a low price maybe now it’s the time to reap the harvest, to take the gains and to invest in yourself and in other assets.

Book review: Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality

This is my second time reading this book, the first time being about two years ago. I don’t usually read a book twice or more unless it’s worth it so without further introduction let’s get into the good stuff.

The primary takeaway from this book would be the Action Method which has three components: Action Steps, References, and Backburner Items. The action steps are all the incremental objectives that you have to take in order to move forward with your project, the references are basically all the information sources that you have to consult from time to time in order to achieve the action steps and the backburner items are tasks that you might want to do in the future.

“Like most creative people, I’m sure you struggle to make progress in all of your projects, with the greatest challenge being the sheer number of projects before you! But once you have everything classified as a project, you can start breaking each one down into its primary components: Action Steps, References, and Backburner Items. Every project in life can be reduced into these three primary components. Action Steps are the specific, concrete tasks that inch you forward: redraft and send the memo, post the blog entry, pay the electricity bill , etc. References are any project-related handouts, sketches, notes, meeting minutes, manuals, Web sites, or ongoing discussions that you may want to refer back to. It is important to note that References are not actionable—they are simply there for reference when focusing on any particular project. Finally, there are Backburner Items—things that are not actionable now but may be someday. Perhaps it is an idea for a client for which there is no budget yet. Or maybe it is something you intend to do in a particular project at an unforeseen time in the future.”

Start your Actions Steps with a verb “call, install, research, update” and so on. Make sure you always capture Action Steps everywhere, note them down as soon as they pop into your mind.

“Capture! Capture Action Steps relentlessly. During a brainstorm or a meeting, or on the run, you will generate ideas, and those ideas will disappear unless they are broken down into concrete verb-driven Action Steps. Collect them using whatever notebook or technology option you desire—but try to keep Action Steps separate so they stand out amidst your References and Backburner Items.”

If you are delegating someone else to execute the Actions Steps it would be a good idea to check the execution through “Ensure Action Steps” type of…Action Steps. Another type of managerial Action Steps is the “Awaiting Action Step”:

 “The last type of managerial Action Step is the “Awaiting Action Step”. When you leave a voicemail for someone, send a message to a potential customer, or respond to an e-mail and clear it from your in-box, you’re liable to forget to fol ow-up if the person fails to respond. By creating an Action Step that starts with “Awaiting,” you can keep track of every ball that is out of your court.”

The two-minute rule: if the Action Step can be done in under two minutes do it right away.

Always be shipping, always move forward, consider this your main obligation:

“Godin made the case that shipping is an active mind-set rather than a passive circumstance. “When you run out of money or you run out of time, you ship. . . . If your mind-set is ‘I ship,’ that’s not just a convenient shortcut, it’s in fact an obligation. And you build your work around that obligation. Instead of becoming someone who’s a wandering generality—and someone who has lots of great ideas and ‘if only, if only, if only,’ you are someone who always ends up shipping.””

Ultimately, success is a numbers game, it usually takes a lot of tries and failures to get to that winning idea (and this why it’s important to always ship):

“The truth is, creativity isn’t about wild talent as much as it’s about productivity. To find a few ideas that work, you need to try a lot that don’t. It’s a pure numbers game. —Robert Sutton, professor of management science and engineering, Stanford School of Engineering .”

The old reptilian brain is the source for the fear of risk and the fear of failure and one of the main forces holding us back:

“But the primal tendencies of the lizard brain to keep us safe by avoiding danger and risk are still potent. After the biology lesson, Godin explained that “every single time we get close to shipping, every single time the manuscript is ready to send to the publisher, the lizard brain speaks up. . . . The lizard brain says, ‘They’re gonna laugh at me,’ ‘I’m gonna get in trouble . . .’ The lizard brain [screams] at the top of its lungs. And so, what happens is we don’t do it. We sabotage it. We hold back. We have another meeting.” The lizard brain interferes with execution by amplifying our fears and conjuring up excuses to play it safe.”

Creativity works well with constrains in making ideas happen:

“It turns out that constraints—whether they are deadlines, budgets, or highly specific creative briefs—help us manage our energy and execute ideas. While our creative side intuitively seeks freedom and openness—blue-sky projects—our productivity desperately requires restrictions. “

Other subjects in this book are: the stories of how Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and Ji Lee former Creative Director at Google put their ideas into practice, the three categories of creative persons: the Dreamers, the Doers and the Incrementalists, the importance of architecture and the workplace in the productivity of the creative process, the concept of ROWE (Results Only Work Environment).

A good conclusion-quote to end this review would be this one:

“IT SHOULD BE clear by now that organizing life into a series of projects, managing those projects with a bias toward action, and always moving the ball forward are critical for execution.”

First Search

First Search is a new product from First Round and it’s also the Product of the Day on Product Hunt. Another premiere for this product is the fact that I decided to start my product review series with it. The idea behind this series is to pick a product, it will usually be the Product of the Day as seen on Product Hunt, to learn and discover what makes it successful.

Short introduction: First Round is an investment company that invests early (“we’re usually the first money in”) in startups. Some notable startups that got funding are Uber, Mint, GroupMe, Vidme, 9GAG, Wikia, Blue Apron and many others.

First Search is basically a directory consisting of lists of articles on startup related topics. The articles are carefully selected and curated by the partners at First Round and apparently there are more than 10000 articles waiting to be read by people hungry for information and advice.

There are a lot of topics and subtopics and the sight of them can create an overwhelming experience for someone like me who is interested in a lot of them. I can’t wait to start reading and learning new things where should I start? It reminds me of the paradox of choice effect: people have a difficult time making a decision when they are faced with multiple options. More info about the paradox of choice here. I did a count and there are more than 130 visible topics, maybe showing only the main categories and the rest of the subcategories in a dropdown would be a better idea.

first search categories

I’ve read some of the articles and they are indeed great. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned:

  • Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate
  • The ideal length of a Facebook post is less than 40 characters
  • The ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes, 1,600 words
  • Reward and Punishment Super-response Tendency
  • Liking/Loving Tendency
  • Disliking/Hating Tendency
  • Doubt-Avoidance Tendency

Links to the articles in cause: The Ideal Length of Everything Online According to Science | Charlie Munger on The Psychology of Human Misjudgment

A neat feature is that if you sign up you can then bookmark the articles that interest you.

There is a lot of information overload and a lot of unstructured data on the Internet so a product that solves these problems is highly appreciated. I will definitively come back and use First Search for knowledge acquisition.