Pods & Recs: No. 94
Today we have an episode on the beginning of the internet, a great episode on fundamental investing, and an episode on the negative impact social media is having on society.
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- a16z Podcast: The Journey from 0 to 1, from Mosaic to Netscape. This is an episode from the new podcast, Starting Greatness, with Marc Andreessen sharing details of trying to achieve product-market fit when starting Netscape, the first internet browser. He provides the origin stories of the internet and said that, as many entrepreneurs have to do, he had to “live in the future” and see how big the internet would be. He emphasizes this point — most entrepreneurs get to the point where they think “this is so obvious….but why isn’t anyone else doing it?” Most entrepreneurs are wrong, but the ones who are right create the businesses that grow to be huge. [December 17, 2019–44 minutes] iTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Breaker | Website Link
- The Acquirers Podcast: Value Intellect: Vitaliy Katsenelson on Softbank, and $TSLA and value with Tobias Carlisle on The Acquirers Podcast. This is a great episode about fundamental investing with a well-known value investor. Katsenelson is the CEO of Investment Management Associates, and the author of two books. He explains how he became a growth at an unreasonable price (G.A.U.P) investor and at 21:40, he touches on his book The Little Book of Sideways Markets, which is mostly about the impact of PE expansion and compression over market cycles. He explains his current investment process at the 33:45 mark, which focuses on having both an analytical advantage by having a long-term time horizon and a behavioral advantage by competing against less sophisticated investors instead of the larger investment firms. At 45:40 he discusses the bull and bear case for Tesla and why it’s tough to decide which is the better case, but emphasizes the impact tribalism has had on people who follow the stock. The last part of the episode at 58:15 discusses SoftBank’s investment in WeWork, why he originally invested in SoftBank, what he thought about the Vision Fund and what he expects going forward. [December 8, 2019–1 hour, 15 minutes] iTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Breaker | Website Link
- ***Must Listen***Venture Stories: Jonathan Haidt on Polarization, Social Media and its Effects on Society. Haidt is a social psychologist at NYU-Stern and co-author of the best-seller The Coddling of the American Mind. I don’t think there’s anyone who is more in tune with the impact of social media on society and specifically Gen Z than Haidt. He explains that social media has negatively impacted society since 2009 in three main ways: 1) the “like” button which quantifies popularity (huge negative impact on teenage mental health), 2) the “retweet” button (bad for democracy) and 3) algorithmic newsfeed. The chronic social comparison from social media has affected all countries and been skewed to girls, specifically 10–14 years old, whose suicide rate has increased over triple that of the rest of society. He also addresses the mass polarization of society, which began with cable news in the early 2000’s and was exacerbated with the rise of social media in 2009. He also touches on issues on college campus’ and the “call-out” culture that has created an environment where people are scared to say their real opinions. [December 22, 2019–1 hour, 1 minute] iTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Breaker | Website Link
- Capital Allocators: Dr. Sarel Vorster — Conducting Brain Surgery. This is a great episode for anyone in a high performing job who faces tough decisions and stress while leading a team. Dr. Vorster is a practicing neurosurgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and also attended Yale to study for an MBA at the age of 50 to learn more about his interest in the effect of stress and risk on cognition and decision-making. Since neurosurgery is a very intense operation, his discussion of the risk/benefit that he and patients have for elective surgeries is very interesting. He also discusses his mental preparation before operations and how he also tries to prepare his team to perform at a high-level. He also discusses how he analyzes the variability of outcomes, how he handles leading a team in such a high-pressure situation, and how he personally handles the immense mental stress he faces (two of his colleagues have committed suicide because they’ve had patients with bad outcomes from elective surgeries). His lessons from surgery apply to almost any other field. [December 23, 2019–54 minutes] iTunes Podcast | Spotify | Overcast | Breaker | Website Link
Below are books that podcasts guests suggested on episodes I listened to last week. The descriptions are summaries of what the guest said, not my own opinion.
Jonathan Haidt (Social Psychology Professor, NYU):
- The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility by Jeffrey Berry — The right was really affected by cable TV in the 1990's.
- Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright — We are more interconnected than ever, and thus our actions influence other people more than ever.
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal — The book addresses to exploit those who have evolved with vulnerabilities to get addicted to products in this day in age of the attention economy.
Peter Mallouk (President, Creative Planning — a $40 billion Registered Investment Advisor):
- How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath —Really short book that says everyone you encounter ends up with you feeling either better or worse.
- Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony De Mello— Author was a Jesuit Priest who lived in the far East and the main message of the book is get over yourself and you don’t matter. Clarifies for you that the highs shouldn’t be too high and the lows shouldn’t be too low.
Tim Kohn (Managing Director, Arcus Capital Partners):
- Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland— Recommended by Daniel Crosby; Essentially behavioral finance mixed with Nassim Taleb philosophy and very engaging.
Bruce Van Saun (Chairman and CEO, Citizens Financial Group):
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale — Had the biggest impact on him in his life.
Tony Fadell (“Father of the iPod” — Former SVP, Apple’s iPod Division):
- Getting to Yes: How To Negotiate Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher— All about telling a great story to why people should say yes to whatever you are proposing.
- Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson— Basically about when something is changed and you don’t like it anymore. Good starter place on how to get people to work together.