What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars

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6153243027_8a5ed7bc0b - poker(Photo: Ariel H.)

“One of the rare noncharlatanic books in finance.”
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Antifragile

“There is more to be learned from Jim Paul’s true story of failure than from a stack of books promising to reveal the secret formula for success…this compact volume is filled with a wealth of trading wisdom and insights.”
- Jack Schwager, author of Hedge Fund Market Wizards

The newest book in The Tim Ferriss Book Club (all five books here) is a fast read entitled What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars. It packs a wallop.

This book came into my life through N.N. Taleb, who has made several fortunes by exploiting the hubris of Wall Street. Given how vociferously he attacks most books on investing, it caught my attention that he openly praises this little book.

My first dinner with Nassim was in September of 2008. It was memorable for many reasons. We were introduced by the incredible Seth Roberts (may he rest in peace), and we sat down just as Lehman Brothers was collapsing, which Taleb had — in simple terms — brilliantly shorted. We proceeded to drinking nearly all of the Prosecco in the restaurant, while talking about life, business, and investing. Lehman Brothers would end up the largest bankruptcy filing in US history, involving $600+ billion in assets… Read More

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Can You Rewire Your Brain In Two Weeks? One Man’s Attempt…

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Can you rewire your brain in two weeks?  The answer appears to be — at least partially — yes.

The following is a guest post by Shane Snow, frequent contributor to Wired and Fast Company and author of the new book SMARTCUTS: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.  Last year, he wrote about his two-week Soylent experiment, which went viral and racked up 500+ comments.  He knows how to stir up controversy.

In this post, Shane tests the “brain-sensing headband” called Muse.

It’s received a lot of PR love, but does it stand up to the hype?  Can it make you a calmer, more effective person in two weeks?  This post tackles these questions and much more.

As many of your know, I’m a long-time experimenter with “smart drugs,” which I think are both more valuable and more dangerous that most people realize.  This includes homemade brain stim (tDCS) devices (I wouldn’t recommend without supervision) and other cutting-edge tools.  If you’d like to read more on these topics, please let me know in the comments.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Shane’s experimentation!… Read More

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The Tim Ferriss Show: Interview with Peter Thiel, Billionaire Investor and Company Creator

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team_peter

“Freedom lies in being bold.” – Robert Frost

This episode’s guest is the incredible Peter Thiel.

Peter is a serial company founder (PayPal, Palantir), billionaire investor (first outside investor in Facebook, 100+ others), and author of the new book Zero to One. Whether you’re an investor, entrepreneur, or simply a free thinker aspiring to do great things, I highly recommend you grab a copy.  His teachings on differentiation, value creation, and competition alone have helped me make some of the best investment decisions of my life (e.g. Twitter, Uber, Alibaba, etc.).

This podcast episode was experimental, as I was on medical leave.  It includes both audio and written questions. What are Peter’s favorite books?  Thoughts on tech and government, and more?  Answers to these “bonus questions” can be found in the text below.

For the longer, main audio discussion, you can:

Now, a bit more on Peter… Read More

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The Tim Ferriss Show: Interview of Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder of WIRED, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?

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This single interview — one of my favorites of all-time — was recorded in three short parts.  You can:



This podcast is brought to you by The Tim Ferriss Book Club, which features a handful of books that have changed my life. Here’s the list.  You can also find all 20+ episodes of this podcast here. Some are sober and some are drunk, but the guests are all great.

Now, on to this episode’s guest…

Kevin Kelly might be the real-life Most Interesting Man In The World.

He is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine, which he co-founded in 1993. He also co-founded the All Species Foundation, a non-profit aimed at cataloging and identifying every living species on earth. In his spare time, he writes bestselling books, co-founded the Rosetta Project, which is building an archive of ALL documented human languages, and serves on the board of the Long Now Foundation. As part of the last, he’s investigating how to revive and restore endangered or extinct species, including the Wooly Mammoth.

This episode touches on a lot of cool stuff.  SERIOUSLY, A LOT.

Just scroll below and your head might explode.  Tons of amazing links and goodies…

Enjoy!

Who should I interview next?  Please let me know in the comments by clicking here.
Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here.  It keeps me going…
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The Art of Strategic Laziness

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David Heinemeier Hansson ("DHH")

David Heinemeier Hansson (“DHH”)

The following is a guest post by Shane Snow, a frequent contributor to Wired and Fast Company.  Last year, he wrote about his two-week Soylent experiment, which went viral and racked up 500+ comments.

This post is adapted from his new book, SMARTCUTSand it will teach you a few things:

  • How to use strategic “laziness” to dramatically accelerate progress
  • How “DHH” became a world-class car racer in record time, and how he revolutionized programming (they’re related)
  • A basic intro to computer programming abstraction

Note: the technical aspects of programming have been simplified for a lay audience.  If you’d like to point out clarifications or subtleties, please share your thoughts in the comments!   I’d love to read them, as I’m thinking of experimenting with programming soon.

Enter Shane Snow

The team was in third place by the time David Heinemeier Hansson leapt into the cockpit of the black-and-pink Le Mans Prototype 2 and accelerated to 120 miles per hour. A dozen drivers jostled for position at his tail. The lead car was pulling away from the pack—a full lap ahead.

This was the 6 Hours of Silverstone, a six-hour timed race held each year in Northamptonshire, UK, part of the World Endurance Championship. Heinemeier Hansson’s team, Oak Racing, hoped to place well enough here to keep them competitive in the standings for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Tour de France of automobile racing.

Heinemeier Hansson was the least experienced driver among his teammates, but the Oak team had placed a third of this important race in his hands.

Determined to close the gap left by his teammate, Heinemeier Hansson put pedal to floor, hugging the curves of the 3.7-mile track that would be his singular focus for the next two hours. But as three g’s of acceleration slammed into his body, he began to slide around the open cockpit. Left, then right, then left. Something was wrong with his seat.

In endurance racing, a first place car can win a six- or 12-hour race by five seconds or less. Winning comes down to two factors: the equipment and the driver. However, rules are established to ensure that every car is relatively matched, which means outcomes are determined almost entirely by the drivers’ ability to focus and optimize thousands of tiny decisions.

Shifting attention from the road to, say, a maladjusted driver’s seat for even a second could give another car the opportunity to pass. But at 120 miles per hour, a wrong move might mean worse than losing the trophy.  As Heinemeier Hansson put it, “Either you think about the task at hand or you die.”

Turn by turn, he fought centrifugal force, attempting to keep from flying out while creeping up on the ADR-Delta car in front of him.

And then it started to rain… Read More

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The Random Show, Episode 25 — Gut Bacteria, Meditation, Startups, and More

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If you can’t view the above video, please click here or here. To download the audio as an MP3, just right-click here and choose “save as.”

There are dozens of topics covered in this bromantic episode of scatterbrained banter.

Like what? To start off: tracking gut bacteria, favorite documentaries, keys for novice meditators, startup lessons, Kevin’s new obsessions, and more. O-tanoshimi dane!

The last few blog posts have been rather serious, so this is intended as an informal (but still informative) mind snack.

For all previous episodes of The Random Show, including the epic China Scam episodeclick here.

Enjoy!

Select show notes and links are below.  Some good stuff in this episode’s resources…

LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

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The Truth About “Homeopathic” Medicine

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Homeopathy -- effective, useless, or dangerous? (Photo: Marcos Zerene)

Homeopathy — effective, useless, or dangerous? (Photo: Marcos Zerene)

[Audio version]

[Text version]

I routinely use an arnica gel for minor muscular strains. In fact, it’s one of my “go to” treatments.

In 2010, however, I found myself swallowing Boiron Arnica Montana 30C pellets, an oral version that was the only option at the closest GNC. I started at five pellets, SIX times a day–TWICE the recommended dose. Risk of overdose? Not likely.

“30C,” which I looked up that evening, tells you all you need to know.

This consumable version of arnica, unlike the creams I’d used in the past, was a homeopathic remedy. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, pioneered the field of homeopathy in 1796, if the term “pioneer” can be applied to alternative “medicine” founded on concepts like mass dilution and beatings with horse-hair implements. From the Wikipedia entry for “homeopathic dilutions,” last I looked:

Homeopaths use a process called “dynamisation” or “potentisation” whereby a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken by ten hard strikes against an elastic body in a process called “succussion”… Hahnemann believed that the process of succussion activated the vital energy of the diluted substance.

Riiiight.

Back to 30C. 30C indicates a 10-60  (10^(-60), or 10 to the negative 60th) dilution, the dilution most recommended by Hahnemann.

30C would require giving 2 billion doses per second to 6 billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any one person. Put another way, if I diluted one-third of a drop of liquid into all the water on earth, it would produce a remedy with a concentration of about 13C, more than twice the “strength” of our 30C arnica.

Most homeopathic remedies in liquid are indistinguishable from water and don’t contain a single molecule of active medicine. In systematic review after systematic review, these dilutive homeopathic remedies display no ability to heal beyond placebo.

I found this particularly bothersome. Bothersome because I appeared to heal faster using oral 30C arnica.

There are a few potential explanations… Read More

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