Each month, I keep a log of lessons, links and quotes. Here are my favorite of 2019.


  • Life is suffering. Escaping from suffering is escaping from life. — People who recognize this are cheerful, inviting, warm smile because anything nice, sweet or amusing is experienced as a bonus.

  • Be a Brahman… “The orphaned Brahman calf gets a different result. The same scenario plays out, with the calf being kicked out by the reluctant mother. However, in this case, the naturally persistent calf keeps coming, until the potential new mother acquiesces out of exhaustion. As a result of this persistence, the calf survives.” — FS via Mitch

  • “People these days always call out the bad. When I see something good, I call it out.” — East Tennessee “no-teeth” gas station guy who said I was a good dad after changing Henry’s poopy diaper


  • “Be quiet when others succeed and are doing good. Be encouraging when others fail.” — Michael Ovitz

  • Life is people. Fundamentally, humans are all the same (99.5% dna, water, same parts). The people in our life is what makes up our life. Cherish your people.

  • “It’s enormously important that you do have the right friends. The ultimate gift is that they make you a better person.” — Buffet


  • “Everything on earth depends on will. I never had an idea in my life. I’ve got no imagination. I never dream. My so-called inventions already existed in the environment—I took them out. I’ve created nothing. Nobody does. There’s no such thing as an idea being brain-born. Everything comes from the outside. The industrious one coaxes it from the environment.” — Edison

  • “Nothing in Hollywood is anything until it’s something. and the only way to make it something is with a profound set of belief. If you keep insisting that a shifting set of coexisting possibilities is a movie, it eventually becomes one… Sometimes.” — Michael Ovitz

  • “Don’t set an arbitrary time. When you set an arbitrary time, you say alright, I’m going to spend this quarter picking ideas. What tends to happen is you focus on set reduction. You say “I’m going to quickly build a set of ideas and then I’m going to spend the next three months reducing them to find the one idea.” In most cases, the best pickers are people who are consistently focused on set expansion. They don’t feel the time pressure of an arbitrary deadline so they’re consistently reevaluating and consistently collecting data.” — Josh Kopelman

  • “The only people that can judge the idea are the ones that need it, will pay for it, and want to sign up for it before it’s even ready.” — David Cummings


  • Staying flexible gives you optionality - “My only plan is to keep coming to work every day. I like to steer the boat each day rather than plan ahead way into the future. I know a lot of people have very strong and definite plans that they’ve worked out on all kinds of things, but we’re subject to a tremendous number of outside influences and the vast majority of them cannot be predicted. So my idea is to stay flexible.” — Henry Singleton via 25iq

  • “It’s easier to do a hard startup than an easy startup. People want to be part of something exciting and feel that their work matters.” - Sama

  • “The key to success is dumb competition.”… “I interpret it as find a very different approach to a market so that the competition can’t do what you’re doing, which will make them seem dumb.” — Munger via Ryan Peterson

  • “All failed companies are the same. They fail to escape competition.” — Thiel via Zero to One

  • “It functions invisibly like the mafia. … They keep their organization invisible. Everything visible is transitory. Everything invisible is permanent and lasts forever. The more you can make your organization invisible, the more influence it will have.” — Doug Coe of The Family


  • “I tell first-time founders to make sure their product solves a core problem in people’s lives. Far too many entrepreneurs build whatever they think is cool and forget to ask whether it will actually be useful to people. The great companies start by defining the problem they’re going to solve, and then everything they do is rooted in that effort.” — Kevin Systrom via Sequia

  • “Don’t make badass products, make badass users. Badass users are smarter, more skillful, more powerful users. Users who know more and can do more in a way that’s personally meaningful. Upgrade your user, not your product. Don’t build better cameras — build better photographers.” How do you make users badass and at what? — Badass

  • “Be Narrow. Focus on the smallest possible problem you could solve. There’s a resistance to focusing from a fear of being trivial. If you get to be #1 in your category, but your category is too small, then you can broaden your scope.” — Ev

  • “When do I know is the right time to ship a product? When your product has fulfilled the promise you set out to achieve for the customer. It’s not about features. It’s not about sprints. It’s not about dates. All that matters is you believe the promise is answered.” — Norgard

  • “What are you selling? – This is the secret. Everyone focuses on other shit that doesn’t matter. It’s like… What’s your conversion rate or this or that? Wait, what are you selling? Whenever I sit down, I always talk about the product because that shit is the most exciting. That’s why we’re here. That’s what we’re selling. I’m not selling some arbitrage on Facebook or some access to an email list. It’s so simple, I make the best beanbag ever. That’s it. That’s why we’re here. There really is much else to talk about. – He (5hr energy guy) said the same shit. Why haven’t Coke or Pepsi or whoever come and knock you out of the water? They always forget about the most important thing. It’s the product. I made the best formula and no one can copy it.” — Gravity Blanket

  • “You don’t have a business until you have a product, in particular you don’t have a business until you have a product that a lot of people want.” — pmarca

Mental Models

  • The Lindy Effect says that the observed lifespan of a non-perishable item like a business is most likely to be at its half-life. So, if a business is 100 years old, it should expect it to be around for another 100 years. And a business that has been around for 10 years should be around for another 10 years. Under the Effect, the mortality of a business actually decreases with time. - Family Capital

  • Risk Portfolio - In the stock market, if you’re going to make a risky investment, you protect yourself by playing it safe in other investments… When we embrace danger in one domain, we offset our overall level of risk by exerting cautioning another domain. If you’re about to be aggressively in blackjack, you might drive below the speed limit on your way to the casino.

  • Flywheel - There was no miracle moment or moment of breakthrough. A flywheel is a series of good decision, supremely well executed, taken with disciplined thought that added up, one upon another over a long period of time to produce a great result. — Jim Collins

  • Fundamental algorithm of life… Repeat what works. — Munger via Tanner