March 9th, 2021
I’ve been off social media for almost a month now. It feels nice. It feels blissful. 

I said I would end my social media hiatus at the end of March, but I think I will go longer. Going back to Twitter doesn’t sound interesting at all. Honest.

There are probably a lot of “things” that have happened in the media or in startup communities that I’ve missed... 

Even though I’m off social media I’ll still see or hear about them, but they’re never interesting enough to hold my attention for long. 

BUT they would hold my attention before. What’s up with that? 

The problem was the social media algorithm would keep feeding it to me. Feeding new details and updates about XYZ developing stories, and like a morphine patient, I’d keep hitting the button over and over for the next hit.

It is a god damn blessing to be out of that right now.

An interesting development: I stopped writing every day on the blog here. 

Sometimes I’ll stop writing because I’m in a “funk”. But that’s not the case here.

Right now, I just don’t really feel like writing on here. I don’t have much to say. And I don’t feel guilty or compelled to keep it updated, like I used to.

Maybe that’s because I’m not on social media. Maybe social media convinced me and kept me accountable to that unwritten commitment: Write every day. Tweet every day. Answer every email. Do this. Do that. Do everything, today.

I’m still writing every day, just not on here. I’m writing for my business: memos, project plans, ideas, guides, strategies, implementation, code, etc.

The bigger theme is I’m more focused on my business than my personal following. And I really like it that way. 

If someone hears about Starter Story, and they don’t hear about me - that’s a beautiful thing. 

A successful business and a successful personal following: I’m not sure you can have both and be healthy and happy. Pick one.

I’ll keep writing though, just not every day on here.

I want to write when I really have something to say. That can only come with time, experience, and staying off social media.

I’m not sure I’ll go back to Twitter at all. Twitter is just ego, and I don’t want to be that.
February 27th, 2021
The culture around "breaking into tech" is gross.

It's basically the same thing as: 

  • "getting into Ivy league"
  • "getting into investment banking"
  • "getting into XYZ EPIC company"

"Here's how I hacked my way into Google"

I've been there. I wanted a job in tech so bad and I jumped through all of the hoops to get it. But when I got there, I realized it wasn't what I wanted at all.

At the end of the day, working at all these companies is the same. You do emails, Zoom meetings, write some code and have some boss that tells you what to work on.

Why do people glorify working a desk job? I just can't get behind that.
February 26th, 2021
At the end of the day, I'll always have more respect for the business builder than the investor or critic, even if the business builder did something wrong or had a misstep.

It's so much easier to criticize the business builder because they have to make so many decisions and put themselves in the arena every day. One the flip side, the investor and the critic don't really have to make too many hard decisions.
February 24th, 2021
The core of an entrepreneur: Someone who sees hard problems not as obstacles, but as opportunities.

An entrepreneur understands there is an opportunity in hard problems because of their hardness. He/she knows most people will not try to solve them, and therefore lies the challenge, and the potential payoff.
February 24th, 2021
Currently reading: Sam Walton: Made In America

Lots to unpack from this book, but one thing that I quite like...

In the super early days of his business, out of necessity, Sam bought a small airplane and became a pilot so he could save money and get things done faster. It allowed him to go wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted. 

He credits much of the success of Wal-Mart to that airplane. It allowed them to expand to multiple regions in a time before computers, as he could be in many places at once.

When COVID is over, I want to get back to traveling within the US. Even if it's going somewhere for a day, why not?
February 24th, 2021
Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus recalls:

“If you ask Sam how’s business, he’s never satisfied. He says, ‘Bernie, things are really lousy. Our lines are too long at the cash registers. Our people aren’t being helpful enough. I don’t know what we’re gonna do to get them motivated.’ 

Then you ask some of these CEOs from other retail organizations who you know are on the verge of going out of business, and they brag and tell you how great everything is. Really putting on airs. Not Sam. He is down to earth and knows who he is.”
February 24th, 2021
Some motivation: Business Insider was acquired by Axel Springer for $442M on Sep 29, 2015.
February 23rd, 2021
Getting closer to getting my investments sorted. Been doing a lot of research and learning.

This whole thing was sparked by the following:

  • I want to spend less time checking stock prices and following the markets
  • I should be more diversified
  • My time and energy is better spent on my own business
  • I’m a business builder, not an investor. Pick one...
  • I think there will be a market correction/bubble soon. I don’t want that stress. And I’m happy with the gains I’ve had.

Ideal Allocation:

Here’s the ballpark allocation I’d like to have:

  • 67% in diversified ETFs
  • 33% in individual stocks & Bitcoin
  • +6 months emergency fund

Why still invest in individual stocks? I don’t want to sell my Bitcoin and I also like the idea of keeping a smaller amount invested into a couple of companies that I really believe in. 

I just finished the Amazon book and remembered why I want to hold my Amazon stock. Or, for example, when Stripe goes public. I want to own shares of their company.

Reallocation

The first step is the reallocation of funds. I have too much money in individual equities right now, and too little in ETFs. 

BUT I don’t want to transfer it all at once. 

The best thing (mainly for my sanity) is to DCA the money from the equities to the ETFs over the next year. 

I’ve set up an automated transfer to do this monthly until the end of the year, at which point I will be “rebalanced”.

ETFs

The other big question I had was “what ETFs do I invest in?” 

I couldn’t really find a good answer to that. My whole goal is to not have to spend time researching stocks, but wouldn’t I have to spend time researching and constantly analyzing ETFs?

Through ETFs, I wanted to invest in value stocks and emerging markets.

The answer was right in front of me: use the robo advisor! I already had one set up! 

This does a good job of investing in international stocks, value stocks, bonds, etc. It’s probably not 100% optimized, but historically it’s done a pretty good job against Vanguard

It also has tax-loss harvesting, something I could not really do on my own.

Going forward

What about future investments? I like to put away money on a set schedule. Been doing that since my business has had consistent profits.

I’ll invest $X/week, with 65% going into ETFs, 25% going into individual stocks, and 10% going into Bitcoin. It’s all set up, automatic.
February 22nd, 2021
Even though I’m on a social media hiatus, I still check the price of Bitcoin and some stock prices through Google search. I can’t help myself.

This prompts some articles that appear to be “newsworthy”. 

But looking closer, they are just headlines like:

  • Bitcoin drops 10%
  • Bitcoin drops after Elon Musk comment
  • Here’s what [insert_notable_investor] has to say about Bitcoin

These are not news. Zoom out a few months, and nothing. You’d never remember it! 

Just infotainment.

Something I’ve been thinking about: intentional learning. What do I want to learn about? What do I want to consume?

Instead of being fed things by an algorithm, it’s very powerful to say “I want to learn something” and go out and learn it in a deliberate manner.

I’m afraid that most people don’t really do this anymore.

This is why I blocked cookies on youtube.com. YouTube is a wonderful resource, but its recommendation algorithm is toxic.

It only recommends you stuff to watch that are in your “comfort zone”. You watch the same stuff over and over.

Last year I followed the Astros’ cheating scandal a lot. Partly because the YouTube algorithm would continuously recommend me videos on that topic. I was addicted to the content for weeks, if not months.

And most of that content was just forgettable “news”, like the Bitcoin news I mentioned above. Just some small new detail that emerged that could be spun into a news story.

I wasted so much time on those videos.

I think it’s better to “go looking” deliberately for things. I think that might be the key to success. Because, really, that’s just being curious, and curiosity is the best predictor for success.

A business idea won’t come to you. You must go looking.

Good friends and attractive members of the opposite sex won’t magically come to you. You must go looking.

Happiness won’t come to you. You must go searching.

We are not proactive enough anymore. We all scroll mindlessly through our feeds and hope that breakthroughs will appear. But they never do. 

When, really, the most interesting and fun parts of life come when you break out of the cycle and do something new and original.
February 20th, 2021
I started my social media hiatus a few days ago, something interesting I noticed: 

In 2019, I also quit social media for a month. It was May 2019. If I think back, May was actually the most memorable month of 2019.

And by “memorable”, I mean: I can actually remember it

I remember where I was, the books I read, the places I ran, the work I did, the restaurants I ate at, etc. 

I specifically remember listening to Ray Dalio’s Principles on Audible while walking around the Hoàn Kiếm Lake in Hanoi Vietnam. I remember the cadence and sound of Ray’s voice. I remember it so well.

If I think about other months in 2019, they’re less memorable than May. Sure, I remember things, but I couldn’t describe June, August, or September with the same detail.

It’s good to change things up in my daily life. My months should be more memorable.
February 20th, 2021
Just finished the Bezos book, love this quote:

Friends congratulate me after a quarterly-earnings announcement and say, 'Good job, great quarter,” he says.

“And I'll say, 'Thank you, but that quarter was baked three years ago.' I'm working on a quarter that'll happen in 2021 right now.”

This book is an absolute must-read. It is no frills, no bullshit. Just great insights from building Amazon for 20+ years.
February 19th, 2021
A long time ago, I used Notion, Trello, etc etc etc.

All of that is bullshit. For the last year, I've used a .md file saved on my desktop.

A shortlist of today's todos + my favorite quote about productivity.

.
February 19th, 2021
There is a web of "influencers" in your social media bubble that make you believe they are successful and you need to be like them.

I always cringe when I hear people reference them as "experts".

Many of them are invested in each other, either with actual money or just mutual support. 

Beware of trusting their retweets, endorsements, reviews & testimonials because they're often not real. Just friends helping out friends.

These people aren't very good at the thing itself (e.g. business, music, whatever your bubble is), but rather they're great at marketing themselves and are obsessed with looking good.

Those that are the best at their craft do not "tweet". Go look at Bezos account. Kendrick. Kanye. Elon. 

If they do tweet, they're not "optimized euphemisms" or clickbait. Just rather being honest and engaging with their organic audiences.

These "influencers" remind me of Instagram models. The talent they have is not modeling itself. Their talent is in optimizing the Instagram algorithm and getting quasi-status for a short amount of time, but then being quickly forgotten about.
February 19th, 2021
I deactivated my Instagram account a few days ago, and nobody has even noticed or asked me about it.

I think this is a sign that Instagram is done, and will go the way of Facebook. There's nothing really there anymore.

Twitter is probably the future.
February 18th, 2021
Today, I started listening to the book Invent & Wander by Jeff Bezos.

The book is actually just a collection of his shareholder letters from the inception of Amazon.

His letters remind me of the monthly updates I do for Starter Story.

Sometimes, I think I’ll stop doing these updates. They are a bit boring and I don’t get all that much feedback. 

But I won’t stop. This book has reminded me to keep doing them.

In Bezos’ letters, he often says things like:

  • We are still “day 1” in e-commerce
  • We are barely scratching the surface with X

I love his energy, his optimism, his conviction, and his bold ambition.

This is the energy I try to channel in my updates, too. Here’s my latest one.

I’m on a smaller stage than Amazon, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have the same energy.

What I love about Starter Story, is that similar to Amazon, the sky’s the limit. Starter Story is a brand. We can expand to new markets, mediums, etc. 

Just like Amazon. They expanded to new markets and products.


I have a new respect for Bezos. It really makes sense why Amazon is the way it is. I’ll keep studying and report back.
February 17th, 2021
I did it in 2019, and it was amazing. I said I would do it in 2020, but didn’t follow through. Now, I’ll do it again.

No social media until April 1, 2021. Then, I’ll reassess.

Rules:

  • No Twitter. Remove cookies, block on phone. Block in hosts file
  • No YouTube. Block cookies. Only for research/learning if needed.
  • No Instagram. Account deactivated. Block on phone/computer.
  • No Reddit. Other than for research.
  • No other weird stuff like LinkedIn, Clubhouse.

I will still write on this blog, hopefully more than usual :)

Inspired by this video: