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Checklists?!?! April 17, 2018

Posted by FA in education, experience, global, questions, social, Uncategorized.
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My weekend reading consisted of Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto after completing Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness. Each were fantastic, and I would recommend both. However, Checklist was a reminder to all of the things that we think we can memorize but often leave out a single step. Dr. Gawande uses anecdotes from his surgery background as well as riveting stories from across multiple industries known for going through checklists (mainly, airlines / flight and construction).

The juxtaposition of the two books allowed me the time to compare and reflect on each as they related to each other – an intertwining in heuristics, as it may. Taleb presented reminders of the ultimate affect of randomness that surrounds daily decisions. Remaining even-tempered throughout a journey if there is an actual strategy in place from beginning to end (or until an adjustment is made given new data). The process is important and should be the primary recipient of our determination of success/failure. By not taking the overall strategy into context, humans are more likely to be emotional/reactive to natural fits of randomness in the path (whether good or bad). Observing and noting these but not reacting can be key in avoiding biases that may otherwise lead someone to do something irrational. What drives these strategies and keeps us on the process path? I, for one, would often say that the knowledge gained through reading and experience. However, as a human, I don’t have the capacity to remember, upon perfect recall, all of the requisite experience at once. So, organization becomes paramount and explicit processes can be put into place – visible, not mental. This is where Gawande’s book helps.

Succinct processes can be made into a checklist. If I’m honest, I am terrible with To-Do Lists, checklists, notes, etc…. If I am good in making them, they fall away quickly to memory cache and out (until I know I need it again). A VISIBLE checklist of processes, especially when my next venture will require others to know what we’re doing, is the best way to be clear and concise. I will say that in my work as a start-up valuation consultant, I do use an ordered list for what I want to go through for a project and that has yet to steer me wrong. When I want to explain something, most is by memory, but in many lines of work, it may be best to go with a checklist that you can recall and share. Gawande makes a point that the checklists aren’t long or drawn out – more a reminder of what to consider/do in certain cases. There is a requirement for expertise and familiarity, not a step-by-step beginner-friendly mini-book.

This reminds me of PowerPoint presentations that try to include paragraphs of information on each slide. This will detract attention and reduce the power of a point you may be trying to make. Yet I see presentations done like this all too often, and it’s such a turn-off. I shut it out or turn off the video. Own your project, research, data. Set reminders for yourself to engage the audience with your short, succinct points or pictures. Have a checklist of things you wanted to cover and touch on them accordingly. Checklists shouldn’t be shameful – read the book and see how many times Gawande’s research found errors – they’re minimal but can have lasting consequences. There are consequences to not providing certain details in other fields (maybe not as life-threatening) but maybe they do affect livelihoods.

Maybe above all else, Gawande’s usage of checklists enabled communication around a common goal for a team, regardless of being a team previously. As much as each actor in the checklist believes to be an independent agent, aligning a common goal means everyone should be on the same page in the process. Feedback can be as important as execution if it can improve the overall effort. I hope to be able to utilize and refine this tool in order to better my processes and my work. Good luck to everyone!


Productive Purge: Less is More March 21, 2018

Posted by FA in education, experience, global, questions, Uncategorized.
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There may come a time where I don’t feel this relief. Where you don’t question the purpose of keeping 10-15+ year papers that have collected dust from middle, high school and college. Some may say there is a novelty of being able to reflect upon the papers and compare but honestly, if you’ve learned, I would say that you’ve chosen what sticks to mind and what doesn’t.

In Algorithms to Live By, Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths demonstrate how sorting algorithms run our decision-making processes, both in the short-term and long-term. The default? LRU – Least Recently Used. Our memory stacks on new things learned repeatedly, pushing further the less recent events down the stack. What is concrete, reviewed, fully understood may maintain a cache available on call but the percentage of material we see that falls into place is minimal (and as we age, a smaller percentage still – albeit more knowledge overall). One of the most rewarding [re: relieving] feelings was ridding myself of materials that no longer seemed relevant, especially when space can be limited. There was a weight per space allocation that had to be measured. All of the feels or none of the feels?

What did I keep, you ask? Books. I am keeping an entire me-sized bookcase worth of books, a majority of them classics or favorites from college and my push to read more since exiting. I did also keep the Harry Potter series (it can live appropriately in my mind instead of the awful recreation the movies were – don’t @ me). From my youth, I threw away many of the fantasy and science fiction stuff. I kept WWII, military aircraft, Star Wars and Star Trek spacecraft/weapons books. The amount of creativity that went into those books to create possibilities that we have seen or may see bits of in the future is astonishing. Then I felt obligated to keep textbooks I refer back to, both for valuations/corporate finance, as well as multi-variable calculus, analysis (complex & real) and interestingly enough, my sociology and bio-engineering ethics materials.

Currently, my dresser is emptied, desk is cleaned, nightstands donated and bookcase emptied. I have my laptop bag and a closet filled with necessary bathroom materials, dress shirts, blazers/sport coats, suits, long sleeves and then 2 suitcases of t-shirts, shorts and the rest of clothes. And don’t forget the shoes. Oh, and the Xbox One to go with the stereo (which is currently on the fence for donating). That’s it, and it feels good. Again, the attachment isn’t there. James Altucher mentioned often that he has no attachment to his place of residence – not owning a home, renting as needed and in short-terms so he could move at a whim. I’m not quite there (I like the idea of returning to a place to sleep that’s consistent as I don’t strike myself as one who can just take a 1-way ticket without a time frame), but I feel closer, and it’s freeing.

We attach ourselves to the past and present and the more we do this, the more I believe there’s an anchor. Now, if it’s seen in a positive light, this isn’t a negative. They’re reminders of where all of us have been. However, attitude dictates that. And I, for one, would love to continue to be more mindful and positive of these circumstances.

I am excited for what is ahead and hope the lessons from the past influence me to provide an easier path, one filled with only new challenges to learn from.

Let’s go forward!

p.s. There’s something to be said for this in lieu of Stephen Hawking’s death last week on Einstein’s birthday / pi day (he was in Cambridge at the time of his passing, a day ahead of U.S.). A Briefer History of Time was provided as summer reading entering UC Berkeley as a freshman. This was a readable (even for non-engineers/mathy-types) book that simplifies concepts that are both taken for granted as well as presenting the inconceivable in a simple manner. I had the pleasure of attending Hawking’s lecture in the spring of that year, as well. It will remain one of my personal highlights. This is a man who wanted to feel what it was like to go into space and got the opportunity to do so after his condition worsened. We should all aim to go after what we’re passionate about – forward, upward and onward.

Valuation Resources to Keep Top of Mind February 12, 2018

Posted by FA in experience, finance, training, Uncategorized.
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In responding to a colleague who I’ve recently connected with, I was forced to go back through some old coursework, starting books/projects and the massive amount of bookmarks Chrome holds on for me. However, this was productive in allowing me to gather a few of the key websites/links/books to share for others.

Valuations – McKinsey book is one of the fundamental aspects for established companies.
Chris Burniske’s Valuations has a very interesting take on crypto-space valuations and estimating which can be applied elsewhere.
Leo Polovets at Susa Ventures opinion on technical due diligence and frameworks as waste of time (valuable, in my opinion, in arguing with my VC clients).
aswath-damodaran-valuation-guide from 2012, still very relevant. His personal website has a ton of the data/tools, as well – quick hitting and easy to double check in optimization modeling in financial projections. http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/
Via reddit, WallStreetOasis comments on doing dirty, quick diligence for pitch-deck style stuff.
Energy/Oil&Gas quick sheet for what to be looking for – although most of these are general, this refines it for the sector (only started to look again at this as I’m jumping into the space in some EM countries)
My finishing project in valuations was in Energy & Oil. With the recent boom of cryptos, I wish I would have had Chris Burniske’s resource 3 years prior, honestly. Could’ve been a nice jumping off point for a card-wallet company I valued then. I’ll be revisiting these, and I hope to hear back from people interested in the space.

Week 5 Quick Review & Week 6 Start October 14, 2015

Posted by FA in Daily fantasy football, DFS, Draftkings, experience, FanDuel, NFL, Stacks, Week 5, Week 6.
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So, I’m going to keep this brief. I got way too ballsy this past week. Too many tournaments, too much risk, and not enough lineups to increase variation. I got slammed with wrong choices in having Demaryius / Julio in almost all line-ups. I got hurt by Lacy’s lack of pass-catching (and too much emphasis on home success for GB) & JC’s injury. TE & D/ST picks were bad, as well. Charles Clay didn’t do anything & Bennett was targeted 11 times but caught only 4 in what played out as an underperform. Jaguars got shellacked and the Giants, for whatever reason, created minimal pressure Sunday night. Well – that’s a lot of bad in spots that statistically should have been consistently high-floor.

So, the good? Rivers & Bell saved my ass Monday night so I didn’t get blanked. I wasn’t on ABrown due to Vick’s lack of rapport with him, which was good in a fade-case. Allen Robinson performed with Blake Bortles (who I was on in a few leagues). Rivers had a few good games. Brady/Edelman worked out after the 4th qtr touchdown but Gronk disappointed for how expensive he was. Dion Lewis was productive. I was not on Devonta Freeman and he continued to have a nice game. I also faded a good Doug Martin spot (suspect weather, minimal passing potentially). I figured that I would have scored with a few lineups in the high 140’s but I didn’t. Only one lineup hit 165+ and cashed on DK.

Week 6
I will try to do better – buckled down and read through more of Jonathan Bales’ series Fantasy Football for Smart People. Staying consistent with bankroll management and being diligent with a process weekly will be vital in success. To compile the statistics, I’ll likely use a trial for DailyFantasyNerd or Fantasy Labs to ensure I have the data in one spot. I could create a page for myself, but that will be fine-tuning what I want to use consistently.

So, let’s start with defenses. I read through Bill Barnwell of Grantland’s NFL Statistical Temperature. Without looking at this week’s schedule, I pared down defenses that I would be interested in playing, depending on home/away, weather, opponent, in no particular order.

Denver, Arizona, GB, NYJ (w/out a D TD so far) are the top tier. TEN, DET, NE, CIN, SEA, CAR would be the next, likely. PHI, MIN and ATL have been making plays but could be inconsistent depending on game flow.

RB’s – Forte, Foster, TJ Yeldon look good so far. Ryan Mathews has been productive. Do we continue to ride Devonta?
WR’s – Hopkins is just gobbling up targets for ppr leagues. AJ Green could be interesting – I feel like Dalton alternates between his receivers/tight ends. Just focuses in on them. EIfert was last week so Green could be this week. We cannot forget about TASER, Bryan Mears’ new statistic – anticipatory of red zone regression for touchdowns (potentially). Golden Tate, Amari Cooper, Demaryius Thomas & Keenan Allen headline it. Of those, I’d think Cooper & Golden Tate are most likely to score (Denver needs to get NEAR the red zone first and Keenan may be left out since Antonio is back). Let’s flip a coin between Hurns/Robinson again or play them both – that’s worked before. Snead on a Thursday night could be a fade position, or minimal play because of the cheap cost still. We all THINK it will be high-scoring… but will it on a Thursday with Julio in pain? I’d like to think that it won’t be and be in better position Sunday.

TE’s – I’ll have some action with Gronk & Gates. Chargers will have to throw against GB. Eifert played incredibly on Sunday (thanks to that for my main season-long league). Barnidge is apparently a) a real-life football player and b) target monster. Charles Clay is near the top of TASER as well, but with Tyrod potentially out, I may want to avoid that Bills line-up altogether.

These are my initial thoughts – I’ll see today and tomorrow what I can put together and post going forward.

Good luck to the ALDS teams today in their Game 5’s!

Happy to say my Red Wings in NHL are an impressive 3-0-0 with a +7 differential to go with the Broncos 5-0. Keep it up!

Thoughts of the Day – GenY finance, Daily fantasy ‘expert’-testing, other questions September 17, 2015

Posted by FA in Altucher, DFS, experience, finance, gym, PGA, questions, Scutify, social, training.
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Every day I receive a post from James Altucher @jaltucher – he’s an author of one of USA Today’s “12 Best Business Books of All-Time” Choose Yourself, which describes at length the power of one’s self, as well as a successful (and that does not mean he hasn’t failed) entrepreneur, hedge fund manager, asset manager, columnist, as well as podcast producer. His valuable insights, podcasts and publications enlighten us to choose yourself and your passions to create revenue streams aplenty. He simply asks a lot of questions of many people to see what has driven them, and in turn, learn for himself.

In my recent conversations, I have noticed that this is a skill that is falling out of favor very easily of many people – and more so, whether they’re just more of who I come into contact with, but Gen Y and Millennials. So, in light of my observations, I would like to go over what I observed/questioned today.


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