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Notes on 4 Segments – back to late ’15 and People in Work October 12, 2018

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*/ Note – I think I’ll start including one of the logos/marks from one of the segments in my notes as features. Draw some more attention to these interesting companies/people!

Sometimes, I lament the fact that I only catch some of the radio segments midway or further through. I always wish I have the time to go back and finish or research more of the information. However, my notes initially are simply what I catch and then remember once I’m in front of my laptop again. So, if they seem incomplete – they are! However, it does remind me to go back and check it out at a later point (or when I can catch other parts of the segment in repeats).

With that said, here we go:

Week of October 1, 2018

  • Sean Seton-Rogers, founding partner at PROfounders Capital (20min VC 068)
    • VC fund for entrepreneurs
    • Learned the most during 2000 after crash, workforce reduction and doing everything to survive
      • Biggest lesson was that you need to have laser focus – doing too much is scary – must deliver one product amazingly well
    • At time, influx of US capital in European markets – got very expensive to get into high growth companies
      • Arbitrage play initially but now he thinks that there are lots of resources available for big companies ($1-10bn)
    • He looks to invest $1-3mln pounds, 7-10 people and invests early – prove his value to founders (definitely higher capital engages founders)
      • Bar is higher for proving your value for next rounds of financing
      • Have to be good to get next rounds, belief that company can grow
      • Early stage – he says that location does matter, meeting face to face in crucible – first proper employees, business dev deals, early stage
        • Bounce and converse ideas with – top level CEO and key management – PROfounders tries to be there for them
    • Europe was leaders in global music during 50s, 60s and still are – SoundCloud, Spotify, others
      • Fashion is another leader as a vertical – Milan, Paris, etc… still providing global leading fashion companies (List, etc…)
      • London is financial tech but Berlin is also up there
    • Talked about immigration issues in London or Berlin for global talent acquisition for the big operations and scaling people
      • Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc….
    • Crowdfunding, as Harry’s passion
      • Can skip the many meetings and questions of VC, less equity that they have to give up, different type of investor though (cash only)
        • Have to weigh if the different investor costs or if they want to raise more or price more
      • Sean said it can be great for entrepreneurs and it’s a challenge for investors (as competitors)
      • Quality of companies on crowdfunding platforms are increasing
    • Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and Influence: Psychology of Persuasion (human body conditioned to respond)
    • Mike Morris at Sequoia as most successful of old, Chris Sacca of new people
  • Ben Nader, Founder CEO at Butterfleye (20min VC FF 011)
    • Born in middle east, migrated to United States, studied electrical engineering / hardware and electrical
      • Moved into product management, opened his eyes up to camera/videos while in college, though
    • Personal frustration toward products in market when he wanted peace of mind for his bikes in his garage (2011-2013)
      • Design decisions by the shortcomings of these products
      • Wanted an industrial designer to look/feel good product
    • In designing team, he lived in the Bay Area
      • Networking and friends of friends, angelist, LinkedIn for most connections
    • For the product, most cameras did 24/7 passive recording – decided to put a brain in camera for making sense of content (humans, pets, beings)
    • Connected devices – 20-30 people to give feedback (but he noticed 3-5 people would be enough because the rest would respond similarly)
      • Feedback on features being useful or not
    • Kickstarter and Indiegogo (they used this) was a great way for him to go and get customers – early adopters and shaping the last 10% of product
      • Can change software side, especially – had a chance in SF (indiegogo was closer to collab – both teams local)
    • Good angel investors – business case scenarios vs bad (asking what-ifs)
      • Jason C as first one (reached out on Angelist, initially) – talking about idea actively, what are you building, no stealth mode
      • Featured on Angelist – generated traction via feature – friends rounds for first investing checks after he put his savings in
    • Mentioned BeatsByDre and GoPro as good consumer brands (funny with GoPro tanking after public)
  • Danny Leffel, CEO and Co-founder of Crew App (Wharton XM)
    • Discussing how communication was crucial, end of the discussion
    • Belief that there should be very limited time spent on pitch decks or setting meetings
      • Said that he would spend capital trying to hire the right people – it’s the VC firms job to seek out start-ups they want to found
      • Startups become interesting because they have traction, interest and a place in people’s minds
    • He said that his role has been hiring the right people and getting the right metrics into place
  • Sally Thornton, founder and CEO of Forshay (Work Wharton XM)
    • Work/life blend and discussions with many people over past 7 years in work
    • Knowing clients and how they prioritize people and work culture
      • My question: is there a place that will publicly share team-by-team people metrics and match them with candidate metrics?
        • Can this be done? Has it been done?
      • They mentioned Apple is much more private team-wise than Google, for instance
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Interesting Notes from Last Week October 4, 2018

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First week of my initial interesting thoughts on segments I listened to over the past week! Copying my notes below:

Week of September 24, 2018

  • Co-founder, CEO of Glow Michael Huang (Launch Pad Wharton XM)
    • Discussed working with his co-founder as Head of Product at Paypal – credibility in financing
    • Fertility, infertility community – massive growth for scale in China (post-single child, aging)
      • Applications, connecting community with providers (some large fertility clinics, some small and personable)
    • Large funding rounds and how difficult it was to initiate a feeling of what it’s like to go through these experiences
  • SC0x MIT Video 6
    • Why is it so difficult?
      • Metrics – how do you measure a system?
        • Trade-off of Breadth vs Validity of metrics
        • Outcome-based logistics – perfect order, perfect shelf
      • Politics and Power of Players – Who Wins?
        • Mom and pop vs megastores
        • Mega retailers vs mega CPG manufacturers
      • Visibility – who can see what and how quickly
        • Data stored separately
        • All parties don’t have equal access to data
        • Massive data does not equal shared and accessible information
      • Uncertainty – who knows what’s going to happen?
        • Variable demand of product (shorter lifecycles)
        • Variable manufacturing yield
        • Unreliable sourcing of raw materials
        • Inconsistent transit lead times
      • Increased complexity – why is it getting harder?
        • Exploding number of SKUs
        • Higher and diverging customer demands
        • New and merging channels (omnichannels) – online, stores, replenishing, different chains
      • Global operations – Why don’t we ever close?
        • Most firms source and sell globally
        • Multiple regions, time zones, languages and cultures
  • Steve Johnson, author of Farsighted (Knowledge at Wharton)
    • Discussing why there isn’t really an update to pros/cons list
    • Long-term decisions – how do we decision map
      • Considering alternative solutions, especially when it’s a ‘do this or don’t do that’ initially
      • Processing out “what if / how does this go poorly?”, “what about if it’s best?”, “what makes it weird?”
      • Ex: moving for a job (uses his own case of moving to bay area)
  • Gina Fyffe, CEO of Integra (Dollars & Change)
    • Talked about a discussion with a Serbian Uber driver who was concerned about the dependency Serbians back home had on aid
      • How do we better get rid of dependencies in times of crisis?
    • Mentioned a case where a simple task like building a water well close to villages can save a ton of time, but more importantly
      • Build it with a shovel and show them how to do this instead of Caterpillar tractor or something that would be too expensive to maintain
    • They’ll offer money to people that have a passion to do something meaningful, but it doesn’t always pan out
      • Therefore, they don’t write initial big checks
  • Mike Todasco, Director of Innovation at PayPal, (Work of Tomorrow – Wharton XM)
    • Increasing the creative output of employees across company
    • Before PayPal, he was founder/CEO of eCommerce marketplace Sketch Maven
      • Spent 4 years as Director of Strategy, heading up m&a and strategic planning at NewPage, portfolio company of private equity firm Cerberus

 

One thing I recognized for the week is that I didn’t get a chance to listen to any podcast episodes (20min VC, a16z or Data Skeptic). I did, however, start EdX’s MIT Supply Chain Analytics course, which has been a good, fairly comprehensive foundation (for me, review) of optimization and how it applies in various parts of the supply chain. Gina’s segment was fascinating to me in finance and how different many countries are in their services and day-to-day lives. There are a ton of opportunities in other countries to just simply “catch up” to things we may be used to, but this has to be done in an intelligent manner. Then, I added Steve Johnson’s Farsighted to my book list – simplicity repeated is important, and he discussed our decision-making plans or maps haven’t changed dramatically.

Short Notes on Initial Presentations September 24, 2018

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It’s time! My process through the week consists of plenty of personal notes – some from podcast episodes I’ve listened to, my key takeaways from radio segments (mostly Wharton XM’s channel), courses I’m going through/reviewing, webinars I get the opportunity to attend, or books that have engaged me. Outside of a few tweet or LinkedIn shout outs, I keep these to myself. Bit selfish, no?

So, this will be a first intro to my quick notes on doing an initial presentation/consult (whether a pitch, training or a client & manager meetings). Hell, could be just networking or keynote speaking. These are top of mind for me as I go into these. I don’t want to waste my time, let alone others’ – so I’ll get to sharing!

  1. Presentation
    1. Storyboard lays the foundation for consulting report
    2. Structuring:
      1. Start with your point first
        1. Mento Principle (Barbara Mento from McKinsey) – present ideas organized as a pyramid under a single point
        2. Answer first, then summarize your supporting arguments, and logically order supporting ideas
      2. Focus on Highlighting Data Visually
        1. Hard data as evidence for building credibility and selling solution
        2. KISS – avoid graphics that are overly elaborate
        3. Print charts in black/white, never use 3D graphics, One message per chart

                               iii. Elevator Test Scenario

                                                                           1. Be able to deliver your presentation in 30 seconds

Lessons from Jack Ryan, S1 September 11, 2018

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Summer is nearing an end. As September dawned, Amazon treated us to their series release of Jack Ryan, starring Jim from The Office [re: John Krasinksi] and Wendell Pierce (of The Wire, Suits or Ray Donovan fame). Pierce plays James Greer, the new head of TFAD for Jack Ryan, though not necessarily by choice. Why do I bring James in, other than being a powerful actor? The answer is the dichotomy that is so quickly evident between Jack and James. Without revealing too much [I will try to avoid big spoilers],  each made a major mistake that placed them into their position where we jump into the story arc.

jryn_s1-ep101-jm_0946-fnl-_cb1528402416_ri_sx940_

Analysis Paralysis

In the workplace, there are many types of people. We get to witness this firsthand, especially early on. Jack plays a quiet role, trying to “blend” in without attention. However, he is still deeply rooted in his quest to make up for a mistake and provide the most concrete, clear analysis that he can. I think MANY people, including occasionally myself, fall victim to analysis paralysis – the idea that there is so much to analyze or go into decision-making that you don’t take action, or don’t make a decision. Brutal for results! Especially if one is on to something in the first place. Jack Ryan is an economic analyst working for the CIA, lording over a ton of financial and transactions data of key targets / suspected affiliates. We see that he owns his data and recognizes tons of patterns [in the books, there’s a deeper insight that we read about but in the show, we merely get a glimpse]. However, it takes a massive push in a meeting to say that he has something. Again, he was unsure – a product of his new persona [post-mistake Jack] and wasn’t certain of what his analysis ultimately meant, yet. Too much data or limited communication or, due to his mistake in the past, hesitation for fear of being wrong kept him from making a conclusion or actionable communication.

jack-ryan

Communication

A memorable episode and collection of scenes for me occurred between Jack and the director of the French intelligence agency. He was frozen in a few moves, both personal and what they should do next for finding the bad guy. He explicitly states that he isn’t sure because it isn’t certain – the viewer can see the discomfort in him not being able to figure out the course of action. Thankfully, only a very few of us have life/death situations sitting on these decisions. Although, that doesn’t discount the many decisions that are still important.
Some find it much easier to communicate what they’re doing than others. Some are comfortable making mistakes and owning them [or not] and others want to be absolutely certain that they’re comfortable in whichever way a decision will go [because their data / reasoning supports it]. Much of what we do can never be 100% certain or right. Communication is extremely important. But it has to be thoughtful. Additionally, we all benefit from clear, concise [business] questions decided ahead of diving into the data or exploration. That way, there’s a goal in mind – teams can get on the same page to know what they’re working toward and how. Developing this skill or coaxing it from team members can be the difference between success and failure, both in the show and our own work environments.

2018-09-05-1140x650

Individual Action

This goes with both of the lessons above. Individuals can excel on their own, but even the most individual jobs require communication and supporting evidence to complete them. Whether it’s a back and forth between clients or customers and even team members, I’d imagine the people who produce to succeed most often are ones that can involve the right people at the right time in the process. Better yet, we should all try to leave a trail of production / processes so that we can decide how to operate better in case of a mistake, or repeat the process if there is a success. Allow others to share as necessary. This was in short supply in the series – Jack and James, though together, worked far too often as individuals when chasing (resulting in getaways). As they adapted to each others’ styles, there became a better understanding of each other, guided by their common goal. Hopefully, in the next season, we see them further gel as a duo while growing as individuals, continuing to learn and make up for their past mistakes.

Despite some cheesy scenes and a few plot holes, I found this first season a necessary prelim to what I believe will become of Jack Ryan – seeing what he tries to improve as an analyst, operative and individual. I enjoyed being able to see a character struggle through these lessons that so many of us encounter in our everyday lives.

 

Checklists?!?! April 17, 2018

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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!

Valuation Resources to Keep Top of Mind February 12, 2018

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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.

Highlighting Some Great Finance/Start-up Resources January 18, 2018

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It’s been a bit here. I have an article that I wrote up from my travels in HK & across South India but it needs some refining.

Podcasts, books, Twitter and the internet in general provide a near-infinite resource for any number of topics. As I work on start-ups for VC’s, some resources I utilize or listen to and learn from will be what I highlight below!

The Twenty Minute VC

Harry Stebbings (@HarryStebbings) has a full-fledged podcast that he’s refined over the course of 3 years and he gets any number of contacts in finance, VC, hedge funds willing to spill guts, passions and secrets for roughly 20 minutes. I love the wide variety of content he pulls and since I started listening only a few months ago, it’s been a fascinating review from his early podcasts circa 2015/2016.

You can check out the website The20MinVC or reach him on Twitter above.

Strictly VC

Connie Loizos (@Cookie) of TechCrunch and out of Silicon Valley started a page to cover weekly or daily news in the VC world, “from Sand Hill Road to Singapore”. Whether it’s an exit, IPO, financing deal, executive change or new news among VC/PE firms – Connie often has a blurb on it and a link to the initial news. If you want quick access to the world of deals/finance that’s made global news, this is a great website.

Take a look Strictly VC.

AngelList

Naval Ravikant (@naval) has done an excellent job with his co-founders and team on expanding out the AngelList platform. The vast number of start-ups available, jobs listed within and the funding amounts are quite the resource for anyone curious. Additionally, if you’re a start-up founder or member of a team looking for funding, there’s access to connect and see what can be done! I look forward to any updates that AngelList presents and many of the startups coupled with CrunchBase are informative, well-vetted and available for contacting.

The website is clean and intuitive AngelList or reach out and let the team know @AngelList

For now, those will be the 3 I highlight. I’ll look to add or do another one soon! Hope everyone is having a great start to 2018!

Life is Global October 23, 2017

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In just returning from Chile and having my 29th birthday, I did a ton of reflection over the last 2 weeks. Long flights, new places, peaceful heights & coming of age will force you to do this, if you don’t pause on your own to do it anyhow.

A word:
metacognition – dictionary.com has this as “higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning.” I prefer a simpler “thinking about one’s own mental processes” .

Why do we do what we do? Some just act instinctively. Others act and then question why they acted. Yet there are some who will think, then act. There is a process by which everyone goes about their actions and thoughts – very few reflect on this process. Even fewer that look to change it for the better. Learning to think, approaching problems, coming up with solutions. Producing insights that can push forward or analyze why processes should be different.

In visiting with neighbors on my flights, shoulder-to-shoulder in immigration lines, Chilean natives, South American transplants from neighboring countries and visitors from across the world, there was a different consensus among the lot of them. Everyone had someplace else to be. Each person as different as the next. It was peaceful to not catch a news segment, comedy remark, or overhear a conversation about the active politics of the day. It’s overwhelming in the states, needlessly – and more importantly, rampant with misinformation which makes the deluge of politics ripe with uninformed, unintelligent thoughts. 7 days away – I believe I caught a single newspaper that had Trump on the cover and CNN one morning at the hotel mentioning a brief, 2 minute segment. Granted, I wasn’t looking for the conversations or seeking newspapers/tv’s, but still – there was some peace. Friends who have traveled abundantly over the past year to Europe/Canada/others have anecdotally mentioned that as one of the first things that arise in taxis/Ubers/people that become aware of a US citizen in their presence. No such bad luck in Mexico (my layover) or in Chile once I was there. There were more entertaining or productive discussions to be had. I’m sure this is a part of where one can direct a conversation, as well. People should be more cognizant of this, though I’m afraid politics have now dropped into the pantheon of ‘effortless’ conversation along with “how’s the weather?”, “did you see X” and a general “how’s work”?

Hopefully, as people grow and become more successful and comfortable in their lives, they would want to contribute something back – knowledge, money, mentorships and more. Often, there’s a line drawn between impact and how large of one can be made. This is less important, however, than making an impact regardless. We can make an impact in your core community – neighborhood, town or city, business community. Expand that out to affect multiple cities or a region – think Elon with LA’s tunnels, subway/metro/public transportation, bag ordinances or green movements – smart cities will eventually become a larger look as we go forward, as well. Outside of bigger projects like mentioned above, we can start a group or meet-up that gains members from the community in question – contribution of ideas that can go beyond infrastructural concepts.

Thinking larger (but not in the sense that it has to be bigger impact-wise), connection across counties, states, or the nation is important but more difficult to scale. Industries or sectors can be defined and aided by any one group or person that makes an impact beyond the immediate cases and permeates the outreaches from there. Then we have global scales – whether it’s advancing some technology or standard and bringing it to areas that may be impacted greatly with progression. There are tons of examples of all of these scales. People have different passions and shouldn’t be restricted or forced into doing something that doesn’t spark a fire in them to improve their lives (and hopefully, helping some others that they have a connection to in the process).

We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, a swipe and drag away on our phones. Barriers to entry continue to fall across all spectra. Get excited, people! Help yourself to help others.

Some things that I am jumping into and ones that I would love to hear ideas/talk to others about:
– mentorship with high school / college-level students with finding a passion or question ideas for how to progress forward
– a fun application to make it easier to connect local restaurants/bars with customers about their happy hours using OCR / Image-to-text from menu photos to populate database
– starting an investment fund that focuses on avoiding the nearly unavoidable ‘home bias’ as well as matching risk tolerance with proper returns – focusing on international availability and risk profile of uncorrelated assets
– new thought: possible website/application that will take multiple starting points (friends that live apart from each other) meeting at some location / flight destination in between for reasonable prices — multi-optimized Skyscanner/Hopper
– Payments/Vendors/AP/AR organizing software that will reduce burden and difficulty for companies with nontechnical backgrounds / capacity for process to be so intuitive that it won’t require more personnel or capital invested

 

Notes from Hirschhorn & Cuban March 27, 2017

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Listening to the Jason Hirschhorn interview with Mark Cuban  from the end of February (just pre-$SNAP IPO) —

Many great resources in all the current tech-hubs: SF & Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Austin, and expanding those. Cuban makes a good point that people and ideas are easily created now in almost every area. There are places in the country that have MORE resources — events, companies, VC’s, funds, but building can be done everywhere (Cuban mentioned when he visits IU, he can stay in contact with them).

With less and less companies going public (mentioned ~9000 publicly listed in 2008, but < 4000 now), people are either scared of going public, or are getting their payouts directly from bigger companies (Cisco, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc…).

Digital ad revenue for FB and Google – 85%+ market share. NFLX and AMZN are 2 biggest shares – hasn’t sold yet. Content providers – Disney, Netflix, and Amazon…. not many others. CONTENT is very difficult (Cuban mentioned Enron doc and winning awards, along with Good Night and Good Luck — hasn’t done any successful since). Content is the most difficult to maintain – very difficult to get past that giant hurdle, and these companies have the money to get above it.

Eventually got into a political discussion – using news / reactions / tweets to respond. HOW do we respond? Communicate and be patient – tough to change minds or reason – noted 52% of eligible voters didn’t vote. Trolls and dealing with internet comments – control public/private responses on twitter? Twitter must be hard-coded otherwise. Cuban mentioned an app that he’s going with – soon, machine-learning or machines will deal with the curation of information and conversation in digital platforms.

Talking about video – 7 year old son wanting to play flag football / baseball and how different it is now. Esports / watching vs watching tv (sports). His son didn’t want to watch sports / baseball / football, but wanted to play. There’s no indoctrination or religion for it anymore as we grew up on (and Cuban’s era earlier). Gaming as a big advantage in expanding NBA reach – NBA 2k and professional aspect of them since players have a deeper involvement / knowledge of the league with gaming.

The overall theme for today (not just this interview) – how can we get more young people interested in building out great ideas? The future of technology is rapidly accelerating but ideas will still be needed from the smartest people. Education seems to nerf expansive ideas – boxes people in that may be more capable, restricting opportunities. In my opinion, this is a huge flaw in the system overall.

Luck versus Skill June 9, 2016

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On my drive home from work late this evening, I was listening to Wharton Moneyball Business XM. They had Michael Mauboussin on, author of The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and InvestingThe Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing. Fascinating stuff, discussing the difference between skill and luck, primarily how difficult it is for the human mind to differentiate the two. Humans tend to not just accept something that is, and something that may happen needs a cause or something that created it. There should be a reason for any given occurrence.

In trading or investing, we call some of these events “black swan events”. Companies and markets attempt to assess the risk of these events. Since they’re usually rare and unpredictable, it’s a tough thing to assess risk of something you may not know the cause / effect of at the time it occurs, let alone prior. So we assume that our skill and history will provide the outcome – likely incorrectly, or just by luck we may be correct.

Michael went on to discuss how in business there is a market for possibly being lucky. Using a trader who performed well as an example – recent studies show that it’s increasingly about chance/luck than skill in trading performance. However, if a trader outperforms, they could request a raise or use their performance as the expected amount to move to another company. Depending on the due diligence and statistical/skill assessment of the firms, this creates a market for production by luck.

In reading moneyball and the increasing sports analytics movement, they measure this against regression to the mean in a number of + stats. But in general, pros have a higher skill vs others, and the standard deviation, if you will, of said skills is much smaller. Minor nuances represent the differences in ‘higher’ skill than ‘lower’ at a professional level. A great year by an average pro could result in regression toward the career average. If this is not the case, then that player has probably found an efficiency level that could be affected by actions on their part to reduce the level of variance in that element.

I found the paradox of skill and luck explained very well. Typically, we see the two as a continuum – where on one end luck would play a part such as a roulette table or coins. On the other side, skill – maybe boxing, running. However, it seems to be more array/matrix-like, in that as you increase skill, you increase the dependence on luck. Separation at the most-skilled level involves all kinds of luck.

One author described it using Ted Williams’ .406 batting average in 1941. He had tremendous skill, ahead of most players in the professional leagues. However, that year, he also exhibited a tremendous amount of luck, again more than most players. That combination can attribute to some of the most heralded sporting feats. Our acknowledgement of those streaks come without luck – and that the players were just that skilled. Skilled yes, but also incredibly lucky.

Michael continued to go on about the statistics of lacrosse, and its rules are pulled from hockey and basketball. He noted that Canadian players in college lacrosse are extra efficient. Citing rules of box lacrosse (played usually on a hockey rink, much smaller in comparison to the field as is typical), they aim for smaller goals and have less space to work with. When they get on the field, the added space and larger goal sets them up to be monsters in shooting efficiency. Numbers-wise, 5% of D1 lax players are Canadian. Yet, they make up ~20% of the goals. Additionally, there was a 5% arbitrage between shooting accuracy – overall average was about 28%, non-Canadians shot 27.8% and Canadians? – nearly 33% of shots turned into goals. Astounding.

Statistical notes such as these create fascinating opportunities for further studies and team options, not just in sports but also in business. Taking note and then taking advantage will be easier with the increased abundance in acquiring data, but how much can we direct to noise, and how much is actually signal?

 

 

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