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Week’s Notes: Entrepreneurs Solving Their Own Problems and Taking Action October 16, 2018

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Another week flew by! Last week I fell behind – I plan on posting or scheduling these weekly on Tuesdays, not Thursdays. Whoops! Life happens – we know this.

My XM radio was stuck on Business / Wharton’s channel, seemingly. A number of segments drew me in as to how some entrepreneurs started their journeys or continued them – always asking how they could improve what they were doing, or destress, or build because they were bored. Ideas come aplenty when you’re having discussions with friends, spouses, colleagues! I do find it entertaining to catch a few segments that have founders claiming opposite approaches – this week it was on funding levels. One passionately believed that if a team is focused on funding repeatedly or the necessary amount to land the funding, it would take away from the proper product building. Another talked of his experience talking to ~200 different VCs and investors to land the funding he believed was necessary to push his company further into growth. Different strokes for different folks – and it’s fun to listen to each of them use their investing or fundamental beliefs in saying that it was the right way.

I’m going to include a shout-out for DataScienceGo – a data science convention headed by Kirill Eremenko (@kirill_eremenko) and the SuperDataScience he has fostered and created with a number of partners. From people posting and the discussions I’ve had, it maintained its level of excitement and continued to foster the community further! Congrats and hope it was a blast for everyone that went!

On to the notes:

Week of October 8, 2018

  • Aly Orady, Founder of Tonal Fitness (Wharton XM)
    • Had quit his job, was making him stressed and said he needed to focus on himself, somehow
      • Wanted a family and figure out what he could do
      • Took 9 months to lose 70 pounds and was feeling much better – strength training vs cardio
    • In deciding what he wanted to do next – wanted something that was out of his need to train and not having the information
      • Trainers do exist out there but good ones are fully booked – others don’t have the experience or the knowledge or practical knowledge
  • Farhad Farahbakhshian, CEO and co-founder of Naked Labs (Wharton XM)
    • Home body scanner, out of necessity and not having information to do this
    • “Honest feedback” on how fit they are and their own body – can see adjustments in privacy of home or with gym partners, etc…
  • Syed Hussain, Chief Commercial Officer for BANKEX, global fintech firm (Behind the Markets, Wharton XM)
    • Trying to get banks on blockchain for security and transactional setup
      • Host thought it was ridiculous that 2% charge and 3% charge for customers of banks, between banks and transaction companies to consumers
        • Should be 2-5 bps, if blockchain can bring that charge down, worth it
    • Background in IB with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch
  • Phil Libin, CEO and Co-founder of All-Turtles (Wharton Launch Pad)
    • All-Turtles, AI startup studio looking to partner with founding teams to build products
    • Before starting All-Turtles while at General Capital, was CEO and starter of Evernote (~8-9 years)
      • Talked about not having a great story, very difficult to obtain funding initially
        • All funding outside of him and co-founder came from very active users/first adopters
      • He really wanted to build a “100 year start-up”, what would that look like? Product that he could be fine with, but wasn’t ultimately looking for an exit between he and his co-founder
        • However, he also realized he wouldn’t need to be CEO forever. Wasn’t until meeting with GoPro founder who asked “still having fun?”
          • If not having fun, then it was likely due to not doing the things he was good/great at and needed to get rid of those responsibilities
  • Donna Hicks, Leading with Dignity (Wharton XM, Women @ Work)
    • Talking about why many lose their dignity, due to others
    • Leading requires understanding humans and how to lead with dignity
    • She’s an International Conflict Resolution Advisor
  • SC0x Week 3, Lesson 2
    • Transportation and transshipment problems
      • Variability of demand – what to incorporate
        • More to bring in, more the model becomes difficult to solve or interpret
      • Simulation is descriptive, not prescriptive model
      • Transportation model is source nodes or demand nodes
    • Transshipment involves demand and supply, but also adds intermediate nodes
    • Anything that doesn’t supply or demand flow (enforcement of in vs outflow)
    • Data requirements of modeling problems
      • Where the modeler draws the line of complexity:
        • Realistic problem vs realism/practicality
      • Cost structure- variable costs at nodes, fixed cost/combination, concave/nonlinear?
      • Single or multiple commodity? Separate or family of SKUs?
        • Common unit, like cases? A ton of product? What’s the flow variable?
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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

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.

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

 

Robo Push Progression August 28, 2017

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With my work in valuation, I have primarily explored the fintech industry and love seeing new companies, ideas and explorations of outdated methods. The next 5-10 years will be instrumental in defining the space for many Gen X entering retirements as well as planning centralized around the largest generation going forward.

Product pushing runs rampant among firms, despite DC’s attempts at regulation geared toward protecting consumers. We need not think very hard to recall the GS issues 8-10 years ago or more recently the WF scandal that ran roughshed over accounts to hit sales numbers. Even if they don’t end up in lawsuits or other sanctions, I cannot help but question fiduciary standards. When consumers are too busy with their own lives/work to be experts in finance/insurance/investing matters, regulations should actually protect them – and fortunately for the financial services industry, the current regulatory actions say that they are protected. Most consumers are none the wiser. Hell, some professionals may not be wise enough to think for themselves about what they’re presenting. Who gets to be responsible for saying that my present self is more or less important than my future self? For an individual on their own, few people are impacted in the present moment if you do not consider time value and future values.

Thankfully, I believe robo-advisers will become a larger part of the future to come. There will be more value in what they present as the new norm: low or no fees, being aware of saving for later, and presenting more knowledge all while staying relatively easy. There is data out there that says most* robo-advisers may not beat the market, but many make investing and saving considerably less stressful/set-and-forget than an individual may feel if doing it on their own.

Even though I don’t see a market beater or a clear winner in the space going forward (just yet), what the COMBINATION of robo-advisers will do is make the whole environment better going forward. Firms are increasingly aware of the impact many fintech companies are presenting to the processes of old and their bottom lines. As a result, consumers should benefit as we go the way of easier access, more knowledge, lower fees and ultimately the best choices. Fintech and financial services affect us all, whether young or old, and consumers shouldn’t have to worry in such high-impact choices.

I’ll continue to follow what I have strong passions for and note key victories or losses!

 

Flawed Financial Decision? February 28, 2017

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This article has brought praise: SingleMomPaysRentforYearUsingTaxReturn. However, a basic understanding of future/present value is skipped in this story. I believe she’s choosing to be “responsible” in paying rent vs spending it on vacation or unnecessary items for her kids, but it also illustrates a lack of understanding for fundamental financial details (that should be MUCH more important to learn early on). Opportunity cost of losing the money for the year, or going into details of how she received so much for her return in the first place (lent FAR TOO MUCH money over the previous year).

About 5 years ago, there was a larger push in the financial services industry to bring an analyst/advisor to every high school to have “qualified” (debatable, but at least licensed) experts (this word is becoming annoying, as well) teach fundamental financial information to the future masses. I cannot attest to generations before me, but as far as my high school career went, CHEE (child, health, and something) and economics were the extent of in-school teaching. I was lucky enough to have a family that provided me an environment of numbers, games, and finances, as well as schools that pushed early for branching out. That doesn’t mean I have been without my own transgressions in a monetary realm, but can say that the high school classes didn’t scratch the surface of what I learned previously.

From students I talk to and teach in school now, I don’t believe the basic individual finances are taught, still. It could be a flawed forum in economics (as opportunity costs are discussed), and business courses go over concepts, but neither focus at an individual level. It needs to get better, and I’m not sure when anyone is or will be required to take these courses. I have friends out of MBA’s/Law School and Med Schools that never took courses on it. Luckily, for the curious and responsible ones, there is a wealth of information available now online, and as more people see larger and larger parts of networks, you hopefully become more comfortable to discuss them. For those that don’t, hopefully trial and error occurs earlier than later.
And people wonder how the debt continues to rack up…. That topic I’ll leave for another day. SingleMomPaysRentforYear

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?

 

 

Keep asking “what’s next?” May 9, 2016

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Been a while since I posted anything, but that’s not for lack of material. My mind has raced, and I’ve had a number of drafts that I saved and left to the side. They didn’t seem quite right.

A list of problems that cyclically affect everyone that could use (better) solutions – of which I am working on one.

  • Traffic: especially in the Bay Area, where there appears to be more and more cars on the road each day.
    • Hard fix: A friend of mine & I joke that Musk should simply work on infrastructure in the form of a “Tesla Road” that was built on top/above existing roadways. It would appear we are headed for autonomous cars as a larger percentage within the next 3-5 years. Infrastructure could create an environment that would entice a majority of people to switch to automated cars, eliminating the minor parts that cause the initial build-up of traffic.
    • Simple fix: release the brake #RTB. It appears that too many people love using a pedal – if it’s not the gas, it has to be the brake. So wrong! Japanese researchers recreating shockwave traffic jam – simply by a brief brake or slowdown. It appears that few people have been taught (or put into action) that speeding up briefly and braking behind a slower car simply doesn’t save any time, and causes time in traffic for everyone else with an application of their brakes. Selfish. People do this when switching lanes (brake and go) or exiting off ramps. Release the break and your brake pads, people behind you, and your foot will thank you.
  • Personal finance: Credit card debt, better investing, mortgages or even small business loans.
    • I have done work with a fintech company that attempts to create an effortless process to personal lending. Granted, effortless is subjective. Growth in the industry as a whole seems to stagnant, despite a plethora of companies that have jumped in, due to a combination of minimal profit margins (investors are prioritized) along with a lack in the creative sense to alter the public’s general understanding of WHY these companies are helpful.
    • The biggest example today of a failing company in the space is how hard Lending Club has been hit since its IPO, punctuated by the resignation/firing recently of their CEO and founder. Link to CEO resignation May 9
    • From what I gather, the industry as a whole needs to focus on the education for why someone/anyone SHOULD look into how debt restructuring can be a positive thing, but it takes time and pointed goals. As it stands, unless someone does their due diligence or had a friend talk about one of these companies, many just hope for the best and don’t want to spend the time to educate themselves.
    • With a potentially impending social security / pension shortage with the increases in health and aging, this education will be paramount in coming years. Additionally, when the US doesn’t seem to care about furthering the budget into the red, why should any of its citizens care? That scares me a bit more – the possibility of an event cratering the credit system due to rates/QE and a carelessness thought of ‘too big to fail’. Technology bubble in early 2000s was (mostly) limited to stock market and companies that were popping up. Housing crisis in 2008-2009 affected many more people, but ‘only’ threatened the system. A credit shock would threaten the global set-up.
  • Education: the way that high schools and universities push forward does not appear to be as efficient a major system that educates the masses should be
    • I was lucky and had a scholarship for tuition before I took a gap year my Junior year at UC Berkeley, so my family and I were spared that expense. Up until the start of 2016, I was paying the [small but not insignificant] loans off that I took out for housing / books / living expenses from my first 2 years at Cal, totaling a minuscule (comparatively) $12k. My senior year, I paid for my final 2 semesters and a summer of tuition and saw that they were between $4500 and $5000 each, right before the big hikes of the UC System. When there are more and more applicants each year applying to the awesome and improving UC’s, the regents still decided to increase tuition for undergrad nonresidents. For the whole story from last year’s Regents Last year’s undergrad resident tuition was a base of $11,220, plus whatever the total is now for student fees / taxes. That’s an increase of over 7% in the 4 years that I’ve been out, well surpassing that of inflation over the time frame. Eesh.
    • I’m torn and haven’t seen / heard, but I believe that universities should be set up more like a vocational-type, where students enter needing work credits for graduation, either working for a company aligned with their major or through a mentor of some sort. Yes, many students do this anyway, but I feel like where universities should give advantages to others would be in the way that this could be set up. If students have active work experience from the onset of their freshman year over a semester or summer, more people would know if they wanted to continue down that path or switch.
    • In a world that appears like we’re driving toward an automated approach for many things (if we can figure out how to do so), then many jobs will be expired at some point, maybe in this lifetime. Having the necessary work experience and knowledge of multiple fields may be beneficial in the long run.

Now, I was going to include another bullet about misinformation, but I can save that for another post. I plan on making this push in momentum to continue posting about how I may improve or reach out to figure out how to inform myself of progress in these areas. And I encourage everyone again, #ReleaseTheBrake

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