Michael Mayer: Pseudonymous Social Capital and Bottomless Coffee – Invest Like the Best

Check out the Invest Like the Best Episode Page and Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Instead of focusing so much on adding good habits into your life, consider first subtracting the bad ones
  • With the internet, you can learn to do nearly anything as long as you have the necessary desire to do so
  • “If you consume the same information as everyone else, how are you going to come up with unique ideas?”
  • “It is much more important for people to cut out bad information than it is to seek good information”
    • Carefully curate who you follow on Twitter – if you follow the right people, Twitter can be a great educational tool, rather than a dopamine farm
    • Stop consuming information with a short-term shelf life – it won’t matter tomorrow
  • We’re moving into an age where your social media account/writing may be more valuable than your education at securing you a job
  • If a book is still being recommended 30+ years after it was written, that’s what you want to be reading

Books, Blogs, and Resources Mentioned

Intro

Why Michael Uses A Pseudonymous Twitter Account

  • Michael says it’s nice to have a firewall between your real personality and the online world
    • Having a picture or link to your site isn’t really relevant and doesn’t improve the quality of one’s message
    • “I think the best way to be successful publishing online is to have the best signal to noise ratio”
      • Michael has nothing on his Twitter account except his content – he eliminated all noise, and tries to focus on providing just the signal

About Michael’s Life

  • Michael dropped out of college and worked at a restaurant as a young kid
    • Today he has a venture-backed company – Bottomless
  • Michael credits part of his success to creating better habits
    • There are 2 ways to do this – removing bad habits and adding good habits
      • He says removing bad habits is the easier of the two (removing unhealthy foods, removing tv shows, removing junk information, etc.)
      • Michael says removing unhealthy/negative people from your life sounds cringey, but it has been very helpful
      • When it comes to adding good habits, add the obvious – exercise, healthy foods, etc
  • Michael taught himself how to code
    • He says there’s a near infinite amount of free information (like Codemy) on the internet where anyone can learn
      • “There’s a massive amount of leverage for a curious person”

Social Capital

  • Michael says that getting a degree from a great school does boost your social capital, but one Harvard grad can always be replaced by another Harvard grad
  • Some experiences may be less impressive but perhaps more valuable
    • Michael uses the example of his successful Twitter following compared to someone with no following but who has an MBA
  • To be original, you need to be different
    • “If you consume the same information as everyone else, how are you going to come up with unique ideas?”
      • “Try to inject random, interesting things into your mind”
        • You need to have high-quality information inputs to have high-quality idea outputs

Michael’s Thoughts on Book Recommendations

  • Michael is not a fan of asking people for book recommendations since most people only read a couple of books a quarter
  • On top of this:
    • There are tons of garbage books in the world
    • Lots of popular books are only bestsellers because they were written by someone famous
      • Michael thinks Blake Master’s notes from Peter Thiel’s class are actually better than Thiel’s book – Zero To One (the book is based on a class Peter taught at Stanford about startups)
  • Michael says that he enjoys reading blogs such as Kevin Simler’s
  • Michael recommends reading both Amazon’s and Berkshire Hathaway’s letters to shareholders to learn about proven business strategy and concepts
  • “It is much more important for people to cut out bad information than it is to seek good information”
    • By being very careful about who he follows, Michael has been able to create a Twitter feed with a lot of high-quality information, allowing Twitter to be an educational tool for him
    • Don’t consume information with a short-term shelf life – it won’t matter tomorrow
  • A good point:
    • If a book is still being recommended 30+ years after it was written, that’s what you want to be reading

Why Standard Education Is Busted

  • Standard education is tailored toward the middle of the bell curve -teachers teach the majority of the students, but they lose the kids at the bottom and the top
    • In today’s world, students can teach themselves AND at a pace they feel comfortable with
      • Michael recommends people try free online courses first before paying $2,000 for a course filled with multiple students and a single teacher

Michael’s Company – Bottomless

  • Bottomless is a scale that uses a wireless weight sensor to figure out if a user is running low on coffee, and if they are, ships them a fresh bag
    • It’s similar to a subscription service but more efficient
      • A typical coffee subscription delivers a set amount of coffee each month
        • Why is this a problem? – A person may need more coffee if they had a lot of guests over that month or perhaps they need less coffee if they are going on vacation for several weeks
      • With Bottomless, the sensor can detect how much coffee someone has left and thus provide more customized/accurate amount of coffee
  • Interestingly, Michael doesn’t have a hardware or engineering background – “I just picked something that I thought would be great and figured it out”
    • Michael taught himself how to build the hardware through online classes, books, and other free sources of information
  • Business thoughts:
    • A very important metric to keep track of is customer retention
    • A good question to ask customers – “How much would I have to pay you to cancel the service?”

On Having His Wife as a Co-founder

  • “I think it’s a huge advantage” – Michael points out that a lot of great companies are built by co-founders that work and live together and get along well (like Stripe which was built by two brothers)
    • During the early stages of building a company, there are so many decisions to make that the founders must work and meet with one another more regularly than a standard 9 to 5, Monday through Friday type company

Growing Bottomless

  • Michael agrees with Chamath’s statement that about 40% of venture capital money goes back into Google, Facebook, and Amazon through ads
    • Growing customer acquisition costs is one of the main deaths of early startups
  • Michael’s plan is to get people comfortable using their Bottomless sensor and then to start adding sensors for other staple items

Additional Notes

  • “The best tweets are the ones that seem contrarian but are actually consensus”
  • People are often too scared to be wrong, but interesting ideas ARE often risky and wrong
  • Equality is not always a good thing
    • An equal education hurts students at the bottom AND the top

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

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