Josh Wolfe: The Magic of Science – North Star Podcast

Check out the North Star Podcast Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • When learning about a new topic, read voraciously
    • “Reading is like having conversations with the best men (and women) of past centuries”
  • “Failure comes from the failure to imagine failure”
    • If you can identify all the ways things can go wrong, you can utilize time, money or people to minimize those risks
  • Be long-term greedy
    • Develop long-term relationships – both in business and friendships
  • Be open-minded when meeting new people and embrace randomness
  • Avoid boring people
    • Avoid being boring to people
    • AND avoid people that are boring

Intro

Josh’s Book Recommendations

Who is Josh Wolfe?

  • Josh’s life has always been at the intersection of science and finance
    • His mother pushed him to be a science nerd as a kid
  • When Josh was younger, he worked at an HIV lab
    • He believed he would eventually become a scientist and find a cure for AIDS
    • While working at the lab, Josh noticed how the scientists would be making thousands of dollars trading options – this got him interested in finance and investing
  • Josh views venture capital as the perfect hybridization of finance and science

Learning & Risk

  • When learning about a new topic, read voraciously
    • “Reading is like having conversations with the best men of past centuries”
      • Read everything you can get your hands on
  • At Lux Capital, there’s a quote that reads: “Failure comes from the failure to imagine failure”
    • If you can identify all the ways things can go wrong, you can utilize time, money or people to minimize those risks
    • Really great entrepreneurs are “risk-killers” – they stay up all night worrying about risks that might kill their business and come up with ways to stop them
      • Every time a risk is killed, the company’s value goes up

The Gap Between Science Fiction and Reality is Decreasing

  • Science fiction serves to show you what might eventually be possible in the world
    • In today’s world, either sci-fi authors are becoming less creative or scientists are becoming too creative – the gap between the two keeps shrinking
      • Robotic surgery, drone racing, and AI communication are all sci-fi ideas that now exist

Josh’s Investment Philosophy

  • Competitive advantage is perpetual paranoia – it’s the idea that you must always keep an eye out for competition and be one step ahead of everyone else
  • Josh explains his well-known 100-0-100 investing philosophy – which is equal parts ambition, humility and arrogance
    • He’s 100% certain that Lux will be investing in the most cutting-edge technology
    • He’s 0% certain what those things will be
    • He’s 100% certain that Lux will find those companies at the cutting-edge of the cutting-edge

Life Advice

  • Go about life with the humility that you never know who you might meet and what (or who) they might know
    • Be open-minded when meeting new people and embrace randomness
  • Avoid boring people – this has two meanings:
    • Avoid being boring to people
    • AND avoid people that aren’t interesting (aka are boring)
      • Meet more doers than buffers
        • Look to hang around interesting, scrappy, and ambitious people

Josh’s Mentors

  • Seek out the best principles, models, and lessons from the smartest people you know and make that information into a mentor mosaic
  • Josh has always seen Richard Feynman as a mentor, as well as Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins
    • When someone you look up to recommends you talk to someone else, follow that interest trail and see where it goes

Lux Capital

  • Every 10-15 years there’s a huge tech revolution that changes the world
    • In the 1970s: The personal computer revolution
    • 80s: Biotech
    • 90s: AT&T
    • 00s: Dot-com sites
  • Lux was funded by an early investment from William Conway, the co-founder of The Carlyle Group
    • Josh calls Conway the “Warren Buffet of private equity.”
  • Be long-term greedy
    • Develop long-term relationships, both in business and friendships

Additional Notes

  • How does Josh judge an artist’s level of talent? – He asks himself, “Is the art easy to replicate?”
    • If no, then the artist has a high level of talent
    • The same goes for technology – really beautiful and useful technology is hard to replicate

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

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