Jim O’Shaughnessy on Modern Wisdom Podcast

Jim O’Shaughnessy on Surviving The Great Reshuffle | Modern Wisdom Podcast

Check out Modern Wisdom Episode Page and Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • We are moving from a physical world towards a more digital one and we have to adapt our skillsets to maintain a competitive edge. Some tips on how to prepare:
    • Be endlessly curious. Consume as much knowledge as you can from various sources
    • Your “proof of work” is always on display online and is more important than your Ivy League degree
    • Don’t become prematurely certain. Keep in mind, “We are deterministic thinkers living in a probabilistic world” –  Jim O’Shaughnessy
    • Be responsible and own both your successes and failures.
  • If knowing one of your perspectives allows the prediction of all of your beliefs, then you are not a serious thinker
  • Wealth and happiness lie in being able to do what you want, when you want, how you want, with who you want.
    • “Do what feels like play to you, but looks like work to others” – Naval Ravikant
  • Writing about something is the fastest way to test your understanding. Write about what you want to be and how you will get there
  • Always remember, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes”. The stupidest games multiply your life by zero (e.g., texting while driving)

Book Recommendations

  • In The Beginning of Infinity, author David Deutsch explains how humans are universal explainers and the conditions under which humanity progresses
  • In X-Risk, author Thomas Moynihan writes about how humanity discovered its own extinction
  • The Spiritual Enlightenment Trilogy, written by the anonymous author named Jed McKenna
    • Keep in mind, Jim recommends reading Rick and Morty and the Meaning of Life parts one and two by Dan Jeffries before jumping into the Trilogy
  • The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, also made into a movie

Intro

The Great Reshuffle

  • We are moving from a physical world towards a more digital one. Time, space, and geography are collapsing and we have to adapt our skillsets to maintain a competitive edge
    • Accelerated by COVID, people are no longer limited to their geographical region when looking for jobs.
      • Moreover, your “proof of work” is always on display online and is more important than your Ivy League degree
      • In a way, “Covid was the best thing to happen to talented people in the developing world, and the worst thing to happen to talentless people in the developed world” – Chris Williamson
  • “The way you think, a linear thought process was rewarded in the physical world, a non-linear thought process is going to be rewarded in the digital world” – Jim O’Shaughnessy
    • The digital world gives you so much leverage it would blow Archimedes’ mind

Conceptual Inertia and Enlightenment

  • People initially reject a new model, it later becomes proven and widely accepted. Even then, companies, regulations, and cultures still lag behind and take time to adapt.
    • Enlightenment: humans are universal explainers, we always figure things out. In time, old habits make way for new habits
  • Revenge of the Nerds: The Forbes 500 rich list transitioned from people who inherited their wealth towards people who could encode their ideas into monetizable software.
  • An amount of craziness underlies genius. Eventually, some nutcase in a garage will invent something that obsoletes the iPad

The Genius and Savage of Isaac Newton

  • Amidst the dispute between Leibniz and Newton on who first discovered calculus, Newton issued a precisely targeted stab that only Leibniz, a dwarf from Germany, would understand.
    • Newton famously said “If I have seen further than others it was because I was able to stand on the shoulders of giants”
  • Besides his popular works, Newton was obsessed with Alchemy
  • Newton also lost a fortune in the South Sea Trading scam, this caused him to lament that he could measure the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of men
    • There is a remarkable similarity between the South sea bubble and NASDAQ dot com charts. Just keep in mind that even geniuses lose fortunes in the market

On Being Authentic

  • No matter the channel, all traditional media is propaganda. Luckily, younger generations quickly understand this, it’s the older ones that are used to watching TV
    • Additionally, social media algorithms amplify polarized opinions and encourage simple labelling
      • In reality, if knowing one of your perspectives allows the prediction of all of your beliefs, then you are not a serious thinker
  • The smartest people are the easiest to fool because of their confidence and their ability to build bullet-proof narratives
    • Case in point, one of Bernie Madoff’s victims was a published author on how cons work and how to avoid them
    • “You must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool” – Richard Feynman
  • Compliance is now essential to be considered a good person, but history shows us that authoritarianism always end badly
  • Only you can change yourself. You can’t change people if they aren’t willing to change. In reality, they will dig in their ways.

How To Prepare For the Great Reshuffle

  • Be endlessly curious, watch and read broadly, start with the recommendations of people you resonate with
    • “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity” – Dorothy Parker
  • University is about certification and socialization, education is another story. Thus, consume as much knowledge as you can from various sources. (E.g. Podcasts like Modern Wisdom, Infinite Loops, Sam Harris, etc.)
  • Don’t become prematurely certain. Keep in mind, “We are deterministic thinkers living in a probabilistic world” –  Jim O’Shaughnessy
  • Learn how to program. Elite programmers follow a power law, they are in a world of their own
  • Losers rely on excuses. Think like a business owner, be responsible and own both your successes and failures.
    • “I don’t know a single person who is rich who didn’t fail, sometimes spectacularly, and it was all in how they reacted to that” –  Jim O’Shaughnessy

The Grind and Your Passion

  • Wealth and happiness lie in being able to do what you want, when you want, how you want, with who you want.
    • Chasing wealth or happiness as goals makes people miserable. Rather, they are side effects of doing something that fascinates you.
      • As Naval Ravikant eloquently puts it “Do what feels like play to you, but looks like work to others”
  • “Following your passion will be the hardest thing that you will do in your life, you will have to lift the heaviest weight that you have ever lifted, but the tools will feel light” – Tim Cook
    • That said, you can still put your conditions and set your priorities (e.g. family time)
  • Writing about something is the fastest way to test your understanding. Write about what you want to be and how you will get there
    • “it’s hard to come up with an escape plan if you don’t know you are in jail” –  Jim O’Shaughnessy
  • Always remember, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes”. Even more, the stupidest games multiply your life by zero (e.g. texting while driving)
  • The wheel of karma keeps going round and it always comes back. The stories you tell yourself rewire your brain and you don’t even know it.
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Notes By Mostafa Khaled

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