North Star Podcast – Dreams and Determination with Daniel Gross

The North Star Podcast Website 

This is a conversation between host David Perell and guest Daniel Gross on what drives entrepreneurial startups and how to improve oneself to help others

Key Takeaways

  • “Invest in yourself, so that you can invest in others”
  • Habits are things you do, without having to think about it
    • It gets harder as you get older to acquire newer habits
  • Pick smaller steps, write down the version of yourself that doesn’t accomplish goals
    • Use the negative and positive versions to propel yourself
  • The advancements of society are attributed to individuals rather than groups
  • When you try to predict the future, make sure you look at the past


  • Daniel Gross is a young entrepreneur who co-founded Cue, which was bought by Apple, where he led the machine learning efforts, until joining Y Combinator as a partner in early 2017

Life and Video Games

  • There are boring and exciting ways to learn
    • School is associated with boredom


  • Gamification of life – everything in life is in some form of a video game, all humans regardless of IQ, are seeking novelty
    • Videos Games are interesting ways of interpreting the world
      • Equal parts interesting and fun
  • Win too much and it’s boring, win too little and it’s too hard
    • Games match you up with people at your level only
    • Life doesn’t 


  • How can you find the motivation to learn a new skill?
    • Force function – Tell your friends you will do something before a particular date, they won’t care, but you will work really hard to get that goal done, building a force function


  • If you are doing something and your friends tell you it is bad, that is helpful information
    • Doesn’t matter what the mass thinks of you, but a select few
  • Getting the approval of people around us is healthy
    • It becoming a powerful motivating factor

Artificial Intelligence

  • AI is brilliant at operations
    • People are waiting around for computers to do human work


  • Take the current reality and project it forward,
    • You don’t think of Game of Thrones when TV screens are barely coming out
  • Analogies are very satisfying to think of
    • It feels good to describe them to others, that way it permeates through society.
    • Feels good to learn and teach others in that way

Individual vs. Group Think

  • Groupthink – Wanting to impress the boss
    • You want to increase diverse thinking, not group think
  • Computers don’t do “transfer learning” very well (Cross Domain Analogy)
    • AI does not instinctively, like humans, know that a ping pong ball thrown up in the air will come back due to gravity

Three Ways to Help Start-Up Companies

  • Hold office hours
    •  Have mentors that can answer difficult questions
  • Resources
    • Computing power
  • Datasets
    • Working with different companies to offer data sets

Short-Term v Long-Term Learning

  • You’ve got to build a plan – A vision where you want to be.
    • Think about the why of your vision too
  • Think less about the goal, and more about what would keep you from getting there
  • Crystallize the vision
  • Reverse engineer your vision into a plan
  • Reward yourself after accomplishments 

The Environment Effect

  • Cultivate an environment that will help you
    • If you can, environments are like cheat codes
    • If you can surround yourself with builders, you will have a higher chance of becoming a builder
    • The physical environment that you are in, can affect your motivation, effort, and success
  • Are the relationships you build online as effective?
    • First Step: Podcasts, books 
    • Second step: find a digital community
    • Third step: Physically locating near them
  • Find a city that has a reputation that you want
    • New York whispers money, LA whispers popularity  

Israel’s Environment

  • Isreal’s greatness stemmed from having to be great
    • Harshness in Isreal creates hard-working individuals
  • Pressure to be great, that doesn’t exist in countries that have plenty
  • Scarcity creates the greatest
    • The northern part of the US is more developed than Mexico
  • True Bonding, sense of the same enemy (Suffering) (challenges)
  • Why places are so different, but so close, the culture of adversity and scarcity, creates solid structure systems, creates degrees of trust,

American Enthusiasm

  • What is about America that makes it exceptional?
    • High degree of optimism about the future, high degrees of trust and bonding
    • Optimism can cause situations similar to the 2008 market crash, too much hype
    • People generally trust you, and assume you will do your job right
  • Critical strategic thinking, taking something with no value and making it valuable
    • Great things start small
      • Facebook started off as a small directory at Harvard, Google started as a small project at Stanford