Mediocre Success Is Worse Than Outright Failure, Speculative Fiction Writes the Future, and More!

Everything we have published this week

Hello and happy Sunday!

Mediocre Success Is Worse Than Outright Failure

Abraham Thomas

Startups are defined by uncertainty—so the worst outcome for a startup is ambiguity in the form of mediocre success.

This isn't simply a case of "go big or go home," as investor and founder Abraham Thomas argues. It's because such a result provides a lack of clear learning in the face of inherent business uncertainties. And the point of startup experimentation isn't success or failure itself—it’s the learning. Rather than hedging bets and playing it safe, Abraham emphasizes the benefits of clear-cut failures and triumphs. His advice to startups when running experiments: make sure that there’s a well-defined distinction between success and failure to avoid ending up in the messy middle.


AI-assisted Decision-making

Dan Shipper/Chain of Thought

Many entrepreneurs use mental models and heuristics to help them make decisions—when they can remember to apply those models, that is.

Enter ChatGPT: because it has every heuristic and mental model in its digital brain, it allows you to bring to bear the best of what other people have figured out every time you make a decision. Using a scene from the movie The Big Short, Dan explains how you can use AI to help your decision-making—which involves drawing on the wisdom of investor Charlie Munger, applying his concepts on human misjudgment, and leveraging ChatGPT to delve into the psyche of the film's characters. He also provides three steps to start applying the same technique to your own life.


Speculative Fiction Writes the Future

Eliot Peper

Imagination, not atoms or bits, forms the essence of our future—and we can only build what we imagine. Novelist Eliot Peper explores this concept in his piece about how speculative fiction plays a crucial role in shaping our world. He underlines the power of "what if" questions embedded in narratives—from resurrected dinosaurs to reinvented democracies. These speculative stories—like 1984, The Matrix, WarGames, Contagion, and Ready Player One—provide vital thought exercises that influence real-world actions, impacting everything from scientific discoveries to political reform.


The 3 Ways to Balance Money and Meaning

Casey Rosengren/No Small Plans

Most people struggle with striking a balance between making money and finding meaning in their lives. Casey Rosengren presents three archetypal approaches to this dilemma: the deferred life plan—do something lucrative now and make enough money to do what you want later; being bivocational—earn money in your day job and set aside time outside of work for other pursuits; and choosing to integrate—make money by doing what you love. Drawing from his personal experiences and observations of entrepreneurs, Casey examines what makes each approach successful as well as their potential pitfalls.


Automate the Simple Stuff With Stupid Tools

Evan Armstrong/Napkin Math

AI technology is currently the dumbest—the least deployed and used—that it'll ever be, and yet it's still magic.

Drawing a parallel between overqualified line chefs and AI models like GPT4, automating the "French fries" of thought, Evan considers the implications of a world where even the simplest tasks can be carried out by intelligent machines—that are only getting smarter. He introduces Pulpit.AI, a startup that can convert audio files of sermons into ancillary content; Delphi, which created an Evan-bot that imitates interacting with him; and five newly announced and ever-more-sophisticated products that are scraping the physical world—what you hear, say, and see.


That's all for this week!

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