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#2103: Ravikant, Terray, Carr, & Friedman

This week, I started two new projects, both summaries of great books.

The PDF of Naval Ravikant

In late 2020, Eric Jorgenson published The Almanack of Naval Ravikant, a collection of the ideas of its namesake, the philosophical co-founder of AngelList. The content of the almanac is excellent; the editing not so much. I'm going to boil it down and pull the cream to the top.

Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now. [It] will feel like play to you but look like work to others.
Almanack of Naval Ravikant

Lessons from Lionel

In 1963, Lionel Terray published Conquistadors of the Useless, one of the few great climbing memoirs. Most climbing writing is painful, as much fun to read as watching paint dry. Terray, however, did a fantastic job of capturing the archetypal progression of a climber's life.

What we sought was the unbounded and essential joy that boils in the heart and penetrates every fiber of our being when, after long hours skirting the borders of death, we can again hug life to us with all our strength.
Conquistadors of the Useless
“If my library was to somehow catch fire and I could only save one book, the long out of print Conquistadors of the Useless, by Lionel Terray, would be it.” -- Explore magazine “The finest mountaineering narrative ever written.” -- David Roberts, author of Mountain of My Fear * One of National Ge…

I hope to have both summaries done shortly.

In the meantime, here are a few things that I came across this week.

I worry about that kid.

In December 2019, Jaydyn Carr's mother did something very caring, generous, and potentially wise. She bought her 10-year-old son shares in a company that he was naturally interested in.

Then something horrible happened: those shares increased by 5,000%. Silly market behavior turned a caring gesture into something very destructive.

Wait, what? How can 5,000% be destructive?

Jaydyn now has an incredibly positive experience associated with idiotic market behavior. What if that connection is never corrected? If it isn't, Jaydyn may end up suffering in the long-term the same way that the idiots on Reddit have suffered (and will continue to suffer) in the short-term.

Thankfully Jaydyn sold his shares before the nonsense was (partially) corrected. I just hope he doesn't get sucked back in if faced with something similar.

"We are descendants of a million generations of humans, apes, shrews, and lizards who were better safe than sorry. In nature, optimists taste great."

~ Hugh Howey, Wool, 2011

Keep that idea cupped and sunlit

I was too old when I discovered that not all feedback is feedback. Some people, given the opportunity, don't intend for their feedback to benefit the recipient. They use it as a means to their ends.

To help handle the hazard, Ann Friedman has a great tool called The Disapproval Matrix. It classifies sources of feedback as Critics, Lovers, Frenemies, and Haters. Accordingly, feedback should be taken to heart, ignored, or used as fuel for the fire.

Critics "are smart people that know something about your field" (so listen to them). Lovers "give you negative but rational feedback because they want you to improve" (so listen to them too). Frenemies know you well but "aren't interested in a productive conversation...and want to undermine you." Haters "want to tear down everything about you for no rational reason."

If you're in the top two quadrants, take the feedback to heart. In the bottom two? Ignore it.

"Act purposefully but minimally and keep your reasons under wraps, was a lesson he taught me. Not the whole formula for life, but quite a beginning, because love and openness to what you love are fragile and yet will flower if cupped and sunlit: as will a freelance toughness and survivability when you need that."

~ Edward Hoagland, Sex & The River Styx, 2011