It’s been a long year. I learned a lot about the world as well as myself. Cried more than ever. Accomplished a few things and failed at many more. Some reflections and observations, and related readings.

Personal / Life

  • Be yourself. Because that’s the coolest version of you there is.
  • Dancing is cathartic. Use the music as the metronome and rhythm and move your body as if you’re creating the music. More importantly, have fun.
  • Harnessing curiosity is like pouring rocket fuel onto your learning capacity.
  • Creativity = inspiration + time + iterative output + feedback. Learn to nurture it.
  • I’m not as unique as I thought I was growing up. There are a lot of people out there like me – excited about the same future, and struggling with the same problems. Just gotta find each other.
  • Therapy is one of the few subscription services I can think of that forces you to take regular time out for yourself instead of sucking it away. It has a very real return on investment.
  • Sam Altman: The days are long but the decades are short

Aside from needing to be delivered eloquently, ideas also have to be repeated to us constantly. Three or five or ten times a day, we must be forcibly reminded of truths that we love but otherwise will not be able to hold on to.

Religion for Athiests, Alain De Botton

Cherish moments with close friends. And take more photos!

Professional & Work

  • Burned a lot of money after leaving my first startup, but also wasted a lot of time worrying about burning money. Do one or the other; not both - worrying kills productivity.
  • I started getting more specific about what I want to focus on: exploring the intersection of human brains and technology to make communication faster and more reliable. Lots of downstream effects from getting this right - better remote education, professional collaboration, and more accessible therapy to name a few.
  • Deliver early, collect feedback, iterate, repeat. Talk to your customers, and build for them.
  • Imposter syndrome is very, very real. I’ll let you know when I figure this one out.

Writing & Thinking

Relevant XKCD
  • Don’t be afraid to state the obvious. It may not be so obvious to others.
  • Ideas evolve over time. Your hot take on something might inspire one, anger another, and cause a third to write a long post about it - let the memes evolve.
  • Pay careful attention to memes which hijack your emotions and encourage tribalism and the environments optimized for them.
  • Hypothesis: framing something as a hypothesis helps calm the ego.

The world around you is full of puzzles. Prioritize, if you must. But do not complain that cruel Science has emptied the world of mystery. With reasoning such as that, I could get you to overlook an elephant in your living room.

Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky

  • Explore using paper, sharpies, poster boards, sticky notes, stickers, markers, whiteboards. These are very cheap and accessible brain interface tools.
  • Start carrying around a notebook and a pen, everywhere you go. Continuously remind yourself about questions you’re trying to answer and problems you’re trying to solve.
  • Pay attention to the ideas that just keep coming back. In the shower, falling asleep in bed, during workouts. Dig at them, explore, explain, visualize, and connect with others obsessed with similar ones. Look for bus ticket obsessions.
  • You don’t really understand something until you can explain it on a napkin.

Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the “transcendent” and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.

Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens

Diet & Health

  • Slowly transitioning my diet to vegan. About 80% of the way there.
  • Sleep is non-negotiable.
  • Wrote a post on healthy living.
  • Listen to your body. Expect a mid-day slump and plan accordingly. Go for a walk and get some air. Watch a sunset.

Love & Relationships

  • Everyone is lovable, but no two people want to be loved the same way.
  • Love is so much more than the tropes pushed by society. Don’t be afraid to explore it.

Meeting People

  • The key to good conversation: get the other person talking about things they deeply care about and ask questions. You are providing to them a safe environment to explore, refine, and correct their ideas. In return, you get to learn something about them and the world. Explore your shared reality together.
  • It will be a long time before video communication comes close to the emotional bandwidth of having a long, in-person conversation over a few drinks at a quiet bar.
  • Just say hi.
A 1930 Lucky Strike advertisement. Source: History.com

The next decade is going to be absolutely wild. Some predictions:

  • We’re going to look back at today’s social media like we do doctors’ endorsements of smoking back in the day. And just as shocked at our ignorance.
  • Misinformation is going to become a serious problem. Deepfakes, speech synthesis, disinformation campaigns, a lack of standardized identity proof systems, bots, and insecure electronic voting are going to make things very complicated.
    • Validation of news and events will be done bottom-up with chains of trust.
    • It’s becoming easier to craft the reality we want to believe. Or want others to believe.
    • World War 3 is going to be fought on the internet. Arguably, it has already begun.
  • Individuals (artists, singers, journalists, teachers, authors) will continue to garner more influence and trust than the institutions they are employed by or represent (news agencies, schools, companies, governments).
  • Real-time “productivity apps” such as Slack will be forced to evolve or die.
  • Income Share Agreements are going to become more commonplace.
  • Someone is going to figure out how to do search better than Google and wreck havoc.
  • Research-backed regulated psychedelic-assisted therapy will go mainstream.
  • NoCode is very real - we’re seeing the barrier to entry of starting a company and fulfilling a business need plummet as technology becomes more accessible.

Some numbers and special moments from this year

  • 99,792 minutes of Spotify
  • 3,701,520 steps
  • 6,840 flights climbed
  • 193 miles on a Citi Bike
I rarely dress up. Weddings are an exception.
The answer to 'do you want to drive to Yosemite tonight' is always yes.
I'm grateful for the most incredible people in my life.
Second half-marathon down!
Kayaking on the Hudson river mere hours after the half-marathon. Worth it!
Little Canal in Lower East Side. One of my favorite spots for thinking and writing.
The J squad: June, Jonathan, Justin, and Jogah.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden: an amazing escape from the city.
Dragged my sister out to visit me in NYC! She'll be back.
Little siblings be growing up, but they've replaced me with a dog.
My dad ran his first marathon I and couldn't be more proud!
Summer in upstate New York has its moments.

Things I’ve suspected a while but confirmed this year

  • The internet is the single most incredible invention in human history.
  • Most of humanity’s potential has not been unlocked yet. We are just now starting to explore progress and how to quantify and understand it.
  • Getting out to nature regularly is essential to sanity.
  • Life gets significantly more interesting when you begin taking risks.
  • Nobody has any idea what is going on in this world. So let’s hold on tight and make this thing work. We’re all we got.