The Long Game 106: Nootropics, Rituals & Purpose, Not Taking Things Personally, Build, Genetic Variants
📸 How the Intention to Share Can Undermine Enjoyment, Reversion to the Mean, Talent, Food Catastrophe, Taiwan, and Much More!
In this episode, we explore:
Rituals and purpose
How the intention to share can undermine enjoyment
Not taking things personally
Build and talent
Reversion to the mean
Describing genetic variants
Let’s dive in!
🔂 Rituals & Purpose: How to Make a Daily Habit
A crucial part of what we’re building at Vital is that we believe the best way to get and maintain optimal health is to make health & wellness a part of your everyday life. The problem is that it never lasts if this part isn’t something you find fun or learn to enjoy.
If you want to join our private beta and help us build the first health optimization social network, please fill out this form (2 minutes!)
On this topic of building rituals and purpose around health and wellness, I liked this piece:
I was never one of those people who worked out daily. But that changed recently.
I moved to a new place in Miami. Luckily for me, my new building has a gym. I had to check it out.
Sitting at the front-desk everyday is this older man. As I left, he said “see you tomorrow, it’s good for you”.
At first I was kinda jarred. See you tomorrow?! Duuude - I’m just happy I squeezed in 20 minutes today!! Cut me some slack.
The next day, I woke up and couldn’t let my old man down. After all, I’m new here, I can’t be breaking my word. I showed up. I put in my time. As I open the door to leave, I hear “see you tomorrow”. I smile.
I’ve been working out almost every single day since then. And everyday, I hear the same sweet “I’ll see you tomorrow” words. I know what I need to do in the mornings.
You can learn 99% of how to build community-based products (web2/web3) from this phrase. Knowingly or unknowingly, this older man shared the key of what we do at Late Checkout. I’ll break it down it with you here.
People often need a purpose to use a product (especially with consumer products). Designing purpose into your product that speaks to a particular community is a big unlock. It sparks missions in people. And people are happiest on missions.
I want to live long. I want to be healthy. The older man telling me “it’s good for me”, is something I inherently know is an important purpose. Challenge accepted.
Discords are graveyards for most brands. Heck, social in general is a one way microphone for most brands. Designing rituals into your communities is what brings people back. It’ll be your graveyard antidote.
“See you tomorrow” is an incredible ritual reminder. It’s the event programming I need to show up.
Example of purpose + rituals: Lululemon sold to the Yoga community (purpose) and created community events across North America (rituals).
Whatever it is you are building, don’t forget to remind people to see you tomorrow. We need that more than ever.
📸 How the Intention to Share Can Undermine Enjoyment: Photo-Taking Goals and Evaluation of Experiences
We’ve all wondered whether taking pictures of a place or an event fundamentally changes how we enjoy that event or location.
These days, most of us seem contaminated by the same bad habits:
That’s why I enjoyed reading this research paper asking this very question.
People often share their experiences with others who were not originally present, which provides them with both personal and interpersonal benefits. However, most prior work on this form of sharing has examined the decision to share one’s experience only after the experience is over.
We investigate a distinct, unexplored aspect of the sharing process: when the decision to share is already salient during an experience and hence can impact the experience itself. We examine this research question within the context of photo-taking, an increasingly ubiquitous and integral part of people’s experiences.
Across two field and three laboratory studies, we find that relative to taking pictures for oneself (e.g., to preserve one’s memories), taking pictures with the intention to share them with others (e.g., to post on social media) reduces enjoyment of experiences.
This effect occurs because taking photos with the intention to share increases self-presentational concern during the experience, which can reduce enjoyment directly, as well as indirectly by lowering engagement with the experience. We identify several factors that moderate the effect of photo-taking goals on enjoyment, such as individual differences in the extent to which individuals care about how others perceive them and the closeness of the intended audience.
We’re building a social network at Vital, so it’s naturally a question I pay a lot of attention to. As a health & wellness vertical social network, we want to maximize the health & wellness of our users. This paper is an excellent preliminary result, but I believe social networks celebrating authenticity (BeReal, Snap, Zenly) would score much better on this front than social networks that are about claiming to have a perfect life, aka Instagram.
🧠 Better Thinking
👍 Not Taking Things Personally
I’m a firm believer that working on developing the right mindset about things is the most powerful thing you can do.
For this week, let’s talk mindset and not taking things personally. The tweet below is critical, and its idea is underrated. It’s very easy to take things personally, especially when you’re so passionate and intense about your pursuits. Yet, we have to remember that people have many things going on at once, and even if taking things personally can be a powerful weapon, it’s not always the best idea.
I found this article helpful; it gives ten useful patterns to help you nurture more generous interpretations — and get to the root of the issue faster.
‘They’re making things difficult for the sake of it.’
When we encounter emotions and behaviours that don’t make sense to us, it’s often because we don’t have all the information. And in the absence of information, we tend to assume the worst.
‘Emotional generosity’ is the ability to see beyond behaviours we don’t understand by proactively looking for compassionate ways to explain them. Sometimes, this is easy; if a toddler starts crying or throwing a tantrum, we might wonder if they’re hungry, or tired, or hurt. Sadly, it’s not so simple for adults — and especially for our co-workers. And yet a more generous interpretation of their difficult behaviour often ends up being the right one.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
📚 Build & Talent
After a month of pause, I restarted reading new books. I picked up Build by Tony Fadell and Talent by Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross. I haven’t fully digested them yet, so I won’t comment on them this week.
Instead, here’s Rob Henderson’s review of Talent as an introduction:
The book is very much about identifying high performers, as opposed to average workers. This is particularly true of its interview section, which gives guidance on unstructured, as opposed to structured, interviews. Most research indicates that interviews are more effective for higher-level jobs.
Talent provides several fascinating questions designed to yield interesting answers. How did you prepare for this interview? What’s a story one of your references might tell me when I call them? Which of your beliefs are you most likely wrong about? Whether the candidate can draw on intellectual and emotional resources to answer is a sign of broader stores of intellect and energy that he or she will bring to the job. The authors suggest that interviewers should not be afraid to let a question hang in the air after asking it; better to hold the tension to make clear you expect an answer.
And here’s a podcast conversation with the two authors of Talent if you’re not a big reader:
you and all of these other partners — who are very, very smart people; many of them are smarter than me — will informally vote on who you think is best, and you’re almost always wrong. It’s almost always the dark horse, and it’s almost always not who the crowd favorite is.
Lastly, the tweet below underlines a recurring theme in startup success: the willingness to have the hard conversations. Tony Fadell also mentions this in Build.
📚 What I Read
The pandemic may be over, but so is tech exuberance.
Not everything will revert to the mean. Movie theaters may never reach 2019 levels, Zoom is here to stay, and even I have been surprised by the durability of remote work. And mean-reversion does not spread at the same rate for every phenomenon: inflation will persist far longer than home fitness sales.
But many pandemic-era trends will slowly revert to their pre-2020 trendline – inflated valuations, easy money, exponential tech demand, meme investing.
Mean-reversion and inflation will be lingering symptoms of the virus for years to come.
If you're an early-stage company that's just getting going, it could be wonderful. Your access to talent is going to be a lot easier, people are going to be more pragmatic and rational...
Plus: Advice from David Sacks
The excellent Elliot Hershberg on genetic variants:
The aptly named field of human genetics seeks to decode the relationship between the human genome and the traits that it encodes. This work involves identifying genetic variants—differences in the bases of DNA between individuals—and understanding how they lead to the wide range of human variation that we observe. For example, what genetic variants encode the enormous amount of variation in human height?
This type of question can be asked for practically any measurable human trait, but a major focus is to go “from variant to function in human disease genetics.” As Lappalainen and MacArthur point out, genetics is an enormously powerful tool for mechanistic research:
“The human population, through explosive growth, has performed a comprehensive saturation mutagenesis experiment on itself. It is now the case that any single base substitution that is compatible with life is expected to be present somewhere among the nearly 8 billion living humans. Humanity has thus, in effect, done many of the natural experiments required to understand our own genotype-phenotype map; this leaves geneticists to catalog the outcomes of those experiments, and to leverage both observational and experimental approaches to understand the mechanisms by which variants alter biology.”
I love the simplicity and elegance of this strategy. We need to carefully observe Nature, and let the variants tell us how disease biology works. Variants that are frequently observed for a given disease are like bread crumbs leading us toward an understanding of the genes that they are impacting. This helps to explain why drug targets with genetic evidence are twice as likely to lead to approved drugs.
Another direct extension of human genetics is personal genomics. We can use our continually expanding catalog of annotated genetic variants to interpret individual genomes. Companies such as 23andMe and Color represent the first wave of this type of consumer offering.
Pessimists sound smart. Optimists make money.
I’ve realized a new reason why pessimism sounds smart: optimism often requires believing in unknown, unspecified future breakthroughs—which seems fanciful and naive. If you very soberly, wisely, prudently stick to the known and the proven, you will necessarily be pessimistic.
No proven resources or technologies can sustain economic growth. The status quo will plateau. To expect growth is to believe in future technologies. To expect very long-term growth is to believe in science fiction.
No known solutions can solve our hardest problems—that’s why they’re the hardest ones. And by the nature of problem-solving, we are aware of many problems before we are aware of their solutions. So there will always be a frontier of problems we don’t yet know how to solve.
🍭 Brain Food
🍞 The coming Food Catastrophe
By invading ukraine, Vladimir Putin will destroy the lives of people far from the battlefield—and on a scale even he may regret. The war is battering a global food system weakened by covid-19, climate change and an energy shock. Ukraine’s exports of grain and oilseeds have mostly stopped and Russia’s are threatened. Together, the two countries supply 12% of traded calories. Wheat prices, up 53% since the start of the year, jumped a further 6% on May 16th, after India said it would suspend exports because of an alarming heatwave.
The widely accepted idea of a cost-of-living crisis does not begin to capture the gravity of what may lie ahead. António Guterres, the un secretary general, warned on May 18th that the coming months threaten “the spectre of a global food shortage” that could last for years. The high cost of staple foods has already raised the number of people who cannot be sure of getting enough to eat by 440m, to 1.6bn. Nearly 250m are on the brink of famine. If, as is likely, the war drags on and supplies from Russia and Ukraine are limited, hundreds of millions more people could fall into poverty. Political unrest will spread, children will be stunted and people will starve.
Pair with: Oh great, we're gonna starve.
🎥 What I’m Watching
🇹🇼 Why Taiwan is Not Ukraine
I read more and more voices alarming that China is getting ready to invade Taiwan on Twitter in the last few days. This video helps differentiate the cases of Taiwan and Ukraine.
💊 Can Supplements Really Make You Smarter?
A great video about nootropics. Also, the perfect complement to the “tool of the week!”
🔧 The Tool of the Week
Rate the nootropics you've tried, and we'll tell you which one should work for you!
Ever wondered what nootropic could work for you? Nootroflix helps you answer this exact question.
🪐 Quote I’m Pondering
There's nothing like a little physical pain to keep your mind off your emotional problems.
― John E. Sarno
Ps: If you’re suffering from chronic pain, do yourself a favor and read this.
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