The Long Game 11: Apple and Longevity, Discomfort, Writing, Failing, Communities, Narratives

🧠 Mental Models, The Purpose of Technology, Human Nature, Time in Weeks, and Much More!

Hi there 👋🏼, and welcome to The Long Game — my take on health, wellness, and better living.

If you missed the past episodes, you could catch up here.

In this episode, we explore:

  • Apple and the problem of longevity

  • Seeking discomfort

  • Writing for better thinking

  • Why startups fail

  • The purpose of technology

  • Narratives

  • How DNA makes us who we are

Let's dive into it!

Mornings in Paris 🥐


🥑 Health

🍏 Will Apple Solve the Human Longevity Problem?

After listening to the excellent podcast episode on Apple and the longevity problem, I tried to gather some thoughts on the topic.

First, we have to understand the incentive structure behind Apple's strategy.

Why is Apple incentivized to fix other problems than the ones it is solving currently?

Over the last 20 years, Apple went from a hardware company to a service company. Today Apple is becoming a health company with the Health Thesis of Tim Cook that Nathan Baschez masterfully explained in his piece healthOS.

Let's look at the success Apple had over the previous decades.

Early on, as a hardware company, Apple created solutions that were very successful in the US. Then, Apple expanded worldwide, market after market.

Apple's growth was very predictable, quarter after quarter, country after country.

But, the Earth is finite. Once Apple saturated the planet, and everyone owned an iPhone, an iPad, or a mac, the question was: "Where can Apple go next?"

The second step in Apple's strategy was to become a service company. By doing this, Apple entered a competition with all the big tech companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook) for vertical time.

The problem with vertical time, again, is that it's finite - there are only 24 hours in a day!

Another 'type of time' companies can compete for is horizontal time. If your customers are locked in (which Apple's customers are), it's easier to extend the number of days you can monetize your customer rather than competing with the marginal attention in a day.

Apple as a Health Company

Nathan Baschez explained how Apple is becoming a health company. The main idea is that Apple is at the center of a health ecosystem. Apple collects data from a variety of other solutions (wearables, mattresses, and more) that it can leverage in large-scale R&D projects.

What's the biggest project that Apple could take on?

Human Longevity.

Apple will want to extend the customer lifetime value by helping its clients live longer.

For more about Apple and the longevity problem, I wrote a piece gathering all these insights.

Read the article

If you want the short version, I wrote a thread on it.


🌱 Wellness

😅 Seeking Discomfort

It feels good to do something you're good at, right? If you're into lifting weight, it feels great to get a workout in. If you're into running, it feels great to go for a long run.

The problem is that you eventually start to develop imbalances that are only going to be visible over the long term. I detailed the idea of the Centenarian Olympics — a way of training for longevity and fixing the issue of the imbalance — in this article.

For years, in my training, I mainly focused on weight lifting. But during the pandemic, I realized how unfit I was in some other aspects of physical fitness, like flexibility or cardio. I have, practically, kept doing what I was good at and what I felt comfortable doing.

If you're not feeling some discomfort, you're probably missing something important in your training.

All you flexible people should go bang some iron, and all you big lifters should go do some yoga... We always gravitate toward our strengths because we want to be in our glory.

— Laird Hamilton


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🧠 Better Thinking

✍️ Writing for Better Thinking

Reading, watching, or listening content can help you think better and learn new things, but it will only get you that far.

Writing is when understanding and consolidation of knowledge happens!

The main reason I started this newsletter was to balance out the input of information with the output. It forces me to gather my ideas, and I have to admit it's much harder than I thought.

The moment you go from passively consuming information to actively producing it changes everything. You quickly realize that you didn't understand the concepts as well as you thought you did. Then, you're not merely reproducing the information, but you might end up contributing with something yours, your thoughts, your ideas, reflections!

Julian Shapiro wrote:

To write well is to think well.

I would even say that "to write well" is equivalent as "to think well."


⚡️ Startup Stuff

📉 The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail, by CB Insights

We talked about "Inversion" in the 5th episode of The Long Game. The inversion principle states that instead of focusing on success, we should focus on avoiding failure.

It's something I'm actively trying to do in both my personal life and my professional life.

I'm currently building a startup (we're working on health optimization — more on this coming soon!), and I find it very useful to be aware of the main reasons a startup fails, to make sure we avoid them!

The top five reasons are (startups can fail for multiple reasons):

  1. No market need — 42%

  2. Ran out of cash — 29%

  3. Not the right team — 23%

  4. Get outcompeted — 19%

  5. Pricing/Cost issues — 18%


📚 What I Read

👥 Come for the Network, Pay for the Tool, by Toby Shorin

We are going through a revolution in the way internet works. The shaking truce between social networks, legacy media, and brands can no longer last. Toby explores how the question of community is central to reconcile these three forces.

Paid communities are a new type of business, with new rules and new risks.

Bloomberg is an example of the classic Web 2.0 business maxim “come for the tool, stay for the network.” But the inverse trajectory, from which this essay takes its name, is now equally viable: “come for the network, pay for the tool.” Just as built-in social networks are a moat for information products, customized tooling is a moat for social networks.

The main idea here is that we're moving from a centralized internet to a decentralized one, and paid communities are going to be major actors in the era of the decentralized internet.

We are transitioning from an era of centralized management of human development and financial capital into an era where both identity formation and resource allocation happens in decentralized, loosely-coordinated, and emergent ways.

🌌 The Purpose of Technology, by Balaji S. Srinivasan

This piece is the best thing I read this week! I'm biased here because I'm really into life extension and longevity, but I think Balaji did a great job at explaining the challenges of the field.

If the proximate purpose of technology is to reduce scarcity, the ultimate purpose of technology is to eliminate mortality.

What's crazy is that most people aren't aware of how possible it would be to have a massive impact on human longevity if we put the right resources and the right people on the task.

And it's actually feasible today. It's been shown that we can extend healthy lifespans in mammals – and even reverse aging to bring people back to youth.

We have to kick-start a longevity movement by making everyone aware of what's happening in the field.

Not just tweets, but articles. Not just articles, but videos. Not just videos, but feature films. And not just a few films, but an entire Netflix original library's worth, a parallel tech media ecosystem full of inspirational content for technological progressives. A lifetime's worth of content that makes the case for immutable money, infinite frontier, artificial intelligence, and eternal life.

🆕 Inventing Narrative, by Seth Godin

I found this short blog-post to be very thought-provoking. In the current context, society is at a turning point, and it needs new narratives to fuel social and technological progress.

That story in your head? It’s invented.

It has to be.

It might be based on some things that actually happened. The story we tell ourselves might be a useful predictor now and then. The story might even have been put there against our wishes, over time.

But it can’t possibly be a complete and detailed understanding of everything. That’s why it’s a narrative. It’s a shorthand, a map–not the territory. It’s filled with shortcuts and mindreading, a personal myth about you and your role in the world.

If we find our story isn’t helping us, if it’s inaccurate or distracting or enervating, we can work to change it.


🍭 Brain Food

Your Life in Weeks, by Wait But Why

This piece gives a compelling visualization of the time you have in life. It's very easy to get lost in everyday life and forget that we don't have infinite time ahead of us. Hopefully, we will manage to expand human lifespan and healthspan radically, but in the meantime, this article is a good reminder to focus on what matters.

Sometimes life seems really short, and other times it seems impossibly long. But this chart helps to emphasize that it’s most certainly finite. 

As Sam Altman wrote:

The days are long but the decades are short.


🎙 Podcast Episodes of the Week

Bret Weinstein and Matt Taibbi: Corruption and its Consequences

Generally speaking, I like people who think differently and who can foresee and alert us of looming dangers, which is why I like Bret Weinstein. I've been following him since the Evergreen protests. Bret warned everyone that what was happening at the time - the beginning of cancel culture, was very dangerous. A few years later, everyone understood how right Bret was about the cancel culture once it started 'threatening' everyone recently.

This conversation with Matt Taibbi, the author of Hate Inc and The Divide, is an excellent overview of the current political and social landscape of the US.

These challenges aren't only present in the US. The moment it becomes impossible to discuss ideas and respectfully disagree represents the beginning of a totalitarian society!

🧬 The Nature of Human Nature, Making Sense Podcast

This episode completely shook my understanding of behavioral biology. The question of 'nature vs nurture' or, simply put, how we're born vs how we're raised is something I like to reflect on.

Robert Plomin, author of the book Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are, explains that nurture is far less important than people usually think.

This conversation is especially important for parents to understand that maybe they can't influence, or not to the extent they thought they could, how their kids are going to be and what they're going to become. They can only try to provide their children with an enjoyable life and assist them in becoming who they are.

If you are currently trying to get the very best private school for your kids because you think it will change what they will become, I highly suggest listening to this episode, as food for thought!


🔧 The tool of the Week

🧠 Mental Models, by Edvo

Learning to think with mental models is great, but the problem is to remember them and access the right mental models at the right time.

This app does a great job of bringing mental models in our everyday lives.

It starts with a scenario you're going through, like communicating better, making a big purchase or unleashing creativity, and it suggests mental models that could be useful for your use case.

For example, if you're looking to make a big purchase, the mental models that could help you are:

  • Second-order thinking

  • Opportunity Cost

  • Incentives


🪐 Quote I'm Reflecting on

Everybody in the world is seeking happiness—and there is one sure way to find it. That is by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.

— Dale Carnegie


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EndNote

Thanks for reading!

I will see you next week. As always, if you're finding this newsletter interesting, give me your feedback, you can respond to this email or tweet at me!

If you're enjoying The Long Game, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend or two! I try to make it high signal, low noise, and I hope you're enjoying it!

Have a great day,

Mehdi

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