Discover more from The Long Game by Mehdi Yacoubi
The Long Game 46: The Centenarian Olympics, Doing the Work, Trust, Managing Your Psychology
🔫 What Cyberwar Will Look Like, How Couples Met, Demographics of 2100, Nomad List, Heroin, and Much More!
Greetings from Montenegro 🇲🇪
In this episode, we explore:
The Centenarian Olympics
Doing the work
Managing your own psychology
Let’s dive in!
1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ The Centenarian Olympics
A while ago, I shared the framework I use to take care of my physical fitness with a longevity perspective. I thought it was worth revisiting as this framework could help a lot of people age well. If you want to reach 100 and be in optimal shape, you need to train adequately for this goal. It’s called the Centenarian Olympics.
What most people get wrong is that just being “fit” without any specificity towards the physical features you want to achieve at age 100 is not the optimal pathway to staying fit as a golden-ager. Most people can get up off the floor, and many of us wouldn’t even understand how that would be a problem. Yet a majority of older adults can’t. It means that without a specific training targeting the list of things you want to be able to do at 100, your chances of actually ticking the boxes are very low.
The pillars of the centenarian Olympics training are:
The idea that’s worth insisting on is that most people will enjoy and be good at some parts of these four elements but completely neglect the others. Laird Hamilton writes:
“All you flexible people should go bang some iron, and all you big weight lifters should go do some yoga… We always gravitate toward our strengths because we want to be in our glory.”
On my side, I really needed to spend more time on stability and aerobic efficiency. I’ve been doing a lot of zone 2 training lately (basically cardio at a low intensity for extended periods of time) to compensate for all the years without cardio.
Talking of becoming a centenarian, this shark was born before Isaac Newton. I hope that the first human to make it to 200 is already born.
⛔ Do the Work
I have love-hate relationships with productivity advice and everything related to life optimization. One part of me really loves that type of content and believes in it, and another part believes most of it is a waste of time. I can hold onto these two contradictory beliefs pretty well, but recently, I tend to lean much more toward the second belief.
More generally, I think that most general life advice doesn’t work. It’s basically correlation mistaken for causation. We, as people, don’t want to accept it and want to believe in recipes. It would be much easier, right? It sure would be much better if there was a recipe. I still think that some general principles could help most people (like the growth mindset), but the problem comes from the state of mind you’re in when you’re looking for an easy, straightforward solution to your problems. The reality is there is no such thing. The sooner you accept it, the easier life will get. Or the quicker you’ll accept how hard life is, I should say.
In terms of productivity and life advice, my final stance on the topic is: DO THE WORK. It will not be easy. You’ll try things, you’ll fail, and most importantly, you’ll (hopefully) find what works for you.
This piece strongly resonated with me this week:
I think I’m quite productive, but I often do the opposite of ‘conventional’ productivity advice. Some examples:
I tend to do small, unimportant tasks first so that I can focus on important stuff without distraction (whereas common advice is to do the big important stuff first)
I don’t do pomodoros or time-blocking
I often multi-task
I check emails frequently
I don’t have a regular sleep or work schedule, and I suck at routines
I leave things to the last minute
I do ‘deep work’ late at night rather than first thing in the morning
I don’t block ‘distracting’ websites
I’m not sure whether I would be more productive if I successfully implemented the conventional wisdom, but I’ve tried in the past and it has never really stuck. I wonder whether the types of people who become productivity advisors also tend to be the kind of people for whom the conventional advice works well, and whether there are other types of people who are equally productive but less likely to evangelize their approach.
The bottom line is: nothing will make you feel worse than not doing what you know you should be doing, and you know that this productivity video, masterclass, or life advice porn is definitely not what you should be doing (most of the time).
Here’s a last essay on this before closing this topic for a while:
Do the work.
That's all the productivity advice you need, and the only useful productivity advice you're ever going to get.
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🧠 Better Thinking
🤝 Trust: Give it—or Expect People to Earn it
There are two ways to go through your life. Give trust to people as a default, or expect people to earn your trust. These are two opposed ways of living, and both could be defended as they have pros and cons. Different cultures and moral backgrounds can also shape the way people deal with this philosophical dilemma in their life.
I believe it’s essential to think about how you want to go through your life as these two options will lead to radically different lives.
Let’s explore a little bit of the pros and cons of each one of those:
If you give trust first, you’re a much more welcoming person, you can create bonds with people easily, and you’ll spend most of your time expressing feelings of trust and positive energy. On top of that, giving trust to a person can change how this person interacts with you. For example, this person can become very good and loyal to you specifically because you gave them your trust initially.
However, as we covered a few weeks ago with How to Talk to Strangers on The Long Game 43, bad people do exist, and they do bad things, potentially life-threatening ones. These people are not the majority of people you’ll encounter, but you will come across relatively bad individuals at some point.
Here’s a data point that’s important to have in mind:
The best current estimate is that just less than 1% of all noninstitutionalized males age 18 and over are psychopaths. This translates to approximately 1,150,000 adult males who would meet the criteria for psychopathy in the United States today. And of the approximately 6,720,000 adult males that are in prison, jail, parole, or probation, 16%, or 1,075,000, are psychopaths. Thus, approximately 93% of adult male psychopaths in the United States are in prison, jail, parole, or probation.
Trust must be earned:
If your trust must be earned, the first contact with you will always be suspicious and less spontaneous. It will prevent many small and big relationships from starting or getting anywhere in the course of life.
However, if you’re suspicious and diligent in your suspicions, you’ll prevent most of the bad relationships you could have had, and you’ll also prevent or expose bad the bad things happening in society.
As we see, both have pros and cons. On a personal level, I’m naturally inclined to be part of the second team, although I recently tried to adopt the first philosophy. There is no one-size-fits-all, but I think being aware of your inclinations and understanding its limits can help you temper some of the negative elements and (maybe?) get the best out of both worlds. One thing is sure, though, society wouldn’t work if people didn’t trust each other, but without suspicious people, we could very well see catastrophes go unnoticed for years.
An interesting follow-up to this idea is the question of trust in authority figures and the experts. I’ll explore this in an upcoming episode.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
🤯 Managing Your Own Psychology
In my own (small) personal experience, the hardest part of being a founder is nothing else than managing your own psychology. Ben Horowitz writes in The Hard Thing About Hard Things:
By far the most difficult skill I learned as CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology.
One of our strongest beliefs with my co-founder Ayyoub is that we'll build what we want to build if we persist long enough with positive energy. We feel that phrasing the situation like this is very helpful. It doesn't mean it's easy, though. When you're building a company, your life is a roller-coaster. In a single day, you can think "we're doomed," then "it's fantastic" a few hours later, only to finish the day thinking, "I don't see how we're going to do this." Experience showed us that when we maintain good energy, we find a solution to every challenge.
On a personal level, I find that mediation and zone-2 cardio training help maintain calm, long-lasting energy, the type of energy you want when facing challenges constantly.
📚 What I Read
This is a thought-provoking piece about drug use for responsible adults. I have never heard such a perspective, but I found it was worth sharing here.
Hart reports that more than 70 percent of drug users—whether they use alcohol, cocaine, prescription medications, or heroin—do not meet the health criteria for drug addiction. In Drug Use for Grown-Ups, Hart strives to “present a more realistic image of the typical drug user: a responsible professional who happens to use drugs in his pursuit of happiness.”
I’m not sure I agree 100% with his take, but it’s refreshing to see a radically different perspective being well-argued.
It can give you energy. It can make life more interesting. Humans do not live on logic alone.
Right now, there’s a big stigma around some substances, coming from a mix between science and culture. As we start to see with psychedelics, many of our preconceived ideas can be wrong, and some of these substances can have an important role in society. It would be much better for all of us to remove the stigma and study these substances in a non-biased way (which is very hard to do, of course, because we are humans, and non-biased thinking is almost impossible to do.)
👥 Demographics of 2100
The Lancet published a population forecast from 2017 to 2100, and I think it’s important to be aware of this.
Wars of the future won’t look like wars of the past. I don’t remember where I read this quote, but it stayed with me:
America is ready for the last war.
What does that mean? It means that a lot of countries aren’t ready for the future of warfare. Why drop bombs when you can take control of a nuclear facility or hack into all of the personal messages and bank details of a population?
It is trivially easy to find an American's address, ruin their credit score, steal their investments, use their social media or email accounts against them, and generally ruin someone's life through digital means. America's two greatest rivals (Russia and China) do not hesitate to harass, beat up, or intimidate American personnel. But stories of this type are very rare. Why is this? It isn't because they lack the capacity. They have it now. If they are not regularly harassing Americans today, it most likely because they do not want Americans to be better prepared for the conflict of tomorrow.
🎙 Podcast Episode of the Week
I’ve edited some new episodes of The Long Game Podcast, and I’m waiting to finish season two before starting to release them. In the meantime, here are the great episodes I enjoyed this week:
The episode of everything: basically what Balaji thinks about everything. If you want to understand how the future could look like, Balaji is the person you should follow and listen to. I compiled some quotes from the episode here.
The Business of Belonging: David Spinks recently wrote the book The Business of Belonging. It’s a good introduction to his ideas. I’ll be reading the book and covering it in the “Startup Stuff” section in the coming weeks.
🍭 Brain Food
🍷➡️📱How Couples Met
I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of humanity, and fertility and romantic relationships have been an important part of my reflections. I already shared multiples resources regarding the dangerous fall in terms of fertility in the Western world. This week, I came across this interesting chart describing the evolution of how couples meet from 1995 to 2017.
I’m wondering what the second-order consequences of this will be, even though we can already see some early negative signs. It could course-correct later on, but it’s something worth being aware of.
I honestly have no idea what could be the cause of this trend, but I found what seems to be the reason on Twitter: the bitcoin whitepaper was published in 2008 😅
🎥 What I’m Watching
👨🎨 Caravaggio: Master of Light
I recently discovered the Youtube channel Nerdwriter1, and it’s fantastic. This video about Caravaggio is beautiful, and I highly recommend it during this period when most museums are still closed. I got the chance to see Caravaggio’s paintings while I was living in Vienna last year, and it’s breathtaking. The exhibition was an exploration of both Caravaggio and Bernini, and my favorite painting was The Crowning with Thorns.
🔧 The Tool of the Week
As more and more companies are going remote-first, people have much more choice regarding where they want to live. An idea I find particularly interesting is to find a place you love, where life is significantly cheaper. This way, you reduce your personal run-rate, and life feels much better.
Right now, I’m in Montenegro, it’s a beautiful country, and I love it, it’s also very cheap. The other places I’d like to explore for extended periods of time are Rome, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Ko Pha Ngan, Prague, and Auckland.
Nomad List enables you to find the perfect location for your needs, and you filter the list according to what’s important for you.
🪐 Quote I'm Pondering
Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.
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