Discover more from The Long Game by Mehdi Yacoubi
The Longe Game 4: Longevity, Cold Showers, Second-Order Thinking, Red Teams, Ergodicity, European Startups, Idea Generation
🇺🇸 America in Turmoil, Unbundling Reddit, Napoleon, Stolen Van Gogh and much more!
Hi friends, and welcome to The Long Game — my take on health, wellness, and better living.
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It has been a beautiful week in Vienna; the weather is getting warmer—although rainier than I would expect. But summer is almost here!
Another shot from Vienna. The city was ranked the most liveable city in the world for ten years in a row, and I perfectly understand why. It's safe, clean, green and people are relaxed! Who wouldn't want to live here!
I got very interested in longevity a few years ago. The thing that always struck me is why some people seem to age so well, and some others don't.
We all know this older person that looks and feel twenty years younger.
There are places on the planet called Blue Zones, where a large number of people make it to be Centenarian. Scientists studied these people and understood that these people manage to live a long time without developing any chronic disease.
They concluded that to live longer and healthier; people should try not to get the disease in the first place. Once the condition arrives, Centenarians aren't notably better at living with it.
The takeaway here is that if you want to live longer and healthier, you should focus on delaying the onset of chronic diseases instead of trying to live longer once you have the disease.
This concept was one of my main motivations to start the project I'm currently working on. We want to empower people to optimize their metabolic health, so they avoid getting metabolic diseases (Alzheimer's and some cancers are also linked to metabolic dysfunction).
More about our project coming soon!
Two years ago, after watching a documentary about Wim Hof and his method, I started considering taking cold showers to try and see for myself if the benefits are worth the discomfort.
I say "consider" because, as you can imagine, jumping in a cold shower during winter is the last thing you want to do upon waking up.
Something was fascinating in this practice that attracted me.
So I started looking into the benefits of cold showers in search of further much-needed motivation.
For more on my experience with cold showers:
🧠 Better Thinking
Better thinking and decision making is a skill. You can't be good at a skill without practice. This website: a collection of thinking tools and frameworks to help you solve problems, make decisions, and understand systems is a great resource to practice and get better at making important decisions.
I explored "Second-order thinking" this week. It's about asking yourself what will be the consequences of your decision (first-order), and then thinking about the implications of the consequences (second-order).
Science is complicated. What's even more complicated, is to have constructive and challenging discussions within a scientific field. The current crisis shows it. For example, Youtube banned the content not aligned with the WHO. But we know science evolves continuously. So how can we manage to have constructive scientific debates? We need tools to challenge our current beliefs.
We are our own worst enemies when it comes to identifying any shortcomings in our hypotheses. We are victims of confirmation bias, groupthink, anchoring, and a slew of other cognitive biases. The worst part is that we are often unaware of our biases, which is why we’re the easiest people to fool. As painful as it seems, considering problems and solutions from a perspective that contradicts our own is one of the best ways to enhance our decision-making. But thinking this way, deliberately and methodically, is a practice, and though it’s really hard, it is necessary in order to sharpen our cognitive swords.
Peter suggests we need Red Teams in science: people defending an opposing point of view to make sure we challenge the established science enough.
🔫 A Big Little Idea Called Ergodicity (Or The Ultimate Guide to Russian Roulette), by Taylor Pearson
I've seen ergodicity mentioned a lot, especially during this crisis. I didn't know what it was. This article does a great job of explaining this crucial concept.
The central insight?
The probabilities of success from the collection of people do not apply to one person.
How could we identify an ergodic scenario?
look at one individual’s trajectory across time
look at a bunch of individual’s trajectories at a single point in time
If yes: ergodic.
If not: non-ergodic.
When people act as if the situation is ergodic when it's not, it can cause significant problems. This problem is particularly prevalent in finance. Most advice assumes ergodicity, although it's never the case. If you lose all your money in a day, you're not comforted by that other people did fine.
In other words, Vladimir Lenin writes:
“There are decades in which nothing happens and weeks in which decades happen.” Saying something is ergodic during the decades in which nothing happens is meaningless. The question is whether it is ergodic in the weeks in which decades happen.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
Most of the content I consume is US-centric. I'm building my company in Europe, so I also need good things to read on the European startup ecosystem. This piece covers the opportunity the current crisis brings for European startups. Nicolas Colin calls for "doubling down on Europe".
For European entrepreneurs, it leads to a paradox. On one hand, they might have to learn to live without the rest of the world — with less foreign capital flowing in, Silicon Valley becoming less of an inspiration and cross-Atlantic interactions becoming as scarce as they are today between Europe and tech ecosystems in Asia. On the other hand, US and Asian tech companies focusing on their (large and, in some cases, fast-growing) domestic markets means that European startups will have free rein on their own local markets, discovering their own, Europe-centric models in the process. Some of those will end up becoming ubiquitous on their domestic market; some might become continental giants.
💡 Idea Generation, by Sam Altman
How do you find a great idea when you want to start your company? Every entrepreneur had to go through this moment. Sam Altman gives a few pieces of advice for this crucial step.
It’s important to be in the right kind of environment, and around the right kind of people. You want to be around people who have a good feel for the future, will entertain improbable plans, are optimistic, are smart in a creative way, and have a very high idea flux.
When thinking about your idea, if you can say "I am sure this is going to happen, I'm just not sure if we'll be the ones to do it", that's a good sign.
📚 What I Read
🇺🇸 America In Turmoil: How Racial, Economic, And Power Privilege Led Us To Social Unrest, by Anthony Pompliano
If you're searching for a great read on the current situation in the US, this one will get you covered! Anthony Pompliano brings a fresh analysis of the US racial issue.
There are three types of privilege at play right now — racial privilege, economic privilege, and power privilege. The article covers each one.
To fix the problem for good, Anthony Pompliano suggests:
Change the laws.
Demilitarize the police.
Optimize for unity, rather than division.
The world will be a much better place if the rest of us started listening.
There are only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is unbundle.—Jim Barksdale
Greg Isenberg shows how we could unbundle Reddit. The major reasons for this unbundling are:
Major social platforms today are noisy.
There is too much surface area for Reddit to possibly cover within constraints of subreddits.
COVID created an unsafe physical world yet people still want to explore their interests.
Discord is an example of a successful unbundling of Reddit!
If you're intrigued by Napoleon, you will enjoy this book!
I pondered this quote on luck:
“A consecutive series of great actions never is the result of chance and luck; it always is a product of planning and genius… Is it because they are lucky that great men become great? No, but being great, they have been able to master luck.”
What is luck? The ability to exploit accidents: ‘‘The vulgar would call this luck, but in fact, it is the characteristic of genius”
🍭 Brain Food
On a lighter note, this is a funny article interviewing a thief who stole two Van Gogh paintings!
“My No. 1 rule is talk smooth, be cool, have a fast car and never touch anyone,”
🎙 Podcast Episodes of the Week
🩺 Marty Makary, MD: The US healthcare system—why it's broken, steps to fix it, and how to protect yourself, on The Drive
If you want to understand how broken the US healthcare system is, this episode is for you.
The money games.
The main drivers of inflated healthcare costs.
Marty shares some very practical advice and tips if you find yourself a victim of predatory pricing and stuck with an outrageous medical bill.
Marty discusses the many exciting trends gaining traction in healthcare and why he is very optimistic and hopeful about the future.
The implementation science of medicine is more challenging than the discovery science…so I thought, ‘This is where the opportunity is.
“Hospitals are profiting from the individuals, not that they want anything bad to happen, but they’re just not financially aligned to really intervene. . .I realized we’ve got to educate patients on second opinions. We’ve got to educate patients on the questions to ask, and I try to be very honest about the issue.”
Here's how the cost of hospital services compared to other common societal goods:
Balaji has been early on everything related to the Coronavirus. He managed to see what was coming by the end of January and helped a lot of people realize the Coronavirus isn't "just like the flu".
This episode covers how this crisis might evolve. Balaji also gives his perspectives on future business opportunities.
One thing stuck with me: in the last three months, people got used to checking healthcare dashboards daily.
What will that change for the future?
It may help reorient people and societies towards tracking metrics that matter (diabetes, heart diseases).
🔧 The tool of the Week
I covered in last week's episode why books don't work. It's so easy to forget what we read.
Readwise wants to help us retain more of what we read. It enables you to revisit your highlights and practice spaced-repetition through daily emails.
I love their product!
🪐 Quote I'm Reflecting on
Anthony De Mello, Awareness
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