You Can’t Do It All Alone

We talk a lot about both diversification and diversity, yet describe them as if they’re fundamentally different concepts. However, I don’t think the diversification we might talk about over investing is all too different from the diversity we talk about in the corporate field. Both come with the same major advantage; an advantage that follows around the fact that you can’t do it all alone.

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Why it’s Impossible for the Illuminati to Exist

 

 

Since conspiracies tend to be fairly popular lately, I decided to give my own take on one of the most popular conspiracies of all. Pretty much every group has some variation of the “centralized power” conspiracy, where one large group owns the majority of the world in secret. Some popular examples include the Illuminati, Freemasons, Bilderberg Group… though typically nowadays these are either straight up unnamed or just referred to as “them” when used in a serious context. Of course, all of this is pretty unsubstantiated poppycock, and I wanted to go at least a bit in depth as to why this could truly never work.

The first reason is that people always tend to have ulterior motives when allying themselves economically with others. For examples of this, we can look at early price-fixing cartels; while cartels are now illegal in most capitalist countries, the cartels tended to naturally dissipate over time. There tend to be some pretty logical game theory reasons for this; if everyone is charging the same amount, that means that if you charge even a bit less you’re going to steal all the market share. And, as it turns out, that notion is quite tempting.

The second reason this conspiracy tends to fall flat on its face is that, when it does happen, it tends to become apparent very quickly. When we look at the Eastern Bloc during the height of Communism, it came as no surprise that a large number of political officials were colluding against the general populace. While the majority of people preferred not to speak on the matter, it came as a certainty to almost everyone that it was going on. Compare that with conspiracies like the Illuminati or the Freemasons, where the evidence is minimal and the believers are a vocal minority, and we can see a clear red flag.

And, in the case of real organizations shrouded in secrecy (such as Bilderberg), it is heavily unlikely that a group of people that diverse in terms of position will agree to collude fully with one another. This somewhat relates to the second point in that people will always have their own motives; often these motives will in at least some way conflict with another person, especially if that other person happens to also be rich or run a massive corporation. Look at GAFA; while at some level Google and Apple might be competing just to avoid monopoly law, they also just plain want to take in market share and profits in fields related to their expertise. While we might like to think greed is the reason these organizations exist, the reality is that it’s actually this same greed that prevents them from existing. Remember; everyone in the game is a human just like you. Well, unless you think they’re a reptilian. Then I really can’t help you there.

 

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Creatives vs. Technicals: Which Should You Focus On?

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One of life’s greatest conflicts is between the arts and the sciences. The right brain and the left brain. The creatives and the technicals.

In reality, no one thinks that one of these groups is inherently useless. But what’s the right mix? Honestly, it changes depending on what sort of project you’re looking at. A SaaS company would need a larger proportion of technicals rather than creatives, where something like a film project might require more creatives than technicals, and a video game might be split roughly 50/50. I also believe that the greatest competitive advantage here are the people who are focused on training both sides of this dichotomy. If you’re well trained as both a creative and a technical, you can do wide swaths of the work yourself; this not only helps with expenses on projects but can also help in terms of career options.

Everyone is naturally aligned with one of these two. I found from a young age that the creative element aligned with me greatly, but that I had trouble fulling realizing projects due to that missing half. Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried honing my technical side by focusing more on programming and engineering projects, in hopes of equalizing both these sides. I’ve found that doing this has helped me greatly, and I’d recommend it to most other people. There’s certainly more technical guides and tutorials out there on the internet – probably because technical knowledge is less ethereal than creative knowledge – but there are still resources out there for things like art, writing, and design.

Overall, the question should not be about being a creative or a technical, but rather a creative and a technical. Some might argue that more focus is better; I’m not saying that you can’t be more focused in one area than another, but I do believe that having at least basic knowledge contained in both fields will do wonders for you long-term.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. I do want to point out that we have a brand new newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on. You can subscribe to it here.

What you Should be Doing Instead of Networking

 

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Networking. There is perhaps no word more overused in the business world, and no word that more serves as the bane to my existence.

Now, there’s clearly an importance to meeting people. Connecting with others can lead to new doors and avenues that were previously out of reach. What I dislike is the commoditizing of connections; of turning the simple act of being with like-minded people into a business meta-game. There is a strict difference between networking in the games people play, and networking in the way it really ought to be. This is the difference between networking and making real connections.

I fell down the networking trap not too long ago. Coming in as an undergraduate to a business school, you are constantly blasted with the call to networking; pelted with the aphorisms such as “It’s not what you know, but who you know” (ironic coming from a university). Caught in the crossfire, I made massive contact lists; I emailed someone the best alumni from the college, got on the phone with them, asked questions, answered questions, and then… nothing. There was no spark. Despite the fact that I was doing exactly what the business world was telling me to do, I got nothing out of it. I decided to stop the charades of sending out 100 emails a week and focus on what the hell this was all about in the first place.

“Networking” isn’t a business game. It’s just a derogatory world for socialization. When I got on the phone, I asked them questions about their path, what they did at their work, and some of their bigger goals. And then, they answered. The problem with this is that this is neither something that inherently interested me, nor something that inherently interested them. It was all cardboard, recycled hundreds of times by both of us. If you really want to make a connection with someone, connect with them. It’s much easier than the networking game sounds; find a topic that interests you, and see if there’s a match.

I’ll take the classic example of programming. If you’re chatting with a senior engineer, don’t ask him how he got there or generic questions about the company. Instead, ask him about what frameworks or languages he likes to use, and see how it connects with what you like to use. If he’s a big React fan, but you prefer Vue, maybe you could go down the path of asking him why he uses React instead? (By the way, I know next to nothing about these, so my deep apologies to WebDevs if this part is cringy). Either way, you get the point. Find some starting point that interests you, and see if the other person bites. If not, pick another topic.

What if the person never bites back? What if they give fairly boring, stale answers? Well then, that’s fine as well. It just turns out that you two don’t connect very well. This happens. Simply move on to the next person, and eventually you’ll find a match.

Huh. Now that I’ve described this, it all seems so familiar. Could this possibly be… the way normal humans communicate? As it turns out, it is; you can in fact use the way you communicate with other people for networking, and vice versa. This seems pretty obvious now that I’ve written it all out, but you’d be surprised; in a world filled to the brim with networking books, networking workshops, and networking mixers, this simple idea can get lost in the mire.

Another note on this; while casting a wide net can still work, it’s not something I’d personally recommend. Especially as an undergraduate student, there’s not much you can really look for in a business contact; maybe for getting an internship or a full-time job at their firm later on, but this is pretty impersonal and also in a way scummy. I personally just like having these connections occur naturally; I go to conferences and get involved with organizations that have similar interests to mine and meet people as I go. This way, there’s much more relevant, short-term things to discuss, and the contact can still carry on into long-term use for both parties involved.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. I do want to point out that we have a brand new newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on. You can subscribe to it here.