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.

The Rise of the Personal Brand

 

 

 

The internet revolution has caused a wide range of massive changes throughout the different industries of the world. From music and movie streaming to e-commerce and grocery delivery, the world is vastly different than it was even a few years before. For this post, I’m primarily interested in one specific section of the industries the internet has changed; the job industry.

People used to work at one company, get promoted a few times, and then retire. Switching companies mid-career, especially to different industries, usually spelled certain doom; provided you could even get the job, you were working at a much lower position for much lower pay. However, things nowadays aren’t quite as simple.

Sure, lateral career switching still is a tricky balancing act. But in a world where companies are focusing more on raw skills than experience, things are a bit different. Numerous success stories have come out of people pulling from a job, learning an entirely new skill set, and getting another high paying job in a separate industry in less than a year or two. Much of this, internet-wise, can be attributed to the rise of educational resource access and easier access to job postings. However, I think that there’s something much bigger at work here too. I think this is a sign of the rise of the personal brand.

One of the biggest advancements have been with social media; I’m not just talking Facebook and Twitter here, I’m talking Youtube, Linkedin, and Medium as well. These last three specifically allow you to post expert-level content about the fields your interested in and share it with a wider world. This, in turn, gives you the ability to have a following; people who are interested specifically in the same sort of topics you post about. Now, call me crazy, but I believe in the future that this following is going to be vital; I believe that those who have the highest quality content with the highest amount of followers will begin to become the most attractive potential recruits to companies.

Let me unpack this a bit. I’ll start off by saying that it’s very likely that the people who are at the absolute top will find some way to become self-employed and not need to take on a job at a company; fair enough. But if I have around ten thousand subscribers on my channel where I make various coding projects and tutorials, I’m going to look better as a software engineer candidate. Why is this? Well, for starters, the way I work and the skill I have is already right there in front of you; there’s no need to go through the work of a formal interview because you can just see the quality of my code in the videos I produce. Secondly, my amount of subscribers – though it may seem modest – shows two things; not only do I have enough of a unique slant for ten thousand people to be interested in following me, but it also shows that I grinded hard enough to get to ten thousand people in the first place. This shows dedication and determination as well; skills that are essential in any career.

In fact, let’s go down a partial list of the most sought out job skills and see what form of media they would coincide to. Written communication? Blog posts. Verbal communication? Youtube videos. Organization? All of the above. Teamwork skills? Podcasts and collaborations. Punctuality? Livestreams. Creativity? All of the above. Emotional Intelligence? Q and A sessions.

Before the internet, all I had was a piece of paper and a thirty-minute conversation to determine whether I was going to hire you. Now, I have a whole wealth of content that you’ve made that can work for (or, to be fair, against) you. And, if you have no content, it makes things a lot harder on me, and so I might not look into your direction as much. So, what are you waiting for?

 

That’s all for now. Enjoy this post? Feel free to follow my blog or Twitter for more updates on my latest articles!

State of the Union 2018

Well, since it’s about the holiday season and I don’t know anyone who’s going to be out reading blogposts, I’ve decided to make one that is more for myself than anything else. A long time ago, I used to write these “State of the Union” posts at the beginning of each year that would go over what I planned to do for that year, as well as going over last year’s goals for what did/didn’t work. Not sure why I stopped; in my opinion, it’s still a pretty good idea. That is exactly why I’m going to try to bring it back with this post. Since I don’t have any goals to go over for last year, I’ll start this fresh by giving some new goals for 2019.

The Blog/Website

I definitely want to get back to writing on a weekly basis, and I’ve already started it back up a bit as of recently. I think the most important thing content wise for the blog is just to keep the posting consistent for all 52 weeks of next year; a feat I’ve never been able to accomplish, but would love to finally hit.

In terms of actual data on views and followers, it looks like the website has around 18 followers with 137 views for the year (and 76 unique visitors). As I began posting weekly only in September, I’d like to see an approximately 4x increase in these numbers for next year (correlating with the other 3-month periods). So, let’s go for ~550 views, ~300 visitors, and ~70 followers added on for next year. For the Medium blog, we currently have 370 views, 203 reads, and 7 fans. So, let’s apply the same logic as last time, and go for 1,480 views, ~820 reads, and ~30 fans.

Astukari & Friends

For the podcast, I think qualitatively I’d like to pin a solid structure for the show down and start consistently getting ~1 hour episodes in every week. When it comes to collecting data, this is a bit harder to pin down; there’s about 172 views in total for the new series for far, with 26 episodes (that’s an average 6.6 views per YT podcast). In contrast, the original AstukaGaming podcast had about 808 views with 36 episodes, bringing it at 22.4 average views per podcast. This increase can be seen due to a couple of more popular videos in the bunch as well as (I believe) the fact that the podcast was a YT exclusive compared to Astukari & Friends which is not just on YT but also on Twitch and Podbean. Incorporating Podbean views, we have 341 additional plays for a total of 513, bringing the average up to 19.7.

For next year, I’d like to see this average increase to go beyond the average views per podcast of the original. I feel like this is definitely possible – AG was around for two years with minimal advertising, vs. A&F which has only been around for a few months with some more focus on tagging – and I’ll try to keep best practices forward when it comes to the podcast and hopefully due to this we’ll see an average increase.

Social Media

There’s a few major focuses on the social media front: We have LinkedIn, my personal Twitter, the AG + BDC Twitters, and my Instagram. Honestly, not too sure what I want to do with the AstukaGaming twitter anymore, but it does have around 330 followers so I figure I might as well use it to retweet some of my other content. I feel like advertising LinkedIn content has been pretty helpful so far, so I’m not really interested in cutting it off either; though I don’t really have any defined goals set in place for it. That leaves the personal Twitter, BDC Twitter, and Instagram.

For the Instagram, my follower count has been levitating right over the 190 – 200 range for a few months now, and I’d love to break that sometime soon. To be fair I haven’t been posting as regularly recently, and that has caused it to fall into the 180s, but at the same time I feel like if I have to post on there every single day I’m going to go crazy, so I’m going to at least one post every week or so. For the BDC twitter, I’m not quite sure what I want; it’s been a few months since Season 1, and so I’ve mostly been advertising my podcast and blog content on there. However, as I prep for Season 2 (which I’ll go more in detail about in the “Other Projects” section) I’ll try to post specifically BDC content. Finally, for the personal Twitter, my main goal is focused on getting the follower count up to 200. It seems to have been increasing pretty nicely by itself, so I plan on adding a bit more advertising of it to content as well as using it more actively.

New Book

In terms of big projects, another book is on the way. This will not be a compilation piece like the one released a few years back, but rather a brand new full-length piece. I don’t have much to share about this just yet since I only just finished the first round draft of planning (not writing), but I’ll put out a tentative release date of summer 2020. More information on this can be expected soon.

BDC LLC

As I mentioned before, BDC Season 2 will be coming at some point; likely around November 2019, which will match up to about a year after Season 1. In the meantime, I plan on throwing on a few sales (or perhaps inter-Season shirts) and advertising them on the BDC twitter to try to get some more sales in. No specific milestones for this one either – just want to see what ends up cookin’.

Well, that’s all for now. As always, check out my personal Twitter for more content in the future!

Analysis of “Hustler Culture”

 

 

It’s true; the key to success is, for the most part, hard work. But there’s a difference between working hard and doing hard work. Just because you devote a lot of time to something doesn’t inherently mean that you’re going to perform well in that category. And yet, it seems that a lot of what the modern “hustle culture” values are long hours and back-breaking work above all.

If you’ve followed any startup community for long enough you’ve definitely come across the hustlers; individuals who are convinced that caffeinated 100-hour work weeks, constant social media blitzes, and product rushing are the keys to success in the modern business world. And while I can see that their heart comes from the right place and that this somewhat holds to be true, what we end up getting is a bunch of people walking around who are much more obnoxious than they are motivational. This is primarily because many of these so-called hustlers go around spewing the virtues of hustling while not really understanding anything that they’re saying.

This, I believe, comes from the commodification of “the hustle” based on individuals such as Gary Vaynerchuk and company. Now, I don’t actually have anything against GaryVee, and I do understand the motivational importance of his videos, but when describing the same five “hustling principles” over and over again without elaborating too much, I believe it can easily confuse people who only take those principles at their surface level without actually looking at all into “Hey, do I really need to spend 100 hours a week working on this project?” or “Hey, is answering five Quora posts a day really helping my business?”.

The problem with this I believe comes from a more intrinsic issue with people themselves. It is easier for people to just have an answer given to them rather than for them to have to say “Well, it’s more complicated than that”. People thrive on simplicity, and so if you tell them “just work a really long and stressful amount of time and you’ll reach your goals”, they’ll believe it regardless of how dumb it sounds. Now, is this innately the “hustler”’s fault? I don’t think so. But something all founders should keep in mind is that there’s no shortcut to success.