Showing all posts tagged #clipping:


Magic and illusion: Foundation for leadership clipping

Posted on November 9th, 2019

Aspiring leaders typically concentrate on history and case studies, creating theories of success and failure in their disciplines. This is fine but won’t produce great practitioners in either war or business. As the German General Hermann Balck once told Boyd, "The training of the infantryman can never be too many sided." Miyamoto Musashi in 1645 wrote that samurai (much less top-level commanders) should study the arts and sciences...

Considering Wealth at the Real World Risk Institute clipping

Posted on November 9th, 2019

To shake up my thinking and expose myself to highly-believable people, I attended the two-day program at Nassim Taleb’s – Real World Risk Institute.You can find my daily notes here. Cleaned up digital version of my notes here. What follows is my thinking on wealth inspired by what was presented. Mistakes are my own. I can hear things differently than what was actually spoken, so don’t assume my attributions are strictly accurate. To ...

Taste for Makers clipping

Posted on November 1st, 2019

"...Copernicus' aesthetic objections to [equants] provided one essential motive for his rejection of the Ptolemaic system...." - Thomas Kuhn, The Copernican Revolution "All of us had been trained by Kelly Johnson and believed fanatically in his insistence that an airplane that looked beautiful would fly the same way." - Ben Rich, Skunk Works "Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in this world for ugly mathematics."- ...

Cities and Ambition clipping

Posted on November 1st, 2019

Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you s...

How to be whole clipping

Posted on October 26th, 2019

I was on a panel this week at my university, discussing whether universities should teach well-being. The number of students reporting mental health problems is soaring, student suicides are on the front-pages, and ministers are demanding universities make well-being a priority. But can universities actually teach well-being? There is scientific research on how to be happy, and some universities offer courses in that. But I don’t th...

Aldous Huxley on upwards and downwards self-transcendence clipping

Posted on October 26th, 2019

The Dionysian for self-transcendence: To go upward, one must first go downward. Of course, this must be barbelled with Apollonian. Last week, I went to an exhibition on Goya, in Boston. It was filled with his bizarre and fantastic dream-drawings, exploring the strange manias and nightmares that fill humans’ minds when their reason is switched off - as in the classic engraving, the Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. The museum booksto...

Atheist and secular mythologies clipping

Posted on October 25th, 2019

Many people believe that mythology ceased to be relevant after the arrival of science, and the resulting rise of atheism. A new tool arose to distinguish between truth and false narratives – measurement, not doctrine. Monotheistic religions staked sole claim to the truth in the 19th century, but then science, with its atheistic foundations, usurped this position, shoving monotheistic religions into the realm of mythology, an idea tha...

Has Kalki arrived? clipping

Posted on October 25th, 2019

Donald Trump fits the idea of what Vishnu’s last avatar epitomises – an invasive, violent, disruptive force that redefines old ideas. I have always maintained that the horse-riding Kalki, the final avatar of Vishnu, is not a saviour who brings back old ideas, but rather an invader, whose violent disruption forces old ideas to redefine, reframe and rejuvenate themselves. For the idea of Kalki emerged with the arrival of Greek, Huns, M...

What I Learned About Life From Buying a Goat on Craigslist clipping

Posted on October 14th, 2019

One goat became two, then a whole farm, then a crash course in what really matters It started innocuously enough, as many modern tales do, with a Craigslist posting. Boredom and whimsy — that’s how my wife and I ended up driving home from Seguin, Texas, with a tiny Nigerian dwarf goat in the front seat of the car. We named her Bucket, and she lived — quite illegally, we would later learn — tucked behind the fence that surrounded our ...

The Optimistic Thought Experiment clipping

Posted on September 23rd, 2019

The Optimistic Thought Experimentby Peter A. Thiel Tuesday, January 29, 2008 And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. — Luke 17:26–30 For the judeo-western inspiration, it is a mistake of the first magnitude...

The Trouble with Optionality | Opinion by HBS IYI clipping

Posted on September 16th, 2019

MY NOTES ON AUTHOR: HBS’ IYI Errors: * Missing central point: Optionality is avoiding blow-ups while maintaining maximal upside. * Working at a consulting firm is not optionality, b/c dependent on paycheck. * Wants young people to blow-up; asking to take **MORE** risk. * Specifically, missing entrepreneurship; this IYI doesn't seem to grasp it. * "Safety Nets" in this article is not "safety nets". * Finding a pursuit that can sus...

When Is Correlation Transitive? clipping

Posted on September 16th, 2019

Given two unit vectors in a real inner product space, one can define the correlation between these vectors to be their inner product , or in more geometric terms, the cosine of the angle subtended by and . By the Cauchy-Schwarz inequality, this is a quantity between and , with the extreme positive correlation occurring when are identical, the extreme negative correlation occurring when are diametrically opposite, and the zero...

Peter Thiel's Religion clipping

Posted on September 16th, 2019

"I am the Lord your God." — 1st Commandment Human culture began with a murder. And that murder was fueled by a rage so strong that it’s the secret origin of all religious and political institutions. In The Bible, The Cain and Abel story is the first act of life after the Garden of Eden. Cain is a farmer and the older brother to Abel, who is a shepherd. Initially, Cain admires Abel. But eventually, when Cain turns envious of his youn...

Heraclitus's Fragments: Ancient Wisdom for a Changing World clipping

Posted on September 9th, 2019

"Many fail to grasp what they have seen, and cannot judge what they have learned, although they tell themselves they know."— Heraclitus*** As with Baltasar Gracián and The Art of Worldly Wisdom, the insights found in Heraclitus‘s Fragments are strikingly modern. The overarching message of his collection is that all things change; all things flow.The body of work attributed to him consists in a collection of incendiary sparks that sch...

Nassim Taleb on the Notion of Alternative Histories clipping

Posted on September 9th, 2019

We see what’s visible and available. Often this is nothing more than randomness and yet we wrap a narrative around it. The trader who is rich must know what he is doing. A good outcome means we made the right decisions, right? Not so quick. If we were wise we would not judge the quality of a decision on its outcome. There are alternative histories worth considering. *** Writing in Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in L...

The Glorious, Almost-Disconnected Boredom of My Walk in Japan clipping

Posted on September 4th, 2019

05.29.2019 07:00 AM The Glorious, Almost-Disconnected Boredom of My Walk in JapanHow I modified my digital tools to reconnect with time on a six-week, 620-mile trip on foot across the country. Looking down over Hirasawa post town, Nagano Prefecture CRAIG MODThe jazz cafe was tiny, with a few polished wood tables, a record collection on display, and two beautiful speakers. The owner, in his 70s, wore a porkpie hat and a sleeve garter....

Jim Mattis: Duty, Democracy and the Threat of Tribalism clipping

Posted on September 2nd, 2019

© Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/DOD/ALAMY In late November 2016, I was enjoying Thanksgiving break in my hometown on the Columbia River in Washington state when I received an unexpected call from Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Would I meet with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss the job of secretary of defense? I had taken no part in the election campaign and had never met or spoken to Mr. Trump, so to say that I was surprised is ...

Commencement Address, American University in Beirut clipping

Posted on September 1st, 2019

Dear graduating students, This is the first commencement I have ever attended (I did not attend my own graduation). Further, I have to figure out how lecture you on success when I do not feel successful yet –and it is not false modesty. Success as a Fragile Construction For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when pe...

Spiral Dynamics clipping

Posted on August 31st, 2019

Spiral Dynamics is a model which explains the evolution of human consciousness. That doesn’t sound too exciting, but since first hearing about it on the Liturgists Podcast, my eyes have been opened to see the world in a brand new way, and not to overstate things, but I think pondering these concepts and their implications has honestly changed my life. What is it?Spiral Dynamics (I’ll abbreviate it as SD) says that human consciousness...

Notes from Peter Thiel’s speech at the National Conservatism conference on July 14, 2019 clipping

Posted on August 31st, 2019

Update: The full video of Peter Thiel’s speech is available here. Please refer to the video for exact quotes. On August 1, Peter Thiel published an op-ed on similar themes in The New York Times. I took notes on my phone, so any mistakes are mine. These notes should be treated as paraphrases and not as direct quotes, since I was not able to write everything down, and I have added context. I did not record audio, since when I asked in...

The Mystery Of Cicero’s Lost Work On Glory clipping

Posted on August 31st, 2019

Of the literary works of classical antiquity, only a fraction have survived to the present day. What fraction this is, we do not know; one estimate places it at one-fourth, but the true figure will never be known. The reader may wonder how it can be that literary masterpieces could have been permitted to fade into obscurity, and then oblivion; but, on further reflection, he will marvel more at the fact that anything at all survived...

Three Underrated Reasons for Berkshire Hathaway's Success clipping

Posted on August 26th, 2019

Berkshire Hathaway is widely regarded as one of the most successful companies in the world. If you look at Warren Buffett’s 49 year track record with Berkshire, it almost looks easy in hindsight. Make no mistake, however, it wasn’t easy and he certainly didn’t do it alone. At this year’s annual meeting Buffett and his longtime business partner, Charlie Munger, revealed "the secret" to their success. But it’s not really a secret and,...

Culture Eats Strategy: Nucor's Ken Iverson on Building a Different Kind of Company clipping

Posted on August 26th, 2019

The problem with most management, leadership, and business books is that many of them harp on the same self-evident points, overconfident in the usefulness of their prescriptions for would-be imitators. They tend to vastly underestimate the role of circumstance, luck, the nature of completion, and the effects of scale, among other things; falling prey to the many delusions described by Phil Rosenzweig in his incredibly important book...

The Most Important Part of The Creative Process That Everyone Misses: A Draw-Down Period clipping

Posted on August 26th, 2019

There are many phases of the creative process. One is overlooked more than any of the others. Inspiration, research, production, editing (refining), release, promotion. Most of these get their due. I’m talking about the phase that comes between the inspiration and the core act of creation (and sometimes appears again briefly between the time the work is finished and the time it is released). It’s the most nerve-wracking and difficult...

The Art of Drawdown Periods clipping

Posted on August 26th, 2019

Inspiration is important. Your influences matter. But you also need time to process, reflect, and create your own connections before jumping into your next project. Whether that’s a book, startup, or scientific theory, the lesson holds true for artists, entrepreneurs, and scientists, alike. Best-selling author, Ryan Holiday, refers to these as "drawdown periods." In the months leading up to writing a new book, Holiday guards himself...

What peace is and what it is not clipping

Posted on August 26th, 2019

Peace isn't only an idea. It is an idea backed by action. It's an act of prevention. It's an act of creativity. It's an act of perseverance. It's an act of sound strategy executed flawlessly. Most of all, it's an act of benevolence. Thus, peace isn't only calmness. It is active. It is stunning speed. It is unstoppable power. Peace isn't only stopping war and doom. It is lighting the way. It is educating those who are uninformed and...

Roger Ames interview on Sun Tzu translation clipping

Posted on August 26th, 2019

Professor Roger T. Ames was the Director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Hawaii for ten years, and has been the Editor ofPhilosophy East and West since 1987. His teaching and research interests focus on comparative philosophy, the philosophy of culture, environmental philosophy, classical Confucianism, and Taoism. He has written many interpretive works on Chinese philosophy and culture, and has over the past d...

Michael Nylan Interview on new Art of War translation clipping

Posted on August 26th, 2019

As we approach Sonshi.com's 20th anniversary on August 12, 2019, there is no better way to celebrate than to highlight a brand new Art of War translation by a woman scholar of the highest order, Michael Nylan. Dr. Nylan is Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her PhD from Princeton University in East Asian Studies. The China Story Journal aptly describes her as one of the foremost historians tod...

Strategy and Force Employment clipping

Posted on July 17th, 2019

Who ever relies on the Tao in governing men doesn’t try to force issues or defeat enemies by force of arms. For every force there is a counterforce. Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself. –Tao Te Ching 30Because the United States so dominates the world militarily, our political leaders face the temptation to use force to solve a widening range of problems. Presidents must relish the option of disciplin...

Genghis John clipping

Posted on July 6th, 2019

Genghis John October 9, 1998 Comment: #199 Reference: "Genghis John," Proceeding of the US Naval Institute, July 1997. Attached.It should now be clear to most readers of this list the Defense Department is not adapting to the changing conditions brought about by the end of the Cold War: We have a modernization plan that can not modernize the force structure, a readiness nose dive, and a corrupt accounting...

Colin Gray on John Boyd and the OODA Loop clipping

Posted on June 28th, 2019

Boyd's Place in Modern StrategyThe Strategic Importance of Boyd and the OODA LoopJust as (Edward) Luttwak's logic of paradox permeates all levels and kinds of conflict, so Boyd's loop can apply to the operational, strategic, and political levels of war, as well as to tactics for aerial dogfights. Boyd's theory claims that the key to success in conflict is to operate inside the opponent's decision cycl...

Lessons from Keith Rabois Essay 4: How to run an Effective Board Meeting and make an Effective Board Deck clipping

Posted on June 27th, 2019

published June 24th, 2019 This week’s essay is on how to prepare for a board meeting, though many of the lessons apply to internal reviews as well. Over the past two years, I’ve attended 100+ board meetings that range from companies that are just a handful of people to companies with over one thousand employees that are preparing to go public. These board meetings vary significantly in quality of discussion and participants, but t...

Lessons from Keith Rabois Essay 3: How to be an Effective Executive clipping

Posted on June 27th, 2019

published February 24th, 2019 This week’s essay is on how to be an effective executive. This is inspired by a talk Keith gives to some of our portfolio companies’ executives. Summary Running yourself Lead, don’t manage: Be proactive rather than reactive. "Lead" your team as opposed to "manage" a situation. Understand your output: Your output is how much your team gets done + how much neighboring teams get done divided by how...

Lessons from Keith Rabois Essay 2: How to Interview an Executive clipping

Posted on June 27th, 2019

published February 10th, 2019 This week’s essay is on on how to interview an executive, though it may also be helpful to read when preparing to be interviewed. From day 1, one of the most important jobs of a CEO is to hire incredible talent to your team. Hiring the right executive is one of the most leveraged activities a CEO can perform. Hiring the wrong one can set your company back by several quarters or even lead to a death s...

Lessons From Keith Rabois Essay 1: How to become a Venture Capitalist clipping

Posted on June 27th, 2019

published February 4th, 2019 Over the next few weeks I will be publishing an essay each Monday, covering a variety of different topics that I’ve learned about from working with Keith Rabois. They will focus on investing, management, operations, and hiring. The essays will build upon one another. Venture can be difficult to break into; it’s based on decentralized trust. Partners spend little time together as they’re primarily out ...

Not John Boyd clipping

Posted on June 27th, 2019

Not John Boyd. But a good video, nonetheless. Here’s Prof. Daniel Bonevac giving an introductory lecture on the OODA loop: Professor Bonevac is a member of, and was formerly chair of, the Philosophy Department at the University of Texas. I don’t know when this lecture was given, but the video was posted in April of this year. One of the interesting things about it is that Professor Bonevac is teaching a class on Organizational Ethic...

Col David Hackworth, Bulging Muscles Won't Win the Next War clipping

Posted on June 27th, 2019

Bulging Muscles Won't Win The Next WarBy David Hackworth October 4, 2000 In 1631, General Tilly's imperialist Roman Catholic army was whipped by a significantly smaller force under the command of King Gustavus Adolphus. For more than 200 years, the formations Tilly fielded that day—the Tercios—had dominated the battlefield. But Gustavus had secretly developed a lean, agile army that struck like lightning—employing combined-arms tea...

The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation clipping

Posted on June 27th, 2019

The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth GenerationWilliam S. Lind, Colonel Keith Nightengale (USA), Captain John F. Schmitt (USMC), Colonel Joseph W. Sutton (USA), and Lieutenant Colonel Gary I. Wilson (USMCR) Marine Corps Gazette October 1989, Pages 22-26The peacetime soldier's principal task is to prepare effectively for the next war. In order to do so, he must anticipate what the next war will be like. This is a difficult ...

Warfighting, Brought to You by John Boyd clipping

Posted on June 26th, 2019

Warfighting Brought to You by . . . By Major Jeffrey L. Cowan, U.S. Air Force . . . several people, but most notably, an unlikely source. The groundwork for the way the U.S. Marine Corps does business was laid by none other than a retired Air Force officer, the irascible John Boyd.Co-Winner, Marine Corps Essay Contest http://www.proceedings.org/Proceedings/Articles01/PROcowan11.htm Republished wi...

Deconstructing Conflict clipping

Posted on June 26th, 2019

Editor's note: The following paper is an example of what John Boyd called a "snowmobile," a synthesis of ideas from across a variety of domains (interested readers can see see how Boyd develops the notion of "building snowmobiles" in his briefing, Strategic Game of ? and ?, available here on DNI, then scroll down.)Snowmobiles result from analyses combined with trials at a synthesis. Since it is virtually imp...

Marine General: Iraq War Pause clipping

Posted on June 26th, 2019

Marine General: Iraq War Pause 'Could Not Have Come At Worse Time'Inside The Pentagon Elaine M. Grossman October 2, 2003 [Reprinted by permission of Inside Washington Publishers. This article may not be reproduced or redistributed, in part or in whole, without express permission of the publisher. Copyright 2004, Inside Washington Publishers. For more information and exclusive news, go to: htt...

Marine General: Leading From Iraqi Battlefield clipping

Posted on June 26th, 2019

Marine General: Leading From Iraqi Battlefield, Informed Key Decisions Elaine M. Grossman, Inside The Pentagon, October 16, 2003, Pg. 1 Reprinted by Permission of Inside Washington Publishers: This article may not be reproduced or redistributed, in part or in whole, without express permission of the publisher. Copyright 2001, Inside Washington Publishers.At a time of increasing reliance ...

Interpersonal Communications and Officer Survival clipping

Posted on June 26th, 2019

Interpersonal Communications and Officer Survival: How Understanding The Boyd Cycle and Non-Verbal Communication Can Save a Law Enforcement Officer’s Life! Fred T. Leland Jr.* Republished with permission. IntroductionAccording to FBI statistics, over 50,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted each year. One out of every three officers assaulted is injured, and approximately 70 officers make the ultimate sacrifice in the performa...

Thinking About Deception clipping

Posted on June 26th, 2019

Thinking About Deception by Fred Feer 5 August 2004This brief paper discusses the most often asked questions about military deception. What is it?Why do it?How do you measure its impact, or, how do you calculate its contribution to winning?Can you rely on it?What is Deception?The answer to the first question is misleadingly simple. The official definition is: deception — Those measures designed to mislead the enemy b...

Continuing John Boyd's Legacy by Chet Richards clipping

Posted on June 26th, 2019

October 31, 2005 Beyond Patterns of Conflict? By Chet RichardsAs many readers of this site know, John Boyd was heavily influenced by the ideas of the Austrian-American mathematician Kurt Gödel, particularly, the notion of incompleteness. Although Gödel worked in the rarified realm of foundations of mathematics, the notion that no even moderately complex mathematical system can be complete formed a critical elemen...

The Myth of Grand Strategy clipping

Posted on June 26th, 2019

Summary: What would a grand strategy for America look like? This critiques our current policies and Barnett’s proposals in terms our limited wisdom and power. It ends with recommendations for design of a modest but functional strategy for America.ContentsIntroductionWhat is grand strategy?Primal StrategiesGrand Strategies are a ChimeraBarnett’s Grand StrategyWhy do Grand Strategies Fail?America’s Need for a Humble Grand StrategyNatur...

Eastern Philosophy Part 1 clipping

Posted on June 24th, 2019

eastern philosophy Hey all - The discussion below was formerly an introduction, but as usual it turned out far too long, so I decided to break it up into two newsletters. + what I learned or rediscovered recently * Eastern philosophy (rating: 4) For most of my life, I dismissed Eastern philosophy as too spiritual, too intangible, too impractical. Western philosophy just seems so much more useful. Equippe...

Eastern Philosophy Part 2 clipping

Posted on June 24th, 2019

eastern philosophy (part 2) Hey all - In a commencement speech made to the graduating students of Kenyon College in 2005, David Foster Wallace opened with the following parable: There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning boys, how’s the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventual...

Losing the War - by Lee Sandlin clipping

Posted on June 24th, 2019

Losing the War Man is a bubble, and all the world is a storm. --Jeremy Taylor, Holy Dying (1651) My father owned a gorgeous porcelain tiger about half the size of a house cat. He kept it on a shelf in our family den, where for years when I was a kid it roared down at us -- unappeasably furious (or so I always thought) at being trapped up there on its high perch, with no company except some painted beer mugs and a set of purple gla...

Forget Your Purpose, Start with Meaning clipping

Posted on June 13th, 2019

The stories we hear of the successful often make it seem like they were destined for greatness. They identified their purpose from an early age and forged ahead, cutting down distractions in their path. But if you peel back the facade, few encountered sudden revelations. Purpose is hard won. Child prodigies like Mozart or Tiger Woods are the exception. Robert Greene, best-selling author, worked dozens of jobs as a construction worke...