Showing all posts tagged #clipping:


Auftragstaktik in one simple diagram clipping

Posted on May 24th, 2020

The concept of Auftragstaktik is more complicated than just "Tell them what to do, then walk away." The root of "Auftragstaktik" is a German word for "contract," and that’s how Boyd describes mission command in Patterns, (p. 76): A contract, even a conceptual one, means negotiation and salesmanship, as you can see. For example, does the subordinate understand how their mission fits into the overall operational concept? Are you conf...

Can You Be Still? clipping

Posted on May 24th, 2020

Odysseus is the greatest hero in all of literature. He fights for ten years at Troy and then, in a stroke of brilliance, manages to end the war with a clever trick. Then for another ten years he fights his way home—facing storms, temptation, a Cyclops, deadly whirlpools, food shortages, the underworld, and a six-headed monster to return to his beloved wife and son. Arriving in Ithaca, Odysseus finds his kingdom drained by thirsty ...

Why is the modern world so ugly? clipping

Posted on May 18th, 2020

One of the great generalisations we can make about the modern world is that it is, to an extraordinary degree, an ugly world. If we were to show an ancestor from 250 years ago around our cities and suburbs, they would be amazed at our technology, impressed by our wealth, stunned by our medical advances – and shocked and disbelieving at the horrors we had managed to build. Societies that are, in most respects, hugely more advanced tha...

Dogfight Tacks Can Win Big Wars, Preaches Pilot Turned Tactician clipping

Posted on May 11th, 2020

January 4, 1981 Among fighter pilots, "getting inside" of an opponent in a dogfight often means the difference between life and death. Getting inside means turning and maneuvering more quickly than the enemy so you can fix your guns on his plane before he gets a good look at you. For 25 years, John Boyd, once a topnotch fighter pilot and now a retired Air Force colonel, has wrestled with ideas about how to make that simple-sounding...

John Boyd on Al Qaeda's Grand Strategy clipping

Posted on May 10th, 2020

Col. John Boyd (he died in 1997) is considered one of America's best military thinkers. His thinking dramatically influenced the plan of attack in the first gulf war. Boyd's thinking also serves as a good basis for a deeper understanding 4GW (fourth generation warfare). Grand strategy, according to Boyd, is a quest to isolate your enemy's (a nation-state or a global terrorist network) thinking processes from connections to the e...

Environment Is Your Force Multiplier clipping

Posted on April 26th, 2020

Over the course of his life, Benjamin Franklin’s (1706-1790) contributions to the world were nothing short of astonishing. Franklin taught himself the fundamentals of writing, science, engineering, and diplomacy. He sought practical applications of what he learned each step of the way—emulating his favorite authors and developing his own writing style, running a successful printing business, advancing our understanding of electricity...

What is Zhenwei? clipping

Posted on April 26th, 2020

A favorable aspect about focusing on an ancient classic like Sun Tzu's Art of War is its prevalence in the modern world. This popularity attracts the brightest academic minds, because a more educated following over time demands it. Today we are fortunate to have with us one of those bright academic minds, Dr. Paul R. Goldin, professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his PhD from...

Fundamentals of Handgun Shooting clipping

Posted on April 11th, 2020

There are actually eight fundamentals of handgun shooting. Each of the eight fundamentals is equally important as far as shooting safely on the range. However, only four of the eight fundamentals are important when it comes to making the shot. If there is a weakness in any one of the four it will reflect in your shooting. The reason most people don't like to shoot handguns is because they can...

Boyd's OODA 'Loop," Really Final Edition clipping

Posted on March 31st, 2020

The Norwegian Defense University has just published a new version of "Boyd’s OODA Loop" in their journal, Necesse, edited by Royal Norwegian Naval Academy. I had thought that the previous version was about as close to perfection as can be found on this Earth, but alas Necesse is a peer-reviewed journal, and "Reviewer No. 2" ripped it to shreds. After I calmed down, it was clear that Number 2 was right. So the edition published in the...

When the System Breaks Down, Leaders Stand Up clipping

Posted on March 31st, 2020

BY RYAN HOLIDAY It began in the East. At least, that’s what the experts think. Maybe it came from animals. Maybe it was the Chinese. Maybe it was a curse from the gods. One thing is certain: it radiated out east, west, north, and south, crossing borders, then oceans, as it overwhelmed the world. The only thing that spread faster than the contagion was the fear and the rumors. People panicked. Doctors were baffled. Government officia...

The UK's Coronavirus Policy May Sound Scientific. It Isn't. clipping

Posted on March 31st, 2020

Dominic Cummings loves to theorise about complexity, but he’s getting it all wrong Crowds of shoppers in Edinburgh, 2 March 2020: ‘Herd immunity was nothing more than a dressed-up version of the ‘just do nothing’ approach.’ Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian When, along with applied systems scientist Dr Joe Norman, we first reacted to coronavirus on 25 January with the publication of an academic note urging caution...

Inner conflict: Dragons and OODA loops clipping

Posted on March 17th, 2020

Inner conflict: Dragons and OODA loops Artem Grinblat My fascination with dragons started when as a boy. I’ve heard that a crane would beat a snake, deflecting and countering with its beak, that tiger beats crane, overcoming its defences with a flurry of paws, that snake beats tiger, finding a gap for precision strike, and that dragon beats them all, having four legs as a tiger, tail as a snake and long neck as a crane. ...

The Value of Liberty clipping

Posted on March 17th, 2020

"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."It may seem ironic to speak of Freedom when so many have currently chosen to isolate themselves from the world and confine themselves indoors. However, it is precisely the ability t...

The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to “The Office” clipping

Posted on March 7th, 2020

October 7, 2009 By Venkatesh Rao My neighbor introduced me to The Office back in 2005. Since then, I’ve watched every episode of both the British and American versions. I’ve watched the show obsessively because I’ve been unable to figure out what makes it so devastatingly effective, and elevates it so far above the likes of Dilbert and Office Space. Until now, that is. Now, after four years, I’ve finally figured the show out. The...

The Lesson to Unlearn clipping

Posted on February 11th, 2020

The most damaging thing you learned in school wasn't something you learned in any specific class. It was learning to get good grades.When I was in college, a particularly earnest philosophy grad student once told me that he never cared what grade he got in a class, only what he learned in it. This stuck in my mind because it was the only time I ever heard anyone say such a thing.For me, as for most students, the measurement of what I...

Bourbon by Walker Percy - Aesthetics of Knocking it Back clipping

Posted on January 25th, 2020

This is not written by a connoisseur of bourbon. Ninety-nine percent of bourbon drinkers know more about bourbon than I do. It is about the aesthetic of bourbon drinking in general and in particular of knocking it back neat.I can hardly tell one bourbon from another, unless the other is very bad. Some bad bourbons are even more memorable than good ones. For example, I can recall being broke with some friends in Tennessee and deciding...

Nassim Taleb: My Rules for Life clipping

Posted on January 4th, 2020

The controversial thinker who predicted the 2008 financial crisis hates bankers, academics and journalists. He's also a man of mystery – he eats like a caveman, and goes to bed at 8pm. We took the risk of meeting him ‘He’s forever having spats and fights’: Nassim Taleb in Brooklyn, New York this month. Photograph: Mike McGregor for the Observer How much does Nassim Taleb dislike journalists? Let me count the ways. "An...

How to Time Your Leaps and Set Yourself Apart clipping

Posted on January 2nd, 2020

Using the Sigmoid Curve to reinvent yourself, take risks, and accelerate growthIn January 1961, a nineteen-year-old, unassuming kid from Minnesota hitched a ride and headed eastbound for New York to pursue a career in music. He wanted to get closer to the heart of the folk music in Greenwich Village and see if he could cross paths with his idol, Woody Guthrie. Over the next three years, he would release four critically acclaimed albu...

Texas Forever: How I Found the American Dream in the Lone Star State clipping

Posted on January 1st, 2020

When we shopped for our first house, I told my girlfriend (now wife) that most of the decision was up to her. I had worked out what we could afford, but in terms of what house, where and what style, I wanted whatever she wanted. We were coming from New York and so everything seemed bigger in Texas. A real estate agent showed us a "small" place that was "only" 1,500 square feet. We didn’t have enough stuff to fill half of that. We en...

There’s No Such Thing as ‘Quality’ Time clipping

Posted on December 31st, 2019

When you’re too busy aiming for it, you miss the moments in front of you It’s one of those lines we throw out casually: "I want to spend more ‘quality time’... " whether it’s with friends, with family, with your kids, or with yourself.While the phrase certainly comes from a good place, there’s a disconnect: The perfectionist side of our brain, fueled by movies and Instagram, wants everything to be special, to be "right." But that’s ...

Taleb’s Call to Duel clipping

Posted on December 21st, 2019

Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Claire Lehmann seemed like natural allies: Both are contrarian, entrepreneurial free thinkers. But recently, Taleb started calling Lehmann names on Twitter. Lehmann had defended behavioral genetics, especially claims about "intelligence": that it is measured by IQ testing, is genetically based, and correlates with success in life. Taleb has extensively criticized all three claims—they exhibit some of his co...

Creating agile leaders clipping

Posted on November 28th, 2019

All forms of mission-oriented leadership, from maneuver warfare to the Toyota Production System, share a common foundation: Fire up the creativity and initiative of all members of the organization and harmonize their efforts to accomplish the objectives of the organization. Such an orientation allows them to create and exploit fleeting opportunities before their opponents can understand what is going on. As Don Vandergriff quotes on...

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."- G...

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

by Peter A. Thiel Tuesday, January 29, 2008And 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 17:26–30For the judeo-western inspiration, it is a mistake of the first magnitude to place too much value on the things of this world. ...

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...

32 Thoughts From a 32-Year-Old – Ryan Holiday clipping

Posted on June 28th, 2019

This is the first year I forgot how old I was. Like really forgot and had to do the math, several times, as recently as yesterday morning. I’m not saying I’m old. That would be a lame joke. It’s just that this is the first year where my age really didn’t matter at all. Because once you have kids, nobody asks anymore. They want to know how old they are. You’re just a firmly established adult now, which after spending almost all of my ...

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

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. Equipped with the instrument of reason, you can define, a...

Eastern Philosophy Part 2 clipping

Posted on June 24th, 2019

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 eventually one of them looks over at the other, and goes: "What th...

Losing the War - by Lee Sandlin clipping

Posted on June 24th, 2019

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 glass swizzle sticks....

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...

Ergodicity, jail, and time scales clipping

Posted on June 9th, 2019

When statistical things go wrong, it’s often because someone unknowingly assumed ergodicity where that wasn’t ok. This can have dramatic effects in everyday language: I will use the example of incarceration rates. I will then present a visual illustration to discuss the role of time scales. David and Luigi in jailI’ll tell you a secret: when I read a statistical statement I often wonder whether it’s a temporal statement or an ensembl...

Michelin restaurants and fabulous wines: Inside the secret team dinners that have built the Spurs' dynasty clipping

Posted on June 9th, 2019

"POP WANTS TO talk to you." The server is speaking to a man named Jeremy Threat -- and from the tone in his voice, something is clearly amiss. Threat hustles back to the main dining room of Spataro Restaurant & Bar, an Italian restaurant in Sacramento, California, that has been overrun by the San Antonio Spurs. Players, coaches, management, ownership. All are seated along a handful of long, rectangular tables. The room is pin-drop si...

The Real Problem with Killing America's A-10 Warthog clipping

Posted on June 9th, 2019

"To win wars, people come first, ideas second and hardware last."—Colonel John Boyd As lawmakers and senior United States Air Force (USAF) officials debate A-10 divestment and alternate approaches to close air support (CAS) responsibilities, the divestment of the A-10 community, not the aircraft, poses the largest risk to the future of the mission. In Gen. David Goldfein’s nomination testimony, he rightly stated the A-10 community is...

Clean Coder Blog 737 Max 8 clipping

Posted on June 9th, 2019

18 May 2019 The software within the two doomed 737 Max 8 aircraft physically wrested control away from the pilots and plunged those aircraft into the Earth at speeds approaching Mach 1, killing everyone aboard.As a pilot, and a software engineer, I have dug pretty deeply into this issue. I’ve read many of the reports, and have read or listened to the opinions and commentary offered by others. Nothing I have read or heard contrad...

Zen and the Art of Business Books clipping

Posted on March 24th, 2019

This is Tokyo, circa 1832. The print is "Nihonbashi no hakuu" by the Ukiyo-e master Andō Hiroshige. Many years ago, my wife found a copy in a consignment store in Atlanta. I don’t remember what she paid for it, but she assures me that framing it cost many times the purchase price. Since we’ve been here in South Carolina, we’ve had it reframed to show off the stamps and writing around the borders. Intro to Chapter 6, Surprise and An...

How To Be Successful by Sam Altman clipping

Posted on March 3rd, 2019

I’ve observed thousands of founders and thought a lot about what it takes to make a huge amount of money or to create something important. Usually, people start off wanting the former and end up wanting the latter. Here are 13 thoughts about how to achieve such outlier success. Everything here is easier to do once you’ve already reached a baseline degree of success (through privilege or effort) and want to put in the work to turn tha...

Could Epicurus save us? clipping

Posted on February 18th, 2019

A philosophy of pleasure could cure our modern ills. Rome During the Decadence, Thomas Couture, 1847. Epicureanism for a long time had a reputation as a philosophy that encouraged reckless and immoral hedonism. Epicurus was a hedonist, but encouraged the pursuit of a natural state of pleasure that comes when we free ourselves of desire. His philosophy was very popular throughout the Roman Empire. (Image source: Wikipedia)For over a ...

Chuang Tzu: The Cook and Mastery clipping

Posted on January 15th, 2019

I have found an interesting discussion on the Cook by Chuang Tzu on Wikipedia http://www.philosophy.hku.hk/ch/zhuang.htm It does begin to get at what mastery begins. Cook Ting was slicing up an oxen for Lord Wenhui. At every push of his hand, every angle of his shoulder, every step with his feet, every bend of his kneezip! zoop! he slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were dancing to Mulb...

Is it agility or adaptability? clipping

Posted on December 21st, 2018

I tend to think of "agility" as adaptability with a time dimension, that is, the ability to adapt more rapidly to new situations than can competitors or opponents. That may not, however, be the only or even a very good way to think about these concepts. Here’s an alternative view:AQ is hot right now – but is it the Adaptability Quotient or the Agility Quotient?Kristopher Floyd Founder and CEO, TeamMate AINovember 13, 2018 Originally...

Action is the best research clipping

Posted on July 17th, 2018

By Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani May 18, 2018CEO and Chairman, Rakuten, Inc.Are you thinking about doing something innovative? If so, stop that. Stop thinking, and act. It is tempting to greet an idea with a call to "think things through"—to research, consider, and consult. And of course, some thinking at the start is important. But in order to take your thinking to the next level—to really understand what needs to happen to make your id...

How to Think Like Hercule Poirot clipping

Posted on June 4th, 2018

Notes: Trust your right-brained pattern-spotting. Be a skeptical, data-driven empiricist. Add a moral compass. Tie it all together with storytelling. Be aware of, and exploit, the flawed doctrines of others. Do not be concerned about the morality of this: doctrinal flaws provide the moral justification for their own exploitation August 31, 2009 By Venkatesh Rao Last fall, I spent a long weekend in the Outer Banks region, a few hour...

A Short Tutorial on the Moral Essence of Grand Strategy, September 11, 2003 clipping

Posted on May 22nd, 2018

A Short Tutorial on the Moral Essence of Grand Strategy September 11, 2003 Comment: #491 Discussion Threads - Comment #s: 490 and referenced comments. Attached References: [Ref.1] Richard Bernstein, "Foreign Views Of U.S. Darken Since Sept. 11," New York Times, September 11, 2003, Pg. 1 On the second anniversary of 9/11, the world-wide outpouring sympathy a...

What was Boyd Thinking? clipping

Posted on May 21st, 2018

What was Boyd thinking and when did he think it?In his own words:For the interested, a careful examination will reveal that the increasingly abstract discussion surfaces a process of reaching across many perspectives; pulling each and every one apart (analysis), all the while intuitively looking for those parts of the disassembled perspectives which naturally interconnect with one another to form a higher-order, more general elaborat...

Memories of Namdapha clipping

Posted on May 15th, 2018

This piece was originally published in 1999, and is based on a 1996 camping trip. My thoughts have been drifting back to this experience lately, so I thought I’d share it. It’s a little overwrought, but it is significant for me personally because my writing voice first started emerging with this piece. Besides a few copy-editing and internationalization touches, I haven’t changed anything. – One – Namdapha, in an obscure corner of th...

Biology, the New (Old) Technical Debt… and What That Means for Healthcare Innovation clipping

Posted on May 10th, 2018

It’s a common nightmare for programmers to come in late to a project or organization and then have to make sense of a complex "spaghetti mess" of code created over the previous 10 years — a technical debt that takes huge resources in time and money to clean up. Ten years of technical debt is an all-too common headache: Decades of debt were at the root of the Y2K COBOL nightmare. MySpace struggled famously for years with a crippling t...

Thingness and Thereness clipping

Posted on May 1st, 2018

For months now, I’ve been thinking about a whole mess of related ideas with the aid of a Penrose triangle visualization of three key, interconnected loci that frame a sort of canvas on which life scripts (whether canned or improvised) play out. The three vertices are home, public and frontier. This is the simplest version of the visualization:Between home and public you find subcultures of being and identity, defined by the question,...

The Strategy of No Strategy clipping

Posted on May 1st, 2018

Strategy is everywhere in our society. But strategy in practice seems to be a cruel and even silly joke. I learned that the hard way when I went to college long before I ever studied strategy formally. My own "strategy" about how to get through college collapsed virtually the moment I set foot on campus. I was living on my own for the first time and had never been outside of California’s perennial summer weather environment before. I...

Common Sense Eats Common Talk clipping

Posted on May 1st, 2018

In November 2008, with the financial crisis in full swing, Queen Elizabeth attended a ceremony at the London School of Economics. Facing an audience of high ranked academics, she posed a simple question: "Why did nobody notice it?" How could it be that no one among the smartest economists, commentators, and policymakers in all her kingdom – and beyond – had been able to see the formation of a bubble of such dimensions?Illustration of...

Make Your Own Rules clipping

Posted on May 1st, 2018

Make Your Own Rules February 15, 2018 By Venkatesh Rao We seem to be in the middle of a renaissance of rules for life. Not since Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten (1987) and Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits (1989) has there been such a peak of interest in such rules. Then, as now, we were going through a period of deep global changes, and everybody was very anxious because nobody knew what the new rules...

The Boydian Dialectic clipping

Posted on May 1st, 2018

June 18, 2015 By Venkatesh Rao If you’re a certain sort of metacognition-obsessed person, at some point in your intellectual wanderings, you will eventually run into a murky and illegible world of ideas and practices swirling around words and phrases like OODA loop, control the tempo, snowmobile, fast transient, maneuver warfare, E-M theory, inside the decision cycle of your adversary, fight the enemy, not the terrain, and be someb...

Nassim Nicholas Taleb looks at the risks threatening humanity clipping

Posted on July 25th, 2017

Summary: How to deal with risks dominates our headlines, usually driven by single-interest groups that see only their favorite threat. Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest work offers a way to identify the most serious threats facing us, and determine how much we should spend to fight each of them. It has received much attention. Is it useful? Part one of two. A series of papers by Nassim Nicholas Taleb et al made a large co...

The Four Generations of Modern War - William S Lind clipping

Posted on April 22nd, 2017

By William S. Lind June 11, 2004 In my last column, I referenced "the canon," the seven books which, if read in the correct order, take the reader from the First Generation of modern war through the Second and Third Generations and into the Fourth. A number of people responded with requests for a description both of the canon and of the Four Generations, so here goes. The First Generation of modern war began with the Peace of Westpha...

John Boyd’s Art of War clipping

Posted on April 22nd, 2017

Why our greatest military theorist only made colonel. John Boyd during the Korean War Off and on for about 20 years, I had the honor of working with the greatest military theorist America ever produced, Col. John Boyd, USAF. As a junior officer, Boyd developed the energy-management tactics now used by every fighter pilot in the world. Later, he influenced the designs of the F-15 and F-16, savin...

The World According to Nassim Taleb clipping

Posted on March 19th, 2017

The World According to Nassim Taleb Derivatives Strategy: What problems do you have with financial engineering? Nassim Taleb: I disagree with such an approach in financial risk management. Some folks looked at the literature and saw differential equations and said "Gee it's like engineering". Engineering relies on models because you can capture the relationships in the physical world very well. Models in the social sciences se...

Taleb, Mystery and Conservatism clipping

Posted on August 10th, 2015

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Greek Orthodox Christian from Lebanon; the Levant. In the course of his book Antifragile, he promotes skepticism, theism, tradition, the writings of the stoics and seeks to restrict the claims of theory and "naïve rationalism." Elsewhere I have said that often theory seems to make us stupider than we would be without the theory. This is particularly true when theory says something is not possible. A key phr...

How to Make Wealth clipping

Posted on April 19th, 2015

May 2004 (This essay was originally published in Hackers & Painters.) If you wanted to get rich, how would you do it? I think your best bet would be to start or join a startup. That's been a reliable way to get rich for hundreds of years. The word "startup" dates from the 1960s, but what happens in one is very similar to the venture-backed trading voyages of the Middle Ages.Startups usually involve technology, so much so that t...

Getting Stronger - The opponent-process theory of emotion clipping

Posted on March 17th, 2015

There is a remarkable psychological theory that explains the paradox of why so often our pleasures turn into problematic addictions and, conversely, why our stressful experiences frequently lead to sustained good feelings and even happiness. This under-appreciated theory was developed in the 1970s by behavioral psychologist Richard Solomon of the University of Pennsylvania. He published his theory and findings in 1980 in the journal ...