What I Learnt In 2018


2018 was an extraordinary. It was intense for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most significant of which is that I believe it’s the year that our attention reached full saturation causing every smallish piece of news to feel like it’s both world-ending and totally-not-a-big-deal-and-maybe-not-even-true, all at the same time. We now live in a post-truth alternative facts world. Here a few things I read and learnt in 2018 which you might have missed.



Time – Time goes faster as we get older because we have fewer firsts. Time appeared slower when we are younger because we were experiencing more first time events. First occasions are novel events and we tend to make more detailed and lasting memories of those first times. Again time moves more slowly during the first couple of days of your vacation as you are taking advantage of new and unique experiences. When we go to the same places and do the same things, we don’t make distinct memories and time seems to fly by. This is why time flies in our everyday life.

 

Progress – Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000, according to calculations by Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs a website called Our World in Data. Every day, 325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean drinking water. (New York)

 

Career Hack – The best career advice you could give a young kid starting out is for them to identify a senior person’s pain point and offer to take that work away from them. Not only is it perhaps the single best piece of career advice I’ve ever heard, but it’s applicable to everyone at pretty much every level, not just someone coming out of school.

 

Platform Power – Alphabet (Google) paid Apple $9B to continue to be default search on iOS (Apple devices). Microsoft’s Bing, by contrast, generated $1.7B in revenue. So Apple’s “search business” is 5x Microsft’s…without having a search engine.

 

Side Projects – According to Bloomberg, [former CFO] Tosi “quietly built a hedge fund within Airbnbs finance department. He used a portion of capital from the balance sheet to buy stocks, currencies, and fixed-income securities, mimicking the treasury fund he ran at Blackstone. The side project represented 30 percent of the company’s cash flow last year and made about $5 million a month for Airbnb, the people said.” (Venture Beat)

 

Wealth –True wealth is not money. It’s the *option *to buy what you truly need. If money can’t buy what you need, you’re on even footing with the poorest person out there … Wealth is a society where you can trust complete strangers with your child’s life. Wealth is having friends, colleagues and family who support you. Who take care of the things you can’t, without hesitation. Wealthy is when strangers rent you cars for 1-way trips at 3am over the internet. (dpegan)

 

Youtube Economics – Breaking into the top 3 percent of most-viewed [YouTube] channels could bring in advertising revenue of about $16,800 a year. That’s a bit more than the U.S. federal poverty line of $12,140 for a single person. (The guideline for a two-person household is $16,460.) The top 3 percent of video creators of all time attracted more than 1.4 million views per month. (Bloomberg)

 

Reputation – We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the ‘information age’, we are moving towards the ‘reputation age’, in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others. (AEON)

 

Healthcare Incentives – Hospitals in Britain were taking too long to admit patients, so a penalty was instituted for wait times longer than 4 hours So, some hospitals had ambulances stall and drive longer to shorten in-hospital wait time, perverted very function of the institution.

 

Gaming – Fortnite, first released in its popular “battle royale” mode in September 2017, isn’t just causing problems for kids. An online U.K. divorce service says 200 petitions cited Fortnite and other video games this year as the reason for the breakup of marriages. (Bloomberg)

 

Language – It’s remarkable how small the commitment can be, there is a study done in Chicago by a restaurant owner, he had his receptionist change two words in what she said when she took an order a reservation, excuse me, from “please call if you have to change or cancel your reservation” to “will you please call if you have to change” and then she waited for people to say “Yes, I will” It reduced no-shows by 64 percent. (Ritholz)

 

Food for thought –That fossil fuels are finite is a red herring. The Atlantic Ocean is finite, but that does not mean that you risk bumping into France if you row out of a harbor in Maine. The buffalo of the American West were infinite, in the sense that they could breed, yet they came close to extinction. It is an ironic truth that no nonrenewable resource has ever run dry, while renewable resources—whales, cod, forests, passenger pigeons—have frequently done so. (wsj.com)

 

Lottery –The lowest-income households in the U.S. on average spend $412 annually on lottery tickets, which is nearly four times the $105 a year spent by the highest-earning households, according to a study released on Wednesday by Bankrate.com. And almost 3 in 10 Americans in the lowest income bracket play the lottery once a week, compared with nearly 2 in 10 who earn more than that. (Bloomberg)



Crypto bubble –Kim Hyon-jeong, a 45-year-old teacher and mother of one who lives on the outskirts of Seoul, said she put about 100 million won, or $90,000, into cryptocurrencies last fall. She drew on savings, an insurance policy and a $25,000 loan. Her investments are now down about 90 percent. “I thought that cryptocurrencies would be the one and only breakthrough for ordinary hardworking people like us,” she said. “I thought my family and I could escape hardship and live more comfortably, but it turned out to be the other way around.” (nytimes)

 

Stock Market – In 2015, for example, the top 200 companies by earnings accounted for all of the profits in the stock market, according to calculations by Kathleen Kahle, a professor of finance at the University of Arizona, and Professor Stulz. In aggregate, the remaining 3,281 publicly listed companies lost money. (nytimes)

 

People – We assume that another person thinks or feels about things as we do, when in fact they often do not. So we often use our own perspective to understand other people, but our perspective is often very different from the other person’s perspective.” This ‘egocentric bias’ leads to inaccurate predictions about other people’s feelings and preferences. When we imagine how a friend feels after getting fired, or how they’ll react to an off-color joke or political position, we’re really just thinking of how we would feel in their situation, according to the study. (qz.com)

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