Better Foundations in Learning (Notes from March 9 - March 15, 2020)

Foundations. Linear effects. And continuous learning. How are they interrelated?

If you skip foundational learning because we're too task-focused or hoping to land at an end result, you may luck into some 1:1 mapping of a linear effect. If successful, it may not even be a bad thing. After all, you completed your project / passed your test, whatever it may have been. However, that foundation that you may have missed out on (whether known or unknown) leaves something to be wanted. If the foundation is there, or often when you have the time to recognize the weakness and think systematically from there, you can make connections that surpass linear effects. Learning up from there doesn't just climb a ladder, it adds others and helps you make connections that can be fruitful in further and further adjacent areas.

We see quite a bit of the 'jack-of-all-trades' or 'generalist vs specialist' conversations, especially in tech / data science. It's hard to cover the depth if you start in a niche, unless you had or build a great foundation. Then it becomes easier to recognize opportunities that are similar to what you have done or learned previously. Cross referencing or adapting yourself to new language and key points that pretty much match. Then, knowledge over your foundation compounds and connections present new ideas in a better light. I'm sure this fails in some roles of various industries - but the deeper / broader your foundation is, the more likely you land on a similarity that can make it easier.

In this age of more information, it's hard to sift through where to start foundation-wise. I think we could do a bit better on that front. I suppose this is somewhat the appeal of schooling - you get someone to hand you a syllabus and a guideline for what the frameworks are for some sort of foundation for a topic. Not up to you at that point, but it's a block to start. After schooling, you hope that a job is a good starting point for giving you those basics while also creating your own style / fitting into processes. Rough to find yourself a machine in the cog where there's little room for your own flare - blockers for expanding into other avenues.

What are the best ways to develop these foundations? Are there online curricula that demonstrate starter points or ones that people have found topic-specific? Each of us have our own style, so feel free to share - videos / courses / online / books / etc....

  • Matt Mochary, Coach to VC's and Founders (20min VC 3/9/20)
  • Benchmark, Sequoia, Brex, Coinbase, Flexport, Plaid and others
  • Investor at Spectrum Equity & cofounded Totality - sold to Verizon
  • Growth equity fund in late 90s, heyday of growth internet - junior partner but couldn't make a wave yet
  • Founded Totality with a friend, raised $130mln and hired a ton of employees
  • Academy Award shortlist for shortlist documentary and Doing Good for Mochary Foundation
  • Came back to SV after having kids, best place to raise a family but didn't want to start a company
  • Wanted to become a coach, strategic thinking and coaching - students at Stanford were his first
  • They recc'ed to friends that had graduated already
  • Replaced fear with joy as the motivator
  • Prefrontal cortex where creative thought occurs, amygdala is fear and anger - fight/flight
  • In world of modern thoughts, recognizing fear/anger is being self-aware - he tells others to tell him if he has them
  • If there isn't urgency, he can wait - but otherwise, he tells someone else and has them decide
  • When he has a group together - withholding neg thoughts is bad
  • Think about it and once you have it, that's powerful - if you don't hear the thought process, you can't fix it
  • How to share difficult subjects that doesn't trigger the counterparty - books "Difficult Conversations" or "Radical Candor"
  • Timing of this has to be a good thing
  • Having anger named and thoughts named "Hey, I sense that you're feeling a lot of anger and I guess is that your thoughts are _"
  • The person visibly relaxes but often less than what he says
  • Imposter syndrome is fear - pick where you feel joy and take the things you don't feel joy and remove them
  • Energy audit, essentially - hour by hour (red/green markers)
  • Could outsource tasks, stop doing them, or find out ways to be energy-raising for the things that need to get done
  • Repeat the process in 30 days and then again in 60 days
  • CEO role has to take care a lot of things - need to get done and get done well
  • Cofounder example - extreme introvert and extrovert (half reports one, half reports other)
  • Introvert loved internal meetings and extroverts loved external ones
  • Boards are the death of every great investor - if you sell to founders, you join their board forever - lots of time (4x year)
  • 10, 15, 20 where 40-50% are board meetings and 20-30% with partners, other time for support of portfolio co's
  • Lose time to do what you really want to do - instead, ask "How can I be the most helpful to you?"
  • You have a network and they need introductions, customers, recruits, etc
  • Every single interaction he has - always asks for feedback "What did you like?" and "What was effective?", brutal, possible
  • Declares an action for recognition of the questions
  • If feedback doesn't resonate with you, don't need to accept it
  • Favorite book "High Output Management"
  • He was a glutton for coaching, not seeing his family - really enjoys both but needs to find balance
  • He gains energy from coaching vs the draining
  • How does he feel about rising Chiefs of Staff - extension of yourself after automating and inbox zero but people still asking for more
  • Training them is key - full access to your email/calendar and sitting beside you for every meeting/call for ~2 months
  • Correlate and pattern match as you on your behalf - start with them and that gets your shit together
  • If I don't respect you, I won't tell you about it - other will hate you for it - letting someone KNOW about being on time
  • All companies should try to do Pledge 1% and act on it - feels SV doesn't quite do its part
  • Peter Feigin, Kevin Quealy, Graphics Editor at The Upshot and NYT (Wharton Moneyball 3/11/20)
  • Propensity scoring for people matching on probability of using a shot - marathons and faster times with shoes
  • Would love to randomize experiments for everything, but tough to do that with marathon winners
  • How big an effect might a shoe matter?
  • Regulations for heel heights are at 40mm but 38mm is where Alpha are (popular shoes)
  • World records have kept coming down
  • Why are early returns nonrepresentative - cities tend to report last
  • Rule changes for NFL that they'll vote on: sky booth ref, continue/restart a possession after scoring as 4th and 15
  • With no crowds in NBA games, possibly to identify randomness of home/away splits
  • Is it refs that end up being influenced or is it the crowd/home cooking, etc
  • David Brooks, NYT author (KindredCast on WhartonXM)
  • Was going through a tough time while a professor and told his class - they proceeded to let him know if he needed anything, they'd be available
  • One of most powerful times of showing vulnerability and changing the design of the class thereafter
  • Relationships on which are the most important - focus in class - Marriage, Vocation, etc