Inner Game of Startups #43: Under Pressure

Read the latest issue and all others here.

When I’m Off My Game

I didn't sleep much last night. I got a late start, not feeling great or thinking clearly, it's cloudy, I'm behind on my work, and I'm grumpy.

And I love it.

I love it because this is that moment when I get to decide if I want my day to run me or if I want to run my day. You think I feel like writing this daily post when I've got stuff to catch up on? Nope. But I'm gonna do it, and I'm gonna own it and have fun with it.

A good day isn't one where everything goes right. A good day is one where everything goes wrong but you do the right stuff anyway. That's the kind of good that lasts because it makes you better and you carry it with you into every other day.

Today is mine.

Consumer Apps on Bitcoin

A fun conversation with bitcoin entrepreneur Jack Liu from last Friday.

New Platforms

I love trying out new platforms.

Most of the time, they don't end up forming into new habits for me, or the network effects are too weak, or they die off altogether. But sometimes I end up loving them.

I've switched browsers many times. Currently I'm on Brave and using DuckDuckGo for search. I've been a lifelong Gmail guy, but am exploring some other options. I was all over Facebook for years but never do much on there now as I've moved to Twitter and now increasingly Twetch. I've tried Snap, Instagram, Tik Tok, and others (none of them stuck for me). I've also tried several podcast hosting apps.

I've never been a big fan of YouTube, but it has such an extensive library! When me and some friends started recording bitcoin chats every few weeks, I uploaded them there because I didn't know where else to put them.

Now I'm also trying Streamanity, a video hosting platform where you can set the price and viewers pay in bitcoin. It's still in that early phase with small user base and lots of kinks, but it's fun!

Here's a video I uploaded there, which happens to be an interview with the owner:


Thought Experiments

I was just discussing with a friend a thought experiment I put together years ago during a debate on whether or not inequality is a prerequisite to economic exchange.

The claim I heard from some economists was that you can't have trade without inequality. While I believe inequality is inescapable, natural, not undesirable, and an inevitable outcome of freedom and prosperity, I don't think it is logically necessary in order for mutually beneficial trade to occur.

I emphasize logical, because thought experiments can be useful for finding errors in reasoning, but they are almost never useful for finding better explanations for the real world. I think I can construct a thought experiment that reveals that inequality is not logically necessary for win-win trade, but that doesn't do much to improve understanding of the world. In the real world, everyone is unequal, period. We differ in taste, preference, ability, biology, etc. Even small divergence leads to different subjective valuations which is the major driver in gains from trade.

The point of the claim that inequality is needed for trade is to reveal that, for from being a danger to be feared, it's a necessary part of human flourishing. That is true. Still, I don't think it is logically required for trade to occur.

Here's my thought experiment:

Two perfectly identical people live on an island. To survive, they need both fish and berries in their diet. Both have identical preferences for types of work, and identical abilities at fishing and berry picking.

In 1/2 a day, one can collect 100 berries, and in 1/2 a day one can catch 2 fish. So each individual splitting the day between berries and fish will end up with 100 berries and 2 fish, for a combined total of 200 berries and 4 fish.

But there are more abundant berries high up on the mountain. The catch is it takes an entire day to get there and back, leaving no time for fishing. And there are more fish deeper in the ocean, but it takes an entire day to paddle there and back leaving no time for berries.

The two identical people could specialize. One spends the whole day fishing in more abundant waters and catches 6 fish. One day one spends all day in more abundant berry bushes and picks 300 berries. They can trade and end up with 150 berries and 3 fish each. Both individuals have gained (50%!) from the trade due to division of labor.

This does not require either individual to become more skilled than the other at one task. They could alternate each day who does which and still win. Division of labor and specialization coupled with trade is a better outcome than self-sufficiency even for two completely equal individuals because of the uneven nature of production itself. Each unit of time does not produce an identical outcome, and duration spent at a task may affect the marginal productivity, even without new skills gained or new capital employed.

See, trade is beneficial even in a world of perfect equality!

The problem is every assumption in the thought experiment is far fetched beyond belief. It can reveal an error in the logic of the original claim, but not its reality. Trade always arises between unequal partners because no two people are equal in the real world. Even identical twins stranded on an island aren't. Even engineered clones under my scenario wouldn't be, because in reality they would enhance their skill with more time invested in one task than another.

Thought experiments are not "gotcha" moments for real world claims. They may be mild rebukes of the certainty of the logical necessity, but they are so divorced from the real world, and so stripped of variables that they allow the real world to contradict them all the time.

Just ask those economists who couldn't imagine any logical way lighthouses could be funded without government even while the very lighthouses outside their window were funded without government.

Thought experiments are fun and sometimes useful, but also often arrogant, blinding, and dangerous.

Update: I just noticed a "Related Post" under this from three years ago. About this exact same thing. I don't even remember writing it. Daily blogging will do that sometimes. Anyway, here it is.


Medical History Haiku

In one hundred years

Current medical ideas

Will seem barbaric

Stupid Things

I just watched some guys on YouTube eat a whole pineapple, skin and all.

Apparently pineapple exteriors have an enzyme that digests protein and basically tenderizes the inside of you mouth and later your digestive system - it digests you while you digest it. These guys were bleeding from the mouth by the time they were done.

Of course this looks like a stupid thing to do. But it also has some strange appeal, just like the stunts on MTV's Jackass. Or climbing Everest for that matter.

Humans want to know.

We want to see firsthand (or at least secondhand) what happens when you do this to that. Watch kids mess around with household objects. They always eventually do something stupid with them.

This is a wonderful trait. It can lead to tragedy, but it is also the most human, fully alive kind of activity, and it pushes humanity forward.

We want to go to Mars because it's there. We want to know what will happen. We have to try it.

The kids doing pineapple challenges are channeling the same spirit that drives us forward. When we're interplanetary, you can thank them. (If they're still alive.)

Inner Game of Startups #42: Controversy, money, and vision

This week I talk about the balance between a personal brand and a company brand, how to not get sucked into current events, and why startups can fail due to too much vision and too much money.

Read it and all issues here.

Isaac Morehouse

Isaac Morehouse is the CEO of Crash, the career launch platform, and the founder of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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Inner Game of Startups #45

Read it here.

Big Changes Ahead!

We're going live with a major update to tomorrow. This is the beginning of the next big chapter in building the best career launch platform in the world. I can't wait! Lots more work to be done, but tomorrow's update will be the foundation we build on. Over a year of user feedback and beta testing has helped us hone it.

Here’s a Bunch of Stuff I’m Up To

I'm mixing it up again, after a year and a half streak of daily blogging, I'm gonna switch my routine. I won't be blogging daily for a while, but I'm doing a lot of stuff in a lot of other places!

Of course the majority of my time is spent building Crash into the greatest career launch platform in the world and being a husband and dad and trying to maintain my physical and intellectual health. But I work in a lot of other interests as well, and writing will always be a big part.

Who knows whether/when I decide I can't handle life without daily blogging (it usually happens when I take these breaks), but for now I'm going all in on a new routine.

Verbose Haiku

If brevity is

The soul of wit, well I guess

I am really screwed

Convo with VCs Investing in Bitcoin

(Also available on the Isaac Morehouse podcast)

Isaac Morehouse

Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program making degrees irrelevant for careers. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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