Necessary and destructive happiness

Happiness is a just discrimination between what is necessary, destructive, neither necessary nor destructive, and what is necessary and destructive

We need the necessary essentials: food water shelter

We should avoid the destrutcgive: violence hatred and corruption

There are things that are necessary but also can be destructive: the oil industry, corporations, and burning the Amazon forest (for economic growth for Brazil)

But happiness is having a surplus of things that are neither necessary nor destructive because those things are often the best

Air conditioning is neither necessary nor destructive, but I often find myself the happiest when I am able to sit on a comfy couch in a well-AC’d room in the summer, eating take-out sushi and watching Netflix with my dear friends and family i care most avout

Almost done!

The semester is almost done and of course, I am overwhelmed with a sense of bittersweetness.

Sweet in all the memories I’ve made; bitter in all the stupid tests and stress caused by examination when I want to simply pursue knowledge.

Sweet in all the fun moments I’ve had with my friends over dinner; bitter in all the pain, rejection, fails I’ve had to endure–but in an odd way, those moments are sweet too.

I’ll miss this

I’ll miss being young. I still am young, don’t get me wrong.

But as time fade, it’s a wonder why time only moves forward and not backward. If I could travel back in time, I’d travel back to these days that I am currently living because I know I am happy. I wish I knew when the “good old days” were as I am living them. Actually, every day is one of those days, I just need to make the best of them.

Writing is fun. Writing calms me.

So does meditate.

I can’t wait for the future. But I also want to preserve the past and the present.

It’s good to enjoy the moment as it comes though. And I’m trying to do that more

“Each of us is looking for a path back to the present: We are trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now”

 

Treatments

This blog post uses information and experiments extracted from the latest book I’ve been listening to on Audible: “Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data”

In economics, in sciences, in social sciences, in politics, we care about what works. But how effective are certain treatments? 

Placebos can be quite powerful. Sometimes they are just as effective as the actual treatment. We don’t want that to happen.

In statistics, we try to discern between cause-and-effect treatments with a counterfactual. A counterfactual is what would have happened without the treatment. In science experiments, we create a counterfactual with a control group and placebos. But even then, many times it is difficult to compile a control in certain inhumane or unethical experiments. 

And in life, in our own decisions, how are we meant to create counterfactuals?

Is your life better or worse having decided to attend university?

Well. The only “right” answer a statistician could offer you is “we don’t know”

Because in your case of life decisions, we really don’t know how your life would be different had you not attended university.

Maybe had you not decided to attend university on decision day, you somehow decided to buy a lottery ticket and miraculously won $100 million dollars. But maybe because you won $100 million dollars and you didn’t have a university education and graduated with a finance degree like you had planned to, so you didn’t have a good understanding of financial management and somehow ended up broke within a few years, as many lottery winners do. Or maybe because you attended university, you met your soulmate in your intro to statistics class. You get the point.

In statistics, we want to be objective and use as few assumptions as we can. Even when we have really good data, we are still only fairly confident that certain cause-and-effect scenarios are true. (We call this confidence intervals).

So let’s go back to the question of a university as a treatment. How effective is a university?

Well, it’s quite hard to determine because we don’t really have good data. We have data that proves that the most selective universities (Ivy league schools) have alumni with a much higher mean salary. But let me just tell you that that statistic is absolutely useless. How do we know that the selective university, as a treatment, caused the higher salary? It’s very likely that the type of student who not only be admitted to a selective university but also can survive 4-years that top academic institution is the type of person to be more “successful” later in life. (There are many different metrics of measuring success, all which are incredibly arbitrary, but for the sake of this example, we’ll simply use salary.) So we can’t know unless we have some sort of control group, or counterfactual. But that’s quite hard because that would mean we would need to assign random students to random institutions and then track their progress longitudinally. This is an example unethical method of creating a control group I mentioned earlier. I doubt that selective universities would accept random student admissions and I’m not quite sure that students would want to be randomly sent to an institution either.

Thankfully there was a natural way of creating a control group discovered by Alan Krueger and Stacy Dale to determine the effectiveness of selective universities: students who were accepted to top institutions, but chose to attend a less selective university. This data was good because 1) the participants (students) were more or less random, 2) the students were “good” enough to be admitted to top colleges, so at the point of separation, they were “equal” to the students who DID attend the top colleges they were admitted to, and 3) there was enough data of students to actually perform analysis over long periods. Here is the report: https://www.nber.org/papers/w7322

And what did this report tell us?

Well, in terms of whether or not a top university “treatment” affected mean salary, it didn’t (Except for low-income students, who did have a noticeable increase in earnings over time). 

This is reassuring to people high-school students who are in the midst of their stressful college applications.

Although earnings isn’t the best metric, and even this analysis isn’t apples-to-apples, it is a interesting statistical report.

The university does not make the student. Hard-working students will thrive regardless of attending Harvard or their local community college.

Good luck to everyone in finals exam season.

[Book Review] Freakonomics

[Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side to Everything] – by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt was a great book. 

It was different. And I liked it.

Freakonomics makes you look at the world in a different way.  The book explores the real reasons for the 1990s crime drop, information asymmetry, real estate agents, correlation vs. causation, and, most importantly, in the introduction, which discusses the fundamental principles of incentives. From then on, each chapter focuses on answering, or more so addressing an unusual question.

Continue reading “[Book Review] Freakonomics”

[Book Review] Originals – Adam Grant

Adam-Grant-cover-Originals

I am a big believer of self-learning through books. An autodidact. Elon Musk-esque, if you will.

But there is an important factor that I’ve noticed to understanding the contents of a rich book: writing about it.

It’s not enough to just blow through books; you have to truly grasp the content, and writing about it is one way that I’ve discovered is a great way to do so. Materialising what I’ve learned is important to me so I can, for one, understand the concepts as I read the book, and two, create a historical documentation that I can always turn back to for review.

So this is my book review of the book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, — by Adam Grant.

An intro to Dr. Grant: Adam Grant, who is rated the best professor at UPenn Wharton Business school, is an organizational psychologist who has written several #1 NYT books. In Originals, he discusses how Non-conformists (procrastinators, slow people, and other different personality traits) succeed in life with their increased creativity. Adam Grant also wrote the book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives our Success (Which I highly recommend you check out as well!)

These are 15 points that are mentioned throughout the book (and at the end, I believe) on how to be original.

How to Champion Originality and be Successful:

  1. Question the defaultPhoto by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

Don’t take the status quo; ask why they exist in the first place and how to improve upon what is currently accepted as “the norm.”

Leonardo Da Vinci supposedly carried around with him a ledger, where he would write down “playfully curious” and, to most people’s standards, weird questions. Apparently, he would wake up and ask himself a type of question, at one point, posing the question: “What does the tongue of a woodpecker look like”

Another classic question: Why is the ocean blue?

Science teaches us that the ocean is not blue just because it wants to be blue, but because water reflects the color of the sky.

So, then why is the sky blue?

What is color?

Questioning the default leads us to generate original ideas and thoughts of approaching otherwise widely accepted and mundane aspects of life.

2) Triple the number of ideas you generate

Every innovator swings and misses; more swings, more hits!

Baseball players hit 1/3, and that is considered a good ratio.

Content creators are the same. Seth Godin is a large proponent of this concept too–that no idea is perfect, but the importance is to create content to test it out. Because how will you know the idea is crap if you don’t try it?

The most successful composers, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, has way more failed musical compositions than successful ones. There is a correlation between originality and number of “swings.” (I won’t say causation though. Shoutout to my statistics nerds)

3) Immerse yourself in a new domain

Photo by Gez Xavier Mansfield on Unsplash

Broaden your frame of reference. It’s all about perspective. When you get a position at a company, see if you can go on periodic job rotations to understand the how the rest of the company runs. Work in another country — important emphasis on work, because simply traveling and vacationing in other countries doesn’t provide the same contextual insight. Be a scientist who takes dancing lessons; no, seriously!

Nobel-prize winning scientists are much more likely to be involved in the arts, a contrasting skill, compared to ordinary scientists

22x more likely to be involved in performing arts, amateur acting, dancing, magic

12x more likely to be involved in writing, poetry, plays, novels, short stories, books, essays

7.5x more likely to be involved in crafts, mechanic, wood making, electronics, glass blowing

7x more likely to be in visual arts: Illustration, drawing, sculpting, painting, printmaking

2x more likely to be involved in music: instruments, composing, playing, conducting

4) Strategic Procrastination

In the midst of generating ideas, stop midway

Yes.

Allow yourself to incubate your current ideas and give time to foster more while on break.

It is important you give yourself time to relax.

Then, when you attack the problems again, your ideas will be ready to hatch!

5) Seek feedback

Photo by Ivan Sean on Unsplash

Accept and champion feedback from both peers and enemies. Don’t be afraid of a little bit of criticism. In fact, you should crave it, build off it, and improve. Feedback is the only way you can receive more objective answers on how you are doing — you can’t always trust yourself!

If you want to learn more about radical transparency and the importance of feedback, try the book ”Principles” by Ray Dalio (The greatest hedge fund manager)

*Must be constructive feedback that is meant to improve you, not spiteful.

6) Balance your risk portfolioPhoto by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash

Balance your risk areas. Many successful entrepreneurs, before their business fully takes off, will have a day job.

Even Bill Gates, who famously “dropped out” of college, technically took a leave of absence, and then formally dropped out after he realized Microsoft would take off.

It’s important to mitigate risk in many aspects of your life so you can TAKE huge risks in those areas you really want to pursue.

7) Highlight reasons NOT to support your ideas to make virtues clear

Dr. Grant found that people who were pitching a business idea and began their sales pitch by describing the 3 biggest weaknesses of the idea made investors more inclined to work with the partners.

What you realize is that after the biggest weaknesses are known, the virtues become much clearer. And if they don’t, well maybe you don’t have many virtues in the first place!

8) Make Ideas more familiar…with analogies!

It’s important to consistently repeat yourself when presenting unconventional ideas. The more exposure people have, the more likely they are to adopt the concepts.

Think of the adoption of the internet, and compare that to what is happening with the blockchain revolution.

Many people argue that they don’t understand blockchain, so they opt not to use it. But who truly understands the internet? That’s what I thought.

Another important aspect is using analogies. I’ve often used the Shared Google Docs analogy to explain the basic concepts of blockchain — a ledger open to all who want to see the transactions (distributed, or shared to all parties), and a way to track, document, and secure such transactions so it is readily “shared.” It increases trust, just like a Google Docs — you see what I see, and I know that I see what you see.

9) Speak to a different audience

Speak to disagreeable people who share your methods and use their input.

Then, challenge authority and use your enemies to help shape you

Tough people with similar approaches and methodologies will make you tougher, and make you adapt. In the end, if your audience has the same mindset or end goal, it will champion your ability to create more innovative approaches in a tougher environment.

10) Be a tempered radical

Manage your emotions, but also be ready to make radical advancements. After all, you are trying to be original, right?

11) Motivate yourself differently when committed vs. uncertain

When determined and ready to attack your tasks head-on, focus on how close you are to reaching your goal. Think: Just a bit more!!!

When unmotivated and disheartened, focus on how far you’ve ALREADY gone. You’ve done so much; don’t quit now!

12) DON’T try to calm down

When nervous, turn anxiety into excitement and enthusiasm instead of trying to suppress it

Don’t say “just calm down” instead say “I am excited”

Have you noticed that many interviewers ask athletes or performers, before a big show, if they are “nervous”?

And they usually respond with something like: My hands are a bit sweaty, slight tremble, heart beating fast.

They are not nervous. They are excited. Use that excitement and enthusiasm. So not only is the concept of “calming down” useless, and actually produces worse results, it’s also an extremely triggering sentence…

So no, I will not just “calm down” Patrice.

13)Focus on the victim who is harmed, NOT the perpetrator

Focusing on perpetrator fuels anger and wrath and negativity, instead:

Focus on the victim. This translates to positive anger and thus channels into positive action instead of revenge.

Instead of harming the harmer, help the harmed.

14) Realize you are not alonePhoto by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

Even just 1 ally who believes in your vision can tackle the problem together will make you much more successful.

I am an introvert myself, but I know how important it is that I have such a supportive network of people I can count on. (Family, best friends, colleagues)

Finally, 15) If you don’t take initiative, status quo will persist

There are 4 ways to respond to dissatisfaction: Exit, Voice, Persistence, Neglect.

Persistence, and neglecting the problem, are both passive methods of dealing with stress. If they don’t work, it might be good to take action by speaking up (voice), or removing yourself from the situation (exit). Don’t let the status quo persist. You are better than that.

Now go out there and create.

Champion some originality.

Good Luck.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

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[Book Review] How to Be Original

I finished reading  Originals, – by Adam Grant.

  • Adam Grant, who is rated the best professor at UPenn Wharton’s Business school, is an organizational psychologist who has written several #1 NYT books. In Originals, he discusses how Non-conformists (procrastinators, slow people, and other different personality traits) succeed in life with their increased creativity
  • This is my book review and 15 points on HOW TO BE ORIGINAL
How to champion Originality:
  1. Question the default
    • Don’t take the status quo; ask why they exist in the first place and how to improve
  2. Triple the number of ideas you generate
    • Every innovator swings and misses; more swings, more hits!
    • Baseball players hit 1/3
  3. Immerse yourself in a new domain
    • Broaden your frame of reference
    • As a great scientist learns art forms, broaden your skills
    • Job rotation
    • Learn a new culture (work in a new foreign country)
  4. Strategic Procrastination
    • In the midst of generating ideas, stop midway
    • Allow yourself to incubate current ideas and foster more while on break
  5. Seek feedback
    • Radical transparency about feedback (Principles by Dalio)
    • Accept and champion feedback from peers and enemies
  6. Balance your risk portfolio
    • Balance your risk areas (an entrepreneur who has a day job)
    • Mitigate risk in many aspects of life, so you can TAKE risks in others
  7. Highlight reasons NOT to support your ideas to make virtues clear
    • Describe 3 biggest weaknesses of your idea to understand virtues
    • Harder it is to create more weaknesses, you begin to realize virtues
  8. Make Ideas more familiar
    • Repeat yourself for unconventional ideas.
    • EXPOSURE and mix your new ideas with old ones, by using analogies and comparisons
  9. Speak to a different audience
    • Speak to disagreeable people who share your methods
    • Challenge authority and use your enemies to help shape you
    • Tough people with similar approaches
  10. Be a tempered radical
    • manage emotions
  11. Motivate yourself differently when committed/uncertain
    • When determined, focus on progress left to go (How close you are to reaching target!)
    • When unmotivated, focus on how far you’ve ALREADY gone (You’ve done so much; don’t quit now!)
  12. Don’t try to calm down
    • When nervous, turn anxiety into excitement and enthusiasm instead of trying to suppress it
    • Don’t say “just calm down” instead say “I am excited”
    • Nervous and excitement = synonyms
  13. Focus on the victim who is harmed, NOT the perpetrator
    • Focusing on perpetrator fuels anger and wrath and negativity
    • Focus on victim = positive anger to channel into positive action instead of revenge
    • Instead of harming the harmer, help the harmed
  14. Realize you are not alone
    • Even just 1 ally who believes in your vision can tackle the problem together will make you much more successful
  15. If you don’t take initiative, status quo will persist
    • Exit, Voice, Persistence, Neglect = 4 ways to respond to dissatisfaction
    • Might be good to take action (exit) if other methods don’t work

Grateful Day 85: I am grateful for naps

Reading Day 26: It’s crazy how much reading I’ve done this month, just like how much magic I did in February

I’ve already read 12 books this year and I plan to hit 50 for 2018!

[Book Review] The Wealthy Barber Returns – David Chilton

wealthy barber returns

David Chilton sounds like me, but trapped in a 40-year-old body.

His writing style is extremely informal, and he often uses sarcasm, puns, and incredibly badly timed & cringe-worthy jokes…

Basically me!

Either way, his books, The Wealthy Barber & The Wealthy Barber Returns are both great finance books.

As the name suggests, the book teaches you how to be wealthy, even if you were a barber.

The concepts are basic and fundamental; great for anyone!

Save more, spend less, invest and compound, and don’t get yourself in debt.

But Chilton not only provides great examples and humorous tips on how to do all those things, but he also understands that although the theory is simple, it is hard to execute.

The chapters are short (often 2-4 chapters each).

The book is broken down into many segments so it feels like actually a really short read.

I aspire to be a financial advisor or someone who helps the general population with financial advice…and although I do think that I know a good amount of information on finance, it seems awkward to take the advice for an 18-year old, doesn’t it?

I hope for a world where everyone, my friends, family, and the general population is financially literate and is not burdened by the concept of money. And I think a great way to spread financial knowledge is through reading.

And that’s why you need to read his book…Read this book if you want to be a Wealthy Barber.

Good Luck and always reach out! I am always free to share my investment journey