How to prepare for the Great Awokening, why home-cooking is worth it, Christmas gift ideas, and lessons from a world champion
Hi friends, how’s it going?
Sorry for the no-show last month. Life got a little hectic back there, and I had to take some time out from a few projects, including this newsletter. You know the old phrase, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything”? Well, that has been my mantra for the last couple of months. Sometimes we have to accept that pressing the pause button is the best option. Sacrifice the short-term so you can focus on the long-term.
So, now I’m back in the saddle, what have I got to share with you?
Bitcoin and the great awokening
First, this conversation between Tim Ferriss and Balaji Srinivasan blew me away when I listened to it a couple of weeks back. Balaji was formerly the CTO of Coinbase and a partner at Andreessen Horowitz (among many other things), and Tim is, of course, a Renaissance man of many talents.
They discuss the current impact of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology on the world and dig into how it impacts different countries based on their stage of development and the attitudes of their governments. (I say “they discuss”, it’s really just Balaji sharing his thoughts while Tim graciously gives him space to do so).
This is absolutely not another tech bro conversation. Balaji is a deep thinker with a formidable intellect who is way ahead of the curve on this stuff. Seeing his mind at work is impressive. He goes at a million miles a minute, yet he has an incredible ability to make complex ideas accessible, entertaining, and relatable without dumbing them down.
He shares a ton of useful info about how the world is likely to change in the next couple of decades (spoiler: it will change more fundamentally than you think) and how you can make sense of what is going on and prepare for it.
This is honestly one of the most valuable conversations I have heard in a long time. I’ve re-listened to a good chunk of it and will be going back for a third pass as soon as I find the time (it’s over four hours long.) I can’t recommend it enough.
As well as the YouTube version I’ve linked to, it’s available for download as an episode of Tim’s podcast. So strap yourself in and get educated on what the global shift to decentralisation means for you.
How cooking can change your life
I seem to have unintentionally been drawn to videos about nutrition recently. Now, I promise I haven’t just been sat watching YouTube for the last few weeks, but I want to recommend another YouTube video here. It’s an excerpt of a presentation by Michael Pollan about the downsides of mass-produced food and the benefits of home cooking.
I listened to it on a whim (while cooking, naturally) and really enjoyed it and learnt a lot. This video will give you some simple, specific things you can do to improve your diet, and will put you off McDonalds fries for life once you hear how they’re made. Enjoy.
Christmas present ideas
If you still have some holiday gifts to buy but you’re stuck for ideas, don’t worry—I got you. As well as the meat thermometer and dotted notebooks I mentioned in recent editions of this newsletter, here are a couple more ideas:
The Contigo Westloop thermal flask. This is hands-down the best drinks flask I’ve used. I did a ton of research before opting for it and have been nothing but impressed with it, even now, after using one for several years. I’ve recommended this to many of my friends, and everyone who has used one has raved about it. It will keep a hot drink warm for about four hours and keeps cold drinks cool for a whole day.
But it’s not just its insulating properties I like. It has a clever non-drip design with a lockable drinking spout that you can operate one-handed. Importantly, it also doesn’t taint your drinks. The commuter or hot drink lover in your life will be thankful if this primo flask turns up under their tree.
Anker Soundcore headphones. I love this brand. Their products are super-affordable and offer insane quality for the price. I have had their Soundcore Life Q20 closed-ear noise-cancelling BlueTooth headphones for a while now. They are lightweight and super-comfy, and their sound quality and noise-cancellation abilities are both ace. Music sounds so rich and warm through them it’s hard to believe they’re wireless.
I also recently bought their Liberty Air 2 in-ear wireless earbuds and was again blown away by their price to quality ratio. If you want an alternative to AirPods for a third of the price, these are hard to beat.
Book recommendation: The Sovereign Individual
I happened to have finished reading this book just before the podcast with Balaji I mentioned above was published. They both cover similar ground, and this book essentially sets the context for Tim and Balaji’s conversation.
Its central argument is that the technology that underpins the modern world (basically the internet) will erode the power of the nation-state and make it irrelevant. The authors liken the coming revolution (of which they argue we are in the early days) to how political power took over from religion as the dominant force 500 years ago.
The book takes a deep dive into the history of how societal power is acquired and lost. It then uses this to highlight what the coming power transfer away from national governments means for us today. They identify four distinct economic phases of human history:
- The hunter-gatherer era
- The agricultural age
- The industrial age
- The information age (now)
As you can probably guess from the title, the authors recommend using Web 3.0 technology to become a sovereign individual beyond the reach of political power.
Our reliance on information technology increasingly means that people’s identities and most valuable assets exist in the digital space, which keeps them out of the hands of governments or other authorities.
(To give you a crude example of this, companies in the industrial era would require factories, manufacturing equipment, staff, inventory, etc. all of which are expensive and could be seized or controlled by the state. Nowadays, multi-billion dollar tech startups are created by groups of friends on their personal computers, and lone teenagers can make millions creating online content.)
And that’s before we get into cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and other global digital assets that are hard to seize or tax.
This book was originally published in 1997, before Google was a household name or social media or cryptocurrencies were invented. Yet it accurately predicts the formation of digital identities, interest-based communities that transcend national borders, “privately issued digital currencies” (aka cryptocurrencies), and many other things we see playing out today.
Its vision of how the internet will shape society and the implications of this for individuals and state actors is impressively prescient. It is also full of ideas about what you can do to get ahead of the curve (or at least not get buried under the digital wave as it washes over you.)
Though it belabours its points, it’s still a fascinating read that I recommend for anyone wanting to better understand how the world is changing, the implications of digital technology for society, what lies around the corner, and how to best position yourself for the inevitable future.
As I like to say, get ready for the future, or the future’s going to get you.
In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge mixed-martial-arts (MMA) fan. It’s a wild, chaotic, and brutally uncompromising blend of athleticism, aggression, discipline, strategy, technique, and problem-solving. And it’s definitely not an old person’s sport. Which is why it was so surprising to see a 42-year old become a world champion in the sport’s premier promotion, the UFC, a few weeks back. (Not that I’m saying being 42 makes you old, you understand.)
After 19-years in the professional fight game, light-heavyweight journeyman Glover Teixeira hit a streak of form that allowed him to rise to the top of his division and win the gold belt he probably thought he was never going to get at this stage of his career.
But that didn’t stop him from trying.
Which is exactly why I’m telling you this story. The key to success is perseverance.
The aftermath of the fight was emotional. The guy has been in the sport forever and people have a lot of affection for him. So, when he won, they went crazy. The commentators, other fighters, journalists, spectators—you name it, they were happy for him and they showed it.
Amidst all this drama, he was the calmest person in the arena when he gave his post-fight interview. He didn’t say much, but he said all that needed to be said. His message to everybody watching:
“Never give up on your dreams.”
It was a beautiful moment. And I wanted to share it with you.
Until next time, enjoy the holidays. Rest, reflect, be grateful, and get ready to crush 2022.
P.S. I am not paid to endorse any of the products I recommend in this newsletter. I just want to share the things I have found to genuinely improve my quality of life so you can make better buying decisions and avoid inferior products.