Medley 243: Co-working, Building Wealth, Sapiens, Digital Realities, Cities, Personal Leverage...

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday, and first Medley of 2021!

This Friday I'll be doing a creative co-working session with Members, where you can hop on and get some deep work done on mute, and un-mute when you wanna chat to other members and take a break. Look out for an email with more details Wednesday, and if you're not a member, you can join here.

I was also on a couple podcasts recently: I did one interview on my friend Austin's podcast Ecommerce Influence all about "how to build a business that runs itself." And I was on the Productive Insights podcast to talk about note taking and Roam vs. Notion.

And I released a YouTube video on the top lessons & takeaways from Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.

Alright, on to the Medley!

The World of Virtual Reality

🌏 I'm getting increasingly concerned about our retreat into virtual realities.

🎧 Not the headset kind, just the digital realities that we're all increasingly inhabiting instead of the physical world.

πŸ“Ί One example is the news. The news is not reality, it's one company's interpretation of reality done to earn ad revenue. When I talk about how the news wants to keep us scared, it's not because the news is malicious, rather their revenue model naturally incentivizes keeping you hooked on their reality. Ezra Klein had some good insights on this in his article on "Why the Media is So Polarized" and the "Politics is Pro Wrestling" piece touched on this as well.

πŸ“± It's essentially impossible to escape living in virtual reality today. Our social media feeds are their own virtual reality, again choosing to feed you whatever will keep you in that world. And there are more obvious ones, too, like Fortnite or Roblox which are the closest we've gotten to The Oasis from Ready Player One.

Physical VR gear is actually remarkably unpopular as of yet: the augmented reality we all live in based on which tech, influencers, and media we allow to construct our reality around us decides the majority of information we receive without us having to wear fancy headsets.

❓ How do we try to get closer to reality? One option is changing how we consume information. The more you allow information to be "pushed" onto you, vs. consuming information you "pull" based on your interests, the more misinformed and "in the matrix" you'll be. Our societal "Switch from Search to Social" was extremely detrimental to our accurate interpretations of the world.

🌳 But another way is to just get back into the real world, and be less concerned with whatever you can't directly experience and judge for yourself. I've noticed dramatic improvements in my sense of well-being by spending more time in nature, working on physical challenges, and spending less time in the news or social media feed.

2020 more than any year before demonstrated how awful the news media is for having an accurate understanding of the world, and I don't suspect that will improve anytime soon. One of my top resolutions for 2021 is to spend more time outside, working with my hands, away from the virtual reality we've been sucked into.

🏠 I also plan on doing work to help myself and others spend less time in virtual reality, though I'm not sure what that means yet. Obviously I'm working on Walden which will be a wonderful escape from "city life," but I'm also interested in more audacious projects like Praxis.

The World of Cities

πŸ™ Will Austin or Miami turn into another San Francisco, with inept government, rampant homelessness, and massive drug abuse issues?

πŸ›  One ingredient that seems to have inarguably contributed to SF's decline is their refusal to build more housing. The extreme NIMBYism of many residents and the government has made it impossible for many residents to afford to live there, something that was well explored in this piece on Tokyo's housing strategy.

🚧 So can Austin at least avoid the same fate? While we might have similar governance issues, I'm at least reassured by how insane the rate of construction is here and how much land we have. The idea of "land constrained cities" might be a myth, but the fact you can buy 50+ acre lots within 30 minutes of downtown Austin tells me we still have massive potential to grow.

πŸ“ˆ At the same time, I'm happy to see how much of the sentiment on Twitter seems to have switched from moving to Austin to moving to Miami. We already couldn't handle the growth rate we had before, the last thing we needed was another massive uptick in growth.

The World of Wealth

πŸ€‘ This has been a weird year for wealth. With COVID radically changing how we work and live, it's gotten easier for individuals to create vast amounts of wealth almost entirely on their own.

πŸ“Ή One example: Ali Abdaal. His fantastic YouTube channel grew from ~500,000 subscribers at the start of the year to 1,330,000 at the end. And according to what he's shared publicly, his whole YouTube empire made over a million dollars last year.

That's incredible, and goes to show just how much money small numbers of people can now make. Imagine Ali trying to make a million dollars from film 50 years ago. He'd need a team, funding, distribution, marketing... way more people involved, and way more expenses, than what you can do today with YouTube.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ«πŸ‘¨β€πŸ« I tweeted yesterday that "99% of all the highest paid teachers in history are alive today," and that's likely true for many areas. Technology allows you to dramatically increase your personal leverage, allowing solopreneurs to earn hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in ways impossible even 10 years ago.

Given the increases in personal leverage, it's inevitable that income inequality will only increase. Many physical world jobs will last for decades, but the middle will be carved out. The bottom 90-95% in any "knowledge work" is unlikely to have a job in 10-20 years, so for whatever you do, it's worth preparing now.

βš™οΈ Find ways to create significant personal leverage so you can be in that top 5%, or expect to be automated, our outsourced, out of your work. This applies less for plumbers, house cleaners, and retailers, so a transition into a more manual profession isn't crazy either.

And if you want to use that personal leverage to get incredibly wealthy, build something. You don't become a billionaire by taking advantage of people, you do it by building, and the best way to build something great is to just start building stuff you want.

πŸ€” I'm not sure what I'm building next, but I can feel my different interests converging.

End Note

As always, if you're enjoying the Medley, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you're enjoying it.

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And should you come across anything interesting this week, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through members of this newsletter.

Have a great week,
Nat

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