Medley 269: Orientation, Agency, Children, Money, Time, Happiness, LEGOs...

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!

I started something I'm really excited about last week: DeFi Orientation. It's a walkthrough for getting the basics setup if you want to explore DeFi, which is going to be part of a much larger project launching soon. It's currently $25, and will give access to the future project when it launches.

I also published a new DeFriday all about the big Ethereum upgrade coming later this month, and what it might mean for Ethereum's value in the future.

Alright, on to the Medley!

The World of Agency

Simon Sarris published an absolutely wonderful piece last week: "The Most Precious Resource is Agency." I'm grateful that Simon is a few years ahead of me with parenting and I get to draw on his insights through his beautiful writing.

I love the stories about how impressive people were able to attain some degree of agency at a very early age:

"Leonardo da Vinci was a studio apprentice to Verrocchio at 14. Walt Disney took on a number of jobs, chiefly delivering papers, from 11 years old. Vladimir Nabokov published his first book (a collection of poems) at 16, while still in school. Andrew Carnegie finished schooling at 12, and was 13 when he began his second job as a telegraph office boy, where he convinced his superiors to teach him the telegraph machine itself. By 16 he was the family’s mainstay of income."

Stories like these are often pointed to as early signs of greatness, but what if greatness is achieved through the compounding benefits of meaningful work, and the sooner you begin meaningful work, the more it can compound?

The infantilization of kids into their early 20s is dramatically holding back their growth by denying them agency, and denying them the ability to find meaningful work.

"Most famous people go off-script early, usually in more than one way. Carnegie becoming a message boy is one opportunity, asking how to operate the telegraph is another. Da Vinci had plenty of small-time commissions, but he quit them in favor of offering his services to the Duke of Milan. And of course no one has to write a book, or start a company. But imagine instead if Carnegie or Da Vinci were compelled to stay in school for ten more years instead. What would have happened?"

I talked about this in some way the last couple weeks, but I think a big part of this delay in finding meaningful work comes from parents forcing their kids to learn things they don't want to learn, instead of fostering their interests. Every minute spent learning how to play the recorder is a minute they're not exploring the things they are interested in.

Part of it comes from how few opportunities there are for kids, too:

"We seem to have a political (public) imagination so shallow that it cannot conceive of what to even do with children, especially smart children... We do not need children to work, that is abundantly clear, but by ensuring there is nothing for them to do we are also sure to destroy more onramps towards making meaningful contributions to the world."

And further on:

"Instead of an adolescence full of rites of passage, where one attempts to master something and accept responsibility, we have made it full of waiting, and doing work—for school is work—that nearly everyone knows is fake... By confining meaningful work to an adult-only activity, it is little wonder that adolescence is a period of great depression."

Simon really nails it in this piece and it sparks even more thoughts in my head about how to foster a high-agency environment for our kids, not out of some quest for greatness, but because agency is also one of the most important factors for happiness and life satisfaction. I think kids can be more independent earlier than we think, we just have to create the right opportunities for them.

The World of Money and Time

I've had this conversation with a number of people recently, about how your upbringing, your work, and your mindset around money can significantly impact how you value your time.

In one case, if you grew up very frugally, it might be hard to be willing to give up money to get some of your time back. Like by hiring a housecleaner, or hiring a chef, even when you can do so without it being a financial burden.

Another example is the difference between salaried work and freelance or entrepreneurial work. With salaried work, everything you spend comes out of a fixed amount of income you'll be receiving. With contract or entrepreneurial work, there's some flexibility, in that even if you spent a bunch of extra money you could theoretically just work more to get it back.

This is one problem I have with arguments that you should figure out what one hour of your time is worth, then be willing to spend up to that amount to get back an hour of your time. That only works if you can actually fill that hour with more productive work! Many people don't know how to do that, and even among those who do, it's never quite that simple. Though it does help in practice.

That's why I think the more powerful thing than figuring out what your time is worth based on your income or salary is to get a sense of how much more money you could generate with some free time.

For example maybe you know you could make an extra $2k a month working 5 hours a week doing freelance work on TopTal. Well now you have an actual plan for how you could lever up some of your other time, so now maybe you can justify paying someone to help you with house maintenance.

Without a way you know you can use your newfound time, it doesn't make as much sense to spend to save time. It makes more sense to figure out how to use time to make money first, then once you do, you can start being more intentional with what fills that time.

If you need ideas, I liked this list of "how to trade money and time." There's also this great list of "things you're allowed to do" that many people don't think to do.

The World of Just for Fun

This is an insanely cool app I wish I had as a kid. Apparently it can scan a pile of legos, figure out all the pieces in it, pull up recipes for things you can build with those pieces, then show you the instructions and where all the pieces are. Whoa.

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