Elements of Personal Corporate Culture

Let’s try to be occupied with every task, not just one task (all tasks that are pending are active… there is no backlog). Let’s also do as much right away as possible. It’s a personal corporate culture. If a task is available, let’s perform it right away. Not schedule it, actually perform it. This is a part of my personal corporate culture.

On Friendliness

Let me spend a brief moment to talk about friendliness. It took me wayyy too long, in 5-10 years, to realize that friendliness is particularly important to success. In 2012 I was clearly thinking: if I’m not friendly, if I am rude even, that still should not affect my overall performance. Trush is independent of whether people like you or not, right? If something is correct, that has nothing to do with whether or not that person appears likeable to some group of people.

Turns out no, turns out that being likeable by a majority is more important than being correct in any other sort of way. It took me about 5 years to realize that. (It may be irrational, but I think it’s consistent across cultures.)

On the last days of my trip to Colombia, once I’ve achieved everything I wanted to and was largely free-spending my time, it occured to me. I have to be friendly. Just make people comfortable in my company, something as simple as that. And would you believe it? I had this mindset that I’m going to have people simply enjoy my company, and twice in a row cashiers would just give me free money. I had a budger and the guy under-charged me $10, and then I was still hungry so I went for some chicken and potatoes and the woman undercharged me $6. Was it because they put more trust in me, just with that mental state? Was it accidental? Either way I think now that being likeable is perhaps the single most important thing leading to success.

The Time Efficiency of an Individual in a Company

There is the thing about time efficiency. Even if I’m not full-time efficient, some of my hours in the day are efficient, and I can build and grow, even if slowly. It is a sign of professionalism that I can focus on a specific time hours at a time.

Then, there is the saturation of time, and here is where critical mass comes into play. The truly successful people (who technologically impact the world) are pretty effective in their use of time… and it’s not just the per-hour effectiveness, it’s the ability to hold these concepts in memory and in focus for a long time (days, months, years), and furthermore hold in focus non-trivial combinations of these things. Not just do one thing well, but integrate the work of others, and build a system which by definition is a varied mix of things (otherwise, it’s called a component, not a system).

There are some successes that are only achievable with a critical mass of focus. The truly successful people pack so much impact in their time (be it 8 hours a day or more), that they physically cause success to happen. And to do that, what makes it possible I think is a certain “continuous integration” of a person. Optimize the time at work, off work, optimize the little 20-minute pieces of time in between tasks, pack the tasks, and so forth, and eliminate inefficiencies everywhere. There is no distinction between on- and off-work time, everything is treated as on-work time. And the success of the company depends on how much punch the team (the team leaders and team individuals) back into the time, into each hour of operation of the company. That is my current view on personal efficiency at work.

– * – * – * –

Unfortunately here I cannot so much focus. I sleep in late (wake up at 10am), have to do a lot of walking to find food and places to study, have to constantly fight with sub-optimal weather, sun flare, and the rain. Further, I have to move every 2 weeks, unless I actually find an apartment. And there is drinking! In Silicon Valley I don’t drink on weekdays and that works out well. Here, I drink lightly, but it still costs me time and efficiency.

Further, my focus is divided into two equal parts: language immersion and engineering. And the engineering part is in English. When I do engineering, it moves me further from language immersion, and vise versa. So there is a certain conflict if my focus right now. It almost makes sense to do one thing for several days (study spanish for three days, without technology), and then switch to technology and not study spanish for a few days, thus avoiding context switching.

Of course, there is also the question of daily exhaustion limit. If I do programming for 6 hours, I’m done with programming, but the day may or may not be done. In that situation, it makes sense to switch to another context, say Spanish language, for 2-3 more hours. That may actually more effective than doing the same task for several days in the row.

There is also the obvious issue of a daily routine. It’s goot to perform some tasks daily, even if the results are not so great. If the same tasks are performed daily, day in day out, you will become good at them, *and* keep the ability to focus on all of them each day. So in my local example, my daily task variety is as follows:

  • 30 minutes of conversational spanish
  • some time studying vocabulary
  • some time studying the grammar book
  • some engineering
  • some content-creation, writing or photos or editing
  • daily cleaning: clean ears, teeth, keep everything clean.

20170511 Colombia Diary

Alright, let’s see if I can keep a decent diary on this trip. Arrived to Bogota fine, underfunded of course, but everything else is okay. Checked into the hostel, the first one is 14 days. It’s cheap, in a safe upscale but not-fun neighborhood. I want to be in Candelaria, and I’m in Chapinero. But that’s fine. They have a desk here so maybe I’ll do the work and study before relocating to the next destination.

As soon as I checked in I called my credit cards to make sure I am well-funded. Turns out I will lose at least 3-4% of my value here with just international bank charges. Then I went to get some cash (hostel is cash-only), and ate. Took a shower, and now I’m in operation.

Airport food was quite bad, and I can already feel myself losing shape. I have a belly. I will need to control quite precisely what I eat. Maybe a daily run would be a blessing.

As a reminder, this really belongs to travel-guide.mobi, but since that infrastructure isn’t setup yet, I’ll just post it here.

The most important things all around are survivability, effectiveness, and attitude.

Let’s talk about traveling for long periods of time, let’s say for 3 months. That’s a pretty long length of travel, and it’s difficult to, you know, quit your job and do a voyage like that. I know people who do it, but I also know that it’s difficult and expensive – in terms of lost wages.

The first time I did the 3 months it was actually 6 months – I extended at the end of the trip for 3 more months. I was working part-time from there, which gradually reduced to 0 and I run out of money and came back to the states.

This is the second time I’m doing it: there are some things at work which cause me to want to take a break, and living in the Silicon Valley is expensive… So I attempt a 3-month international trip.

What I’d like to note is that it was very difficult to do it the first time, but is much easier to do it the second. Maybe it’s because I’m much older now. I went on my 6-month trip in 2010, that was 7 years ago. I must have grown. But in addition to that, no matter what you do, it eventually gets easier, and you may claim to eventually be successful.

From this point of view, lets just assume that whatever you set your mind to, you can succeed. It’ll take years, but it will happen. So what should be the goals? You don’t want to pursue a goal for a decade only to find out that it is empty. What are the goals worth pursuing over the course of a 10-year period?

The goal has to do with people. You cannot live in a vacuum, and not working on social relationships is a harmful non-pursuit. Also, greatness cannot be achieved in isolation: starting a company (or whatever) should be done with people, not as an individual.

Maybe the goal should have something to do with progressing the society as a whole? I am a huge fan of Elon Musk with his notions of Mars colonization and survivability of humans as a species.

Maybe the goal is personal happiness? I have to note that even though I may be on the brink, I am still not fundamentally happy.

And of course, financial independence would be nice. Being able to actually have a comfortable daily burn rate, that would be nice.

And an ability to apply oneself. I need to be able to be addressing some kind of non-trivial questions. And on this note… Let’s continue the study 😉

20170509 Investment Diaries

Today, STRP (+6.64%) is going up, WINS (-7.5%) is going down, TSLA (+4.3%) is going up, TWTR (+0.66%) is up, LMT (+0.53%) is up, and AAPL (+0.82%) is up. We expect these trends to continue mid-long-term.

My friend is shorting SYMC (-0.42%). It’s worth watching, since he works as symantec, though I do not put my own confidence into this yet.

The markets are generally optimistic and calm.

Water Harvester: This new solar-powered device can pull water straight from the desert air

So who is working on having this mass-produced? Obviously some organizations and maybe governments would be interested in seeing this generally available.

From http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/04/new-solar-powered-device-can-pull-water-straight-desert-air

You can’t squeeze blood from a stone, but wringing water from the desert sky is now possible, thanks to a new spongelike device that uses sunlight to suck water vapor from air, even in low humidity. The device can produce nearly 3 liters of water per day for every kilogram of spongelike absorber it contains, and researchers say future versions will be even better. That means homes in the driest parts of the world could soon have a solar-powered appliance capable of delivering all the water they need, offering relief to billions of people.

The new water harvester is made of metal organic framework crystals pressed into a thin sheet of copper metal and placed between a solar absorber (above) and a condenser plate (below).

Wang Laboratory at MIT

There are an estimated 13 trillion liters of water floating in the atmosphere at any one time, equivalent to 10% of all of the freshwater in our planet’s lakes and rivers. Over the years, researchers have developed ways to grab a few trickles, such as using fine nets to wick water from fog banks, or power-hungry dehumidifiers to condense it out of the air. But both approaches require either very humid air or far too much electricity to be broadly useful.

To find an all-purpose solution, researchers led by Omar Yaghi, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, turned to a family of crystalline powders called metal organic frameworks, or MOFs. Yaghi developed the first MOFs—porous crystals that form continuous 3D networks—more than 20 years ago. The networks assemble in a Tinkertoy-like fashion from metal atoms that act as the hubs and sticklike organic compounds that link the hubs together. By choosing different metals and organics, chemists can dial in the properties of each MOF, controlling what gases bind to them, and how strongly they hold on.