A package deal

I often find myself drawn into looking at what other creatives are looking at; I find interest in that second degree of separation. I may be interested in a particular creative person, but only if I’m interested in their specific work. But nearly every creative person I encounter, I’m always asking (literally, or in my internal dialog): Where did they get that idea? What were the inspirations that led to that composition. I suppose that’s right next to being interested in the creative process itself—but that’s not quite it. I don’t really want to know how they do what they do. I want to know who they are, and why they do what they do.

The key thing is that unique minds have to be accepted as a full package, because the things they do well and that we admire cannot be separated from the things we wouldn’t want for ourselves or look down upon.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://collabfund.com/blog/wild-minds/

I think it was Homer (Simpson, I mean) who said, just because you are unique, doesn’t mean you are useful. That too harsh by half. It’s not necessary that one be useful (but it’s nice if you want to be able to say, buy food or put a roof over your head.) I want to push back against ‘ol Homer there and amend that to be: Just because you are unique, doesn’t mean people will understand you.


Everything combines

Everything we experience, do, say and think combines with everything. It’s not strictly fractal because it’s not necessarily self-similar. It’s a rolling boil of randomness within which we find meaning. The meaning isn’t everywhere in there. It’s a precious discovery and in searching for it, we develop a scarcity mindset. We build up skills and heuristics for finding and keeping (learning, remembering) that meaning. Things get simplified so we can hold on to them.

In each case it’s easy to underestimate risk—or at least to be surprised at what happens—because the initial ingredients seem harmless. The idea that two innocent small things can combine to form one big dangerous thing isn’t intuitive.

The same things happens with personality traits.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://collabfund.com/blog/vicious-traps/

The very powers which enable us to interact with the world and to grapple—with varying degrees of effectiveness—with our own minds, are the ones which cause us to err. Everything combines and we’re always gauging the size of the effects of each combination. How do we keep errors from creeping into our mindset and world view? Or rather, knowing that they are continuously creeping in, how do we attempt to weed them out? Self-reflection.


Make a point

I write because it requires me to think. There’s no particular reason why I need to publish what I write. Having targets for what to write, and on what schedule to publish it, simply keeps me accountable. I am certainly better off for having done the writing and the thinking.

Make your point, make it clear, and get out of the reader’s way.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://collabfund.com/blog/useful-laws-of-the-land/

By reading what others have written, I’ve found myself standing on the shoulders of giants.


Can I flip this?

I expend a lot of time and energy thinking about technology. I’m often trying to share some idea with others, or trying to make a change in the world. But year by year I’m shifting to spending more of that time and energy simply deciding what technology I want to adopt. Mastodon and the corresponding ActivityPub technology which creates the Fediverse is a great example. Should I join in on that new technology and create a presence there?

Grasping the value of new technology requires imagination. But unless you have skin in the game that doesn’t seem worth the effort because technology is supposed to make things easier and simpler, not wrack your brain.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://collabfund.com/blog/tech/

Housel’s covers that, and three other intriguing points about why new technology is a hard sell. I’m left wondering could I use the points raised in the article to help me make decisions about technology? If I flip the article’s thinking over (from an others-directed “why doesn’t technology get adopted” direction to a self-directed “why I might not adopt technology” direction) then I can ask myself corresponding questions. For example, for the quoted point above, I can ask: Am I engaging my imagination at all when considering some piece of technology? (Aside: I decided, yes, and you can search for @craig@constantine.name wherever you are in the Fediverse.)


Irrelevant in all circumstances

I waffled on my title. I started a draft with the current title, which is simply item #7 plucked from Housel’s post. Later, I misread it as “Irreverant…” and, even after noticing my speling error, still thought myself clever; “Haha, yes, I am irreverant in all circumstances.” Which my mind then toggled back to “irrelevant” and, “Yes, I am probably also irrelevant in all circumstances.” Ouch.

The firehose makes it easy to mirror the poor Oxford boy: since information is free and ubiquitous but adding context has a mental price, the path of least resistance is to know facts without a clue where they go or whether they’re useful.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://collabfund.com/blog/different-kinds-of-information/

And no, it’s not at all a diss on [a]social media. It’s a terrific little post listing different kinds of information. I’d love to be a source of a large amount of #2 and #4. But if I’m being honest, I’m more a source of #5. …and #7, I definitely generate a lot of that. Maybe even some of #8—but only in the, “oh my gawd, no! Spit that out!” sort of way.


Just, hard

I spend large amounts of time just thinking. That’s not so terrible, all things considered since there’s lots of actively anti-useful stuff I could be doing.

People have different personalities, goals, experiences, and levels of chance and serendipity, all of which make universal truths hard to find and difficult to teach. No matter how smart the world becomes, the best answer will always be, “You’ve got to figure it out for yourself.”

A lot of things work like that. Some of the most important topics are the hardest to teach, and real world experience is the only school.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://collabfund.com/blog/very-important-and-hard-to-teach/

There are certain traps for my mind. One insidious example is when I notice I’ve been doing prolonged thinking. …and then I start thinking about how I was thinking about whatever-it-was. …and might there be some underlying principle or knowledge that I don’t understand? …and maybe I should read more about that? …and maybe I should seek out others who know more about that?

Sometimes, I can manage to shake myself out of that. But usually, I have to simply lean into it for another hour, sometimes even the rest of the day (or week!) “Okay, I’m hung-up on this” and I have to try to go all in. After a real attempt at figuring it out, when I can apprehend just how bonkers-complex it would be, my mind simply let’s go of it.



Everyone is heavily influenced by what they’ve experienced firsthand, because what you’ve experienced is more persuasive than something you read about.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://collabfund.com/blog/rare-skills/

That’s one small insight from a bunch in an article nominally about finance. Most of the others also apply to life generally. What’s that old saw from Twain? Something like, “holding a cat by the tail, you’ll learn something through experience that can be learned no other way.” I find it fascinating that, although I’d wager none of you have done that with a cat, we all have a good idea of what we’d learn in the doing.

Related, I once managed—mostly successfully—to wrangle a 6-foot iguana which had horrifically befouled itself, into a warm, steamy shower enclosure, myself remaining outside. It occurred to me to use long oven mitts, to grab from behind, and to keep her oriented so her thrashing tail swung in a plane not including any of me. Through that experience I learned a lot about an iguana’s claws, the true range-of-motion of that body plan’s limbs, and the level of focus and determination she had from millions of years of evolution. We also developed a new relationship: me, wary. Her, indefatigable drive to some day murder my pasty, clawless ass.


Get to the point

Perhaps the most critical communication skill. Be brief. Use as few words as possible to say what you need, and everyone will appreciate it.

~ Morgan Housel from, http://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/rare-skills/

I’m aware that my blog posts, and the weekly 7 for Sunday email derived from them, are often a rambling mess of garage-door-up thinking. I do edit. The key thing that I’m trying to do is to integrate ideas into what I already know, to see what new connections and new ideas I might find. So this post is not at all about telling you, Dear Reader, how to get to the point or even how important it is to get to the point. In fact, I don’t have a point (in this post in particular, and also generally.) Most of the time, if I reach the end of the post and discover I do in fact have a point… well, that’s terrific. I feel it would be cheating to then cover up my work by editing the thing to get more directly to the point.


Time to think

[…] The problem is that too many workplaces expect their knowledge workers to pull the proverbial lever – today in Microsoft Office form – 40+ hours a week when they’d be better off doing things that look lazy but are actually productive. The result is that most people have thought jobs without being given much time to think […]

~ Morgan Housel from, https://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/lazy-work-good-work/

That’s an insightful point from Housel. I’ve no real idea if the “too many workplaces” part is true, but my personal experience is that I am quite often doing things which don’t look like productive output. I don’t want to write (say, or even think) “which look lazy” because writing (saying, or even thinking) that reinforces mis-construing productive thinking as that-other-thing I’d prefer to avoid reinforcing.

I’m told that I get a lot done. Sometimes I’m told that I get an inconceivable amount done. I’ve been asked if I have a clone. (To which I reply with a wink and a smirk, “If I did have a clone, how would I get that other myself to do what I myself already don’t want to do? No, it’s just the one me.”) For me, doing the productive thinking—although there’s room to quibble about how productive it really is—is the easy part. It’s easy like: I couldn’t possibly stop thinking like that, all the time. My problem is that I cannot also get myself to do enough proverbial lever pulling.


Overlooked truths

Peoples’ desire to have an opinion far exceeds the number of things that need to be opined on. “I don’t know” is a phrase that should be praised for its honesty, not belittled for its detachment.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/overlooked-truths-of-business-and-investing-success/

Collaborative Fund is an investment firm so everything there is about investing. Mostly about investing. Well, actually, it turns out that investing is at its core just people doing stuff for reasons. Posts like this one from Housel read like investment (or “financial”) advice, and their lessons directly generalize. I’ve already mentioned that “I don’t know” is how how I avoid making the mistake of trying to have an opinion about everything. There are several other nuggets in there too.


Step 2

People – especially really smart people – have a tendency to attempt solving big problems (like earning a profit) without first solving more basic ones (like how you’ll get there). This is why the “Step 1, Step 3” joke resonates. And it’s why understanding the hierarchy of earning profit is so important.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/the-hierarchy-of-earning-profit/

Oh, crikey! That’d be me. I too–frequently get frustrated when my “awesome idea” isn’t received the way I’d like it to be. I think it’s exactly the same step–two problem that Housel points out. I’m jumping over step 2. But in cases where I try to figure out step 2… *crickets* It occurs to me that there’s another way to address the issue: Stop chasing ideas that solve a problem that I have, and instead try to chase an idea that solves a problem someone else has.


The gap

The Wrights’ story shows something more common than we realize: There’s often a big gap between changing the world and convincing people that you changed the world.

~ Morgan Housel from, http://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/when-you-change-the-world-and-no-one-notices/

On one hand, we could simply define “changed the world” to be when people have actually noticed, or when the change is wide-spread. On the other hand, it’d be much more interesting to acknowledge that the change happens at the moment of the advance—the moment the Wright Brothers figured out controlled, powered flight. (It’s the “controlled” part that really made them first.) The challenge for us creatives… for those of us out trying to change the world… is how do we act during the gap. Do we keep working, quietly changing the world further? Do we stop working and start marketing? Or… something else? To quote William Gibson: “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”



In some fields our knowledge and discoveries are seamlessly passed down across generations. In others, it’s fleeting. Knowledge in some fields is cumulative. In other fields it’s cyclical (at best).

There are occasional periods when society learns that debt can be dangerous, greed backfires, and more money won’t solve all your problems. But it quickly forgets and moves on. Again and again. Generation after generation.

I think there are a few reasons this happens, and what it means we have to accept.

~ Morgan Housel from, https://collabfund.com/blog/cumulative-vs-cyclical-knowledge/

I spend significant time worrying about how to learn from all the experiences I have. Worrying, of course, is not good. When I stop and honestly assess however, I realize that I do a really good job closing loops and bringing what I’ve learned forward into my ongoing work and life.

And then I read pieces like this. If humanity keeps making these cyclical reset-lurches, forgetting hard-won and important lessons, does that bode well for my ability to keep learning and improving? Or is the problem the inter-personal, or inter-generational learning?



73 years in 5,000 words

If you fell asleep in 1945 and woke up in 2018 you would not recognize the world around you. The amount of growth that took place during that period is virtually unprecedented. […] And if you tried to think of a reasonable narrative of how it all happened, my guess is you’d be totally wrong. Because it isn’t intuitive, and it wasn’t foreseeable 73 years ago.

~ Morgan Housel from, http://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/how-this-all-happened/

The story this tells is one I’d never seen woven together this clearly. Over many years I’d heard each of the pieces which are included, and this lays out a coherent story that looks like a Chutes and Ladders playing board. (To my astonishment, I just learned that the beloved children’s board game I’ve mentioned is a dumbed-down version of a very old game called Snakes and Ladders.) If history is any teacher—and it is, because history rhymes—I will certainly be unable to imagine the actual story of the coming years writ large. That’s not a bad thing! Be sure you at least scroll to the bottom of that article as the author is optimistic. As am I.

In a completely different vein, as I was adding tags to this post I made an interesting discovery. I always create a tag for the person who wrote whatever-it-is that I’m referencing. I was surprised to find out that I already have a tag for Housel despite my not recognizing the name. Click the tag below, as it turns out there’s another gem from 2018.


Sometimes things happen

People’s lives are a reflection of the experiences they’ve had and the people they’ve met, a lot of which are driven by luck, accident, and chance. The line between bold and reckless is thinner than people think, and you cannot believe in risk without believing in luck, because they are two sides of the same coin. They are both the simple idea that sometimes things happen that influence outcomes more than effort alone can achieve.

~ Morgan Housel from, http://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/the-psychology-of-money/

This is a long read. It was worth every minute that it took me to read it twice.