5. There's something in the air...

I first noticed this line properly when Apple used it to drop hints about the MacBook Air (which has been my choice of machine for almost three years now).

Image result for there's something in the air apple

And then, like magic, Steve Jobs pulled out a laptop from a regular, office, manila envelope. If you haven’t seen it, you HAVE TO SEE THIS VIDEO. It was a masterclass in communication, product design, hype machine, reality distortion field, and whatnot. No wonder, we are fanboys!

So, something in the air. Quite a few things actually…

SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19) is in the air. Of course. Each passing day it is taking larger proportions and becoming more and more threatening. No, don’t want to spread panic. But since Taleb says “without extreme paranoia, we can't survive” and thus trying to share some sane voices on it. This take by Tim Ferriss is probably the sanest I’ve heard in a while.

Love is in the air! As I write this, it’s Valentine’s evening. And on my way back from work, I passed a bunch of kids by that were hovering around a popular club in Mumbai and had hands and bags and cars and hearts full of assorted gifts like chocolates, flowers, red hearts, teddies and even live pets. In all of my 37 years, I’ve never ever got the point of these. But then, there must be something - why would all these rich kids fall over each other like that? No?

Tom Cruise is cruising in the air! At the Superbowl, they dropped the longer cut of the trailer of Top Gun 2. I don’t know about you but as a child, I had hopes of being like Maverick when I grew up! And look what I do now ;P The point is, the trailer is our and it looks like yet another rollercoaster ride. And does Tom ever get old? Anyhow, here the trailer for you to enjoy…

There are radio bursts in the universe and in our air that may help us discover if we are alone! Although they come from some 500 million light-years away, they are still the first burst to have a fixed periodicity (of 16 days)! Wow! Oh and unrelated and yet related piece. Nasa just brought back Voyager 2 back online! There’s definitely someone out there!

The swing for the fences that Bill Gates is making is now in the air! Melinda and BillGates’ annual letter just released. A long read but talks about their efforts to work on health, climate and developmental programs across the world. If you had to read one thing from this letter, this is what it should be!

Oh, here’s a snippet on how they’ve spent 50 billion dollars over the last 20 years! 50 billion dollars! That’s 50,000,000,000 US Dollars!

Ok, on that note, here is the 5th edition of Slipstream. In this one, we’d talk about three things…

  1. An opinion piece on how to look at stock markets

  2. Akshay’s take on religion (the oldest institution) and blockchain (the un-institutional future)

  3. Some notes about an NYU professor that famously called WeWork as a shitshow!

So, without further ado, here are some original pieces for you to enjoy diving right in.


📉📈📉1. Instant gratification - stock markets, eh?

By SA.

Good Day - I want to primarily talk about one thing - how do we view the stock markets. Do we view this as a place to have instant gratification to make a million rupees while we are busy with our everyday lives? After all, all of us think we are very smart in our daily lives and the markets can't be that tough to master. Is it a roulette table? I know at least one person on this mail equates the market to gambling :)

Well whatever you think of the market, my view is the markets are the best place to make savings towards long term financial goals. I treat it as an account similar to a bank savings account, with a better rate of interest and one that gives you a regular bonus by paying dividends. Most of us do believe money in the bank is definitely safer
than money in a mutual fund.

The point I am making - don't treat the markets as a place to get instant gratification, but as a store of value, provided you buy quality, hopefully at a reasonable price (or a decent mutual fund). Just treat the markets as another instrument towards your financial goals (one among real estate, gold, fixed deposits). How much allocation you want to keep in the markets, is based on your individual needs over the next 3-5 years.

I have been trying to write this thought for the last 3 weeks, it is constantly moving in my head, and I was unable to put fingers on the keyboard. Finally a relaxed day today and hence the spam (someone told me earlier today they don't hear many people say that they are having a relaxed day, the barrenness of a busy life, eh?)

So till next time, take care.

~SA

Editor’s Note: The author has chosen to remain anonymous. He sends these emails to some of his friends and if you wish to be included in his mailing list, please let us know.


2. From ☪️🕉️ religion to ₿lockchain

By Akshay Datt, Inspired by this podcast.

Regular readers will know, I am fascinated by the Theory of Evolution, and the most insightful way of understanding the world as it is today is by understanding the evolutionary forces that lead it to become this way today!

A simple example of how evolution can help you understand the world - why do peacocks have a large plume of feathers? If you look at it from the point of view of competitive forces, then it is an incredibly stupid thing to have - it makes you less nimble, more vulnerable, and it consumes a lot of resources to grow that large plumage of feathers. But still, peacocks have not outgrown it the way say the man has outgrown the tails of his simian brethren. The reason is that it fulfills a role as a symbol to potential mates - a peacock strutting its feathers is sending a message to potential mates - look at how healthy I am and how much access to resources I have to maintain this plume of feathers.

Similarly, you may want to ask the question - why does religion exist? Any pseudo-intellectual can tell you the problems with religion - it is divisive and leads to violence. Now you may say something like - it’s food for the soul, gives me peace, gives me inner strength, succor in times of distress, etc. But my counterpoint is - if that is so, then why does formalized religion exist? Where you are required to follow certain rituals and customs - like fasting on certain days or praying 5 times a day in a certain direction. 

The evolutionary justification of religion is like this - for a long time, humans lived in small groups of up to 50 people. The tribe was just large enough for everyone to know everyone else. In such a scenario - it was relatively easy to trade as the trust on which all commerce is built existed by the virtue of proximity. But as humans organized themselves into cities and states, the problem of trust to facilitate commerce began to be bigger. How do I trust him to pay me for my wares next month?

In this kind of society, religion acts in the same way as the feathers of a peacock. It symbolizes to the other party that I am a god-fearing person, and follow a certain code in my life and therefore you can trust me. And that is the reason for formalized religion to exist. It is expensive to be a part of formal religion. You need to follow a certain dress code, you need to practice abstinence (fasting/ sex, etc), spend time in prayers or attending service - time that you could have otherwise used in more commercial activities. If you are willing to spend the resources to be a part of formal religion, then it serves as a strong signal of your commitment to the moral code of that religion and hence makes you someone I can trust and trade with.

All the major religions today arose when human society was struggling with challenges of size, complexity of scarcity

Part of the reason that religion is weakening today is because many of the reasons for religion to exist are not so strong anymore. We are no longer living in a world of scarcity where following a religious code would allow a more equitable sharing of resources. We now have other ways to organize ourselves. You no longer need to trust a taxi driver on a standalone basis if you are using a service like Uber. You no longer need to trust people with money if you can access their credit score. You can now hire people on the basis of their education tag. Ivy-league education is a stronger symbol of competence and work ethic than the religion that you follow. The legal frameworks are much stronger now, and if you have faith in the law then you have even less reason to worry about people cheating you.

What’s more, I predict that blockchain is the next level replacement of religion - when you are able to transact on blockchain platforms, your reliance on relationships for trust is even lesser. 

What do you think?

Will blockchain cause the demise of organized religion as we know it? Or will we be still practicing formalized religion in 2500 AD?


🤔💡💭 3. Thought Leader: Scott Galloway

By Akshay Datt

Editor’s note: Each week we’d talk about one contemporary thought-leader. Last week, it was Malcolm Gladwell. This week we have Prof. Galloway.

So imagine the silicon valley version of an angry white dude. Now imagine that he is in his 50s, with a lean built, balding hair, and geeky glasses. You’ve pretty much visualized Scott Galloway.

Image result for scott galloway

He’s the guy whom you would imagine shouted out a what the f*ck when the news of the WeWork IPO first came out, at a time when the WeWork hype machine was running at full steam. And he was probably so pissed at the WeWork reality distortion field that he started writing about how the whole thing is a shitshow and was at least partially responsible for the WeWork crash that happened after that. 

Prof. Scott Galloway is one of the most influential thought leaders on all things strategy and marketing, especially with respect to silicon valley and tech companies. He founded and got successful exits from multiple startups, and is currently a professor of digital marketing and brand strategy at NYU Stern school of business. He gives out gyaan on a wide variety of topics ranging from the analysis of startups to the impact of technology on our lives to the secret to getting rich and happy (The Algebra of Happiness to career advice for young people.

Galloway is strongly opinionated, in fact, he is the type of guy that would rub many people the wrong way - some may even call him an a**hole, and that is the reason why I find his content so refreshing. It’s not sugar-coated, there is no pretense at being nice. Read his newsletter / watch his video on the yoga babble index where he talks about how the charisma and supposed vision of the founder is clouding a fundamental judgment of the value of the startup (Hint - Adam Newman). He is willing to stick his neck out and make bold predictions, and when he gets things wrong, he is the first one to admit that he got it wrong. For example - his annual predictions newsletter starts by looking at the wins and wrong predictions he made last year before getting into his predictions for this year. 

Here’s where you can get your dose of Galloway: Newsletter, Twitter, Youtube, and Podcast.

Do tell us about other contemporary thought leaders that we can talk about to our community! Still better, write about them. Will you? Please?


📒📋📘 4. Links of interest

A curated list of the most interesting thing that we came across this past week.

a, a blog post from the team at Fynd about what made them get “discovered” by MDA at Reliance, which eventually lead to an Rs. 300 crore investment in their business!

b, Joe Rogan and Gary Vaynerchuk. This probably is one of the best episodes that JRE put out. Do see it.

c, Venture Capitalist Mike Volpi on how to be a great board member.

d, This twitter thread has some really interesting quotes from Poor Charlie, who’s like 96 years old now. Our favorite? This one…

Never underestimate the man who overestimates himself.

e, These two pieces (one on Nykaa and the other on Glossier) talk about how beauty brands are getting built in this day and age. And these are businesses that do not even have a pedigree in beauty. Or retail. Or FMCG.

f, In Tik Tok, I discovered what a Hyperbolic Slot is. See this video.

g, In this tweet, @dhrupadkarwa invites you to “Write a press release about your company set in the year 2040”. He says, “This will help you: - Understand the scale of your ambition - Learn how to future-proof your business - Shine light on your mission’s longevity - Unshackle yourself from today’s problems - Dream again”

Couldn’t agree more. I did it for C4E and it's humbling AND inspiring!

h, On writing, this tweet is pretty mind-expanding. The author says, “Write really short, and really long. Avoid the 800-word blog posts in the middle.” When you look at the rise of the newsletters and deeply reported content, you realize that really long pieces of texts move the mountains now!

i, Apparently, people born blind are protected from Schizophrenia. Read this. And it's so fascinating that we don't know so many things about our own brain. And what makes this worse? We don't even know what we don't know!

j. This long read about how the CIA planted a Trojan Horse deep into the secret machinery of friends and enemies is so so fascinating that I could not sleep after I read this!

k. You remember Ikigai? Here’s a pictorial representation of some of its rules…

l. You must have seen Sacred Games. Did you know that the guy who wrote it (Vikram Chandra) is the founder and CEO of a book-writing software company, Granthika? Read here!

m. This is the last link! Promise! And this is the story from Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve about “6 wild animals – a mama Sloth bear with two babies on her back, a pair of mating tigers and an ape with a camera (me).” See this tweet.

Image

Phew!

Trust me there is a lot more. But I guess we’d stop here. We have a weekend, not the entire life!


And, ladies and gents, this is it for this week. Hope you enjoyed this as much as we enjoyed putting it together. Thank you once again for reading!

Gratitude and Regards,

AkshaySaurabh, and thePodium.in team.

PS: Loved this newsletter? Tell us by clicking on this link - podm.in/love👍👍👍

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