June 7, 2022




Paul Graham on Wealth Creation, Living a Fulfilling Life, and Beating The Status Quo

At a glance

Welcome to the 300(!) new friends of the Mental Models, Concepts, and Frameworks newsletter who have joined us since last week!

This Week: 16 Powerful Mental Models from Paul Graham on wealth creation, living a fulfilling life, and beating the status quo

Paul Graham is one of the most influential technologists in the world.

He’s also written 200+ essays since 1993 that are a gold mine of wisdom on wealth creation, living a fulfilling life, and beating the status quo.

Here are 16 of the very best mental models from his essays.

Be Good

Being good is a competitive advantage.

It sets the compass for difficult decisions, allowing accelerated progress.

It makes other people want to help you on your mission.

It gets you through the inevitable ups-and-downs because you're anchored to purpose.

How to Think for Yourself

Thinking for yourself is life’s greatest competitive advantage—you see opportunities others don’t.

  • Read History
  • Ask, “Is it true?”
  • Meet different types of people
  • Be less aware of conventional beliefs
  • Cultivate independent-minded friends

How to Cultivate Curiosity

Avoid situations that suppress it—stagnant work environments and close-minded people.

Seek novel environments and situations—travel or communities.

Seek out topics that engage it.

Indulge it, by investigating things you're interested in.

The Conformist Test

”Do you have any opinions that you would be reluctant to share with your peers?

If the answer is no, you might want to stop and think about that.

If everything you believe is something you're supposed to believe, odds are you think what you're told.”

How to Work Hard

If you want to do great things, you’ll have to work extremely hard.

Deep interest in a topic makes you work harder than any amount of discipline can.

Be honest with yourself to know when you’re being lazy or working too hard—find your limit.

Keep Your Identity Small

We struggle to think objectively about things that become part of our identity.

The more labels we give ourselves, the more emotionally we respond.

The best plan is to let as few things into your identity as possible.

Be nimble and hard to define.

How To Get Rich

”To get rich you need to get yourself in a situation with two things, measurement and leverage.

You need to be in a position where your performance can be measured.

And you have to have leverage, in the sense that the decisions you make have a big effect.”

Good and Bad Procrastination

Good procrastination is avoiding work that has 0 chance of being mentioned in your obituary—like errands.

”Unless you're working on the biggest things you could be working on, you're type-B procrastinating, no matter how much you're getting done.”

The Top Idea In Your Mind

The topic you think about in the shower is “The Top Idea In Your Mind.”

If it's not what you want to be thinking about, it might indicate you’re dealing with unwanted problems subconsciously.

If so, you may need to change something.

Mean People Fail

For most of history, success meant success at zero-sum games—meanness was a competitive advantage.

Increasingly, the world is made of positive-sum games.

You win not by fighting for control, but by having novel ideas and improving the lives of others.

Managers Schedule vs. Makers Schedule

There are two types of schedule.

Manager: The work you do changes every hour.

Those on a manager’s schedule should understand the cost of interruptions for makers.

Relentlessly Resourceful

To win in the startup world, "making something people want" is the destination, but "being relentlessly resourceful" is how you get there.

Being relentless is not enough.

The challenges of startups are novel and require novel thinking—resourcefulness.

How to Disagree Well

”If you have something real to say, being mean gets in the way.

The greatest benefit of disagreeing well is not just that it will make conversations better, but that it will make the people who have them happier.”

Schlep Blindness

There are great startup ideas lying unexploited right under our noses, but they seem too hard for most.

So instead, people tend towards easier, less important ideas.

Don’t shrink from ‘dirty’ work if it’s on the path to something great.

h/t - @annavitals

Schlep Blindness

Do Things That Don’t Scale

Universally, startups require unscalable efforts to kickstart their growth.

For example, recruiting users manually or constraining the product to a narrow market.

Dismissing the need to do “unscalable” things is one of the surest ways to failure.

The Economics of Working in Startups

"Economically, you can think of a startup as a way to compress your whole working life into a few years.

Instead of working at a low intensity for forty years, you work as hard as you possibly can for four. "

That's it, I hope you enjoyed reading :)

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