by elizabeth ferrao
Elizabeth Ferrao is Sr. Product Consultant @ Product Mindset and Product Teacher @ General Assembly.Previously, she was the Founder of EMO, Head of Product @ XapiX, Tech Product @ Amex, Software Eng @ Time Inc, and Co-founded NYC network of Women Who Code.My favorite question:
Select Past Books:
Udacity Design Sprint:
Becoming a master facilitator
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MONEY
As I was thinking through money, money management, money futures, and opportunities, this was an excellent read.
Decide what ‘enough’ is. For now, for life. The line cannot keep moving.Save Save SAVE. That is the path towards wealth.Rich (flaunted, material things) vs. Wealth (a state of mind. Can take days off a needed vacation.Warren Buffet’s wealth comes AFTER age 65. $884.6 Bil of his $85 Bil (t’was a savings + wealth state of mind)View the ups and downs of the stock market as a fee, not a fine
Never trade on a margin! (this is how Warren Buffet’s 3rd partner had to sell to Warren in the 1980 crisis)Crises used to happen every 2 years. Now its been 8 years.
We make up stories to fit our versions of financial success/failure.When investing ask, ‘will this help me sleep at night?’ Maximize for sleeping well at night!!
Chapter 1: No One’s Crazy
“The person who grew up in poverty thinks about risk and reward in ways the child of a wealthy banker cannot fathom if he tried.”“Same goes for college. The share of Americans over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree has gone from less than 1 in 20 in 1940 to 1 in 4 by 2015. The average college tuition over that time rose more than fourfold adjusted for inflation. Something so big and so important hitting society so fast explains why, for example, so many people have made poor decisions with student loans over the last 20 years. There is not decades of accumulated experience to even attempt to learn from. We’re winging it.”
Chapter 2: Luck & Risk
“You are one person in a game with seven billion other people and infinite moving parts.”“You don’t suppose you can run a railroad in accordance with the statutes of the State of New York, do you?”“That attitude is why he was so successful.”“The line between bold and reckless can be thin.”“One lucky break, or one supremely shrewd decision—can we tell them apart?”Be careful who you praise and admire. Be careful who you look down upon and wish to avoid becoming.
Or, just be careful when assuming that 100% of outcomes can be attributed to effort and decisions. After my son was born, I wrote him a letter that said, in part:Some people are born into families that encourage education; others are against it. Some are born into flourishing economies encouraging of entrepreneurship; others are born into war and destitution. I want you to be successful, and I want you to earn it. But realize that not all success is due to hard work, and not all poverty is due to laziness. Keep this in mind when judging people, including yourself.Therefore, focus less on specific individuals and case studies and more on broad patterns.Bill Gates once said, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
Chapter 3: Never Enough
“A Nigerian scam artist once told The New York Times that he felt guilty for hurting others, but “poverty will not make you feel the pain.”Warren Buffett later put it:
To make money they didn’t have and didn’t need, they risked what they did have and did need. And that’s foolish. It is just plain foolish. If you risk something that is important to you for something that is unimportant to you, it just does not make any sense.There is no reason to risk what you have and need for what you don’t have and don’t need.The hardest financial skill is getting the goalpost to stop moving.
You feel as if you’re falling behind, and the only way to catch up is to take greater and greater amounts of risk.“The only way to win is to not fight to begin with—to accept that you might have enough, even if it’s less than those around you.”The only way to win in a Las Vegas casino is to exit as soon as you enter.”
Chapter 4: Confounding Compounding
$81.5 billion of Warren Buffet’s
$84.5 billion net worth came after his 65th birthday.
Our minds are not built to handle such absurdities.The amazing thing here is how big something can grow from a relatively small change in conditions. You start with a thin layer of snow leftover from a cool summer that no one would think anything of and then, in a geological blink of an eye, the entire Earth is covered in miles-thick ice. As glaciologist Gwen Schultz put it: “It is not necessarily the amount of snow that causes ice sheets but the fact that snow, however little, lasts.”“None of the 2,000 books picking apart BuOett’s success are titled This Guy Has Been Investing Consistently for Three-Quarters of a Century.”
Chapter 5: Getting Wealthy vs. Staying Wealthy
But there’s only one way to stay wealthy: some combination of frugality and paranoia.It requires frugality and an acceptance that at least some of what you’ve made is attributable to luck, so past success can’t be relied upon to repeat indefinitely.He didn’t panic and sell during the 14 recessions he’s lived through.He didn’t attach himself to one strategy, one worldview, or one passing trend.He survived.And longevity—investing consistently from age 10 to at least age 89—is what made compounding work wonders. That single point is what matters most when describing his success.You need to avoid ruin. At all costs.Planning is important, but the most important part of every plan is to plan on the plan not going according to plan.
You plan, God laughs.
But few plans of any kind survive their 4rst encounter with the real world.
Margin of safety
A frugal budget, flexible thinking, and a loose timeline—anything that lets you live happily with a range of outcomes.“- equally sure that the road between now and then is filled with landmines, and always will be.”Economies, markets, and careers often follow a similar path—growth amid loss.Roughly 99.9% of all companies that were created went out of business.Four U.S. presidents were assassinated.33 recessions lasted a cumulative 48 years.The number of forecasters who predicted any of those recessions rounds to zero. (HAHA!)Stocks lost a third of their value at least 12 times.The words “economic pessimism” appeared in newspapers at least 29,000 times, according to Google.He associated good times with the end of bad times. Getting wealthy made him feel like staying wealthy was inevitable, and that he was invincible. After losing nearly everything he reflected: A great many smashes by brilliant men can be traced directly to the swelled head.
Chapter 6: Tails, You Win
Carolco’s story is not worth telling because it’s unique, but because it’s common.Napoleon’s definition of a military genius was, “The man who can do the average thing when all those around him are going crazy.”How you behaved as an investor during a few months in late 2008 and early 2009 will likely have more impact on your lifetime returns than everything you did from 2000 to 2008.There is the old pilot quip that their jobs are “hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” It’s the same in investing. Your success as an investor will be determined by how you respond to punctuated moments of terror, not the years spent on cruise control.Tails drive everything.If you think that’s a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now. I am not kidding. Some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip.I did about 40 or 50 shows getting ready for the tour.
Chapter 7: Freedom
But doing something you love on a schedule you can’t control can feel the same as doing something you hate.The difference happened when I was 22.Few professions relied on a worker’s brain. You didn’t think; you labored, without interruption, and your work was visible and tangible.
Chapter 9: Wealth is What You Don’t See
Wealth is what you don’t see.Singer Rihanna nearly went bankrupt after overspending and sued her financial advisor. The advisor responded: “Was it really necessary to tell her that if you spend money on things, you will end up with the things and not the money?”When most people say they want to be a millionaire, what they might actually mean is “I’d like to spend a million dollars.” And that is literally the opposite of being a millionaire.“... we don’t get to see the restraint it takes to actually be wealthy.”The world is filled with people who look modest but are actually wealthy and people who look rich who live at the razor’s edge of insolvency. Keep this in mind when quickly judging others’ success and setting your own goals.
Chapter 10: Save Money
If you view building wealth as something that will require more money or big investment returns, you may become as pessimistic as the energy doomers were in the 1970s. The path forward looks hard and out of your control.If you view it as powered by your own frugality and efficiency, the destiny is If you view it as powered by your own frugality and efficiency, the destiny is clearer.And since you can build wealth without a high income, but have no chance of building wealth without a high savings rate, it’s clear which one matters more.Learning to be happy with less moneyWhen you define savings as the gap between your ego and your income you realize why many people with decent incomes save so little.
Chapter 11: Reasonable > Rational
We don’t like to think harder than we need to, and we have unceasing demands on our attention.
Chapter 12: Surprise!
Bill Bonner once described how Mr. Market works: “He’s got a ‘Capitalism at Work’ T-shirt on and a sledgehammer in his hand.” Few things stay the same for very long, which means we can’t treat historians as prophets.The thing that makes tail events easy to underappreciate is how easy it is to The thing that makes tail events easy to underappreciate is how easy it is to underestimate how things compound. How, for example, 9/11 prompted the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, which helped drive the housing bubble, which led to the financial crisis, which led to a poor jobs market, which led tens of millions to seek a college education, which led to $1.6 trillion in student loans with a 10.8% default rate. It’s not intuitive to link 19 hijackers to the current weight of student loans, but that’s what happens in a world driven by a few outlier tail events.Daniel Kahneman said,” Whenever we are surprised by something, even if we admit that we made a mistake, we say, ‘Oh I’ll never make that mistake again.’ But, in fact, what you should learn when you make a mistake because you did not anticipate something is that the world is difficult to anticipate. That’s the correct lesson to learn from surprises: that the world is surprising. ”The average time between recessions has grown from about two years in the late 1800s to five years in the early 20th century to eight years over the last half-century.There’s a common phrase in investing, usually used mockingly, that “It’s different this time.
Chapter 13: Room for Error
Decide what ‘enough’ is. For now, for life. The line cannot keep moving.Harvard psychologist Max Bazerman once showed that when analyzing other people’s home renovation plans, most people estimate the project will run between 25% and 50% over budget.⁴³ But when it comes to their own projects, people estimate that renovations will be completed on time and at budget. Oh, the eventual disappointment.Bill Gates understood this well. When Microsoft was a young company, he said he “came up with this incredibly conservative approach that I wanted to have enough money in the bank to pay a year’s worth of payroll even if we didn’t get any payments coming in.” Warren Buffett expressed a similar idea when he told Berkshire Hathaway shareholders in 2008: “I have pledged—to you, the rating agencies and myself—to always run Berkshire with more than ample cash ... When forced to choose, I will not trade even a night’s sleep for the chance of extra profits.” (A YEAR’s worth of savings!)Some people are remarkably good at avoiding single points of failure. Most critical systems on airplanes have backups, and the backups often have backups.The biggest single point of failure with money is a sole reliance on a paycheck to fund short-term spending needs, with no savings to create a gap between what you think your expenses are and what they might be in the future.In fact, the most important part of every plan is planning on your plan not going according to plan.
Chapter 14: You’ll Change
Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert once said:At every stage of our lives, we make decisions that will profoundly influence the lives of the people we’re going to become, and then when we become those people, we’re not always thrilled with the decisions we made. So young people pay good money to get tattoos removed that teenagers paid good money to get. Middle-aged people rushed to divorce people who young adults rushed to marry. Older adults work hard to lose what middle-aged adults worked hard to gain. On and on and on.“All of us,” he said, “are walking around with an illusion—an illusion that history, our personal history, has just come to an end, that we have just recently become the people that we were always meant to be and will be for the rest of our lives.” We tend to never learn this lesson. Gilbert’s research shows people from age 18 to 68 underestimate how much they will change in the future.So rather than one 80-something-year lifespan, our money has perhaps four distinct 20-year blocks.The fuel of the End of History Illusion is that people adapt to most circumstances, so the benefits of an extreme plan—the simplicity of having hardly anything, or the thrill of having almost everything—wear off. But the downsides of those extremes—not being able to afford retirement, or looking back at a life spent devoted to chasing dollars—become enduring regrets. Regrets are especially painful when you abandon a previous plan and feel like you have to run in the other direction twice as fast to make up for lost time.‘I have no sunk costs.’The quicker it’s done, the sooner you can get back to compounding.
Chapter 15: Nothing’s Free
Like most products, the bigger the returns, the higher the price. Netflix stock returned more than 35,000% from 2002 to 2018 but traded below its previous all-time high on 94% of days. Monster Beverage returned 319,000% from 1995 to 2018—among the highest returns in history—but traded below its previous high 95% of the time during that period.
Chapter 16: You & Me
They are a drug that can turn value-conscious investors into dewy-eyed optimists, detached from their own reality by the actions of someone playing a different game than they are.The main thing I can recommend is going out of your way to identify what game you’re playing.
Chapter 17: The Seduction of Pessimism
Real optimists don’t believe that everything will be great. That’s complacency. Optimism is a belief that the odds of a good outcome are in your favor over time, even when there will be setbacks along the way.Only 2.5% of Americans owned stocks on the eve of the great crash of 1929 that sparked the Great Depression.Expecting things to be bad is the best way to be pleasantly surprised when they’re not.
Chapter 18: When You’ll Believe Anything
The people were more addicted to prophecies and astrological conjurations, dreams, and old wives’ tales than ever they were before or since … almanacs frighted them terribly … the posts of houses and corners of streets were plastered over with doctors’ bills and papers of ignorant fellows, quacking and inviting the people to come to them for remedies, which was generally set off with such flourishes as these: ‘Infallible preventive pills against the plague.’ ‘Neverfailing preservatives against the infection.’ ‘Sovereign cordials against the corruption of the air.’The plague killed a quarter of Londoners in 18 months. You’ll believe just about anything when the stakes are that high.Hindsight, the ability to explain the past, gives us the illusion that the world is understandable. It gives us the illusion that the world makes sense, even when it doesn’t make sense. That’s a big deal in producing mistakes in many fields. Most people, when confronted with something they don’t understand, do not realize they don’t understand it because they’re able to come up with an explanation that makes sense based on their own unique perspective and experiences in the world, however, limited those experiences are. We all want the complicated world we live in to make sense. So we tell ourselves stories to fill in the gaps of what are effectively blind spots.
Chapter 19: All Together Now
Manage your money in a way that helps you sleep at night.“Does this help me sleep at night?”You can be wrong half the time and still make a fortune because a small minority of things account for the majority of outcomes.Use money to gain control over your time, because not having control of your time is such a powerful and universal drag on happiness. The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want to, pays the highest dividend that exists in finance.Define the game you’re playing, and make sure your actions are not being influenced by people playing a different game.
Chapter 20: Confessions
Sandy Gottesman, a billionaire investor who founded the consulting group First Manhattan, is said to ask one question when interviewing candidates for his investment team: “What do you own, and why?”
I love this question because it highlights what can often be a mile-wide gap between what makes sense—which is what people suggest you do—and what feels right to them—which is what they actually do.Over the years I came around to the view that we’ll have a high chance of meeting all of our family’s financial goals if we consistently invest money into a low-cost index fund for decades on end, leaving the money alone to compound.My investing strategy doesn’t rely on picking the right sector or timing the next recession. It relies on a  high savings rate,  patience, and  optimism that the global economy will create value over the next several decades. I spend virtually all of my investing effort thinking about those three things—especially the first two, which I can control.No one is crazy.
The defining characteristic of economics in the 1950s is that the country got rich by making the poor less poor.
This book was a beautifully written art piece.
Here are my top underlined passages:
During those festive Saturday afternoons, munching on sunfower seeds and lychees, Nan’s downturned mouth would right itself like a sail catching wind, and she would transform into a kinder, more relaxed mother, one without the little pinch between her brows. Ivy would wait all afternoon for this moment to scoot close to her mother on the sofa… closer… closer… and then, with the barest of movements, she’d slide into Nan’s lap.
Sometimes, Nan would put her hands around Ivy’s waist. Other times, she’d pet her head in an absent, fitful way, as if she wasn’t aware of doing it. Ivy would try to stay as still as possible. It was a frightful, stolen pleasure, but how she craved the touch of a bosom, a 1eshy lap to rest on.Her parents’ mantra: The harder you work, the luckier you are.Her teachers’ mantra: Treat others the way you want to be treated.Meifeng saw that she had no time to lose. She felt it her duty to instill in her granddaughter the two qualities necessary for survival: self-reliance and granddaughter the two qualities necessary for survival: self-reliance and opportunism.Ivy snatched up a rose-patterned scarf (the same one she would cut up and sew into a headband years later) and bunched it into a ball inside her pocket. “Is this for me?”
“Keep it out of sight,” said Meifeng, towing Ivy by the arm toward the register, a shiny quarter ready, to pay for the woolen sweater. “Let this be your first lesson: give with one hand and take with the other. No one will be watching both.”“Remember this, Baobao: when winds of change blow, some build walls. Others build windmills.”Years of reconciling her grandmother’s teachings with her American values had somehow culminated in a confused but firm belief that in order to become the “good,” ting hua girl everyone asked of her, she had to use “smart” methods. But she never admitted how much she enjoyed these methods. She never got too greedy. She never got sloppy. And most important, she never got caught.Instead of minding her own business as Meifeng had always instructed her to do (the straightest tree is the first to be cut down), she’d called out, “What are you doing?”Knowledge, like money, was foolish to give away for free. You could never get it back.Ivy thought how strange it was that even though Mrs. Roman spoke Romanian and Nan Chinese, how similar they sounded when shouting, like a 1ock of angry ravens, the consonants clipped and hardened by anger. Maybe anger was the only universal language.
One successful marriage can feed three generations.It tasted like money.Nan made noncommittal comments—she was a proud woman—but in her desperate state, any new idea for making money felt like a golden lottery ticket. And 500 percent pro-t was a calculation even Nan could do without her little calculator.After dinner, Nan sat on the sofa, head leaned back, both hands in her lap, her face gentle, her lips gathered in an indulgent smile, and the sight was enough to induce everyone in the house into a state of wild euphoria because none of them could remember the last time they saw Nan sitting idly.Be humble and grateful for what you have.
He’d come up to her and said, Do you remember me, Ivy? As if she’d been the important one.Give me mountains and water and I’m a happy man.She felt a wave of tenderness toward him then, for his passions and his troubles, which, to her, were the wholesome troubles of a child.Lips and hips, Andrea’s trademark weapons.Her mother’s approval might be even harder to bear than her disappointment.It was a bizarre form of matchmaking. Nan couldn’t seem to decide whether she was trying to talk Ivy up to Kevin, or shame Ivy into being a better person. Perhaps love and shame always went hand in hand, even in romance.“I have a boyfriend,” said Ivy.
“You said his parents were divorced.”
“This is a different boyfriend.”
Nan looked at her suspiciously.
“Then it won’t last. Haven’t you learned by now?”
Ivy slammed her teacup on the table.But as long as she was amenable and admiring, there were many new experiences available to her.The story they constantly told themselves. The innermost wound.“Dave, what are you looking at?” Liana asked, clearly finished with playing the role of mentor. Ivy felt like a new toy passed around from Dave to Liana, neither of them particularly interested in playing with it, but obligated to feign minimal enthusiasm for Gideon’s sake.…reducing her relatives to avatars for the poor, the rich, the Chinese.Ivy felt something loyal and protective emit from the heat of Liana’s hand, something that inducted her into Liana’s inner circle, even if she barely understood how to navigate such a circle in which her Chinese-ness wasn’t something to hide under the tablecloth like an unseemly dog, but flaunted in a qipao with a slit up the thigh. Suddenly, she felt ashamed of her earlier simplification of Liana’s life, of her relatives’ lives. Maybe there were no new stories, only your story. But what did the real story even matter, when most people judged you based on the shallowest surfaces?Just what was this cloak called privilege and how did it protect you? Was it visible to the wearer or just to onlookers on the outside?‘If we don’t dare, then who will dare?’Magic, she’d realized then, was not inherent to a place, it emanated from the person viewing it. This trip would be different, it would feel special and beautiful because Gideon thought it was special and beautiful and he was the altered lens through which she would view the world.Perhaps this was the secret to a lasting marriage: to always uphold a veil of mystery between each other, like a silkscreen dividing a bedroom chamber. If Shen had an ounce of mystery about him, maybe Nan wouldn’t look down on him so much.He and Ted placed their beers on wooden coasters carved with the subway map of Boston. How unified and comfortable they looked, thought Ivy, in their clean-pressed clothes and large, American bodies—unlike whenever she saw her own father and brother together, like two bristling pit bulls forced into the cockpit.She noticed that Roux’s left sock had a large hole at the heel. This detail comforted her. It bridged the gap between this Roux and the seventeen-year-old one of her memories.Sylvia said something about an art institute and Italian painters but Ivy was barely listening. The word Kmart rang in her mind like a death toll, the shy optimism she’d felt for Roux only moments earlier skewered through the heart by his casual betrayal.“She’ll handle it,” said Gideon, exchanging a look with his sister. Countless times, they must have tag-teamed Ted and Poppy in this fashion, thought Ivy, maneuvering through their parents like two acrobats whose mutual trust was implicit and uncompromising.Ted’s face went through a comical range of expressions from shock to anger to resignation as decades of training to pretend pleasant deafness kicked in.Maybe everyone reverted back to infantile habits around their family members.I enjoy procuring what everyone else wants.When Roux said he knew a contractor in Boston who could do the job, Poppy said, “What a wonderful idea, I must think it over,” which was her way of deteecting unwanted suggestions.His words caught her off guard. She’d thought he was going to say something clever and biting again. She opened her mouth to make a condescending retort; she couldn’t speak. Unexpected kindness often made her cry, whereas cruelty never did.Jealousy didn’t suit Sylvia, thought Ivy. She was loveliest when she was high and mighty.Her heart fluttered with delight and sorrow. Beautiful… Roux was the first person ever to have called her that.Ivy suddenly saw that life could always be easy like this. A postcoital cigarette. Pillow plans. Honest duplicity, instead of the infinitely more exhausting duplicitous honesty.If you love me, she thought at Gideon, you’ll look at me. If one couldn’t ask for a sign in a church, then where could one ask? But he didn’t look at her. He didn’t look.
She remembered the time because she’d checked her phone, pathetically, to see if Gideon had called. She played her old game: if he calls, I’ll go home. He didn’t call.That sheer repetition of superficial interactions could breed intimacy, in a different but no less meaningful way than did deep vulnerability, was a lesson the genteel had learned early.It was something that Meifeng used to tell her: one successful marriage feeds three generations. Only now did she believe this.Ivy was reminded of the girls of her youth. Like faces from a storybook, she saw once more the svelte daisy-haired Satterfield twins, creamy-skinned Liza Johnson with the wide lips and catlike eyes, only they didn’t seem like fourteen-year-old girls but fully formed women entirely capable of in1icting upon the present Ivy the loneliness and embarrassment she’d felt throughout her preteen years.
Never does a woman lie in a more cunning way than when she tells the truth to a man who doesn’t believe her.He was still ranting, all threats no doubt, as if she needed some tough love to come to her senses. Like most men, he’d liked her passion when he was the cause of it, but her own passion, passion that had nothing to do with him, was dismissed as foolishness. Nothing she would say now could convince him to take her seriously. He couldn’t afford to.Her face contorted. Control was a zero-sum game between them: one had to suck it from the other.
Every place where humans gathered, there would be a food chain. Someone had to be on top.It was because I willed it.You have to give a man something to fight for. That’s the secret to a lasting marriage.Meifeng once told her a bedtime story about the frog who lived in an old well. The frog was born in the cold and dark well; all it knew of the outside world was the faint light far above it, which it took to be the sun. One day, a bird flew down into the well and said to the frog, “Come up to the outside world where it is bright and warm.” The frog laughed at the bird, thinking that the well was, in fact, the entire world. Ivy could see that she’d been the frog, thinking her suffering unique, specific to her Chinese family, her particular circumstances. But she was just another desperate girl who’d dreamed of beautiful things, dreams Nan must’ve also had at her age. Nan, who, like Ivy, had fought to escape. Not only to escape but to thrive, she’d fought with everything she had to get what she wanted.On the drive over to the hospital, Shen had brought it up twice already, which was how she knew he was eager.Ivy recognized in the girl’s wistful voice a bad case of family crush. She was the object of a family crush.
Somewhere along the way, Shen and Nan had become businesspeople with a bit of wealth and power. The lie Ivy had been telling all along had come true.Ivy heard a man’s voice in the background and Gideon turned away from the phone brie1y to respond to him. It always made Ivy lonely to hear noisy gatherings in Gideon’s background. His life always seemed so busy without her; her phone line was always clear.“I don’t want kids,” said Ivy.
“To understand a parent’s love, you have to have kids yourselves.”
“It’s too risky. You have no idea what kind of monster will pop out of you.” Ivy knew now what kind of blood ran in her veins. It was no kind to pass on.
“Monster! What kind of stupid idea is that? If you don’t have kids, who will take care of you then if you fall in the shower?”
“A live-in nurse. Nurses don’t expect anything from you. You pay them to do a job. It’s clean and fair.”
Meifeng snorted. “There’s no outtalking you when you get like this.” She reached for her mug of tea, wincing a little with discomfort. “You’ve always had strange ideas about children. Remember the time you wet the bed because you saw that little ghost girl? You begged me to leave the light on.”
“I’d just watched The Exorcist.” Ivy laughed, then shivered. “I thought the devil that had possessed the girl would come through the TV and get me.” Her eight-year-old self had been frozen at the image of the black spirit entering her, turning her into a thrashing child-monster. “But I didn’t keep it on,” said Meifeng. “Too wasteful, I thought. I’ve always regretted not providing you comfort that night. I keep imagining how scared you must have been to wet the bed. It’s strange to be old. All the little regrets keep you up at night.”
Danger often created unique opportunities.Hair was reparable, but her need to destroy, escape, remake was a darkness the combined forces of Meifeng and Nan hadn’t been able to fumigate.All of Ivy’s pleasure lay in this gap, that elusive divide between familiarity and admiration, intimacy and enigma.…all promises of a man who is very nearly drunk, spilling the rawest dreams of his heart.
An hour later, a large crowd of doctors had assembled inside Ivy’s room and gathered around her bed, the atmosphere one of suppressed hilarity and amazement, to see the crazy lady who had gone and given herself scurvy, the sailor’s disease, in the modern age.
Lastly, thank you to Alex Yang, best of friends, best of husbands, and best of champions. To try and list everything you’ve done for me and this book is an impossible task. But make no mistake—I know. You will always be the first reader, and the last. Home is where you are.
One of my favorite research studies:So there was a really great experiment that Stanford did called The Marshmallow Experiment in the 1960s. And The Marshmallow Experiment, which you can look up is incredibly famous because it said, it brought in a group of children and the children currently have one marshmallow. If the children can wait 15 minutes, they can eat that marshmallow plus a second marshmallow.And the Stanford experiment was incredibly famous because it tracked those children throughout their lives (like for the next 10-15 years). They saw that those who had more willpower, aka the ones who waited 15 minutes to eat the marshmallow and therefore received two marshmallows, those children ultimately did better with their grades, and lasted longer in jobs because it was all about delayed gratification versus immediate gratification.The University of Rochester expanded on this experiment and said, 'Hey, we're going to try something a little different. An extension of this, it's going to be called the Broken Promise Experiment, where half of the students/children are going to ring a bell, and when they ring the bell, there will be a researcher that comes and will give them a marshmallow. But half of the students when they ring the bell, a researcher won't ever show up.And what they noticed was that for the children where the researcher came and then left, the children were far more likely to wait up to four times longer, because the researcher had come. This was four times longer than the children where the researcher hadn't come. And so, what this points out is short-term versus long-term. If you have, if an adult says to a child, "Hey, you ring this bell, I will come and then the child is ringing the bell and the researcher doesn't come, then that means that there was a broken promise, the child thought something and it didn't happen. That meant that the child was far more interested in short-term gratification than short-term results. Versus Hey, well, this adult promised me something. And when I rang the bell, the researcher came so I'm willing to wait longer because I had my promise, the promise that they said actually happened.
It's About damn time
My favorite quotes from the legendary book
As someone who has always been vision focused, who has always had big ideas and small resources…ingenuity, hard work, hustle, grit, and innovation aren’t traits that are prevalent only in the straight white male population.“HUSTLE” LOOKS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DEPENDING ON YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES.When I was deep into the journey to becoming a venture capitalist, my mom and I were roommates in Pearland, Texas, where I slept on a blow-up mattress. I barely left my room, spending all day and night reading books and blogs, watching YouTube videos made by successful venture capitalists, and sending emails. When I couldn’t afford to buy a book, I went to Barnes & Noble and sat there reading until closing time. I sent hundreds of cold emails to investors, asking to intern for them, asking to work for them, asking if they would mentor me, asking if they would hear me out. Save for the extremely rare positive response, I was met with a barrage of nos or was blatantly ignored.…there’s never been a time in my life when one person’s no has made me give up entirely.WHAT IF THE NEXT MARK ZUCKERBERG IS A LITTLE ZUCKERBERG IS A LITTLE BLACK GIRL FROM THE SOUTH?Marlon Nichols, Troy Carter, and Suzy Ryoo at Cross Culture Ventures; John Henry at Harlem Capital Partners; Kesha Cash and Stefanie Thomas at Impact America; Aaron Holiday at 645 Ventures; Monique Woodard at 500 Startups; Charles Hudson at Precursor; Austin Clements at Ten One Ten; and Freada Kapor Klein and Mitchell Kapor at Kapor Capital are just some and Freada Kapor Klein and Mitchell Kapor at Kapor Capital are just some of the investors I’d soon meet and work closely with.I HAVE BEEN EXCEPTIONALLY EXCEPTIONALLY UNDERESTIMATED AND IF YOU’VE PICKED UP THIS BOOK, I’M GUESSING THAT SO HAVE YOU.I hope it’s the knowledge that no matter what you do for a living or where you are in your career, you deserve to walk through the door of any room you want to be in.
PART I: BECOMING MONEY
I hope it’s the knowledge that no matter what you do for a living or where you are in your career, you deserve to walk through the door of any room you want to be in.I can’t tell you the number of times I have been in a conversation with someone who has already been a venture capitalist for years, and that person is asking me questions as if I’m the savant, because they did not learn the way that I did.I had to learn from scratch.I was building my intellectual capital, my war chest of information.I dedicated time and effort to the thing that fascinated me, and I found a way into this business by using my knowledge as capital.“Let’s get information.”
PART II: RELATIONSHIPS
But you have to be prepared to build slowly; no one becomes a rock star overnight.Be still, my little lesbian heart.Every time you meet a new person, you have an opportunity to learn something. I have met thousands of people in my life. I’ve always found them fascinating… (THAT’S ME!)“Hey, I’m Arlan, and I am on a quest to meet ten thousand people this year. I’m taking a photo with everyone that I meet, and I’m putting them on a website, which you can check out.” There was a slight pause, and I braced for the worst. Then one of them said, “Oh, awesome. That sounds great. Let’s do it!” and they all looked at one another and then got in line to have their photo taken with me. Other people started noticing and asking what was going on, so word spread around the bar quickly, and those who were interested came over to meet me.THAT FREEDOM TO DREAM AS BIG AS YOU DARE, THAT’S SOMETHING MONEY CAN NOT BUY.USING YOUR PRIVILEGE TO HELP OTHERS DOESN’T TAKE ANYTHING AWAY FROM YOU.
PART III: RESILIENCE
We turned it into a bit of an adventure to help ourselves cope, because it wasn’t an easy path and it took our pride away, you know?I think both of us felt that we should be past that part of our lives.One day I will buy a boat or a house for my mom, and I think you know what I’ll call it.But instead of wasting that energy on revenge or anger or bitterness, I channeled it into something positive. This is something I would recommend to everyone; use the energy that anger gives you to create something new or to get your house in order. Repurpose it. The next time you feel as though everything is broken, as though you have nothing to give, GET CREATIVE!When my blog was in its prime, I had an average of fifty thousand unique visitors each month according to Google analytics.I had the best intentions, a product people loved, a loyal fan base, but I would run out of capital or not optimize for profit because I didn’t know any betterI’m talking about you, the person who has maybe felt a bit different from your peers, who is always thinking of new ideas and, unlike the majority of the world, attempts to execute many of them.Because of their perseverance and unflappable resolve, they have risen from the ashes time and time again.Silicon Valley Bank economist Natalie Fratto has coined the term “adaptability quotient” (AQ)FORGIVENESS IS THE ULTIMATE PRODUCTIVITY HACK.At the end of the week, we had a race to see who could swim to the other end of the pool and back the fastest. On your mark, get set, go! And guess what? I won it. I started the class with the least amount of experience because I was late to it and scared senseless, and by the end of it, once I knew the rules and got my bearings, I was faster than the rest of the class. I think about this whenever I’m worried that I’m too far behind or that I don’t belong in a certain circle because I don’t have the same set of qualifications or expertise. Given the opportunity, I can succeed, even when I’m scared out of my mind.
(_@Google)Not only was the hill steep (perhaps a sixty-degree incline), but we were already around 15,000 feet above sea level and the high altitude made breathing even more difficult. I was out of breath just climbing the hill but with people ahead of me. I remember thinking, “This is an analogy of my life.” At that moment I reflected on it: there were people all around me, passing me, getting to places faster than I was. They were heading to the same destination as I was but getting there more easily, with less angst and pain. I wondered if the strapping young men at the front of the pack thought they were somehow better, smarter, superior in some way because they were able to get to the top faster?I was the heaviest person, so I had the most weight to carry up the hill. I was the least fit, so I had the worst lung capacity, and it was the hardest for me to breathe, as far as I know. Most of the people around me were men, so they didn’t have to be aware of their breasts pushing down against their lungs. I had a lot of time to think about that on the long, strenuous walk. This self-reflection and life observation is something I do daily in almost every situation, even then, when I could barely breathe and all I wanted to do was roll my way back down that hill and take a nap wherever I landed. I can’t help myself.
PART IV: AUTHENTICITY
As I got older, school became harder. Not only did I find the other kids hard to relate to, it seemed that the teachers found me hard to relate to. The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality published a study in 2017 Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality published a study in 2017 about the problem of the “adultification” of Black girls in the United States. Titled “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” the study showed that adults view Black girls as less innocent, more independent, and older than they are. Black girls are felt to be less in need of nurturing, protection, and comfort and are assumed to know more about sex than white girls. The “adultification” process begins at age five. The report suggested that those perceptions “may contribute to harsher punishment by educators and school resource officers.”
Not only was I a Black girl, I was also very tall for my age and physically well developed. I was a bright student, getting As and Bs on my work, but I continually got Cs and Fs on behavior. I was, and still am, naturally very curious. I asked a lot of questions. Instead of nurturing that curiosity and helping me find the answers I was looking for, many of the teachers sent me to the principal’s office, citing “disruption” as my offense. I ended up in trouble a lot, and it always felt unfair to me. I take much responsibility for learning that I could feel better about myself by cracking up a classroom with humor, so some of those trips were definitely well founded.But many—too many—were not.I’m trying to connect with one person.Be yourself so that the people looking for you can find you.SOMEONE RIGHT NOW IS LOOKING FOR YOU.
PART V: CREATIVITY
I pattern match for grit, determination, and tenacity, and they can come in a whole range of different guises.PULL YOUR OWN CHAIR UP TO THE TABLE. SCRIBBLE YOUR OWN NAME ON THE VIP LIST, AND DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT ANYONE TELL YOU THAT YOU DON’T BELONG.
PART VI: CONFIDENCE
You can’t compare your chapter 2 to someone’s chapter 10.Unfortunately, underestimated groups suffer from imposter syndrome partially because they are often perceived as and treated as imposters by the wider society. I’ve come across this myself many times over the past few years, especially when I’ve shown up to a speaking engagement at a conference or a meeting at a fancy hotel and been asked for my ticket, for proof that I’m meant to be there. This has happened when I’ve been the headlining speaker at a conference. My face is in the program. It’s on the poster. And still there’s the person taking tickets with a skeptical look on their face, waiting for the A-OK from someone who looks “more legit.” Eventually, someone hurries over, embarrassed, and vouches for me. The problem is, people don’t expect to see us in certain locations or in specific roles. We’re expected to be in the background, helping someone more important, bringing out the lunch or clearing away the plates. We carry this around all the time, the Picker of confusion on the face of a White man the moment he realizes that maybe he’s supposed to be paying you attention, that maybe you aren’t meant to be invisible. Sometimes it’s the momentary surprise on a person’s face when you show up to your first meeting, because, oh, they never expected you to be… different. All of this weighs us down and piles onto the imposter syndrome we already feel and compounds our internal self-doubt.I’m here to say: We do not have time for this. We cannot be slowed down by this. We need to be extra confident, extra sure of ourselves; we need to give ourselves 1,000 percent permission to do whatever it is we want to do. Confidence isn’t just a hack, it’s a superpower, and it’s one we need to harness. How? Well, it’s different for everyone, and you need to find what works for you, but here are a few things I find helpful.
PART VIII: THE BIG PICTURE
I’m in this to watch more DIY hair care companies like Curl Mix go from less than $10,000 in revenue per month to more than $1 million per month two years after taking on our $25,000 investment. These are the kinds of stories that will make the tough times I’ve gone through and the tough days ahead worth it.AN INVESTMENT SHOULD FEEL AS THOUGH IT’S GOING TO RETURN AT LEAST TEN TIMES THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT AN INVESTOR PUTS IN.HUNGRY, NOT THIRSTY.…who makes good on their wordI look for someone who is resourceful and has done a lot with a little.