David speaks with Eric Jorgenson, the CEO of Scribe Media. Scribe is the first, biggest, and best professional publisher. He is also an Angel investor and entrepreneur. He launched his rolling fund on AngelList, a rolling fund investing in pre-seed and seed-stage tech companies.
They talked about:
🤔 Why some people never change
🧠 How your beliefs shape your outcomes
🚀 Naval’s immigrant superpower
🤖 NPC behaviours and bundled beliefs
❓ Why you should question your assumptions
🤝 Avoiding bias and appreciating meritocracy
📰 The challenges of media bias
🎙 Listen in your favourite podcast player
📹 Watch on Youtube
👤 Connect with Eric:
Twitter: @EricJorgenson | https://twitter.com/EricJorgenson
Website: Scribe Media | https://scribemedia.com/
Books: The Anthology of Balaji | https://amzn.to/45UjFqe
The Almanack of Naval Ravikant | https://amzn.to/47g7ncy
📄 Show notes:
0:00 | Intro
02:34 | Why some people never change
04:36 | How your beliefs shape your outcomes
07:10 | The importance of identity in personal growth
14:20 | Naval’s immigrant superpower
17:46 | NPC behaviours and bundled beliefs
26:09 | Why you should question your assumptions
27:54 | Avoiding bias and appreciating meritocracy
36:03 | The challenges of media bias
🗣 Mentioned in the show:
Paul Kaufman | https://www.ophth.wisc.edu/blog/people/paul-l-kaufman-md/
David Kadavy | https://www.theknowledge.io/davidkadavy/
Naval Ravikant | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Ravikant
Wanting | https://amzn.to/3Ms6sOe
Luke Burgis | https://lukeburgis.com/
René Girard | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/René_Girard
Charlie Munger | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Munger
Balaji Srinivasan | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balaji_Srinivasan
Elon Musk | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elon_Musk
AngelList | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AngelList
Lex Friedman | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lex_Fridman
Jared Kushner | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Kushner
Tim Ferriss show | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiYo14wylQw
Warren Buffett | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett
👨🏾💻 About David Elikwu:
David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist, and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.
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📸 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/delikwu/
🕺 TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@delikwu
🎙️ Podcast: http://plnk.to/theknowledge
📖 EBook: https://delikwu.gumroad.com/l/manual
My Online Course
🖥️ Career Hyperdrive: https://maven.com/theknowledge/career-hyperdrive
Career Hyperdrive is a live, cohort-based course that helps people find their competitive advantage, gain clarity around their goals and build a future-proof set of mental frameworks so they can live an extraordinary life doing work they love.
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[00:00:00] Eric Jorgenson: We don't talk about it this way, but you see this often in stories of founders and successful entrepreneurs also, like an immigrant to an industry. You see somebody who spent their first 10 years in the auto industry and then they move into textiles and they fuck up the textile industry because they don't have the assumptions and they're just willing to question everything and say like, that doesn't make sense. Like, back to what we were talking about on first principles, like it's exhausting to analyze everything from first principles. We tend to use analogies, we tend to assume the experts know what they're talking about. And when you get somebody who is put in a situation where they have to question everything from first principles or they are so motivated to figure it out that they bring that energy to every question, every assumption, you see that.
[00:00:43] David Elikwu: This week I'm speaking with Eric Jorgensen. Eric is currently the CEO of Scribe Media, which is actually the company that published his very first book, so he's gone from customer to CEO.
[00:00:53] David Elikwu: And he's also an angel investor and entrepreneur.
[00:00:56] David Elikwu: He has a rolling fund investing in pre seed and seed stage tech companies and he's also the author of two books. The Almanac of Naval, which has now sold over a million copies, and he's recently released his second book, The Anthology of Balaji.
[00:01:10] David Elikwu: So, both of these are incredibly interesting books, this was an awesome conversation, in fact it was so awesome and wide ranging that we've decided to split it into a few parts.
[00:01:19] David Elikwu: So in today's part, you're going to hear us talking about why some people never change, how your beliefs shape your outcomes, NPC behaviors and bundled beliefs, Naval's immigrant superpowers, and some of the other powers that make him such an incredible investor.
[00:01:33] David Elikwu: We talk about incisive thinking and developing the courage to act.
[00:01:37] David Elikwu: We talk about avoiding bias, appreciating meritocracy, why you should question your assumptions, and finally we touched on the challenges of media bias and our relationship with the media that we consume.
[00:01:49] David Elikwu: So this was a really great episode and look out for the following parts that will come soon.
[00:01:55] David Elikwu: You can get the full show notes, the transcript, and also read my newsletter at thenowledge. io. And you can keep up with Eric on Twitter @ericjorgenson. If you love this episode, please do share it with a friend and don't forget to leave a review because it helps us to reach other people just like you.
[00:02:13] David Elikwu: So, I wanted to start with, I heard you mention once a Paul Kaufman quote, which was essentially something like, you know, if you saw a child that was around age seven and between age seven and age 10, they didn't change at all. You would think that was a tragedy. You'd be concerned, you'd be worried. Why is this child not developing or changing their beliefs?
[00:02:34] David Elikwu: But if you saw an adult who didn't change at all between age 27 and age 30, most people would be relieved, right? People like the predictability. And so I'd really love to know. Why you think that is and what it is about like our society and the way that we engage with each other, where there is this inbuilt expectation that you've already learned enough and you don't really need to or want to change too much.
[00:02:58] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah, I think there's probably a lot of subtle messages or undertones that communicate to you that the best thing to do is to remain as you are. There's probably something to the fact that we think of our lives as starting with education until we reach some point of deciding to stop educating and start like quote unquote working. And then people have this belief that they're done learning, they know everything they need to know and they just have to execute now. Like, which to me seems clearly insane.
[00:03:23] Eric Jorgenson: And then there's the whole social pressure I think that you mentioned where people around you tend to subtly communicate to you to like, keep you what you are. And there's something really sweet about that, right? Like you're great the way you are, we love you just the way you are. Like you don't have to change. And I think you can respond to that with like, but I want to change, you know, back to the Peter Kauffman quote, you mentioned like, we should all aspire to grow. Like you can be happy the way you are and desire some growth or change for yourself. I think it's a tension between like being happy with where you are and still wanting to be somewhere else. You don't wanna spend your whole life wishing you were somewhere else or pushing yourself to grow that's like, this permanent state of self-flagellation that's probably not gonna like, leave you in a state of peace and happiness and joy and able to appreciate where you are and what you've already done.
[00:04:10] Eric Jorgenson: But I think it's worth continuing to try to grow no matter where you are. To me, sort of identifying an area that you want to grow in, that you wanna build upon, an impact that you want to have on someone else or a cause or a person or a family, or even just, you know, your own body, your own mind. And then working to achieve that, like, that's the most fulfilling state to me. And it's worth trying to appreciate the state that you're in and the effort to change at the same time.
[00:04:36] David Elikwu: I think there's also a really interesting tension in which, I think there's two things. So one is that sometimes people also think or wish for the inverse. So you also have a lot of people that want to create some change in their lives, and they're always striving for something different or something more, but very much they're kind of stuck. They're staying in the same place. Sometimes they think it's because of forces outside of their control. But also, and I think this the second part, there is a strange inertia in which sometimes despite people wanting to be better and wanting to make a change, the actions they take are somehow cyclical and really just bring them back to the same place.
[00:05:12] David Elikwu: And so actually, despite all these small, almost micro changes that you might have over a few years where it feels like there were ups and downs and lots of different things happened in your life, there wasn't much actual change in, you know, character or development at the same time.
[00:05:26] Eric Jorgenson: What sort of changes do you think are the difference between like making a big impact on your life versus you feel like you're making changes, but those changes aren't that, you know, changes in your input that aren't changes in your output?
[00:05:38] David Elikwu: Yeah, that's a good question. Thanks for throwing that back at me.
[00:05:40] David Elikwu: Responding to that, I might say actually the core of it is changes in your beliefs, I think. And you can, let me know if you think differently, because I think if your beliefs change, then your actions change. Very often, people try to change their actions without changing their beliefs.
[00:05:55] David Elikwu: So this, okay. A good example of this. I hope or at least the example that came to mind is I was talking with David Kadavy, who's been on, on the podcast before, but we were talking on Twitter, and the idea that I had was essentially about the difference between trends and streaks. And so lots of people like streaks. I have a streak on duolingo of, you know, a few hundred days or whatever it is, and people love, okay, I wanna create a new habit. How many days can I keep this going? This is the new change that I want to make. But I think the trend is more powerful than the streak. And to break that down like streak is just behavior, but the trend is your identity.
[00:06:28] David Elikwu: And when I say trend, I mean you know, it's the difference between, okay, what have you done 9 out of the last 10 times, and what are you likely to do 9 in 10 times, right? It's like, who would you trust more? Someone that on the last 10 times they had a chance to do something, they happen to have a streak of doing the right thing, but you have no idea before that what their behavior is.
[00:06:47] David Elikwu: You have no idea going forward what their behavior would be, or do you wanna look at like their batting average? And okay, 9 out of 10 times, this is how they're going to act. And that is a function of your identity. I think when you change your beliefs, you change your identity, you change the way you act, you change the trend, it might not result in a streak.
[00:07:04] David Elikwu: So the last five days, you might not have done thing that aligns with your identity, but over time it does.
[00:07:10] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah. I think identity is the most important word. Like everything that you just said is like when you bake in, you can have a short term change, but if it sort of comes at the, comes into tension with like how you think of yourself or your default state as a result of your beliefs and your identity, then like, it's highly likely that that'll fall apart. If you go to the gym, not just make yourself go to the gym while believing that you're not a gym person, but go to the gym for 30 days and at the same time. Become in your own mind, a gym person and make that part of your identity and, you know, buy the shaker bottle and like get addicted to caffeine, whatever else comes with like being a gym person, that to your point exactly. Yeah, you're way more likely to continue that streak and not just continue it, but want to continue it. Like when you become the person who's like, I had a bad day 'cause I missed my workout. And then you're like, whoa, a year ago you would've like complained about having to work out or having to walk up a flight of stairs, like, do you hear that, you hear people's internal narrative, like their identity come out in some of those things.
[00:08:07] Eric Jorgenson: And you know, back to your question about growth, like so many people don't feel like they may just don't feel agency over themselves. Like they don't feel like over the course of a year or three years they can become a gym person or become an early morning person or become a writer, become a creator. Like whatever it is that you, you might want to be, you know, if that's a thick desire, if that's a like meaningful, like the most important change you can make in your life, the first thing to do is like, decide that that's within your power to reach. And then, you know, not just change the surface behaviors, but really work on changing your identity and your internal voice and your relationship with all those individual decisions to the point where it becomes, I think Naval said like, until your character becomes your destiny, and like, I think that was just a amazing, like your characters under your control, your internal voice, your internal reactions are under your control.
[00:08:56] Eric Jorgenson: And eventually those things, those beliefs, that identity becomes your destiny. I love that.
[00:09:00] David Elikwu: Yeah. I love that. That is a really great quote. And there's always a Naval quote. I was just thinking in my head, you know, of what's the most,
[00:09:06] Eric Jorgenson: There's always a naval quote, man. Yeah.
[00:09:09] David Elikwu: Yeah. I love this train that we're on. So, one more question that I wanted to follow up on just from what you were saying about this identity question.
[00:09:17] David Elikwu: So I think you mentioned something that I find really interesting that connects to, there's this idea that people have talked about, I've seen online about, you know, being an NPC versus being, you know, what, whatever the contrast of that is, you know, if you think of yourself as protagonist or the main character.
[00:09:31] Eric Jorgenson: I like that main character energy. I like that as a, as a theme. Yeah.
[00:09:36] David Elikwu: Yeah, exactly. but it's, it's a good frame because obviously the way that people frame talking about NPCs is maybe a bit derogatory, and so no one would want to think of themselves as that. But I think when you actually think about it deeply and internalize it, it's essentially that when you're playing a video game, you go to an NPC and you say something and then they react based on a script, right? They already have a prompt, they already have a pre-baked opinion.
[00:09:58] David Elikwu: And Naval also has a great quote about this, where he talks about kind of like bundled beliefs. And I think a lot of people subtly have bundled beliefs. They might not think of themselves as NPCs and you know, no one would, but there's an extent to which, because we already have beliefs, whether it's about ourselves or about the world that kind of come prepackaged. We respond in ways that just simply align with that regardless of the circumstance. Like, oh, I've been confronted with this new reality. You turn to your belief system and that dictates how you act. People aren't really operating from first principles and taking a look at whatever is directly in front of them. They're making a reference based on either their past experiences or just the ideology that they've decided to subscribe to and that is what dictates their actions.
[00:10:40] David Elikwu: And so suddenly you have a lot people that, and I guess this is still on a macro scale, right? just about how people respond to things. But I think it also operates on a micro scale, which is like even on a day-to-day level. I might have a script for how I respond when someone sneezes loudly behind me, right? I have a very predictable chain of actions that leads from that.
[00:11:00] David Elikwu: And I think you know, something that I have heard Naval talking a lot about is this idea of kind of breaking out of that and, and really just being able to investigate things from first principles, not just bundling your beliefs, not just acting in alignment with a system that you've already subscribed to, but actually just being able to revisit everything.
[00:11:17] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah, I think that's a interesting frame, like the NPC, I don't think it's as binary as that. Everyone should be thinking of themselves as a main character, right? And like, avoiding trying to be an NPC. And you can kind of hear it in yourself when it happens. I think like we're all somebody else's NPC, you know, like you're just a thin sheet of some predictable set of reactions to somebody and maybe you could map those all out and see how like, distinct other people are or whatever. I'm probably just like a tech bro to some people who see like much greater nuance in their circles.
[00:11:47] Eric Jorgenson: But I think there's probably, you know, as you were explaining the kind of the bundled beliefs, I think the nuance is maybe that it's mimetic for the most part, right? Like if you read Wanting by Luke Burgess or any of the, like Rene Gerard is kinda the fundamental stuff here. We don't like to think of ourselves this way, but we are very prone to just hear something, adopt it and repeat it later. And it's, it's not necessarily, you don't think like, oh, this is the, you know, the party line of the bundle of ideology that I've subscribed to, but the people that you surround yourself with or the media that you surround yourself with, whatever the inputs to your eyes and ears are, that becomes the tape loops that are in your head. And when people, the set of ideas that you have to choose from, and then you react with some of those tape loops or some combination of those tape loops. And it's a really interesting thing to think critically about like what you let in your head in the first place. You know, like an NPC to each of us is maybe somebody who's just like, far enough outside our circle. You know, mimetic echo chamber that we have that it's either really predictable or we don't hear the nuance of their communication or we don't understand the references or something like that. And we should all, I think, aspire to be like a little snobby about, about what we led into our brains.
[00:12:58] Eric Jorgenson: You know, and to me, like surrounding myself with the thoughts of people like Naval and Charlie Munger and Balaji and Elon Musk to some extent, like helps inoculate you. And like when you make those, the tape loops that are in your head, it makes it a little easier to fight off some of the kind of crazy antibodies that make their way in there. But it's a very, we're not probably as careful as we should be about how nutritious our sources of media are.
[00:13:25] Eric Jorgenson: The people in our lives too, like, you know, our family, our friends. Sometimes it's really easy to hear something and immediately disagree with it, but it's still in there. It's still like in your head. It still might come out of you at some point. I find myself doing this as like a manager. I like do something to somebody that I work with. I like repeat a loop that somebody gave to me that I hated hearing five years ago and I do it. And they were like, I hated that. Why did you do that to me? And I'm like, I don't know, because I hated when it happened to me.
[00:13:51] Eric Jorgenson: But here I am, I didn't have anything else to say and I didn't take the energy to think about it from first principles and start over. 'Cause it's a very, it's a hard thing to like clean the slate, start over, think about everything from the very basics, analyze the situation fully. It's mentally tiring and you can't do it for everything you encounter.
[00:14:09] Eric Jorgenson: And so you just have these tape loops in your head that you pull off the shelf and use. And some of them are good and some of them are bad. And I hope that I built a better library than some. And I hope I keep replacing the bad ones with good ones over time.
[00:14:20] David Elikwu: Yeah, but this is exactly why I wanted to start here because the people you've already written about and are currently still writing about, you know, Balaji, Naval, Elon Musk, even Charlie Munger these are people that are able to break conventional frames, and I think that's part of it where their power comes from, right?
[00:14:34] David Elikwu: It's able to reinvestigate beliefs that other people take for granted and being able to think about from first principles, thinking about in a slightly different way that gets you maybe a either a different result or a different way of thinking about things. And even just going to what you were saying, I think what you highlighted I think is really point that it's not necessarily binary in that you are either the main character or the NPC, but I think all of us can exhibit NPC behaviors, we can all exhibit behaviors. We can all have NPC beliefs and, okay. A really good analogy that I thought of for this while you were talking is, have you ever played NBA 2K or any sports games?
[00:15:08] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah, for sure. NBA is like my childhood basketball game. Remember that.
[00:15:13] David Elikwu: Yes. yeah, yeah. So you know, they might have changed this now, but how it used to be is really the part where you have the most freedom is in certain pockets of the game, right? So how you move, how you navigate. But then what you notice is, for example, as soon as your player comes into contact with another player, suddenly they go into like a predestined animation, right? Of okay, I guard against this player that's coming up. And then they start approaching the hoop. You've already picked the shooting form that you want for your player. You go straight into that shooting form.
[00:15:43] David Elikwu: And sometimes, and this is something that used to frustrate me when I would play. In the heat of the moment, when you were faced with a tough decision, you know someone's coming up in your face, you're trying to decide if you should shoot or if you should pass, you just press a button. You just make a really quick decision and you instantly realize that was the wrong decision, but then you still have to spend the next two seconds watching your player do this layup that you had already said, you know, you'd already the button, and now your player's just doing the animation. You already know that this isn't what you should be doing. And I think that that's a perfect analog for what happens in a lot of our lives where you just start this animation of, something triggered my anger. I'm gonna go through this process of being angry. It doesn't matter if halfway through that I've already realized that I shouldn't be doing this, still just go and do it anyway.
[00:16:26] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah. It's so frustrating to see, catch yourself in one of those moments. You're like, I should have perfect control over my reaction here. I notice that I'm angry, I know that my anger is unjustified or unhelpful, or unreasonable or whatever it is, but I just have to let the clock run out for a second. You know, I don't yet have the black belt to just like switch it off like a light switch. There's no reason I can't, but I can't.
[00:16:47] Eric Jorgenson: And I hope that someday I earn that black belt and can just, you know, opt out of an emotional a bad emotional response like mid-flight. Something to work on.
[00:16:56] David Elikwu: But it applies, I think, broader than that as well. And I know that you've included some quotes from Naval on this in the first book, which is essentially, you know, it applies to things like happiness, it applies to our striving. I know even for myself, or actually for a lot of people, you might have just natural habits of starting things like that is just, you have an idea suddenly you are two miles deep into the rabbit hole because you've got that animation locked down and the same with you know, you have doom loops of procrastination, you have people get excited about things and then come down. There's lots of things that modulate our behaviors and our responses and our emotions, but very frequently we can just default to these behaviors that we already have.
[00:17:34] David Elikwu: So maybe going along that train of thought, I'm interested to know, I know you've mentioned you had a very entrepreneurial family. I think your grandfather started a business that your father ran, your uncle had a pizza shop, all of these different things, and you had lots of hustles during school.
[00:17:46] David Elikwu: I'm interested to know if you picked up any useful kind of NPC behaviors. Did you pick up any useful animations? Was there anything that you noticed that, I guess, in that identity that you saw around you, did it actually manifest in some difference between you and your peers or, or not at all?
[00:18:01] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah, something that I appreciate deeply is just coming from that environment. It felt normal to go into business to take risks, to take accountability, to put personal assets on the line for a business. Like things like that were dinner table conversation for us. You know, and the, the boom and bust cycle of entrepreneurship versus, you know the normal life of a salary. And I was kind of born into that side of the fence you know, seeing so much media about entrepreneurship and making the leap and like, it feels like a really huge, scary thing to do for people that maybe grew up in an environment with two salaried parents or came from a house of, you know, nurses and doctors. And my mom was a nurse, so like, I guess I had a foot in both camps, but like, I'm just very grateful that that wasn't a huge flying leap towards entrepreneurship for me to just have it normalized at a young age and to understand some of the mental models around it and have it feel normal to be like, no, there's people relying on me and my work and my effort to make payroll and, you know, we, the family have assets on the line and like, that's scary. And to have skin in the game is something not everybody, not everybody should aspire to, which is totally fine. But coming up with that being normal was something I was very grateful for. Other like tape loops, I don't know, it's hard to identify your own tape loops, right? Like they just feel like you but other people would identify them as like, your catchphrases or the things, you know, the things your kids are sick of hearing from you or something like that. It's easier to, you know, tell you what my parents are than to list my own.
[00:20:24] David Elikwu: Okay. Fair. So I think I've mentioned Naval a bunch of times. It'll probably be good just to set a baseline of explaining who Naval is, and you're probably the best person to do that. So maybe you could just give us, you know, a brief introduction.
[00:20:35] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah. So for anybody who's unfamiliar. Naval is very widely followed, especially in Silicon Valley. He's got like 2 million Twitter followers. He's done a ton of podcasts. He's the founder of AngelList. He's invested in hundreds of companies including Twitter. He is early to crypto and he's a, this beautiful like American dream story. I think 9 or 10 was like an Indian immigrant living in New York with single parent household, you know, latchkey kids spent all day in the library, just like read and read and read. And he was clearly smart from a young age, and he tested into kind of a gifted program in high school and went to Dartmouth. But he had a challenged career, moved to Silicon Valley, started working at a bunch of different tech companies. It was not like an instant You know, break out 22 year old success. Like, he had a, I think a tough first 10 years that are outlined a little bit in the, in the site and the blog, but it's just an interesting, it's interestingly formulative when you see where he is now.
[00:21:29] Eric Jorgenson: But he's maybe most well known for just being great at Twitter and the stuff that he shares, he's a big reader still. And he shares principles maybe more than anything else. He's a really gifted distiller. And so he shares sort of his principles on how he went from, you know, a poor immigrant family to what is now some unknown, very large personal wealth number. And at the same time, I think, I don't know how old he was exactly when this happened, but over the last 10 or 15 years, basically achieved all the material desires that he wanted to in his life, achieved some, you know, very high percentage of personal net worth and looked around and said like, but I'm not happy. And he sort of asked, I don't know if it was a friend who asked him or he asked himself, like, if you're so smart, why aren't you happy? Like, I'm smart and I'm rich. I've achieved everything I set out to achieve, and I'm like, a two or three outta 10 on happiness. Like, what's going on here? Like, I'm supposed to feel fulfilled.
[00:22:20] Eric Jorgenson: And so you, you started diving into some of the philosophical literature and the history of happiness and Buddhist texts and all this stuff. And he was tweeting his findings and summarizing and synthesizing as he went. And, you know, for as well followed as he was for his sort of investing in company building ideas, he found this whole new audience. And by overlapping that with distilling some of the, you know, millennia of wisdom on internal states and happiness and new habits, and exerting some agency over the mental, you know, the voices in your head and separating them and learning to train them, to create a happier sort of internal state. It's a really attractive thing to a lot of people in the way that he can be so clear and so concise and so memorable with some of what he shared. And I just felt, I've been following him for 10 years, I've learned a ton from him, and I got the sense that he was sharing, he was participating in this great conversation, you know, these timeless, these centuries of effort that are compounding in the great writers and the great conversation to see what are the most useful timeless truths.
[00:23:21] Eric Jorgenson: And I saw that in him and it was happening on Twitter and in podcasts, and I wanted to put that in a medium that most of those conversations are in, and that it's accessible to many more of the, much more of the world. And it's this more kind of evergreen, timeless format. And so I built a compilation of what my opinion of you know, his best most useful, most evergreen, most applicable ideas are and published that about three years ago.
[00:23:42] David Elikwu: I think one of the superpowers that I see from Naval for myself at least, that I've recognized it from my own journey is actually just being an immigrant. And I think that is a great way to break a ton of frames because for a lot of people, like I came to the UK from Nigeria and I sense, and you see this play out in some statistics where very often, you know, the statistics will show that immigrant groups outperform their counterparts in the same country in terms of earnings, in terms of, you know, career, et cetera, et cetera. You know, even though it's the same group of people, so like Polish immigrants might outperform, like Polish Americans as an example.
[00:24:16] David Elikwu: But I think a lot of it's just frames. And goes back to what we were saying before, right? When you already have the identity of being part of a place, there's a ton of underlying scripts that you've already accepted about what life should be like and how things should be and what your place is in society, where you should go, how you should do things, what are the correct steps.
[00:24:33] David Elikwu: And I definitely felt when I came and throughout my early career, I had no idea what was going on. And there was so so many times where, it seemed like so many people had a ton of things figured out that I just had no clue about. Like, I, I didn't know all of this. So my original career I was trying to get into was corporate law, and I ended up doing that for a number of years. I ended up at my dream firm and all of that was great, but I took a very different route to get there than, than what the traditional route was supposed to be. And a lot of that was just because I remember at one point I was just worried that, you know, a lot of people seem to have everything figured out.
[00:25:02] David Elikwu: They'd already gone and done all these prep classes and, then all these shortcuts and whatever the traditional way you're supposed to. And I was like, oh, there's no way I can compete doing things that way. And all I can do is just go off and get experience and go off and, you know, do things my own way. And that's what I did. And I ended up just able to trade one experience for the next. And I ended up pretty much at the same time, did I would've ended up, I'd left university. I spent some time at Google, moved to Shanghai, worked at a law firm there, like, by the time I'd gone through all of those experiences. I joined the firm at the same time I would have if I just stayed and went to law school and did everything the traditional way.
[00:25:36] David Elikwu: But I did it in, in my own sense. And so I think this ties to not comparing myself to Naval in, in any way, but I
[00:25:43] David Elikwu: think is a sense
[00:25:43] Eric Jorgenson: gonna stop you? Yeah.
[00:25:43] David Elikwu: But like, he wasn't handed a Rolodex. He didn't have, you know, oh, my family friend is here, blah, blah, blah. I have the script of how I'm supposed to behave. I already know what Silicon Valley is. He was very much an outsider to that. And that is something I think I can see and what has led to his outsized success. But I'd love to know, obviously you've done a lot of research on this. What do you think he has been able to see that other people haven't been able to see and what do you think has played a big part in his success?
[00:26:09] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah, I think, immigrant powers are real, for sure. I think you know, when I heard the question the word that came to mind was that he's very incisive. He's really, really skilled at looking at a seemingly big complex thing and identifying the one or two variables that matter absolutely the most. And ignoring the rest, even if other people say they're important or treat them as important. And so I think, you know, it's with being incisive comes a little bit of contrarianism or at least the willingness to part from the crowd. And I think part of being a great investor is that if you have the skill of being incredibly incisive, if you don't have the courage to act on it when it separates you from the crowd. It's not quite as useful of a skill. So I think the combination of those two things is really important. I do think you see that often as you point out in immigrants who just 'cause they're working hard to understand the big picture and things that people who are born into, you know, a system or a culture, they take as like all of these things are important or they, they just don't question as many assumptions as somebody who's trying to like map the whole territory all at once. They're like, I know. I don't know everything. Like, let me try to figure it out.
[00:27:10] Eric Jorgenson: And I think you see this, we don't talk about it this way, but you see this often in stories of founders and successful entrepreneurs also, like an immigrant to an industry. You see somebody who spent their first 10 years in the auto industry and then they move into textiles and they fuck up the textile industry because they don't have the assumptions and they're just willing to question everything and say like, that doesn't make sense. Like, back to what we were talking about on first principles, like it's exhausting to analyze everything from first principles. We tend to use analogies, we tend to assume the experts know what they're talking about. And when you get somebody who is put in a situation where they have to question everything from first principles or they have the, they are so motivated to figure it out that they bring that energy to every question, every assumption, you see that.
[00:27:54] Eric Jorgenson: I think it's a credit to the whole Silicon Valley ecosystem and to technology in general and to investing that when somebody like Naval comes along who has that skill and that talent, it's enough of a meritocracy to give that person the bank role and give them the backing and give them the money. And he accumulated the Rolodex by earning it, by proving that he deserved it and that he was doing good things with the resources that were given him.
[00:28:17] Eric Jorgenson: And that's a funny, I gifted this book to a ton of friends and I have a friend who took it to her book group, like her book club. And so there's like 20 women reading this book, and one of them was like, I don't like it. I don't think we should be like learning all these lessons from this rich guy. Like he's rich, of course he's happy or he like, the rich stay richer. And she's like, did you read the book? Like he was a penniless immigrant who earned like, scrapped and clawed and worked hard and did well and earned all of the things that came to him.
[00:28:49] Eric Jorgenson: Balaji has a line about this, that like, born rich is very different from built rich. And when there's politicians out there like shaking a stick at like quote unquote rich people, a lot of people lose the ability to discern from those that had a meritocratic like rise because they're talented and hardworking and conduct themselves well versus those that were, you know, born into a place where it was really easy to get rich or worked in an industry where cronyism is rampant or got rich through corruption or, you know, it's very important to like respect quality. You know, culture, like, if you want the culture to be healthy, you have to respect talent and goodness and greatness. And you know, I believe in equal opportunities, not equal outcomes. And you know, when you see a good outcome, that's the result of hard work. Like, let's appreciate it. Let's see what there is to learn from it. Let's not dismiss it because someone had a good outcome and with no data feel like it was unwarranted. Like that's a path to an unhealthy culture and a bad civilization.
[00:29:48] David Elikwu: Yeah. And, and I also think this is another good example of the NPC scripts we were talking about, and specifically, I can use this example because it's also happened to me where, I don't know if you listened to the Lex Friedman podcast recently Jared Kushner.
[00:30:03] David Elikwu: Okay, but I'm assuming you've heard of Jared Kushner who was, you know, of the Trump administration and has been part of American life in some fashion number of years. I think this was big one for me and perhaps, you know, very much to my own shame where I don't follow politics to the letter. I do try and stay up to date with news and what's going on, but I prefer to, especially I think, the way the news has gone in few years. I don't a lot of time, reading and digesting, however. There's some things that because of an accumulation of people saying just come to believe.
[00:30:35] David Elikwu: So I have never heard Jared Kushner speak before, like before listening to him on this podcast, but I've seen the news headlines and I've seen the memes on Twitter, and I've seen the people making jokes, that is all I know about this person. I just assumed he was just like a buffoon because that's, that's what the news headline said. Like one news headline that I showed to someone was very specifically something like long story short, Jared Kushner is even stupider than you already thought. And it's like, you know, this is the picture that's being painted of him. And this is not in any way, like, I can't make any judgements about his character. I don't actually know him personally. I can't speak to whether the things he says are true or not. But I can tell you he's not an idiot because I've just listened to him speak.
[00:31:13] David Elikwu: And it's very interesting how, like, going to the example from, from what you mentioned, all of this stem, from the fact that the role that he got to be able to negotiate peace in the Middle East and all of this foreign relations stuff came from nepotism because he is Donald Trump's son-in-law, right?
[00:31:30] David Elikwu: And so people have this inbuilt script, that nepotism, as soon as I see it bad, right? So now, everyone's running with that script. It doesn't matter if he's actually competent, like actually hearing some of the conversations he had and some of the things that he did. Wow, it seems like he was actually thinking about this stuff. He was actually, again, it doesn't mean did wrong or he did it right or anything like that, but he was going through with the same amount of rigor that you would hope anyone in that position would approach it with whether or not they get the decisions right. And it's just funny how easily even I was completely swayed and misled simply just being triggered by oh, keyword, nepotism, and suddenly you run off with all these ideas of what you're supposed to expect. So yeah, that's just the first part.
[00:32:10] Eric Jorgenson: There's a mental model for this that I can't recall the name of. It's something effect where you read an article in the newspaper about something that you don't know anything about, and you say, oh, okay. I feel informed. And then you read an article about something where you have deep expertise and you're like, this is completely wrong and this nuance, like, you missed the total point. And I know five ways that this is wrong, and there should be retractions immediately. And then you read the next article and you're about an area you know nothing about, and you're like, oh, okay. I feel informed. I believe all the things.
[00:32:38] Eric Jorgenson: You know, it's just this constant sense of like, it's hard to trust the information around you and it's exhausting to constantly question everything. But it's important to, you know, look at the incentives of who wrote that headline about Jared Kushner and why, and what was their motivation and what's their background and who shared it and put it in front of you and what was their motivation and their background?
[00:32:59] Eric Jorgenson: And the whole middle section of the book on Balaji talks about this. It's one of Balaji's favorite topics. And I hadn't considered it before, but that whole section starts with. They call it the media because it mediates your interpretation of reality. It's the shimmery mirror between you and what's really happening in the world, and you don't know exactly how it's altering your perceptions unless you can really see through reality and step back and get a different perspective.
[00:33:22] Eric Jorgenson: And back to the tape loops, like that's what's installing most of our tape loops. It's really hard to know the fidelity, the original, like the underlying truth of what you're putting into your brain and what's on the shelves that's gonna come outta your mouth, whether you intentionally mean it or believe it or not.
[00:33:37] Eric Jorgenson: I actually, I had a similar experience that you had with Jerry Kushner a few years ago. I still remember it though with the Koch brothers. I'd heard jokes, I'd heard this, I'd heard that, I don't even remember where I got it, but I'd accrued this belief that they were like evil shadow government dudes. And then I heard their long form interview on, I think it was the Tim Ferry show. And I didn't agree with everything that they said, but I agreed with a lot of it. And I appreciated that they were like even minded, you know, well-intentioned business people. And I basically, I left that being like, those guys are like Warren Buffett if he exerted, if he had any political beliefs and acted on them. And like, that was enough for them to get just vilified and, you know, painted with this totally different brush and for the media to attack them and go on this campaign of like, oh, the Koch's are evil. And I had never done the work to be like, who's telling me they're evil? On what basis? Like, what do they mean? Who is, who is the person telling me what are their motivations? What do they think is good and what do they think is evil? Like, do I agree with them at all?
[00:34:34] Eric Jorgenson: But to the, you know, as you mentioned, the power of that headline and you don't know who wrote it and you don't know who shared it, and it just, you know, stuck its way into your eyes or into your ears or, and suddenly it's on the shelf in your head and you don't even know if you agree with that. You've never done the work, but it's there. And I've heard somebody say, I think it's a, I don't know how true it is like neurologically, but I have heard I think it's a good heuristic to keep in mind that it's impossible to disagree with something the instant you hear it. Like by letting something into your head you first agree with it, or at least like appreciate it and understand it and that you're some of the way towards believing it already.
[00:35:09] Eric Jorgenson: As soon as it's like processed by your brain, it's very difficult for you to process misinformation. Like it's another additional whole step, which makes some sense from an evolutionary perspective. 'cause there weren't many total fabrications in our environment. You know, there were illusions maybe, or things that were camouflaged, but like, we don't have great bullshit detectors. And we really should, like, especially in modern society, and this is something Balaji talks about a lot, right? The whole middle section of the book is about truth. And it starts with the different types of truth, you know, political truth, economic truth, scientific truth, and then goes into the media and how the media interacts with truth, and I hadn't appreciated before. But you know, he starts with the definition. It's like we call the media, the media because it mediates your relationship with reality. It's this shimmery mirror between you and what's really happening the world, and you don't always see the effect it has on your beliefs until you've gained a new perspective.
[00:36:03] David Elikwu: So the one thing I wanted to say about that very quickly, just it connects to something I've been writing about, which I think goes beyond media and actually is just part of the logical jumps that our brains can easily make and the layers of assumptions that we can pack into things. And this is slightly off topic from the stuff you've written about, but I think it's still useful and it will still fit in, in a sense.
[00:36:20] David Elikwu: So someone wrote a memoir about how they once performed with a world famous conductor, and they were a performer. I think they were a, a musician. And then someone wrote a new story about that person's memoir. And the headline was something to the effect of you know, the orchestra that was a sham. Because what the person had written about is that actually when they've performed with their ensemble group. The music was playing from a CD player, so they were just pretending to play the instruments and the music was actually coming from a CD player.
[00:36:48] David Elikwu: And I can see the look of surprise on your face and this is exactly, I'm sure, how many people were similarly surprised because people saw this headline and they looked the story and they're like, this seems ridiculous. How is it possible that someone could play in orchestra and no one noticed that they were playing music from a CD instead of from this live orchestra.
[00:37:07] David Elikwu: The key to this story, when someone finally went back and investigated is that, the original story, so I just used the word orchestra now, and you'll notice I didn't use it in the headline 'cause it wasn't in the original memoir. So what the person had originally said is exactly what I said, they worked as part of an ensemble with a world class conductor, who was like a world-class famous conductor. The issue is, you hear famous and you hear conductor and your brain immediately makes the jump to orchestra like a famous world-class conductor, conducts an orchestra, they're playing classical music. Like you already have an image in your mind of what's going on. So you are already all the way over here. And when I then add the details of, oh, they were pretending to play the music, the music was actually coming from a CD player, you already have a picture in your mind that is several layers of assumptions deep. And you're like, how could this be possible? That's what's breaking your frame.
[00:37:57] David Elikwu: But actually, if you just take the words, the true story was that the guy, yes, he was famous. He played on like Saturday Night Live with George Clooney or something like that. Like he did play on tv, he was a conductor, but it wasn't classical music, it was new age music. And it wasn't just new age music, but he had like several copies of the same ensemble. So he just sent groups of people to different malls, that's where they performed. They weren't performing in concert halls, they were performing in like mall courtyards, right. And it was a group of people, you have one person with a violin, you have one person on a keyboard and one person with like a tin flute. And the music that they played is new age music so it just sounds like the Titanic.
[00:38:33] David Elikwu: And so, the thing is, in that context, nobody cares if you are actually playing the music or not. You're just playing in the mall. It's in its background music. So of course it makes sense that you are pretending to play. I mean, it might not be what people expect if they see you there, but it makes sense that you're pretending to play music. It's actually coming from a CD player, but just by arranging the words in a certain way, your mind kind of connects all the rest of the dots without anyone actually saying them. So no one said orchestra, no one said some of these other words, but suddenly you get a completely different picture of what the reality is. And I think that applies in many aspects of our lives.
[00:39:05] David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time.