I’ve got an intuition about performance and prestige. I believe all things being equal, if you are talented it is easier to get ahead in a prestige industry than a performance driven one.
My theory is that when it’s all performance your competition is stiff. When the workforce isn’t compelled to perform, it’s easier for you to win if you are good at what is valuable.
My intuition comes from having worked in several prestige logic areas including media, fashion and cosmetics. Some of the workforce in those industries do it only for prestige so compete merely on metric. If you can the level that makes the business make money or achieves the goal of the organization you out level those driven by only prestige as you perform.
Many industries compete on social capital and prestige which are different simply from doing the job well.
So I’ll say this probably applies to approaching anything considered valuable. Attractive women, the very famous, and similar dynamics. People assume they can’t compete.
But if you have the native skills for what is actually valued you can probably hack it by taking a shot. It might be easier than you think.
You may wonder what you can contribute. And sure some actors are massively more agentic. I never thought I’d be in that rare class and yet I can contribute meaningful to dozens of aligned projects. It’s important to avoid dickriding. Don’t make up stories about your betters. Or at least try not to believe them.
You can be personally better yourself. You can accelerate. Now is the time to arm yourself with leverage as the world shifts. Be wary of messiahs and mercenaries but also know action is expensive.
Strong organizations have healthy value memetics. “Just Do It” frames a broader truth that humans take in a context of millions of other agents. Action is disproportionally powerful when people just play their role.
I fight nihilism. I’m not eager for the end of humanity or our civilizations. I want our flourishing. But neither am I attached to a static vision of my humanity or yours. In the image of God gives quite a bit of latitude for our species’ evolution.
I’m just hoping that my triple failure mode method of packing will see me through. I had a flight attendant make a grab at my carry on bag on my flight from Tallinn to Copenhagen for a gate check. I didn’t succeed but thankfully it made it to Denmark.
On the next leg, Copenhagen to Amsterdam, the flight was oversold. Despite a $150 payment to take a flight to Brussels and then a free train ticket, there were no takers. So now I’m watching folks fight over the overhead storage. Luckily I was at the front of the line so missed most of the ugly skirmishes between bad packers and overly entitled travelers.
I’m excited for my week in Amsterdam. Spending an afternoon getting from one puddle jumper to another will be worth it. Even if the entire travel experience is the same old annoyances.
My fund is an early stage pre-seed venture fund that backs weirdos. Our thesis is simple. The world is increasingly complex, chaotic if you will, and only the most agile will win. We look for those that have the agency to adapt to the one true constant; change. Circumstances changed by the moment but humans remain reassuringly the same.
I’ve got a Notion document that has a list of all the various medicines, supplements, and other necessities for keeping me healthy & functional on the road. I also maintain a packing list in my daily note book by hand to double check. Then I lay it all out on a towel and double check against both lists. Each separate bag & cascade of needs goes through this process.
Because you can’t rely on checked bags arriving at the same time as you (or sometimes at all) I separate out what I need for the first 3 days in my Aer backpack, the first week in my carryon roller bag from Muji, and the remainder of the trip in a checked bag. That’s the three bag cascade system.
Being detail oriented is crucial to the packing coming together. I go so far as to label my packing cubes so I know what pajamas to grab for the overnight versus the more formal clothing which can be safely checked. A separate set of casual outfits goes in the carry on so no matter what happens I’m comfortable and have what I need.
We are in a weird moment for transactional goods and services. As more people draw inwards towards themselves, the social contract is less clear. What do we expect when we pay someone to do something for us? Do we make small talk? Do we smile? Do we reach for connection?
I went to a nail salon today. I’d called ahead looking for a specific nail technician. I was really relying on having her as I treat pedicures as more of a medical grooming need than a strictly aesthetic one.
I get pedicures mostly because the bending over required for clipping, filing, and cuticle trimming is hard on my Ankylosing Spondylitis. I prefer to have someone handle that grooming for me to avoid the unnecessary discomfort.
Especially because an ingrown nail can be a significant infection for someone like me as I take immune suppressants for my autoimmune condition. A little nick or cut gone wrong can get me quite sick.
I like to know I’m working with a careful nail technician. I went through cosmetology school and am familiar with what is in a safe aesthetician environment.
So I was surprised to find myself trying to communicate via non verbal cues with a gentleman who seemed unclear about what tools to use for what job. The woman is scheduled the appointment with was busy with someone else. I said I’d wait but it got lost in translation.
I got more anxious as an acrylic nail drill got involved. I don’t use acrylics. And I really started to panic when a razor came out. I definitely didn’t want that used on my cuticles.
And I found myself unsure in the moment. Do I just trust this gentleman who cannot understand a word I am saying with razors and drills? Or do I just get up and go?
I stayed for too long. The drill was used on my big toe and cut down too far. I finally after some shock extricated myself and left cash on the table and drove home feeling scared and unsettled without letting him finish.
If we can’t figure out how to communicate with each it’s complicates your social expectations. I didn’t want to ruin a service or not trust the person in front of me. But I also have expectations for the experience and safety from knowing something about the job and it’s safety requirements.
I found myself unsettled by the whole experience. That my expectations are high trust and I find myself simply not being able to make the transactional moment work. I’d failed. I paid in full for a service I didn’t get what I needed. I left.
I had a bad migraine over the weekend that simply took up all the space in my mind and body. I woke up with a break in the pain and a deep urge to throw myself into something that felt like momentum.
I found myself awash in sadness. I couldn’t stop myself from crying. It was as if my entire body felt despair. I’ve come to accept the value in embracing emotions as they come. “The only way out is through.”
I trust that my nervous system knows as much as my cognitive mind. I go so far as to say it knows more but that sounds a little woo to folks. And so I listened to my sadness. I cried. I rambled at the many problems large and small facing my corner of the universe.
It’s hard to understand how we came to this point across a generation. But easy to see why millennials are unsure if any of our institutions can be trusted. And I wonder what it’s like to have no memory of a time before 9/11.
Humans are horny for hierarchy. We are eager to give our power away as a species. Please will someone else just be responsible for making our decisions for us? Can someone point me to the person in charge? “Take me to your leader!”
If someone seems smarter, richer, more capable, more aggressive, heck even if they have better taste than us, they become an instant candidate for us delegating our authority over to them. My most popular blog post ever was about dickriding. Yes it was about Elon Musk’s fans.
I’ll be the first to say that people who court you to gain power should be viewed as suspect. But someone who has power is not themselves always suspect by default. I know it’s a fine distinction. But people fall into positions of authority simply by going out and being competent. Competence is a fast route to power.
Sure being competent has a lot of downsides. Suddenly you’ve got power you maybe didn’t want. We have an incentive shunt power off to someone else as it generally sucks to be in charge. It’s energetically expensive to be responsible. Just ask one of your friends with a toddler.
Sometimes we have to wield power because it’s our job to take care of our corner of the universe. Again ask someone with a toddler. We are in charge of sustaining some portion of the grand experiment called life. Even if it’s just our own families. Even if it’s just yourself.
So why am I titling this post “I am Beff Jezos?” Right now online there is a movement gaining recognition for encouraging people to have agency and build for the future. It’s a movement that wants you to own your own power. And to help others get more power of their own.
It’s principles are simple. The future will arrive and we should build like it’s coming. Slowing things down, or even worse, going backwards, is not a solution to our problems. We can only go forward. If you’d prefer a driving metaphor, we should accelerate into the curve. Slowing down just spins out the car. Civilization is the car.
So what, you want to just uplift humanity, build AI and populate the universe with the maximum diversity and quantity of life?
The movement is more of a meme space than anything else. It is decentralized. I’ve not met anyone that runs it though I’ve spoken to many vocal supporters. And I’ve chatted with folks that are at the nexus of of its online presence. Everyone is positive and friendly. Most of them are anonymous. I’m not even of sure if some of the accounts are singular or plural. Which is pretty cool. It doesn’t have a president or a CEO or even a founder who owns anything with any amount of authority. It could be one dude or multiple dudes gender non specific.
It’s just a bunch of people who make stuff. It’s popular amongst engineers but it’s an ethos that to anyone who can make something. Even this blog post counts. I am e/acc as much as anyone.
Naturally if no one is in charge it’s a bit threatening. If there is no hierarchy how do we control it? If no one is in charge then what will we do if someone under their banner does something bad?
Such is the beauty of an idea. A meme can’t really be owned. A decentralized group of goofballs on the internet can’t really be snuffed out for bad think. Maybe a few nodes go down. They literally cannot kill all of us.
The messages does seem to be resonating. I know being hopeful has improved my mood. A decent number of people who make shit want the future to come a little faster. They want more people with more ownership of the building process.
More complexity and more abundance is appealing even if it seems impossible to achieve. Don’t worry, just build for your corner of the world. Put power and responsibility in as many hands as possible. We can build it together.
You too can have a toddler and own the joy of being responsible for your corner of the universe. It’s dangerous for sure. Folks will tell you for your own good you need to have a hierarchy and someone responsible for the power.
But guess what? It can be you. And sure heads will get bonked. Crying will ensue. Remember I said ask someone with a toddler? What if you are the competent and in charge parent? Shit right?
We’ve got to go forward. I am Beff Jezos. You too are Beff Jezos. And they can’t stop us all from arriving at the future. Go ahead and accelerate into the curve.
I’ve come to believe a good day off must involve a balance of work and rest. I take a seven day a week approach to my own professional work personally but I love a weekend for doing work of a more personal nature.
My husband loves homestead chores. While we had some nerves about how much work maintaining property would be after years of city renting, it was clearly unwarranted. There are few things more pleasurable than puttering about your own land and making improvements.
We’d planted apple, plum and cherry trees over the year but Alex had learned a few things he’d done sub-optimally so he went to the town mulch pile this weekend, loaded up over two trips, and with a friend redid the entire mulch on our young orchard.
Not all the chores are quite so wholesome as tree planting. The drive away in front of our barn has a lot of weeds growing up after a very wet summer. We’ve got more green growing things than we did last summer by a wide margin. We probably got three hay cuttings this season versus two last year and the final one wasn’t all that green. So Alex took a torch and a fuel and burned down the weeds. Sounds a bit silly but keeping growth under control before it comes a fire hazard is a critical landscaping need in high country mountain terrain.
A final chore for the day? We have a very advanced filtration system on our water. We have our own well so we don’t rely on the town to do treatment. As you can see the filters need regular changing. Not an activity that’s without its disgust factor. Clean water is good and ours benefits from regular filter rotation.
As you might imagine I’m not the one doing most of the heavy lifting. But I did contribute one crucial thing to moral. Cheerleading and and a reminder to get in a nap. Sunday afternoon naps are a must if you’ve been up since sunrise enjoying choring.
If you are working in artificial intelligence or medicine I’d like to pleased my case to you. Id just like to pass along a note.
The current “responsible” safety stance is that we should not have AI agents dispense healthcare advice as if they had the knowledge of a doctor. I think this is safetyism and rob’s sick people of their own agency
I have very complicated healthcare needs and have experienced the range of how human doctors fail. The failure case is almost always in the presumption that you will fall within a median result.
Now for most people this is obviously true. They are more likely to be the average case. And we should all be concerned that people without basic numerate skills may misinterpret a risk. Whether it’s our collective responsibility to set limits to project regular people is not a solved problem.
But for the complex informed patient knows they are not average? The real outliers. Giving them access to more granular data let’s them accelerate their own care.
It’s a persistent issue of paternalism in medicine to assume the doctor knows best and the presumption that the patient is either stupid, lying, or hysterical is the norm. It’s also somewhat gendered in my experience.
I now regularly work with my doctors using an LLM precisely so we can avoid these failure cases where I am treated as an average statistic in a guessing game. I’m a patient not a customer after all. I decided my best interest.
A strict regulatory framework constricts access without solving any of the wider issues of access to care for those outside of norms. Artificial intelligence has the capacity to save lives and improve quality of life for countless difficult patients. It’s a social good and probably a financial one too.