Viewing posts from August, 2016

Bill Gates in Cubic Beef

Last night I was out to dinner with a few close friends I've known since high school. We often talk about financial stuff and I jokingly asked the question "If you converted all of Bill Gates wealth into a cube of Beef, how big would that cube be?"

I had brought it up originally because of the classical idea that someone's wealth would be measured in how much cattle they have. Thinking that Bill Gates wealth would be difficult to picture by a number of cows, I thought it would be easier to picture as a cube. And certainly funnier.

The question set off a 15-minute diversion into coming up with the answer.

According to the napkin, Bill Gates is worth 11 million cubic meters of beef. That is a cube with side lengths of 225 meters. 225 meters high, 225 meters wide and 225 meters deep. That's a lot of beef.

There are a few big assumptions that went into our calculation. Such as the density of beef. We found the density to be around 1900 lbs/ m^3. Although the density would be much higher if there were 221 cubic meters on top compressing it. We also used the price 3.70 $ / lb of beef assuming there would be no discount when buying 80 billion dollars at once.

If you'd like to convert your own net worth to cubic beef, I created the Wolfram Alpha widget below. Put in a number and it will spit out the length of each side making up the cube, of beef, representative of your worldly worth.

I suppose my buddy was still entertained by the question after our dinner because he emailed me a spreadsheet this morning containing notable wealthy individuals and their net worth converted to cubes of various substances. Hilarious. Thanks for a great night my friend!

Square One, Again

I just ran into a founder of a company whom I've known for about a year.

When I first met her, she was already 1 year into building her business. At the time we met, the company was a 4 person team containing both an excellent designer a developer. They were heading into the Techstars program full of promise. Having already built a basic version of their product, ready to grow customers and make partnerships.

When talking today she said that within the last two weeks, the remaining two employees left the company and she was back to being the sole employee. It was obvious she was worried. But she was also hopeful.

In a position where she has a product to sell, it is now time to grind. Hustle. Make some sales and build the team up again from scratch.

What is really exciting is that her face still lit up when talking about the companies product. The passion is still there. The next half year will be pivotal. If she can keep making incremental progress, solid ground isn't too far from reach.

This illustration that John shared shows that success isn't a constant upward trajectory, rather a complicated path with many ups and downs.

Best of luck my friend! Now back to work...

What is Measured and Watched


I first read this quote a few years back and it is something that I think about regularly.

There is, however, an important caveat. Deciding on what is measured and watched is just as important. Tracking the wrong metric and optimizing for the success of that metric can be catastrophic.

A big part of starting blogging is that it forces me to formalize the things that I am thinking about. Lately, I have been thinking about tracking different personal metrics over a long period of time. The first one I want to track is my happiness.

The happiness tracker is a simple piece of software that I wrote in about an hour this evening. All it does is remind me at the end of each day to answer the question "How happy were you today? (1-10)". Happiness, I decided, is an excellent metric to optimize for.

My answer to that daily question lives here:

Eventually, I hope to show the data in a clearer format and potentially ask other questions to myself every day. Or even use this same mechanism to help stay on track for yearly goals

For now, I am just going to track daily happiness. Today was a great day, I spent most of the day relaxing with some close friends I have known for over 5 years. 8/10

The External Context

Suppose you have this system.

The properties of this system are:

  • The green ball has a downward force acting upon it.
  • Input: the starting slot (1-4)
  • Output: the ending slot (a-d)
  • You have no idea what happens in the middle.

The middle might look like this:

Or like this

The point is, you can not see what is happening in the middle and you only get to pick an input and be given an output.

Example: 2 maps to B. Remember, we don't know why.

Think of this as a highly simplified game of life. There are things that we have control over (inputs) and there are areas that we not only do not have direct control over but also can not see or understand the properties of (context). Choosing the inputs and applying the context gets us "somewhere" or (the output).

I believe it is very easy to spend too much time focusing on inputs and the outputs we expect, without giving enough thought to the context.

For me, the context of my thoughts and ideas has mostly been an internal conversation. Me thinking about things in isolation. This is a bad thing. Without forcing myself to formalize and be comfortable sharing ideas, it is too easy to let the wrong ideas take hold. This is why I'm blogging. To change the context of my thoughts. From my head to on paper (the internet). As an added benefit, I can practice writing.

While I believe the process of modifying context can be very difficult to predict the result of. I believe that my discussion here will, at least, result in the following modification of my context.