Anastasia Alt

Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.

Khe Hy interviewed Anastasia Alt on Rad Awakenings. It was good. This set of notes will be more rapid fire. All unattributed quotes are from Alt. Ready?

1/ Your place defines your point-of-view. “I grew up in the New York City ecosystem where career is not something that people do but something people are.”

It’s difficult to see our system from the inside. On a bike ride, my daughter and I rode out into the wind. When we turned for home she asked what happened to the wind.

Tailwinds are hard to account for. We guessed that what happened to Yahoo? was that Melissa Mayer was a good leader in a great organization rather than the other way around.

At the end of the episode (56:00) Khe added, “its fucking bullshit” to only have the working or vacation modes. That’s the modes of a system people will wear.

New ideas can bump us out of these kinds of tracks. For Scott Norton, it was biking around Asia.

I found a bump in the book Early Retirement Extreme. In this podcast episode, we talked about reframing serial ownership, bike riding, cost of living, and needs and wants.

Knowing your ecosystem doesn’t mean you have to change. Ben Carlson wrote about ERE and FIRE and noted, “This doesn’t mean it’s not the correct priority for other people but that’s the whole point — you have to understand yourself before making huge financial decisions and define what having a rich life means to you.”

2/ Listen, question, think, teach. My daughter takes horseback riding lessons one day a week. She loves it. I think it’s okay. One of the first things she learned was how to move around a horse. The key, said her teacher, was to keep your hand on the horse’s rump as you walk around it. That way the horse knows where you are. Her teacher understands the system known as “horse.” I don’t.

Alt understood the system know as “oil futures”

“Being in a trading role put me in the center of action surrounding all these global events and I was very excited to be there, to spend my days reading the news and seeing how everything that was happening in the world culturally and politically was getting translated into some kind of tangible measurable outcome.”

Alt said that the best traders would “put together a graph or a landscape” of the system. Then a regular questioning of “how can I be wrong” produced successful results.

Khe said, “When I was in finance I told people that understanding options were such a valuable skill because thinking in non-linear terms and second order effects is very difficult. Options are one of the few places where you can actually think that way.”

Alt added, “I absolutely agree.”

Once Alt listened to a system, questioned her understanding, started thinking within the system she began to explain it to others. Teaching was “a way to synthesize information”

It was also a reflection of how well she understood her condition.

“The litmus test I used was – if my intern doesn’t understand then that reflects my own poor understanding. If I don’t have seventeen different ways to explain this concept then I don’t understand it deeply enough.”

3/ See it to believe it. “It was very possible to be successful as a trader where the environment was one more people didn’t necessarily look or think like me… it meant a lot to me to normalize the presence of women in these roles.”

Wait, I can do that? is a powerful effect. The see-it-to-believe-it moment is like getting that one color in Candy Crush or Tetris that unlocks a new level.  Reed Hastings said about his moment:

“The lucky break of my life was that I got to serve coffee in a teaching lab for computers.  If I hadn’t gotten that first job serving coffee and been so exposed to very this alternative style computer architecture it would never have occurred to me. That changed my life.”

4/ Good quotes.

“Frustration doesn’t arise when there’s clarity.”

“How are you complicit in creating the conditions you don’t want?”

5/ XMBA.  “Typically someone at this age might go to business school and invest in further education, I’m going to treat this time as a business school of the world. I’m going to go out and experiment.”

Elizabeth Gilbert had this same idea and she too wanted to roll around in the world.

Graduate schools are like the meal delivery services; a packaged way to solve a problem. It’s fine.

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The DIY approach will bring different results. Thanks to the internet, it’s become easier. Tim Ferriss invested in companies. Gilbert wrote. David Chang started a restaurant. Ty Warner sold plush. Ken Grossman ran a bike shop.

 

Thanks for reading. I’m @mikedariano.

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