TIL2017 – Conditions

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

This post is part of the TIL2017 Summary Series.

America’s founding king is personal responsibility. Yet, conditions matter too. Introduce the same situation in different ways and the same person will have different responses.

Kara Swisher thought that maybe this contributed to the problems on social media. Without a real name or avatar, people act differently. The same goes for sharing, if it’s easy to tweet, post, snap or gram we will. If it’s easier it’s more frequent. I’d never taken a picture of food before Instagram.

Defaults are an example of conditions that matter. When schools switch apples for chips at the checkout, students take and – mostly – eat more apples. However, when they replace apple slices with french fries earlier in line, students switch from the default back to the fries.

Richard Jefferson found that the mood of San Diego was to relax. Unfortunately, this didn’t make him a better basketball player and he moved to Los Angelos.

Meb Faber found that the ten-year (plus?) holding period for angel investments instilled patience. Not getting his capital back was a good condition.

Cal Newport writes about Deep Work. This kind of effort is so important it should dominate your day but we get distracted by shiny objects. Newport’s blinders are designed to block out these things.

Alice Waters said that moving from Santa Barabara to Berkley changed her life forever.

When Eliud Kipchoge and his Nike compatriots tried to run a marathon in two hours they picked a setting at a low, flat, easy turning course. Those conditions matter.

Conditions were a common part of the Rory Sutherland Series too.

If conditions can make changes, we can design conditions for positive ones. Investors, athletes, and executives all make choices ahead of time. Generally:

  • Make good things easy.
  • Make bad things difficult.

Thanks to technology, tracking how you spend your time or money are easy. Use Wes Gray’s advice and “plan in system two.” For me this means logging out of Twitter, removing it from my phone, and creating a laborious password. These choices don’t prevent my using it but do keep me from picking this low hanging fruit. Conditions matter and conditions are malleable.

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