Monthly Archives: December 2018

Things I Wish I Knew Before Turning 30

Somebody asked me to write this in 2017. It’s a bit late.

Here we go… a somewhat random collection of wisdom, in no real order:

  1. Start building companies in your 20s.
  2. Real wealth is not money, it’s what you can learn to build, with a team of cool people.
  3. “Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.” — Naval
  4. Live on the border between chaos and order. Maximum learning.
  5. Stay an engineer. Don’t become a manager. Stay close to technology.
  6. Build recurring services businesses, things that make money while you sleep. They are easy to start and fairly easy to scale.
  7. What is the most important thing? – Adventure. We are wired for adventures and risk.
  8. Go to AfrikaBurn / Burning Man a few times. It will teach you about adventure. Have a few friends who enjoy these adventures.
  9. Fail spectacularly, once. It will take you a year or two to recover, but it will put things in perspective.
  10. Find great co-founders, it’s hard to overstate the value of this.
  11. First rule of startups: no assholes.
  12. Work on things that are fun. Life is too short for lame projects.
  13. How businesses are built: sleep, have ideas, make notes, discuss ideas, create two or three crappy things a day (not perfect just functional), remember that it’s your own little (Sivers) universe, learn, sleep.
  14. Creating something from nothing is very rewarding. Zero to one.
  15. Build your own dreams. Don’t be a sucker building other people’s dreams. Own a part of what you build.
  16. “To get things done, you must love the doing.” — Ayn Rand
  17. Wealth is a side effect of passion. Love the doing.
  18. Ideally you want to have 6 unrelated investments.
  19. Support the underdog, progress and change. Get involved in a few non-profit projects. Open Source etc.
  20. Getting there, is all the fun. “The road to the top is better than the top, don’t be in such a hurry that you don’t enjoy the ride.” — Dan Bilzerian
  21. Things that are annoying often make good opportunities.
  22. Learn how to code and how unix operating systems and networks work. Use Debian. Run your own email server, don’t use Gmail. Try to avoid “the cloud” as much as you can.
  23. Make regular off-site backups. Leave backup drives at friends’ houses.
  24. Pick a username, get a personal domain name. Have a personal website.
  25. Always be on the the right side of technological change.
  26. Find growth markets and waves to ride. Timing is the 4th dimension in the 4D chess of entrepreneurship. Lean to park some ideas, keep a text file with notes for project ideas.
  27. Keep a text file with all the projects and startups you have worked on over time. I’m on about 20 now. Aim for at least one per year. Don’t worry if half of them never make it past prototyping.
  28. Have strong opinions. Share them.
  29. Develop good writing skills and publish what you write. Blog, weekly. Writers get to live twice. Write drunk, edit sober.
  30. Stay healthy. Sleep. Eat clean. Fast. Mobility. Diet. Squats. Deadlifts. Low rows. Meditate.
  31. Never get more than 10 kg overweight. It’s hard to make your way back from there.
  32. Spend time in nature. Go for long hikes or beach walks. Try to live close to the sea.
  33. Keep in touch with friends. Often have dinner with close friends.
  34. Avoid sugar. You don’t need three meals a day. After a few fasts your relationship with food will change. Don’t smoke.
  35. Focus on health span. The idea is to feel young past 65.
  36. Figure out a morning mobility routine. Stretch. Get a foam roller.
  37. Get an electric toothbrush.
  38. Figure out a routine for taking supplements. Take some basics daily. Do a bigger batch weekly.
  39. When you are tired. Go sleep. Rest.
  40. Be kind to your joints. Don’t run.
  41. Go to gym early in the morning – much better than in the afternoons. Lift weights every 2nd day.
  42. Fast for one week every three months.
  43. Have at least one child, when you have the opportunity.
  44. Take a year off when your kid(s) are 3 or 4 yo.
  45. Never do anything for your child which they can do for themselves. Have dinner conversations which them to challenge them to think for themselves.
  46. Try not to rebel against all conventions.
  47. When people hurt you, they are probably just acting in their own best interest.
  48. Make notes. Develop a system for processing and filing notes.
  49. Get a great chair.
  50. Type Dvorak. Qwerty is lame.
  51. Learn to use some graphic design tools, at least the basics.
  52. Use 24 hour time when you write something. 09:00 or 21:00, not 9.
  53. Listen to podcasts. Found time.
  54. Calm is a superpower.
  55. Hang out with curious people.
  56. People you want around you: calm, technical, relentlessly resourceful, relentlessly optimistic, energetic, self motivated, infinite learners.
  57. “Work ethic, taste, integrity, curiosity – the rest you can learn.” — Matt Mullenweg
  58. Get a dog. I’m still working on this one.
  59. Give people a break. Sometimes they still have to learn.
  60. Search for meaning. Work on projects with meaning and a good story.
  61. Never go cycling in the desert at night after a breakup.
  62. Learn the multiplying skills: speaking, writing, psychology, design, conversation, 2nd language, persuasion, programming, meditation/focus.
  63. Life is a comedy adventure story, don’t be too serious, you probably don’t control as much of it as you may think.
  64. Have favourite song and a favourite album.
  65. Don’t be too busy. Make time to learn.
  66. Hell yes, or no. If you say no to lots of things, you have time to dive into interesting things.
  67. Make good art. Learn, create, repeat.
  68. Do meaningful work. Be useful.
  69. Write to get over things. Write to shape your future.
  70. “Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly.”
  71. Take photos. Have a system to keep them organised. Browse old photos from time to time, it’s a great way to travel.
  72. Desire one thing at a time. Focus.
  73. Live in the future. It’s a good way to find ideas for projects. Pay attention to what nerds do on evenings and weekends.
  74. Read a few marketing books early on. Something like The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries.
  75. Have side projects and hobbies.
  76. Watch lots of classic movies in your teens and 20s. Especially sci-fi movies.
  77. Read a lot in your 20s. Classics. Philip k Dick, Bret Easton Ellis, etc.
  78. Go to live music concerts.
  79. Fall in love with music, spend time exploring, make playlists. Make mix tapes for people you are in love with. You probably will not have this kind of time later in life. Listen to Disintegration by The Cure.
  80. Be a tourist in your own city for a few years, live in many different neighbourhoods.
  81. Travel.
  82. Figure out which wines and whiskys you like. Go for lots of wine tours.
  83. Stoicism: focus on what you can control. Don’t worry about the things you can’t.
  84. Get comfortable with discomfort.
  85. Take note of your instincts. Trust them.
  86. If you don’t know what to do, sleep on it. Take note of the three ideas you wake up with every day.
  87. Develop healthy routines. Especially a morning routine.
  88. Date nerds, smart and interesting people.
  89. Get comfortable being single. Dating is a huge waste of time and energy. If you find somebody really cool (smart and interesting), jump in and love them like crazy. Do this a few times.
  90. Optimal stopping theory: If you are destined to date ten people in your lifetime, the optimal thing to do is to reject the first four (37%), then stop as soon as you find somebody that’s better than the previous experiences.
  91. There’s no point to life. Life is the point.
  92. Meaning does not come from stuff.
  93. Practice mindful eating. Taste every bite.
  94. It’s totally fine to go eat at a restaurant on your own.
  95. Notice interesting things around you. Be hyper aware of small details. Take different routes through your day. Wonder the woods.
  96. Ask better questions. Ask why? three times.
  97. The best way to judge your days and weeks is simply to ask yourself it that was time well spent.
  98. Don’t add things that can cause unhappiness. The more things you have the more things can break. Don’t focus on getting more things, focus on removing things which annoy you.
  99. Use broad spectrum reflective sunblock, vit-c and vit-a face cream, and eat lots of collagen.
  100. In summary: learn, create, swim, sleep, take long walks, write, listen to podcasts, have adventures with smart and interesting people.

This is a work in progress. Obviously not all these ideas are mine. The original project brief was things before 30, but it’s probably relevant before 40 also.

I ended up making it a 100 item list. I’ll probably update this post from time to time and replace the weaker items with more interesting ones.

Make your own list.


Now go read How To Get Rich. Listen to Anything You Want and at least two Naval Ravikant interviews.

All I want for xmas is a John Oliver vs Jordan Peterson debate

Some criticisms of John Oliver I posted on FB recently – now on the open internet.

“John Oliver tells me what to do.”

I used to find Last Week Tonight with John Oliver amusing, but recently something about it has been bugging me.

He obviously has a liberal bias, which is fine.

He uses very selective editing. Sometimes he has to cut the clip half sentence to make sure none of the context leaks into his story (or joke rather).

With enough selective editing he can probably convince his audience of anything and make them laugh about it at the same time. Seems kinda dangerous to me.

He thinks he’s a comedian – but, his audience thinks he’s a journalist.

A scary number of people seem to post links to John Oliver episodes to motivate their position on a topic.

After reading this and watching a recent episode, I think it’s the recipe that’s the most annoying…

From Quora… here’s how he does it:

– Introduce topic, make a joke about it. Add it a lot of “F” bombs for effect
– make point #1. Joke
– Joke
– point #2. Joke
– Ludicrous metaphor, F-bomb, over the top joke, F-bomb, F-bomb, joke
– point #3. usually gets to the meat of his segment around this point. F-bomb, serious voice.
– points finger at the camera / audience. F-bomb. Joke. F-bomb
– conclusion. Joke

“Found this on the internet :) Oliver continues in the tradition of Jon Stewart, adding reinforcements to the “liberal” bubble. He coddles his viewers by convincing them (as if they needed more convincing) of how right they are, how wrong they are, how many more facts they know than them. The visual assault of fact after fact without any time given to admit the weak points in his argument robs his viewers of the opportunity to think, or have any deep understanding of an issue. Worse, the false sense of solidarity that comes with sharing an Oliver segment on Facebook is an invitation to apathy not resistance.” — Jacques

Too many jokes to be taken seriously. Too serious a topic to be a comedian.

From HBO – the tits and dragons company – you can now get your comedy and brainwashing at the same time.

Keep this in mind when you share the next John Oliver video.

Quick Update

Lonely perfection of my dreams…

  • Week of 17 to 23 December.
  • Monday, woke up in Tamboerskloof, lazy day with Paul, Shelley and Barbara – chilling on the trampoline again, chats about keyboard layouts and more than one bottle of bubbly, watched Ex Machina – well, maybe 1/2 of it.
  • Tuesday, omelette breakfast at Beleza in Tamboerskloof with Paul, played with a server and tried to get the Debian installer to set up raid1/lvm, beers with Nick, dinner at Kristy’s down the road – nice catch up.
  • Wednesday, slept fairly late, took a walk down Kloof Street, very tasty lunch at Loading Bay with Nick, walked around The Cape Quarter, Sea Point home visit – fetched a few things, late afternoon meeting, supper at The Blue Cafe, watched the 2nd half of Ex Machina.
  • Never take an ex back – boy, I have sucked at this.
  • My holiday calendar opened up fairly short notice. Dealing with unreasonable people makes you pretty good at the Stoic arts. Remember kids – you will encounter people without passion, people who are not life-long learners and who have no interest in creating anything of meaning, they will be sad and miserable and they will try to make the people around them unhappy. Nothing new, and nothing you can do about it.
  • Aliens, Preditors and Engineers
  • “No one understands the lonely perfection of my dreams.” — David

  • Never feed a stray cat.
  • WWDD – business without moral failure.
  • “Cause sooner or later in life, the things you love you loose.” — Florence

  • Thursday, slept late, walked down Kloof Street, annual vitality tests, breakfast at Wellness Warehouse, walked down Long Street, worked at Raw and Roxy (the old Fez?), Moro gelato, walked through the Company Gardens, a pilsner at Van Hunks, watered the plants at home, nap, a GnT with Paul, watched the first Renegade Report live stream on Youtube, watched Zodiac – well, some of it.
  • I did some cholesterol hacking for a few days. tl;dr – I think it’s a good idea to eat enough mono-unsaturated fat and vit-c + lysine.
  • Managed to get to Vitality Diamond status again, without completing any of their lame online forms, and without having to experience the lame attitudes of their Discovery shop staff.
  • I suspect I have a weakness for Emmental cheese.
  • 5 year plan: fibre, open source and open networking, devops, wwdd.
  • Xmas gift-zero. New minimalism level.
  • You need a welfare state to support people who are not competitive in modern society.
  • “It’s hard not to like a man of many qualities, even if most of them are bad.” — anonymous

  • “Each network has a personality. Always wear a black concert tshirt during change windows. Listen to 90s grunge, it soothes the network.” — Network Collective Podcast

  • Friday, slept late, said goodbye to Paul, general tinkering and a bit of admin, reached an important milestone, epic nap, speedy backup, found a salad at Knead, watched ‘Juliet, Naked’ at the Labia with a beer – good movie – always liked Nick Hornby, finally finished watching Zodiac at 02:00.
  • By now I was a bit napped-out, and not sure what day of the week it was.
  • It’s been pretty entertaining just being alone and chilling.
  • Pet hate: Cape Town shopping malls that switched off the taps in their bathrooms a while ago – and are too retarded to work out that the water restrictions have changed. Install water saving taps and switch them back on. Muppets.
  • Saturday, slept late, late lunch omelette at Knead at Wembley Square, caught up on some blogging with Yo-Yo Ma Bach Chello Suites, gym, swim, sauna, watched Ayn Rand & the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged doccie, watched Atlas Shrugged I (2011).
  • Pet hate: paper straws. A small number of countries contribute most of the ocean pollution (clue: not Cape Town restaurants). Also, giving me a (lame) paper straw, but giving me a big plastic cup seems a bit screwed up? Eco muppets. Your little guilt campaign and actual impact are oceans apart.
  • “Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences.” — Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

  • Sunday, Waking Up app meditation, had a beer, listened to Ah-ha and played with IPv6, watched Atlas Shrugged II and III, watched Napoleon Dynamite – it had its moments.
  • I discovered iStat Menus and SimplePing for macOS. Pretty cool.
  • Reminder: How to be a Genius
  • I was a bit low on photos for the week.
  • Stating the obvious, but a good beer is delicious. Turns out that not drinking any beer for a year will make you miss it. Newlands Spring – Passionate Blond is great.
  • Tune of the week: Affection – Cigarettes After Sex
  • And another one: Yo-Yo Ma Bach Chello Suites 2018

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Quality nerding time…

  • Week of 10-16 December.
  • Yes, this post is late. Been busy with… nothing really.
  • Monday, office, dev catch up, lunchtime walk, I placed an Octotel order with our new API – we were a bit delayed in opening up the API, data fixes, braai at Nick’s house with Evan and Chris.
  • “Don’t go to sleep!” — Paul, I think that’s from last week’s notes.

  • I did a Udemy cource about GitLab and DevOps using their iOS app this week – it kinda works. Going to try a few more offline learning tools. edX and Coursera seem good. It’s tricky to make time for these courses. WWDD.
  • Tuesday, up early, gym, swim, sauna, German food at Raith’s at the Gardens Centre and a tin-tin hair cut, found some broad spectrum reflective sun block (face cream) and also got Mia some, beers at Nick’s, watched The Girl Who Played with Fire – not as good as the 1st movie.
  • Stating the obvious, but telecoms is much cooler than fintech. Urgh. Learnt that lesson the hard way.
  • Remember kids, use broad spectrum reflective sunblock, vitC and vitA. Listen to the Peter Attia podcast about skin care.
  • Wednesday, office, dev meeting, nap, explored a bunch of new podcast shows – without much luck, sunset podcast promenade walk, played with ucrm.
  • Inbox-zero – for the first time in many weeks!
  • “The road to the top is better than the top, don’t be in such a hurry that you don’t enjoy the ride.” — Dan Bilzerian

  • Thursday, work, gym, swim, sauna, office, pretty much the last day of dev work – systems freeze, iOS and macOS upgrade day, dinner at Hugo and Dennis’ house with Georg and Romeo.
  • Friday, up early, took a podcast walk around Sea Point listening to Startup School by Seth Godin, inbox-zero-day-3, worked at Cafe Neo – nice salads, a Campari at La Vie with Nick and Simone, Jacques dropped off some hardware – I have a 500G external SSD backup drive now.
  • I decided to give up on emacs and just use Sublime and jed.
  • Saturday, notes and photo processing, used my new backup drive – seems to do around 100MB/s, gym, epic nap, house sitting in Tamboerskloof, supper at The Blue Cafe – old favourite, flaneuring walk, ice cream at Unframed, watched Eyes Wide Shut again – nice xmas movie.
  • I cleaned up my homebrew packages – how does homebrew not have autoremove!?
  • Going to gym twice a week makes a big difference – no need for more than that really. Florence makes for good gym music.
  • Can’t really think of any new years resolutions I made over the last year or two. I used to do that kind of thing. Nothing comes to mind. I guess I’m more into weekly cycles now. Hmm. My NY resolution is to become a bit more useful with software dev again.
  • Heros, past and present:, Tony Hsieh, A16Z, Jobs, Paul Car, Sivers, Dan Bilzerian, Tim, Attia, JP, Ripley, Elon… sure there must be more, but that’s what comes to mind.
  • How businesses are built: sleep, have ideas, make notes, discuss ideas, create two or three crappy things a day (not perfect just functional), remember that it’s your own little (Sivers) universe, learn, sleep.
  • Sunday, a bit of sysadmin tinkering, walked down to Blue Cafe again for a Full Monty breakfast, assembled a server with Giles, a drink with Paul, New Money Russia 2 at Wonderland club with Georg and Lauren – good fun, memories of lying on a trampoline and looking at the stars with Paul.
  • Easy way to go back to the Classic WordPress editor. GUIs are usually lame.
  • Tune of the week: a-ha – Take On Me
  • Tunes of they year: Stephan Bodzin

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

You may already be a member…

  • Hello WordPress 5.0 – the new editor sucks for editing HTML.
  • Week of 3-9 December.
  • Monday, office, management meeting, data fixing, got some new gym gloves, podcast walk home, nap, sunset promenade walk, more tinkering with Docker and Django – managed to get Django running in a container on my Mac.
  • Tuesday, work, gym, swim, sauna, Green Point Park walk, keto lunch, Rockpool, sunset podcast promenade walk, Hamiltons S2.
  • Subtract
  • Wednesday, walked to the office – but encountered some load shedding, joy, worked at Strolla, office, lots of email scrubbing, breakfast for supper, Campari at La Vie, podcast queue zero, long phone chat w Jacques in London.
  • The story of Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
  • Thursday, work, gym, swim, sauna, caught the tail end of Cape Town Startup Week – VIP drinks at ICIC in Green Point, walked home, watched Jodorowsky’s Dune – good movie.
  • CTSUW seems pretty cool. Fresh take on a mostly meh tech entrepreneur ecosystem, if you ask me.
  • “Have the greatest ambition possible, do it, try, if you fail, it’s not important.” — Alejandro Jodorowsky

  • Friday, office, lunch at the Mojo Market, after work drinks in the office, extended nap, joined Paul and Nicci at the opening of new wine bar in Bree Street – I thought it was a bit average, drinks with Claus and Jani at House of Machines – they make a great Old Fashioned, quick Hanks visit.
  • What happened to October and November?
  • “What is the purpose of life – well it’s an adventure.” — JP about the call to adventure

  • “Are you doing the most adventurous thing you can be doing?”

  • If you listen to enough JP, all you hear is: meaning, responsibility and adventure.
  • “He doesn’t mid invading countries as long as tea time is at 16:30.” — Claus

  • Learn, create, make notes.
  • Do a small number of things with excellence.
  • For all my anti Instagram Story ideas… I do actually watch two fairly regularly.
  • Saturday, walked to the Waterfront with Paul, watched Bohemian Rhapsody at the VIP cinemas – great movie – go watch it, Belgium beer at Den Anker, afternoon of Elgin chardonnay and a good catch up with Paul, 13 hour sleep.
  • Sunday, brunch at La Vie, nap, sunset promenade walk to the Mojo Market, almost finished Hamiltons S2.
  • Tune of the week: Queen – I Want To Break Free

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

District 9 visit…

Guns n’ Roses

  • Week of 26 November to 2 December.
  • Monday, school run, gym, swim, sauna, keto breakfast, office, BIA machine visit, supplements shopping, swim, sauna, in bed early.
  • Tuesday, work, gym, swim, sauna, keto breakfast, office, Nu, in bed early.
  • We’re built for adventure not peace.
  • Wednesday, up early, flight to Joburg – read a book about Salt, dropped our bags at the Raddisson, Vodacom meeting, Cool Ideas meeting, catch up with Roelf and the team at their rooftop bar, big steak dinner at The Bull Run with Scott, Rob and Rory.
  • Thursday, Afrihost meeting, RocketNet meeting, hotel, burger at Craft in Parkhurst, watched the Guns n’ Roses concert with Trevor, Rob and Rory at the FNB Stadium (District 9 spaceship), big mission to find an Uber at 00:30 in JHB after a concert.
  • “Feed them some cat food.” — Michael

  • Friday, breakfast with Ernst at Tasha’s – nice to catch up – chats about flow stacking, Buddhism, the subconscious mind, the IDW, epigenetics – seems we’ve been listening to similar books, flight to Cape Town, long podcast flaneuring walk to Camps Bay – walked around Mainens Cove, dinner at The Raj with Georg, drinks with Adrian.
  • Saturday, managed to get a Salt python3 install working (but not with IPv6) – I can now do remote Debian package upgrades for a few VMs, afternoon on Clifton 1st, watched the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – good movie, 14 hour sleep.
  • Sunday, worked at La Vie with some Bodzin, a bloody mary and chicken skewers, played with Docker and Django, watched some Hamiltons Pharmacopeia, nap, sunset podcast promenade walk, photo processing and blogging.
  • Tune of the week: alt-J – Adeline – “A Tasmanian devil falls in love with a woman as he watches her swim. The song describes his feelings toward her as well as his realization that he cannot be with her.”

Have a fun week, crazy kids.