Sunday Reads #142: Inversion - the surprising secret to winning in business
Don't be like Elon Musk.
Hope you had a great start to the year!
For my first newsletter of the year, allow me to flash back to Jan 2013 - 9 years ago, almost to the day.
2013 was a big year for me. But at the end of it, I was left wondering if it had been a hopeless waste of time.
Taking the plunge.
I took the plunge in Jan 2013 - quit my job and started up.
Got two solid co-founders, an interesting SaaS idea, and a few months of runway. Thus began the entrepreneurial dream.
Fast forward 10 months.
The product was ready, customers were mildly interested. But it was clear it wouldn’t work.
It was a structural effort-value mismatch. A long sales process and too much integration effort, but not a must-have product.
We tried many things but the writing was on the wall. The revenue would never justify the effort.
And here’s the other thing: we were running out of runway (personal savings). We couldn’t continue paying salaries for much longer.
So that was it then – end of the entrepreneurial dream? 12 squandered months, and then sanity prevails?
Time to go back to a regular salaried job?
Before we talk about what happened next, let’s take a short journey. Through tennis, skiing, Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett, and even Elon Musk.
And why the secret to winning is often… not losing.
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Roaring ‘20s - Jetpacks & Telescopes.
You wanted flying cars, you got flying humans.
And I enjoyed this article on the James Webb Space Telescope.
To look back in time at the cosmos’s infancy and witness the first stars flicker on, you must first grind a mirror as big as a house. Its surface must be so smooth that, if the mirror were the scale of a continent, it would feature no hill or valley greater than ankle height. Only a mirror so huge and smooth can collect and focus the faint light coming from the farthest galaxies in the sky — light that left its source long ago and therefore shows the galaxies as they appeared in the ancient past, when the universe was young. The very faintest, farthest galaxies we would see still in the process of being born, when mysterious forces conspired in the dark and the first crops of stars started to shine.
The reason no one has seen the epoch of galaxy formation is that the ancient starlight, after traveling to us through the expanding fabric of space for so many billions of years, has become stretched. Ultraviolet and visible light spewed by the farthest stars in the sky stretched to around 20-times-longer wavelengths during the journey here, becoming infrared radiation. … local heat sources swamp the pitiful flames of primeval stars. To perceive those stars, the telescope with its big perfect mirror has to be very cold. It must be launched into space.
Even in outer space, the Earth, moon and sun all still heat the telescope too much for it to perceive the dim twinkle of the most distant structures in the cosmos. Unless, that is, the telescope heads for a particular spot four times farther away from Earth than the moon called Lagrange point 2. There, the moon, Earth and sun all lie in the same direction, letting the telescope block out all three bodies at once by erecting a tennis court-size sunshield.
This blew my mind 🤯
This is the kind of stuff we should have tinkered with in school. Anti-gravity toothpicks.
That’s it for this week. Hope you had a restful year-end. And stay safe as omicron makes its way across the globe.
PS. Would love if you could also share today’s edition on Twitter so more people can see it. Thanks a lot!