A Portfolio of Small Bets
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A Portfolio of Small Bets

By Daniel Vassallo

2022-04-18: Lesson 1

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  • Success bringing success → small wins can help as stepping stones

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  • Work on ideas immediately—don’t make ideas list!
    • Scope each idea for 2 weeks only
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Personal Takeaway from Lesson 1: Treat Ideas like 🐄 not 🐕

  • This is where I've been the most stuck: while I want to make tools that support spiritual practice as my "Mission(TM)," I also find myself going back to my actual domain knowledge expertise (pharma/biotech) b/c there are just more B2B opps there...and I wasn't sure which path would be the best (make $ with B2B to fund my creator dream, or make the creator dream monetizable...)
  • I also find Daniel's story of him hitting it big with something not in his domain knowledge at the time (social media) rather than his expertise (userbase SaaS) very thought provoking, b/c it means that I'm limiting myself by only thinking about Mission vs. Domain Knowledge! I need to consider the third, Random/Opportunistic domain too!

2022-04-20: Lesson 2

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Plant trees where there are trees growing

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Personal Takeaway from Lesson 2: Failures do not provide useful info 🙅🏻‍♀️

  • When Daniel emphasized that failures do not actually teach us anything, I thought about why my mind tends to over-obsess with understanding my own failures and wanting to learn from them. I realized the source of this obsession--**it's from my training as a neuroscientist working in a laboratory.
  • In a lab setting you are taught to analyze your experimental failures, because they will allow you to reduce the risk of failure next time. However, the lab setting is the ultimate controlled environment where the scientist is supposed to control everything else except for one variable. As Daniel pointed out, the business world is stochastic, and therefore multivariate!
  • With this knowledge I realized that what I should instead focus on (and hopefully learn in the coming lessons) how to reduce risks through better selection criteria, instead of analyzing outcomes.
  • Additional notes:
    • It’s ok to retry the same thing that didn’t work last time. Randomness can mean repetition, not always trying something new.
    • Variables are consistently changing in the stochastic world, hard to predict what will happen.
    • Scope projects 2 weeks - 1 month max.
    • Reminder that 1 in 1000 odds don’t work if you only try 5X.
    • Derisk by collaborating with a partner.
    • Is the competitive advantage is to move faster than everyone else?
    • The point of small bets philosophy to make myself more failure resilient, because I can no longer “blame myself” for something not taking off.
    • Give more than you ask for so that you can launch more things and not exhaust the audience, it’s an artform.
    • Study highly successful products and mimic.

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Personal Takeaway from Lesson 3:

  • Some assets are more critical than others (e.g. marketing)
  • Audience building is very important, but can be replaced by e.g. partnering with others, paid ads, etc. (which require their own assets)

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  • Timebox building can be even shorter, a weekend

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Questions in my head:

  • How to increase credibility and attention? Study Attention and Credibility list, do tasks towards building them daily. Study what makes me buy.
  • Tanya mentioned a general strategic path?

Stacks I want to acquire

  • Paid ads seem very daunting yet important, how do I get better?

Takeaways from Lesson 3: Inject “True” Randomness, Build Credibility & Attention “Net worth”

Inject True Randomness:

  • The inspiration examples Daniel cited blew our minds because they were from OUTSIDE of the familiar tech/hustle world. I noticed that it is always tempting to copy and remix ideas we are exposed to in our usual Twitter bubble, but Daniel’s implicit message is to REALLY go out and seek out the WEIRD, and inject a level of “true” randomness into our small bets.

Build Credibility & Attention “Net Worth”:

  • Given the importance of these assets in the stack, it seems important to make sure that our small bets, even if they fail catastrophically, still build credibility & attention--so they are never a waste of our time.

Lesson 4

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  • + Avoid subscription products that require large psychological costs e.g. paid newsletters

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Takeaways from Lesson 4:

  • Selection criteria is everything. Therefore, I must begin with small projects to cast as many bets as possible to understand what my personal best selection criteria might be.
  • (Need to watch rest of recording)

Lesson 5

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