The Year I became a Millionaire #2 - Rasmus : Consider breaking it

Having a friend whom you see on most days, compared to not having such a friend, had the same impact on well-being as making an extra $100,000 a year. My friends made a millionaire out of me this year. (Via Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect). This year I’ve met many interesting people I now call my friends. I’m feel like a multi-millionaire :)

Discussions with Rasmus made me delve into the mechanics and the essence of constant disruption and perpetual questioning on a personal and professional level. It made me grasp the foolishness of quantity versus quality when it came to mastery as well.

Let’s start with mastery. 10,000 hours are not enough to become a master at something. What needs to be embraced is deliberate practice rather. Then, 10,000 hours can turn into 8,000 hours. We’ve all spent more than 10,000 hours studying math in school. How many of us are mathematicians ? How many can create a theorem today or solve a life problem with mathematical logic ? Deliberate practice is the way of of the experience trap (“I’m good at this now, I can lay back and relax”). This last point leads to the next.


On the way to avoid complacency, Rasmus had several points:

  • Companies become complacent when they stop feeling they’re on a burning platform. When the crisis hits, they see their weaknesses. Hardship fleshes them out.
  • The hardest part is to avoid emotional attachment. We get attached to things we’ve invested time in even so they’re now useless. Look at Kodak. Emotional attachment to ancient technology leads to the dinosaur grave.
  • Intel and Noma are two great examples. Noma has an innovation lab whose sole purpose is to question what they’re doing and laying down a tabula rasa every season. Intel, with the advent of new chip technology, asked themselves “What if we were fired and a new CEO came in, What would he do ?”. The answer was ‘out with the old, in with the new’
Noma's crew

Noma's crew

Rasmus crystallises this in a great phrase "If it’s not broken, consider breaking it.” Practically the solution is to keep an internal unit (or person) in each company immune from failure, free to innovate in the direction they want with a single maxim : past data does not inform future data, the future is always assumed risky. And that free electron’s job is to take risks (@rasmus, reminds me of the Indian Heyokas ! The tribe’s contrarians). In other words : Keep bringing new blood in.

Obviously, it’s understandable to be afraid of taking risks. With great power, comes great fear of losing it. With a lot of stakeholders, taking risks becomes more frightening (reason why startups thrive : too little stakeholders at first). Rasmus concluded that day with a thought about big companies: Want it to succeed again ? Buy it out and make it private again.

On another note and different subject, one sentence I remember coming up with Rasmus touches on happiness : "It is inside out, not outside in"