Weekly Review #98: Secret Uber Parties, Third World FB Growth, and Playa Sandwiches

TechCrunch Disrupt was this week, but my experience wasn’t nearly as impressive as its reputation would indicate. It sounds like it’s getting more noise and less signal every year, which is a problem every event has, but it’s too bad.

The only startups worth mentioning that I saw were UrbE (tiny electric bicycle that goes 20 mph), PIF (pay it forward model of introductions, trade intros for intros), and Snapshirt (make all over print shirts with a simple picture).


Two other events of note – I attended a free secret Uber party on Thursday with top DJ Arty, by swiping the call options over to the limited edition ‘Party’ option and going to a secret location. Clever partnership!

I also dropped by the infamous Folsom Street Fair, a completely NSFW leather fetish event in the middle of SF. It was a little overwhelming and I didn’t stay long, but I did see a guy paint a (admittedly talented) portrait of JFK using only his paint-dipped penis, no hands involved. Impressive?


Facebook’s growth strategy isn’t novel – it’s Dave McClure’s startup metrics for pirates repurposed, along with a few extra helping hands for developing countries. Nevertheless, it’s a good rundown of evergreen growth tactics

Comparison of SEO link building tools is a comprehensive look at the art.


HuffPo article on habits of entrepreneurs rings some bells to me, given mywork on the Habitual Hustler. Planning, reflection, blurring of work and play, and working for a higher purpose are all spot on.


Quiznos ad spoofing Burning Man in the style of the Maze Runner nails every single joke. Hilarious, and all for sandwiches. Meanwhile, Rinse and Repeat is “a male shower simulation game” that somehow isn’t entirely NSFW (spoiler – you rub his back and that’s it)

Why Don’t We Have Friendly Relationship Management Software?

There are literally dozens of services out there that help salespeople maintain and develop relationships with prospects. Salesforce, Yesware, Highrise, the list goes on and on. So called Customer Relationship Management tools are key in order to track, remind, and manage these professional relationships. There’s services that tell me who to follow up with when, relevant personal data, the history of our relationship, and everything I’d ever want to know about our relationship.

Yet in the end, I don’t really care about those relationships. They are means to an end – to get a sale. Meanwhile, my life is full of relationships that I truly do value – my family, friends, acquaintances, and everyone else I interface with willingly. Why aren’t there CRM platforms for people you care about?

Spending Time With Friends Is Still Hard

You might say that’s preposterous – if they were truly people you cared about, you wouldn’t need software to remind you their name and background details. But I disagree.

Ever since college, I’ve been amazed at how few opportunities there are as a young adult to connect with anyone outside of my inner circle. I spend plenty of time with my housemates, girlfriend, family, and friends in the regular meeting groups I attend locally. But outside of existing circles, it’s very hard to get together with people.

First one party has to reach out and ask, which is easy to forget to do when one has dozens of lukewarm contacts they’d like to see. Then you have to schedule them into your calendar just the same as a business contact, which is hard since we’re all busy. Then you have to find a place and time that works for both! There is undoubtedly friction here, since even dear friends will often deteriorate down to nothing more than a Facebook Like every now and then.

And yet these are truly people who I care about and want more of in my life.It’s ridiculous. If there were software that helped reduce that friction, it would greatly improve my quality of life, more than any social network app. Instead of creating secondary interactions with online profiles, it would increase the face to face time with real people.

An FRM Would Be Similar to a CRM

What would this look like? I daresay it’d be almost exactly like existing CRM solutions, but plugged into your Facebook and phone contacts rather than Linkedin and email. It would provide relevant information about people you haven’t talked to recently, and streamline outreach, perhaps even with templates like CRM solutions do. The key would be making things warm and personable rather than robotic and forced. That shouldn’t be difficult, given the wealth of information people already share to their social networks. There’s already bots that can post statuses that sound like you – why not use that power for outreach?

The friendly CRM could even prompt me to connect with friends based off what we share. If we both post about similar topics – thats a chance to reach out. If it’s been a year since some significant event, time to reach out. Have an unscheduled lunch hour? Pick a valued friend you’ve been meaning to see, and drag and drop to quality time.

Maybe it could prompt me to share content I’m already reading with friends who it knows would like it. Did Joe just post about Trump recently? Present me with an autocomplete template to send my thoughts on the piece I’m reading right now to him and spark a reconnection.

Integrate with Yelp and help us remove the friction of finding a conducive nearby place. Integrate with Open Table and take away the friction of a crowded restaurant. Cross reference my other dear friends and source up the people who have the most interests in common to allow me to double dip and host multiple friends at once. The options are endless, the data is already there, and the need is real.

You know when you reach out to a loose contact to ask a favor, and genuinely wish you were just reaching out to be friendly? I hate that feeling, but not enough to actually schedule warm contact with friends. There’s friction, and no reason to reach out today versus any other day.

That’s the gap this software would bridge – reasons to reach out, while streamlining the event itself to be as easy as possible.

Weekly Review #97: Defying ‘Zucky’, hacked Tinder love, and pop-up Grindr


Chinese startup Chummy got in trouble for having its Facebook employee users show unauthorized guests around the office. The CEO is unfazed, and has some defiant words for ‘Zucky’.

Nootrobox is a nootropics (cognitive enhancers) subscription service that makes biohacking easy for everyone!

Salesforce hired a cruise ship for their Dreamforce conference because San Francisco doesn’t have enough hotel rooms in the whole city….


My friend Simone has a series of one sentence summaries for many good minfulness books he has read on his travels.

This SF guy hacked Tinder to autolike LA girls, and then asked one on a two week trip to Israel. Somehow it worked and they fell in love…


I swung by the Come Out and Play Festival this weekend, which is all about creative real life interaction. Definitely up my alley! Many of the games seems like they were thought up in less than ten minutes, however, I was intrigued by the projector they had set up that allowed you to go to a certain website on your phone and use it as a controller for a 20 person Joust like game. Now that’s social local multiplayer – walk right up!

This guy had a surprising Grindr experiencer, and made a pop up book all about it. Definitely NSFW, but somehow endearing.

Do Entrepreneurs Create Waves or Merely Surf Them?

Image from BillSOPhoto

There’s a 19th century idea called the ‘Great Man’ theory, which claims that history can be explained by the impact of ‘great men’ who used their power in a way that had decisive historical impact. People like Napoleon, Shakespeare, Muhammed, and the like who pushed humanity forward using nothing by their own charisma, wit, and understanding.

The idea has mainly fallen out of favor since World War 2, as critics have noted that such men are products of their society, noting that ‘before he can remake society, his society must make him’. In other words, their personal input was indeed critical, but it was more the result of him being in the right place at the right time than who he was. They weren’t the only one who could bring together the several converging movements into one (so the argument goes), but they happened to be the one who did.

Great Men of Tech

Today, the concept has resurfaced in tech, as men like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk are hailed as unique visionaries who explicitly created our modern reality. The MIT Technology review does a good job of pointing out that government subsidies play a large part in these successes and how the great man myth is harmful, but I don’t think it dispels it entirely. Yes, such men are products of society, and happened to exist at a time when converging technologies allowed them to catapult things forward, but their own agency has some say in the matter.

It’s unlikely Steve Wozniac would have made Apple such a beautifully designed company, for instance, and unlikely that Martin Eberhard alone would have turned Tesla into the dynamo it is today. Without their ‘great men’, these companies would not have been driven to accomplish what was previously thought  impossible or crazy.

Could someone else have pushed them in the same way? Would any visionary, controlling perfectionist have done instead? Perhaps. What, then, are the key personality traits that one would require for a modern, commodified ‘great man’?

It is not their peculiarities. One of the reasons why the theory is harmful is because it deifies the men and puts their eccentricities on pedestals. There’s a sense that if one wishes to be the next Steve Jobs, one must take acid, wear turtlenecks, and only eat fruit.

But these are not what made such people great. It is important to distinguish which personality traits are frivolities, and which were instrumental in their success

There are a few personality traits that will always be helpful – the ability to pattern match across many different topics, a drive towards perfection, and towering ambition all help. But even with all of these, one must have a good deal of luck, and the ability to see where the world is headed.

Luck: The Only Personality Trait That Matters

Some would argue that foresight coupled with luck is the only important trait.

In Shane Snow’s Smartcuts, for instance, he profiles Sonny Moore, an emo band guitarist who got decided to jump genres and start producing electronic dubstep music. He happened to start making EDM right as the genre became massively popular in the US, and now, as Skrillex, he’s one of it’s biggest stars. Snow notes that it was his ability to sense the impending dubstep wave that allowed him to produce the right stuff at the right time and be successful.

Bryan Lim, the founder of EmazingLights.com, is another person who benefited from the EDM boom. He was the only person selling rave gear stateside when the craze hit, mostly because he was frustrated with dealing with Chinese manufacturers who had month-long delivery times. While he acknowledges that he worked his ass off making the company, he says that his success was mostly luck and good timing.

Is luck and good timing, then, the only personality trait we should maintain? What should an ambitious young person who wishes to make an impact on the world do, if all who come before him were lucky and nothing more?

Passion + Luck > Foresight

I refuse to subscribe to this new ‘Lucky Men’ theory, that people are successful due to their time and place of life and not due to decisions made during it. It should be put down just as the Great Men theory was. Why? I believe the dichotomy here is not that of destiny vs agency but of passion vs opportunity, the same quandary I examined in Does Passion Trump an MBA?.

To be successful, one should not examine the times and find the wave that is likely coming to a head soon. One should not try to predict the next EDM boom. Jumping into a field because it looks promising will lead to failure, no matter how good the numbers look. Instead, one should jump into fields that one is authentically excited about, and use one’s own intelligence to see how it can fit into the times.

Skrillex and Bryan didn’t sense the coming EDM boom and jump ship – they were already passionate about what they were doing, and would have continued doing it regardless of market conditions. They were pursuing passions more than creating businesses. Even Elon and Steve were pursuing passions – Musk didn’t know anything about rockets, but he knew he wanted to, so he dove into all the regular texts on the subject, until he could count himself as an expert. He wasn’t doing that to make money – he did that because he cared about getting to Mars.

Then again, if they had decided to pursue passions in underwater basket weaving, farming, or horseback riding, it’s unlikely they would become ‘great’. Why? These are unscalable passions, that only affect a few people no matter how good you get at them. Integrate one of these with a technology wave coming to a head, however, and you’ve got something big. Run a farm using drones, track horse vitals using wearables, or make a platform that teaches people how to weave, and now we’re talking great.

Here, then, is my vote for the best way to become a ‘great person’, regardless of the times: Turn inward to discover what you re truly passionate about, and master it. Then turn outward, and see how evolving developments in your time and place are affecting your passion. Then put yourself in the right place with the right network to leverage your knowledge of the craft and the times to make a difference.

Find your passion, then get an MBA in the times to maximize your impact. How’s that for a recipe for greatness? (genuinely curious here)

Weekly Review #96: Arbitraging your family, Ghost DJs, and Trump saying China

I met a hustler friend this week who employs his collegiate cousins at market rate (10$ an hour) as his own personal assistants, doing whatever drudge sales/marketing work he doesn’t want to. They get paid more than minimum wage to do things that are actually interesting, while he gets onshore talent. Likewise, he has his dad doing all the accounting stuff he doesn’t care about. Why not arbitrage your family?


This guy watched every video in How To Start a Startup in one day  – here’s the notes.

Snips founder notes that good technology does not complicate our lives with push notifications and the like, but is invisible. Artificial intelligence is the best delivery of that – instead of pinging us at certain times, it can know what is the relevant action – and do it.

AnyoneInc lets you interview anyone in the world from your smartphone in a few taps. Interesting to see how this gets used for podcasting.


Gretchen Rubin sketches the ‘Arrival Fallacy’ – idea that you will be happy ‘as soon as x condition is fulfilled’. Instead, be happy where you are – there’s nowhere to arrive to.

Pasquale Rotella was a dirty LA kid throwing warehouse raves in the 90s – now he’s married to a Playmate and runs the biggest EDM concert promoter in the world. Here’s a look at his rise to power. Also, the Secret Life of an EDM Ghost Producer is an interesting read – many of the biggest DJs farm out their work.



3 minutes of Donald Trump saying nothing but China – you’re welcome.