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Weekly Review #82: Thiel Summit, Orgasmic Meditation, and drones herding sheep

I attended the 2015 Thiel Foundation Summit this weekend, which was filled with young smart ambitious people from all over. (They even flew in some kids from Ukraine!) The Q&A sessions were some of the best I’ve ever seen – instead of jaded techies, it was kids earnestly asking incisive questions about how to get old people to do what they want and personal wealth. I think it’s because they have no filters yet – they’re too young to know what should and shouldn’t be asked or done. Awesome. Here’s some notes:

Keynote from Joshua Tetrick

  • Tetrick worked for 7 years in Sub Saharan Africa, but realized he was affecting only incremental change, and decided to affect systematic change by rethinking food with Hampton Creek (food made without animals)
  • Says to ask “What would X look like if we made it from scratch?” That way not persuaded by status quo
  • Go solve big problems, money and ego will come from that. Don’t do it the other way around.
  • When you graduate, you can make money at shitty jobs or make no money affecting incremental change at nonprofit. Reject these options and create your own. Get out of the jail cell of your own mind.
  • In 1800s, there were groups protesting against horse abuse, since they powered all transportation. Instead of saving horses, go invent the automobile.
  • Find where new technology, world problems, and your passion intersect. (look at recent Series A investments to spot nascent trends)
  • Take old people advice with a grain of salt – they think their life experience is more valid than the alternatives, which is not true

Some cool projects and tips from attendees:

  • REAL Teen Mag – magazine about social entrepreneurship formatted like Seventeen – that way can talk to teens in a language they understand and get them excited about legitimate issues
  • ImHome app – private 1 on 1 messenger to talk to your family
  • InkHunter App – virtual reality app views mark on your body, turns it into a tattoo – see what it looks like without an investment
  • This Book Will Make You Smarter – book by John Brockman, answers the Q – what scientific concept should everyone know?
  • One guy bought vaynermedia.com way before Gary Vaynerchuk was famous, then sold it to him for cheap in return for an investment
  • Vessyl smartcup tracks what you drink
  • Book – The First Tycoon – life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • Kapitall – investing for the rest of us
  • Guy built a platform to tell people which on-demand work service to do, when – Taskrabbit, Uber, etc
  • Great question to ask at an event like this: What experience made you realize you could control your own life?
  • Many different answers to that all lead to entrepreneurship – read a book, hate authority, got what wanted and didn’t like it, accidentally made impact, travel, was inspired by a teacher, noticed was more productive in the morning,
  • Book – Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
  • Hive app – connect with people nearby based off shared interests
  • Book – Search Inside Yourself By Chade Meng Tan

 I also swung by a OneTaste Turn On event, which is the intro phase for the group’s practice of orgasmic meditation, where a woman gets, er, stroked by a partner for 15 minutes in a very specific manner. It’s pretty weird, but Tim Ferriss mentioned it in The 4 Hour Body, so there must be something there, right?

The Turn On event was tame – no stroking there, just people sitting in a circle being authentic. There were 3 activities – one where you completed sentences aloud like “A deep desire I have is __”, one where you chose someone in the room to say the first thing that came to your mind when you met them, and the best one in my opinion – the hot seat exercise, where you sit in the middle and everyone asks you pointed questions. It felt like therapy, since the organizers were really good at asking questions that made you uncomfortable, although most revolved around sex (guess that makes sense, what with the practice and all). Still not sure how I feel about the whole thing, but the positive energy of the group and authenticity are definitely things I can get behind.

Back online, there’s plenty Tech:

Sense is a piece of hardware that monitors the ambient environment of your bedroom for optimal sleep.

Mark Suster points out that most statistics, even those from big firms, are entirely made up. Don’t trust em!

WaitButWhy’s massive post on why Tesla will change the world is a comprehensive look into clean energy, the automotive industry, and the exceptional mind of Elon Musk.

This guy made an Instagram bot to follow and like relevant accounts, leading to many downloads for his app. Probably won’t work anymore, though – this was in 2012.

Advice is dangerous, because it’s individual experience generalized. Don’t use it instead of thinking, says VC Tomasz Tunguz.

There’s a porn version of Kickstarter called CumFundMe. Because of course, that’s why.

Lifehacks

Francis Pedraza notes that ambitious people can get caught up in working hard just to work hard – when you’re at your best, it’s effortless. Similarly, Ted Gonder shares how to take an emotional vacation from your work when you need to recharge.

Fun

There’s a star officially named ‘Putin is a Dickhead’, and he’s not happy.

The Onion reports of a new music festival that’s just a big field to do drugs in, in another ‘so honest it hurts’ piece.

I Do Now I Don’t is an online marketplace for ‘pre loved’ engagement rings, hahaha.

Some rationalist blogger  took a Tumblr post about silly pills that give you superpowers and spun out the whole thing into an epic saga of world domination as the new superpowers explore their powers. Riveting!

Animated visualization of WW2 deaths is gorgeous, well-designed, and shocking.

Here’s a drone’s eye view of a drone herding sheep. You’re welcome.