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When the first lockdown hit in March, clients of my strategic consultancy braced themselves for the pandemic. And so Kiran (my business partner and childhood best friend) and I found ourselves with some free time. We decided to pursue our passions and launch a music production company. After a few months of relentless work, we found success in UK Drill. In case you don't know, this is the most violent musical export Britain has to offer. These rappers actually do what they say 💊💀💰💉
While Kiran led creative efforts, I managed sales, marketing, legal and finance. That meant transitioning from a role where I consult CEOs and investors to one where I negotiate with rappers and artist managers. This week, for example, we found ourselves in a music studio with a bunch of UK Drill rappers. CVs decorated with the likes of Imperial College, Oxford University, banks, hedge funds, and tech companies, it was fair to say Kiran and I were different from their typical production team.
But instead of allowing this difference to create an awkward dynamic, I used it to our advantage. I deployed some self-deprecating humour to lighten the mood and offered their manager some business advice to earn his trust. This approach helped us get a Drill placement that’s now on 400K+ YouTube views. 📈
The experience reminded me of when I worked in Shanghai in 2017. Single and in an exciting new city, I downloaded some dating apps in search of an ‘Asian Adventure’. While colleagues tried (and failed) to match other international visitors on Tinder, I opted for tantan, a local dating app. And, within 24 hours, had matched 59 people.👇 👀
While my colleagues missed the opportunity to deploy a Blue Ocean Strategy and capture an uncontested market space, I used my difference (my Armenian curls on this occasion) to my benefit. And the locals were clearly impressed.
This ability to be different is a reason why living and working abroad appeals to me. Inherent in the experience is the constant opportunity to stand out by virtue of demographic, cultural, and societal differences.
But you don’t need to be abroad to leverage this principle. Everyone's unique in some way and the faster you can identify what makes you unique the better. You'll see quick results in life and business, and if not, you'll get some great memories and stories at the very least!
I’d love to hear from you
This week I onboarded two investment firms as new consultancy clients. It’s reminded me of two reasons why I love investing:
- To win, you must think differently from your peers. According to Paul Graham’s essay ‘How To Think For Yourself’, this ability is something you can develop - and I highly recommend reading the essay to learn how!
- ‘Investing’ isn’t just about finance. It’s about allocating resources (e.g. money, time and energy) to improve quality of life. Whether ‘Return on Investment’ comes as cash, time, energy or otherwise, understanding the principles of ‘Investing’ is key! 🔑
To that end, I’ve been nerding-out on finance this week. As reflected by my reading and podcasts!
My Favourite Podcasts This Week
🚀 Twenty Minute VC interviews Justin Fishner-Wolfson on Why VCs Should Care More About Cost of Capital, Lessons from working with Peter Thiel, Why Liquidity Aligns Incentives & Why The Last Double Matters. Justin attended Stanford at 15, joined Peter Thiel at 24, and founded 137 Ventures, investing in companies like SpaceX, Uber and Airbnb. A crazy-comprehensive discussion around all things growth-stage venture.
🧠 Hidden Brain on Being Afraid of the Wrong Things. This episode examines our inability to properly assess risk. This conversation touches on a wide range of ideas: the availability heuristic, emotion, cumulative vs marginal risk, linear vs exponential growth, control, personal narratives, and psychic numbing.
💰 Tim Ferris Interviews David Rubenstein on Learning, Jeff Bezos, Raising $Billions and Advising Presidents. David’s a founding father of the private equity industry and I’m a huge fan of his work and philosophy. Especially since meeting him in 2017 at an alternative investments conference in London. This episode didn’t disappoint. I love the emphasis he places on being a life-long learner!
💸 Meb Faber interviews David Marcus of Evermore Global Advisors on whether to sell things you like to buy things you now love. An interview with one of the great European value and special situations investors. He touches on different types of special situations, including spinoffs, restructurings, and breakups, and why activism, catalysts, and cheaper valuations make Europe especially attractive.
You made it this far… congrats! A final bonus for you: ARK Investments 2021 Big Ideas Report, which offers an overview of important (and financially lucrative) tech trends replete with graphs, charts, and data. Big ideas include Deep Learning, Virtual Worlds, Cryptocurrency, Automation, Gene Therapy, and more. Cathie Wood’s investment acumen cannot be denied, ARK is the largest actively managed ETF because of her insights. Regardless of whether you’re financially inclined, this is an incredibly interesting and relevant read.
The Book I Read This Week
🌐 Remote by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried. 3/5. Going remote poses unique challenges. I hoped this book might offer me practical solutions to address these and help me scale my businesses. Instead, it’s just a series of counterarguments to objections to remote work. I found the authors came across as pompous patriarchal prescribers of their very particular variety of remote work, incapable of looking beyond their specific experiences. If you're on the fence about remote work, this book is solid. If you need help convincing your team, manager, or company executives to go remote, this book is solid. For anyone else, it’s a waste of time. I made notes on everything useful, which you can grab on my website.
Nomad News This Week
🏙️ The debate around whether Superstar Cities will thrive or survive the remote-work movement continues. Bloomberg’s Noah Smith declares Superstar Cities aren’t going anywhere, but Atlantic’s Derek Thompson argues they’re in deep shit!
🇬🇷 Meanwhile, if working from your laptop with the Acropolis as a backdrop sounds good, Greece has doubled down on its efforts to attract digital nomads by offering a 50% break on income tax.
🇭🇷 Croatia created a new ‘digital nomad visa’ for people outside the EU. Is that the sound of your suitcase zipping shut?
Tools I Discovered This Week
⏰ Intern From Home is a free platform that connects students to remote internships at VCs and start-ups. It was launched by my friend, Armeen Golshan. If you’re looking to hire interns, submit a post here. Similarly, students looking to intern can post here. Submissions only take 5 minutes so there’s no excuse!
🔊 Podz extracts the most compelling pieces of audio from long-form podcasts and puts it in a personalised audio newsletter. With more and more content being created, I really love the idea behind it and if you enjoy podcasts as much as I do, I’d definitely recommend trying it out.
🐦 Excerpts From The Twitterverse
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