Category Archives: Growth

Becoming More Likeable & Memorable

Source: Fast Company, Sep 2020


When first meeting a new person, give your best smile, make eye contact, and open up your posture to its widest position.

If shaking hands, make it firm and maintain solid eye contact. If you notice something about them that you can give them a sincere compliment about, do so. If there is a recent and proud accomplishment that you’re aware of, make sure to mention it.


Most people love to talk about themselves and will appreciate people who take the time to actually listen to what they say.

The next time you are in a conversation, pretend that you are being tested to see how much you can learn about the other person.


Make others aware you are focused with making them the center of attention. Face them squarely, smile, make eye contact, and let them know that they are the center of your world while you are with them.


Conversations often die quickly, or turn into monologues when not prompted by good questions.

When someone is talking about something that they enjoy doing, ask them about how they got into the activity, or what makes them enjoy it so much. Give the person you’re speaking with the opportunity to go deeper into a subject.


Discovering areas of shared interest is an excellent way to deepen our level of connection with others and increase their appreciation of us.

We connect and develop good relationships with those we have things in common with.


Many people love to hear the sound of their own name. Use it when you first meet them and sprinkle it throughout the conversation as appropriate.


When speaking to people, pay attention to what makes them become animated, lights up their face, or sit up straight. These are opportunities for us to help the speaker get further into topics that are of great interest to them. This can help you form strong positive impressions and lasting memories of people.

‘Extreme’ dating site only matches users with 20-year age gap

Source: NY Post, Aug 2020

matchmaking app, 20 Dating, as the “World’s 1st extreme age gap dating site.” The site only matches users with people 20 years younger or older than them, and photos are optional.

There’s no swiping on 20 Dating, or barriers to communication, meaning the algorithm allows all users with the appropriate age gap to instantly contact one another.

the site has a 66% male, 32% female and 2% transgender gender ratio breakdown among its few hundred users. Membership is free and only an email is required to sign up.

Related Resource: NY Post, Aug 2020

Growing old isn’t exactly synonymous with sex appeal, but a new obsession with middle-aged men has young ladies dying to date gray-haired guys twice their age. And while the silver-fox phenomenon is nothing new, Google searches for terms like “Daddy” and “DILF” have risen 150 percent over the past year, according to new data from online-dating market researcher Datingroo.

“It’s a daddy thing — they love when they [can] call an older guy daddy,” said DiBella, who goes on at least one date every few weeks. “It’s a sexual fantasy being with somebody older who doesn’t necessarily look older, but has the gray hair.”


Pax Americana (??)

Source: Quillette, Aug 2020

The level of confidence expressed by many experts that America will be overtaken by China is puzzling, given that a perusal through relevant data suggests that Beijing is still a long way from supplanting America in the three key pillars of economic, technological, and financial prowess.

Lost in much of the fretting (or boasting) about American declinism is the massive lead the American economy continues to hold over China, despite four decades of rapid growth for the latter. The total output of the US economy in 2019 was US$21.4 trillion, significantly larger than China’s output of US$14.3 trillion.

On a per-capita basis, the division becomes more stark—US$65,280 to US$10,261 (at current US$).

America’s share of the world economy has remained virtually unchanged since 1980, when it accounted for 25.2 percent of world GDP. As of December 31st, 2018, the US share only dropped to 23.9 percent. Over the same period, Japan’s share of world GDP fell from 9.7 percent to 5.8 percent, while the European Union’s share fell from 34.6 percent to 22 percent. This suggests that China’s rise has been at the expense of other countries’ share of the global economy, rather than that of the US.

Can China ever catch up?

Furthermore, China’s economy had already been slowing since peaking at 14.2 percent growth in 2007, before dropping to 6.6 percent in 2018. As Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute argued last year, the quicker China slows down, the less likely it will be able to catch up with the US. While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) insists that China will experience a gradual slowdown, internal factors suggest a more rapid slowdown would not be out of the question. In the aftermath of the pandemic, China watchers warned that the CCP had doubled down on the debt-fuelled, state-directed investment strategy which characterized its response to the 2008 global financial crisis.

This emphasis on massive infrastructure investments (conducted largely through state-owned enterprises) will arguably prove a drag on future growth.

The crowding out of private investments makes it harder for China to transition from an investment-driven economy to a consumer-led one, a long-stated goal of the CCP. Household consumption as a percentage of GDP in China remains relatively low at 38.7 percent in 2018—on par with countries such as Algeria and Gabon and dwarfed by 68.1 percent household consumption in the US. A lack of competition also hinders productivity growth—data from the Conference Board found that China’s projected level of output per worker in 2019 was only 22 percent of America’s.

Inefficient in innovation

Productivity growth remains the engine of capitalism, and is more often than not driven by technological development. While much has been made of the so-called “tech war” between the US and China, the US largely remains at the forefront of technological innovation. The 2019 edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII), considered the most comprehensive measurement system of global innovation, ranked the US third worldwide, while China stood at a respectable 14th.

Furthermore, a February 2020 report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) noted that while China has become more innovative since 2017, it still suffers from low innovation efficiency (meaning that the significant amount of resources it puts into innovation still produces a smaller level of outputs). The report warned that certain metrics used to demonstrate Chinese innovative excellence can be misleading.

For instance, although China is the world’s largest patent producer, about two-thirds of the patents produced every year tend to be utility model patents (defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization as providing protection for “minor inventions” based on incremental improvements to existing products), while only a third can be considered “higher-quality invention patents.”

Without a major boost to productivity, China will instead have to rely on the sheer size of its market. However, current demographic projections suggest that’s a looming problem for China. A recent forecast by the United Nations World Population Division projected that the number of working-age Chinese (aged 15–64) will fall by about 42.8 percent between now and 2100, while the number of Americans of working age will rise by about 14.2 percent.

Furthermore, GDP does not necessarily measure the size of an economy, but annual economic activity. As already discussed, not all economic output adds value to an economy. Scissors argues a better indicator of the size of an economy is national wealth—the value of real estate, stocks, and other assets (which accumulate over time).

By this metric, the US remains far ahead of China, with Credit Suisse’s estimations of America’s total household wealth in 2019 standing at US$106.0 trillion, compared to China’s US$63.8 trillion.

The Greenback is still supreme

The US Dollar remains the settlement currency of choice for the majority of international payments, with data from financial services network Swift showing the US$ being used in 45.78 percent of international payments in May 2020 alone, while the renminbi only saw usage in 1.22 percent of cases.

As noted by Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times: “The slogan on the greenback is ‘In God we Trust.’ The world’s appetite for dollars sends back the implicit message—’In America we Trust.’ If that trust survives coronavirus, so will American primacy.”

American financial infrastructure remains robust, even in the worst of times. In a time of great uncertainty in the international economy, investors continue to flee to US Treasury Bills, not Chinese bonds.

Wall Street remains the financial trading center of the world, with the New York Stock Exchange alone worth US$23.12 trillion in market capitalization in March 2018—nearly 40 percent of the world’s total stock market value.

By comparison, the world’s fourth largest global exchange, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, only measured at US$5.01 trillion. Even when combining the three independent stock exchanges of the PRC—Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong—China remains dwarfed by the US.

Listening Matters

Source:  Anicklebitome/Tumblr, Aug 2020

Productivity based upon To-Do Lists, Calendars, and Emails

Source: Des Traynor/Twitter, Aug 2020

Thinking is something you have to do FOR yourself

Source:, Jul 2020

Wisdom is earned, not given. When other people give us the answer, it belongs to them and not us. While we might achieve the outcome we desire, it comes from dependence, not insight. Instead of thinking for ourselves, we’re dependent on the insight of others.

There is nothing wrong with buying insight, this is one way we leverage ourselves. The problem is when we assume the insight of others is our own.

Earning insight requires going below the surface. Most of us want to shy away from the details and complexity. It takes a while. It’s boring. It’s mental work.

Yet it is only by jumping into the complexity that we can really discover simplicity for ourselves.

If wisdom was as simple to acquire as reading, we’d all be wealthy and happy. Others help you but they can’t do the work for you. Owning wisdom for oneself requires discipline

Creating: Capitalism vs Communism

Source: Alhambra Partners, Jul 2020

Communism, you see, isn’t meant to compete with capitalism, rather it is meant to replace it. The capitalists create all this marvelous technology which the Communists then expropriate as the basis from which to create their perfect human society.

As I wrote last week, that’s why Karl Marx had envisioned (demanded, in some parts of his work) that the socialist revolutions would take place only where industrial capitalism had already contributed such grand innovations and knowledge. To attempt to impose communism on a pre-industrialized society was, even to Marx and his partner Friedrich Engels, madness. Doomed to failure.

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) wouldn’t wait, however, even though Russia was nowhere near this prerequisite state. Instead, he’d try it his own way; the revolutionaries would take over before the country was ready economically, and then, often using capitalist practices, they would bring the country up to snuff (central planning) beginning with the first National Economic Plan in 1921.

And, as much as possible, pilfer, filch, and steal every single bit of technology and innovation they could from the capitalist pigs to speed up the process and narrow the gap.

So long as some in the world industrialized and took the capitalism road as far as it would take them, pre-industrialized societies had the right to expropriate those gains, catch up to them, and then even lead the entire world, capitalist, too, in a global socialist revolution overthrowing the entire old order.

In his Pre-Requisites of Socialism, written back in 1919, Trotsky argued how the technological gap had become so large it wasn’t realistic to expect the socialist system (of co-operatives) to have to catch up. Instead:

“It is evident that if this took place, the co-operative societies would then simply have automatically to expropriate all capitalist undertakings, after which it would remain for them to reduce the working day sufficiently to provide work for all citizens and to regulate the amount of production in the various branches in order to avoid crises. In this manner, the main features of socialism would be established. Again, it is clear that no revolution and no dictatorship of the working class would be at all necessary.”

That would mean to literally “expropriate all capitalist undertakings” everywhere; not just what little had been induced in Russia.

Like Russia, China had been forced into its socialist revolution too soon. The Chinese economy was even less industrialized in 1949 than Russia’s had been three decades earlier. Not much had changed by 1989 when the massacre at Tiananmen Square turned world opinion solidly against them. Cooperation wasn’t much of an option.

If China’s Communist Revolution hoped to survive, it would have to go all the way – on the economy. Embrace the wealth and technology that only a capitalist system could invent and then multiply. And, of course, stealing, pilfering, and thieving as much as possible where possible; that’s the part of Trotsky they all seem to agree on.

Unlike the Russians, though, the Chinese would keep a tighter political grip while this happened. That’s the lesson they ultimately learned; more wealth first, and even more authoritarian to achieve it. So long as the rest of the world’s workers refused Trotsky’s old invitation, China would have to do it Stalin-style: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in One Country.

They keep waiting for “enough” wealth to be created, or just show up at their doorstep delivered clandestinely by whatever they might call their own version of Line X in Chinese, since communism doesn’t create its own wealth. They’ve been indoctrinated into believing that the capitalist West will, eventually, exhaust itself, the Communist countries industrialized as well as pre-industrialized will catch up, and then the workers of the world will unite!

It just never happens. Those countries unfortunate enough to fall victim to this misanthropic, ill-conceived, and, really, stupid ideology end up with authoritarians trying to transition their economy from wherever it was before to where it cannot and never will go. Instead, they’re just stuck with the authoritarians and their quixotic quest to impose their utopia which justifies the authoritarianism – and all its evils – in the minds of the authoritarians.

communism doesn’t create its own wealth. They’ve been indoctrinated into believing that the capitalist West will, eventually, exhaust itself, the Communist countries industrialized as well as pre-industrialized will catch up, and then the workers of the world will unite!

Capitalism sure is messy, unpredictable, and, most of all, lumpy. It doesn’t go in a straight line, can cause tremendous stress and pain, and there are times when it gets caught up, for prolonged periods, in the bureaucratic messes of interfering morons. But once it is eventually set free, stable money, the world’s workers end up united if only in having no interest in the deplorable Marxist revolution – Trotsky, Lenin, or Mao – and its authoritarian Hotel California.

Challenges to Relationships

Source: Medium, Nov 2019

these 21 signs can help you come to terms with the heartbreaking realization that what once was is no more and is never going to be. As a rule, if you can say yes to four or more of these in your relationship, it’s time to close the book and begin a new chapter.

1. Resentment.

Are you suffering silently, taking your lumps, gritting your teeth, and never directly confronting your partner over behaviors that make you angry? You may think you’re saving the relationship by not speaking up, but you’re actually flooding yourself with resentment that will inevitably overflow. Don’t fool yourself into believing your reservoir is unlimited. The tipping point will come, and your resentment will influence your own behavior, in ways you may not even be aware of, leading you to get back at your partner and drive the death stake into the relationship. When resentment moves in, communication has moved out, and there’s little hope for reconciliation.

2. Disrespect.

If you or your partner have reached the point of showing disrespect or being dismissive of each other, forget it. There’s no quicker way to erode good will and make it easy for someone to stop loving you. People may keep their bodies in the room if they’re treated badly — -particularly in the cycle of abuse — -but their hearts and minds soon check out, and the relationship becomes a hollow shell.

3. Contempt.

Marriage expert John Gottman cites contempt as the deadliest of his “four horsemen” (the others are criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling) and claims he can tell if a marriage will fail by watching a couple for just 15 minutes. I know whereof he speaks. Contempt is like liquid nitrogen. A cold look of scorn from the one who’s supposed to warm your heart means you’ve fallen through the ice and you’re drowning in the frozen pond, and no, your partner is not going to save you.

4. Lying.

There’s lying to your partner and lying to yourself. Neither protects your partner or the relationship. Pretending you still love someone and speaking false words to mask your betrayal doesn’t insulate your partner from harm; it only delays and magnifies the damage. Similarly, pretending you’re happy and convincing yourself, against your heart and better judgment that everything is OK constitutes an abandonment of self and a withdrawal from reality. If you can’t stay grounded in the here and now, the relationship can’t thrive.

5. Mistrust.

Do you really think it’s wise to be with someone you can’t trust? Do we have to say more about this one?

6. Badmouthing.

Anything good you have to say about your partner should be said in public. Anything bad is best kept private, unless you’re on your way out and confiding in your family or close friends. Public badmouthing, even if it’s meant as a joke or petty complaining, is the tip of an iceberg of deep dissatisfaction that can sink your relationship to the bottom of the sea.

7. Distancing.

When you find yourself tuning out, seeking distractions, and making a conscious effort to avoid connection and intimacy, it’s time to step away from the source of your pain. You might still wear each other’s rings or live under the same roof, but if you’ve severed the emotional bond or you’re slowly letting it unravel, you may as well make a clean break.
Giving into demands that you “prove” your love is not actually a proof of your love, but a way of soothing your partner’s anxiety and addressing the feeling that he or she is unlovable.

8. Demanding proofs of love.

“If you loved me, you would . . .” Allowing this absurd request to rule your life is so tempting. After all, it’s often so easy just to get it over with and do the thing your partner asks. But what your partner is really saying is, “I don’t believe, trust, or accept your love unless you go through this hoop for me.” It’s not actually a proof of your love, but a way of soothing your partner’s anxiety and addressing the feeling that he or she is unlovable, and soon enough the hoop becomes a ring of fire. The only person who can change those feelings of unlovability is their owner, and asking you to do it is a sign your partner is mentally unwell.

9. Public humiliation.

Has your partner ever shamed you in public, with outrageous behavior, by airing dirty laundry, or by accusing or severely mistreating you? An apology will always follow, but it wasn’t an accident or the result of too much drinking, and despite the promises, it will be repeated. It’s evidence of a fragile ego and deep-seated self-hatred. No amount of love you give can make someone love themselves, and without help, your partner will only make you more and more miserable.

10. Obsession with another person.

If one partner is obsessed with someone outside the relationship — -either a potential love interest or even a best friend — -there’s a good chance that availability and connection have broken down within the relationship. It’s healthy not to have all the energy directed inward, but your partner must remain your primary focus. Obsession also indicates an unmet need, but it’s likely one you can’t meet for your partner.

11. Obsession with pornography.

The jury is out, but some find a little bit of smut, enjoyed together, to be a turn-on. Watching others can also be a way for couples to express their fantasies and get in touch with what they want in bed. But obsessive consumption of porn by one or both partners is a sign that satisfaction will always elude that person, and the quest for the holy grail — -or multi-orgasmic image — -will lead down a road of extreme perversion.

Emotional intimacy is the core of a relationship and makes everything else possible.

12. Emotional infidelity.

A one-night stand with a colleague on a business trip, a brief fling with the hot personal trainer, distasteful and devastating as these are, they need not be relationship killers. Sexual monogamy is hard and not necessarily hard-wired. The first question a partner inevitably asks when the indiscretion is discovered or disclosed is “Do you love him/her?” It’s transference of the emotional attachment we fear the most, because emotional intimacy is the core of a relationship and makes everything else possible.

13. Inability to resolve conflict.

This manifests first as endless fighting without reaching agreement and after a while morphs into the “whatever” stage, in which partners stop caring about the outcome because they’ve stopped investing in the relationship. There’s something to be said for the maxim of never going to bed angry. If neither partner can be the bigger person, give up the need to be right, and approach conflict in a conciliatory fashion, there’s no point in continuing.

14. Sabotage.

When we do things unconsciously that damage our relationship, it’s our psyche telling us we want and need out. You can say you want to stay until you’re blue in the face, but your actions will always speak louder than your words.

15. Addictive behaviors.

If your partner is a substance abuser, a compulsive spender or gambler, a sex addict, or even a true workaholic, your relationship will never take first priority. And unless it does, you won’t be happy. Not to mention that addictive behaviors, especially when enabled, can ruin lives.

16. Unhealthy attachments.

Is your partner still attached to an ex-spouse or former lover or enmeshed with his or her family? These attachments can disrupt and ultimately destroy the fabric of a healthy relationship, eating holes in it until it disintegrates. Honor thy mother and father. Respect thine exes, especially if you’ve had children with them. But always put your partner first. If you feel like you’re second fiddle — -or fifth violin — -it’s time to face the music.

17. Threats and emotional blackmail.

These should never, ever occur in a healthy relationship. They are often presented as being about love but they are always about control. Period. And control is a form of abuse. Period. Run from these as fast as you can.

18. Comparisons and ratings.

Is your partner comparing you to others — -people who earn more, look more attractive, or have a better personality? Or rating your attributes on a scale? This is a form of denigration. If someone thinks the grass is greener, or that they won’t have to fertilize and pull weeds in another field, let them go for it, and let them go. We’re each unique individuals, and how we measure up against another or some arbitrary standard isn’t relevant. In a nod to number 8: if your partner loved you, he or she wouldn’t do that.

19. Indifference.

Honestly. Why stay if you no longer care?

20. Withdrawal of affection.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a roommate, but if you want more from your relationship, don’t stay with a partner who has become one.

21. Physical violence.

Never acceptable under any circumstances. No excuses. No explanations. No justifications. No more.


Extract Insights Rapidly

Source: Scott Young website, Jun 2020

Learning in real life is always unbounded. You can’t ask, “Will this be on the final exam?” In truth, anything and everything can be tested. That you didn’t prepare for it isn’t life’s problem, it’s yours.

Learning Unbounded Subjects

Learning without bounds is a fundamentally kind of different challenge.

An analogy comes from computer science. When searching for something, there are two strategies you can use: depth-first or breadth-first.

Depth-first works by picking one direction and going deeper and deeper. When that path is exhausted, you back up to the start and begin digging again.

Breadth-first works by fanning out. You first explore your surroundings. If that doesn’t work, you pick one direction and fan out again.

Depth vs breadth: two ways to explore.

How to Explore a New Topic Efficiently

Say you want to learn everything useful that could help you grow your business, all the computer science concepts that will make you a better programmer, the words and phrases that let you communicate in a new language—all unbounded topics—what strategy should you use?

In general, we want to learn the most useful, basic and broadly applicable ideas first, only moving onto the esoteric, advanced or specialized later.

Language Learning: Usage and Frequency

To learn a language, focus on the most frequent words first.

Most languages have tens of thousands of unique words. Including proper nouns, expressions and other linguistic tid-bits, you probably need hundreds of thousands of memorized factoids for native-level fluency.

The order in which you learn these words makes a big difference in your functional abilities. Here’s how to optimize the path:

  1. Master a few basic phrases to get started. This can be from any source: PimsleurMichel Thomas, textbooks or tutoring. This will give you something to play around with.
  2. Use the language in the setting you care about. If that’s too difficult, pick an “easier” setting that is still close. Real conversations can be substituted with mock discussions using a dictionary. Real books substituted with graded readers.
  3. Pay attention to any words that come up. Make flashcards to memorize any words that you encounter in the close-to-real situation.
  4. Supplement these with a frequency list. Frequency lists often focus on small grammatical words, but the knowing the translation to the most common 1000 English words is a good benchmark to be able to hold interesting conversations.

3. Practical Skills: Projects Help Prioritize

Projects help you prioritize what matters.

If you’re learning to do or make something, a project can help guide you. This works for programming, business, art and more:

  1. Pick something concrete you’d like to make. If what you really want to make is too hard yet, start with a toy project that’s smaller.
  2. Learn anything you need to build it. This is only a rough understanding, not mastery.
  3. Put topics that come up on a “To-Learn” list. Any time a topic or subject comes up again—bump it to the top.
  4. Learn your list. Pick the first item and set aside a fixed chunk of time to dig deeper. Then move onto the second item. If an idea you’ve covered needs more depth, add it back to the bottom.

The combination of a project with a list prioritizes what to learn. The project makes sure what you learn stays practical. The list prioritizes everything else and the fixed chunks of time keep you from getting derailed.


Source: Reason, Jul 2020

Virtue signalers are, essentially, phonies and showoffs—folks who adopt opinions and postures solely to garner praise and sympathy or whose good deeds are tainted by their need for everyone to see just how good they are.

Combined with a culture that says only victimhood confers a right to comment on certain issues, it’s a big factor in online pile-ons and one that certainly contributes to social media platforms being such a bummer sometimes.

The paper—from University of British Columbia researchers Ekin Ok, Yi Qian, Brendan Strejcek, and Karl Aquino—details multiple studies the authors conducted on the subject.

Their conclusion? Psychopathic, manipulative, and narcissistic people are more frequent signalers of “virtuous victimhood.”

The so-called “dark triad” personality traits—Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy—lead to characteristics like “self-promotion, emotional callousness, duplicity, and tendency to take advantage of others,” the paper explains.

And “treated as a composite, the Dark Triad traits were significant predictors of virtuous victim signaling.”

They point out that virtue signaling is defined as “the conspicuous expression of moral values, done primarily with the intent of enhancing one’s standing within a social group.”