Recently I wrote down my personal memories of the 2010s, the good and the challenging. And what I learned from it.
I added an exercise I learned from Psycho-Cybernetics: “re-live past successes and positive experiences” (which helps to visualize and manifest similar things in the future)
So I scrolled through my Facebook photos (which was surprisingly helpful, thanks to its curated nature) and re-lived some positive memories.
Note: This post is highly curated by design. This in no way presents an accurate image of my life. I experienced my fair share of suffering and hardships – like everyone does – but that’s not the point here. Putting this post together helps me to re-live these moments in a deeper way, while hopefully inspiring you to do the same.
Levels of Energy by Frederick Dodson (audio version): This book provides an incredibly useful framework for how to view and work with different levels of energy. Especially how to read the energy levels of other people and how to elevate your own level. I highly recommend it and will reread it in the future.
The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown (audio version): This book has been recommended by one of my heroes, David Allen. It’s a thorough study of how our respiratory system works, and how we can improve it. It turns out that most of us over-breathe chronically. It prompted me to create a “Breathing” project, to study this topic further and then take appropriate action.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (audio version): This is a book that keeps getting recommended over and over. Now I understand why. It’s long, and well worth it. It’s about creativity, communism, and life. I wish there were more Dagny Taggarts, John Galt’s and Hank Rearden’s in the world.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (audio version): I read this book inspired by Charlie Munger’s admiration for Ben Franklin. I have to say, I was not disappointed at all. The story was well written and I learned a lot: About entrepreneurship, frugality, how to improve one’s character, and of course a lot of history. If you like biographies, this is a must-read.
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg (audio version): This is another one from the category “I wish I have read this 10 years ago”. I’m currently taking a deep dive into Nonviolent Communication and am reading everything by Marshall Rosenberg. If you speak German, I highly recommend Konflikte lösen durch Gewaltfreie Kommunikation as a starting point. It’s in dialogue form and a very light read. If I ever build a school, Nonviolent Communication will be a mandatory skill to learn. It’s remarkable how much impact this can have on your happiness and ability to build deep relationships in business and life!
Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger and Peter Kaufman: This is one of the books I wish I had read much sooner, and one I will revisit again. It’s a collection of Charlie Munger’s talks and a lot of accompanying wisdom. If you are at all interested in the topics we discuss here, this book is a must-have. It’s not available on Amazon and must be ordered on the website of PCA Publications. And while you’re at it, simply order all the books they offer. You won’t be disappointed (and shipping costs per book get cheaper…).
This is Marketing by Seth Godin (audio version): Seth Godin is one of my mentors and heroes. I love his thinking and I’ve read many of his books (and I will read many more). This book is a wonderful summary of how to think about marketing (and business in general) in the current age. It encourages readers to go out there and do great work. If I’d ever publish a “how to create a lifestyle business” curriculum, this book would be required reading (together with Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk and How to Make $100,000 per Year in Passive Income by Chase Andrews).
100 Baggers by Christopher Mayer (audio version): An excellent investing book that I plan to re-read. It helps challenge short-term thinking by focusing on long-term compounding. Instead of wasting your energy on finding short-term opportunities, it proposes to spend this energy to find big ones instead. And if you find them, you need to hold them for a long time, as it takes 26 years on average for a 100 bagger to 100x. Here’s a great video summary of the book. A great companion book is Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher, which provides a useful 15 point checklist.
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (audio version): This is an enjoyable sci-fi story written in 1992. It described the journey of the first 100 people that colonize Mars. It also goes into great detail about terraforming and building a space elevator. After this book, I am actually quite happy with staying on Earth for the time being. This book is part of a trilogy and I have read them all.
I used to spend significant money on Audible (which I still love and use). Then I discovered Scribd: for just $8.99/month, you access the whole library. I usually find about 70% of the books I’m looking for. If you click here, you get two months for free.
My favorite thing about the new decade is that it offers an opportunity to practice long-term thinking. I’m aware that the effect is purely psychological. What matters is, that it works!
So let’s put the weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly rhythms aside, and focus on decades for a change.
Review of the 2010s
Tech is mature and mainstream Companies like Facebook and Twitter lost their startup status and became mature. The sentiment changed, especially for Facebook. At Google, employee tensions are rising, and Amazon kept growing super fast. Tech companies are now a huge part of the economy, and are there to stay.
Mobile first Mobile apps became a central channel how humans interact with the world. Everyone has a supercomputer in their pocket, filled with audiobooks, podcasts and of course, a credit card. Now, there’s an app for everything.
Social media addiction We became addicted to social media, longing for likes and followers, and competing for attention on Instagram and Snapchat. Slowly, people are becoming aware of this. People started quitting social media, or dramatically adjusting their behavior.
Age of surveillance Edward Snowden, and the bumpy 2016 US election, reveal the downsides of the new information age. We become aware of how much data is collected and stored, and that this information can easily be stolen. Now, everyone must assume that everything about us is collected somewhere. The uneasiness about it is growing, yet we don’t know what to do about it.
Aftermath of financial crisis 2007-08 The financial crisis was top of mind when we started the decade. Many of us believed that the crisis was far from over, and that it could return anytime. While it did locally, it didn’t globally. What we got instead was unprecedented money-printing and record-low interest rates. And ever increasing regulation in the financial sector.
Cryptocurrencies Bitcoin is a new technological and social breakthrough. It has its roots in the Cypherpunk movement, and also the frustration that arose from the financial crisis. It builds on open source and decentralization. The rise of Bitcoin was fueled by the Cyprus banking crisis in 2012-13 (and especially the one-time tax on deposits) and the inflation problems in South American countries. We also saw huge bubbles, speculation and scams.
Awareness of unsustainable living Slowly we are becoming aware that the way we have been living for the past 100 years is not sustainable. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising. Air pollution is killing millions of humans per year. Oceans are filled with plastic. Movements like FridaysForFuture were born. We start seeing signs of hope with the electrification of vehicles and increasing deployment of solar, but it’s still early days.
New Work We started to rethink how we work. Co-working spaces, remote working, nomadic lifestyles are on the rise. Many of us are sick of the old paradigm, and are seeking something better. One example is the FIRE movement, where people seek financial independence and early retirement. Blogs like Mr. Money Mustache have exploded in popularity.
New space race Companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have demonstrated the re-usability of rockets, and kicked off what might be called the “new space race”. The historic Falcon Heavy launch was one of my personal highlights.
Hopes and Predictions for the 2020s
More digital and global The Earth will become increasingly digital and global. This is “obvious”, but it has, and will have, profound implications for a long time to come. This, together with increasing population, will be the engine of the world economy (and stock markets). There will be bumps, occasionally huge ones, but the long-term momentum cannot be denied.
Privacy and encryption People will realize that the only way to protect themselves is to encrypt and control as much of their data as possible. Privacy focused products will experience tailwinds, while data driven business models will face headwinds. We will also see a trend towards decentralization.
Exponential technological development The technological development is far from over. The pace of innovation will increase further. Full self driving (Level 5 autonomy) will be solved and rolled out fast. Medical breakthroughs will be made. Cashierless stores will be rolled out. Revolutionary products and services, increasingly powered by artificial intelligence, will be invented and deployed.
Unforseen catastrophy Something big will hit us. If not this decade, then one of the next. It will come out of the blue. A new vector. A bio attack, a pandemic, cyber warfare, eruption of a huge volcano. Something we won’t be expecting. Something that will change society overnight.
Death of heroes We might experience some tragic losses: The Dalai Lama, Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, or many of our other heroes, might all have 20 more years in them. Or they might not.
Climate change As John Mihaljevic suggested, we need a robust framework for pricing externalities, so that we can start tackling air pollution, carbon concentration and plastics pollution. I also hope we will see the shutdown of many coal plants, and a massive deployment of solar and other renewables. We might also want to have a look at new, safer nuclear reactor designs.
New regulation Tech companies will start getting regulated, and the trend towards ever increasing regulation in the financial markets will continue. The big question is: will this all be a net positive or a net negative?
Universal basic income I hope to see the adoption of universal basic income in at least one country. Switzerland was one of the first to hold a national referendum in 2016. And I’m proud that my home canton (Basel-Stadt) had the highest approval rate of 36% (the national result was 23%).