👋 Hey, Colin here! Welcome to this month’s ✨ free edition ✨ of the weekly Better Human newsletter. Each week I send you a highly curated list of useful articles, podcasts, book notes, quotes, and videos. Also included is the new Better Money section covering all things personal finance, investing, and anything to help you navigate the changing world economy. For only $5 a month, you’ll become a smarter, healthier, and wealthier human being, a Better Human. 👇
Welcome to this month’s FREE EDITION of the NEW AND IMPROVED Better Human newsletter!
After last week's announcement that I was moving to a mostly-paid newsletter, the effect was instant; I started thinking about next week's newsletter the second I hit send. That was a first.
The pressure started immediately. Everything I read, watch, listen to, or think about is analyzed for its usefulness. Is this something I want to include? How can I position this? What about playing devil's advocate? So on and so forth.
The pressure has motivated me to create the world's most helpful newsletter. I've read many newsletters and subscribed to plenty of email lists. Few kept my attention. If I make the newsletter I want to read each week, all I have to do is find the others like me who want it too. (See the 1000 True Fans concept by Kevin Kelly).
Pressure creates diamonds. Iron sharpens iron.
I also decided to include the 💰 Better Money section 👇 in this newsletter instead of turning it into a separate publication. (Maybe later if there's demand.) And that's one more reason to subscribe for only $5 bucks a month.
The email is longer than past editions. I think the longer format is more appropriate for a weekly newsletter.
🗣 Please drop me your feedback here. I want to hear from you. What do you want to see more of, less of, and so on? How could this newsletter be the most useful weekly email on Earth? What goes inside an email like that? Let's build it together!
Let’s make this the best newsletter on the planet: become a Better Human subscriber and get each weekly email here: Subscribe now
What to expect below:
The productivity tool I use for everything
My favorite homemade recipe that is better than the store-bought stuff
The better money section 💸 Better Money Section 💰
A free PL template to manage your finances 💵
A podcast covering current events that I actually listen to each week 👀
What business am I researching to start? Hint: it’s Ice Cold 🥶
⛔️ Enter at your own risk section ⚠️
Here’s what you missed last week: Big Changes
Inflation at 8%... says the government. That means it's much higher.
🏠 All the numbers for a real estate deal I closed last year. How much I put down, how much I make, and how we got a $40,000 check back only 7 months after closing.
📰 News and Stuff 🚨
This is a huge deal. Since Vietnam, almost every middle East war we've been in has been about protecting the petrodollar system. When does the US dispose of dictators? When they sell (or try to sell) their oil for something other than dollars.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict, the economic sanctions, and the freezing of Russian assets in America contribute to the dollar's demise as the world's reserve currency. We see what many have been saying for years happen in real-time and possibly much faster than anyone could have predicted. Make sure you are buying some Bitcoin… it's going to be a wild decade.
A great thread on fostering children. Mad props to them. Our family might look into this in a few years when the boys are a bit older and we—hopefully—have a full-time nanny.
General advice for life and relationships. A good reminder either way.
💻 Tech 📱
There’s only one winner in the deal between the podcaster and the music streaming giant. And it’s not Rogan.
I can see both sides to this argument. One side is purely financial—he's leaving a lot of money on the table. How much extra work and headache would it be if Rogan did the business himself? Managing a business, revenue, subscribers, taxes, cancel culture pressure, etc. It all adds up.
Compare that to getting a deal where all he has to do is show up, hit record, and still get paid millions. How much is that worth once you've already made it financially?
Probably a lot more than we think.
The other side of the argument is that he doesn't control his audience or the distribution. His growth might also slow in the coming years. It's hard to predict the 5-10 year implications of putting a show like his behind a paywall like Spotify.
Did he leave value on the table? Ya.
Was it worth it to him? Probably.
💰 Finance ✈️
💸 The Fed raised rates. How likely is a recession?
“The Federal Reserve on Wednesday approved its first interest rate increase in more than three years, an incremental salvo to address spiraling inflation without torpedoing economic growth. After keeping its benchmark interest rate anchored near zero since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee said it will raise rates by a quarter percentage point, or 25 basis points. That will bring the rate now into a range of 0.25%-0.5%. … Along with the rate hikes, the committee also penciled in increases at each of the six remaining meetings this year, pointing to a consensus funds rate of 1.9% by year’s end. (CNBC, March 13, 2022)
Either way, I’m buying Bitcoin and will continue to buy physical businesses—rental properties, ice machine business (looking into), laundry mat (looking into), etc.
🔥 Useful $HIT CORNER 🔥
🎸 On this day in 1882 → Congress outlaws polygamy → Another example of the State thinking it can regulate what individuals do in their private lives.
🍳 Cooking / Recipe → Homemade vanilla ice cream is surprisingly easy to make. And it’s delicious. The key is using egg yolks and letting your mix cool in the fridge overnight. We use raw milk, local soy-free eggs, and organic cane sugar. I think of this as a healthy food option. Of course, with the sugar, you aren’t doing your fat loss goals any favors, but if you’re not trying to lose weight, then homemade ice cream can be a staple in a healthy diet. My preferred ratio is 4 egg yolks to 1 cup cream, 1 cup milk, 1/2 sugar. You can try more egg yolks and a bit more or less sugar to find out your perfect ratio.
🌞 Health → Cooking at home is the most important aspect of long-term health. Restaurants use seed oils and other cheap ingredients and additives. You cannot control your health if you’re eating out. That’s a hard truth but a truth nonetheless.
⌨️ Productivity → Notion → I use notion for my project management and storing data for this newsletter. There’s a learning curve, but you’ll see how powerful the app is once you get the basics down. You could use it to run your entire life. Many do.
🦾 A principle for life → Time → The more time you give things, the more they work themselves out. Seneca said, “The greatest remedy for anger is delay.” How true is that…
💬 Quote → “Knowledge is limitless, and the most scholarly and educated person is as far from true knowledge as an uneducated peasant.” -JOHN RUSKIN
🎙Podcast 💰→ E72: Impact of sanctions, deglobalization, food shortage risks, macroeconomic outlook and more → I like the All-In Podcast. It’s a place where I get a dose of mainstream ideologies from multiple sides of the spectrum. And there’s plenty I disagree with, but it’s a great example of healthy discussion and debate.
🦾 How to be dangerous → Read a LOT. Use audiobooks to read while taking a walk, driving, doing the dishes, cooking, etc. The more you read, the more neural connections you make, and your knowledge grows. This will, hopefully, increase your awareness of the world and yourself. That’s what it’s done for me and many I know that read a lot.
🧠 Psychology → The Dunning–Kruger effect is the cognitive bias whereby people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. Some researchers also include in their definition the opposite effect for high performers: their tendency to underestimate their skills. source
🔨 Tool → Flat treadmill. I’m standing on one just like this right now. I keep it in my office under my standing desk so I can walk while I work.
✋ Something I’ve struggled with lately → How to spend my time. Deciding on making this a mostly-paid newsletter has helped a lot. I now read, write, and think with this weekly email in mind. It has honed my focus and will undoubtedly improve my output and quality. Subscribe for only $5 a month.
🤖 A human observation → Not understanding our biology is why they say “history repeats itself.” If we had a better grasp of why we do what we do, maybe we could avoid some of the mistakes already made by our ancestors. 🤷♀️
❤️ Hope in humanity → This short clip shows the power of strong role models in a young life.
🥜 Food → maybe stop eating peanut butter? Did you know that peanuts are not nuts? They are legumes.
📙 Book recommendation → Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield. I have it on Audible. Short and to the point. Good book. His War of Art is in my top 25 must-read books of all time.
✍️ One Article Recommended Links This Week 🔗
Save yourself thousands of dollars. Here’s all the writing advice you need:
Share meaningful first-hand experiences.
Write as if you were emailing a friend, not to impress an imaginary teacher
There are around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced every day (that's 2.5 followed by a staggering 18 zeros!). And most of that is free.
When you produce content, that's your competition.
Netflix has called Fortnite its biggest competitor because of attention. Attention spent somewhere is attention not paid elsewhere. When you produce content, every other thing someone could do is your competition. Like everything, even sleep.
In business, at least you're competing within markets where customers actively seek solutions to problems. That narrows your competition because now you're not competing with every other possible human activity that is NOT consuming your content. It's a much smaller pool of competition.
I've had a love/hate relationship with content ever since I started creating it. You invest so much time and energy into giving the world something and seldom are you rewarded with validation. Most of the time, your content is met with apathy. And that's usually the hardest to stomach: when you feel like you're talking to a wall and the wall doesn't care.
Most people should not produce content. Only those tortured souls that can't not make content should make content. When you have a burning desire to say something, to make something, and when you'll do it whether anyone cares or not, that's when you should create content.
📕 One Book 📕
I really enjoyed this book. It might challenge you, but that’s good. We should all be challenged as much as possible. Iron sharpens iron.
Some of my highlights:
Journeys that illuminate and change lives are not defined by schedules, money, or agendas—but by experience. Often, also by outcomes. If ever a journey were to help solidify a man into that which he wanted to become, was going to become, and had mostly already become, then Jethro Knights’ (Location 860)
Unfortunately, most of my travels have increasingly led me to feel cross at many cultures, societies, and governments. There's much to scoff at with the human race, much to criticize, much to transform. Honestly, most of it should be scrapped and recast entirely. (Location 1605)
🤔 Life 👌
Life can seem like a cruel joke.
We work so hard to be happy and make money and make it all mean something and then we’re dead. And some are gone before they even had a chance. Brutal.
I thought having kids would be the final piece. It’s a huge piece, but it’s not the final piece because there is no final piece.
I thought financial freedom was the final piece, or at least get me close to it. It can help you get closer if you use it that way. But money isn’t the final piece before there is no final piece.
There is only a constantly changing body, mind, and external reality. Life is a constant struggle to live in the moment, to be more grateful than not, and to spend your time meaningfully.
Maybe the final piece is realizing there is no final piece.
💸 Better Money Section 💰
Money is the most important tool for living the life you want. Make as much of it as you can so you can make the world better in your own unique way.
🎙Podcast 💰→ E72: Impact of sanctions, deglobalization, food shortage risks, macroeconomic outlook and more → I like the All-In Podcast. There’s much I disagree with from each individual, but that’s good. That’s how the best ideas are formed, by exposing them to other ideas.
🎥 Video 💰→ PBD Podcast | EP 128 | Patron Saint of Bitcoin: Michael Saylor → Solid episode on the basics of Bitcoin and Saylor’s strategy. He answers some common criticisms well.
💸 Personal Finance 💰→ How much do you make each month? How much do you spend? Now answer the most important question for your financial future: How much is left over each month? Is there profit (green) or more debt (red)?
🧠 Psychology 💰 → The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel → I listened to this on Audible. It’s a solid book with some of the nuances of money and investing that most financial types don’t discuss. Humans are emotional creatures, which makes money a completely psychological game.
🔨 Tool 💰 → A simple personal P&L spreadsheet. Here’s a free template you can duplicate and use.
💲 Bitcoin 💰→ This is a well-done animation of how Bitcoin works. They use the word “crypto” but it really should be Bitcoin→ HERE.
💳 Business Idea 💰→ Ice machine business. I’m currently looking into this. My target would be a marina somewhere in Texas, maybe near Cayon Lake. Boaters and fishermen use a lot of ice.
🗣 Affirmation 💰→ I attract money. It flows to me freely. I am a money magnet.
📈 Stocks 💰→ “If you aren’t thinking about owning a stock for ten years, don’t even think about owning it for ten minutes.” –Warren Buffett
How many people actually do this? How many people do you know have owned a stock for over 5 years or 10? If all you did was buy quality companies consistently with whatever extra money you have, and never touched them, you are statically more likely to reach financial freedom at some point in your future.
✈️ Hack 💰→ There’s a whole world of credit card hacking.
Example: sign up for a new credit card to get the bonus offer, then close it or keep it open later. Repeat the process as you find new card offers. If you aren’t already using a travel rewards card, and you are responsible for paying down your balances each month, that’s a good place to start. And if you have a business, get a travel card for your business and watch the rewards pour in.
💭 Quote 💰→ “Diversification is a protection against ignorance. It makes very little sense for those who know what they’re doing.” – Warren Buffett
I’m a fan of knowing what I’m buying and buying as much of it as I can. So for me, it looks like this:
Bitcoin → As much of it as I can get my hands on
Real estate → Currently small family homes in GA that we rent out on Airbnb
A few companies that I want to hold forever → 5-10 stocks
As opportunities arise → cash-flowing businesses
💭 History 💰→ WTF Happened In 1971 → This website explains why Bitcoin happened by showing the implications of Nixon taking the US off the gold standard.
🏠 Investing →
Here are the numbers for a property we own:
Purchase Price: $195,000
Down payment: $60,000 - 30% down (this is abnormal, we had to get it done fast)
Debt: $134,000 interest-only loan via a hard money lender at 7%
What I’m making and the rest of my expenses were in last week’s paid newsletter. Subscribe to get access.
🦾 Only $1.25 per email → Become a subscriber today 👇
How would you rate today's newsletter? 🤔
⛔️ Enter at your own risk section ⚠️
This section includes notes, research, and other bits that didn’t make it into the newsletter. It is not well organized or edited, so proceed with caution!
My response: Most of these intentional communities fail. Most never get started and those that do often die fast. From my research, much of it comes from communal decision-making. Figure out how you will make decisions, who the stakeholders are, and how to become profitable (sustainable) asap
An exchange I had with a friend trying to get out of her apartment lease.
This blog is great. Read all of his stuff. Here are my highlights:
That article was one of the first articulations of the concepts undergirding Aggregation Theory, which is downstream from the shift from geographic-driven scarcity to Internet-driven abundance: now the most valuable companies in the world were those that helped users navigate abundance, whether that be via search (Google), contacts (Facebook), or retail (Amazon).
Most people, though, don’t dig that deep, just as they don’t dig that deep for content or contacts or commerce: it’s just far easier and more convenient to rely on Google or Facebook or Amazon. Why wouldn’t this same dynamic apply to ideas? Being informed about everything happening in the world is hard if not impossible: humans evolved to care intensely about what happened in their local environment; however, first mass media, and then the Internet, brought news from everywhere to our immediate attention.
Righteousness and Dissent
Here I think it is useful to go back to economics. The more that an entity becomes dependent on an Aggregator, the more perilous the economic outlook for said entity. If you depend on Google or Facebook for traffic, or Amazon for sales, the more liable you are to have your margin consumed by said entities. A truly sustainable business model depends on being able to connect to your customers on your own terms, not an Aggregator’s.
It is very counter-intuitive to see how “bad” ideas are in fact extremely valuable: not only do they highlight why the good ideas are better, but they also sometimes show that the “good” ideas are in fact wrong. Arguing that the earth was not the center of the universe was once a “bad” idea; it was also correct. At the same time, to think that the Catholic church of 500 years ago was the only time where the dominant mode of thinking clearly missed the mark seems exceptionally arrogant; we rightly believe that allowing room for dissidents was, in the past, a good thing. It seems clear to me that doing the same today is likely to prove more valuable than not.
Google was founded in 1998, in the middle of the dot-com bubble, but it was the company’s IPO in 2004 that, to my mind, marked the beginning of Internet 2.0. This period of the Internet was about the economics of zero friction; specifically, unlike the assumptions that undergird Internet 1.0, it turned out that the Internet does not disperse economic power but in fact centralizes it. This is what undergirds Aggregation Theory: when services compete without the constraints of geography or marginal costs, dominance is achieved by controlling demand, not supply, and winners take most.
Aggregators like Google and Facebook weren’t the only winners though; the smartphone market was so large that it could sustain a duopoly of two platforms with multi-sided networks of developers, users, and OEMs (in the case of Android; Apple was both OEM and platform provider for iOS). Meanwhile, public cloud providers could provide back-end servers for companies of all types, with scale economics that not only lowered costs and increased flexibility, but which also justified far more investments in R&D that were immediately deployable by said companies.
Start with the latter: India is widely considered the most important long-term growth market for a whole host of tech companies, thanks to its massive population that is only just now coming online, combined with a growing economy that, to the extent it can follow a similar path to China, promises more opportunity than anywhere else in the world. In the economic era it has made perfect sense for India to be a core market for Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.
It was India, though, that raised some of the most strident objections to Twitter and Facebook’s decision to take down President Trump’s accounts after January 6, with several politicians pointing out that tech executives in San Francisco could do the same to them; in the case of the Ukraine invasion India is staying neutral, thanks in part to its significantly longer-term relationship with Russia, particularly from a military perspective. That makes it all-the-more likely that the aforementioned private sanctions are being interpreted in terms of capabilities, not intentions, clouding the long-term prospects of those tech companies counting on India for growth.
There are only a few things you can know for sure.
Math, physics, Bitcoin, and a few other first principles.
the majority of people live their lives upon assumptions that have never been verified, or in some cases, even stress tested.
is it any wonder it's such a clown world?