Bitcoin: Money Or Not?

I first heard about Bitcoin in 2012 as a sophomore in college. At this point, I am not sure from which source this mystery first revealed itself. However, I have had many run-ins with Bitcoin ever since.

When I learned about Bitcoins existence the price was south of $100. But during my year studying abroad in China, Bitcoin made some major moves and began rising over $100 per coin, this got a lot of people interested in the new found digital money. In fact, I even did an economics project in China about how Bitcoin could be used as a currency in the future( nobody believed me). While living in China I considered buying Bitcoin, but I was living off of small amounts of scholarships, grants, and student loans, and the cautious part of me could not justify spending borrowed money on something I hardly understood. Making an economics presentation is one thing, understanding the subject is another :).

Fast forward to my return to America and my final year at University. I had been reading, and studying on finance, and seriously considered buying Bitcoin with the little bit of money I had. I was so interested that I downloaded a Bitcoin wallet and looked up how to purchase some Bitcoin. Unfortunately at the time, it was pretty complicated to buy Bitcoin, and I did not know if I could trust the process so I backed off. Silly me! Had I followed through and bought Bitcoin back then, I would probably have tens of thousands of dollars.

Anyway, ever since the bull market of 2017, I decided Bitcoin would probably be around for a while, and would likely be a good way to diversify some savings. It still took me two years to begin buying Bitcoin, but now I buy small amounts monthly using the Cashapp.

Even with the last bull run of Bitcoin, many people continue to debate the merits of buying this mysterious digital money – especially Peter Schiff and Anthony Pompliano. Peter Schiff is an entrepreneur, investor, and a bit of market contrarian, who heavily advocates buying gold and other precious metals. Anthony Pompliano is a co-founder of a company, and strong Bitcoin advocate.

Schiff and Pompliano had a fantastic YouTube discussion about the merits of Bitcoin. Schiff believes Bitcoin will eventually be wiped out and has no value. Pompliano however, believes Bitcoin will go way up in value, and possibly be used widely as money.

One of my biggest take-aways from the discussion was whether or not Bitcoin can actually be used as money. Peter Schiff made a great point which has changed my perspective on Bitcoin. Schiff stated that while gold and other physical commodities have inherent value outside of trading( manufacturing, art, etc..), Bitcoin, like paper fiat currencies, have no value outside of being a medium of exchange. Therefore Bitcoin appears to be digital fiat currency! Though there remains a critical difference between Bitcoin and our modern notions of fiat currency.

Bitcoin, unlike US Dollars, cannot be printed to infinity. There is a finite amount of Bitcoin that can ever be created, therefore it is scarce. Additionally, it is decentralized so no single entity controls the currency. Then there is the fact that Bitcoin cannot be confiscated easily, especially if it’s stored securely, because no one knows the password except the owner (theoretically). So even though Bitcoin has no physical value outside of trade, I believe the other positive attributes will probably mean it sticks around for a while, and I believe it will continue to be used.

The debate between Peter Schiff and Anthony Pompliano can be found here . It was a fantastic discuss and I learned a lot, it is a must for people trying to learn the pros and cons of owning Bitcoin.

What do you think, do you own any Bitcoin?

My Experience With cold Showers

Last year I went through some pretty severe bouts of anxiety. While searching for non-pharmaceutical remedies, I discovered cold showers!

Of course, I was not the first to discover this painfully torturous way of cleaning myself, but I heard about the benefits of cold showers from Wim Hof. He was on a Joe Rogan podcast last year, they talked about the benefits of cold exposure, and Wim Hof breathing.

After hearing about how Wim Hof can trek up freezing cold mountains with almost nothing on but a loin cloth (slight exaggeration), I decided I should try it myself.

What really turned me on to this daily torture was the purported benefits to the nervous system. Apparently taking cold showers, or immersing yourself in cold water, is supposed to help your body deal with stress. Additionally, it has host of desirable benefits. For example, since I started taking cold showers my hair is much softer and appears more full. My skin does not dry out like it used it, I am more tolerant of cold weather, and I tend not to sweat as much (unless the workout is hard).

However, my favorite aspects of cold showers are the mental ones. Having to take a cold shower everyday pushes you mentally. You are forced to develop the discipline to soak your entire body with cold water even though you would rather not. This is good for developing resilience to basic physical discomforts. In today’s environments we are extremely comfortable and it is beneficial to develop a wider range of acceptable discomforts.

Since I have been taking cold showers daily for over a year, I can say it did not cure me of anxiety in the long-term – that was sleep and occupational change. However, the short-term cognitive effects were clear. After each cold shower I feel more cognitively alert, my mind is focused and my thinking clear, there is also less anxiety for the moment. Seriously, if you are feeling anxious and tired, take a cold shower and it should help in the short-term( a couple hours tops). Once you start taking cold showers you will probably become addicted, at least I have.

So if you are looking to get every edge out of your performance, and are up for new experiences, give cold showers a try.

Happy showering!

Ye: Turning Away From Victim-hood Culture

In Kanye West’s interview on Big Boy TV, he made some points I want to elaborate on. He discussed the idea of him turning his back on the culture. Actually, he was asked about how people perceive him turning his back on his “culture”. His response was brilliant.

Essentially Kanye said he was turning his back on victim-hood culture. Victim-hood culture is the set of cultural norms that inform people to first identify problems in their lives, then identify the systemic “oppressors” who are heaping these unfair and undo burdens upon them. After the “oppressed” identify their “oppressors”, they try to tear them down to make the system more “fair” and “equitable” – whatever that means.

Kanye decided he was tired of focusing on who to blame. He noted that everyone wants to the blame white people for their problems, but no one wants to talk about the opportunities people have to become financially successful. In fact, he noted that in hip-hop culture the most glorified behavior is not productive to improving their lives. For example, he noted a few times in the interview that rap and hip-hop glorify crime, and spending money on things like foreign cars, jewelry, and shoes. Instead, Kanye believes people should be learning about personal finance and land ownership.

Kanye spoke about land ownership more than once in this interview, and he pushed it as a means for black people to begin accumulating real wealth. His message sought to turn people away from what holds them back to what they can still achieve in spite of any inequity they have encountered. This type of message is true empowerment.

Many people, including myself, can attest to the value of thinking forward as opposed to finding reasons for why you are not successful. There is also a movement within the black community on Twitter called the Hotep Movement. The aim of the Hoteps, or what I gathered from listening to Hotep Jesus on Rogan and Michael Malice’s show, was that Hoteps are about black empowerment through education and business.

The Hotep movement focuses on learning about history, economics, business, and government so they can build wealth. The wealth they build can be used for business creation and inter-generational improvements in living standards. This type of focus is what I heard Kanye talking about.

He is not focused on who to blame for his problems. He is focused on true self-empowerment, and allowing God to show him the way.

Jesus Is King

Kanye West just released his hotly anticipated album Jesus Is King, and it is making quite an impact.

Jesus Is King holds true to his description of it as a gospel album. After listening to it, I recall only one song that connects to the hip-hop beats most people would be used to – “Follow God”, and its pretty fire.

Kanye West has been a cultural force for as long as I can remember, but I believe will be even more impactful now, because he is moving against conventional “wisdom” in yuuuge ways.

Kanye is telling people that it is okay to love God, follow Jesus’s teachings, and be a good person. He has been publicly calling out the democrats for doing nothing for black people, and has spoken out against popular aspects of hip-hop like glorifying violence and crime. He is truly distinguishing himself as an independent thinker and creator, and I believe his independence, creativity, and bravery are propelling him into being one the most important cultural influences in our time.

Pushing back against the increasingly deranged yet popular aspects of our culture such as political correctness and group-think, at great risk to his brand – demonstrating true skin in the game – the stuff heroes are made of.

Thoughts On Edward Snowden And The Deep State

The Edward Snowden interview with Joe Rogan elicited a myriad of responses from people. Many believed the interview reinforced previously held beliefs about government, spying, and mass surveillance( bulk collection). Others were upset that Joe didn’t ask Edward Snowden certain questions about Russian and Chinese government abuses. And some simply view Snowden as a traitor.

My first take away from the interview was Snowdens credibility. Without doing the additional fact checking into his background myself, he appears very credible throughout the entire interview. For me, this stems from his life and career background. Before hearing the interview, the only information I knew about Snowden from the main stream media was that he was an “NSA Contractor”. Contractor could mean a number of things, and doesn’t specify how much he knew or was involved in the NSA. While listening to the interview, I learned that Snowden had an extensive background working with multiple intelligence agencies, including the CIA and NSA. He says he worked in multiple countries, and even tried to join the Army special forces after the 9/11 attacks.

In addition to his claimed experience, he appeared to have a strong understanding of how certain aspects of the agencies work, and could describe his job tasks in detail. After hearing him explain his job titles, career path, and details, I feel confident that Snowden has a legitimate knowledge of some inner workings of the intelligence agencies, and his designation as mere “contractor” does not do justice to his true career and experience.

The next questions are why he did it, and whether there were better or safer ways to release the information he leaked. According to Snowden, over his years of working with the agencies, he saw increasingly unethical behavior directed towards people targeted by the agencies. He described how people were pursed aggressively for very low-level information. He claims that it was difficult to say anything about inappropriate behaviors because he was too caught up in the career life: making good money, trying to climb the ladder, etc… He made a good point regarding the safety of his leak, as there doesn’t appear to be any documented cases of harm do to his leaks. Additionally, Snowden made it clear that going to authorities within the NSA and government would not have been tenable, though those details escape me now.

He goes on to discuss the how intelligence agencies have been bulk collecting data for years, and how there is a dangerous and entrenched bureaucracy within the government known as the deep state! Snowden talks about the deep state in a very practical terms, terms which I believe are fairly well understood. He describes the deep state as members of the government system in various agencies such as the CIA, NSA, FBI, and probably many more who spend their lives working in those agencies and in the government. These people effectively run most aspects of government and most are neither elected nor accountable to the tax payers.

Snowden described how people in the deep state can pursue bulk collection and surveillance. They leverage their knowledge of the system to persuade elected officials to go along with surveillance programs, such as intentionally scaring newly elected officials with potential threats. It is important to note that Snowden did not claim all activities undertaken by these agencies are nefarious. He actually supports the intended, but limited functions of these agencies. He also does not claim that they lie about all potential threats. Simply, that these agencies have too much power, and they can effectively do what they want, which includes circumnavigating the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.

Later on in the podcast Snowden and Rogan discussed how cell phones are huge privacy risks for most people, and it is something that companies and governments need to look at to ensure maximum privacy. However, that’s beyond the scope of this post for today.

Did you see the Snowden interview on the Joe Rogan Experience? Let me know what you think.

Watch Out For Drop-shipping Scams!

A popular e-commerce trend has emerged over the last few years. Random guys on YouTube will teach you how to make money from the comfort of your home. It is super easy, fast, and doesn’t take much money to get started, and they only need $500 to teach you! I am talking about drop-shipping.

I sincerely believe there are legitimate drop-shipping businesses out there: smart, ambitious entrepreneurs, who are personally invested in their brand, build strong relationships with their manufacturers, and stand behind their business. However, too many people are selling drop-shipping as a “risk-free” option to make seemingly “unlimited ” profits.

This is what the online gurus are selling: they teach you how to set up a store front online using Shopify, Square Space, etc… While setting up the store, you connect the orders and payments to another an over-seas supplier that actually takes care of the inventory. When a customer visits your online store, they are actually buying the product from China. Then you let the supplier drop-ship the product directly to the customer.

Here is an example. After doing market research, I discover that leather cord jump ropes are selling well. I make website that appears to sell the jump-ropes, but I don’t hold any actual inventory. When the customer places the order, it’s connected to the over-seas supplier which is supposed to “drop-ship” the product to the customer after the order has been placed.

In this supply chain, you make money by taking profits from the difference between what the customer pays, and what you send to the over-seas supplier who ultimately will ships the product. This may seem like a clever idea, but I do not believe it is a sustainable one, which is why people are trying to teach it to you as a course for exorbitant prices – that’s a more sustainable business model.

One huge flaw with this type of business is there is no skin in the game(thank you Nassim Taleb). The “entrepreneur” is trying to start a business where there is no downside. They try to eliminate downside by not holding inventory, because inventory is expensive.

Normally when you sell a product to customers, you need to hold a large amount of inventory to cover customer orders. This means spending hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to make sure you have product available to keep the orders rolling. “Drop-shippers” try to side-step this by relying on a the manufacturer or supplier to hold inventory and ship it out when ordered.

However, drop-shippers that rely on this model are sacrificing product quality and customer service for a quick buck. It is impossible to verify the quality of your product when it is being drop-shipped from China directly to the customer, and if the customer has a problem with the order, customer service will be a headache because you likely have no connection to the actual sale. You run a very high risk of missing orders, and sending out low quality product.

If you decide to truly put your personal brand behind the product, but pursue this half-ass drop-ship strategy, you could inject skin in the game by guaranteeing refunds. However, if the over-seas supplier doesn’t agree to pay, then you loose all the revenue from the sale. So if you made $ 4 profit from a $10 item($6 goes to the supplier), and you have to refund the full purchase price, then you lose $ 6 for every refund – this sounds fun doesn’t it? If you are lucky enough to sell thousands of items using this method, you better be lucky enough to have a fantastic supplier who sends out items promptly, and of the highest quality.

Story time!

I followed an account on Twitter, lets call him Mr. Idiot. Mr. Idiot was 25 years old, and had the Twitter swag of a gangster. He was always “dropping knowledge” on people, telling everyone how it is, acting like a self-help/manosphere and e-commerce guy. Mr. Idiot had quite a following – nearly 23,000 Twitter followers. He regularly hosted live chats “answering” peoples questions about e-commerce, or talking about how successful he was. There was were some problems though, he never disclosed what items he sold or gave out his business name, website, or seller information. After realizing his business was hidden from his followers, I became suspicious that he was either full of bullsh*t, or not confident in his business.

A few weeks went by, then people started blowing up his Twitter comments and mentions. Someone found his business Instagram account. Mr. Idiot was selling watches, but he had a big problem: customers weren’t receiving their orders, their orders were wrong, or just poor quality, but the customers couldn’t get a hold of anyone to help them get their money back. The negative feedback from customers was filling up his Instagram comments, so he started deleting them. This is when I realized Mr. Idiot was full of sh*t. He was trying to run a drop-shipping business and thought he could do so without taking risks, or thought he could simply transfer risks to the customers (i.e. no customer service). At the time I as not entirely sure what happened, but I knew I should not be influenced by this guy.

Since then, I have seen several online “professionals” explain elements of drop-shipping. I combined their advice with my own importing experience, and applied Nassim Talebs Skin In The Game to understand that most of these online “sellers” are likely full of sh*t.

If someone is supposedly making millions of dollars drop-shipping, ask them if they personally stand behind the products they sell. Is their name in the title of the company, do they guarantee refunds, do they have strong relationships with the suppliers? If a drop-shipper does not put his own money or business reputation on the line for the products he sells, DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM, ITS A GET RICH QUICK SCHEME!

Watch for the scammers!

“How To Get Rich” Pt 2 – Why I Like Naval’s Advice

To continue my thoughts on business scaling, I want to draw on my small business experience.

Aside from my smaller scale entrepreneurial and self-employment ventures, I have many years of experience working with my father in his courier company. The company used the contractor model, so no employees, and had a day crew and night crew, with about twelve drivers total.

Over the years the business had shifted from delivering for pharmaceutical companies to working with optical and dental companies. However, the overall business model remained the same. The business’s function was to pick up the supplies in bulk( glasses, contacts, small equipment), bring it to our warehouse, then distribute the items on to the various routes for delivery. While making deliveries, drivers also pick up items heading back to the optical labs and dental labs. These items are sorted and sent out with the next crew.

The work was not complex, but coordinating simple tasks within a small courier company turned out to be quite frustrating, especially dealing with contractors.

I learned that scaling a business primarily using labor can be great, but also extremely difficult as you must coordinate people, schedules, payroll, paperwork, and deal with problems all of the time. This becomes especially painful if the profit margins from the business are low, and you need a large amount of labor to run the organization. In the case of the courier company with several day and night routes, the whole company was essentially run on labor. Not like a small store where someone can hire a stoker and cashier to manage many functions. A driver can only manage one route at a time.

After years of living in and out of the company, I realized I wanted to focus on business opportunities that were primarily driven by my abilities and not a large labor pool. However, I struggled over the last few years to pin-point a potential business scaling process I could use to start and run a business. This is why Navals podcast with Joe Rogan resonated with me so profoundly. It gave me a bit of a road map to test out ideas: work with ideas I was passionate about, but with a priority on non-labor dependent scaling. For example, making a podcast, producing content for YouTube, a blog, and other types of media – all things I am currently doing. This can also be applied to creating personally branded products, such as fitness equipment, clothing, make-up, toys, and many other products.

Since I started blogging , making audio and video content consistently, I have really started to enjoy it. No matter what the future holds for my content, I am glad I took this step. If it doesn’t go anywhere productive, I know I gave it a shot, and can move on without doubt to the next idea.

How To Get Rich: Advice from Naval Ravikant

” Fortunes require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media).” – Naval Ravikant

I have been in the small business world ever since I was a kid. Obviously not running a small business, but my father has been a successful entrepreneur since I was child, so I grew up in the environment. In the last few years we also partnered together some with business ideas. While working together, I was always running side hustles, trying to see what ideas I could come up with on my own, independent of my father.

Since starting, I’ve taught English Online (still do), imported products from China to re-sell, made short audio stories for English learners, and have tried the Gary Vee inspired resale game. Throughout all of these ideas something has been lacking, such as vision and true soul-in-the-game (as Nassim Taleb would put it), and the disproportionate amount of time and money needed to pursue these other interests was not as lucrative as teaching online.

However, listening to one particular Joe Rogan podcast helped me refocus on my new project, hint: you’re reading it now. Joe had a guest on named Naval Ravikant, a serial entrepreneur with the mind of a philosopher, to talk about his ideas on becoming wealthy. During the interview Naval made a point which helped crystallize my ideas to make this website. He said in order to be wealthy you need to have a business that is scalable using capital, people, or technology (media or code). I let this advice sink in for a bit. I had grown up around a business which heavily relied on people to scale, and I saw how frustrating it was, so I left that one alone. I don’t know how to code, or what machines(capital) I could use, thus I was left with media. Therefore I knew I should pursue a course reliant on media to scale. Now, exactly what business or product I could sell, I was not quite sure. But, I had been making a podcast, and always wanted to write and be active on social media, so I decided to create a more holistic online presence and see what value I could bring others.

Joe Rogans podcast with Naval has encouraged me to do daily live streams( almost daily), write articles, and record podcasts nearly five days a week. Although I am in the beginning stages of this new project, Navals advice seems effective, and I believe more people would benefit from his insights. Check out Naval on Joe Rogans podcast number 1309 here –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qHkcs3kG44&t=1s … Enjoy!

How I Found Nassim Taleb’s Books, And Why I Love Them

I have been somewhat obsessed with the writings of Nassim Taleb for last year. Though I’ve been an interested reader in his books and ideas since I was living in China as a college student.

It all started while being disillusioned to the state of academic economics. My major was economics, but while studying in University I realized that something wasn’t right. No economic text-book writer, professor, or academic economist saw the financial crisis of 2008 coming, yet they seemed so sure that all of their theories on how the economy functioned were sound and predictive, so predictive in fact that they regularly advocate for policies to be implemented based on their “sound” economic models. Realizing that my professors didn’t have a clue, I began to scour the internet for people that understood the financial crisis, saw it coming, and had actual solutions for the situation, solutions that made sense without having to take years of “statistical economics”. That’s when I began finding videos of Nassim Taleb. He had written a book called The Black Swan, which tended to get press when people were talking about financial crises.

After listening to Taleb’s interviews I immediately became a fan of his. It was almost exhilarating watching him bash mainstream academic economists, and the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He was calling out many economists in the mainstream who did not see the financial crisis coming, and who helped make it worse by advocating for more “efficient” and “fragile” policies which made systems too vulnerable to major unforeseen events(black swans).

At the time I did not understand many of his ideas, but something about them felt right. This feeling was completely counter to the one I was being fed at my University, there I felt like I was being tricked. Since I had my realization about the brilliance of Nassim Taleb’s writings, I have become an avid reader and listener of his books. His writings have helped me realize how much of what has become conventional wisdom in modern society is nearly the opposite of what has made humans successful enough to survive into modernity.

In addition to learning about general societal and economics, I am actively working to apply Nassim Talebs writings to my life, and so far it is going well. I feel more free to judge conventional wisdom and pursue my own interests and goals, and will go into more detail on later posts.

Anyone who is looking to improve their decision making abilities should read Nassim Taleb’s books. I would also recommend reading his writings before taking out your next loan or becoming the CEO of a large corporation.

Gary Vee’s Advice To Downsize

I was listening to a Gary Vee video the other day, actually it was a short clip on Instagram. I heard the clip before, but this time it struck a different cord. In the video he talked about downsizing: how people should not be ashamed to move into a smaller place, take an apartment instead of a house, maybe move back in with their parents to save money. Essentially, fuck what other people think about your status, do what you need to do to achieve your version of success.

The first time I heard this message I was paying for an entire apartment, utilities, internet, everything you need to live. However, living a small business, self-employed lifestyle (with a frequently new side hustle) meant my cash-flow was not certain, I had little savings, and was still trying to get out of a lot of debt. I needed to downsize, but my perception of what I could do to improve my situation was somewhat limited by what a responsible adult is “supposed” to do. After all, a man in his mid-to-late twenties should be looking to buy a house, climb the corporate, and settle down. But I take Gary Vee’s advice instead: finished my apartment lease, moved out, and rented a room with a relative.

I have been in this living arrangement for about eight months, and am glad I did it. The lifestyle shift has enabled me to cut my monthly living expenses in half, I paid off huge portions of business debt, my car loan, and can still have a bit of a social life.

Moving from leasing an apartment to renting a room has also opened my perspective to a more mobile lifestyle. Since most of my income derives from being an online English teacher, I can be a digital nomad. But I would not be able to achieve digital nomad status if I was obsessed with following the conventional wisdom of buying a house or leasing a nice apartment in uptown Houston.

Now I am planning on moving to Taiwan for several months. After Taiwan I could go anywhere I choose, as long as their is an Airbnb and a decent internet connection. My eyes have opened to the potential of living a life of maximal freedom, and I don’t plan on closing them anytime soon.