To Be And To Last #31

This week we explore the inner workings of US Supreme Court appointments, the kidnapping of a Nazi general, and a few different startup “graduations”.

How to kidnap a Nazi general

New Year's resolutions have a certain reputation, and rightly so. But the idea of feedback and trajectory adjustment really cannot be overstated. So even though it might feel a bit arbitrary to do this re-evaluation before a new year in the Gregorian calendar, I always enjoy taking some time to think.

A couple years ago, I used this time to upgrade my health habits, which led me to Christopher McDougall's Natural Born Heroes. Through the lens of Cretan resistance in World War II (they managed to kidnap a Nazi general!), McDougall explores strength training with an emphasis on sustainability and efficacy.

Much like Tim Ferriss' The 4 Hour Body (also great, and more prescriptive), I've found a few habits from the book that have stuck with me over the years. Take what works for you, and leave the rest.

Can one person build a $1M business?

Over the last several years, Pieter Levels (@levelsio) has been building in public. As the extreme opposite of a VC-funded startup, Levels has championed scrappy builds - avoiding frameworks and even skipping Git in favor of direct FTP uploads. Essentially focusing on shipping products, at the expense of anything else.

And it worked: Levels has managed to reach $1M/month in revenue with no overhead or employees.

But now that the business has grown, needs have evolved, and Levels is now exploring the “normalization of non-deviance”. While it’s healthy to challenge norms, it’s even healthier to remain open to what’s ideal for you - regardless of how others perceive that.

When to sell your startup

Speaking of working in public, Josh Pigford recently sold Baremetrics for $4M cash, and shared some of the thinking behind the deal. Similar to Gumroad (covered in Episode #02), Baremetrics failed to deliver on the 10x return expected by venture capitalist investors, but it did manage to make a substantial payday for it’s founder (but only after investors wrote off their $800k).

Behind the scenes: US Supreme Court appointments

As US Supreme Court appointments are once again a hot political issue, I enjoyed this dive into the history (and some possible futures) of Supreme Court appointments. There’s something almost comforting in seeing the challenges that the US has survived so far.


To Be And To Last: Thinker Nate Desmond’s weekly roundup of long reads, contrarian thoughts, and hidden jewels that aren’t getting enough attention.

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