This book is as boring as it sounds and I’m someone who creates systems for a living. The book is about Systems Thinking with the goal of teaching you to become aware of Systems Thinkers. According to the book, there are two main schools of thought when comes to thinking about complex systems when it comes to thinking about large systems. There is Systems Thinking, which is a holistic approach that analyzes the entire system, and Reductionism, which focuses on breaking a system down for further analysis.
This past weekend, I watched the new documentary on Robin Williams. It was brilliant in portraying the Robin Williams we knew and loved. It also showed many of the issues that eventually lead him to take his life.
I’m always surprised when people like Robin take their lives. People who I feel have everything in life. Their doing something they love, they seem to have people who love them, their wealthy, and seem to have every opportunity to do what ever they want.
It’s not just Robin Williams. It’s really celebrity that takes their own life. It’s incredible sad to see someone take their own life when many people would view themselves as ultimate successes if they would have achieved this kind of accomplishments.
I think many of these issues seem to strike men the hardest. It seems to happen due to our, “I’m fine,” mentality. That’s the response most men respond when ever someone asks them how their feeling. It’s how many responded to my inquires about his heart issues. He was gone a few weeks later.
It makes me rethink my attitude towards mental and physical health. There is a terrible stigmatism about mental health. It’s considered a weakness. Really, most men view any kind of sickness as a weakness.
What if we quit saying, “I’m fine?” What if we started recognizing our issues or concerns?
We might face some temporary embarrassment but it least they’d be with us.
I’ve finally got around to reading Nate Silver’s, The Signal and the Noise, book dealing with predictions. It digs into different areas of business, and the world, people are trying to predict a given event. Nate interviews people in weather forcasting, baseball, seismologists, gambling, stock market, climate change, and politics. Much of the book deals with Bayes’s Theorem, named after Thomas Bayes an English minister born around 1701, which still holds up today. It’s a topic you’ve probably at least heard about if you’ve taken some graduate level courses like an MBA or in your statistics class. They teach the basic equation during the CFA exam. Though I’ve went over the equation a few times, I’ve felt like I’ve had a hard time grasping the details of it to the point where i could recall it on the spot. That’s one of the most beneficial parts of this book. It not only describes Bayes’s Theorem but gives mutliple examples of how people are trying to use this formula in the the real world. It’s driven home the point of how to implement this theorem when dealing with almost any situation whether it’s gambling, terrorist events, cheating boyfriends, or chess tournaments. This theorem is simple yet powerful. We all make predictions on a daily basis. We might not be managing stocks or making million dollar sports bets but we’re deciding the best way to get to work, what should we do with our time, how to handle a situation at work, or whether to buy an item at a particular price. This can all be solved using Bayes’s Theorem.
It’s something you should understand.
See the below breakdown, from Nate Silver’s book, of the different parts of Bayes’s Theorem:
Bayes’s Theorem is concerned with confitional probability. It tells us the probability that a theory or hypothesis is true if some event has happened.
You can answer many questions if you know, or willing to estimate, the below three quantities:
- Condition of the hypothesis being true: Given new evidence, what is the probability the event did occur?
- Conditional on the hypothesis being false: Given new evidence, what is the probability the event did not occur?
- Prior probability: This is your initial estimate of an event happening before you have any new information. Also called, prior.
After estimating the above three values then you can apply Bayes’s theorem to establish a posterior possibility.
- Posterior possibility is the revised estimate of the event occurring after learning the new information.
When I’m planning out my daily goals, I like to look at them in 15 minute increments. Instead of looking at a task or goal I still need an hour to complete. I break the task up into 15 minute increments because 15 or 30 minutes of something is better then nothing throughout the day.
That’s my main goal. To get something accomplished each day. I know blocking out an hour of your day for reading might be daunting for many people because most people like to say, “Who has the time?” It’s much more manageable to get 15 minutes accomplished in the monring, 15 minutes during lunch, 15 minutes at the end of the day, and then completing the final 15 min before bed.
15 mintues could usually leads to more than 15 minutes. Sometimes you might end up spending 20 or 30 minutes if you get lost in the task. The hardest part is to start. Breaking tasks into 15 minute increments helps me to start more tasks on my to do list.
15 minutes can help change your life.
The other day i was listening to a talk by Barbara Cochran, from Shark Tank. She mentioned that she starts and ends her day with a list of what she needs to accomplish. A to do list. Then she reviews the list and ranks them priority using ABC method. A’s being the highest priority. For the past few years, i’ve started my day writing out my goals and an action item for each goal. I’ve found it’s useful to completing my tasks towards my goals but often there are nongoal related items that need to get accomplished that i sometimes have a difficult time tracking or getting motivated to achieve. For example, items like taking my car into service, returning a package, or doing soemthing around the house.
I’m going to try the simple method Barbara uses and start making a list every morning and night then ranking my list based on importance.
Some of the articles I’ve been reading this week:
Like most people around Thanksgiving, I was flooded with news about the skyrocketing price of Bitcoin. It’s not the first time I’ve heard about Bitcoin. Fred Wilson got me to open a Coinbase account years ago. One of my biggest regrets wasn’t investing more then the $10 dollars they gave me to open the account. That’s lesson or issue with investing: it’s always easy to look back in time to see what you should have done. It’s much more difficult to know what to do now or anytime in the future.
One of my problems with Bitcoin is understanding why you should invest in it. It has no assets. It’s really based on faith that it will become a decentralized current and become accepted by the mainstream as a store of value.
What’s the difference between the two currencies?
Bitcoin is basically a database of accounts that is available to the public. Blyth stated, “you could download a history of all the bitcoin transaction since it’s inception.”
Ethereum is a more sophisticated version of Bitcoin. It’s faster to complete transactions. The biggest difference is the implementation of smart contracts which is basically a standard business contract but written into the code. The smart contract will execute once the conditions are met.
Blythe mentioned the positive with these types of blockchains is there integrity, since you’re able to see all of the transactions. The downside, at least for many companies, is the lack of confidentiality since of the information on the Blockchain, including the details of the smart contract, are publicly available. This is a major issue for many companies, especially large financial institutions, where sharing consumer information can be questionable ethically and in some circumstances illegal.
My biggest takeaway was the idea of live reconciliation of assets. Reconciling assets is something that can typically take a significant amount of time in many different sectors of the economy.
For the past few years, I’ve been focusing on Data Science. I’m still all in on Data Science and Artificial Intelligence but I’ll also start working on getting more education about the Blockchain. Specifically, how the Blockchain can improve the flow of assets.
photo credit: WorldSpectrum