Tings Newsletter #15
Who am I? I’m Michael Karnjanaprakorn. In the first half of my career, I was an entrepreneur that created Skillshare and Otis. Now, I’m embarking on creative pursuits. Every month, I send out a newsletter about life, work, and random tings.
I have spent the past 365 days on a sabbatical where I intentionally spent time doing nothing. I got my health back on track, quit drinking, stopped using Twitter, pursued new hobbies, started seeing a therapist, traveled with my family, among many other things. The biggest lessons I learned? Get comfortable with boredom. Run towards what you’re avoiding. Accept and be yourself.
From a work standpoint, I knew what I wouldn’t be doing, which is what I did previously - tech startups. Once I shut that door, I explored a lot of paths and decided to ultimately follow my interests in content creation. I’ve been working on a podcast which will be coming out in a few weeks! It’s centered around my journey exploring my second mountain where I explore novel ideas around life, work, and random rabbit holes.
For me, the next phase of my career will focus on creative expression and helping others. "Work" will be just one pillar among many in my life. While it is important, it is not the most important one. Tied to this, I like Patrick O'Shaughnessy's definition of "life's work": a lifelong quest to build something for others that expresses who you are.
While exploring ways to improve my own health, I came across this document written by Johnny Bowman that provides the 80/20 of how to get into A+ health, which highlights four key factors: working out five days a week, getting 8 hours of sleep, consuming 50 grams of fiber, and consuming 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight.
I then read Johnny's newsletter and came across his article titled "Protocol Daddies" which explores how Andrew Huberman, Liver King, and others are influencing men, both positively and negatively. Most of these protocols relate to productivity, health and making money. There are toxic and healthy versions of this so I would be cautious following any one person’s advice without considering your own perspective.
Reflecting on my career, I realized that working hard was necessary for achieving success. But I wish I had maintained a better balance at that time in my life. Nowadays, there’s an anti-productivity movement, which is highlighted in this manifesto and this NYT article. In my opinion, it’s important to find your own place on the productivity spectrum, as what works for you will depend on the current phase of your life.
When I looked at this person’s calendar, I was conflicted. On one hand, I was impressed that they were attempting to balance so many responsibilities: “3 kids, a full-time job, works out 4x per week, coaches baseball, volunteers at church, and spends the majority of his weekend time with his family.” On the other hand, it seemed like too much and could result in burnout. But nevertheless, kudos for balancing ambition and family. We often hear that this is a trade-off but it doesn’t have to be.
I discovered Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy and its connection to the impact of childhood experiences on adult relationships. The foundation of security in relationships lies in feeling safe, being seen, and being soothed. These three factors, or the lack thereof, contribute to our attachment wounds, which can hinder our capacity to form healthy relationships as adults.
If I were a venture capitalist (VC), there are several trends I would consider betting on: a) longevity, b) privacy and security, and c) decentralized energy. Although I am not a VC, I still invest in companies. If you are building a unique startup in any of these areas, feel free to reach out to me.
I like learning about how CEOs of massive companies run their organizations. It’s usually counter to what we are taught. The way that Jensen Huang runs Nvidia is wild ($1 trillion dollar company): 40 direct reports and no 1:1s, no status reports, and no formal planning cycles.
Here’s another simple framework for running a billion dollar company: a) each team leaders submits a plan, b) if you’re hitting the plan, meet once a quarter, c) if you’re missing the plan, meet once a week until you hit the plan and d) ask: what got done? what worked? what didn’t work? how do we know it worked?
If I were to build another tech startup, this is exactly how I would build product. No product managers, just a head of Product. No metrics-based goals, just a north start company-level metric. No A/B tests, decisions are made by the leads. (Got to love the PM jokes/memes on X).
Startups are hard. Even for repeat repeat founders. Also, if I were to start another company, I would do it with zero hype coming out of the gate. It’s extremely dangerous for consumer social apps. I would build in stealth, not because I would be worried about competitors, but to avoid any false positives with product-market fit.
I’ve been thinking about what sets founders and leaders apart from others? Aside from factors like luck and timing, what stands out to me is their decision making %. Similar to a batting average or shooting average of a basketball player, it refers to the percentage of decisions that have been right. Ideally you would want to be in the 51%+ range for the important decisions (which is also a separate topic and skill). This framework is applicable not only for being a leader but also for being the CEO of your own life.
In the not too far distant future, we will have a decentralized grid. Power lines will hopefully be obsolete. And we will see the electrification of everything.
Is Amazon turning into Alibaba? Half of my Amazon searches results in a “brand I’ve never heard of, selling a product you’re not sure about.” IMO, this happens when growth metrics are prioritized with incentive misalignment that may yield short-term gains but have negative compounding effects in the long run. You can’t measure taste or brand but these things can bite you in the ass. This is how being 100% reliant on data for decision-making could backfire.
I watched the Netflix Series “Live to 100. Secrets of the Blue Zones”. I enjoyed the show and pulled away some tactical things to apply in my own life. But before you get too excited, it seems that “the number of people living 100+ years just happens to drop sharply after the introduction of state-wide birth certification.” Here’s a deep dive into the real secret of blue zones.
Does a pre-K school like this exist? A pre-K school that is free for low-income families, pays teachers above market salary, offers free transportation, provides healthy nutritious food, and ensures quality education? (I am looking for a national non-profit organization to support.)
Blink182 is back. They broke up. The leader singer got cancer. He beat it. They got back together. And wrote this song called One More Time. Even if you don’t like Blink182, this song will touch a nerve.
If you enjoyed reading this issue, you can also “like” this newsletter by clicking the ❤️ below, which helps me get visibility on Substack.