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Jul 14, 2019 23:34:20

Positive sum games

by @jasonleow | 342 words | 315🔥 | 353💌

Jason Leow

Current day streak: 315🔥
Total posts: 353💌
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“Creativity is an infinite resource. The more you spend, the more you have.” - Chase Jarvis

I chanced upon this line when reading Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss, as part of my reading list for a new season. It felt like a light bulb went off in my head. I heard something similar recently too but for wealth, in a Naval Ravikant interview. He said something similar along the lines of wealth being a positive sum game, not a zero sum game. We can create new wealth and add into the pool, increase the size of the pie. If wealth was finite, then we'll still be distributing pieces of firewood from our caveman days.

It was quite an a-ha moment, because we hear zero sum game narratives being traded around on the news so often. Things are often talked about as a war, a competition, where there's winners and losers, there can be only one guy at the top, and the winner takes all. It's so pervasive that we start to see things only through a zero sum game lens, a scarcity mindset. If someone lost, then you have won. 

It's exhausting. It's polarising. And it's tearing us apart.

That's why when I heard about how creativity is an infinite resource, or wealth is a positive sum game, it's like a ray of light, a breath of fresh air. Not everything has to be scarce, not everything is finite. Some resources can be infinite and abundant, and we can create more of it for everyone to benefit. If everyone can win, even if realistically speaking, in varying degrees of what winning means, then aren't we all better off? I love the optimism I get from being able to challenge zero sum games and reframe them as positive sum games.

So what other resources/situations are positive sum games? There's potentially creativity and wealth (even if it's up for further discussion). What else is there? 

From Jason Leow's collection:

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    I do agree with you and Naval's concept of creativity-driven wealth as not being zero-sum.

    However I do contest Chase's idea of creativity as being infinite. I'm a big fan of his btw.

    I think that creativity is infinite in the sense that you'll never run out of ideas... so there's no reason to hoard them for the 'right time'... and that ideating and using your ideas is the best way forward to more ideas....

    however, I do challenge this usage of the language. -- infinite resource -- the more you spend the more you have --..

    I agree with the sentiment in the existential sense. That the more creativity you spend the more you earn over time. But I fear that this might be taken incorrectly on the daily sense.

    I think that extreme focus and vision... which means blocking out portions of your creativity is key to long-term sustained creativity.... so it's a difference in macro/micro strategies.


    You'll never run out of ideas... but you'll not have good ideas if you are to not actually honing in on your ideas and making good of them... so in a way maybe that's what Chase is saying... to actually spend creativity you got to put in the work...

    yes that's how I'd like to caveat this. People might incorrectly apply chase's advice by doing a million things half assed... and what I think is important is yes you can do a million things... but over your life and not in the day or week half assedly... do a million things over your life full assed, one. at. a. time.

    Sir Abe avatar Sir Abe | Jul 16, 2019 15:42:31
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      @abrahamKim nice thanks for building on it and taking it so much deeper and further than the single sentence can.

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jul 16, 2019 22:27:42
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      yo i looked at publicdesignvault for the first time and wanted to add something in regards to what Naval always loves to say.

      He speaks of a hypothetical world where if every individual is educated with engineering skills, how effecient and wealthy that world would be.

      I think a great tragedy of contemporary times is that the most abled engineers are pooled into a mostly homogenous infrastructures that generate massive wealth for smaller groups.

      When i look at the initiatives you are investing into, I see it as an uphill battle, because local municipalities doubling down and investing into good engineers is not somehting they are used to. They can't imagine allocating like half a million a year for three great engineers. Instead they get not the cream of the crop engineers and are stuck... but at the same time they're okay spending a million on a number of many employees who might not create as many value.

      sorry so TLDR:
      A lot of public sectors I think struggle to get top engineers because of the outdated perception of market-demand/value. Whereas places like Google/Microsoft don't have such an outdated view and scoop up all the top talent. Thus the public sector is lacking in this refined talent/energy.

      I can see that a lot of top engineers want to do this work though. Because they'll spend their off-time volunteering for civic good. But imagine if the public sector jsut said... okay come work for us full time... we'll jack up the money allocation for you. I think a large portion of top engineers would take that deal. We're not there just yet though.

      Sir Abe avatar Sir Abe | Jul 16, 2019 16:36:26
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      @abrahamKim thanks for checking it out! Yes, the public sector usually don't understand and also can't compete with the compensation packages from top tech firms. Their image of being overly bureaucratic, boring and using outdated technologies doesn't make it an easy sell to top engineers either, even if these engineers want to do something for social impact. It's a shame, but I see many governments now trying to be more progressive and updated (eg 18F in US, GDS in UK, Govtech in Singapore), so it's slowly changing for sure.

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jul 16, 2019 22:45:40
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      Definitely. I never even knew of agencies such as 18F until one of my buddies got a job there recently.

      Similar to how public sector can't understand how to allocate resources to top tech/design talent, @brianball was talking to me about how people struggle with the idea of paying for 'ideas'. Like if you pay a consultant, you might rationalize some kind of deliverable like a written report.

      Sir Abe avatar Sir Abe | Jul 17, 2019 01:54:09
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    @jasonleow This is a good point (one of the many from Tools of Titans). I like the visual of someone with one lit candle walking around a village helping every other village light his or her candle until all the candles are lit. Nothing lost save for the effort to do it and the result is almost magical.

    Brandon Wilson avatar Brandon Wilson | Jul 14, 2019 13:43:04
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      @brandonwilson lovely imagery! Light is a perfect metaphor for such things

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jul 15, 2019 21:43:47
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    @jasonleow - Good vibes / love / positivity / good-will toward fellow humans / compassion ( what am I trying to say? )

    Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Jul 14, 2019 09:09:25
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      @brianball yeah what are you trying to say?

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jul 15, 2019 21:43:13
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