Even If You Love Btc, Bitcoin Cash Is Better Than the Lightning Network

This great tweet by Mortuus Bestia, got me to thinking about the value of the lightning network vs. simply using another coin.

If you need to pay to open a “payment channel”, it would be just as easy to sell that amount for BCH, effectively opening a “payment channel” where you actually control your money, instead of having it a convoluted “2nd Layer”.

I am still learning about the lightning network, but from what I know now, if it is as easy (or easier) and cheap to exchange for BCH as it is to open a payment channel, and BCH is as widely accepted as BTC (via Lightning), then the only possible advantage to using Lightning would be maintaining exposure to the value of BTC, with the money that you are using for payments.

It seems that there will always be insecurity in the lightning network, so it will never be smart to keep large sums in a payment channel. If that is the case than you would never want to keep a significant amount of money in a payment channel and the lost exposure to a rising BTC price would be insignificant (this is assuming you beleive BTC will outpace BCH, which I don’t).

If merchant adoption of BCH (or another cryptocurrency that functions for payments) is even close to comparable to lightning network adoption (which it should be) it wouldn’t make sense to hold your BTC in a payment channel at all, and most people would choose to use a payment coin instead.

Three Lessons from Bookkeeping

After working in our family winery as a teen and during college, I set out to find a “real” job at 21. I remember how afraid I was that I wouldn’t be able to get a good job after college because I didn’t have any non-family work references.

At the time I didn’t value understand the value of my experience working at the winery and viewed my past work as only valuable if I could get a reference from it. But that fear was unfounded. I quickly found that employers valued that experience growing up around a business and got a job in the accounting department of a mid-size commercial flooring company. This was my first professional experience.

When I started I was responsible for invoicing (accounts receivable) and then moved into a utility player role where I learned and covered for all the other parts of the accounting team (payables, paying contractors, collections, and year-end).

At the time I didn’t have a good philosophy of work (or good philosophy of life overall), so I didn’t experience the work as being as valuable, but looking back now I can clearly see lots of valuable lessons from my first two years of professional work.

The three biggest lessons I learned from bookkeeping are:

  1. Professional communication. This was my first professional job. Simple things like how to send a professional email were completely new to me. To do my job I consistently had to communicate with others and get information for invoices we were sending out. I like to do independent work so having to rely on people and communicate to get what I needed to do my job was challenging and forced me to improve my communication. Beyond just learning how to communicate like a professional, it was an adjust spending my days around people older than me. After college, school, and manual labor work, I was used to spending all my time around people my own age. But now I was in a work environment where most of my coworkers were 15 years older than me. Just getting into a more diverse group and spending two years connecting with people there was very valuable for me.
  2. How to show up and work 50 weeks a year. I was used to working 40 hours a week in the summer, but doing it week after week for two years came with a lot of resistance. The short semesters and long breaks of college and school mean that you avoid long-term responsibilities. After college, you feel that you need a Christmas break, spring break, summer break, etc. We imagine that school is analogous to work, but you are paying for it, so of course, you get more breaks. It wasn’t fun showing up to work on Christmas eve, or only having a long-weekend off over the summer, but I learned a lot about being an adult.
  3. How to manage a heavy workload. I admit that I actually didn’t do very well at this. It was a large family business bringing millions of dollars of revenue. When I started I was responsible for invoicing for all our jobs. Because these were large construction jobs, the price of a job was always changing. It had to account for a ton of changes during the project and as a result, there was a large workload. The method I used for keeping track of this wasn’t great, and since we used paper work orders, I would often have a large pile of to-do’s growing on my desk. I learned a lot about the importance of organizing your work from that experience. I nature is to be a bit disorganized, but today I have created all sorts of systems that I use to keep me on track, organized, and productive.

Three Lessons from Labeling Wine

Growing up I worked in vineyards during the summer and part-time labeling wine in the winter. Labeling was a two-man job, so my friend Pat and I worked as a labeling team. It’s not a glamorous or particularly exciting job, but the rhythm of it and somewhat mechanical nature made it enjoyable and easy to multi-task with.

The job was pretty simple–put cases of wine down on a conveyor belt, apply a small amount of hot wax to seal the cork, let it dry as it made it’s way to the labeler, pull out a bottle at a time, but it in the labeler and then back in the case, and finally glue the case and put it back on a pallet.

The three biggest lessons I learned from that job are:

Quality matters: Working with the final product instead of just grapes makes you very aware of quality. Small mistakes that you can get away with earlier in the process, ruin your work. If you mess up, there is no wiggle room; you simply have to fix it. This helped me a lot with attention to detail and taking responsibility for my work.

Metrics matter: When you are labeling wine, it is very easy to see how productive you were– how many cases did you finish. If you slack off for an hour, there is no hiding from it or making excuses, it will be clear to everyone, so you need to show up and be consistent with your work. Having a scoreboard to pay attention to making it easy to stay motivated and engaged throughout the shift.

Be careful with dangerous work: Most corked bottles of wine have a small wax seal on top. Adding this wax was part of the job while labeling. To get the wax malleable, we chopped up wax bricks with an axe and then heated it up in pots on a hot plate. One day the hot plate was very hot, and I spilled a bunch of hot wax on my hand while refilling the dispenser. The wax started burning my hand, and my instinct was to rush to put my hand in cold water, in seconds it started cooling, but I realized that I wouldn’t be able to get the wax off, so I started pulling the wax off which unfortunately had stuck to the burnt skin and pulling a layer of it off as well.

I finished off my shift one-handed, and only later realized the seriousness as a large and disturbing blister puffed up covering the damaged part of my left hand. It took weeks to heal, and you can still see the vague scar on my hand seven years later.

I don’t often work with dangerous stuff, but this experience of burning myself made me vigilant when I worked as a cook years later.

Momentum, Perspective, and Winning the Day

Momentum matters at work. Completing small tasks help you gain confidence and do better in the future. This is true in an individual day and on a day by day or week by week level.

On a longer time period, you are doing a lot of work and forgetting most of it. As a result, your momentum relies a lot more on how you feel you are doing becomes a lot more important than how you are actually doing.

This is why making perspective a practice is important. If you go to bed fixated on what you didn’t get done, you will feel like a failure and wake up the next day slow and guilty. If you have the exact same day but chose to focus on the things you accomplished, you will make up excited and eager to get started.

Deluding yourself or hiding from responsibilities does not help you succeed in the long-term, but focusing on your progress and how you are winning each day will leave you feeling lighter and ready to kick more ass in the future.

 

Nostradamus’ Law

The benifit of making a correct public prediction vastly outweighs the consequences of making an incorrect prediction.

In normal day to day life, if you make predictions to your friends and they come up wrong consistently, people will remember and they will care less about your opinion. You pay a social price for being wrong.

But the internet changes your predictions in two ways:

– It allows you to keep a public record of your original prediction which makes it easier to predict further in the future.
– It allows you to reach people outside of your social circle with your predictions, removing the social price of being wrong.

If you make a mid to long-term prediction (3 months to a year or longer out), and you’re wrong, you’re prediction will be forgotten by most people. But if you are right, you can revisit and hype the original prediction to showcase your incredible forsight.

You can become “the man who predicted BTC $10,000” and add it to your bio. People will be impressed that you made a correct prediction in the past and forget to ask how many incorrect predictions you made.

In the past, you had to have a big media job to make big public predictions and gain from this public bias, but now anyone can. Since you can start a blog and use social media, you can make big guesses about the future. If they miss, almost no one will notice, but if they hit you will be able to use it for a large social benifit.

Since you have a large benifit from being right and a small cost when wrong, it is almost always “profitable” to make public predictions about the future. So the takeaways are:

  1. Start making public predictions about big events in the mid to long-term future.
  2. Stop listening to other peoples predictions, because they are likely full of shit and not accountable for being wrong.

Non-Verbal Communication

It is certainly possible to communicate without words. Body language, eye contact, or even tone of voice all communicate a lot more than the things that are being said.

Learning how to pick up on non-verbal cues is very valuable for getting along with people and getting what you want in day to day life.

But as a communicator, there can never be any expectation that someone is “hearing” what you aren’t saying.

If someone asks you directly about something, and you agree, but do so with a tone of voice that implies you aren’t happy about it, it not the other person’s responsibility for taking you up on the offer.

Convincing yourself that you are a victim after the fact because your passive non-verbal communication wasn’t picked up will lead you to a life of bitterness and shallow and unfulfilling relationships.

Say what you want. Say what you don’t want. Don’t expect others to read your non-verbal communication.

Tinder For Restaurants

Amanda and I have a couple friends visiting us in Mexico City this weekend. One of them is single and was user Tinder and it made me think of how Tinder is a very elegant (and human-focused) solution to a matching problem.

It allows for very simple and quick decision making. You can scan through and surface level evaluate options at a rapid pace.

The same solution could be applied to a different matching problem, like finding a restaurant to eat at.

Food delivery apps are amazing, but most of them are still clunky and don’t make it easy to decide on a place to eat. Having a photo heavy and intuitive app that allowed you to quickly filter through restaurants would be a much better experience.

Right now to search ten possible options on Uber eats takes ~10 minutes, you should be able to surface level scan 20 restaurants in a minute.

Imagine a tool with a user interface similar to tinder–photo focused with swiping to express interest–that displayed photos and information on restaurants.

Like Tinder, you could initially filter for some interests and you could use the app for two use cases:

  • Finding a restaurant near you.
    • You set a distance filter and then can quickly swipe through restaurants until you find a restaurant you are interested in that is nearby. Swipe right to show your interest.
    • You could use progressing filtering. When you swipe right it would filter those restaurants into groups, that you could then go through and eliminate choices until you made a final decision.
      • Eliminating options in rounds is much more effective and low effort decision making.
    • Eventually, you pick a restaurant and swipe up to make a reservation or signal your decision.
  • Finding take out
    • Instead of filtering off distance, you filter on takeout availability and time, then restaurants are presented to you like they are on Tinder.
    • You find the restaurant you like and then proceed to an second level swiping dashboard for the dishes available at the restaurant.

Some other ideas around this:

  • Adding a curation function. Like on Spotify, how you can create public playlists, foodies could create restaurant hit lists, then you could filter through those lists. Learning which curators you trust.
  • You could use micropayments to incentivize users to share more information (like how long the wait is, how there food was, and uploading photos of different dishes.)

Three Lessons From Working in a Vineyard

Over the last 15 years, I’ve worked at a winery, a construction company, a cafe, restaurants, a non-profit, for myself, and now at a start-up in a whole boatload of roles. This is the start of a series of blog posts on the lessons that I’ve learned at all those jobs.


Vineyard Labourer

Naramata, British Columbia

Growing up, I worked as a vineyard laborer at our family winery from my pre-teens to age twenty. At the time I didn’t think much of this experience, but I realize that it has been quite formative for me. Seeing my parents build a business and the freedom and work that goes along with that shaped a lot of what I think about a fulfilling career.

As grapes grow there are different jobs you need to do to keep them growing well. Starting from pruning in the early spring, removing shoots early in spring, tucking vines so they grow in an organized way in early summer, turning down the vines, stripping leaves, thinning fruit, putting up nets. To do all this work across all the properties would take two or three weeks.

Looking back now, the three lessons I learned working in the vineyard every summer are:

  1. How to work with a team. We worked as a crew out in vineyards. So there would be between five and ten of us out in the vineyard doing manual work. Our results were shared (is the vineyard ready and was the work done well?) so we each had to take responsibility for our work. This is a challenge as it creates an incentive to be a free rider. Working on a team, in this way helped me learn a lot about how to work well with others, and how important incentives are.
  2. How to show up and go to work each day. We started at 6 am and I was never late. It seems like a small thing but learning how to wake up at 5:15 am consistently and manage your life around that is a skill that a lot of people have never learned.
  3. How to make work fun. We were a team and would be working with each other all day all summer. After work, a lot of us would hang out as well. The work required attention, but there was still lots of time to talk out interesting ideas, make jokes, and generally have a lot of fun. Those summers working out in the vineyards are fond memories because of how close the crew got spending 40 or 50 hours a week together and how much fun we had while we worked.

Creating Better Experiences

No matter what you do for work, delivering a high quality experience to your customer is part of your job.

This isn’t a new idea, it has been talked about a lot by a lot of people, but it is easy to forget because you need to focus on the end result you are delivering.  But you can’t get lost in it because your customers experience of that end result is going to be radically different based on the journey they took to get there.

The classic example of this is Starbucks. While most big coffee chains were delivering a affordable cup of coffee and focusing on the product, Starbucks made it an experience. They created better service, a better enviroment, more consistency, and an ascetically pleasing experience. Improving the experience of drinking a cup of coffee actually makes the cup of coffee more valuable.

Choice

If you walked in the door at Starbucks and they handed you a latte and said “Have a nice day” you probably wouldn’t feel good about it even if you like lattes. You like to take the time to think and decide what it is you truly want. Sometimes when you have a very specific offering.

When you are delivering a service, the first class level of excellence is delivering a highly curated choice, and using your expertise to guide your customer to a decision that will make them happy in a way that does not reduce their experience of agency over the situation.

Environmental Details

Starbucks is a coffee company, but they put great effort into designing cafes that are comfortable, good for work and socializing, that are ascetically pleasing. They realize that it is not just the coffee you are paying for, but the whole experience of it.

The chair you are sitting in while you are drinking the coffee is part of the service they are providing. Obviously you have limited attention and resources and need to focus on the critical details. Having nice chairs, but shitty coffee won’t work. But it is important to understand the experience trade off’s you are making.

Investing in the details that are somewhat unrelated to the core offering, but change the experience can create a lot more than marginal improvements to the core product. Investing $50,000 in top of the line espresso machines that take your coffee from 9/10 to 9.5/10 is probably not going to make your customers more happy than spending $50,000 on chairs that take seated comfort from 5/10 to 8/10.

Understanding/Empathy

This builds on the environment and details and is a crucial part of the experience you give to your customer. There is a great expression that I first heard from Gabor Mate; that doctors see patients for disease, and patients see doctors for anxiety. This is true in lots of professions, but we overlook it.

Lots of customers are buying a service for anxiety. They FEEL uncomfortable about a current state are are looking to your solution to ease that feeling. You as the service provider have a specific focus on what you are providing your customer, but a lot of time what your customer is looking for (at the base level) is to feel better. If they are anxious about the project the whole time it is ongoing, no matter how good the final result, they will question using you again. If you ease their fears and make them feel comfortable, heard, and understood throughout the project, they will feel good about it even if the end result could have been better.

For more about creating an exceptional experience check out this video by Dan Sullivan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMCgkOIyqqg

Ideas Come When You Need Them

Sitting around waiting for good ideas almost never leads to good ideas.

If you only write when you have a novel idea that you are inspired to write about, you will end up not blogging very often at all. That is why you can’t act on the condition of having a good idea.

If you commit to writing whether you have a good idea or not you create an environment for generating ideas. You pay closer attention to your thoughts and observations, and you notice and track ideas that may have passed you by. You have a personal incentive for coming up with ideas (because you don’t want your blog post to suck) and as a result, you have way more ideas.

A lot of those ideas won’t lead to anything but some will be great ideas that you would never have thought about if you didn’t have a need for them.