A (new)sletter format for deep thinkers


Oh hey, nice to see you. I just sent out a new Betabox update letter, be sure to subscribe to that as well.


So I had this idea...

Finding time for quality discussion and debate around big ideas is hard. Small talk, busy schedules, the problem-solving treadmill, etc all get in the way of it.

But I think everyone can grow and benefit from a consistent stream of novel discussions with smart people.

So in this newsletter I have included four of my thought nuggets along with some links that have informed those thought nuggets.

If one of them gets your wheels turning I’d love to learn more about your viewpoint.

1. Will (and should) 'rent' kill 'buy'?

Why businesses should be built like circles, not straight lines

The post above talks about the benefits of companies owning more of the life cycle of their products. This generally is going to result in a better customer experience and a healthier planet because P&Ls factor in more of the full cost of a product.

In parallel with this trend I am noticing more young people opt for a more minimalist, low asset lifestyle. Home ownership is being unseated as the definition of success. We’d rather rent than buy. Success is about cultural influence not asset aggregation.

Extrapolating forward, this rent vs buy choice will start to apply to more and more of our assets.

This is already taking place with cars where the cost + complexity of car ownership will begin to exceed cost + complexity of Ubering everywhere.

Will it happen with our phones and computers? Will it happen with our clothes? Furniture?

My question is two layers. Layer 1: What asset classes aside from homes and cars are good places for ‘rent’ to unseat 'buy?’ Layer 2: what are the negative side effects of a future where most major assets are owned by companies, not consumers?

2. How does AI engineering alter capitalism?

The incredible inventions of intuitive AI

Above is a neat talk showing how computers are using an evolution-like approach to design engineering structures that perform better than those designed by humans.

The speaker’s thought is that our future products and environments will not be human designed, but rather AI grown.

How to you think this technology would influence capitalism? Do the incentives that currently drive economic choice make this vision an improbable one?

3. Should 'education' be a system or a mindset?

We need to teach our children how to dream

Summary: Curiosity, Agility, Empathy, and Creativity are key skills to the future but schools don’t teach them. We all know this…

Mass education is the main way kids learn today. But back in tribal society (and to some degree in home schooling communities today) ‘education’ was really a shared social responsibility. 'It takes a village,’ right?

Consider an analogy where education is modeled as an R&D investment within a company. Companies know that their future value will stem from new innovations. Societies know that future quality of life will stem from the quality of the education provided to their future leaders.

With that analogy in mind, consider that the most successful innovation companies (like Apple while Steve was there) did not have R&D departments. They treated R&D as a true collective responsibility drove that culture across their whole organization.

Maybe education should not be a discrete institution within society, but rather a collective cultural responsibility.

Do you agree? What would such a system look like at scale?

4. What tools will always be needed?

Selling pickaxes during a gold rush

An old post that I have recently been thinking about. I like businesses that make consistent revenue independent of short term trends.

Overlapping this idea with the advice Jeff Bezos gave 37Signals yields an interesting business ideation framework:

First, decide what things don’t change. Then, consider what tools creators need in order to create those things that never change.

What tools would you sell to them?

Ok fine Sean, but like now what?

Okay those are my current pontifications. If one of them is turning your thought wheels, ping me and let’s explore together. That could be in person, email, twitter, text, on medium, or in an open discussion on slack.

If this works I will probably adopt this format for all future newsletters. If it fails, we will have all learned something :)


- Sean