Welcome, everyone, to the consistently inconsistent Lateral Thinking newsletter.
Fun fact, our little thinking club has added 200 new members this past month. There’s 2,526 of us here right now.
For newcomers, my name is Matei Psatta and I’ve had the most success in my life by looking at things differently. You can find me online anywhere in one Google search, but Twitter is a great place to connect (I’m trying to be post more there, but it’s not my forte).
I’ve worked in marketing my whole life until I decided to start my own startup in 2018. The company is now called Blindspot (TL;DR of what we do here, if you’re curious) and it has helped me grow in ways I couldn’t have even imagined.
Last year, I started this newsletter to organize my thoughts (and why not, share them with the world).
You can expect emails to come in anywhere from monthly to 2-3 times per week. I used to do this daily, but we’ve gotten to the point where I want to make sure what I share is genuinely valuable to most people.
Let’s start today’s thought piece off with a quick puzzle:
A man was one of the first people to arrive at a party. He drank some punch. He left early because he had been suffering from a headache. Everyone at the party who drank the punch later died of poisoning. Why did the man not die?
An answer, as usual, at the end.
Remember, if you’re reading this and haven’t subscribed, I don’t like you.
Your filter is your lifeline
I absolutely love the internet. Without it, I wouldn’t have a career, a good chunk of my personality and, obviously, most of my money.
The internet, however, is also a huge garbage dump. There are shining diamonds in this dump, but you have to be a skilled digger to find them.
This, unfortunately, applies to both the content and the people navigating it.
Because there are very few real filters for internet content, it’s up to each reader to correctly differentiate bullshit from reality.
In order to do that, you need to have a strong fundamental understanding of the topic you’re following or engaging in.
It also helps to understand your own biases and common personality traits of people that will “fake it till they make it”.
You could write books about this topic (and if you know any, please recommend me some), but for today’s rant I’m going to split general internet predatory behavior into 3 topics and hopefully help you make sound decisions in the future.
1. I’m rich/successful, therefore I’m right
This behavior has been around far before the age of the internet, but it has gone nuclear online.
Avoid people who use this kind of rhetoric, because in 9/10 cases, the reason they got rich is because they understand how to exploit vulnerable people for their own monetary gain.
If someone isn’t able to simply and logically argue their point of view, they’re often deflecting (or gaslighting, although I hate that word). No, “where’s your Bugatti?” isn’t an argument to criticism, otherwise the US president could just deflect journalists’ questions by saying “Oh, really? Where’s your Oval office?”. It’s hilarious, yeah, but take it as a red flag.
Truly successful people can deconstruct how they got there pretty easily. An extra insight here: it very rarely takes just hard work and grit. It often takes being born in the right place at the right time and in the right community.
Does the truth suck? Yeah, it does. But if people told you that, it would be pretty difficult to sell you a course on how to become successful, wouldn’t it?
2. It defies basic unit economics and logic
If something seems too good to be true, it often is. You can definitely still bet on it and you’ll be right 1 in 10 times, but you’ll also be wrong 9 out of 10 times.
For example, the common mindset is “Oh, man, if only I got into Bitcoin 5 years ago”, look how much money people have made.
I’m here to tell you that not getting into crypto is the correct and logical answer. The unit economics (still) make no sense. However, you can still do it. I’ve done it. Just be aware that it’s a gamble and set your expectations accordingly.
I know a ton of people who have made money with crypto. I’ve made a decent amount myself. However, the majority of these people are aware it’s a wild bet, we’re just willing to make that bet.
People who are telling you “this is a sure thing” are doing it to gain your trust and benefit from your attention (or simply promote projects they’ve already invested in).
And if you don’t take care, you’ll end up being exploited by the thousands of crypto scams or buy into numbers that are entirely made up - like the ones Helium was sharing. Mind you, this company has raised $364 million dollars. That, however, simply does not matter as if the numbers don’t add up.
Axie Infinity is most likely going down the same path - “play to earn” games have been around for ages, but they never stick because they are able to drive adoption as long as they can afford to keep dishing out free money, which is never long.
You can still make money with this approach. Just be aware that the greater fool theory works for a while in every market and you never want to be the last one in this financial human centipede.
3. There is not a shred of doubt in the pitch
Self-doubt is one of the few common traits of every entrepreneur or successful person. Even arrogant billionaires like Elon Musk will admit there were days they had no idea if the company would survive.
They will only admit that, however, once they’ve gotten out of the woods.
It is rarely “sexy” for the common investor to see the person you’re investing in or buying from show doubt, however. This is why most con-artists always exude confidence.
Seasoned investors and entrepreneurs, however, know that this is mostly an act - an act you put up for yourself, since you need the motivation to keep going everyday, but also an act you put up for the rest of the world.
If someone is completely sure of something, especially when it comes to a new technology, product, course or miracle cure, you can be almost certain that person is totally overselling.
Can they still be right? Of course. But it’s important for you know the risk you are taking when saying “yes” to their pitch.
Narcissists can lock the truth in a dark place in their mind. So if you see a person absolutely in love with themselves and their public image, there’s a significant chance they’re not even aware of the con they’re pulling.
These are not the only methods.
You will need to find your own tools to figure out what’s true and what’s a shill.
After you do that, you’ll develop a “gut feeling” that will be right most of the time - this feeling is simply an analysis you do instinctively based on former experiences.
I hope this helps you in the never-ending journey of filtering out bullshit.
Answer: The poison was in the ice. Because the man drank the punch before the ice melted, the poison didn’t affect his drink.
An alternative answer: The man was the one who poisoned the punch.
U're doing a great job here. And you put the insight in clear words. Thanks!
Best one so far! Thank you for all the insights!