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Oops—I forgot that this was going to be auto-crossposted to LW and probably would have prevented that if I remembered, since it's weirdly meta (it was intended mostly as a placeholder for people visiting my website and wondering why there were no recent posts). I guess I'll leave it here now since it got a lot more upvotes than I expected though :)

I think it's still important to note that "not giving up" can lead not just to lack of success, but also to value destruction (; Theranos; WeWork). 

If you're going to interpret the original "don't give up" advice so literally and blindly that "no matter what the challenges are I'm going to figure them out" includes committing massive fraud, then yes, it will be bad advice for you. That's a really remarkably uncharitable interpretation.

Not sure if this is your typo or a LW bug, but "essay" appears not to actually be hyperlinked?


I don't think founder/investor class conflict makes that much sense as an explanation for that. It's easy to imagine a world in which investors wanted their money returned when the team updates downwards on their likelihood of success. (In fact, that sometimes happens! I don't know whether Sam would do that but my guess is only if the founders want to give up.)

I also don't think at least Sam glorifies pivots or ignores opportunity cost. For instance the first lecture from his startup course:

And pivots are supposed to be great, the more pivots the better. So this isn't totally wrong, things do evolve in ways you can't totally predict.... But the pendulum has swung way out of whack. A bad idea is still bad and the pivot-happy world we're in today feels suboptimal.... There are exceptions, of course, but most great companies start with a great idea, not a pivot.... [I]f you look at the track record of pivots, they don't become big companies. I myself used to believe ideas didn't matter that much, but I'm very sure that's wrong now.


More generally, I agree that this claim clashes strongly with some rationalists' worldviews, and it's plausible that it just increases the variance of outcomes and not the mean. But given that outcomes are power-law distributed (mean is proportional to variance!), the number of people endorsing it from on top of a giant pile of utility, and the perhaps surprisingly low number of highly successful rationalists, I'd recommend rationalists treat it with curiosity instead of dismissiveness.

Oops, thanks! Added a link to the signup form on my site. (And fixed my RSS rendering to not do forms like that in the future.)


Yes, and I think the different words were useful!

You're repeating / elaborating on things that are in the post, but were not particularly emphasized. I didn't emphasize them because I've personally had the "deeply internalized felt sense of how easy it is for humans to misunderstand each-other" that you describe for a long time, and only more recently got the "be curious" part, and so I emphasized that because it was the missing piece for me (and didn't totally realize the degree to which the other part was load-bearing / could be the missing piece for others).

Yeah, if you don't want to DIY it, you can apparently also use a teleprompter for a similar effect. I haven't tried one, but am curious to! The only trade-off I can think of (other than cost and being cumbersome) is that you probably sacrifice some image quality from all the reflection shenanigans, but not sure how big of a deal that would be.

  1. Even if decent, I'd be surprised if the microphone compares well to the BoomPro (it's farther from your mouth so will pick up more noise, and most non-standalone mics are optimized for low cost not quality)
  2. I think most earbuds are a lot worse than Pixel USB-C buds for calls—it looks like these have a relatively nice microphone, and relatively poor noise isolation (= allow you to hear your own voice much better)

Oh OK, then the audio improvements the post describes will work fine as-is (except for the non-headset mic) and the video ones are probably not worth it. And I guess the networking advice becomes "invest in properly debugging your wifi" instead of running a cable.

I assume you don't care about video if you'll be walking around? (I think you lose a lot by giving up video, but de gustibus non disputandum.)

For audio, you could possibly wireless-ify the audio setup in the article with something like an AptX Low Latency to 3.5mm adapter and switching from the BoomPro to the Antlion ModMic Wireless (since I don't think those adapters support mics).

Note that Bluetooth sucks and I haven't tested this so it may not work as well as it sounds like it should. But if you want to keep open-back headphones and a good mic, that's probably your best bet.

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