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Notes from Josh Wolfe

Below are my notes from listening to Josh Wolfe on various podcasts. You can find the full podcasts below:

Inventing the Future [The Knowledge Project]

This is Who You Are Up Against [Invest Like the Best, EP.76]

The Magic of Science [David Perell]


  • Action reaction => you push on them they push back, applicable to everything people markets

  • Long term consequences vs seize the day => perennial paradox those two things are irreconcilable

  • Balance between fitting in and standing out

  • Avoid boring people => goes both ways

  • Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time

  • Be long term greedy

  • There is nothing new just history you don't know. Study history of VC every 10-15 years there's a secular wave of tech a few forms dominate this


Failure comes from a failure to imagine failure

  • If you can think about everything that can go wrong and throw time, money, talent at those things. You reduce the risk

  • Subsequent investors should pay higher price

  • First law of thermodynamics, risk never created or destroyed just moves one form to another

  • Like 1st law of thermodynamics risk and value don’t go away they just change form. Less risky as time goes on so investors price should reflect this

No1 edge you can have as an investor is a longer time horizon

  • You have time arbitrage => competing with fewer people

Randomness and Optionality

  • Randomness and optionality. A priori things don’t make sense but post facto you can see how it is all connected

  • “So many things that have happened in my life, for better or worse, are largely out of my control”

  • When you really think about it -“When you look at the panoply of things in life, there is so much randomness”

  • Where you live

  • Who you marry

  • Whether or not you have kids

  • “There are so many things…a chance meeting, whether someone you met with was in a good or bad mood,…where it could have turned out to be a totally different situation on a singular pivoting turn of events”

  • Think about it – there are so many variables governing the outcome of every human interaction

  • “If you really are humbled to how much luck there is in the world, and in whatever pursuit or domain you’re in, then it opens you up to the possibility that there’s randomness and optionality, and you should try to maximize that as cheaply as possible”

Moral imperative to invent

  • Imagine a world where person x existed but technology y doesn't

  • Where Freddie Mercury existed but the microphone didn't

  • Where Walt exist but color animation didn't

  • Where Elton John existed but the piano didn't

  • Where George Lucas existed but CGI technology didn’t

  • Technology is an instrument to express a form of genius

  • Could be my kids, could be Oliver but there is someone out there who will discover a technology in which they will play and the world will be better off because of it

  • “Every one of these things was an instrument for them to express a form of genius”

  • “There is someone out there today…who is going to encounter technology in the future that doesn’t exist today, that they will play as their instrument to the world and the world will be better off because of it”

  • Technology increases our humanity

  • Moral imperative to invent and lessen suffering

Gain through loss

  • We all seek comfort and happiness but progress doesn’t come from happiness

  • Happiness is liking the way things are

  • Progress comes from change

  • Change comes from discontent

  • Discontent comes from childhood, tragedy, troubles, revenge, grudge

  • Should we seek happiness/ comfort or strive for change?

© 2020 by Wing Vasiksiri