The Tim Ferriss Show #353 Patrick Collision

  • Patrick is one of the most well-read humans I’ve ever encountered. Here are some books he considers particularly great: The Rise and Fall of American GrowthMind-Body ProblemPoor Charlie’s AlmanackSomething Incredibly Wonderful Happens.

  • The value in rereading books: When you read a book and then revisit it years later you may find it has a completely renewed resonance or significance.

  • I think you should mostly ignore the books that are published recently: Take advantage of the fact that books published say 10+ years ago. . . people have had a lot of time to filter [The Lindy Effect] through them and select the real gems. People should be much more biased towards older books than they are. The Dream Machine is a good example of this.

  • People don’t seem to celebrate experimentation enough: If it doesn’t seem to them the right thing to do they exhibit some kind of emotional response. The response I try to cultivate is: I think that is a bad idea. It does not make sense given my model of the world. And I’m delighted it’s happening. If it succeeds we all get to learn something. That’s what is so great about the transmission of knowledge.

  • An outlook Stripe had that was different from others: We just didn’t think that the regulatory/ partnership barriers were actually that bad. They sound intimidating. You had to do a lot of work that other software companies don’t have to do. But it is fundamentally feasible.

  • YC is one of the most amazing inventions of the past 20 years: Paul Graham’s essays are a gold mine. People know they are great. I think they are even better than people appreciate.

  • Stripe’s sales and marketing strategy: For a very long time was writing blog posts that we thought were good and interesting. And building a good product so people would tell others about it. We made a deliberate bet on these superior distribution channels.

  • Patrick’s experience with the entrepreneurial emotional roller coaster: There are times I’d reflect on the enormity of the challenges that lay ahead. All the work we still had to do etc... and be immensely dispirited. Asking my cofounder is there really actually any point of doing this?

  • That feeling is inevitable when you are creating something: You have to be optimistic [on one hand] because if you weren’t you wouldn’t bother doing it in the face of adversity. On the other hand, you have to be pessimistic because there are tons of problems and you have to be tuned to spotting them so you can fix them. This is a weird psychological state. And to remain in it, as you must, for many years is just not normal.

  • What no one told him before he started: Even if the company is succeeding things will still often not feel great. I thought if the company was succeeding it would feel good day today. You are always operating at the out edge of what you can handle and inevitably always on the cusp of feeling like you’re going to fall over.

  • When we started Stripe it did not seem very promising: It just seemed like this silly little developer payments thing.

  • Why read so much about economics? Because it is so important. Arguably the single most important thing about our lives, compared to other lives that have lived in human history, is that we have had the immense good fortune to have been born in wealthy societies. That has had so many consequences on our lives.

  • One of the most important moral questions: Why doesn’t everyone get to do that [be born into a wealthy society] and how can we change the world so more people do.

  • Stripe’s mission is to grow the GDP of the internet: This is a very urgent cause.

  • How do we enable new things to happen? How do we have entrepreneurs start more companies? How do we unleash the potential of more people who want to do more weird things? How do we make sure that when someone spots an opportunity for improvement it gets encouraged and amplified?

  • Avoid artificially narrowing your set of options: Realize the possibility space and the world is so much bigger than you may be thinking about. It happens to everybody. Your horizons narrow. You get stuck in your existing models. You need to repeatedly pull yourself out of that [mindset]. . . The people that do this best think laterally.

  • Embrace the fact that the people around you will influence you: They do. Inevitably. Be careful about who they are. Try to make sure they shape you in ways and directions that you want to be shaped.

  • Book recommendation: The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. The general message of that book is that so much of doing things well is about being really good at seeing what is happening and training yourself to make the requisite corrections. That intuition resonates with me.

  • Full podcast here.