What I learned week 12 2023

Second week of travel and workshops, but I learned two new ideas I’m excited to share! The first is about how to become great at something, the second is about how to achieve extreme success.

Become great my seeking out the meta game

To be really good at something, you first have to learn a bunch of low level skills: the fundamentals. This truism is tossed around as advice, and like most bad advice, it’s not actionable. Which fundamentals? How do I choose what to invest my time in?

Cedric Chin has a very interesting strategy outlined in his post To Get Good, Go After the Meta Game.

What he says is that masters of any particular field, performance marketing, product design, or fishing, are using strategies that are not obvious from looking at the basics rules of the game. They are the strategies of Second order effects. Meta game strategies.

The meta game tends to change over time. And in the real world there are usually few, or complex, rules so changes happen rapidly.

To really apply meta strategies you need to be so good at the fundamentals that you understand why and how the meta strategy works.

This also means that by seeking out people who are succeeding with meta strategies, we can be reasonably certain their fundamentals are really good. These are the people we want to learn from.

The simplified version of Cedric’s strategy is:

  1. Find people succeeding with meta strategies.

  2. Learn what they’re doing, seek out their best practices

  3. Derive which fundamentals are implied from those best practices

  4. And spend your time learning those

Execution is not the defining factor of success

I really like Mark Manson and his style of writing. So I was intrigued when I saw his latest video was about how to outperform 99% of people. I should’ve known it would be a kick in the ass…


The basic idea is this: Execution matters, but it’s maybe 50%+ of success. Execution not the defining factor for outlier success. If you want to reach for the moon, execution won’t be the leverage you need.

What you need is a contrarian idea, that is correct. Something other’s are not doing, that turns out to be correct. Making you an outlier.

The slightly worrying side effect is that to do that, you will have to spend your time being terribly wrong. A lot.

I’m ok with not being a massive success. Came to terms with that years ago. But I do wish I had understood this point earlier. I believe Mark is right, and I hope to set some contrarian or unusual goals for myself. But if he’s right, that means this is also true for company strategy. So what is your company’s contrarian positioning for the future?