Edition #1: Homeless Giving, RIP Tony Hsieh, Beyond Meat, Bitcoin, Black Swan

This week's personal finance newsletter covers Homeless Giving, RIP Tony Hsieh, Beyond Meat, Bitcoin, Black Swan

written by oz chen

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How much money should we give to the homeless?

I finally wrote an article about something that’s been on my mind – homelessness.

Growing up in LA, I became accustomed to seeing people living on the streets. One of the social interactions I never figured out waswhether or not to give out money, and if so, how much.

You can read my exploration of the problem here:

>>> Should we give money to the homeless?

These are the rules I arrived at:

  • If approached by the homeless, I will acknowledge them and attempt to redirect them to nearby resources
  • I will not give money to the homeless, but I will consider giving food.
  • I will not virtue signal my giving, nor make much about others’ virtue signaling
  • If guilt, kindness or emotions elevate giving to the top of my values, then I will work for/with an effective organization to tackle the homeless problem.

The World Mourns Tony Hsieh’s Death 🥾

This week the world is mourning the death of Tony Hsieh, former Zappos CEO known for his kindness and generosity. He’s well known for creating a culture of radical customer service, like the story of the best man and his lost shoes and the marathon 10 hour customer service call

This insight from Forbes left an impression on me.

“Hsieh retreated to Park City, where he surrounded himself with yes-men, paying dearly for the privilege. …Hsieh’s offer was simple: He would double the amount of their highest-ever salary. All they had to do was move to Park City with him and “be happy,” according to two sources with personal knowledge of Hsieh’s months in Utah. “In the end, the king had no clothes, and the sycophants wouldn’t say a fucking word,” said a close friend who tried to stage one of the interventions, with the help of Hsieh’s family.

“People took that deal from somebody who was obviously sick,” encouraging his drug use, either tacitly or actively.”

This contrasts against what I said about ambition and money. Just because you can earn money – like an addict paying you to be his friend – doesn’t mean you should. Tony’s death is not only a tragedy of mental health, but also highlights the importance of surrounding yourself with people who can give you real feedback —  and listening to them.

Rest in peace, Tony.

📊 Stock I’m following: Beyond Meat (BYND)

I think a lot of a company’s strength (and longevity) is determined by its CEO. I was blown away by a 2017 interview with Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat’s CEO. He’s been at this game for 11 years now, but not a lot of people know that his ultimate goal is to beat climate change by making food people love.

In my article about Beyond Meat’s approach to innovation, I quote Brown:

“You don’t build a business telling people not to eat what they love. You build a business helping people to eat what they love, and more of it.”

Current Seas of the Week

When news of the coronavirus pandemic hit stateside in March, Bitcoin crashed from ~$10,000 to ~$5,000. In the last few months, it’s been on a tear and got back to it’s all time high of ~$20,000. Despite attempts to say that Bitcoin has died for the 10,000th time (even within academia!), the cryptocurrency has exhibited antifragile properties.

I think this time is different because of the ecosystem: institutional adoption of Bitcoin is at an all time high, including recent market trends like PayPal offering the ability to buy crypto to its ~300 million customers.

📚 Book highlight of the week: The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb

“If you want to make meaningful predictions about the future – which, if you are buying insurance, making investments, attending college, changing jobs, conducting research, or just being a human, then you certainly do – then it’s simply not enough to take all of the “knowns” into consideration.

This leaves you with only a partial understanding of the risks involved in your prediction. Instead, you should also be consciously aware of what you don’t know, so that you don’t unnecessarily limit the information that you are working with.”

End Note

If you’re enjoying the newsletter, I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you’re enjoying it.

Should you find anything interesting this week, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through my online community.

Until next time,

I’m just a guy on the internet with an opinion, so please just treat my content as entertainment. My content is may contain referral links to products I use or love. My content is for informational purposes only, and you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. 

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