Category Archives: Personal

Internalizing an outcome

I remember reading that visualizing what an outcome looks like makes you more likely to reach that outcome. For example, visualizing yourself after you’ve built a successful company increases the odds that you build a successful company.

The reasoning behind this line of thought is that visualizing an outcome places in motion the subconscious changes in your actions which are necessary to achieve that outcome.

The problem was that, after trying the approach on some small goals, I noticed that it doesn’t work for me. So I tried a different approach. Rather than visualize what the outcome looks like, I decided to write about it. My reasoning was that the general practice of internalizing an outcome might be right while the specific medium which I was using to internalize the outcome might be wrong for me.

Sure enough, when I began to write down what specific outcomes would look like, I began to achieve them much more readily. It turns out that I think through writing rather than images. Given the fun I have writing this blog, this isn’t surprising.

So if there’s an outcome you seek to achieve, it helps to internalize the circumstances of the outcome through whatever medium works for you. This could be by writing about it, visualizing it, recording yourself talking about it, or another medium specific to you.

Performing on auto-pilot after thoughtful preparation

My High school basketball coach always said that when you’re on the court, you have a single responsibility. And that’s to perform to the best of your abilities.

The alternative is to think about how you’re performing. While valuable in order to improve your performance, the right time to do this is when you’re off the court. If you do it while playing on the court, you end up second guessing your performance, and the resulting feelings negatively impact how well you perform.

In other words, when you step onto the court, your performance is already predetermined by the practice and thought that you put in up to that point. You’re effectively on auto-pilot.

The same is true for your non-athletic goals. You perform best when on auto-pilot after thoughtful preparation.

Amazing teams and great teams

The Golden State Warriors won the NBA finals yesterday by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 4 games to 1. I had a feeling that the Warriors might close the series when it returned back to California so I woke up at 4 in the morning in Turkey to watch the final game.

The Warriors and Cavs faced each other in the NBA finals for each of the past 3 years. The Warriors won in 2015 as their team effort overcame the star effort of LeBron James. The Cavs won in 2016 as the combination of LeBron James’ increased humility and the resulting increase in his teammates’ output was just enough to overcome the Warriors in 7 games.

LeBron James was once again humble and the Cavs played a great team game in this year’s series. Six Cavs scored more than 9 points at least once during the series. Although not as good as last year’s performance where six Cavs scored more than 10 points at least once during the series, it was pretty close.

The difference wasn’t in the Cavs’ performance but in that of the Warriors. Specifically, Kevin Durant joined the Warriors this year and immediately gelled with the team. Kevin Durant isn’t LeBron James but he’s pretty close. And that turned a great Warriors team into an amazing Warriors team.

In 2015, the great Warriors team beat the best player in the world.

In 2016, the great Cavs team led by the best player in the world beat the great Warriors team.

In 2017, the amazing Warriors team beat the great Cavs team led by the best player in the world.

Congratulations to the Warriors.

Laptops, the internet, and education

Back when I was in Elementary, Middle, and High school, we went to the school’s computer lab whenever we had something to do on a computer. In the 13 years since I exited the K through 12 school system, things have changed. Today, many schools give their students laptops which they carry from class to class and to their homes.

According to this New York Times article, Google has emerged as the clear leader in serving this market. The reason for Google’s success is the company’s strategy of providing low cost Chromebook laptops manufactured by third parties which run Google’s Chrome operating system and serve up Google’s cloud-based app ecosystem. This lets students access their apps from any laptop while promoting in-app collaboration with their classmates and teachers.

This has propelled the company ahead of Apple’s hardware-driven and Microsoft’s on-device software-driven approaches. Although Google was virtually non-existent in the market in 2012, it shipped nearly 8 million devices in 2016. Apple and Microsoft have remained flat at between 2 and 3 million annual device shipments from 2012 to 2016.

I would always look forward to going to the computer lab when I was a kid. Many of today’s students have access to the same learning opportunities made possible by computers whenever and wherever they want. It’s a great time to be a kid.

Motherhood

Think of a job where you can’t get an uninterrupted stretch of sleep, you get screamed at constantly by the person you’re working with, you spend most of your day repeating the same few tasks over and over again, and you don’t get paid.

My wife and I had a son about two months ago and what I described has been my wife’s job for the last two months. Although I help out when and where I can, it’s nothing compared to what my wife does. Watching her take care of our son is a humbling experience. It helps put the challenges of my work in perspective.

And what’s amazing is that my wife doesn’t see what she’s doing as a job. A job isn’t an activity that’s challenging but one where the motivation to do the work is less than the challenge.

In other words, most jobs are jobs not because of how challenging they are to do but because of how little motivation you have to do them. When your motivation is high enough, a job ceases to be a job no matter how big the challenge.

The excellent motherhood my wife is showing our son is a great example.

Meditating

I recently started meditating using the Headspace app.

I knew that I wanted to try meditating, but I didn’t know where to get started. What I did know is that I wanted a guided journey rather than to be my own guide. This would make it easier to get started and stay motivated.

However, I also didn’t want to pay for offline meditation classes. I wanted a low cost way of trying meditation at the location of my choice during the day. As a result, I searched for meditation apps and, sure enough, there are several. I picked Headspace because it had the highest ratings among meditation apps on the Google Play store.

Headspace starts you off with 10 free lessons each consisting of 10 minutes of guided meditation. You can then pay if you want additional lessons.

I’ve completed the first 4 lessons over the last 4 days and am very happy with the results. Although I was initially skeptical about whether you could use a smartphone to meditate (I associate meditation with putting technology aside to focus on your inner self), the smartphone essentially serves as a speaker. Once you push the play button to begin a particular lesson, you just listen to the guided meditation without any further interactions with your smartphone.

My mind is much clearer after the meditation lessons. And it requires just 10 minutes per day at no financial cost for the first 10 lessons, and about $10 per month (or less than $100 for an annual plan) thereafter.

If you’d also like to think more clearly and be more peaceful throughout the day, meditating definitely helps. And Headspace is a great way to get started.

Why I write in English

A reader of this blog recently asked me why I write in English rather than Turkish. Given that most of our investments are in Turkey, that’s a fair question.

There are three reasons for this.

The first pertains to the audience of this blog. Specifically, it’s read by both Turkish speakers and English speakers. However, while most of the native Turkish speakers also speak English, the reverse is not true. Most native English speakers don’t speak Turkish. As a result, writing in Turkish would mean not serving a big fraction of this blog’s current readers. That’s not something I want to do.

The second reason is the fact that the technologies produced by the tech sector serve multiple countries at once. This makes the tech industry global by nature. And this is why the industry operates primarily in English. If you want to be part of it, reading, writing, and speaking in English is an important asset. Hopefully this blog can serve as practice.

The third reason is personal. Since I think in English, I’m more comfortable expressing my thoughts in a structured way when writing in this language.

Thriving and surviving as a tribe

As individuals, we have the ability to develop a unique set of views on the world. We can believe in X about topic A, Y about topic B, and Z when it comes to topic C.

However, the problem with being an individual is that, while it gives you the freedom of belief, it limits what you can do. Doing most things requires coordinating with other people. This is why we form groups.

However, a group’s effective functioning benefits from its members holding similar beliefs. It’s more difficult for groups where the members of the group hold different beliefs to get something done than for groups where the members hold similar beliefs. As a result, some individual beliefs are sacrificed for the belief of the group. This transforms the group into a tribe.

The advantage of tribes is that they make it easier to get things done. Their disadvantage is that they do this by trading away individually held beliefs. In other words, they produce power at the expense of dissent.

In a romantic view of the world, we can each thrive as an individual. However, that’s not a steady state outcome. Due to the benefit of tribe formation on getting things done, individuals have an incentive to defect from their individuality to form tribes. And these tribes are more likely to thrive than non-defecting individuals.

In other words, game theory shows that you can’t thrive without being part of a tribe. In today’s world, you can fortunately survive. If you had lived sufficiently in the past, you wouldn’t have been able to even do that.

If this trend continues, maybe there will come a day when you can thrive as an individual.

Until then, if you want to get something done and thrive, you have to form or join a tribe.

When you do, it’s important to recognize the tradeoffs that everyone in your tribe is making in their individually held beliefs. This will help you balance the need for the similar beliefs which ensure that your tribe thrives in the short run with the need for the voicing of the different beliefs which ensure that your tribe addresses the blind spots it needs to address to survive in the long run.

Besiktas wins the Turkish soccer championship

As the beginning of the summer nears, several major sports seasons are coming to an end. Last week, I wrote about how Turkish basketball club Fenerbahce won Europe’s top basketball club competition, the Euroleague. This week I’m writing to congratulate Besiktas on winning Turkey’s soccer championship.

My dad is a Besiktas supporter. Supporting a club is one of those things that often gets passed down from father to son. However, I chose to support one of Besiktas’s rivals, Galatasaray, as a child. While this created some tension during games between Besiktas and Galatasaray when I was younger, it has since turned into effectively having two chances of being happy at the end of the season. We’re both happy whether Besiktas or Galatasaray wins.

I was on a late evening walk when Besiktas won the game that gave it this year’s championship yesterday evening. I could immediately tell by the supporters who took to the streets by foot and car, chanting Besiktas slogans and waving the club’s flags. I was happy for them, as I was for my father.

Besiktas played the best soccer in Turkey this year, so it was a season when the best team won. Congratulations Besiktas.