offlinemark podcastSep 28, 2023
The time I got a soft job offer via Instagram
The backstory behind my first viral blog post
My "What they don't tell you about demand paging" blog post completely flopped when I posted it on twitter and hacker news.
It only reached the success it did because I then cold emailed Dan Luu and Bruce Dawson. Dan shared it to hacker news under his account (I never mentioned I posted it there already), and it took off from there (I believe because his account has must higher ranking than mine). Bruce was kind enough to find and then retweet my original tweet to his audience of 10k+ followers.
In addition, I talk about the sacrifices I made in order to produce that blog post and some takeaways from that.
Dan Luu: https://danluu.com/
Bruce Dawson: https://randomascii.wordpress.com/
Podcasting is so easy
Podcasting is so easy for me because it's not a totally new project; it's a small branch for an existing project. I don't spend any creative energy on it because I only talk about things I've already written about, or ideas that come naturally to me.
The lowest hanging fruit I ever picked
Traditional forms of capital include money, relationships, and health. There’s another I’ve discovered but never heard mentioned before: location capital.
Location capital is how much experience you have with a physical place on Earth. For example, if you have a lot of New York City capital, you’re the one that knows all the cool restaurants and bars in NYC. Friends ask for recommendations for the perfect spot for their birthday.
Everyone has location capital of some kind. But no one can have all the location capital for every place, so everyone (even Jeff Bezos) needs to decide what places are most important for them to build capital in.
It’s useful to be aware of location capital because it can affect your decisions around where you spend time.
Let’s say you’re alone and deciding whether to eat out at a restaurant you’ve never been to. What’s the cost/benefit? In exchange for money, you get good food and save time & labor (from not cooking/cleaning/grocery shopping).
But that’s not all — because you’re going to a new restaurant, you also build location capital. This is a one-time “boost” you get from going to a new place. On further visits you’ll still get some, but less.
Your decision will ultimately depend on how much you value food, time, labor, money, and location capital.
Location capital can also act as a hedge against risk. If you’re planning a date, preferring a new place will help make sure your time isn’t totally wasted if the date goes poorly.
I wish I was aware of location capital sooner. I used to prefer staying in over eating out in order to save money. But now I realize those decisions came with opportunity cost. And as a result, I’ve built less capital for the cities I’ve previously “lived” in than I’d like.
In general, I think it’s a good policy to always be building capital (mostly the non-monetary kinds). Location capital is an interesting form of it and being aware of it can influence how you live your life.
Why to share in public
Note to self. I write because:
- Improved clarity of thought
- Archive of thought
- Improves writing skills
In addition, I write in public because:
- It reinforces a mindset of speaking my mind in public (i.e. courage)
- Receive valuable feedback and external perspectives
- Build & maintain relationships — people can learn about me and keep up with what I’m up to
Furthermore, I’ve found that it’s addicting to write in public.
- It feels good to look back on writing and realize you’ve expressed yourself clear and well. And that you understand the topic well know.
- It feels good to develop a voice.
- It feels good to watch yourself improve. You can write better, faster with practice.
- You become more self-observant of your thoughts, and realize that there are so many interesting things to write about.
- It feels good to get positive feedback on your writing.
Furthermore, I think it’s a good idea to even default to sharing in public (vs writing in a private Note app, then selectively copying to publish).
If you get busy and don’t get around to that explicit publish step, there is a 0% chance that anybody else might discover your work, which might actually be very good. If you default to publishing publicly, that doesn’t mean you need to actively promote it, but at least there’s a nonzero chance of someone finding it eventually.
Why do we get busier as we get older
There are a few main reasons why we get busier as we get older:
As you age, you increasingly lose free time towards dealing with “adulting” type of tasks: taxes, paying bills, taking your car to the shop, researching insurance alternatives
We as age, we accumulate relationships. And while they have numerous benefits and make life worth living, they don’t come for free. They require time and energy to maintain — and at the end of the day, become tasks on our todo lists. Even something as innocuous as an old friend reaching to send a text or schedule a call can, at times, feel like burdensome tasks to accomplish.
When you’re a child or teenager, the only people you know are your family and your friends (your first generation of friends). Since you barely know anyone, you don’t really have to keep in touch with anyone. Thus, more free time.
We as age, we accumulate interests, hobbies, and pursuits. These also don’t come for free.
As an adult, you begin to explore the world — reading books, picking up rock climbing, learning to paint, planning & taking trips one or twice a year. Your old interests don’t exactly go away, and there are always worlds of new interests to discover. Part of you feels like you should maintain or get back to some of those old interests you cherished so much. Another part is excited to get into scuba diving.
When you’re a child or teenager, you you might have just one or two pursuits that occupy your time outside school. That lack of all the historical hobbies from your past = more free time.
Aging implies that your body will start to perform worse and more slowly, likely even breaking in ways. You’ll spend more and more time going to doctor’s appointments, surgeries, tending to medical conditions. It will take more effort to maintain your body through fitness. This all takes time.
Like many problems in life, the frustration at your seemingly decreasing time as one ages can be helped by setting expectations properly. Instead of feeling cheated as you feel your allowance of time seems to shrink year by year, expect it. Expect that by all logic, given the adulting to do, relationships to maintain, pursuits to keep up with, and the natural course of aging, you should have no free time at all — which gives you more reason to celebrate and appreciate the rare free moment when it comes along.
How to be happy
Note to self:
- Remember: You are already enough just as you are, right here, right now. You don’t need to achieve or do anything. 1
- Remember: The only competition in life — if you must think of it that way — is to know yourself as fully as possible, and act with maximum authenticity towards that truth.
- Remember: All things considered, you have it good — many around the world would kill to switch places and inherit every single one of your problems.
It will never be easier than right now
This is a mindset I use to help with procrastination. It first came to me in my senior year on university when I needed to do lab reports. At that point, I had been doing lab reports for 8 years — ever since the start of high school. And throughout that whole time, they were always excruciating.
But I realized that they were excruciating partly because I always waited until the days before the deadline to do them, which was about a week after the actual lab. By that point, the details of the lab were much fuzzier, making the lab report way harder.
It occurred to me that even though all I wanted to do after the lab is forget everything about it and push it off to the side, that exact moment — right after the lab — would be the easiest moment to ever do the report. As more time passes, it will strictly get harder as I begin to lose the context of the lab.
So I sucked it up and started to immediately go to the library right after the lab and simply do the report right then. It worked very well and I only wished I had started the habit years earlier.
I try to remember this lesson and apply it to my life now. If there are situations where I need to do something, and no additional information will arrive that will influence how the job gets done, I try to do it as quickly as possible to take advantage of the context fresh in my brain.
Ask questions and push back
Ask question and push back against your senior colleagues
Don't count yourself out
Don't count yourself out