things I learned in 2020

mostly observations and opinions,  unsorted and certainly not MECE. numbering is just to facilitate discussion. learned = crystalized = relearned = whatever


  1. above ~2k followers you can have a short discussion about pretty much anything

  2. you can DM or reply to anyone, but be ok with being ignored

  3. letting your audience train your content negatively affects quality

  4. I generally learn more from accounts with fewer followers

  5. it took 28 years for someone to unironically call me “Satan” on the internet

  6. sometimes people are looking for a fight and you just happened to be around, don’t take it personally

  7. real face + alt > anon

  8. tech twitter has more ads than youtube

  9. mute notifications from people who you don’t follow or who don’t follow you

  10. many things that feel obvious to you are not to most people; conversely many things that feel insightful are not to most people

  11. most of what you read on the internet is by insane people

  12. calling out grifts is usually neither effective nor helpful

  13. people beef and troll for clout


  1. focus heavily on what’s actionable, everything else is just noise

  2. write down 3-5 things you want to get done in a day, the night before. if you get it done then that’s a successful day from @pmarca

  3. reducing work in progress dramatically increases speed

  4. usually you can be faster just choosing to be faster

  5. abandon more stuff instead of leaving it half finished and blocking

  6. a crude but effective heuristic is just to say reflexively say no the first time anyone ever asks for something; wait for them to ask again

  7. changing other people’s incentives to increase alignment is far harder than just getting them to like you

  8. most of the time the obvious thing works, and it’s usually better to just try it

  9. usually better to give people what the evidence says they want vs what they say they want

  10. the real process != what management says it is != what people think it is

  11. sometimes people who seem smarter than you just have access to higher quality information. also 99% of the time it doesn’t matter who’s smarter


  1. would you rather be right or happy?

  2. mirrored rituals and gifts are powerful

  3. commitment is powerful and often a feature not a bug

  4. thank, appreciate, and tell people you love them more than you think you need to

  5. when texting, use more emojis than you think you need to

  6. gestures inherently have meaning

  7. semi-structured questions are useful when meeting people - including “how should I engage with you? What are you interested in getting DMs about?” h/t @krzhang

  8. you can just randomly text or call people

  9. the best friends are the ones who understand when you’re signaling play

  10. the hardest part of maintaining relationships is somehow scheduling

  11. internet-enabled weak ties are an ok substitute for unplanned irl interactions


  1. I am a lot less charismatic over audio/video than irl

  2. every year I think I’m getting more intentional, and it’s true, but this will also be true for next year

  3. easy ~30% mood improvement from a hot drink, shower, walk, or sitting outside

  4. cynicism is rooted in feeling like you “know better” and protecting the ego, and is self-fulfilling h/t @wgalyean

  5. when I optimize solely for being clever and/or right, I end up being an asshole

  6. I am not so smart that I can’t get hacked by crazy conspiracy stuff

  7. I’m fine for 2 months with a laptop and pb&j sandwiches

  8. trying to blend in with everyone else since puberty was successful, but the wrong thing to do for my happiness

  9. physical pain (e.g., exercise) reduces psychological pain. exception: most of my physical pain is actually stress

  10. I can shape my physical and digital environments to fit my needs (e.g., set up a desk outside, mute ig people who give fomo, mute words on twitter)

  11. I’ve only really gotten ok at meta-programming my desires in the last two years

  12. simply choosing to enjoy something or be grateful actually works


  1. nearly every culture thinks food and family are uniquely important to them. if you agree and ask nicely, you get to try their food and meet their families

  2. instead of ___ you can always just… not

  3. a lot of tests are actually just storytelling exercises

  4. america has the civilizational equivalents of tapeworms, diabetes and gout

  5. america is still one of the best places in the world to live because of costco

  6. ads are involuntary spaced repetition reprogramming

  7. some trad stuff is lindy, just not necessarily the 1950s american trad stuff

  8. whether the world is meritocratic or fair depends on your abstraction level. at the highest abstraction level the universe doesn’t care. at the lowest level it’s up to you