Removing Things That Make Me Stupid

2019-11-17 09.12.07

Sometimes the key to thinking better is getting rid of habits that tilt me towards stupidity.


When I say “learning to think better”, what comes to mind?

I get a vision of learning new things (derivatives, higher level mathematics, stochastic modeling and probability).

For me, that’s not the answer.

I could spend 10,000 hours learning advanced techniques and be no further along than a decent graduate student. I’ve been reading The Alchemy of Finance => humbling!

The return on those hours would be low. A better bet is to get rid of the hours in my existing life that have a negative value.


Where might less effort, generate far better results?

Make a habit of removing negative information

Hands down, my biggest source of noise is my phone. I tell myself that my smartphone makes me dumb but is that true?

Why don’t you put it away? I tell myself…

Key relationships value quick feedback.

OK, what can you change with zero impact on your key relationships?


  1. Chrome
  2. Google News
  3. WSJ App
  4. Instagram (I reinstall for 10 minutes each time I publish)
  5. gMail

Push the above into my office hours, get off my phone and do something useful.

Noise is both addicting, and draining.

The first time I read a warning about noise was 2005. Back then, my noise was newspapers and online chat forums. I did a good job of getting rid of newspapers and forums. I miss newspapers, it’s a useful reminder to read more books.

Gradually, I replaced the space I created with social media and apps. Facebook is the ultimate forum for creating noise and distraction. It is personal, visual and uniquely tailored to my biases.

2019-11-16 09.12.40

Removing noise is a form of continuing education.

I needed to take action with my phone to capture the opportunity for self-improvement when I’m at my kids’ sports practices.

What to read? Older writers, classic books, biographies, stories that help me remember how I fool myself: Taleb, Munger, Marks, Cialdini and Buffett.

Mistakes flourish in an environment when I’m surrounded by noise, feeling rushed and dealing with frustration.

Be less stupid.

An Easy $1,500

What is it about our cable bill that arouses such anger?

In my case, it’s paying money for someone to pump fear, anger and violence into my wife and children.

I’ve been working since 2008 to cut the cord. However, my wife made an excellent point that the kids programs are useful.

Seven years later, I came up with a strategy that will save me $1,500 over the next year.

Here’s what I did:

  • Buy a Roku box
  • Unplug my cable box, plug in my roku
  • Set up amazon direct and netflix
  • Netflix – we went for the two streaming plan so we can use an iPad as well as the Roku
  • Run the above in parallel with cable for a month to prove concept to my wife
  • Head down to Best Buy and get a basic cable modem
  • Call up my cable company to activate my owned-modem
  • Return all my hardware and change my account to broadband only

Time investment 90 minutes.

One year net savings $1,500.

If you are married to an athlete then make the shift in a non-Olympic year during the off-season of her favorite sport.

I play a long game!