Brainstorms: A Personal Story
Story of asking good questions
The irony of life is sometimes you end up succeeding at the one thing that you originally failed at. In the short time I was in school a while back, I literally almost failed the economics class. I remember the professor being really bad at his job as he taught linear supply and demand models. BORING! USELESS!
Ironically, now I spend all of my time thinking about macroeconomics (in the right way now :) ). However, my starting point was never theory, it has always been trying to solve a tangible problem. This is the difficulty in life sometimes, you are taught the theory that is super valuable for when you need to ask higher level questions for tangible problems. The dilemma is that you typically need to be confronted with the tangible problem before understanding the WHY and HOW behind the theory.
This began a journey for me of thinking about HOW we learn when we approach a domain from different starting points. Some people start in markets by learning a lot of theory and then moving to application. Others do the exact opposite. I always wondered, what are the things that either people might miss given their starting point?
This began another rabbit hole of thinking about silos of knowledge. Where are the silos of knowledge that people knowingly or unknowly have? For example, I spend a lot of time talking withand one of the things he always touches on is that there are a ton of traders in markets who specialize in a very specific asset or sector. Many times, these specialists have ZERO awareness of macro. They don’t look at any cross-asset class moves when executing trades. They don’t know what the DXY, crude, or even bonds are doing when executing a single stock trade.
One of the things that Friedrich Hayek covered extensively was that knowledge is never evenly distributed in society. As a result, decisions are best made by those with local knowledge rather than by a central authority. When you begin thinking about WHO knows what information, it begins to frame WHY you should act in specific ways during specific periods of time.
In the information age, you simply need to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right information to succeed
I am sharing these stories and ideas with you because I have learned that the quality of your questions determines the quality of your life. Working hard and grinding it out are prerequisites for success but asking good questions is what allows you to see the right direction to go. For all of us, this is an iterative process which is why I encourage everyone to consistently surround themselves with high-quality learners and high-quality sources of information.
It isn’t easy to truly be exceptional in a domain. We are all still on that journey. But sometimes it just takes one question or piece of information to change how you think about everything. Don’t discount those small moments!
Thanks for reading!