Talking about OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, book recommendations and travel notes in the Netherlands

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Sam Altman is one of the most high-profile figures this year. He has served as the CEO of the startup incubator company Y Combinator and the social news site Reddit, and is now the CEO of the social networking and location services company Loopt and the artificial intelligence research laboratory OpenAI. Two months after its launch, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has become one of the fastest-growing consumer apps in history, with 100 million monthly active users. By comparison, it took TikTok nine months to reach that level, and Instagram two years.

Through his personal experiences , conversations and observations with thousands of founders, Sam Altman has come up with 13 ideas on how to succeed. To briefly summarize:

1. Sam Altman believes that the development of most careers is linear, and most people will be “troubled by linear opportunities”, but you should “try to make your life a vigorous upward trajectory and continue to grow yourself.” Specifically, this means that “as your career progresses, you should produce more results per unit of work done” and that you can increase your output through hiring and outsourcing.

You don’t need to rush into a project, it’s better to take the time to find that “if it works out, it will make my entire career worthless” project. So how to achieve it? Altman advises that people should be “willing to pass up small opportunities to focus on potentially big shifts.”

2. Sam Altman believes that if you believe that you can’t, then you will become incompetent; conversely, if you believe that you can succeed, then you will become invincible. The most successful people he knows, he says, “are almost self-hypnotic in believing in themselves” because they have an unwavering belief that they can accomplish something.

But it’s not just about having a positive attitude and being successful. Sam Altman said, “The more ambitious you are, the more the world will try to suppress you.” You will face deniers and pessimists, and hear voices of dissent constantly. You need to distinguish between self-belief (what you need) and self-deception (what you don’t need). “Finding the truth is often difficult and painful, but it is also necessary.”

3. If you do the same things as all ordinary people, you will get the same results as them. True success comes from reducing everything to the core of what people want, and thinking about how to achieve them with the least effort. Like Elon Musk’s way of solving problems, come up with crazy ideas, communicate with people who are willing to walk with you, and keep exploring until you invent and create the next tool that people can’t wait to use. Altman believes that “thinking from first principles, trying to generate new ideas, and communicating with people is a good way to improve ability. The next step is to find simple and fast ways to test these ideas in the real world.”

4. You can’t just come up with ideas and hope they catch fire. You “have to have the ability to convince other people of your ideas,” Altman says. Steve Jobs was good at conveying his vision onstage, and he had a huge following. Letters to shareholders from Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos are widely read. If you think sales and communications should be delegated to others, think again.

“The best way to be a good salesperson is to really believe in the product or service you’re selling, create one that you’re very proud of, and sell it yourself”.

5. Altman suggests, first “meet the basic survival needs, then make the adventure easy”. You need to figure out how much you need to live on, and then use the money left over to make bold investments. “Most people overestimate the risk and underestimate the return. However, the huge return often belongs to those who dare to make bold bets.”

Don’t let improving your lifestyle be a roadblock to your success, Altman says, “Keep your lifestyle as simple and flexible as possible to pave the way for your bold ideas,” make a plan and put it into action.

6. Altman believes that the so-called focus is not just to eliminate distracting thoughts and work wholeheartedly, but to concentrate before doing things and think about what you will focus on. He said, “Think before you act. Have a really long time to think. It’s more important to spend time doing the right thing than to spend a lot of time doing things. A lot of people I know waste time on unimportant things.” .

7. Sam Altman said, “Extreme people will get extreme results, so be extreme at work.” He believes that work endurance is one of the necessary factors to promote long-term success, and society should praise those who work hard overtime. “Hard work is like interest compounding, and the earlier you start, the more time you have to enjoy the benefits,” he said. So instead of wasting time traveling or partying in your twenties, work on honing your craft and advancing the goals you want to achieve.

8. Altman believes that if you make progress in solving an important problem, there will be a large number of people to follow and support you. His advice is, “Follow your curiosity, because what’s exciting to you usually excites other people too”. When you hear someone enthusiastically share their invention or idea, their enthusiasm motivates you to get involved and help them.

9. Altman believed, “People have a tremendous ability to make things happen. Self-doubt, giving up too soon, and not trying hard enough prevent most people from realizing their potential.” Altman suggested to speak out your own ideas and visions boldly, don’t pray that others will take the initiative to help you, but mobilize subjective initiative to promote the development of things. Altman believes that optimism is the key to success, adding, “I’ve never met a very successful pessimist.”

10. Too much competition leads to failure. According to Altman, “the best way to gain an edge is to build leverage, whether it’s building a network, building a strong personal brand, or excelling at the intersection of several different fields.”

What strengths do you have that make you stand out? What unique skills have you developed over the years? Don’t fall into the trap of imitating others, “If you do the same thing as everyone else, you’re already in a competitive situation”, before doing anything, first seriously think about what makes you different.

11. The best way to build relationships is to “help others as much as possible”. Altman said doing so has given him “the best job and investment opportunities” over the long term. The number of truly talented people you know can often be the deciding factor on your path to success, he says.

12. “Almost no one on the Forbes Rich List got their fortunes from wages. People get really rich by owning assets that appreciate rapidly.” So forget about monthly salaries and commission bonuses and focus on stocks and options to build assets and build wealth.

Altman suggested that instead of just selling your time, people can gain some kind of ownership by buying or developing “stock in a business, real estate, natural resources, intellectual property or something like that.”

13. Altman’s final lesson is the distinction between intrinsically driven and extrinsically driven people, and his intrinsically driven friends “do things to please themselves, to do things that are important to themselves and that will bring good to the world.”

Whose approval are you fighting for? Answering this question is important for everyone because “It’s hard to be hugely successful at something you’re not interested in. Be passionate, be extreme, be great at what you’re interested in, and success often It’s that simple.”

book recommendation

In the last issue, I introduced the Infinite Loops podcast and email subscription of the American investment company OSV I am currently working for. The article summarizes the 10 books recommended by my boss Jim O’Shaughnessy, and now I will add the remaining books recommend.

11. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
In this 1841 classic, Mackay argues that humans often fall into mass herd manias driven by greed, fear, excitement, and imitation. “People are often limited by groupthink, and they follow suit like crazy, only to come back to their senses slowly, one by one,” the book says. Take a look at our current news and Internet searches, the rabble is right.

12. The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant
The primary role of history is to record and create heritage, and the standard for the progress of human civilization is to continuously increase its richness, preservation, inheritance and utilization. For those who study history, history is not only a warning to human folly and evil, but also an inspiration to the human soul, making thousands of saints, statesmen, inventors, scientists, poets, artists, musicians and Philosophers leave their mark on it. Historians do not lament that human existence is meaningless, that we can give meaning to life and bring significance beyond death. The most important moment that history has taught us is that although time and space may change, human nature will not change.

13. AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan
Author Chen Qiufan and computer scientist (former Google China president) Li Kaihe co-authored a book that is both science fiction and technology prediction. The central thesis is this: AI will change our lives, but we are still the masters of our own destiny.

By the way, I would like to share my podcast interview with Mr. Chen Qiufan:

14. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard Feynman
This autobiographical paean from Richard Feynman , one of the most brilliant scientists of the 20th century, showcases Feynman’s celebration of curiosity, independence, problem-solving, fun, and sincerity.

15. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin
Honestly, any book written by Ursula Le Guin could fit here. If your dreams had the power to reshape reality, what would you do?

16. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
One of the most recommended books of the 21st century. “Our lives do not belong to us. We are inextricably linked with others, past and present. Every sin and every good intention conceives our future”.

17. Dune by Frank Herbert
One of the most influential science fiction series of all time. “I must not be afraid. Fear is a mind killer. Fear is a little death that brings total destruction. I will face the fear and let it pass through my body. When the fear is gone, I will open the eyes of my mind and see its trajectory. Fear Wherever you go, leave nothing behind, only me.”

18. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Must-reads at home and abroad. “Braveness is knowing that you are destined to lose before you start, but you still do it without hesitation, and you stick to it no matter what happens. A person can rarely win, but there will always be times when he wins.”

19. Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
The novel explores existentialism, nihilism, modernity, and Tao. “True happiness is having no ambition, but working as hard as one does. Staying away from people, not needing them yet loving them. The earth is on the left, the sea is on the right, the stars are overhead, and deep down, a sudden feeling that life is done The final miracle, turned into a fairy tale”.

20. Siddharta by Hermann Hesse
You can gain life experience from Buddha, but that doesn’t make you a Buddha. Book knowledge alone is nowhere near enough to replace real-world experience. As Hermann Hesse said: “Knowledge can be taught, but wisdom cannot. Wisdom can be discovered and can perform miracles, but it cannot be expressed and taught in words”.

For more annual book list recommendations, please see here.

​Netherlands Travel Notes

After supporting Dutch football for so many years, I finally have the opportunity to come to the Orange Country to see what it is all about!

The bicycle locked on the canal bridge is indeed a unique landscape in Amsterdam. Walking along the river, you can walk more than 20,000 steps a day without feeling tired. The biggest regret this time is that I didn’t get the tickets for the Van Gogh Museum (booking two weeks in advance is sold out, and the almighty Taobao is also versatile). Think about Lisbon’s beaches full of tourists from all over the world in March, and the house price has also doubled. Two or three times, it is expected that this summer’s European tourism will definitely blow out. Friends who come to Europe must plan in advance! Although I didn’t go to the museums and stadiums I wanted to visit, I was not impatient, and I simply surrendered to the arrangement of the universe. I didn’t expect to run into a Cruyff store while shopping aimlessly, and chatted with the clerk about Ke Sheng’s autobiography “My “Turn Around”, and the era of the Dutch Three Sticks, by the way, collected a lot of peripherals.

Thanks to my good sister, Janet, who took the line and introduced me to Sister Huang who opened a milk tea shop in Amsterdam. My sister has a rich and colorful experience. There are many interesting stories about studying abroad and working, as well as opening a shop and emotional hardships that shocked me. Just one of the things she went through feels like I’m going to collapse, so I have to invite a podcast to share with you! By the way, I recommend friends who come to Amsterdam not to miss my sister’s shop Biu!Tea (near the Van Gogh Museum), especially the Van Gogh special drink and matcha cake in the store. Brother shop assistant, you can test his Chinese level haha!

This meeting happened to catch up with 420 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I went to several coffee shops and had a lot of new experiences. I have the habit of carrying paper and pens with me, and writing and drawing at any time, so when I was eating space cake, I was accosted by a street graffiti artist next to me and asked me to write “dangerous” for him in Chinese characters. After a while, if you are in Ah I saw the graffiti of these two characters, and my contribution is among them!


A week of miscellaneous thoughts

1. I met a lot of new friends during my recent intensive trips, and I also reunited with old friends. The same feedback I got was “it’s so comfortable to talk to you, why should I pay thousands of dollars to see a psychiatrist “. It seems that the communications of postgraduate studies are still useful. And, I am really willing to listen to stories. Everyone I meet on the trip seems to have wonderful and uncommon stories. I feel that I did not choose to be a writer, but these stories chose me who likes to go all over the world. If I hear these stories and don’t share them, it seems that I am ashamed of my life. At this moment, the sense of mission is overwhelming.

2. The most romantic thing between friends is to hand over the keys to the other party, and tell the other party that you are welcome to come anytime, and treat this place as your own home.

3. As historian John Meecham writes, as we condemn the slavery of the past, criticizing those who deported Native Americans and disenfranchised women, should we stop to consider what is wrong with our contemporary society Let us be severely criticized by posterity? Just a few generations ago, doctors were still recommending the benefits of smoking to the masses; 200 years ago, humans didn’t even know that dinosaurs existed… This kind of ignorance makes people ask themselves: what else is there that we don’t know today and think is Correct, but all will be revealed one by one in the near future, or even falsified?

History is always staring at human ignorance, how ridiculous and ridiculous our mistakes are. Things and concepts shared by millions of people may one day collapse in an uproar. When you realize this, you will feel how insignificant what we are doing now, the pain and joy we have experienced are not worth mentioning, we are just a drop in the ocean, a sentence in the history of future generations.

This is frustrating, but also thought-provoking. In the turbulent torrent of history, we only have each other in the present. Apart from spreading love and receiving love, the rest seems meaningless.

4. The 30-30 rule for learning new things: For 30 consecutive days, do 30 minutes a day of the new habit or hobby you want to start. You will be amazed at the results of 900 minutes of cumulative effort. Whether it is learning a new language, or developing a habit of writing or exercising, small steps can go a long way (I finally started to learn Portuguese… and Ronaldinho communication is just around the corner haha).

5. Finally, thank you Meng Yan for the book gift. After my mother received the goods for me in China, she even added props for the occasion to show me haha! Read it carefully next time you come back home! Finally, here is a video highlight of my return to Manchester to watch the game.


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