Contrarian Opinion

Last year, I was asked a fairly mundane question in an interview. “Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on.” Apparently, Peter Thiel started this trend. My instant reaction to this was a snort of laughter (hopefully not snobbish) and I exclaimed “I could write a book. I’m an intensely disagreeable chap.”

I gave a couple examples there but I thought since I’m starting out on medium, I’ll write down five I feel strongly about.

There are no *bubbles*. Just a high or low understanding of underlying risk

I started working in 2007 and every six months, someone tries to explain in excruciating detail why we are in a bubble and valuation of *x* is unjustified. Some VCs/LPs investing a small fraction of their capital on high risk, high growth markets are actually making good portfolio bets. Even as individual investors, one should constantly strive to do that given enough risk appetite. Post 1995, tech has started attracting billionaire investors due to sustained high growth despite the dot com era, so we see a few million dollars spent on high risk + high growth startups. Since we’re so close to it, it sometimes feels foolish but seriously, could we reliably predict the runaway success of flappy bird or even Uber/Airbnb?

p.s. I’ll repeat till I’m hoarse. It is an extremely sound hypothesis to invest in derivatives of receivable backed securities e.g., mortgage. Doing it at a high valuation without understanding underlying risk factors is the stupidity. It sometimes happens in tech investments as well. However, on the whole, one or two or hundred VCs cannot cause a GDP meltdown so all-is-well.

Communism and socialism failed. Democracy is the only real governance ideology.

Donald. John. Trump. See, I didn’t even have to try.

Adolf Hitler was also democratically elected to power.

Popularity contests are doomed to create sub-par outcomes. The China model seems to be working amazingly on 3 counts. a) Policy making is dominated by ridiculously smart technocrats, not dumb populist leaders representing a certain societal group. b) Policies are sufficiently forward looking without worrying about an immediate political backlash for an upcoming election and c) local leaders responsible for basic infrastructure challenges are far more visible + accountable. However, the sacrifice of personal freedoms to an authoritarian regime is a big cost to pay for it. On balance, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that autocratic control isn’t an essential ingredient for effective functioning of such a model so I bat for it.

The most effective and under-rated leadership trait is predictability

Until I started managing teams a few years ago, predictability wouldn’t have even made my top 10 list. If people can easily predict how you respond in a situation, they morph their behaviours to make sure that a) you appreciate them and b) you don’t shout at them. E.g., Come with no prep / data to back your argument in meetings, get your head bitten off. Take big risks and fail, still get promoted.

These traits slowly start determining the pace of innovation in the organisation as people start aping this predictable behaviour and get continuous positive / negative reinforcement for it. A lot of folks either don’t form data-backed opinions leading to flips of stance or mess-up the communication for reinforcement or their actions don’t always match their words.

Human children are plain dumb!

Nearly no child can make a cogent argument till they’re about 5–6 years old. So taking them traveling to exotic countries, to movie theaters, buying them expensive gear, etc. seems monumentally stupid when you cannot even figure out why they’re crying.

I’m plain tired of an endless celebration of firsts. Since when did it become an achievement to eat with a spoon? On that topic, by the very definition of average, 50% of kids are *below average* cute so I’d appreciate a little more honesty while using the word ‘cute’. Kids are dumb and need at least a decade on this planet to prove that they’re worthy of being the apex predator. Till then, we just bear with the nonsense in the hope of finding the next Curie / Einstein :-)

Humans can pick up *any skill*. It just takes years of hard work, not in-born talent.

Source: Source:

The tiny scrip encapsulates my thoughts incredibly well so I’ll just leave it at one line. If you like the idea of it, work on it.

Pretty heavy for a return to blogging! Hopefully, will write more regularly soon.



◀️ Go Back