Nick Gray and I worked together in NYC. If you don’t know Nick, you should. Nick was described as a “modern day Emily Post” and that only scratches the surface. Nick is a twice-exited entrepreneur and investor who spends most of his time running a small family office and writing a weekly newsletter which I think is one of the most interesting things on the internet. was his personal Chief-of-Staff during some of the big growth years of Museum Hack. Nick had just handed over the reins as CEO to the extraordinary Tasia Duske and was figuring out what the next professional chapter of his life would look like. We worked together to look at investments, supercharge bringing value to his network (a big priority if you know Nick at all) and most of all plan cool parties with awesome people. Everything from small cocktail parties to a large birthday party at Lincoln Center, of course with nametags.
Nick is also very much stuck in my head thanks to the quote below
"What idiot did this!?" is almost always, "A smart, well-intentioned person making tradeoffs you hadn't even considered.” [Great reminder from @nickgraynews]
— Alexis Tryon (@AlexisTryon) January 24, 2018
Nick Gray and Cocktail Parties
Nick has a VERY specific way of hosting a party. I’ve seen it, dozens of times. There are name tags, and icebreakers, and party reminder messages, and lots more. My favorite part about the parties was always how many new connections were made. My job was to help run all of the logistics to make them seamless. At our height, we were hosting one party per week.
This is a new book from Nick that will launch on June 14, 2022. He sent me an advance copy, and I’ve read various versions of the book over the past few years. I know it will be great.
This is a whole site that Nick made about how to host a party, with various tips, tricks, techniques, shopping lists, etc. See more at www.party.pro, and here are links to some of my favorite articles there:
- How to Host a Party in a Small Apartment
- Party Reminder Messages: The 3 You MUST Send
- Guest Bios: My Secret Weapon (I’ve seen Nick use these, they work SO WELL!)
How to Make New Friends
Nick says that the best way to make new friends or build your network is to learn how to host a happy hour or a cocktail party. The book talks a lot about that. It is an extremely tactical book.
I’m super happy for Nick to finally get his book out. I learned so much from working with him and a good chunk of my networking game is inspired by the way Nick operates. I hope others can benefit from his unique way of hosting. It can be easy! But of course, it also helps if you have a great Chief-of-Staff named Mike.
Let me know if you buy the book, would love to hear what you’ve learned.
I’m moving to Jersey City in June and couldn’t be more excited. We are way ahead of the game having signed a lease three months in advance, bought a couch, and secured movers but there is still alot of work to be done. I need to purge/donate/giveaway much of the stuff that won’t be coming into the new apt.
- Recap – Crushed this. Moving was a tremendous amount of work. We used SvenMoving.com for the second time and couldn’t recommend them more highly. Packing took up most of May and unpacking we were done with about two weeks in. About one month in we are fully unpacked and starting to feel like we live in our new city.
Diet Coke reduction
I’m driving probably a minimum of 7 or so glasses a day and want to reduce this as I know it is not healthy and likely impacting my overall fitness goals. Replacing with more seltzer from my sodastream as well as coconut water and lemon juice. Aiming for 3-4 glasses a week. Writing this on April 10th so going to keep a log that lets me do 40x a month.
- Recap – Didn’t track but did well. Have been drinking way more ginger ale and seltzer which is a good step down. Working on drinking more water.
250 Stealth attempts
I failed on this last quarter and need a lower hurdle to crush. 5x a day is 400.
- Recap – didn’t track but I would say i did about 100. Now that it is in my second bedroom it will be easier to stay on top of. Also joined a 1 minute plank per day whatsapp group.
Target consulting specialization
I’m at the point of my consulting career where I need to develop a view on what I want to specialize so i avoid becoming a generalist and am able to take more leadership roles moving forward. Project Management is a strong skill of mine but needs to be paired with something more narrow. We are growing our merger integration and transition practice so I will dive deeper in this area. Also by summer I expect my engagement to end so i will need to find a new project
- Recap – Made some headway on this. Had a great chat with my counselor about this about being more focused on a skillset and less about an industry which will give me a broader toolbelt of skills to pull from for different engagements.
Draft and publish EMS Post
Already have the outline just need to put to paper, get copy edited and then publish through my various social channels
- Recap – Drafted but didn’t publish
Redirect social media effort to LinkedIn by limiting Instagram and Twitter
- Recap – good not great.
Habits to work on
- Stop emailing myself – if it is important it goes on the calendar
- Use sent folder as homebox not inbox – i find myself getting distracted by my inbox and being reactive instead of proactive
- Hit 150g+ protein – I am not losing weight becaus I’m working out a ton and not getting enough protein.
Recap – did all the above want to double down
- Double wedding weekend
- Moving to JC
All other things are never equal.
Anyone who has taken basic economics understands the theoretical tradeoffs between supply and demand. As the Add Slider price goes down, demand goes up. As the price goes up, demand goes down; ceteris paribus, which means “all other things being equal.” The problem is that, in the real world, the other factors are never as equal as theories like this suggest!
Ceteris paribus also assumes you can go out and survey every potential option in the market to find the best price. Most of the time in life, that is improbable if not impossible; especially when you factor in sun, opportunity, and switching costs.
A few examples…..
In a perfect world, you could see every single home available in the area and take your sweet time figuring out where to rent or buy. But that’s not how it works. At best, you are seeing 3-6 months of inventory and likely only a few weeks based on what’s available and the depth of your search period.
The average home buyer sees 10 homes. Let’s take a cosmopolitan area like Queens, NY, where there are around 10,000 homes sold each year. That means ~5,000 homes are available in a 6 month search period. Breaking down further to neighborhoods let’s say the consideration set is 500 homes. That means 10 homes is only 2% of the available inventory. This is absolutely no way you can effectively survey the entire market.
We are in the midst of the Great Resignation, and talent is moving faster than I have ever seen in my career. Similarly to house hunting, the idea of the market implies that we could survey every single employer interested in our talents, get a thumbs up thumbs down, evaluate the finalists and pick the one that fits you best. I have searched multiple times in my career and coached dozens of folks; I can say that is a pipe dream. Company A wants to move fast, but Company B wants to move slow. Company C gives you an offer but needs to know precisely one week before Company D, your dream employer, gives you your first interview. The incentive is for an employer to lock you up quickly so someone else can’t have access to you. A few years ago, when I was on the hunt, I had two offers in hand in the middle of the month, but an interview with a dream employer wasn’t till the 31st.
I was able to kick the decision point by a few weeks and eventually didn’t proceed with the dream employer. Had things moved forward, I would have had to accept one of the options on the table without having enough time to evaluate all potential options. According to my friend and career coach extraordinaire Ryan Dickerson, applicants with solid referrals, LinkedIn profiles, and resumes can expect to see roughly a 10% response rate.
“Let’s say that you land the 5th job you were selected to interview for. By then, you will have proactively applied to 50 appropriately suited positions, and you will have networked with 50-150 connections/recruiters/talent acquisition professionals along the way,” he told me.
Simply put, with timing and building a pipeline, it is impossible to accurately survey the entire bevy of options at your professional fingertips.
I am happily in a long-term committed relationship but remember the stress and trauma of dating. The dating market is arguably the hardest thing to solve as it is intimately tied to our emotions. Since we are all unique snowflakes, there is not much of a baseline to compare individuals beyond how they make you feel. You can emotionally detach yourself from work or your home. Despite stoic philosophy being all the rage these days separating yourself from a romantic relationship feels like entry-level psychopathy.
According to the census, approximately half of US adults are single. With ~19M people in the NYC metro area, that leaves 9M, single folks. Given I was searching for a jew and a woman, 2.4% and 50% respectively, that puts the total market at 108,000 individuals. I set my apps to 25-35 rage, which is 12.5% of the population which gets the final number to 13,500 women in my target market.
I was pretty intentional and proactive about dating and felt like I had about two dates a month for a decade. To find my partner, I only sifted through less than 2% of the available “supply.”
TLDR: for the essential things in your life, you are often viewing a fraction of a fraction of the total options available, which makes selection hard primarily due to a lack of complete market visibility.
What to do about it
As I go deeper into my 30s, I think one of the more complicated challenges in life is making decisions with incomplete and often imperfect information. Jeff Bezos is known for trying to make decisions with 70% information, and Reid Hoffman likes to aim for 80% if it means moving fast, so, in my mind, 75% is a great place to be.
Wait any longer and you risk hitting analysis paralysis or making a decision too late. That said, approximating percentages is easier said than done, so it helps to have heuristics to help you through the process. A few of my favorites…..
When money is involved, it’s a little easier to do the math for the options on our plate. Economics tells us to fall back on expected value which at its most basic form is multiplying the upside by the odds of getting it. For dating, it’s impossible to calculate in these terms. For buying houses, it’s still difficult. But with salaries, it is pretty straightforward.
Two job searches ago it came down two finalists. I don’t think anything is ever 100% certain in life, so for Applico, the consulting opportunity, I gave it a 90% chance.
The calculation was a little more complicated when it came to the political campaign. In September 2019, Andrew Yang was one of 8 or so remaining candidates. With a general election a year away, the job was, at best, a one-year gig. So to account for that, it likely was a job and not a career; I dropped the 12.5% to 10%. Even though I was unquestionably more passionate about the Yang campaign than consulting, I knew the math made no sense for me to take the job.
Four months after this, Andrew Yang suspended his campaign, which meant that had I accepted the job I would have only earned about $8,000 and then would have to start the entire job search machine all over again.
Downside awareness is the most accessible lens to look at risk through. Risk doesn’t always have to be avoided, but, at a minimum, it should be part of the decision-making process. With things like housing, dating, and employment the downside is usually pretty tame with losing some money or going on a bad date. The downside comes into play more with health-related concerns.
This year and last, I’ve been reading and writing in The Daily Stoic Journal. One of the big messages it preaches is to think about the downside and realize how it isn’t actually that bad. What is my current downside? I lose my job, I burn through my savings, and if somehow after a few years and I haven’t made a dollar I have to go hat in hand to my family and friends asking for support. Sure, it may be embarrassing or emasculating, but with no health consequences, it won’t kill me, and just realizing that gives me a sense of peace.
Play the tape to the end
I really value long-term thinking and get frustrated with short-term orientations. If you’ve worked with me you’ve probably heard me say “play the tape to the end” which means to take the thing you are focused on and look a week, month, and a year forward and explain how it plays out.
You buy the apartment in queens, so it stands to reason you’ll be living a Queens-centered life in the coming years. You take the job in consulting and your career path then orients mostly around consulting.
I find a surprising amount of people making short-term decisions without considering the long-term outcomes. Often this is referred to as “second-order consequences” and I find it to be helpful to remember this when evaluating the big things in life.
My 20’s were all about entrepreneurship. I earned not one but two degrees specifically in the discipline and then went on to raise money and build product for a startup I cofounded. I’ve always been interested in this corner of the business world but I often think the wrong lens is applied for new ventures.
The narrative we hear is that the lightbulb goes off for a world-changing idea like Instagram and then you lock yourself in a garage for months at a time and just build. Inherently, this is doing something that’s never been done before, so there is a massive learning curve associated with something new.
Instead of doing something that’s never been done before, some of the smart entrepreneurs I know and admire are looking at what they already have on hand as a foundation for creation. This is known as effectuation.
Effectuation is predicated on leveraging what you own or know or have access to when starting something new. You already have the home, the laptop, and other foundational assets. By using what is already in your pocket or brain to get started the barrier to entry is almost nonexistent, which gets you in business sooner and lets you get near-immediate feedback from the market.
Almost everything can be tested. A date is a test for marriage or for a long-term partnership. An interview is a test for a job. There are very few things in this world that can’t be broken down into smaller digestible parts. We buy something at the bodega before committing to buying a 100 pack at Costco yet we don’t move this lens to more important things in life.
You can test drive the car before you buy it and maybe spending a night in a home before you buy is hard but certainly not impossible. Jobs are an often overlooked area where testing can make a huge difference.
This is admittedly harder at larger companies but pilot projects, like my friends at Laskie describe, are a great way to test the waters before making a life-changing decision like employment.
Through Many Lenses
I’ve found that just having any process for making important decisions matters more than which lens you choose to look through. You have to be intentional with big decisions, especially when there is no formulaic way to process them. They often have farther-reaching implications than you can tell on the surface; yet, you often need to execute without slipping into “analysis paralysis.”
If you’re used to making decisions without a framework or are stuck with a single lens, try picking one of these up the next time. Even just writing these down makes me feel better about having a process for important decisions. Am I missing any important lenses? Let me know in the comments.
I sit here having tested positive for covid-19 last night which feels like a fitting end to 2021. My hope is 2022 will be what 2020 should have been for everyone
Draft Case for Manager
In the coming year, I will be up for promotion to Manager at EY, and part of the journey is not just showing why I deserve it but also how the business will be better suited with me in an elevated role. Tactically this means I make a written case and then discuss it with leadership. I feel I am already performing at this level so feel confident about my chances. Ultimately it will partially come down to the number of seats our unit is allocated. If its 4 I have a strong chance if 2 it is unlikely. I won’t learn about the decision until spring / summer but the prep work is Jan – march.
- Recap: Completed well ahead of schedule. I am noticing a subtle balance between being a workhorse and a show horse. There are folks whose work do a bunch of work but don’t let people know about it and then the exact opposite. So to that point I made a one page sell sheet as opposed to the multi page decks that I have seen.
I want to focus more on processes and habits and less on direct goals. My hope is if I can build a better process around how i manage my life and goals everything else will fall into place. I’m tracking across 5 dimensions: meditation, exercise, logging food, personal progress before work, and journaling and only using social media once a day. Given how ingrained work from home is the only thing stopping me from doing this is me mentally making the space at the start / end of my work day
- Recap: Did this for 6 weeks and realized it was more of a hindrance than a catalyst. I was mostly good with the habits but the takeaway is I need just bring back journaling that was affected earlier even if it wasn’t digital.
Two Blog posts
Content has not been a priority for me for a while. I just hired someone to help me push out a few blog posts that are on my queue
- Posted one and started outlining another. Need to leverage my VA more to help me with this.
Not To Do List
I wouldn’t quite call them bad habits but I want to be more intentional with how i use my time. Too granular to track but I want to focus on stopping these in the coming quarter
- Emailing myself reminders – I think of something and then shove it into my inbox to be used later. When its in my inbox it inevitably gets snoozed till later and later and becomes a thorn in my side. Instead I want to add these things to my calendar even if they are months or weeks out. Less processing power needed
- I cut this down a ton and this is a good reminder. If it is important enough it goes on the calendar instead of living in the inbox.
- No social media in bed – I find myself going into scrolling loops before bed and after I wake up. It is not great.
- 6/10. Was good with separation at the start of the quarter but want to get better
- Keep my phone in a separate room for most of the day – Similarly to social media my phone takes up too much of my time and attention. Part of the problem is i need it for 2FA for certain work things. I have set it up so my favorites will ring through so i will be accessible in an emergency
- Same as above
- Going to Charleston for Katherine’s birthday and to live southern charm life
- Bachelor party
- Finding an apartment and signing a lease and buying a couch 3 months ahead of schedule
2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2024 art bitcoin Book Highlights coaching economics entrepreneurship Everything Is Bullshit friends geofence goals legal management marketing operations photography Portfolio review snapcash snapchat Social square startups systems twitter underutilized marketing VC venture capital volunteering ycombinator