The Long Game 27: Announcing lifetizr, Empathy & Curiosity, Being Coachable, Internal Communication, The End of History

🐙 My Octopus Teacher, Prediction Markets, Indian Tech Ecosystem, Feedly, Tinder, and Much More!

Hi there,

Greetings from Montenegro 🇲🇪

If you missed the past episodes, you could catch up here.

In this episode, we explore:

  • lifetizr — A healthier life through blood glucose levels optimization

  • Empathy and curiosity

  • Being coachable

  • Internal communication

  • Understanding the US healthcare system

Let’s dive into it!


🥑 Health

🎯 lifetizr — A Healthier Life Through Blood Glucose Levels Optimization

We are very excited to announce we’ll be opening the lifetizr beta version soon!

As some of you may already know, I’ve been working on lifetizr for some time now — it all started with a personal experiment. Originally, my co-founder Ayyoub and I were working on a digital therapy program to help people reverse their prediabetes, but as we talked to countless doctors and people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, we understood that the biggest problem to tackle was:

How do people get there in the first place?

Type 2 diabetes and other metabolism-related conditions are due to poor health habits; they are developed through life, after years or decades of damage inflicted to the body. So as a self-experiment, I started wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) to see how my diet and my exercise affected my blood glucose levels. I was utterly shocked by what I saw! I wrote about my experiment in detail, but in short, I discovered my metabolism and my blood glucose levels were seriously off-balance, even though I considered myself a very healthy person.

I asked people close to me to start wearing CGMs to help us get a better understanding of the situation, and we found out that a lot of people could benefit greatly from receiving this bio-feedback—their blood glucose levels in real-time—and acting upon it.

As you may know from this newsletter, I’m obsessed with health, and most importantly, the preventive approach to health. I believe in prevention and optimization, and I won’t wait until it’s too late to do something. It’s a shame that our society is built upon reactive processes. For health and all the other important challenges of today, a reactive mindset will never yield optimal results.

I always think of my grandfather, who spent his whole life as an athlete and a very healthy guy, and has type 2 diabetes now. What is crucial to understand is that these conditions do not happen overnight and general nutrition advice completely fails to account for inter-person variability. It’s a gradual process where you damage your health slowly and steadily, and it can be happening with you thinking you’re taking care of yourself and being very healthy. Maintaining optimal metabolic health isn’t as easy as people might think, especially in the foodscape we currently live in.

A few decades ago, there was no way to read bio-feedbacks from your body in real-time and adapt your lifestyle according to personalized data-informed recommendations. Today, this is possible, and that’s why we’re building lifetizr. Our mission is to help people optimize their health in a preventive way, and we’re starting with metabolic health.

We are very excited to announce we’ll be opening our beta version soon. If you’re interested, sign up for early access to be one of the first users of lifetizr. We’ll be gradually inviting people from the waitlist.

Get early access

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🌱 Wellness

❓ Empathy Starts with Curiosity

I’m very curious by nature, but I never linked this to wellbeing. This article is very interesting because it explores how curiosity, and in particular, curiosity about oneself, can be instrumental during unsettling times.

I know I am. In a day, I feel everything, often inexplicably. Joy and sadness. Thrill and anger. Frustration and ease. And, of course, fear. But also, of course, excitement and connection. To feel it all requires courage. Emotional courage. Which is why, as important and difficult as it is to stay curious about others, there’s something equally important — and far more difficult — to do: We need to stay curious about ourselves.

One common theme that keeps coming back when I’m discussing the effects of the abrupt halt of social life this year with friends is that time alone with ourselves, without normal life distractions, can be very hard for some of us. It forces people to really find what they have inside of them.

One of the effects of social distancing and working from home is that we are left, much more than usual, with ourselves. Who are we when we are no longer reflected in the faces of the people around us? Who are we without all the external recognition? No fancy clothes and cars to project an image. No praise or even rejection. No feedback at all to define us. This can leave us feeling lost. Or, as Keller put it, unsettled. Maybe you’re feeling a little of that?


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🧠 Better Thinking

📈 On Being Coachable

What if there was a unique skill that could give you a massive advantage? As a society, we worship IQ more than anything else, but we all know some brilliant people who don’t seem to get much done with these extra IQ points.

The main differentiator between success and stagnation may be coachability. This was the topic of this episode of The Knowledge Project.

At its core, coachability is a willingness to be introspective and a willingness to respect feedback, whether it’s from the market, from your employees, from your customers, from your investing partners.

It’s always tempting to think you’ve got it and that you’re right, but it’s obviously not the way to keep getting better. One way to become coachable is to retrain yourself to enjoy being wrong. This way, you will continuously improve and update your ideas as soon as you’re proven wrong.

This idea reminds me of a quote from Naval:

“Nobody wants to go back down the mountain to find the path going at the top. Everybody wants to stay on the path they’re on, maybe make a few tweaks and get to the top.”


⚡️ Startup Stuff

💬 A Guide to Internal Communication

As teams grow, it’s crucial to establish how you want the communication to be done in the company. My favorite type of communication is written because it reduces the number of meetings (who likes meetings?); it transmits nuance and saves time.

I like this guide to Basecamp's internal communication; it’s a great place to start if you want to establish good communication in a group of people working together.

Here are some principles I find particularly important:

  1. You can not not communicate. Not discussing the elephant in the room is communicating. Few things are as important to study, practice, and perfect as clear communication.

  2. Real-time sometimes, asynchronous most of the time.

  3. Internal communication based on long-form writing, rather than a verbal tradition of meetings, speaking, and chatting, leads to a welcomed reduction in meetings, video conferences, calls, or other real-time opportunities to interrupt and be interrupted.

  4. Meetings are the last resort, not the first option.


📚 What I Read

🏰 The End of History and the Last Man, by Francis Fukuyama

As a follow-up reading to The Decadent Society, I started The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama.

Whether liberal democracies are the last step in terms of our societies' development is a question I think about a lot lately. I don’t have an answer, but 2020 seems like a year of crisis in liberal democracies, and liberty at all costs can be a liability in the case of a deadly pandemic.

Here’s a great thread on the book!

🏥 The Price We Pay

I’m talking healthcare next week on The Long Game Podcast, so I wanted to learn more about the topic. I asked for recommendations on Twitter, and here are some of the books people recommended:

  • The Price We Pay, by Marty Makary

  • American Sickness, by Elisabeth Rosenthal

  • Catastrophic Care, by David Goldhill

I decided to start with The Price We Pay, and I’m only at the beginning of it, but it’s already shocking to learn about the practices happening in the US. Some doctors are real predators, suggesting useless interventions to make money and ruining the image of healthcare, medicine, and all the other health professionals who have integrity.

Another example I found crazy is the price gouging happening in US hospitals, where you could be billed $130,000 for an intervention, only to find out they could lower the price down to $20,000 if you insisted.

Bazar sellers from all over the world would feel embarrassed to know their techniques are used to make billions of dollars in US hospitals!


🎙 Podcast Episodes of the Week

🎙 I’ve published two new episodes on The Long Game Podcast this week.

🏇 #7: Joey Krug on the Present and Future of Prediction Markets

Joey is the co-founder of Augur, the co-founder of Eco, a new cryptocurrency, and the Co-Chief Investment Officer at Pantera Capital, one of the largest cryptocurrency and blockchain-focused asset managers.

Joey is the specialist for everything related to crypto and prediction markets. Augur, the decentralized betting platforms he co-founded, is one of the most promising projects of recent years.

In this conversation, we cover everything related to prediction markets. We start with what Joey would like to achieve with Augur and what are the current challenges. Then we cover the question of the truth and how prediction markets could help us find it. We mention all the other underrated areas where prediction markets could have an impact.

🇮🇳 #8: Vedica Kant on Reliance, Jio, and the Indian Tech Ecosystem

Vedica is a historian of South Asia and the Middle East, and she is the author of India and the First World War. Vedica is also the co-creator of the excellent newsletter Keeping Up With India about the Indian Tech ecosystem. Currently, she is a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.

We start the conversation talking about why Vedica started her newsletter about India; then, we talk about the specificities of the Indian tech ecosystem. We cover her series on Reliance and Jio, and Vedica explains why Reliance has become so powerful lately. We also discuss what are the most promising sectors right now in India.


🍭 Brain Food

📱 Dating in the Virtual Era

While reading The Decadent Society last week, the points made by Ross Douthat on the risks of low birthrates for the economy and his description of the dating market in Japan were thought-provoking.

I found this article on dating on Tinder very interesting:

When you fall in love the way that you do when you travel, the world has a way of contracting and such details fade into irrelevancy. When you scour the Internet for mates using Tinder, the world has a way of expanding—and nobody is ever good enough, and nobody, ever, can be trusted: to be all they appear to be; to be who they say.

Dating has been widely disrupted by technology, but I’m wondering if it’s for the better. If it is, society might need better solutions than the ones that currently gained broad adoption.

What is the end result of courtship filtered through the language-producing networks of the human brain? Depending on the theory you subscribe to, it’s certainly not pretty.


🎥 What I’m Watching

🐙 My Octopus Teacher

This is a beautiful film exploring the underrated field of interspecies communication. After watching the movie, it seems to me that the possibilities of understanding and communicating with other animals are endless. I highly recommend My Octopus Teacher to anyone who wants a dose of positivity and optimism in an overall grim year.


🔧 The tool of the Week

💻 Feedly — RSS Feed Reader

Feedly is an RSS feed reader, and it enables you to stay on track on the topics you’re interested in without getting overwhelmed by the quantity of information.

I have different feeds organized by topic – longevity, healthcare, health, tech, agriculture, and I love its design.

I highly recommend it!


🪐 Quote I'm Pondering

“It's easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time.”

— Clayton Christensen


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👋 EndNote

Thanks for reading!

I will see you next week. As always, if you're finding this newsletter interesting, give me your feedback; you can respond to this email or tweet at me!

If you’re an existing reader, I would deeply appreciate it if you share this with people who would find it a valuable resource. You can also “like” this newsletter by clicking the heart just below this, which helps me get visibility on Substack.

Have a great day,

Mehdi

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