1/ Some initial thoughts on personal moats:

Like company moats, your personal moat should be a competitive advantage that is not only durable—it should also compound over time.

Characteristics of a personal moat below:

2/ Like a company moat, you want to build career capital while you sleep.

As Andrew Chen noted: https://t.co/GClupyMUO6
3/ You don’t want to build a competitive advantage that is fleeting or that will get commoditized

Things that might get commoditized over time (some longer than others):

https://t.co/SgrfSnriHr
4/ Before the arrival of recorded music, what used to be scarce was the actual music itself — required an in-person artist.

After recorded music, the music itself became abundant and what became scarce was curation, distribution, and self space.
5/ Similarly, in careers, what used to be (more) scarce were things like ideas, money, and exclusive relationships.

In the internet economy, what has become scarce are things like specific knowledge, rare & valuable skills, and great reputations.
6/ Some examples of personal moats:

https://t.co/z4wTRxMYWL
7/ Litmus test: If there is a Quora post with step by step instructions on how to do something, or if a lot of people have done it, then it’s likely not a durable personal moat.

If there’s a playbook for it, then how defensible is it?

(Unless you're the world's best at it.)
8/ Think of the moats described earlier:

How do you invest in 10+ unicorns like @eladgil?

How do you build a mega captive audience like @tferriss?

How do you become an encyclopedia like @tylercowen?

No playbook.
9/ How do you find out what could be your personal moat?

Ask others: What’s something that’s easy for you to do but hard for others?

AND very difficult for people to reverse engineer?
10/ Something that has high barriers to entry (e.g need to do 1 of below):

- Have the right relationships
- Be willing to risk social disapproval
- Get good at something w/ no playbook.
- Pick something that isn’t big now, but it will be in the future

https://t.co/ZTdTyqMKHh
11/ What is some tangible, yet wildly generalized, advice?

A) Discover what you can be great at. Align it w/ what could be important in the future.

B) Get so good they can’t ignore you.

C) Leverage super power to build other assets, but not too soon:

https://t.co/vFUBBJhsiN
12/ In tech, the cleanest (albeit, hardest) way to build a personal moat is to start a successful company.

There are other ways, but they just take longer.

A future tweet storm will be on how to build career capital without doing so.
13/ All thoughts, questions, and other examples of personal moats are appreciated.

More from Erik Torenberg

1/ Here’s a list of conversational frameworks I’ve picked up that have been helpful.

Please add your own.

2/ The Magic Question: "What would need to be true for you


3/ On evaluating where someone’s head is at regarding a topic they are being wishy-washy about or delaying.

“Gun to the head—what would you decide now?”

“Fast forward 6 months after your sabbatical--how would you decide: what criteria is most important to you?”

4/ Other Q’s re: decisions:

“Putting aside a list of pros/cons, what’s the *one* reason you’re doing this?” “Why is that the most important reason?”

“What’s end-game here?”

“What does success look like in a world where you pick that path?”

5/ When listening, after empathizing, and wanting to help them make their own decisions without imposing your world view:

“What would the best version of yourself do”?
1/“What would need to be true for you to….X”

Why is this the most powerful question you can ask when attempting to reach an agreement with another human being or organization?

A thread, co-written by @deanmbrody:


2/ First, “X” could be lots of things. Examples: What would need to be true for you to

- “Feel it's in our best interest for me to be CMO"
- “Feel that we’re in a good place as a company”
- “Feel that we’re on the same page”
- “Feel that we both got what we wanted from this deal

3/ Normally, we aren’t that direct. Example from startup/VC land:

Founders leave VC meetings thinking that every VC will invest, but they rarely do.

Worse over, the founders don’t know what they need to do in order to be fundable.

4/ So why should you ask the magic Q?

To get clarity.

You want to know where you stand, and what it takes to get what you want in a way that also gets them what they want.

It also holds them (mentally) accountable once the thing they need becomes true.

5/ Staying in the context of soliciting investors, the question is “what would need to be true for you to want to invest (or partner with us on this journey, etc)?”

Multiple responses to this question are likely to deliver a positive result.

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Recently, the @CNIL issued a decision regarding the GDPR compliance of an unknown French adtech company named "Vectaury". It may seem like small fry, but the decision has potential wide-ranging impacts for Google, the IAB framework, and today's adtech. It's thread time! 👇

It's all in French, but if you're up for it you can read:
• Their blog post (lacks the most interesting details):
https://t.co/PHkDcOT1hy
• Their high-level legal decision: https://t.co/hwpiEvjodt
• The full notification: https://t.co/QQB7rfynha

I've read it so you needn't!

Vectaury was collecting geolocation data in order to create profiles (eg. people who often go to this or that type of shop) so as to power ad targeting. They operate through embedded SDKs and ad bidding, making them invisible to users.

The @CNIL notes that profiling based off of geolocation presents particular risks since it reveals people's movements and habits. As risky, the processing requires consent — this will be the heart of their assessment.

Interesting point: they justify the decision in part because of how many people COULD be targeted in this way (rather than how many have — though they note that too). Because it's on a phone, and many have phones, it is considered large-scale processing no matter what.