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/“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.

More from Life

“We don’t negotiate salaries” is a negotiation tactic.

Always. No, your company is not an exception.

A tactic I don’t appreciate at all because of how unfairly it penalizes low-leverage, junior employees, and those loyal enough not to question it, but that’s negotiation for you after all. Weaponized information asymmetry.

Listen to Aditya


And by the way, you should never be worried that an offer would be withdrawn if you politely negotiate.

I have seen this happen *extremely* rarely, mostly to women, and anyway is a giant red flag. It suggests you probably didn’t want to work there.

You wish there was no negotiating so it would all be more fair? I feel you, but it’s not happening.

Instead, negotiate hard, use your privilege, and then go and share numbers with your underrepresented and underpaid colleagues. […]
It doesn't happen because you want it to happen.

It doesn't happen because you made it happen.

It happens because you allow it to happen.

https://t.co/j5hPyw9m9m

You May Also Like

I’m torn on how to approach the idea of luck. I’m the first to admit that I am one of the luckiest people on the planet. To be born into a prosperous American family in 1960 with smart parents is to start life on third base. The odds against my very existence are astronomical.


I’ve always felt that the luckiest people I know had a talent for recognizing circumstances, not of their own making, that were conducive to a favorable outcome and their ability to quickly take advantage of them.

In other words, dumb luck was just that, it required no awareness on the person’s part, whereas “smart” luck involved awareness followed by action before the circumstances changed.

So, was I “lucky” to be born when I was—nothing I had any control over—and that I came of age just as huge databases and computers were advancing to the point where I could use those tools to write “What Works on Wall Street?” Absolutely.

Was I lucky to start my stock market investments near the peak of interest rates which allowed me to spend the majority of my adult life in a falling rate environment? Yup.
So the cryptocurrency industry has basically two products, one which is relatively benign and doesn't have product market fit, and one which is malignant and does. The industry has a weird superposition of understanding this fact and (strategically?) not understanding it.


The benign product is sovereign programmable money, which is historically a niche interest of folks with a relatively clustered set of beliefs about the state, the literary merit of Snow Crash, and the utility of gold to the modern economy.

This product has narrow appeal and, accordingly, is worth about as much as everything else on a 486 sitting in someone's basement is worth.

The other product is investment scams, which have approximately the best product market fit of anything produced by humans. In no age, in no country, in no city, at no level of sophistication do people consistently say "Actually I would prefer not to get money for nothing."

This product needs the exchanges like they need oxygen, because the value of it is directly tied to having payment rails to move real currency into the ecosystem and some jurisdictional and regulatory legerdemain to stay one step ahead of the banhammer.