Theory &Arbitrage

Does the minimum-viable approach lead to gaps in the user experience? It doesn’t have to. There’s a distinction to make: The set of features you choose to build is one thing. The level you choose to execute at is another. You can decide whether or not to include a feature like ‘reset password’. But if you decide to do it, you should live up to a basic standard of execution on the experience side.

Ryan Singer

The questionnaires measured the Big Five traits (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience) and also an honesty-humility factor. The researchers then looked to see how the “rank-order stability” of people’s traits (how their scores ranked compared to other people’s) varied across that two-year gap, and how this stability varied as a function of age…

The key finding was that personality stability varied through the lifespan, increasing from the 20s to the 40s and 50s, and then declining towards old age, up to age 80. This broad pattern was found for all traits, except for agreeableness, which showed gradually reduced stability through life. For conscientiousness, openness to experience, and honesty-humility, trait instability had returned at the oldest age to the levels seen at the youngest age…

Extraversion and neuroticism showed highest stability in the late 30s, while the other traits (openness, honesty-humility, and conscientiousness) showed peak stability in the late 40s, early 50s.

Curious study indicates the stability of your personality peaks in mid-life. Of course, the notion of fixed, stable personality is a myth – something Anaïs Nin captured beautifully.  

For the ultimate mind-bender, see philosopher Joshua Knobe on how we know who “we” are if we change so much over time.

(HT The Dish)


I’m 27.

For the first time in my life, I am present to the fact that I’m not going to be young forever. Of course this is something I always knew to be true, but knowing something and experiencing it are two very different things.

I’m entering the last quarter of the most transformative decade of my life. My 20s have been a great adventure, because I have chosen to make my life a great adventure.

It is easy to lament the prospect of getting older. Our society places such a premium on youth that it’s easy to feel that life after 30 is a multi-decade slide into frail obscurity. It’s not. I know people in their 40s and 50s who are continuously in the best shape of their life and routinely reinvent themselves and their lives.

Here’s why: Life is non-linear. Natural Rights, Physics and Federal laws aside, there are really no rules in life. Only that your actions generate results and that your thoughts and emotions don’t have to dictate your actions.

For me, the results that I want to generate will take a decade or more to realize: I can’t expect to get off the couch and hit a home run in Yankee Stadium on my first swing. The same principle applies to other games in life. Everything I do is to tee up 40-yr-old Travis to be kind of person that can make the kind of world contribution 27-yr-old Travis wants to make.

This includes the community that I am fortunate to have. Again, I am amazed at the outpouring of love from near and far as people call me to wish me happy birthday. If I am the average of my community, then who I am and what I am able to do is because of you all.

Thank you.

Today I greet 27 with great excitement. There’s a lot of work to do and reinvention to be had. This decade and the next.


The gorilla study illustrates two important facts about our minds: we can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to blindness.

— Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow

We overpay for the opportunity to indulge in our current preferences because we overestimate their stability.

Reflecting on 2 Years in LA

Today is my 2 year Anniversary in LA.

Days like today are life’s unofficial mile-markers for me, they are moments that cause me to reflect on who I’ve become to do what I’ve done.

Living in LA is an experiment that continues, though it feels less and less like an experiment as time goes on. 

The rate of change over the last 12 months has actually increased compared to my first year here. The fact that it doesn’t feel like it speaks to the change that I’ve undergone.

Salt Lake City forged me. It taught me the basics: discipline, precision execution, relentless resourcefulness, and that authoritative indifference breeds the best kind of opportunities. It taught me to me how to strive for greatness under duress.

LA is a different kind of fire. It takes as given that I know the basics and is teaching me something far more ethereal: the patience, balance and panache necessary to be the kind of person who can move mountains. It is teaching me to not *need* duress in order to strive greatly.

This extends far beyond business: LA has made me a more complete person. You can’t be in LA for more than 48 hours and not feel different. The collective, cultural sense of possibility and diversity is as easily absorbed by your pores as the sun-kissed sea breeze.

My parents stayed with me last weekend. It was the first time they got to see the life I’ve built for myself here. As I showed them places I first visited when I was trying to get here or after I had just arrived, I got to bathe in the fact that I’ve pretty much accomplished everything I dreamed about doing here.

Honestly, it’s sort of scary, because a part of me keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop. We are so used to things not going our way that it becomes - for many of us - a default reaction when we seriously consider going after what we really want. But when I think about the fact that I am not the sole author of what’s happened to me over the last 2 years, I’m grateful and relieved. To paraphrase Laird Hamilton: I’m only now arriving at this level because my community is driving me to get here.

And in the end, that’s what LA is really trying to teach me: that life is a blank canvas and getting what you want out of it is about getting the basics down, making the hard choices and - most importantly - surrounding yourself with a community that will co-author your victories.

Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing.

— Chuck Palahniuk

Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.

— Andre Gide