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Erik Trautman

Technical entrepreneurship, business strategy and product development

When you trust memes

The Entropy of Trust

I'm always amazed that people seem shocked when something they've trusted is usurped for commercial gain. Somehow, in a world that's incredibly dynamic and built on Darwinian evolutions at all levels from single cell organisms up to commercial entities, we still hold onto this naive view that our trust in systems is somehow static.

This is probably because we build our relationship with trust based on our relationships with close friends and family. In most (healthy) cases, this one-to-one trust grows slowly or remains constant over time. A fairly static model for trust is reasonable in this microscopic system.

Unfortunately, we tend to implicitly model the trust we place in third parties and macroscopic communities along similar lines and that simply doesn't reflect reality.

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Pexels photo 434348

Grit is a Muscle. Train it.

"Inch towards daylight" is one of my favorite mantras from a book I read recently. It also accurately describes how to develop the oft-discussed but seldom mastered skill of Grit.

Grit is generally defined as perseverance in the face of obstacles and/or lack of positive reinforcement. It's the ability to do hard things regardless of whether the environment is supportive, and it's the ability to maintain determination and motivation for long term goals through all the shit work between now and then.

Grit is often and inaccurately presented as an innate characteristic. That gives those who lack it far too convenient an excuse to stop trying or to justify their deficits. In reality, Grit is a muscle that needs to be trained.

In 2017, I ran an Ironman triathlon and sold a challenging service business that I'd bootstrapped through 4 arduous years. I live with a group of highly motivated high achievers who span the world of entrepreneurial and life success -- the collection of their acquisitions, press articles, TED talks and general awesomeness gives me constant awe -- yet they constantly express amazement at the kind of will I'm able to deploy to the fulfillment of a particular goal. Why?

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Hedgehog diagram professions

The Hedgehog Model for Decision Making

I'm a huge fan of any models that find applicability beyond their intended domains and there are few quite as versatile and useful as The Hedgehog Model.

In his seminal book "Good to Great", Jim Collins examines 1,435 businesses over a period of 40 years in order to answer the question "what separates the good companies from those which make the leap and become great companies?" Over the course of his analysis, he uncovers a variety of factors that drive this distinction but one of the most fundamental concepts he explains is "the Hedgehog".

This idea is based on a fragment attributed to the ancient Greek poet Archilochus which says "a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing." Both these animals have survived successfully by deploying greatly different strategies. The fox is clever -- she knows a great many things and tends to rely on her intelligence to hunt and survive. The hedgehog is a far simpler creature -- when she is threatened, the hedgehog simply curls up into a ball and points her spines outwards.

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