How “Moonshots” Destroy Wealth

In a previous post, we discussed the “false promise of the moonshot”, a technological project undertaken with with little regard to success or profitability. In short, the allure of the moonshot is the notion that one can make great technological leaps into the future by simply applying unique thought processes with new technology. The Moonshot places a lot of emphasis on ideas. It suggests that there is a hidden path to the future that can be uncovered if we’re clever enough. Proponents of this kind of thinking often point to innovators of the past as examples of how moonshots work, however in these revisionist histories the grinding labor and years of capital accumulation that precede the supposed “moonshot” are rarely mentioned. Also rarely mentioned, a realistic portrayal of the fate of projects that are developed without a capital structure based on commercial viability. Once these factors are taken into consideration, it becomes pretty apparent moonshots are vehicles for destroying wealth and, as such, do more to push the future away than bring it closer.

To demonstrate this, I’ll begin by taking a knife to the sacred cow that is NASA’s Apollo project, the etymological mother of the term “moonshot”. I have nothing against the exploration of space, per se; my favorite book growing up was Ender’s Game, I’ve watched every episode of Star Trek, and I the only fiction I bother reading is science fiction. The fact of the matter is, though, that $110 billion dollars (in today’s value) was spent on the Apollo project. This is a massive investment in what was essentially an enormous geopolitical pissing match between the United States and the USSR, however, as soon at the USA no longer needed the marketing campaign of moon travel, the entire lunar project withered and died. Many at this point will claim that the lunar project inspired millions and created vital, valuable new technologies. To be sure, those are some of the effects that can be seen. What’s not seen, however, are the original holders of those dollars (taxpayers) and the businesses and markets they would have invested that $110 billion dollars in. While less inspiring than a rocket to the moon, a new shoe factory or delivery service expands the productive capacity of the economy as a whole. This small growth in wealth is then reinvested and growth begins to compound, over time building the levels of capital wealth that may be necessary to support commercial space travel. French economist Frederic Bastiat called this the “seen and the unseen”.

In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause — it is seen… Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, — at the risk of a small present evil. -Frédéric Bastiat

Evil may seem a strong word, but consider the legal environment that was left behind in the wreckage of the Apollo project. Prior to Ronald Reagan, private companies interested in space exploration had to obtain 17 permits to send a vehicle into space, my friend Mark Frazier’s project to build a commercial spaceflight special economic zone in Liberia was quashed by the Carter Administration, and SpaceX has had to jump through dozens of hoops to compete with the industrial space complex which has metastasized out of our initial foray into space.

This means that not only did we lose out on hundreds of billions of potential economic growth, in our attempts to yank the future into the preset we created legislative artifacts which began to actively work against the commercialization of space.

Imagine another scenario. Imagine private companies, perhaps with public partnership, working to build profit producing commercial projects instead of a moon mission. How much wealth would have been created if we had received GPS 5 years sooner? If all our investment had gone towards simple means of getting technology into orbit that had an ongoing commercial benefit to those of us here on earth? Imagine a sky full of satellites and the sudden realization that there’s a massive commercial opportunity to keep this airspace clean. More complex space projects emerge. Soon, perhaps, even a need for people in space to manage these systems. Throughout this process, the investments made compound into new wealth for new investments and commercial spaceflight becomes actually commercial; no longer vulnerable to the short attention spans of political institutions.

Perhaps we “reached” the moon in 1961, but at what cost? Isn’t it possible that in our rush to manifest space travel we ended up delaying its meaningful execution? Over 50 years after our space travel “moonshot”, human civilization, much to my personal dismay, still isn’t wealthy enough to consume space travel commercially. In fact, XPrize, the company whose sole, stated purpose is to create “exponential change” through innovation challenges began with a $1 million prize to make space flight commercial, the result was a high altitude shuttle that has limped along on a $600 million investment from Abu Dhabi and commercial support from Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Hardly “commercial”. Most of their other challenges have produced similar results.

Google and their moonshot factory “X” should take note of this. Even though the search and advertising section of their business produce virtually all of their revenue their company still spends about $1 billion a year on “moonshot” projects, virtually none of which have achieved commercial success. That’s a billion dollars a year that isn’t being rolled into the small “boring” problems which provide the seed of scalable future capital systems.

These failures highlight, in my opinion, the power of resources-based incrementalism and the importance of robust commercial and capital structures. We’re told by the moonshot club to think about the “big idea”, to search for big problems, but in my opinion, this leads to anemic capital structures that turn to dust the moment the public loses interest. New frontiers of economic and social possibility are fashioned out of an impossibly complex weave of commercially valuable solutions to real, small problems. If we wish to reach these frontiers as quickly as possible, we need to move more slowly and more deliberately, building strong, vital capital structures that can grow and compound with time.


The False Promise of Moonshots

After becoming a giant in the search and advertising industry, Google has set its sights on other more lofty endeavors. Determined to make an impact, they’ve organized Google into a larger umbrella company called Alphabet, under which they house smaller companies which are dedicated to what Google calls “moonshots”. A moonshot is a risky, exploratory project undertaken without regard to near-term success or profitability.  According to “X”, the company responsible for incubating Google’s moonshot efforts, the projects they undertake seek to solve big problems with groundbreaking technology and radical thinking. These projects certainly stir the imagination and inspire wonder, but in my opinion they also distract from the process that has historically been necessary to create sustainable long-term innovations which positively impact the quality of our lives.

Roughly implicit in the concept of the moonshot is the idea that what stands in the way of tremendous leaps and bounds in innovation are a lack of imagination and the adoption of innovation strategies that are too conservative. Proponents of moonshots as a method of innovation such as Peter Diamandis, founder of XPrize, are constantly suggesting that what’s really needed to push humanity forward is “10x” thinking, or imagining a solution or outcome that’s ten times as big as what you might normally imagine. I recently watched a lesson Diamandis gave on “exponential thinking” and he used Elon Musk as an example. In great detail Peter described Musk’s vision and mindset. Diamandis then suggested that young people should follow in Elon’s footsteps, eschewing economic activities that don’t ignite their “passion” and to focusing on solving problems that will have a massive impact.

My passing familiarity with Elon’s personal and professional history leads me to believe this conceptualization of his success is extremely disingenuous. There is no doubt that Elon carries an inspiring vision for the future of our species, and it’s undeniable that his vision has guided and motivated his activities, but the vision says nothing about the activities that carried him from point A to B; only about what he believes B should be.

In fact, if you follow the activities Musk engaged in after leaving South Africa, you begin to notice a pattern that looks decidedly opposed to what Peter Diamandis suggests is the recipe for creating massive impact. Following a double major in physics and economics, Musk moved to California where he intended to pursue PhD work centered around battery technology, an area which he felt was vital to his vision of the future. However, during this time the internet began to grow enormously and Musk left his degree program to pursue wealth in the internet boom. His first company Zip2 had nothing to do with space colonization or planet-wide green energy. It was simply something that filled a general market need and could produce a profit. From the “grand-vision” strategy posited by Diamandis and Moonshot proponents, this would seem to be a step backwards. This is 1x thinking; linear, not exponential. However, in the creation and sale of Zip2, we begin to see the secret star in Elon Musk’s career: capital resources.

Capital resources at their most fundamental are tools or processes that can be used to transform raw materials or inputs into items of greater value. For example, a paperboy’s bicycle, used as a capital resource to deliver paper around town, is more valuable than the steel tube and rubber sheets it used to be. The machines that bent and formed the steel and rubber to make the bike are capital resources as well. When you have chains of capital resources that feed into one another turning raw materials into outputs of greater and greater value, you have a capital structure. Capital structures are vitally important to not only enabling the innovation of new technology, but also shepherding those innovations to market maturity.

With this in mind, we can see as we continue to follow Musk’s career, a process of capital accumulation and the construction of larger and more capable capital structures. Following the sale of Zip2 for $22 million, Musk invested $10 million in another company which would later become PayPal. The sale of PayPal brought Musk $165 million in profit, $100 million of which he would later invest in starting SpaceX. And, to be clear, money isn’t the only component of his capital structure either. His knowledge, abilities and skills are capital resources as well, resources he’s been developing since he began programming video games as a small boy.

Moving through his personal and professional history it quickly becomes apparent that SpaceX is a value producing machine that has been many, many years in the making. Not only that, many of the the tools SpaceX uses to quickly prototype and design their machines at such low cost, tools like additive manufacturing, are just now starting to come into their own, themselves the fruit of a long development of increasingly complex capital structures.

And so, at this point we must ask if Musk’s genius lies in deciding that the colonization of space is goal worth pursuing, or whether it lies in the incredible, decades-long process of accumulating capital and stewarding it to a place and time in which it could be released in a brilliant display of awe-inspiring vision? I believe it’s the latter. The moonshot narrative would have us believe the former, however. It suggests that innovation and astounding technological progress are made by adopting the right mindset and selecting a “big enough” problem. However, this narrative shows a wanton disregard for the complexity of the kinds of capital structures that are essential for not only providing the tools of innovation, but also for developing markets for the products needed to sustain innovation.

Look past the glamorous post-success rationalizations of most companies and innovations and you’ll find either an accident or a long drawn out process of people trying to solve a “boring” (but real) problem. Before Uber was “The Ridesharing Economy”, it was just some entrepreneurs trying to figure out how to make the boring taxi experience better. Before Facebook was “The Global Social Network of the Future”, it was more or less an online, interactive version of Harvard’s already existing online directory system which was called, unsurprisingly, the facebook. Before AirBnB was “The Sharing Economy of Space”, it was a couple of broke entrepreneurs who realized they could rent out an air mattress on Craigslist for money; hence the name “Air Bed and Breakfast”. None of what I’m describing is to denigrate the hard work and effort put into building out these ideas and turning them into vast global markets, rather it is to point out that the innovators and entrepreneurs most lionized by our society put a lot more time and effort into building up their skills and resources and solving “boring” problems than into participating in moonshot thinking, and that is what must be done if we are to drive innovation forward in a sustainable way.

The future cannot be divorced from “boring”, small problems, because solving these problems creates value, and complex capital structures grow towards value like plants towards the sun. While moonshots tantalize us with the possibility that the future can be aggressively jerked into the present, we must recognize the fact that without capital structures of appropriate size and specialization, the present cannot support innovative solutions that are realized prematurely, especially when they are solutions to problems that only exist in our imaginations.


Rethinking Polymathism

Aristotle is described as being the last person in human history that probably knew “everything”. He was a pioneer of knowledge in a wide array of fields including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and government. Others have since then have had that title ascribed to them. For example, Thomas Young in the early 1800s demonstrated that light is also a wave, did work in linguistics and Egyptology which later helped researchers decode the Rosetta Stone, proposed the tri-chromatic theory of vision, read or spoke at least 11 languages and played the flute. However, the CV of most recent of popularly described polymaths are quite a bit shorter. It seems in today’s world, the body of human knowledge has grown so large that no single individual can “know it all”. Most modern polymaths, like physicist Freeman Dyson or former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold seem to exist largely in a professional silo with writing or product development products that are related to their prior knowledge or work.

This shows some very interesting things that might be useful to take into account as you plan for your future and think about the trajectory your career could take.

  1. Go deep. In a world with a billion people, Thomas Young’s world, the competition one would face in their pursuit of any given field will be much lower than it would be in a world with 7.4 billion people. This affects some fields and industries more than others. (It’s unlikely that anyone is going to write Harry Potter before JK Rowling or that Benedict Cucumberpants will miss all opportunities for a breakthrough performance.) However, this does suggest that you must be mindful of the fact that in any given field in which you wish to be a generalist, you are guaranteed to be facing a swarm of specialists. This doesn’t mean you can’t still add value by combining knowledge in new ways, but it’s important to be aware of. If you don’t find an area to gain deep knowledge in, you run the risk of becoming an intellectual dilettante. Someone who’s is very impressive at party banter, but incapable of building anything with their knowledge.
  2. Find the overlap. Successful modern polymaths seem to find their best success by building off of their core knowledge. For instance, Nathan Myhrvold has intensively studied math and physics. He’s also a very well known chef and cookbook author. However, his expertise didn’t come from a fancy culinary school. He applied his knowledge of physical phenomenon such as thermodynamics to study how food and the chemicals that make it up can be manipulated. Another example: Richard Posner is a judge who has studied economics extensively and was a pioneer in anti-trust law. He now writes on a wide variety of subjects like history and human sexuality, but his analyses always take an economic approach. These thinkers find the edges of their field and figure out where it overlaps with other interesting fields.
  3. Business and action are your best weapons. One thing you’ll notice as you read about polymaths of the past 100 years is that they are often described with initials. PhD in this. MS in that. MBA, JD, MD, EIEIO. The real basis for evaluating someone’s success as a polymath has been institutional. Not only that, as Richard Posner from above points out:

    “Even in relatively soft fields, specialists tend to develop a specialised vocabulary which creates barriers to entry,” Posner says with his economic hat pulled down over his head. “Specialists want to fend off the generalists. They may also want to convince themselves that what they are doing is really very difficult and challenging. One of the ways they do that is to develop what they regard a rigorous methodology—often mathematical.
    “The specialist will always be able to nail the generalists by pointing out that they don’t use the vocabulary quite right and they make mistakes that an insider would never make. It’s a defence mechanism. They don’t like people invading their turf, especially outsiders criticising insiders. So if I make mistakes about this economic situation, it doesn’t really bother me tremendously. It’s not my field. I can make mistakes. On the other hand for me to be criticising someone whose whole career is committed to a particular outlook and method and so on, that is very painful.” -Richard Posner

    However, with the Internet, many of the industries that Posner is speaking of have been flattened. The gatekeepers, those who might try to keep you from participating in an industry by developing artificial barriers, can’t keep you out. Do you think “industry standards” have stopped Elon Musk from building spaceships? Not anymore. And it won’t stop the companies following in his wake building satellites and new ship prototypes. Want to publish a book? The opinions of the New York Times or even publishers don’t matter much when you can self-publish and sell millions of copies. In short, the most wild forest of obscure professional jargon and certifications can’t stop someone who proves the value of their ideas in the marketplace.

  4. Be curious and don’t waste time. The nature of polymathism may have changed, but this remains the same. Those brave pioneers who can successfully transcend the boundaries of a single field must not only remain curious about knowledge outside of their realm, but the must also use every moment as fuel for their curiosity. There is too much knowledge to gain to stuff it in between Netflix episodes.

 

 


Open Companies as Engines for Basic Income

Y Combinator is currently wanting to experiment with Universal Basic Income. I think it’s a laudable goal.  I find the concept of “Universal” very problematic, because it inherently divides the concept from utility or results and turns it into yet another screechy, emotional battle cry for redistribution, but from what I’ve read about human motivation, I don’t believe that implementing a basic income for an individual will necessarily rob them of all desire to work or create or succeed. I think that people with a survival mindset actually produce less value, because their minds are constantly in a state of fear. So, I support the idea of BI from a utilitarian perspective. I don’t think anyone has the rights to the fruits of another’s labor, but I do think that to achieve higher levels of production, happy, healthy people are needed.

So, this leads us to a very exciting laboratory. If we assume from the very beginning that need is not a claim on the wealth of another, then how can we create voluntary systems that alleviate the survival mindset.

One rough concept that I’ve been chewing around in my mind is that of the open company. Let’s take the Morningstar Tomato Canning Company which is an organization that is extremely distributed in its management structure. In this company, individuals work together by making contracts with those that work around them. Tenure at the company is based on those contracts as no one has the authority to fire another person. I’ve heard the former CEO of the company, Paul Green Jr., mention that they were 70-80% there as far as having a completely flat organization.

What would a completely flat company look like, though? No one is managing production, and everyone is responsible for the financial success of the business, so the business could grow in any direction. It could horizontally integrate. Vertically integrate. Bundle. Unbundle. It would almost become its own supra-nation operating at a different level of human activity. There is no central hiring authority, so people are hired at the edges where their contracts dictate. This I think is an interesting model for working with BI.

What if every node in the network had the authority to distribute some dividend of the company’s output? Central nodes have a greater amount of dividend to distribute and more isolated nodes have less. Or, what if every node had the ability to distribute some amount in proportion to the value they created? Percentages and amounts could be determined via weighted liquid democracy, or internal accounting safeguards built into the laws of the company. For instance, “Cash reserves can be no lower than $X of annual operating costs.”

Under a model like this companies become organic value creating networks operating under their own economic legal framework. All distributed assets are not only tied to value creating activities, but presided over by them. This empowers local parties to manage distribution and prevents external parties from consuming the economic model.

There are so many tweaks that could be made, and, as long as it’s left to the devices of entrepreneurs and innovators and not bounded by bureaucrats, I think incredible models for creating happy, value-oriented communities could arise.

 


Start with MVS or MAS, not MVP

Ash Maurya of Austin, TX based “Lean Stack”, describes lean startup as occurring in three stages. The first is customer discovery where you are trying for problem/solution fit. “Is this a problem? Is this a solution for the problem?” The key question there is “Can you get people to act towards a suggested solution around a properly defined problem?” I think sign ups and click throughs and qualitative measures of interest are good indicators or metrics for this question.

The second is customer validation, in which you build a product and try to get customers to validate that that product actually brings the solution to the problem. This is the first time the product shows up. Product/Market fit.

The third is creating new customers. You’ve found the balance, now you have to go turn more people into customers and grow.

So, really the most important first step is to determine whether or not you’ve found an actual problem. There could be a lot of solutions for that. So, at this stage, it’s not all that important to pick the “right” solution. Really anything that realistically suggests it can solve the problem will do. Once you’ve been able to clearly define the problem and have some traction, then you can start tweaking the product and find the “best” solution.

So, if this is the case, then it makes sense to start out with the cheapest solution. Minimum Viable Product, at this point, doesn’t actually do the concept justice. It should be Minimum Viable Solution, or, to put it in terms of a bootstrapping company, Most Affordable Solution. MVP puts too much focus on product design, and not enough focus on problem discovery.


A Business Plan is not a Treasure Map

If you’re not up-to-date on some of the current thinkings on business plans and the like, let me run through it really quick for you. In the old days, even up until I graduated Uni in 2011, a business plan was a multi-page document (30-40 pages) that you would use to plan out your business in extremely fine detail. You would analyze the product you wanted to build. You would analyze the market you were trying to penetrate. Your customers. The business climate. Etc. It was used both as a roadmap, but also as a way to try to convince banks and financiers to loan you the money to start a venture.

This doesn’t fly with startups, the term startup here to include any business venture whose proposed value is based on introducing some new feature to the market, whether that’s artificial intelligence or just basing a well-known industry around better customer service.

Business owners and entrepreneurs like Steve Blankenship and his student Eric Ries, among others, have come to understand that the key job of a startup is to test whether or not an idea has value. If you’ve ever heard the term “Minimum Viable Product” or MVP, that’s what this comes from. What’s the least expensive thing you could build or create that would demonstrate that your liquor popsicle/adult diapers/fantasy chess league is valuable and interesting enough that people will pay for it.

This solves a big problem that a lot of large companies in the past dealt with. They would take a business plan and borrow a bunch of money and execute it AND THEN go to market. Only when they arrived at the store with millions of dollars in debt would they discover that their Ford Pinto was a godawful car. The entrepreneurs of today posit that if you can discover that the Ford Pinto is a terrible car for a million or two instead of hundreds of millions, you’re actually saving time and money.

This leads me to a confession, whether by nature or nuture, I somehow, knowing everything above, still tend to think about the MVP as if it were a Treasure Map. To be more precise, when I sit down to do my one page business models/plans, I treat them as if it’s important that I deduce the direct route to the treasure. The problem with this, of course, is THERE IS NO PATH.

No matter how clever I am, I can’t decide the twentieth step in the plan by extrapolating from the first or second, because the entropy of clear information is too great. By the time I get to the twentieth step in my head, ANYTHING I DESIGN WILL BE BASED ON A REALITY THAT DOESN’T EXIST. The most insidious part of this kind of thinking, is that I tend to wait to do things until I’m sure I’m right, which, as you can guess, means nothing gets done.

This is my challenge in the weeks ahead. I must treat business plans as nothing more than a baseline on which to measure the truth of my most immediate ideas. I must remember it’s a HYPOTHESIS for the here and now, and not a unified theory of everything. You can’t fight Ronda what’s-her-face by guessing when the fight’s going to end, or she’ll punch you in the freaking mouth. Survey the landscape ahead, for sure. Know the terrain of the battlefield. But, fight the battle in front of you, not the one in your head.


Value Potential Graphs via Machine Learning

After watching a few videos on machine learning, I feel like there’s a very, very large opportunity in using it for what might be known as “job placement”. I put that in quotes, because I think in the future that concept as we know it now might be pretty foreign, because I don’t think it will be divorced from education, and I don’t think it will be as structured as it is now.

It seems that whenever we, and this is potentially me projecting here, discuss something like job placement it has a very structured, top down feel. A central body evaluates you and points you somewhere else. However, if there were instead a machine learning network in place, you could perhaps do monthly little learning boot camps and provide feedback on how you enjoyed it, and be served feedback on how quickly you picked it up. That would turn an aspect of your skillset into labelled data allowing your self to be further sorted towards value activities of best match.

Machine learning isn’t wholly a top down assignment. Semi-supervised machine learning is internally assigned values, spot-checked by participants, surfacing patterns in the data and giving you a better idea of where you can offer the most value to the world.

What if “higher education” was simply an iterative process of labeling your progress in an internally consistent machine learning network.

Then, imagine this in a world where many companies had their hierarchy mostly distributed. That means no HR department. That means a “Value Potential” graph introduces you to someone at a company and you make a contract with that person to do work for their company. This kind of completely distributed corporate hierarchy exists, and I can only imagine it will grow in popularity.

Everyone’s afraid of AI these days it seems, but what if our entire concept of what AI can do for us is wholly tainted by top-down way our societies have been managed for hundreds of years. It’s hard for us to think of anything else. But, absent of centralized state control, what can AI order us to do? Really, in that scenario, general AI isn’t a commander. It’s a tool for us to find our local maximum. To gain perspective on where we are in the mix. To turn each of us into the most informed decision makers we can be.


John Mackey’s Great Point about Min Wage

I finally watched the Reason interview with John Mackey, and he brought up a great point about the minimum wage.

If businesses are really so greedy that they want to pay absolute bottom dollar for people to work for them, barring already existing laws, why wouldn’t the company just pay people in the US 10 cents/hour? Why is it that wages at the bottom end all look pretty similar? Why is it that, even if you removed existing wage controls, they couldn’t get people to work for them at 10 cents/hour?

It’s because they don’t control those prices. Wages are controlled by a dynamic market process that depends on individual productivity. You can’t imagine a price floor for human labor any more than you can imagine up a price ceiling. You can’t demand they pay $15 an hour any more than they can demand you pay $10/pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, businesses aren’t the central arbiter in wage pricing. If they want to continue as a business, they have to set prices according to labor markets. Pay people more than they produce and the business dies. Pay people less and the business dies.
You can’t ascribe absolute agency to the business, and you can’t pretend businesses are operating under different economic laws than you are.


What if.. Contemporary Nomads

As I was driving home from work the other day, I thought of how strange it was that I make this drive twice a day many days a week. I wondered what benefit a stationary, cordoned off space brought me. I then wondered that about society at large.

I’m obviously not suggesting that at any point this paradigm will flip, at least not completely, but it was kind of fun to imagine a world where having a place to own and store things was not so important. I know a lot of what we have now is dictated by proximity to our value creating activities, but as robots begin to take over more and more responsibilities I would have to imagine location becomes less of an obligation and more of an opportunity. How cool would it be to own just a minimal set of items or be able to rent them and just move around towards whatever interested you the most at the time. Or, maybe travel could become so cheap and resources so non-scarce that we could store what mattered in one home location and spend a lot more time rotating around the globe. AirBnB already kind of enables this. What if we had nano-bots that could give birth to and destroy structures very quickly? What if the organization of municipal services was a lot more modular?

What if technology allowed us to effectively live, at any moment, in a world of our own ethereal whim?


Applying Bruce Lee to Learning

I was listening to an interview with Bruce Lee in which he discussed his philosophies, and one part really struck me. It did so because if you took out the words “Martial Arts” and replaced them with “Education”, you get a quote which beautifully describes one of the key principles of learning and highlights just how intimately Bruce Lee understood the fundamentals of human action.

As you read through this quote and Lee talks about the flash and show, just imagine the ridiculous buildings colleges are erecting and the money they spend on marketing materials and tribal pomp and circumstance. As he talks about being “flooded with cocky” just think of the elitist attitude that the institutions of college attempt to imbue their students with: “You’re here, and that means you’re the future! You’re a which means you’re a winner!”

Here’s Lee’s quote

Man, listen to me, ok? To me, ultimately, EDUCATION means honestly expressing yourself. Now it is very difficult to do. I mean it is easy for me to put on a show and be cocky and be flooded with a cocky feeling and then feel, then, like pretty cool and all that. Or I can make all kinds of phony things, you see what I mean? And be blinded by it. Or I can show you some really fancy movement, but, to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself….and to express myself honestly, that, my friend is very hard to do. And you have to train. You have to keep your reflexes so that when you want it…it’s there! When you want to move, you are moving and when you move you are determined to move. Not taking one inch, not anything less than that! If I want to punch, I’m going to do it man, and I’m going to do it! So that is the type of thing you gave to train yourself into it; to become one with it. You think….(snaps his fingers) ….it is.

Watch the video of the interview here.


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