Stephen Malina

This is my blog. There are many others like it but this one is mine.

Energetic Aliens

Reading biographies and observing friends, family, and colleagues has led me to become interested in what factors drive the variance in cognitive stamina and observed levels of energy between individuals. Identifying the biological, environmental, or motivational factors which produce this difference seems important and neglected. Understanding this is a research agenda’s worth of work, so my contribution will be to draw a conceptual boundary around the idea of an “energetic alien” and explore some (not selected i.

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Book Review - A World Without Email

A World Without Email (AWWE) is Cal Newport’s new book arguing for an overhaul in our workplace communication and project management style. This topic is a natural follow up to Newport’s previous two books – Deep Work and Digital Minimalism. These books focused on the individual benefits of hard focused effort and deliberate technology reduction respectively. This book applies a similar lens to the modern frenetic knowledge economy workplace. According to Newport, priortizing responsiveness and heavily relying on general purpose communication tools in the workplace is making us miserable and unproductive.

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A personal post-mortem on almost giving very misleading advice

I recently had someone ask me what I felt helped me grow the most in my first few years working as a software engineer. Upon them asking me this, I initially drafted an answer that looked something like the following: A combination of building systems and seeing how they failed and then reading lots of code and books including: (list of programming books I’ve read). However, upon writing this – and before sending it thankfully – I realized I was almost entirely misrepresenting the things that actually helped me grow.

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Ideas not mattering is a psyop

Originally posted on Alexey’s blog. By Stephen Malina, Alexey Guzey, Leopold Aschenbrenner. Introduction Conventional startup and business wisdom has become “there are plenty of good ideas, all that matters is execution.” We don’t buy it. Empirically, all our aspiring founder friends are desperate for startup ideas, with few managing to land on something worthwhile, and all our scientist friends are desperate for research ideas. Good ideas are essential, even ones that seem obvious in retrospect were non-obvious ex ante, and in fact good execution itself depends critically on good ideas.

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Three observations from a surprisingly emotionally evocative winter walk

I just went on a short nighttime mid-snow storm walk and it unexpectedly provoked three separate observations along with a desire to capture them. Reveling in the beauty of our creations Everyone loves to hate on Ayn Rand but noone else can give me ASMR writing about skyscrapers. I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline. Particularly when one can’t see the details.

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