Infinite Loops Hits 200!
Four-and-a-half years after Jamie Catherwood sidled up to Jim and first mentioned the word “podcast,” we’ve hit our 200th episode (🎂).
Our very first episode, with Dan McMurtrie (otherwise known as Super Mugatu) and an increasingly inebriated Ramp Capital, was recorded in person at a club in New York and released on 25 November 2019.
Back then, Jim was still the Chairman & CEO of O’Shaughnessy Asset Management, and OSV was just a twinkle in his eye.
As we hit 200, OSV has been up and running for over a year. Post-pandemic, the Great Reshuffle is well underway, and the nature of work, play, and everything in between is changing faster than you can say “simpatico.”
The only thing that hasn’t changed is Jim himself, who remains as insatiably curious and unrelentingly positive as ever.
To celebrate the milestone, we’re releasing an extra-special episode of the show tomorrow. Infinite Media head honchoand yours truly are turning the tables on Jim, asking him everything from whether he ever gets nervous, to his dream podcast guests, to his parenting advice.
We hope you have as much fun listening as we did recording. Stay tuned until the end for a diabolical spin on Jim’s trademark closing question…
In the meantime, here’s a short journey through some of the highlights and recurring themes of the show. Rest assured, from next week, we’ll be back to thinking about the future, not the past. 🚀🚀
If You Were Made Emperor of the World For One Day … 🪄
A selection of some weird and wonderful answers to Jim’s customary final question:
Alex Danco (Ep. 27)
“People need to go find more people they admire, who are different from who they are in meaningful ways. And then go act on trying to live up to those people as opposed to a strictly peer based admiration system.”
Brian Roemmelle (Ep. 29)
“I would allow people to take down their barriers and to see that every single human being that they ever meet has a tremendous amount of worth and value. And that if they can see that as a super power as they walk down the street, as the first and primary thing, that they will grow to a level that is unbelievable. It is a selfish act. It is the biggest selfish act you can do. And why is it a selfish act? Because by you raising up and seeing the value of another human being around you, they raise up with you.”
Tim Urban (Ep. 33)
“Well, the first would be that echo chambers are like intellectual oppression chambers, and that they're lame. And that they're silly and primitive and they're not what interesting smart people should want to be part of. And so that idea labs are super cool, right? And so that's the first thing. Idea labs in this culture of treating ideas like experiments is what awesome thinkers do.”
Lily Francus (Ep. 36)
“I think the other one is always remember your time on Earth is finite […] Since I was a kid, I've always felt I was running out of time to do something that mattered. I think a lot of us, we take for granted that we're alive. At the end of the day, everything, everybody dies. It's a part of the life. You can be stressed about it. You can cry about it. It's just how it is. I know for me, at the end of my life, I want to say that Lily Francus was here. I want something to stand in time, saying that my existence in this minor block of the universe mattered at least to somebody.”
Josh Wolfe (Ep. 40)
“So I think the best thing would be if everybody in the world suddenly believed that the world itself was under attack by aliens. And we had about 25 or 30 years to get our act together and unify as a terrestrial civilization.”
Brian Muraresku (Ep. 57)
“[A] preparation process would begin to die before we die as a species. That preparation process could take a number of different forms, but I would envision at least a couple years. This is where all this ancient technology is coming back to service our species today. It would be some kind of hybrid of the Eleusinian mysteries that really sustained ancient Greece for centuries. It would be hints of the Dionysian mysteries, and just maybe we might be able to spy what was happening in some of these early Paleochristian churches. In any event we're preparing for a couple of years for some kind of heroic dose of just the right sacrament that would give us just a taste of dying before dying […] It's about this dying before dying process. Maybe the right sacrament under the right set and setting can get us there. If it's really medically responsible, scientifically rigorous, I would say also authentically sacred, historical. That if the right number of people could go through an initiation like that on a planet wide case, something interesting might happen.”
Tom Morgan (Ep. 61)
“[R]ecord your parents' memories. Find a service that does it for you, email them a bunch of questions. However you want to do it, do it. My father's memoirs, recorded by my much more prescient half sister, are the most precious thing that I have. Because he died before my son is alive, and I would have no other way of telling him what my father was like. And we live in this age of information abundance, where we just assume we can recall every memory that's ever available to us. And that's bullshit. When they're gone, they're gone. And if you don't do something now, you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. So I would just implore everyone to do that.”
Erik Hoel (Ep. 80)
“I probably would immediately abdicate given this responsibility, or if I figure out some way to destroy this from ever happening again. So probably the idea that I would implant would be the knowledge that this is happening, and the knowledge that people are being chosen for this process and that you have to find some way to stop this process so you can get your free will back.”
David Rhoiney (Ep. 99)
“I have to earn everything”
Morgan Housel (Ep. 100)
“I would show people exactly in their life when the things that they admired about themselves were actually due to luck.”
David Perell (Ep. 119)
“[J]ust get your body moving, I think that one of the biggest lies for intellectuals right now, is how big the mind-body duality is. I don't think it's coincidence that the Greeks saw their greatest intellectual heroes as physical warriors as well, I think there's a lot of wisdom to that, and we'd be smart to heed that advice.”
Johnathan Bi (Ep. 137)
“[I]n antiquity, it was the small phallus that was considered desirable because it symbolized the virtue of moderation. A re-evaluation of values maybe.”
Jesse Michels (Ep. 145)
“[K]now that reality as you're living in it is a compressed version of something that is much wider. And that if you follow places where glitches in the visible reality breaks in it and follow your intuition, that inner voice, which is also hard to suss out from other voices that can lead you down bad paths. But if you can do those two things, your life can be much more expansive and bigger. And you can find new worlds within this one that will change your life and the people around you.”
David Pinsof (Ep.161)
“I'm very disposed to harken back to our earlier conversation about happiness and incept them with the idea that they need to stop pursuing happiness and pursue the things that they really want because the pursuit of happiness is the surest path to misery.”
Dr. Pippa Malmgren (Ep. 167)
“I would love to create a movement, and I would call it the hug movement because I think when human beings put their hearts together, you literally create a massive electromagnetic field […] if we have physical proximity and we are close together, our empathy goes up, our willingness to tolerate that someone else may think differently. Currently, we live in a world where we say, "If someone doesn't agree with me, they're either stupid or evil." Well, this is no way to begin a conversation. So would I create a universal hug movement? Oh, yeah. I would do it.”
Julie Fredrickson (Ep. 181)
“Squat is the most effective form of exercise. If you just get up and squat once or twice a day, your health will be dramatically improved. Be kind and squat.”
Derek Sivers (Ep. 186)
“[W]hat seems true is actually just one possible perspective and it's probably not the best one. So force yourself to think of other perspectives.”
Will Schoder (Ep. 190)
“[W]hatever keeps your brain in thrall doesn't necessarily do anything for your heart. I think about that all the time because there are so many things in the modern world that keep our brains in thrall, but our hearts still feel empty. And I think about just seeking the things that make you feel like a fully formed human being, a whole person with full vitality more than following the things that just keep you engaged and absorbed in the bad sense.”
Infinite Loops 🅱️ingo
Get your cards ready…
“I’m not panglossian, but…” (25 points)
“Fiercely anti-authoritarian” (50 points)
“We are so simpatico on that” (100 points)
“I’m a big fan of David Deutsch” (75 points)
“You’re gonna have to come back for part two” (1000 points)
“Human colossus” (25 points)
“Insatiably curious” (100 points)
“European New Beat” (10 points)
“HumanOS” (50 points)
Ten Takeaways from 2️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ Episodes in Twenty Sentences
Your Memory is Lying to You (🧠)
Your memory is a filmmaker, not a film. Write things down; there’s nothing like being called a liar in your own handwriting.
You Can Upgrade Your HumanOS (💾)
Our minds, like software, can be upgraded. By first understanding our biases and limitations, we can take steps to overcome them.
Weirdness is an Edge (🦄)
Be undefinable. Where attention is at a premium, conformity becomes invisibility.
You Don’t Need Permission (🟢)
Thanks to the internet, every opportunity you’ve ever dreamed of is a click away. You don’t need to wait for permission to start writing, coding, or creating your way into the outcome you want.
Choose Your Own Adventure ()
Only you can solve your problems; only you can find your purpose. This is terrifying but empowering; YOU get to choose your own adventure.
Find Your Rabbit Holes (🐰)
Insatiable curiosity is a superpower. Relentlessly pursuing your interests transforms the unknown into opportunity.
You Are Not Your Beliefs ()
Your identity is not the same as your beliefs. If you can change your focus, you can change your future.
Rational Optimism (✅)
Stasis is death, but progress, too, brings problems. The goal is not to avoid problems altogether but to incrementally solve better ones.
Fiction Can Be More True Than Fact (🎥)
The stories that we tell weave in kernels of societally inherited wisdom while expanding our horizon of possibilities. They do more than mirror reality; they shape it.
Keep it Simple (💡)
Complicated explanations can obfuscate more than they illuminate. There is beauty in simplicity.
The O’Shaughnessy Guide to Happiness
Jim’s unfailing positivity is infectious.
I’ve revisited some past episodes and dug out some of his tips for how to live a happier life.
In an era of increasingly complicated Productivity/Happiness/Self-Help Advice, there is a refreshing simplicity to these:
The O’Shaughnessy Meditation
“And I've done this for, I don't know, 30 years. Literally at the start of every day I sit for 20 minutes with no electronics, no music, no nothing, and just sort of sit, and it is wild. When I started it a long time ago, I just thought for the first, I don't know, three or four weeks, I'm like, "This is stupid. This is stupid. This is stupid." […] Then all of a sudden, if you persist and you stick with it, all of a sudden, you start getting flooded with all sorts of ideas that you're wondering, "Where the fuck did that come out of?"
“The importance of your environment is really interesting to me because there's a lot of research that points to exactly the point you are making, that's like, unhappy, stuck, whatever, go someplace else, do something else […] I, for the longest time, had what my wife considered a bizarre habit. And my bizarre habit was I would do things at random, and I really mean at random. Like I would flip a coin and let where it landed decide what I was going to go and do that day. I would go into Tower Records and buy 50 CDs literally at random, just to see what was new and what was different.”
Thank the Universe
“[E]very time I take a shower, I say, "You know what? Thank you universe." I'm not a religious person, but I'll thank the universe, thank you universe, that I get to be in a hot shower." Because think of what tiny percentage of all humans who've ever lived have access to a daily hot shower. And when you start thinking in things those ways, you just are much happier.”
“And then the other thing that I've trained myself to do is everyone's always talking about, I'm going to die on that hill. That's a belief I'm going to die on that hill. And I always say to people, "No, no, no, no, no." I subscribe to the General George S. Patton belief that I'm going to make the other poor dumb bastard die on his hill.”
Don’t Try and Be Happy
“I happen to believe that it revolves around self-awareness, realization that happiness is not an end state in itself. It is a byproduct of doing interesting things that you enjoy in your life, being with interesting people whom you love and respect, and this idea that, oh, I want to be happy, and this will make me happy, that's wrong. No, it won't.”
Premeditate Your Outcomes
“What you do when you premeditate something is that you want do something, you want to achieve something or be a certain type of person so you can write it out. So I want to become an author. And then what you do is you go down several different paths. Here's what happens if I get this, if I get this goal, and then what happens good if I get the goal? But here's the important one, what happens bad if I get this goal? And then you do it for the other side. I don't get the goal, what's good, what's bad [...] it gives you clarity, number one, it helps you understand whether you really want that thing or not. And it's a very powerful mechanism to better understanding your own desires.”
Thank you for staying tuned for as long as you have. We’re lucky to have you as readers and listeners. On to the next 200 episodes!