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Don't Be a Sheep Podcast

Don't Be a Sheep Podcast

By Wing, Ivan & Andrei
Weekly podcast hosted by Wing, Ivan and Andrei - 3 friends who live on 3 different continents - who (virtually) get together to talk and learn about life, philosophy, science, technology, venture capital and whatever else tickles our fancy on a week-to-week basis.
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Friendship (#17)
We all love our friends (for the most part), but how often do you actually stop to think deeply about friendship itself? How did you meet your closest friends and how much thought did you put into who became your friends? In this episode we discuss social circles, mimetic theory, the true value of going to a good school, the unfortunate importance of random circumstance, the influence of the pandemic on friendships and how all of this can be contextualized by Personality Vectors, an elegant social (and mathematical) theory by Vincent Yang (https://www.yangvincent.com/resources/personality-vectors/). 0:00 Intro 0:49 You are the average of those who you spend time with, what defines your individuality is your choice in who these people are. 7:13 Who you put high quality time into is who you become close to - time can either be intentional or by chance. 14:23 How do friend groups change? Shared stories don't evaporate. 19:20 Different friends have different roles in your life. 21:51 Andrei took a test to see how funny he is and he got 3/100 (https://principlesyou.com/). 23:15 "nice", "cool", "chill" 25:58 Pessimistic mindsets are a turn off. 30:34 A framework to approach and understand friendships applied to the question: surround yourself with the same or different values as you? Two opposing frameworks that seem to work, how do you decide which to pick and when? 36:09 How do you approach finding new friends today? Pre- & post- college friend making is very different. 41:18 Money could change the dynamic of a friendship. 45:17 How could a new person enter your friend group?  More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
48:48
March 31, 2022
With great power comes great responsibility (#16)
From previous episodes we have concluded that (1) power will naturally accumulate in a very few (2) all humans will act selfishly and that is not always bad. Today we discuss, based on those 2 premises, what is the responsibility of those in power to society? Our discussion is split into 3 sections/contexts: individuals, businesses, nations. We conclude with our opinions post-discussion if we agree with Spiderman's uncle Ben - does/should great responsibility come with great power? 0:00 Introducing the premise 2:24 Should people with great power simply try not to cause damage or should they act and do proactive good ? 5:19 Individuals: bullying, bystander dilemma, harassment, social responsibility 23:53 Businesses: what is the responsibility of businesses to their stakeholders? Is brainwash kids with selfish goals that align with global good the long-term solution? 32:25 Nations: what is the responsibility of a powerful nation like the US in the global theatre? Should they do nation building to "liberate" people i.e. North Korea? 39:00 Conclusion: do we agree that with great power comes great responsibility? (Prelude into future topic - should billionaires exist?) More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
44:14
March 20, 2022
Infinite growth is real (#15)
Our society is based on the premise of infinite growth - is it a manmade story? Is human society a giant pyramid scheme destined to fail? What about infinite growth on a personal level - are we hardwired to like the idea of growth and yearn for it? What parallels can be drawn between the individual and societal level? Listen to hear Ivan change his opinion from the start to the end of the episode! 0:00 Is the premise of infinite growth an inherent fallacy? 4:30 Is there a distinction between infinite growth and the end of your life or the extinction of humanity? 8:35 Infinite growth is limited by finite resources. But are our resources really finite? Human society is bad at encouraging preemptive problem solving but very good at rapid solutions when it is a really big, profitable problem. 10:24 Is there a problem with a society built on infinite growth? Are the systems we build reflective of our human nature and flaws? Is it naturally true to desire stuff or are greed and desire learned from the world in which we are raised? 15:30 Is growth is all there is for a person or is there merit to a "stagnate and chill" life philosophy? // Is there a distinction between pursuing physical vs intellectual vs emotional growth? 27:18 What would a society without infinite growth look like? (De-growth, slow growth, shrinking growth) // Why is GDP our #1 metric for success? 46:03 Are there any aspects of your life where you think it's ok not to grow? Maybe in small local time points i.e. deadlines or changing priorities. 51:03 Conclusion: infinite growth is not a fallacy. More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
51:49
March 13, 2022
World news: sad, biased, essential (#14)
The news is often sad and anger inducing - a perennial showcase of the worst of humanity and natural tragedies. Is there then any benefit in soldiering through this and keeping up-to-date with national and world affairs? In this episode we discuss how we keep up with world news, if we think we should be consuming more or less news, the responsibility of big tech and have a long discussion about trust. Give this episode a listen if you want to find out what Brad Pitt's love life and Japanese trade policy have in common! 0:00 Intro 0:44 The most impactful world affairs are the ones that close to home. 8:28 Value from keeping up with the news: perspective, gratitude, food for thought. 11:15 Problems with the news: bias, tribalism inducing, depression inducing. 14:11 So should we pay attention to the news or not? 18:35 Big debate on news regulation and trust - what are the roles of big tech, government, credentialed organizations and individuals. Example: Dr. Fauci & lab leak hypothesis. 38:15 What are the similarities & differences of celebrity gossip vs world affairs? 43:08 Summary More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
43:38
February 11, 2022
Altruism doesn't exist, and that's a good thing (#13)
We conclude quite depressingly that true altruism doesn't exist. Fortunately, although all actions are inherently selfish, this implies that giving, sharing and acting with short-term selflessness are amazing things as they create positive long-term value for both the giver and the receiver. Even if it's fundamentally fake, if everyone in society acted altruistically then our world would be a much better place as life is not a zero sum game. If this doesn't make sense to you, give this episode a listen to see how we reached this conclusion! 0:00 Intro 0:51 Selfishness is acting in your own self interest usually at the expense of others, it can be split into short-term and long-term selfishness, and definitionally it carries no moral judgement. 3:15 Altruism doesn't exist. 6:05 Selflessness is an evolved survival trait and explains why donating money and helping an old lady across the street are not altruistic (green beard genes). 7:53 Can you think of a truly altruistic act? If you derive peace or joy from an action does it become selfish? 17:09 Entirely selfless actions can only exist in irrational players (i.e. all humans) - true altruism is sad miscalculations that are self damaging. 19:44 Can you be altruistic and selfish at the same time? // Even if you're not acting in your best self interest you think you are. 27:06 Why does society think it is bad to be selfish? Why is sacrifice the pinnacle of morality? Example: babbler birds 32:57 Would you act unselfishly to save your species at the cost of yourself? Is climate action true altruism? 34:30 Do our conclusions and framework of morality scale from the individual level to a company or a nation? 41:17 In VC world it is clearly spelled out via fiduciary responsibility that altruism is just a scam. 42:59 3 key takeaways: (1) emotional return from selfless actions (2) short term selflessness leads to long term selfishness (3) morality gets murky when you apply conclusions on the individual level to group and societal levels. More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
45:26
February 02, 2022
Exploration vs commitment (#12)
It's the summer of 2021: highly vaccinated cities are finally opening back up again and it seems like everyone is in a state of exploration. In this episode we discuss how the explore-exploit framework applies to our lives and how it might be useful to apply to yours. 0:00 Intro 1:06 The period of life you are in will largely dictate your explore vs exploit ratios; explore a lot while young. 3:08 Is the ultimate goal to 100% exploit or is there intrinsic value in exploration? 8:45 In society people spend too much time keeping options open (liquid modernity / infinite browsing mode / optionality) // Compound interest is where we actually get good at things - long term games are non luck success strategies. 13:07 The goal of the explore-exploit framework is to assist in regret minimization (energy landscapes, football players & kpop as examples). 19:23 Most people never find what they really love or get good at anything // Exploration is an additive that keeps you excited to do your exploitation. 22:05 The success of an exploration is the number of meaningful conclusions that you reach. 23:39 Commitment vs travel / wanderlust in exploring culture? 28:05 When and how did Wing commit to becoming a VC? 29:13 Professional explore exploit ratios for the 3 of us right now & what would motivate us to leave our happy local minima. 38:15 Our social explore-exploit ratios right now. 41:46 For those stuck in either explore or exploit, tips to commit or force exploration: internal reflection, have a goal, make proactive moves. 43:21 All of our episodes start with different topics and converge to the same models. More about us: Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" ; Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" ; Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
43:44
January 26, 2022
3 non-parents talk about parenting (#11)
Out of all the topics in the world to discuss, why would 3 non-married guys with no children choose this as a topic to discuss? Listen to find out! 0:00 Intro  1:35 Rapid fire questions 7:29 Good parents > income , race, gender etc. 7:55 Values you aim to instill in your children vs child value self discovery 11:48 Developing a respect for money 15:19 Where do you draw the line for forcing kids to do things you know will be good for them? 17:53 Good things come as a reward for doing hard things 19:50 How would you measure your success as a parent? 23:06 Intentional grand challenges for children to overcome 27:11 Differences in parenting boys vs girls 30:56 Is having a kid even a good thing? 39:14 The world is not a fair place - is it more beneficial for boys to be more trusting and for girls to be less trusting in strangers? 41:05 Husband vs wife parenting responsibility differences 45:16 What expectations do you have for your children and what expectations should they have for you as a parent // Tim Ferris traits of successful people's parents 47:25 Wrap up More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
48:13
January 21, 2022
Interviewing a lighting artist - Amanda Jayapurna (#10)
Andrei & Ivan are joined by a special guest: Amanda, a lighting artist with experience at Pixar and Activision. Together they discuss how Amanda found herself in her non-sheeplike career path and try to understand what exactly she does as a lighting artist. Check out her work below: https://www.instagram.com/amandajyp.art https://www.amandajayapurna.com/ 0:00 Intro 2:32 What is a lighting artist? 3:50 How much of your work was degree vs self taught? 5:08 Where do artistic tendencies come from in your family? 12:24 Storytelling through the medium of light: mesh between traditional painting and weather science NOT animation 15:02 Is your job more technical or artistic? 17:01 How do you measure how good lighting is? 21:08 Can you also work on live action films? 22:14 Skill, networking & personal brand in a niche artistic field 32:24 Shape language 34:39 Fears before studying art? Journey on how you got to your career point right now 42:08 Can you be replaced by AI? // Randomness as a creative tool 50:27 Importance of role models who are relatable (gender & culture) 53:57 Life principles of engineers vs artists 58:21 Plugs More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
59:07
December 29, 2021
We believe in total free speech (#9)
Following episode #6 on freedom, this week Wing, Ivan & Andrei focus more specifically on freedom of speech. We conclude that our ideal society would have total freedom of speech. Listen to find out why! 0:00 Intro 1:17 Freedom of speech is the ability to challenge the status quo 4:13 West vs East cultural split 5:59 Who is our speech free from? Government vs the majority vs consequences 11:07 Words have meaning as humans are irrational // you are the sum of your opinions // opinions should be strong but loosely held 19:52 The difference between fact and opinion is falsifiability  21:36 What would change your mind that freedom of speech is good? 25:34 Downsides to freedom of speech: slow velocity of decision-making, excuse for hateful rhetoric & emotional exploitation 32:47 What shouldn't you be allowed to say in an ideal society // hate speech is just speech that you hate 39:52 Education is the solution 41:34 Summary More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
42:39
December 28, 2021
Personal Branding (#8)
This week we explore what it means to have a personal brand, whether or not you should build one, and if so how.  0:00 Intro: personal brand == reputation 1:30 No matter what you do you will have a brand --> be intentional about the kind of brand you want to build and choose how you want the world to perceive you 2:47 Personal branding affords leverage to fulfill ambition --> personal branding efforts should scale with ambition 4:26 The paradox / hypocrisy in "I'm internally motivated, it doesn't matter what others think of me" 10:23 Personal brand is a mechanism to filter to your niche audience 11:45 Example 1: two types of VCs - press machines vs super low key 13:04 Example 2: research / academia world 16:46 Why it does matter what other people think of you 18:48 Inflexibility is the downside to having a really strong personal brand 20:55 Niche fame has less downsides 22:24 Personal brands as a primary source of income vs source of leverage 28:51 Brands are just a slice you so take it with a grain of salt always 32:12 Irony that none of us are active on social media / have strong personal brands 33:51 Post social media, don't consume it 34:17 Andrei vs Wing on influencers 35:26 Wing does not want to be an influencer as he dreams of living in New Zealand far away from people 37:00 Roadblocks stopping our own personal brand development: social media is a plague on society, operational work, inexperience, not high priority 41:47 Wing, Ivan & Andrei's rough personal brand definitions 44:35 Summary More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
45:25
December 17, 2021
Limits: can Ivan become a pop star? (#7)
As children we have unlimited potential, or at least feel like we do - what happens to that feeling of limitlessness as we get older? Will Wing be the greatest VC of all time? Will Ivan be a pop star or create Jurassic Park? Will Andrei be Peter Pan? Listen to find out as we discuss the limitations and hard choices that come with growing up and achieving our dreams. 0:00 Intro 1:55 Feeling limited manifests in your life as you grow older as closing doors // optionality is the enemy, you have to commit 4:57 Courage --> confidence --> limit removal & beating herd mentality // intrinsic motivation is better than extrinsic motivation 10:25 Is it always bad to be limited? In order to do great work you have to do 1 thing 12:23 Maximize exploration during school days 14:04 You have to make choices / sacrifices at some point; limits are going to be imposed on us whether we like it or not  17:03 It's better to impose limits yourself instead of having them imposed on you out of your control 18:19 Sacrificing your goals, dreams and ambitions for "adult things" 20:00 Know yourself well before you make important choices 20:39 How do you know when a startup founder is too idealistic? Realism vs idealism in VC 22:19 Reality is largely negotiable; blind belief that you have no limits a powerful force & prerequisite for success 25:17 Habit/discipline is underrated, motivation is overrated 28:16 Practical advice on if you actually have no limits or if you're crazy: incremental indicators // Is it too late for Ivan to be a pop star? No matter how old you are personal limits are a myth 35:35 Wing believes he will be the greatest VC of all time 36:23 As you get older do you gain or lose belief in your ability to change the world?  38:13 Why do you even want to change the world? 39:56 Practical approaches to exploration as you get older: people, break boxes, learn new skills More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
44:23
November 05, 2021
Freedom and equality cannot exist together (#6)
What is freedom? What is equality? Can a society exist in which you have both? This week we debate and try to answer these questions. 0:00 Intro 0:59 Naval inspired definition of freedom: health, wealth and intentionality 4:16 “Everyone is a slave to something” - Attack on Titan 5:55 Freedom == control of your time 7:58 Freedom is a good metric for humanity moving in the right direction 10:06 Is freedom a fixed state or can it only exist relative to a state of being unfree (juxtaposition)? 10:39 Freedom --> time to gain self-awareness and find meaning --> the ability to fulfill our meaning 13:20 Freedom is only valuable if you know what to do with it, if you don’t then it can be destructive (i.e. children) 19:19 Inequality is rising to a local maxima and only revolution can stop it 26:09 Freedom and equality cannot exist together 35:18 You cannot have equal opportunity without removing opportunities from those with more leverage 45:33 Unless… More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
48:12
September 30, 2021
Role models (#5)
This week Wing, Ivan and Andrei discuss role models, specifically discussing some people who we look up to and who inspire us. 0:00 Introduction 0:43 Who you look up to vs who inspires you - is there a difference? 2:18 3 of Andrei's evolving inspirations (Father, Gary Vaynerchuk, Konrad Feldman) 4:36 Discovering role models at different stages in your life 7:54 3 of Wing's inspirations (Peter Thiel, Joe Rogan, Naval Ravikant) 9:32 Controversial role models & critics that come with success 11:54 Do role models want to be looked up to? 13:16 The purpose of this episode (flow/homology of ideas & time stamp) 13:48 Ivan's inspirations - people we know (father, peers) & don't meet your heroes? 16:26 Ivan's inspirations - people we don't know (Elon, Lex Fridman, Chamath, Andrew Yang) 17:44 Commonalities of our inspirations: vision, courage, heart, sacrifice, rationality, all men? 22:30 Anti-role models (are they more effective than role models?) 23:40 The importance of having role models that you can relate to, representation & diversity 28:03 How do you find good role models? (Bias towards action & Volume approach) 32:02 Aspire to become role models & inspirations! More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
33:03
September 29, 2021
Big ideas that changed our lives - Part 2 (#4)
We continue our conversation from last week where we share some big ideas and life lessons that have changed our lives. 0:00 Introduction 0:28 Seeking happiness is flawed one should seek meaning 9:02 Happiness is a choice and a skill you can practice to get better at over time 12:13 Growth mindset // weaknesses are things you deemed unimportant or were not self-aware of 18:32 Getting out of your own way & controlling your monkey brain // meditation 25:05 Most people are limited by thinking not capabilities 32:32 Human desire is mimetic (don’t be a sheep!) 37:12 Education is everything 44:26 You make your own luck More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
48:27
September 29, 2021
Big ideas that changed our lives - Part 1 (#3)
We share and debate some big ideas and life lessons that have changed our lives. 0:00 Introduction 0:57 There is no right answer to the fundamental questions of what is success, happiness and meaning - you provide the answer 3:30 Living life by the scientific method 8:16 Trust the process // live in the moment vs plan for tomorrow 13:12 Using death as a tool to live a happy life 16:06 Every man has 2 lives, the second starts when he realizes he only has one // don't take yourself too seriously 25:32 Everything exists in juxtaposition 30:40 Good at high velocity and volume is much better than great or perfectionist 37:46 Fear setting as a decision making tool 44:09 Creating content is the best way to learn and remember More about us: - Wing (https://wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA" - Ivan (https://ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley" - Andrei (https://andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
45:27
September 29, 2021
All you have is time (#2)
Time is all we have; it's our scarcest resource, painfully finite and never to be taken for granted. In this episode we discuss how to appreciate, allocate and control your time. 0:00 Introduction  0:30 Time is your scarcest resource   3:40 How to appreciate the scarcity of time   8:44 Time is an allocation  11:50 Allocating, tracking and categorising time  16:28 Time management strategies  33:23 Career is just a time allocation  35:44 "You" are just time allocation  37:06 Is full control over time right for everyone?   39:00 All you have is time   More about us:  - Wing (https://www.wingvasiksiri.com): "Founder and Managing Partner at iSeed SEA"  - Ivan (https://www.ivanfj.com): "PhD researcher in Biodegradable Plastics at UC Berkeley"   - Andrei (https://www.andrei.ai): "PhD researcher in Machine Learning at University of Cambridge"
40:26
July 04, 2021
Life is about stories (#1)
The inaugural episode of the Don't Be a Sheep Podcast hosted by Wing, Ivan and Andrei. We discuss Ivan's current life philosophy that life is about stories, dive deeper into the importance and role of stories in society, as well debating what elements make for a good story. 0:00 Introduction 1:44 Topic: Life is about stories 4:20 Stories are how you internalize them / No objective truth to stories 5:45 Dangers of no objective truth (ft. GameStop) 8:44 Stories evolve / corrupt over time? 13:16 Influence & legacy are the mechanism by which stories propagate 15:20 Practical value to stories (happiness, career) 17:24 Exaggerated stories in startups & pitching - good or bad? 20:25 Storytelling culture of founders in Silicon Valley vs Southeast Asia 21:42 Storytelling in academia 22:45 Do stories need to be exciting? What are the obligations of a listener? 24:27 Do you need great talent to tell great stories? (Marvel vs DC) 26:18 Experience more things == better stories 27:29 How do you tell a great story? 29:43 All the stories we tell are different versions of the same story 31:55 Should great stories challenge you? 33:15 Great stories have human connection (Marvel vs DC Pt. 2) 34:04 Predicting the direction of stories vs surprisal and subverting expectation 38:40 (Modern) Art & satire 43:01 Closing thoughts Mentioned Links: Ivan's article on stories: https://ivanfj.medium.com/life-is-about-stories-349f44399c8a Generative art must be surprising but not too surprising: https://arxiv.org/abs/1706.07068
43:36
March 19, 2021