How To Live Well

Today I want to tell you how to live well. To the majority, living well is directly proportional to the financial success. As the IQ increases, people add to the list self realization, human contact, good health, etc. Today we’ll stick to the basics. And the answer to the question “How to live well?” is truly simple – a single formula of three numbers govern the monetary side of the question.

But first things first. Before you learn how to live well, you have to understand how progress works. It’s very simple – there are commodities and there are nice things. These two categories cannot be conjugate. Nice things are nice – they are made with quality, people put extra touch to make the owner feel exceptional. Commodities are all the other stuff that poor people buy because they cannot afford the nice things. Commodities are manufactured using the cheapest materials, the labor laws are not respected and nobody would ever care about the owner of that cheap garbage.

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Gene editing will lead Biotech revolution

Gene editing has a huge potential to change the way we live for the better and solve some of the hardest problems we face right now as a humanity. It’s a completely new and much more advanced way to solve problems. Just as computers made designs more detailed and perfected, text documents edited and stylized, videos rendered to perfect quality to name a few – gene editing can do the same for plants and animals.
When it comes to treatments and saving human lives, gene editing can work precisely and with no side effects. It feels unfair to me that it’s so feared and held back.
I had an ethics course about using new medications and treatments. This course gave a great insight into what happens in regulation sector right now. Even if some basic guidelines of treatment ethics make sense, I find it hard to believe how many obstacles strict regulation of ethics causes. In the end, how can someone healthy decide for those who are in need of help.
The answer why we still need ethics commities lies not far away – the ethically corrupt and selfish companies. When science brings health and abundance to all, some companies want it all for themselves. And these are not only pharma companies. I especially hate Monsanto for destroying peoples’ trust in GM vegetables because of the greed to profit only themselves and pesticide manufacturers.
The biotech revolution is coming. Just like giants such as IBM and HP felt the blow from computer innovations, pharma companies and pesticide manufacturers will feel the blow from new genetic modification companies.
Let’s celebrate the successful cancer treatment using biotechnology.

Decision making tactics

We make hundreds of decisions every day. Sometimes the decision making process is a waste of time. People cannot make up the mind for a long time over some really meaningless details.

You know that Mark Zuckerberg always wears the same style clothes? There is a reason for it – no waste of time in the morning deciding what to wear. Another famous person to prove the same tactics is Tim Draper. Tim makes decisions in about a few seconds and usually that’s about enough. Busy people have developed advanced decision making tactics.

I created a very simple flow chart to crystallize this decision making process. It’s really simple – the only question you ask yourself is: “Is this what I do?”

Flow chart

I am lost now

Today is exactly one month since I have bought my first Apple product – an iPhone. Everyone knows how sceptical I was about Apple products but this iPhone changed a lot. I’ll go over a few details that I realized while using it.
First – less abstract things. It was a bit unusual to have everything done in one way without other options but let’s say that this one way is a pretty good way to get things done. I really appreciate the quality of details in that small screen where everything seems to fit. Autocorrect does not annoy me anymore although it’s one of the things that could be done better. The thing about the cheap plastic impression when it vibrates that I pointed out when I just bought is totally outweighed by the fact that I always feel the phone vibrate in my pocket (quite the opposite of the Samsung). One thing that still really does not seem to work for me is the touchscreen. It feels non-responsive – some touches are completely ignored while others are misdirected.
Something more abstract is the thought I realized that Apple is the ultimate capitalist company. One pays the premium to get things done in a nice and effective way but at the same time it’s like outsourcing the tasks to others while paying the premium. I still cannot get over the fact that one cannot be sure to get them done in the best way. On the contrary – Android is like socialist anarchy where everyone can do things in their own way. Sometimes it’s possible to hack things to find much shorter ways but also it comes quite often that one loses time in looking for good ways to solve problems. I am an advocate of the social-anarchy that Android represents but I came to really like the aspect of someone else doing the hard work for you while you pay the premium. In addition to that, some of the best brands do the same to the world. By using Apple product I suddenly started to like other brands much more. Brands like Red Bull or Saab because they stand for something greater than just making a product. Before it was just a theory for marketing, now I really touched it.
In conclusion, I never believed that one gadget can change so much by doing just simple tasks but it did. I am lost now.

Improving Swiss entrepreneurship game

I am an entrepreneur and I live in Switzerland. I see a lot of things that are happening in the Swiss tech scene but I’m far from impressed about the ease of being an entrepreneur here. I worked with Lithuanian governmental agency to improve the Lithuanian entrepreneurial “game”. Now that I have the opportunity to experience the Swiss system as a user and having seen the different systems from the perspective of the entrepreneurial orchestra conductor I can say that Swiss system is disappointing. The difference from many other systems is that it is disappointing not because of negligence but rather due to overregulation. Let’s clear some things up.

1. Subsidized programs for entrepreneurial education and governmental agencies do not really improve entrepreneurship.

As a very normal sign for a governance that is dominated by Germanic culture things are greatly regulated and planned down to the smallest detail. That’s a huge problem for entrepreneurship. No true entrepreneur follows a well-crafted scrupulously planned educational program to become an entrepreneur. I have attended the venture challenge program. I have been invited and highly advised to attend another entrepreneurship training financed by the CTI (Swiss government).

Another point to be made here – Swissnex and the events they organize. More than a year ago I first visited the Swissnex San Francisco office. It felt as if the entrepreneurs visiting the offices were following a carefully planned schedule and meeting the people approved by the Swissnex workers. Today, I have the same experience with the Swissnex India. I am very interested in the tech scene in Bangalore and I am highly advised to apply for a Startup Tour Bangalore. One thing I have to say about this tour is that it caters for a broad spectrum of people working with entrepreneurs. The idea is that what works for many people does not really work for anyone. One point to clarify – the tour looks like a great tour with high quality events and I am sure it’s organized superbly. It looks, however, like a corporate retreat where workers go to learn something not because they are interested in these particular subjects but because a manager of the branch saw the opportunity and the budget predictions said that there is extra money to finance a corporate retreat.

To summarize, the planned events don’t work with entrepreneurship. Every entrepreneur is a weirdo at her particular category. Everyone has their taste and interest. Surely, wasting money on the entrepreneurial education and events catering a broad spectrum of entrepreneurs are not the way to improve entrepreneurship.

2. Community feeling is missing.

This is a very tough problem to address. It’s already hard to implement in countries with a more homogeneous population. The idea is that people need to meet and share the ideas, have conversations over technologies and inspire each other. I come forward and admit that I have been very passive on this subject. The problem has been brought up by other people as well so here it is.

The biggest obstacle is the fact that Switzerland has four national languages and neither of them is English. Whenever I go to an event I have no idea what to expect. My point of view is highly influenced by the US entrepreneurship. The aspect of community is on the opposite side of polarity in the USA. I’ll give an example. Back in California I used to wear a $6 hoodie and $6 sweatpants. I did not wear them intentionally for meetings but sometimes I ended up having meetings in these clothes because of serendipious bumping into somebody. I did not feel somehow inferior because of my clothes or my English that some people mentioned has central European accent. In Switzerland, on the other hand, entrepreneurs wear expensive clothes casually. When talking to investors, I can feel them judging the details of my clothing and my English or broken French trying to imagine from what kind of third world this kid came. I don’t really care about it but it does not convey a message of trust and companionship.

There is also some sort of rivalry between the entrepreneurs. It looks like it comes from the school. Differently from US, many Swiss startups are University spin-offs. People used to competing in the lab feel the need to prove their superiority in startups too. This leads to some ideas being written down as too simple or making no sense. Well, I can tell that a lot of people thought that renting an air mattress in one’s apartment was a stupid idea. However, Airbnb is regarded as one of the Silicon Valley’s unicorns.

Lack of community also highly influences the type of startups that grow in Switzerland. It becomes very hard to run an effective marketing campaign within a limited community. Again, I compare this to the US. For example, successful Silicon Valley startups get successful because it’s easy to meet a reporter of Techcrunch, or the founder of the Product Hunt. Not to mention that countless events give an opportunity to perfect the pitch and invite people to try the product. Swiss startups are on the other hand more B2B oriented. It’s easier to meet other executives than spread the word about a new product among the general public. It’s worth mentioning that Swiss startup types are also influenced by the fact that a lot of them come from universities instead of someone trying to solve a problem in the freetime.

In summary, the community could be more open without the traces of hierarchy. It is difficult to achieve in a very fragmented country with four languages but it’s a very important goal to achieve. With an interconnected community it’s much easier to market and launch new products.

3. Deeply rooted Swiss bureaucracy is counter-entrepreneurial

A huge drawback for Swiss entrepreneurship is the bureaucratic system and the high standard of living. Applying for a residence permit takes too much time and is costly. Finding a place to live is too difficult and it’s made even more complex due to the fact that one needs a residence permit to rent a room, but at the same time one needs the room to get the permit. That’s not it. There is a mandatory health insurance which costs about $280 every month. Getting one is another time consuming task. Seems that in capitalist economy one pays for a service and gets it. However, since it is so regulated to get insured one has to go for at least four meetings and it’s still not finished in my case after nearly three months.

Something I have been lucky to have avoided is having a work contract before applying for a permit. I have a job from the time I was studying in Switzerland. If not, entrepreneurs have to provide a bunch of other documents proving that they are working on a venture in Switzerland to get the permit.

If there is one thing where the government can put the money is providing less demands for entrepreneurs, help them get moving and dropping regulations.

4. Final musings on where to be an entrepreneur

Quite often I ask myself why here and where if not here. Is living in a country with such high wages and standard of living the right choice for entrepreneur? In most cases I would say “no” and I sound such a hypocrite to myself. I am chasing a goal of influencing the first world, solving a first world problem. I need cash to move in this first world and work on my solution. However, so many people including Bill Gates, Ben Horrowitz, Peter Diamandis and many others say that the billion dollar ideas are in making improvements to the third world. In addition to that, the third world is full of solutions that the first world has already forgotten (even the pre-hotel solutions concerning the Airbnb case). Third world has easily accessible manufacturing technologies that anyone can improve. If one invents a new camera – she can go to the camera manufacturer, one wants to invent cheap dental implants he can go to a street dentist. First world has outsourced all the production, there are just secret R&D facilities. Lastly, one can very cheaply live in the third world while working on the technology.

So why indeed I am here in Switzerland? The society and the government accepts entrepreneurship as an effective way to remain an influential country. There are highly skilled individuals who graduate from the world class Universities. Even with a side job one can save enough money to invest in necessary developments in the startup. Lastly, whenever one feels like taking a break there are thousands of stunning places to go to recharge.

About cyclical time and persuasion

I was talking with some Muslims about Koran and the religion of Islam. This conversation was sparked by a claim that people will never be able to create another human being by themselves. Besides the original question whether or not people can create a human in a lab I was very curious to understand what stands behind the Muslim beliefs. I had an impression that Muslim minds are quite repressed on some topics – the human pride and deep desire to understand and create have been replaced by a thought that humans can never achieve things that are attributed to a divine creation. Another thing that has been bothering me when taking to Muslim men is their attitude towards women. Maybe my egalitarian views seem too liberal for more than just Muslims but what I hear some times just seems ridiculous. This is where I finish questioning Muslim views and tell you what I contemplated afterwards.

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Throw Back from the Startup Grind 2015

Bill Maris talking about the ease of access to human knowledge.

As the time goes by, I like to reassess my past activities and arrange my priorities. I have been thinking about the Startup Grind 2015 that I visited just before leaving the Silicon Valley. It was a huge three day event with thousands of attendees and inspiring speakers such as Nir Eyal, Aditya Agarwal, Bill Maris, Vinod Khosla and many others.

Startup Grind has a great set of values that help to shape the event into an unforgettable experience. These values fit into just six words:

  • Give first
  • Help others
  • Make friends


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How three brothers searched for happiness

This is a story that was originally created for the Draper University application.

Once upon a time lived three brothers. They were from a mysterious land over the seven seas and behind high mountains. The three brothers were sons of a single farmer. The old man worked in the same land where his parents and grandparents used to work. The land was not very fertile. The family lived quite close to the mountains. Stones and harsh climate would never make the harvest big enough to earn a fortune. When the brothers grew up, old man told them to think about what they wanted to do with their lives.

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