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Poke the Box: Combine Ideas

Let’s Start with Safal Niveshak
Just in case you missed any of this on Safal Niveshak over the last few weeks…

Book Worm
In last fifty years Warren Buffett has recommended quite a few books in his lectures and writings. But there is one book that can boldly claim to have found its way to Warren Buffett’s reading desk. And that book is ‘The Success Equation’, authored by Michael Mauboussin.

Michael belongs to the breed of those rare investment strategists who have spent their life puzzling over the really crucial questions in the world of decision making. He is an expert in one of the most debatable topic in the field of business strategy i.e. role of luck in defining the success for an individual as well as an organization.

The central idea discussed in Mauboussin’s book is the spectrum called Skill Vs Luck Continuum.

The world we live in today has become terribly interconnected. This introduces a high degree of complexity which in turn leads to lot of randomness and unpredictability in the outcomes of events. When this randomness operates at an individual level, it translates to either good or bad luck.

Still there are many activities which are fairly simple and usually have predictable outcomes based on the level of skills exhibited by the participants.

So there are one set of activities dominated by luck and other set of activities ruled by skill. The real trick however is to not only differentiate between the two kind of situations but to acknowledge that this differentiation doesn’t usually come with recognizable boundaries. The complexion of reality is a blend of skill and luck both.

Skill-Luck continuum is an imaginary linear scale where on the far right are activities that rely purely on skill such as running, swimming, chess, etc. On the far left are activities that depend on luck and involve no skill. Roulette or the lottery are few examples.

Mauboussin argues that in skill dominated situations, following a good process almost always leads to a good outcome. On the other hand, in a luck dominated world a good process also leads to a good outcome but only over time.

It’s a fascinating book that forces you to reflect on your decision making process. If this book deserves to be on Buffett’s desk, there is no reason you shouldn’t have this in your bookshelf too.

Stimulate Your Mind
Here’s some amazing content we read in recent times…

Poke of the Week – Combine Ideas


Charlie Munger said, “The surest way to wealth is to deserve it.”

If you want to be successful, your work has to be valuable for other people. The more value you’re able to deliver to your society, to your country, to your tribe – the more wealth gets attracted towards you.

Now, being valuable requires you to be skilful in your art. Average won’t cut it. You have to be above average, far above. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, argues that one needs to spend at least 10,000 hours of practice in an activity to qualify as a world class expert in that field.

Unfortunately, attempting to become a world class  in any activity is quite an arduous task. But what you can do is find a niche which may require a combination of multiple skills and then become a master in that. The idea is to combine several ideas.


“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things: of shoes – and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages – and kings.” Combining unusual ideas is at the heart of creative thinking. The ancients mixed soft copper and even softer tin to create hard bronze. Gutenberg combined the wine press and the coin punch to create moveable type and the printing press.

What different ideas can you combine?

(source: Creative Whack Pack)

James Altucher suggests …

“…get good at three, four, or five things. Then find the intersection. Then become the best in the world at that intersection. That’s how you can pretend to do your special purpose. When I say “get good” it doesn’t mean 10,000 hours of practice with intent. May be it means 1000 hours. Or even less. Then if you’re good at five things you’re now the only one in the world who has put 1000s of hours into the intersection. Now you’re the best in the world at that.”

Scott Adams, creator of famous cartoon strip Dilbert, writes in his book

“I’m a perfect example of the power of leveraging multiple mediocre skills. I’m rich and famous cartoonist who doesn’t draw well. At social gatherings I’m usually not the funniest person in the room…none of my skills are world-class…but when my mediocre skills (meagre business skills and fairly ordinary writing talent) are combined,  they become a powerful market force…With each new skill, my odds of success increased substantially.”

So that’s the big idea for today.

Isolated ideas and skills aren’t much useful until you find a way to combine them, layer one over other, find connections, and synergies, and build something useful.

It’s doesn’t matter how many ideas you have. What matters is how many meaningful connections can you create between those ideas.

Don’t forget the role of luck.

Don’t ignore skills either.

Connect the dots.

Don’t settle and don’t forget to keep learning.

Stay happy, stay blessed and keep poking.

With respect,
Vishal & Anshul

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About the Author

Anshul Khare worked for 12+ years as a Software Architect. He is an avid learner in various disciplines like psychology, philosophy, and spirituality with special interests in human behaviour and value investing. You can connect with Anshul on Twitter.


  1. Thanks a lot Anshul. The real challenge is to get the idea. Once we have the Idea we can find out a way to execute it or link it with some other known facts to get it done. Another aspect is sometimes no matter how innovative/original ideas pop up in your head, later you find it already being implement by others. The actual innovation follows the ‘power Law’ isn’t it?

    • Anshul Khare says:

      You’re right Niradhip!

      As far as generating ideas are concerned I found James Altucher’s book ‘Choose yourself‘ immensely useful.

      To help you think about Power law in the context of innovation, I guess Peter Diamandis’s ‘Bold‘ would give you some amazing insights.

  2. Shubham Ghumade says:

    Read your article this morning.
    It’s simply amazing,explain well. Your skill of expressing critical ideas in simple & meaningful way is too good.
    Thanks Vishal & Anshul you make my day.

    Good day.

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