They get paid the salary first. In legal [bankruptcy] proceedings, the salaries are sacrosanct.
Finally there are the equity holders. These people are actually going to get most of the upside. Once the debt holders are paid off and the salaries are paid off, whatever remains goes to them. The equity holders take on greater risk, but in exchange, they get nearly unlimited upside. You can do the same with all of your work. Essentially, taking accountability for your actions is the same as taking an equity position in all of your work. Realize that in modern society, the downside risk is not that large. Even personal bankruptcy can wipe the debts clean in good ecosystems.
If you screw up, you crash the ship, and there are immediate consequences. In the old days, the captain was expected to go down with the ship. If the ship was sinking, then literally the last person who got to get off was the captain. The risk here would be that you would probably be the last one to get your capital back out. Bernie Madoff, for example, Madoff investments, that name is never going to be good again in the investment community.
You are not going to go into the investment business because he ruined the family name. I think these days the accountability risk with a name happens more around integrity, rather than it does around purely economic failure. I also think this is why people like Taleb rail against CEOs who get rewards without accountability. If you want to get anywhere in modern life and understand how modern systems work, then Skin In The Game would be near the top of my list to read.
Accountability, skin in the game, these concepts go very closely hand in hand. I think of accountability as reputational skin in the game. Accountability is a simple concept.
I think there are ways to take on accountability where every member of a team can take on accountability for their portion. That is how you get a well-functioning team while still putting credits and losses in the correct columns. Wealth requires leverage. Labor and capital are older forms of leverage that everyone is fighting over. Business leverage comes from capital, people and products with no marginal costs of replication. Naval: Leverage is critical. I read it when I was very, very young and it had a huge impression on me.
We all know what leverage is when we use a seesaw or a lever. The oldest form of leverage is labor, which is people working for you. Instead of me lifting rocks, I can have 10 people lift rocks. Then just by my guidance on where the rock should go, a lot more rocks get moved than I could do myself.
This is why your parents are impressed when you get a promotion and you have lots of people working underneath you. We just automatically assume that more people is better. I would argue that this is the worst form of leverage that you could possibly use. Managing other people is incredibly messy.
It requires tremendous leadership skills. Entire civilizations have been destroyed over this fight. For example, communism, Marxism, is all about the battle between capital and labor, das kapital and das labor. You really want to stay out of labor-based leverage. You want the minimum amount of people working with you that are going to allow to use the other forms of leverage, which I would argue are much more interesting. The second type of leverage is capital.
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We understand them a little bit less well. They probably require more intelligence to use correctly, and the ways in which we use them keep changing. Capital is a trickier form of leverage to use.
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You can see this by who are the richest people. If you look at the top of very large companies, outside of technology companies, in many, many large old companies, the CEO job is really a financial job. Sometimes, an asset manager can put a pleasant face on it, so you get a Warren Buffet type. But deep down, I think we all dislike capital as a form of leverage because it feels unfair. That said, capital is a powerful form of leverage. It can be converted to labor. It can be converted to other things. It scales very, very well. If you get good at managing capital, you can manage more and more capital much more easily than you can manage more and more people.
It is a good form of leverage, but the hard part with capital is how do you obtain it? Capital also is fairly well understood. I think a lot of the knocks against capitalism come because of the accumulation of capital. Product and media are the leverage of new wealth. Create software and media that work for you while you sleep. Naval: The most interesting and the most important form of leverage is this idea of products that have no marginal cost of replication.
This is the new form of leverage. This was only invented in the last few hundred years. It got started with the printing press. Now, you can multiply your efforts without having to involve other humans and without needing money from other humans. This podcast is a form of leverage. Long ago, I would have had to sit in a lecture hall and lecture each of you personally.
I would have maybe reached a few hundred people and that would have been that.http://pierreducalvet.ca/228658.php
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They would have distorted the message. They would taken the economics out of it or charged me for it. They would have muddled the message, and I would have been lucky to get that form of leverage. Today, thanks to the Internet, I can buy a cheap microphone, hook it up to a laptop or an iPad, and there you are all listening. This newest form of leverage is where all the new fortunes are made, all the new billionaires. The last generation, fortunes were made by capital.
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That was the Warren Buffets of the world. Joe Rogan making 50 to a million bucks a year from his podcast. The Fortnite players. That is all code-based leverage. Combining all three forms of leverage is a magic combination. Now, the beauty is when you combine all of these three. Then you add in capital. You use that for marketing, advertising, scaling. You add in lots of code and media and podcasts and content to get it all out there.
Nivi: Do you want to talk a little bit about permissioned versus permissionless? Naval: Probably the most interesting thing to keep in mind about the new forms of leverage is they are permissionless.
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For labor leverage, somebody has to decide to follow you. For capital leverage, somebody has to give you money to invest or to turn into a product. Coding, writing books, recording podcasts, tweeting, YouTubing, these kinds of things, these are permissionless.
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As long as you can write apps for it, you can get rich or reach users doing that, why not? The robot army is already here—code lets you tell them what to do. I think of all the forms of leverage, the best one in modern society … This is glib.
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This is a little overused. This is why I tell people learn to code. That may be true, but I would say that the majority of the robot revolution has already happened. We put them in servers.