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Eat People and Grumby: Andy Kessler hits it out of the Park – Twice

Eat people and Grumby. Two books, one author, ten days. Loads of fun..

First Eat People. I came across Andy Kessler when I picked up a copy of Running money at some airport in another life and couldn’t put it down. In Eat People Andy does for technology what he did for investment management in Running Money. His ten simple rules (actually eleven) really lay out the roadmap for technology entrepreneurs.

Here is short list stolen from the book

  1. If it doesn’t scale, it will get stale
  2. Waste abundance to fund scarcity
  3. When in doubt, get Horizontal
  4. Intelligence moves out to the edge of the network
  5. Wealth comes from productivity
  6. Adapt to Humans
  7. Markets make better decisions
  8. Embrace exceptionalism
  9. Zero marginal cost
  10. Use virtual pipes
  11. Highest returns

While the book gets slow and Andy gets preachy on a few occasion, there are some solid gems in there for technology geeks aiming to build successful companies. My favorite piece is Andy’s discourse on characteristics of human intelligence. He documents it as the combination of four factors that define how our brains are laid out and the variation amongst these ranges that differentiate the truly gift from the ordinary.

  1. Clock speed – varies between 1 and 3 for most. Fastest to the slowest refers to how quickly can we think and process information (aka the Stroud Number)
  2. Linked List Memory – our ability to track chunks of information at one time – varies between 3 – 12 pieces or lists
  3. Thought generators, templates or processors – varies between two to ten with an average of 5.
  4. The length of a unit of memory or the Halstead Length. Average around 250 with the best of the best programmers clocking in with lengths of 60,000 plus

Andy recommends devoting our lives to finding these brilliant guys and motivating them to come work for or with you. It’s the Halstead Length that drives our ability to grasp a complex problem and solve it.

Pick a copy the next time you see it and if Eat people gets too heavy for you (which it does) switch to Grumby a light hearted, irreverent tale of a hacker finding his way around build a business that goes postal.

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