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How To Improve Faster - Skill Spotting
Level 1 - NGMI
Welcome Avatar! Since Twitter is largely overrun by NPCs at this point, we figured a long form post is better for spotting talent. More specifically, we stated you probably shouldn’t hire someone like Steph Curry or Tiger Woods for coaching. The response was unsurprising “BuT DeY MaKe MiLlIoNs iN CaMpS”. If this is the thought process then failure is all but guaranteed. The key to improving at anything is by finding someone who had to overcome *more* obstacles and not only did it but excelled at it.
Continuing with the Sports example, Steve Kerr is a great coach for a reason. He was never a great athlete (for pro sports level athleticism, he is certainly 5,000,000% more athletic than the typical person) and yet the guy stayed in the league for years and years. Essentially, the less natural athleticism and talent you have the more you’re forced to rely on perfect execution. Perfect execution is only possible by correcting a laundry list of mistakes.
Again. Before reading. If you think the conclusion is “but they make millions in camps” you’re simply not sharp enough to read us. People like Tiger and Steph could sell out anything they wanted. It would be even easier to sell out their specific skill. We’re not talking about economics but improvement. On that note, time to jump in!
Part 1: Removing Bias
This is step one in improving your skill spotting abilities. Everyone in the world (including us) has a natural tendency and bias. The key is to stop, pause and remove them. Here is a short list of natural biases that everyone has
People trust physically attractive faces more than physically unattractive faces
People trust taller people more than shorter people, particularly when it comes to anything related to protection (asset protection or physical protection)
People will assume that if you can do something well that you can teach it as well
People will associate odd social skills with high-mathematical skills by default (Vitamin Butane a great example)
People with high IQs will be seen as low EQ by default according to the masses, they are generally uncorrelated
If any of the items above are offensive, it is best to move on. These are not debatable and easy to figure out. There are several other ones that are incredibly obvious but we wouldn’t dare write them on Substack and certainly not Facebook or X App.
The items listed above are universal and shouldn’t be controversial at all. If you want to “bet on it” feel free to open up a plus sized Gentleman Club in Beverly Hills.
There is a reason why this meme exists:
If only there was a reason why this trajectory is so true…
Use The Bias First
Use biases in your favor first. Remember the paragraphs above. It says they are universal.
This means you should use them to your advantage. If someone is handsome/beautiful they should consider a position in Sales before they consider a position in software engineering or accounting. No point in making life harder on yourself.
Similarly, if someone is talented at say golf (making it to a collegiate level without much training), they should consider being a golf instructor even if they can’t teach anything. The reason is that most people won’t know the difference. If they see you’re good at something they will pay just to try and learn through “osmosis”. This never works.
Finally, before you go and meet someone or interview etc. be sure to do a “mirror check”. Instead of asking “do i look good” ask yourself “do i look like the person they want”.
If you are interviewing for an engineering role you want to look more like a nerd than a jock. If you’re interviewing for something that requires fitness you want to look as strong and powerful as possible.
Based on what you look like naturally (in a standard white t-shirt and jeans) you should then modify what you’re wearing or not wearing to meetings. For those that think this is a joke, it is not.
The top of the top people in sales (people who have to visit a multitude of regions) will have various clothing types tailored to “fit in” to the vibe of that particular city. Again. This isn’t a joke. It is true. The sales people are smart enough to know that rapport goes a long way. “He looks like me and reminds me of me” is a huge edge. With millions on the line you’ll take every edge you can get.
Remove the Bias
This is a life long skill. You’re always going to fall into the same biases we listed above. It is hardwired into your DNA for decades. Don’t expect to suddenly remove them just because you read a post by a cartoon on the internet.
Ask What Biases Help: This is the first step. Before evaluating the skill level of the individual, you have to ask what biases would help them. If it is a sales role you know that being good looking is practically a necessity. If it was an investment banking role, you know that their performance review is largely decided by the deals they worked on - ie. their boss. If it was an entry level position you know that “Prestigious University” would be a huge boost even if irrelevant to performance (note: there are many people floating around in high paying positions solely due to their prestigious degrees)
We could go down the list of more politically incorrect biases that help/hurt but that’s your job to solve! The above is good enough.
Part 2: Thinking Logically
Once you have a quick list of the bias’s that would make someone *better* at the position, you have to find good/great people that have none of the benefits. The majority of people do not need Worldclass tools. They are not ready for them.
Choose the topic, we’ll choose a few here randomly:
You are a Beginner Golfer: You can take golf swing lessons from a top 5 all time player. Or. You can take golf swing lessons from a Division 2 golf player who couldn’t make varsity in High School until his senior year.
The answer here is clear. 99.9% of people should choose option two. You’re new and unlikely have perfect form. If someone wasn’t even able to make Varsity in a sport they are not particularly talented because talent alone would get you there. It means the person fixed a huge range of deficiencies to improve everything. When you show up the number of items to fix won’t matter since they’ve already gone through it.
Exception. You are already a Division 1 level player and are 16 years old. This means you’re naturally gifted and likely need more advanced information. In that case you probably still won’t learn much from a top 5 player and should go and find someone who was a semi-pro.
You are a Beginner in Sales: Should you go and learn the basics from the 10/10 ex-sorority girl who moved to pharma sales and is a top performer? Or should you get the basics from a top 10% performer who has a Plain Jane appearance of similar age.
With no additional info, choose the plain looking person. Despite having no leg up in marketing, performance is great.
Every single person knows that your E-com customer service/help desk is supposed to be an attractive woman as the image at the end. Even if you’re the one doing it.
Coincidental side note: As we were hitting publish, one of the BowTied members noted he switched from a guy to an attractive girl and the CTR rate went up by more than 5x on ads. (Don’t fight reality!)
You Are Hiring Someone: Take a glance at their resumes. You find that two people are the final candidates for a job that requires 2 years of work experience. Both went to top schools. Both work at large similar firms. You do some quick searching and one of them has a wealthy parent related to the investment bank they work at. The other came from the middle of nowhere in Alaska. You are a fool to hire the person from a rich family.
Exception to the rule, the goal of the new position is to raise money. In that case you choose the person from the rich family. Not even close there.
For a better explanation of this, read this old memo from Bear Stearns
Part 3: Using the Heavy Research Method
This method should be done for serious endeavors. Learning how to bowl or golf is unlikely on the list of serious endeavors. Learning how to sell is on the list of serious endeavors.
Before and After Results: This is a classic sales technique, it is also *somewhat* true. The trick is making sure that the success stories are not juiced. Juiced means, the person was talented already and just needed some repetition.
Go through the list of successful “proteges” and see how deficient they were before and after. If you’re learning sales techniques and all the “success stories” are guys who look like Gavin Newsom and women who look like Lakers Cheerleaders, you should probably take a pause.
What you’re looking for is magnitude of change. If you find someone with Mediocre talent that becomes top 10% that’s pretty dramatic and much more impressive than top 1% talent going to top 0.9% talent.
To be clear, the low end is also the same.
Taking someone with Mediocre skill and having him be slightly above average also isn’t great. Like many things in life, your internal grading scheme will be more of an art than a science (over 5-10 years you’ll be able to spot good programs with ease)
Money Ball an NPC Example: In the rare case that an NPC made it through this post (basically just made fun of all his/her heroes), he or she will know the movie money ball.
Essentially, the entire movie is predicated around using statistics to change sports. This ended up changing a wide range of sports (beyond baseball). The baseball move was just the first domino to changing the NBA to a 3-point shooting league.
Did “analytics” win in the end? To us the answer is yes. To a lot of people who see the teams losing, they would say no. The initial result is not the answer. It’s the relative result. Despite having no budget and a horrible disadvantage the outperformance was so massive that it couldn’t be ignored. The teams with big budgets simply adapted the same strategy which gave the “image” that analytics didn’t win. (hint: it won)
Part 4: Rapid Fire Example Questions to Drive the Points Home
Is it more likely that a 6’1” thin guard in the NBA is a better coach or a 7’ tall athletic three point shooter like Kevin Durant?
Do you think Vitalik Buterin would do a good job teaching mathematics to people failing high school algebra?
Do you want investment banking interview advice from the guy with a 4.0 from Harvard or the guy who got in from a non-target school with zero personal contacts?
Which Managing Director is more impressive the one who has a dad that is also the CFO of a F500 or the guy bringing in the same deal volume but has no MBA and no initial contacts?
You see the top 10 sales people listed on the company website and don’t know the first thing about the job, do you have enough information to make a decent starting point?
At this point you’re probably laughing at how easy it is when you’re aware of the bias’s. The harder part is putting it in practice as your brain always defaults to bias initially. This is why nothing will ever change not in 1 year, 10 years or 50 years. Human nature is human nature. Predictable.
Rest in peace if you try to make your customer service email photo similar to Shrek.
The top people in every industry will have *both* incredible talent and incredible skill. The vast majority of top sales people will always be attractive (hence the meme to start this post!).
The trick to getting ahead, is finding people with extreme skill and learning from them
The masses have zero self awareness so they will never know when they are watching learned skill vs. talent.
If you want proof of this, just go on TikTok.
Disclaimer: None of this is to be deemed legal or financial advice of any kind. These are *opinions* written by an anonymous group of Ex-Wall Street Tech Bankers and software engineers who moved into affiliate marketing and e-commerce. We’re an advisor for Synapse Protocol 2022-2024E.
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