Bitcoin, iCar, and How to be Lucky – Business Strategy and Psychology #30

Shakespeare’s Hamlet claims “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Psychologist Richard Wiseman claims the same thing about people who claim to be lucky or unlucky. Wiseman spent years interviewing people who claimed to be either exceptionally lucky or exceptionally lucky, and his findings may help us to become more lucky ourselves.

Luck is not a magical ability or the result of random chance. Nor are people born lucky or unlucky. Instead… their thoughts and behavior are responsible for much of their fortune.

Richard Wiseman

Wiseman discovered four factors that influence how lucky someone is. These factors are creating and noticing opportunities, listening to their intuition, creating self-fulfilling prophecies through positive expectations, and resilience that turns bad outcomes into good ones.

On top of interviewing people, there is also experimental backing to these factors. For example, Wiseman ran two experiments testing the ability for people to notice opportunities. In both experiments he asked people who considered themselves lucky or unlucky to count how many photos were in a book. In the first experiment, “unlucky” people took minutes, “lucky” people took seconds. How? the “lucky” people spotted the text on the second page that read “There are 43 images in this book”. In the second experiment the “lucky” people were also more likely to spot a page halfway through that read ““Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.”

As well as noticing more opportunities, “lucky” people are more likely to view any situation as lucky rather than unlucky. Wiseman asked his group of lucky/unlucky people to rate how lucky a scenario felt – you are standing in a bank when an armed robber comes in and fires of a shot, hitting you in the arm. “Lucky” people rated this scenario as lucky because of how much worse it could have been, while “unlucky” people rated the scenario as unlucky because they had been shot in the arm.

So, to become lucky, engage in these four behaviors. To create opportunities, try escaping your routine. To notice them when they arise, meditate more (anxiety correlates to how much anyone notices). Engage resilience by imagining how the situation could be much worse. And never see failure as the end of the road, only another step in our learning journey.

Morning Sun (2013-15) by Gustav Deutsch

Good morning!

I hope you are all healthy and well. It’s hard to feel well at the moment, especially given how we are all living our lives indoors, separated from family, surrounded by bad news about how bad the new Covid variants are.

This week I talk about being lucky, and how to be lucky. I consider myself to be very lucky, and I mostly put that down to trying many different things and seeing the silver lining in most any cloud.

This week I also talk about Bitcoin, Boston Dynamics, and the fact that 700,000 workers have disappeared from London. But if you leave this article with just one thought, I hope it is this: You are already lucky, you just need to notice it. Once you have noticed it, life gets much easier.

Have a lucky week,


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Bitcoin has been in the news lately. A lot. I remember in 2017 when I first started taking notice of Bitcoin. Then it went off my radar for a while, only to pop back onto my radar this year. I’d heard terms like bitcoin mining, the blockchain, and distributed leger before. But until recently, I wasn’t sure what they meant. This article is supposed to explain what Bitcoin actually is, how it is used, as well as a couple of thoughts about the future of cryptocurrencies.

What is Bitcoin?

When I explained Bitcoin back in 2017, I likened it to gold. It was a commodity you could buy and store, and one that was being mined at a fixed rate. The only difference was that this commodity was completely digital.

But this explanation completely ignores the reason that bitcoin was invented. Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym) invented Bitcoin back in 2009 aiming to create a decentralised system with low transaction costs. The transaction costs of sending and receiving bitcoin are minute compared to costs of banks, making bitcoin attractive for “microtransactions”. And the fact that bitcoin is decentralised means that no government can control the currency or cause it to inflate in value.

But Bitcoin is also similar to gold, and to other fiat currencies (any currency not backed by a commodity, like USD, GBP and Euro) in that none of these things have any inherent value. We can’t eat them, and they can’t, by themselves, bring us any joy. This currencies only have value because we, as a global society, agree that they have value. In this way, bitcoin is very much like a regular currency – it is held up by belief alone. The only issue with bitcoin is that no-one can agree on how much one is worth, leading to huge fluctuations in value.

But really, what is Bitcoin?

Fiat currency value is kept in notes and coins, gold is stored in bars, what about bitcoins? What it actually means to own a bitcoin is simply that everyone to agrees that you have a bitcoin. All bitcoin transactions are kept on a distributed leger, a record of all past exchanges that everyone has an identical copy of, and whatever you have received but not sent is what you own.

When you buy a bitcoin, a record of that transaction is shared with everyone and noted on the distributed leger. This leger is incredibly secure because it is impossible to edit once verified. Once a transaction is on the blockchain, everyone has evidence of the transaction. To change the leger you would need to convince everyone that their leger is wrong, and to do that you would need to control over 50% of the legers on the network. Given the number of people verifying transactions, this is next to impossible.

When you make a bitcoin transaction you include where you got the bitcoin from, the amount of bitcoin to send, and the destination of the bitcoin. This information is then stamped using the sender’s private key (the secret password to their bitcoin account). The people validating the transactions don’t get the private key itself, they get the result of a calculation using the transaction information and the private key.

This resultant information needs to be validated to make sure that the transaction actually came from the account owner. The people verifying transactions are called bitcoin miners and some estimate there are up to one million of them. “Mining” is actually the process of performing calculations to check that the transactions are coming from the owners of the accounts. As a reward for this verification process, the bitcoin miners get paid a small amount of bitcoin per block of transactions they verify.

Why buy Bitcoin?

Why would someone buy bitcoin? There are a variety of reasons. Some might buy bitcoin as a bullish investment, expecting the value to continue to rise in the future.  Others might buy and sell within a day hoping to make gains on intra-day fluctuations.

Another, more anarchic reason to buy bitcoin, is as a hedge against global instability. Because fiat currencies are controlled by governments, and therefore can be printed by governments as and when they want, they are liable to inflation, the process by which money can buy less next year than it can this year. Bitcoin, however, has a hard limit to the amount in circulation, meaning that it is immune to inflation.

What does the future hold for Bitcoin?

First on the list of concerns for Bitcoin is legislation. Over the past year China has cracked down heavily on Bitcoin ownership, closing exchanges where people can buy and sell cryptocurrencies. Across the Pacific, new Chair of the Fed Janett Yellen said “Cryptocurrencies are a particular concern” showing her intention to crack down on crypto.

But Bitcoin still might have a bright future. As people start to become more comfortable with a truly cashless society, they might also become more comfortable with a society without financial centres such as banks in the middle of the process. Certainly this is what many people who are holding bitcoin think, including JP Morgan who could see the price  of one bitcoin rising to $140,000 in the long term. Satoshi’s original intention was that people wouldn’t need an intermediary third party to establish trust in an exchange, but could instead put their trust in cryptography.

What about changes in technology, such as the invention of quantum computing? Because bitcoin is an open-source technology, it is possible to change the encryption Bitcoin uses, as long as the majority of holders and miners agree to the change. Once quantum technology is able to break current cryptography, the expectation is that Bitcoin will move to a post quantum cryptographic model.

However, the fact is that bitcoin is not where it wants to be. It is still far too volatile. Why would a consumer use a bitcoin to purchase a pizza if the value of the bitcoin could go up 10% overnight? And why would a company accept bitcoin if its value could drop 10% overnight? Before bitcoin becomes a true cryptocurrency, its price will need to stabilise. Until then is it a secure, volatile, cryptoasset.

Overall, should you buy bitcoin? I personally think that this bull-run is coming to an end and we will see a decrease in the price of bitcoin over the next year, depending on how the Federal Reserve ends up handling cryptocurrencies. But I might be completely wrong, as many people have been over the years. Tell me what you think at

Boston Dynamics, Hyundai, and the Apple Car

Back in early December Boston Dynamics sent out a press release that they were being sold, for $1bn, to the Japanese car manufacturer Hyundai. Later that month Reuters reported that Apple was increasing it’s efforts to build a car. This month reports have come out that Apple is working with Hyundai to build this car.

I personally struggle to see all of this news as coincidence. But before we go about connecting dots like a conspiracy theorist, lets take a closer look at Hyundai’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics from SoftBank.

You might not recognize the name Boston Dynamics, but you’ll almost certainly recognize what they do. The below video of Boston Dynamics robots dancing has been viewed over 27 million times.

It might not be initially clear why Hyundai would be interested in robots that can dance, but looking at Boston Dynamics website provides a quick insight. Two of Boston Dynamics robots, Pick and Handle, are clearly made to be able to improve speed an efficiency in manufacturing and warehouses, making it possible to build cars for an even lower unit price.

The second area where Boston Dynamics might be able to help Hyundai is with computer vision. The auto industry is currently experiencing a race to full self driving autonomy, and Boston Dynamics’ experience in this area might prove helpful.

But the benefits that Boston Dynamics can provide to Hyundai becomes even more obvious in the context of the Apple Car. Hyundai has announced that they will be building the Apple Car under their Kia band, which is manufactured in the US, a more expensive country to build in than India, Singapore or Bangladesh, where Hyundai have factories. Fully automated, or nearly fully automated production lines in the US will help bring down the production costs.

Additionally, if Apple is to make a car, then the car needs to be high tech with decent self driving technology. The Boston Dynamics acquisition will help Hyundai leapfrog their hardware to a position where it is ready to start working with Apple on the software side.

Finally, a fully automated production facility allows for quick prototype development. Creating a car isn’t quite the same as creating a phone – you can’t take the prototype home to fiddle with it. But if you can create a fully automated production line, then prototype production becomes cheaper and easier, making it possible to rapidly iterate in the same way Apple does with phone design.

In the past 10 years Apple revenue has grown 422%. To grow at the same rate over the next 10 years they would need to account for over half of all consumer electronics spending in the world (they currently account for 18%). To sustain their current growth, it won’t be enough to dominate consumer electronics, they need to learn to dominate other markets too. I believe that Apple can create a quality vehicle. And if they are going to maintain their position on the world stage, relative to Google and Amazon, they are going to need to.

700,000 people

Over the last couple of months 700,000 foreign born workers have disappeared from London. This is due to a combination of lockdowns causing a drop in service jobs, and Brexit making the country a less appealing place to work. Rather than digging further into the causes of this shift, I’m going to have a quick look at the effects of this shift on the labour market, the housing market, and the broader London economy.

The Office for National Statistics noted a 0.4% increase in the employment rate in London this year. This is clearly bollocks as Covid has decimated the service industry and the entertainment industry. But when unemployed workers leave the country completely it appears as if total employment rises. This reduction in labour will be, in the long run, problematic. When restrictions are lifted and the demand for service labour returns, there will be too many jobs chasing too few employees.

This reduction in available labour will have two effects. The first is inflationary. Employees will have to pay more to get work, and will have to charge more to afford the labour. More money chasing the same number of goods leads to inflation. The second effect might be that the service economy starts to embrace more technology. Touchscreen interfaces and robotic chefs will become more normal, relying on human interaction only where it adds the most value.

But most of this won’t be seen for over six months. One effect that we are seeing now is a drop in rental prices. Over the past year, 8% of London’s population have left, either permanently like the 700,000 who have left the country or temporarily by moving to the country. This has caused rents to drop between five and fifteen percent in the center of the city (FT, 23/01). House prices haven’t changed in the same way, indicating that people are leaving the city center and opting instead for buying a house on the outskirts, which makes sense given that stamp duty (house purchase tax) has been cut to zero until the end of March. After that date, the drop in prices in the city center might kick in.

Finally, what effect will this have on the whole of the London economy? 700,000 people is a lot, even in the context of London’s nearly 9 million population. Simply put, fewer people will end up buying fewer things, putting further pressure on businesses in the city. Whether or not this effect lasts will depend on a labour deal with the EU.


First up, why are flies so hard to swat? Second, what is Zendaya up to these days? Finally, we need more significant others in our lives, but not in a romantic way.

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