A Few Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

January 11, 2017 | 15 Comments » | Topics: Answers, Interesting

What’t it like to be an introvert?

Early on in my relationship with my extroverted wife, we went to a party together, and, at some point, I asked, “Would it be okay if we left in an hour?”

She said, “Sure.”

Then I got involved in a poker game and she could see I was having a blast. But, in the middle of the game, at exactly an hour from when I’d mentioned leaving, I said, “Okay, I’m ready to go.”

She was flabbergasted. “But you’re having fun!” she said. “I can see you’re having fun!”

“Yes, I am, but I still want to go.”

What she didn’t understand is that socializing feels, for me, like a fun but strenuous physical activity. If someone says, “I need to stop dancing now,” it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s having a bad time. He may just be tired.

It’s like I have a battery inside me that allows me to function socially for a certain length of time. When it’s drained, my social skills vanish, whether I’ve been having a good time or not. And I feel a tremendous need to be by myself and recharge.

This past winter, we were snowed into our apartment for nearly two weeks, and by the end of it, we were stir crazy. We needed to be around other people. I needed it as much as my wife did.

But, once we’d hung out with some friends, my social needs were met way before hers were. I stayed out until midnight or so, just to make her happy, but I got antsy to go home at around nine, and by 10:30, I was in agony.

Still, from about 5pm until 8:30, we were both having fun.

– Marcus Geduld

 

 

What is it like to work with Elon Musk?

After working for Elon for over 5 years at SpaceX as the Head of Talent Acquisition, there are many potential answers to this question.  Any answer I might give will be completely colored by my own experiences, so full disclaimer this is not an unbiased piece free of personal narrative.   

It is said that you cannot dream yourself a character; you must hammer and forge one yourself. If any leader and any company has done that, and continues to do that it is SpaceX.  To try and capture in words what  working with Elon is like, I’d like to share some specific memories, particularly of one really rough day and its epic aftermath.    

On Aug 2 2008, 8 months after I joined the company, SpaceX launched its third flight of the Falcon 1 launch vehicle.  Falcon 1 was the predecessor to the Falcon 9 launch vehicles that the company flies today.  

It was a defining moment for the company. Elon had a couple years prior stated in the press that his $100M personal investment in the company would get us up to 3 tries and if we couldn’t be successful by the third flight we may have to admit defeat.  In addition to the pressure created by this narrative in the press, the lobbyist armies of our competitors  (largest, most powerful defense contractors in the world) had been in overdrive in DC trying to undermine SpaceX and damage our credibility by painting us as too risky and inexperienced in order to protect their multi-billion dollar interests in the space launch business.  
SpaceX executed a picture perfect flight of the first stage (portion of the flight that gets the vehicle away from Earth’s gravity and where the vehicle experiences max Q/maximum dynamic pressure, or basically where the conditions on the vehicle are physically the harshest) clearing some of the highest risk points of mission.  

However, shortly after the first stage flight, immediately following stage separation (when the first stage of the vehicle detaches and falls away from the 2nd stage of the vehicle which continues its journey to space) we lost the vehicle and mission.   

SpaceX, VP of Propulsion Tom Mueller, the modern day godfather of rocket science and one of the most brilliant scientific minds on the planet, and his team had done such a great job redesigning the vehicles engines systems that they were even more efficient and powerful than in some ways projected. 

We turned off the first stage engine, and then proceeded to separate the vehicle stages; however when the stages uncoupled there was still a little leftover ‘kick’ or thrust in the first stage engine- so our first stage literally rear ended our second stage immediately after we had tried to separate the two sections of the vehicle. It was a devastating emotional experience.

I stood around with the then 350 or so employees, and we cheered the vehicle on as it took off, and as we were watching the mission clock and knew that the stages were about to separate – the video feed was cut.  The company is on a 20 second viewing delay from the mission control team as we are being projected the external press feed which is delayed in case of major mission anomalies.  So when we lost video, we knew something had gone  wrong in a big way.  

Elon and about 7-8 of the most senior technical people at SpaceX were commanding the mission from a trailer in the back of the Hawthorne factory; and we all waited anxiously for the trailer door to open and for someone to tell us something.  The mood in the building hung thick with despair; you have to keep in mind that by this point SpaceX was 6 years old, and many people have been working 70-80+ hours a week, swimming against extremely powerful currents, like difficult  barriers in technology, institution, politics, and finance- by sheer force of their blood and sweat.

They had all given so much, were mentally and physically exhausted, and really needed a win in order to replenish their spiritual wells and give them the faith to keep following this man up a treacherous mountain that had depleted the hopes and resources of the many others who had come to conquer it.  

This night would forever impact the future of the company, it had the potential to send the company into a downward spiral, from which we may not have ever recovered. A failure in leadership would have destroyed us not only from the eyes of the press or potential consumers but it would have destroyed us internally.  

When Elon came out he walked past the press and first addressed the company. Although his exact words escape me in how he started off, the essence of his comments were that:

I think most of us would have followed him into the gates of hell carrying suntan oil after that.  It was the most impressive display of leadership that I have ever witnessed.  Within moments the energy of the building went from despair and defeat to a massive buzz of determination as people began to focus on moving forward instead of looking back. This shift happened collectively, across all 300+ people in a matter of not more than 5 seconds. I wish I had video footage as I would love to analyze the shifts in body language that occurred over those 5 seconds. It was an unbelievably powerful experience. 

What happened in the days and weeks following that night is nothing short of a series of miracles:

So for those who ask the question, this is in my opinion the true character of Elon Musk. Undeterred in the face of all odds, undaunted by the fear of failure, and forged in the battlefields of some of the most terrifyingly technical, and capital intensive challenges that any human being could choose to take on.  Somehow he comes out alive, every time – with the other guy’s head on a platter. 

Working with him isn’t a comfortable experience, he is never satisfied with himself so he is never really satisfied with anyone around him. He pushes himself harder and harder and he pushes others around him the exact same way. The challenge is that he is a machine and the rest of us aren’t. So if you work for Elon you have to accept the discomfort. But in that discomfort is the kind of growth you can’t get anywhere else, and worth every ounce of blood and sweat.

Dolly Singh

 

 

How do I save for retirement?

I’m gonna take a whack at it. If it doesn’t help, feel free to ignore.

NEW TO INVESTING – what do I invest in???

Method 1) Pick a low cost “index fund”, that is, a fund tracking a market index. A few popular indices: S&P500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Russell 3000, Vanguard Total Stock Market Index. Find funds using the RESEARCH option offered on their online dashboard. To purchase, execute a TRADE using a MARKET ORDER at the current market price. Stick to Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) as opposed to Mutual Funds. Stick to commission free funds, so that it doesn’t cost you anything to make the TRADE.

— OR —

Method 2) Use the portfolios suggested by the brokerage house you are set up with (eg. Schwab, Vanguard, Fidelity). They will suggest a portfolio of funds according to your “risk tolerance”. Funds include Large Cap (funds with large campanies), Small Cap (funds with small companies), International (funds for non-domestic companies, overseas), and Bond (funds full of bond from all levels of government and business). Visit their portfolios picker under something like RESEARCH -> EXCHANGE TRADED FUNDS -> ETF PORTFOLIOS, Pick your risk tolerance, they will suggest some mix of funds accordingly, and then TRADE into them.

– Gsusruls 

 

 

What’s It Like To Have Depression

If you want perspective from someone who has suffered depression of what it actually feels like, I can offer what it felt like to me:

Imagine your head is like a whirlpool in a hurricane – thoughts are just whirling around (and around and around) in there. Positive thoughts float, and they just sit there on the surface until they are blown away, but negative thoughts get sucked into the whirlpool and spin around, repeating themselves over and over, and worse and worse, until you have arrived at the worst-case believable scenario, at which point they sink down the spout and you internalise them as truth. Worse, the whirlpool is mesmerising – it’s a natural disaster, a tidal wave, a train wreck, and you just can’t look away.

You can throw as many “chin up!”, “get over it”, “come out to this party”, “you’ll be OK” and “just get out of the house” comments at that as you like, but it won’t do shit. My mind will just force me to blow those comments off – I’ll probably ditch the party, or make some non-committal noise about leaving the house or cheering up, so I can get back to the whirlpool. Because, I’m USED to watching the whirlpool. In some sick (mentally sick) way, I LIKE that I have a whirlpool to watch.

When I’m sick enough, I’ll cling to the whirlpool as the only thing that makes me different, more realistic than those annoying little shits that keep asking me to go to parties and telling me to cheer up – what is there to cheer up about? The world is all going to end in fire eventually, everybody dies, what difference does it make when I die? If I killed myself, people might stop making their glib remarks that I should cheer up and go out partying – that would be nice – how awesome would it be to shut all of those bastards up, to make them feel what I feel for just one day?

At this point, the only thing stopping me was what it would do to the people I didn’t want to feel bad – my family. I couldn’t put them through that, even for revenge against everyone that didn’t care. (Remember, I’m talking from the perspective of my sick mind here). Don’t get me wrong, it was CLOSE. I was going through ways I could kill myself that I would be comfortable with. I explored my fear of dying in minute detail to find a scenario in which I would be able to kill myself. If my depression had gotten even a little worse, that would have been the end of me.

Do you know what helped to bring me back from the brink many times – helped to control the seething desire to do something drastic? Cutting myself. It helped me gain some control, helped me associate my mental anguish with physical pain so I could dissociate from it a little, treat it, know it.

I sought professional help, and ended up on a series of different antidepressants, all of which failed for one reason or another (some had bad side effects, which led me closer to suicide). But, then something remarkable happened while I was dosing up on one of them and getting counselling – I got into a relationship.

Now, I had to drop that antidepressant (I believe it was an NSRI), but having someone around me most of the time who would just listen to what I had to say, would let me vent and just HOLD me, that helped me get back to a place where I could get some perspective and climb my way out of the pit. It was a small improvement, but it was one that interrupted the whirlpool. The counsellor got me talking, and my partner kept listening and supporting me, and not forcing me to go anywhere or do anything I wasn’t OK doing.

You have to remember, that for me at least, going out was just a tiring way to get back to bed at night, depressed. It changed nothing, and because it tired me out, I actually felt worse, not better.

–keepasecret

 

 

What was browsing the internet like before high speed internet?

Being a female, you’ll never understand the horrors us men had to endure as teenagers during the rise of digital pron. The days of dial up affected us all terribly. They were grin times. Did we have videos?! Hah! We had to wait one edge for a single image to load on the screen. As internet speed increased so did the amount we could access. Limewire became a new source. A new haven. But you never knew what you were getting and it always seemed to be the same clips circling around under different titles. I remember Charlie waited days for his to download. In the end it turned out to be nothing more than an ad to download mp3’s. He never made it, poor Charlie. The blue balls got to him in the end. Those times were hell on everyone. Then the uprising came. A road to a better and brighter world lied ahead. Internet speeds were finally fast enough to stream videos. No more would we have to store our pronography, making sure our folders were carefully hidden to save embarrassment upon discovery. Good times to behad by all were just ahead. But alas, those tines never came. Because every site that offered streamed videos charged a fee and finding a site that offered it for free, but wasn’t full of malware, was like finding that one oasis in the desert. Sure we could watch the preview videos, but a 3 minute clip just isn’t enough damn it! And then it came. Salvation. After all the hardships we had to endure, the internet exploded with a flurry of full-length, free, streaming pron sites. This day is now known as ‘The Day of the White Seas’. We lost many good men to the pron drought of the ‘noughtes’ but we fought on and persevered to make a better fapping world for the generations to come. We have overcame!

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  • The Voice of Reason

    I can still hear the dial up sound in my darkest nightmares.

  • Zer0FiveSeven

    “What was it like before high speed internet?”

    The internet was fucking slow, dumbass, and before that it didnt exist.

    • Steve Gilbert

      Not entirely true.
      In the dial up days of the internet BEFORE we had to worry about viruses, the internet was sometimes faster than it is today.
      The main thing slowing you today is your computer has to scan everything that comes in for viruses.
      If we didn’t have to worry about viruses you wouldn’t believe how fast today’s internet would be.

      • MightyMule

        Please don’t give computer advice to anyone. Your lack of understanding could be dangerous or contagious.

        • Zer0FiveSeven

          Im on a phone connected to wifi faster than 33.6.

          Pretty sure this guy is talking about a T1, which nobody had.

      • Zer0FiveSeven

        Oh for fucks sake, your dork ass was in the minority then, and you know it. Go push your glasses up and snap your suspenders somewhere else.

    • jay

      But there’s an immutable law of nature that any increase in the speed of the Internet will inevitably be balanced by an increase in the amount of advertising on every page, so that the net gain is zero. It’s like Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

      • Zer0FiveSeven

        The net gain of your comment is zero. You typed a lot of big words but didnt really say anything.

        • jay

          I’m sorry. I should have limited myself to words of no more than four letters so that you could understand. 🙂

          • Zer0FiveSeven

            You mean, monosyllibacally.

            Try just doing something simple next time and making some fn sense, instead. How about that, sweetheart?

            • jay

              I believe the word is spelled “monosyllabically”. You really shouldn’t use big words when you don’t know how to spell them, lovey-dovey. 🙂

  • Tingle

    Are we really that old now that we are getting questions like “life before high-speed net”

    • jay

      I once read an ancient legend about a time before there was an Internet. But it’s probably some silly religious myth. How could human life exist without the Internet?

  • jay

    I periodically see articles on the web about “how to help your introvert friend” that are all about how to get this poor unfortunate person out socializing. This rather misses the point that introverts don’t want to be out socializing. That’s the definition of the word. It would be like having articles on “How to help your friend who doesn’t like apricots” that are all about how to force feed apricots to someone who doesn’t like them, or how to trick him into eating them. I LIKE sitting at home by myself reading a book or playing a solitaire computer game. I find parties incredibly boring. Could I learn to like socializing? Maybe. But why would I want to? It would be like learning to like apricots. If I lived somewhere where that was the only available food, I suppose it would be a good thing. Otherwise, not.

    • Pauly Incorrect

      The only article people really need to read is, “How to Mind Your Own Fucking Business and Focus on Your Own Life”.