A conversation with David and Ben from the Acquired podcast

Summary Notes


In this engaging conversation, the hosts discuss their journeys into podcasting and entrepreneurship, highlighting the importance of authenticity and passion in content creation. They delve into the significance of storytelling and clarity of thought, drawing from the wisdom of figures like Charlie Munger and Steve Jobs. The discussion includes personal anecdotes, reflections on the venture capital industry, and the value of relationships over superficial networking. They also touch on the impact of interest rates on economic assets, the notion of businesses as "cheerful cults," and the unpredictable nature of entrepreneurial success. Guests mentioned include Patrick O'Shaughnessy, Blake Robbins, and Tim Ferriss, with insights into the power of educational content as a form of marketing and the potential underpricing of assets like yachts and private jets for deal-making.

Summary Notes

Introduction to Speaker Collaboration

  • David Senra introduces a unique episode featuring a conversation with David and Ben from the Acquired podcast.
  • This marks the first time another voice has been heard on David Senra's podcast feed.
  • The conversation is a result of David Senra's passion for studying the history of entrepreneurship.

"But I want to make sure you don't miss this conversation with David and Ben from the acquired podcast."

This quote sets the stage for the episode, highlighting the importance of the conversation with the hosts of the Acquired podcast.

David Senra's Obsession with David Ogilvy

  • David Senra has been deeply influenced by David Ogilvy, inspired by Warren Buffett's praise of Ogilvy.
  • Senra has read every book written by or about Ogilvy, emphasizing the impact of Ogilvy's approach to building a business.

"Obsessed with David Olgilvy ever since I was reading Warren Buffett shareholder letters. And Warren Buffett said that David Ogavee was a genius."

The quote reveals the origin of Senra's admiration for Ogilvy and the influence of Warren Buffett's opinion on his pursuit of Ogilvy's works.

Complementary Nature of Founders and Acquired Podcasts

  • Founders focus on biographies of individuals, while Acquired dives into detailed company histories.
  • Both podcasts share a commitment to extensive research and providing valuable insights to their audiences.
  • David Senra recommends Acquired episodes on LVMH, Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, and others, praising their quality.

"I focus on the founder, the actual individual, and the person through biographies. They do these hours long, really in-depth company histories that are just absolutely excellent."

This quote explains the different but complementary approaches of the two podcasts in exploring the world of entrepreneurship.

Dinner with Charlie Munger

  • David Senra had a three-hour dinner with Charlie Munger, which he describes as a profound experience.
  • Munger's library was filled with books, many of which were recommended by Munger himself.
  • Senra was struck by Munger's sharp intellect and memory, even at the age of 99.

"I had a three hour dinner with Charlie Munger."

The quote succinctly captures the significance of the dinner for Senra, indicating an opportunity to engage with a highly respected figure in investing.

Reflections on Entrepreneurial Imperfections

  • The conversation touches on the imperfections of great entrepreneurs and the challenges of presenting their stories.
  • Founders podcast aims to focus on the climb and journey of entrepreneurs rather than excessive background details.
  • The importance of learning from both the positive and negative aspects of historical figures is discussed.

"Every single time, I'm like, oh, people aren't perfect. None of your heroes are perfect."

This quote from the conversation acknowledges that even the most successful individuals have flaws, which is an important aspect of their stories.

The Role of History and Learning from the Past

  • The speakers discuss the value of studying history and learning from past entrepreneurs and investors.
  • They emphasize the idea that successful people do not denigrate the past but learn from it and build upon it.
  • The conversation includes examples of how modern entrepreneurs, like Jeff Bezos, have learned from predecessors like Sam Walton.

"All of them had idols. You can't understand Jeff Bezos until you study Sam Walton."

This quote highlights the interconnectedness of historical and contemporary figures in entrepreneurship and the importance of learning from those who came before.

The Founding of Founders Podcast

  • David Senra shares his personal journey, including his lifelong habit of reading and the challenges he overcame in his family history.
  • The motivation behind starting the Founders podcast was to share the knowledge he gained from reading extensively about great entrepreneurs.
  • Senra describes his podcast as a psychopathic search for mentors and the impact of reading on his life.

"I've always been obsessed with reading. One of the best things my mom ever did was even if we didn't have money for books, she would take me to the bookstore and just sit there."

This quote gives insight into the personal background that led Senra to develop his podcast and his deep-rooted passion for reading and learning.

Early Web Three and Foundation Podcast

  • Foundation was an early high-quality podcast interviewing influential figures like Elon Musk.
  • Elon Musk was interviewed during the time when Tesla had only released the Roadster and was about to release the Model S.
  • The show had the potential to become a "monster" due to its high-profile guests and timing.

"It's like the only episodes that ever came out was like, here's me interviewing Elon Musk. Here's me interviewing these people. And also before they became, like, Elon."

The quote highlights the significance of having high-profile guests on the podcast before they reached peak fame, implying that the show could have grown significantly if it had continued.

Tim Ferriss and Lifestyle Changes

  • Tim Ferriss's work, including "The 4-Hour Workweek" and "The 4-Hour Body," had a life-changing impact on the speakers.
  • The slow-carb diet and cold showers were mentioned as influential lifestyle changes.
  • The resurgence of the cold plunge trend was noted, questioning why it wasn't popularized earlier since it was already mentioned by Tim Ferriss.

"Slow carb diet, cold showers. And the funniest thing is this whole cold plunge thing. That's like becoming a thing now. I'm like, was nobody like, reading Tim Ferriss in 2011?"

This quote reflects on the impact of Tim Ferriss's lifestyle advice from his books and how some of those ideas are becoming popular trends much later.

Advertising Insights from David Ogilvy

  • The concept of advertising to a "moving parade" rather than a "standing army" emphasizes the continuous influx of new potential customers.
  • Media company founders often overlook the lessons from advertising pioneers like David Ogilvy.
  • Warren Buffett's admiration for David Ogilvy is used to underscore the importance of learning from successful figures in history.

"You're not advertising to standing army. You're advertising to moving parade. And so I will literally get on calls with media company founders that are selling ads or building companies. I'm like, oh, yeah, you must have read Ogilvy. They're like, what?"

The quote explains the concept of reaching new audiences continuously rather than a static group and expresses surprise at how current media founders are not familiar with Ogilvy's fundamental advertising principles.

Business Model Journey and Podcast Monetization

  • The discussion includes the evolution of podcast monetization strategies, including hard paywalls and subscription models.
  • The importance of reaching a broader audience versus a smaller paying audience was debated.
  • The balance between direct monetization and advertising revenue is critical for podcast sustainability.

"The conversion rates were higher, but you guys said this is where you were... At a local maximum."

This quote discusses the trade-off between high conversion rates from a hard paywall and the potential for greater reach and revenue through a different monetization strategy.

Leveraging Historical Advertising Strategies

  • The significance of historical figures like Claude Hopkins and Albert Lasker in advertising is discussed.
  • David Ogilvy's book "Ogilvy on Advertising" is referenced as a source of learning from the past giants of advertising.
  • The idea that many successful business strategies have already been done and can be learned from is emphasized.

"Claude Hopkins worked for Albert Lasker. Albert Lasker thought that book was so good, he stored it in a vault he wouldn't let any... he built because it."

The quote discusses the value Lasker saw in Claude Hopkins's work on advertising, illustrating the timeless nature of effective advertising strategies.

Editing and Value of Time for Podcast Listeners

  • The speakers discuss the importance of editing content to respect the time of their high-value audience.
  • The idea of not wasting the time of listeners, who may have high hourly rates, is emphasized.
  • The use of tools like Readwise to organize and reference book highlights is mentioned.

"You cannot waste these people's time. So I never answer your question when you're like, hey, how do you guys think about this? Do you reedit or do you cut them out? I use the script as well."

This quote highlights the meticulous approach to editing podcast content to ensure that every minute provides value to the listener, acknowledging the high opportunity cost of their time.

Discussion on Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett's Investment Strategy

  • David Senra shares insights about reading and learning from historical figures like Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett.
  • He emphasizes the importance of understanding what influential people were doing at your age to gain perspective on their journey.
  • The conversation touches on the element of surprise in the success of Buffett and Munger's investment careers and their humility in acknowledging it.
  • David Senra points out Munger's belief that they receive too much credit for their success and his personal interpretation of Munger finding it odd to be wealthy and loved.
  • The importance of content marketing in the context of Berkshire Hathaway's annual letters is highlighted, suggesting they serve as an educational tool and a subtle marketing strategy.

"Of course I'm surprised. How could you not be? We want to be successful, and we were ambitious and driven, but there's no way you could say, hey, I'm going to be worth... What's Berkshire's market cap right now? I don't know, like 500 billion."

This quote reflects the unexpected level of success achieved by Buffett and Munger, indicating that while they aimed for success, the magnitude of their achievement was beyond their initial expectations.

Personal Branding and Consumer Choices Influenced by Content Creators

  • Personal branding and its influence on consumer choices are discussed, with examples like GEICO insurance and Brooks running shoes being mentioned due to their association with Berkshire Hathaway.
  • David Senra shares his personal experience with brand loyalty, citing Ralph Lauren and Sony's founder Akio Morita as examples of entrepreneurs who refused to compromise their brand identity for short-term gains.
  • The conversation suggests that content creators can influence their audience's purchasing decisions, and this influence extends to advertising and sponsorships.
  • The importance of aligning with brands that reinforce the content creator's brand is emphasized, with the notion that consistent, authentic, and long-term brand building is more valuable than short-term gains.

"I find it odd to be so wealthy and loved, that's not a usual human reaction."

This paraphrased quote from Charlie Munger, as interpreted by David Senra, reflects Munger's humility and his view on the uncommon reaction of being both wealthy and loved, which he finds odd.

Founders' Perspectives on Venture Capital and Building Relationships

  • The discussion shifts to founders' perspectives on venture capital, with David Senra expressing the sentiment that founders often dislike venture capitalists, except for the good ones who provide genuine support.
  • The conversation covers the importance of venture capitalists providing more than just capital, such as improving the odds of a company's success through connections, advice, and support.
  • The concept of "improved odds" is introduced as a product that founders seek from venture capitalists, emphasizing the need for VCs to add real value to the businesses they invest in.
  • The importance of building deep, genuine relationships rather than superficial connections is discussed, with references to Buffett and Munger's approach to business relationships.

"Improved odds. That is the best. From a founder perspective, that is the best description."

David Senra uses this phrase to encapsulate the core offering that founders look for in venture capitalists, which is the likelihood of their company's success being enhanced by the partnership.

The Role of Storytelling and Authenticity in Podcasting

  • The conversation touches on the power of storytelling and one-liners in learning and remembering concepts, with David Senra and the hosts discussing their podcasting approaches and the authenticity they bring to their shows.
  • The notion that podcasts are a medium of "authenticity scaled" is introduced, highlighting the potential for deep connections with audiences over time.
  • The importance of marketing and brand promises is discussed, with references to Steve Jobs' approach to marketing at Apple and the moral obligation to share beneficial products with a wider audience.
  • The concept of podcasts as potential "cheerful cults" is explored, with a focus on the idea that the best businesses inspire a cult-like following among their customers and audiences.

"If you feel your product can improve people's lives... then you have a moral obligation to get good at marketing."

David Senra interprets Steve Jobs' philosophy on marketing, suggesting that those who create products that can positively impact lives have a responsibility to ensure those products are known to potential users.

Warren Buffett's Influence and Behavior

  • Warren Buffett is described as someone who desires control over conversations and events.
  • He is characterized as a "world builder" who runs everything and has a distorted perception of reality due to his immense wealth.
  • Buffett's love for being in the spotlight is evident from his continued participation in shareholder meetings despite not needing to do anything he doesn't want to.

"Warren wants the microphone. And if you're in an area where Warren doesn't have the microphone, he is not interested."

This quote illustrates Buffett's need to be at the center of attention and control discussions, which is a trait observed by those who have interacted with him.

The Lifestyle of the Ultra-Rich

  • The extravagant lifestyles of billionaires like Jeff Bezos are discussed, highlighting the excesses such as owning multiple yachts and private jets.
  • The conversation touches on the burdens that come with such wealth, as exemplified by Ralph Lauren's experience with owning a yacht.
  • Jeremy argues that these seemingly overpriced assets are actually underpriced when used for business purposes like courting customers or potential deals.

"Jeff Bezos's private jet has its own private jet... His new yacht has a chase yacht."

This quote emphasizes the extreme levels of wealth and the seemingly unnecessary luxuries that come with it, showing how the ultra-rich live in a reality far removed from the average person.

The Role of Private Assets in Business Deals

  • Private assets like jets and yachts are used strategically in business to impress and win over potential clients or partners.
  • The discussion includes anecdotes about how influential figures use their wealth to secure deals, drawing parallels to historical practices.
  • The speakers reflect on the influence of luxury on business decisions and negotiations.

"They're using it for customers and potential... It's for getting deals, but they're operating at a different level where it's like, oh, these influence."

This quote reveals the strategic use of luxury assets in business, not merely for personal enjoyment but as tools to facilitate high-stakes deals and relationships.

The Principles of Successful Entrepreneurs

  • The conversation covers common themes among successful entrepreneurs, such as a focus on low-cost structure and efficiency.
  • The speakers discuss the changing landscape of business, contrasting the past emphasis on profitability with the current trend of growth at all costs.
  • The importance of resourcefulness and finding undervalued talent is highlighted, especially for startups competing with established giants.

"That's the most common theme in the history of entrepreneurship. Every single thing... We're going to be efficient."

This quote encapsulates the persistent entrepreneurial focus on efficiency and cost-effectiveness, which has been a hallmark of many successful business ventures throughout history.

The Impact of Interest Rates on the Economy

  • Warren Buffett's views on interest rates are discussed, with the speakers noting how they power everything in the economic universe.
  • The conversation touches on the pervasive influence of interest rates on asset prices and business decisions.
  • The speakers reflect on their own experiences and the broader implications of interest rates on the economic climate.

"Interest rates are to asset prices, sort of like gravity is to an apple. When interest rates are low, there is little gravitational pull on asset prices."

This quote, attributed to Warren Buffett, explains the fundamental relationship between interest rates and asset values, likening it to the force of gravity on physical objects.

The Importance of Clarity of Thought and Storytelling

  • The speakers emphasize the value of clear communication and the ability to distill complex ideas into memorable and understandable concepts.
  • They discuss the role of storytelling in business and education, and how it can lead to actionable insights and opportunities.
  • The conversation highlights the need for repetition and self-review to improve one's ability to convey ideas effectively.

"If you could listen to an audiobook for 25 hours. But if I can give you the best idea or one idea that changes your life, and I could do it every week or whatever in a couple of minutes, some of that value is going to be brought back to me."

This quote stresses the power of concise communication and the potential impact of sharing valuable ideas in a brief and accessible manner.

The Non-Linear Paths to Entrepreneurship

  • The speakers share their diverse educational backgrounds and how they each found their way to entrepreneurship and podcasting.
  • They reflect on the unpredictable nature of career paths and the importance of pursuing one's interests and passions.
  • The discussion acknowledges the role of relationships and real-world experiences in shaping entrepreneurial journeys.

"It's highly likely that the job that you're going to have has not yet been invented."

This quote captures the essence of the ever-evolving job market and the potential for future careers to emerge from current interests and technologies.

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