Non-Financial Lessons From GameStop

Feb 03, 2021 3:47 pm

Hi ,

Thanks for joining me. It's been a wild two weeks for anyone who's been keeping an eye out on the stock markets. And that's not all that's happening in the business world. Just earlier today, Jeff Bezos stepped down as CEO of Amazon after helming the company for 27 years. There's a lot that we can learn from this, so let's dive right in.

Lessons from GameStop

Feedback Loops: I don't want to talk about the finance and economic aspects of GameStop. What's interesting is the mental model that we can take away from it, and Morgan Housel does a great job in explaining it. It'll only take a minute to read on, but here's the gist if you can't spare that.

"Find a feedback loop and you will find people who underestimate how crazy prices can get, how famous a person can become, how hard it can be to change people’s minds, how irreparable a reputation can be, and how tiny events can compound into something huge."

Monkey see, monkey do: Here comes the psychological aspect. I've always been a big fan of Rene Girard's mimetic theory, and Luke Burgis does a great job explaining how it can be applied here. Here's a quote:

"The most mimetic institution of all is a capitalist institution: the stock market,” Girard said. “You desire stock not because it is objectively desirable. You know nothing about it, but you desire stuff exclusively because other people desire it. And if other people desire it, its value goes up and up.”

Changing the rules: And lastly, the historical aspect. If you were one of those traders who got locked out of trading in certain stocks by Robinhood, you'll find that this isn't the first time an institution has changed the rules. It's difficult to navigate life when nobody spells out the rules that you have to play by, and it's doubly so when the rules keep changing.

27 years of Bezos

Amazon shareholder letters: Bezos has built an amazing memo writing culture at Amazon where employees have to write 6 page memos instead of using PowerPoint to share their ideas. It's instructive in its own right, but not all of the memos that has been circulated is available. What we do have are the letters that he's written to shareholder letters over the years, and I'm convinced that there's a lesson in there that we can call on sooner or later. Hat tip to Austen Allred for compiling them.

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Talk soon,