Personal moats

@eriktorenberg
Nov 28, 2018View on twitter

1/ Some initial thoughts on personal moats: Like company moats, your personal moat should be a competitive advantage that is not only durable—it should also compound over time. Characteristics of a personal moat below:

2/ Like a company moat, you want to build career capital while you sleep. As Andrew Chen noted:Erik Torenberg added,

3/ You don’t want to build a competitive advantage that is fleeting or that will get commoditized Things that might get commoditized over time (some longer than others):

4/ Before the arrival of recorded music, what used to be scarce was the actual music itself — required an in-person artist. After recorded music, the music itself became abundant and what became scarce was curation, distribution, and self space.

5/ Similarly, in careers, what used to be (more) scarce were things like ideas, money, and exclusive relationships. In the internet economy, what has become scarce are things like specific knowledge, rare & valuable skills, and great reputations.

6/ Some examples of personal moats:

7/ Litmus test: If there is a Quora post with step by step instructions on how to do something, or if a lot of people have done it, then it’s likely not a durable personal moat. If there’s a playbook for it, then how defensible is it? (Unless you're the world's best at it.)

8/ Think of the moats described earlier: How do you invest in 10+ unicorns like @eladgil? How do you build a mega captive audience like @tferriss? How do you become an encyclopedia like @tylercowen? No playbook.

9/ How do you find out what could be your personal moat? Ask others: What’s something that’s easy for you to do but hard for others? AND very difficult for people to reverse engineer?

10/ Something that has high barriers to entry (e.g need to do 1 of below): - Have the right relationships - Be willing to risk social disapproval - Get good at something w/ no playbook. - Pick something that isn’t big now, but it will be in the future

11/ What is some tangible, yet wildly generalized, advice? A) Discover what you can be great at. Align it w/ what could be important in the future. B) Get so good they can’t ignore you. C) Leverage super power to build other assets, but not too soon:

12/ In tech, the cleanest (albeit, hardest) way to build a personal moat is to start a successful company. There are other ways, but they just take longer. A future tweet storm will be on how to build career capital without doing so.

13/ All thoughts, questions, and other examples of personal moats are appreciated.

Personal moats, in rank order: A/ Building a successful company B/ Building rare & valuable skillset / domain (e.g. Laura Deming http://ldeming.com ) C/ Building an asset