Breaking the Meta in The Game of Life!
Moritz Baier-Lentz from Lightspeed Venture Partners talks about how to optimize your life
If life were a video game, how could you break the meta to achieve your objectives?
There are many parallels between life and a video game.
Some people believe life is, in fact, a simulation or video game (See: Riz Virk on Simulation Hypothesis).
In a unique conversation with Moritz Baier-Lentz, newly heading up game investments at Lightspeed Venture Partners, we discuss what it means to think about life like a game.
More specifically, if life has a meta-game, then how can we optimize the meta or break the meta to achieve our life objectives?
As Moritz suggests:
It's really about the question: can life be played similarly to how we approach video games, especially in competitive multiplayer video games?
Breaking the Meta in The Game of Life!
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Joseph Kim. CEO at LILA Games (moderator)
Moritz Baier-Lentz. Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners
0:00 Introduction, the concept of life as a meta game
1:16 Explanation of "meta" and viewing life as a game
6:32 Moritz's background, career history
12:15 What are current metas for success in life? Breaking the meta
15:26 Breaking conventional wisdom, play as experimentation: work vs. play
23:00 Cross-combining different skills or industries to build a new meta
29:20 Approaching life as quest objectives, Moritz's framework for life
34:00 Details on Moritz's life framework
37:10 Examples of interesting life initiatives from Moritz, achievement by discipline
41:55 Using being "extreme" to accomplish goals, how to stand out
45:34 JK's weird dating example
46:45 How does someone pursue extremism?
52:30 The next chapter at Lightspeed Gaming for Moritz
55:55 What will become of Moritz's LA gaming parties?
Importance of play: “We can reduce almost everything we do in life down to work and play and it's very easy to forget the play part. There's a lot of books written about this too; some even reaching back a few decades. Play effectively is a safe experimentation where failure has limited consequences. You see that not only in humans you see that in animals too.”
Definition of meta: “The summary of all the gameplay elements, systems, mechanics, core loops that are associated with making progress in a video game. And especially when we say breaking the meta it typically means looking at the meta game as kind of the efficiency frontier. What's the best possible way to play a certain game?”
On Moritz’s career path: “The irony is I did actually a lot of traditional things in my life. You know I mean going to business school in the United States, joining Goldman and investment banking. But the path there was always extremely nontraditional and trying to figure things out, especially after not having a proper college degree. Really just just trying to weasel your way through. I think the most important part in my own path was to always look at life from a very blank slate. There's so many things you can do and there are actually an incredible amount of things that one can do if you really set your focus and mind to it. It's oftentimes so much more and so much more interesting stuff than what you know most people do or what your friends do. My friends certainly didn't just go to the United States by themselves none of the people I grew up with applied to any of those schools or any of those employers. It was really an act of, similar to actually starting the gaming practice at Goldman, just looking what's out there, looking what's interesting, trying to argue as much as possible from first principles and then figuring out systems and pathways to get there.”
Building your skill tree: “Looking at life as a quest or a plan, like one thing that baffles me is also how in work environments for our companies… we have these sophisticated project plans and we sit down maybe on an annual or quarterly basis and we think about okay, what are all the important works streams? What are all the goals for this project? What are all the resources we need and we do that for work and we do that because it works. It does increase the chances of actually accomplishing it. But what's wrong with applying the same stuff to your life and I mean life as a whole? If you really think that doing this increases your chances of getting where you want to get why not do the same thing for the relationship with your partner?”
The 5 year plan: “For about 10 years now I've been doing initially a 10-year plan, now it's a 5-year plan. But every time around the holidays I sit down… it's a 1-pager and I now look at 9 dimensions. Career which is what job am I doing and what am I working on? Financial wealth, and giving back to society. So those three I group into traditional success: career, wealth, and giving back. Then there's the category of support system which includes my partner. My wife, my friends, my family. And then just for fun, I have this category transcendence… which is physical health and fitness, mental health and knowledge, and then also lastly spiritual experiences which for me are non-religious. And I go through what have I done in the last year across these 9 areas and what do I want to do in the next four. So the 5 year plan is actually 1 year back 4 years forward and this is an exercise that takes usually two days three days of being extremely conscious about the upcoming 5 years and what are all the experiences things that would really be life- enriching.”
On extremism: “Why I think it matters to have extreme spikes is… just mathematics, where if you have a certain utility function, if you're trying to maximize wealth or happiness, chances are that the path to get there is a pretty extreme path. And I think that's absolutely true. If you look at the wealthiest people in the world, those are extreme lives and risks and accomplishments that get you there. And I would say you only build significant wealth as an entrepreneur, never as an employee, I mean with very few exceptions. So it's literally impossible to really maximize whatever it is that you want to do without really honing in massively into something. To kind of like marry this with the idea of conventional wisdom getting a college degree and you know playing it safe like yes, this is this is a good proven strategy. But like if you think of utility almost like a utility plane that has certain spikes, you're chasing like some local optima. You're all like looking up this mountain and saying this is the peak and this is the ultimate goal. But really there is something completely different going on over there and maybe you only see that once you're here. But the trick is really to venture around and look around and what spikes exist.”