Tim Urban - Idea Labs and High-Rung Thinking - [Invest Like the Best, EP.317]
I’m excited to share this conversation with Tim Urban. Tim is, in my opinion, one of the best and most engaging writers of our era. He’s tackled many of the most interesting topics in the world from AI to procrastination. I interviewed him in 2017 in an episode we called “Grand Theft Life”, and it remains one of my favorite episodes ever.
In the 6 years since that episode, he hasn’t published almost anything. That’s because he’s been writing the book we discuss in this episode. The book is called “What’s Our Problem”, in which Tim investigates the big issues facing society.
The reason I love Tim’s writing so much is its density of ideas and ridiculously clear explanations: a rare combo that makes reading a joy. I hope you enjoy this great round two with Tim Urban, and go buy and enjoy his great new book.
For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.
Listen to Founders podcast.
This episode is brought to you by Tegus, the modern research platform for leading investors. I’m a longtime user and advocate of Tegus, a company that I’ve been so consistently impressed with that last fall my firm, Positive Sum, invested $20M to support Tegus’ mission to expand its product ecosystem. Whether it’s quantitative analysis, company disclosures, management presentations, earnings calls - Tegus has tools for every step of your investment research. They even have over 4000 fully driveable financial models. Tegus’ maniacal focus on quality, as well as its depth, breadth and recency of content makes it the one-stop, end-to-end research platform for investors. Move faster, gather deep research to build conviction and surface high-quality, alpha-driving insights to find your differentiated edge with Tegus. As a listener, you can take the Tegus platform for a free test drive by visiting tegus.co/patrick.
Invest Like the Best is a property of Colossus, LLC. For more episodes of Invest Like the Best, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.
Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.
[00:05:05 ] - How he’s come to articulate the big question he’s trying to answer in his book
[00:07:58 ] - A dinner experience where a single question showed just how much of a problem there was to solve
[00:09:47 ] - Group ideology and the different ladder rungs of human thinking
[00:17:28 ] - The concept of a social golems and genies and their implications for society
[00:23:02 ] - His favorite genies and golems throughout history and their impact
[00:29:07 ] - Examples of canonical high functioning genies across history
[00:34:20 ] - The key ingredients within liberal democracies that allow for and correct golems
[00:40:44 ] - Media’s role in shaping ideas and society and what’s changed about it in today’s media landscape
[00:46:46 ] - What else is going on that has him worried about modern institutions that are failing as social immune systems
[01:01:15 ] - The gap between what we say publicly versus what we feel privately and the growing pile of unsaid things
[01:07:18 ] - What’s to be done in order to help society repair itself
[01:14:09 ] - Whether or not the direction we’re most afraid to run is where we should
[01:17:37 ] - Thoughts on AI having written extensively on it and the new wave of emerging tools
[01:22:13 ] - The role and impact of leadership in regards to golems and genies