Wild Problems πŸ€” [WRAP 135]


Matt Ragland

Thursday, July 25, 2024

WRAP #135: Wild Problems πŸ€”

Hey Reader, just a quick note at the beginning that we're still on baby watch πŸ‘€ Today is my 17th wedding anniversary though! No better decision I've ever made than marrying her 🧑


In this issue:

πŸ’‘ The Big Idea

Wild Problems


πŸ“– Book to Read

Crypto Confidential


πŸ‘€ A Video to Watch

Write Cold Emails


πŸ’‘ The Big Idea

Wild Problems

The art and science of decision making is fascinating to me. From the every day decisions that drive habits, to the big decisions which act as mile markers on life’s journey.

A favorite recent book is Wild Problems by Russ Roberts. An economist and university president, Roberts is an extremely logical person. Just the kind of person who would make a pros and cons list for big decisions and weigh their utility for his life.

But he found his economic training and rationality fell short when making decisions about β€œwild” problems that were hard to measure. Especially when the decision was about something he had not yet experienced, e.g. getting married or having kids. Roberts notes:

  • Wild problems are whole different beast compared to the tame problems where the standard techniques of rationality move us steadily forward.
  • By focusing on what you know about and can imagine, you’re ignoring the full range of choices open to you.
  • We are always searching for a formula, a calculation that will remove the uncertainty. Formulas are simple. Life is complicated.

This isn’t to say you or I ignore a list of costs and benefits of a decision. But it’s to emphasize such rationality is at least a starting point and at best only a part of the decision.

I think about this a lot as a father, too. Balancing the demands of parenting while also pursuing a fulfilling career can be daunting. Decisions about career changes, work-life balance, and how to raise children in a rapidly changing world are often complex and without an easy answer. Well, they're wild.

These decisions are not just about pros and cons; they require navigating uncharted territories and dealing with uncertainties that can't be fully understood until experienced. This is what makes the art and science of decision-making fascinating to me.

How to Solve Wild Problems

Roberts states we need to get more comfortable with not knowing and use our imagination to explore a variety of outcomes. He writes:

"Make the list in order to figure out what you’re β€˜really after.’ And by that I mean where your heart lies”.

​Wild Problems is a great book and easy to read. It’s 224 pages, but there are several sections that could be skipped over if they’re not applicable to you at the time of reading. Basically, if you read the beginning, a couple relevant sections in the middle, and the end β€” you’ve read the book.

Another great book on decision making is Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke. I talked about it on this episode of my old podcast, Connect the Dots.

Note: if you're a dad experiencing these things too β€”Β you should hang out with us in Father Fire. Reply for an invite or read more at the end.

πŸ“– Book to Read

Crypto Confidential

I recently got my hands on an advance copy of my friend Nat Eliason's first book, Crypto Confidential. Nat is one of my oldest internet friends and I'm thrilled he got this book out in the world.

It's a great story about the wild world of crypto and the 2020-21 boom. He was right in the middle of everything β€” as a speculator, investor, farmer, and programmer.

You don't have to be interested in crypto to enjoy the story either. I know just a little (learned a lot more), but was locked in when Nat was talking about the roller coaster ride and also how it affected his family. Nat's daughter was born right near the beginning, and I could feel those moments of stress when he was fighting off hackers, deciding when to sell his ape (it will make sense in the book), and balancing life-changing opportunities with the present needs of his wife and daughter.

You can order the book from any major retailer, and Nat is also sending out some great pre-order bonuses. Available everywhere on July 9th.

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πŸ‘€ A Video to Watch

Write Cold Emails

I had a great conversation on the HeyCreator Show with the Hock Brothers, Cody and Cole. They have a really cool story about launching Enjoy Basketball, working with Peyton Manning, and launching a show on ESPN. Their secret weapon? Cold emails...

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The WRAP is sponsored by

Mighty Networks
🀝 Father Fire

In the Big Idea πŸ’‘ I mentioned that if you're a Dad who at times deals with those wild problems that life throws at you every day β†’ you should come hang out with us in Father Fire.

It's a community where we are working together on our family, career, and not getting fat. Just reply to this email to request an invite and join the group.

If you're curious about the how of a community then you should know that Father Fire and thousands of other communities run on Mighty Networks!

It has all the features you would expect from a community platform, like spaces for posts, chats, and the ability to go live. But my favorite little feature are the AI-driven polls and questions.

If you're a person building community with others over a common vision or goal (like being a great dad) β€” then check out Mighty Networks and see what they can do to support your mission.


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See you next week! πŸ‘‹

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