Introduction: My guest today is Samo Burja, the founder of Bismarck Analysis, a firm that analyzes institutions, governments, and companies for high net worth individuals. There’s never been an immortal human society and Samo is on a quest to find out why. Known for his Great Founder Theory, Samo’s research focuses on the causes of societal decay and flourishing.
In this episode, we talk about Samo's Great Founder Theory through the lens of Apple, Amazon and the myths that drive Silicon Valley. Then, we move to a discussion of geopolitical strategy where we talk about China, the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, and the importance of Eurasia from a geopolitical perspective, before we jump around between ideas like intellectual dark matter, knowledge transfer, and the story of Singapore. I hope you enjoy this episode.
Find Samo online:
Great founder theory (Samo’s article)
How Roman Emperors Handled the Succession Problem (Samo’s article)
2:15 - Silicon Valley being a great way to understand the great founder theory and discussion on great founders of our time. Discussion on companies later and the skills necessary for a successful company.
9:30 - Samo on Jeff Bezos’ and learning from Amazon’s ability to communicate effectively. Discussion on the bar-raiser concept within Amazon that negates the typical long-term decline of employee quality.
14:18 - Speaking on retaining people within a company and how Amazon does this effectively. Also, how a lot of the ideas around talent and institutions in Silicon Valley have come from Peter Thiel. How him and his book, Zero to One, factors into these ideas.
19:46 - Samo’s experience living under communism for a few years in Slovenia, a bit on his background, and discussion on communism itself.
25:38 - The different ways of judging and trusting institutions and the world in general. Some examples of this and the best ways to go about trusting something, as well. Living in an attention-based economy.
38:08 - How to go about building truth-based institutions within an attention-based economy and some thoughts on this. Discussion on the tradeoffs of stability and dynamism.
45:28 - Thoughts on how to build the right incentives to promote regeneration and continual growth within a society. Speaking on NASA, it’s creation, and its powerful vision in the past. A bit on the origins of the FBI, as well
56:37 - The design of an institution and the natural course of them. Thoughts on handling and improving the problem of succession.
1:02:55 - The role of death in institutions and how iconic deaths may influence major events and preserve institutions.
1:07:06 - Samo’s belief on who controls Eurasia, controls the world. America’s incentive to have some tension in Europe. Discussion on the relation between a countries economy, its naval force, and its geographical location.
1:12:15 - The Sovereign Individual thesis versus the large nation-states and some discussion on this. Thoughts on tracking every computer and a user's actions. The empowerment of people by technology. A bit on nationalism and tying it to smaller communities.
1:18:13 - Lee Kwan Yew and the radical transformation of Singapore, a bit of history and importance on the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, and discussion on Samo’s term, intellectual dark matter.
1:29:55 - How we might be able to teach tacit knowledge, the advantage of video with this, and some examples of learning tacit knowledge. How education should be and how Samo learns and consumes information.
1:37:20 - What Samo would have said to himself and done differently ten years ago in terms of learning through conversation and from people more effectively. The significance of gaining perspectives from multiple cultures.
1:38:36 - How Samo can help us travel more effectively in terms of heuristics to think through and with learning more tacit knowledge.