No News Is Good News

December 13, 2019 Steve 0 Comments

The headlines are relentless. Just today:

  • UK Elections
  • Imminent China Trade Deal (Again!)
  • US Stock Markets Break Records (Again!)
  • Greta as Time’s Person of the Year
  • Mass Shooting
  • Trump – Impeachement
  • Trump – Horowitz Report on FISA / FBI
  • Trump – Mean Tweets!
  • China Bond Defaults

The real question: Who cares?

Most of the news is useless. Put aside #fakenews , which is an actual thing… Even the “real” news stories are mostly fluff. Yes, Conservatives won the UK election. That’s the one fact in a thousand page article. The other 995 words are opinion, spin, and storytelling.

Discrete Signals Amidst the Noise

Looking forward, we focus on long term trends: university degree leads to a job, then a better job, then a better one, and so on until retirement. Connect the dots, draw the trend line. Linear & smooth.

Looking back, your path was Snakes & Ladders. The discontinuities overwhelmed the trends.

You speak up in a budget meeting. You find unexpected support from a stranger. That encounter turns into a lifelong friendship and an overseas job offer. You meet your future spouse while there. She brings you to Ukraine for a gas project. Years later, you testify to Congress. The president of the United States tweets about you.

That was my story (until the Ukraine bit… The rest is ? ?).

The same is true of the news. A handful of stories have a YUGE imact on your life, your career, your business, your industry, the country, and the world. Sometimes the high-impact stories look utterly unremarkable. Minor changes in regulations can have a “butterfly effect”. An SEC speech can kill the entire ICO market. An executive order can change the dynamics of an entire industry (medical price transparency).

You invest a lot of your precious time reading the news. Maximize your ROI. Develop the discipline to find the signal and ignore the noise.

The noise is there to program other people. Learn to think like the programmers. Understand that the noise is the news. Understand the art & science of persuasion. Start to read the news to predict how others wil react to it. That’s the only signal worth finding most of the time.