Quote Mashups: Can 1 + 1 = 3?

(Image copyright: Dids)

By Santiago Hunt

For the past two years I’ve been collecting quotes I like. I recently sat down to review them, trying to extract value in an orderly fashion (of sorts). It didn’t go well. I got bored and gave up. And then it hit me. What if I were to mash up these quotes? Could there be any intersections worth exploring? Could I find some 1+1=3 nuggets? Enter “Quote Mashups”.

The following quote mashups are what I believe some of the best outputs of this experiment. Hope you like them!

1. On leverage

“Prototypes are easy. Mass production is hard” (Elon Musk)


“The most important form of leverage is the idea of products that have no marginal cost of replication. This is the new form of leverage” (Naval Ravikant)

A succinct, brilliant explanation of the last 10 years. “They promised us flying cars, we got the Internet instead”. This is the reason why “Software is eating the world”. Given software has no cost of replication, it makes it not only cheap to replicate. It also sidesteps the single biggest problem that manufacturing faces – scalability.

2. On irrational competitors

“There’s game theory behind being irrational. The rational can be copied. Less so the irrational” (Rory Sutherland)


“If you compete in a dynamic where each side can only make one move at a time, you can get some real Spartan 300 type shit” (Jordi Alexandre)

In a global economy, you compete against players with much larger scale (capital, resources, network). You can only beat them if you fight them at chokepoints. And the only true defensible chokepoint is irrationality. This is why incumbents are dethroned not by players in their same game, but by new games replacing existing ones instead.

3. On day to day choices

“The cost of your good habits is paid in the present. The cost of your bad habits is paid in the future” (James Clear)


“The calendar is the strategy” (Tobi Lutke)

True strategy is about choices. What you allocate time for, and what you sacrifice in turn. Not actively choosing is a choice, one where you delay feedback loops so that it doesn’t feel like choosing (but it’s a bad move).

4. On supply and demand

“Find ways to redefine the atomic unit of supply and therefore dramatically expand the addressable supply” (Sarah Tavel)


“Owning demand is way more important than owning supply” (Bill Gurley)

Reframing can unlock untapped potential. The whole bundling/unbundling continuum is proof of Sarah’s point. But it is way easier to reframe supply (which you can somewhat control) than it is to do so with demand (which you can nudge, but never control).

5. On the past and the future

“Benchmarks are backward looking, not about the future. They’re about what has worked. We’re about what is going to work” (Cathie Wood)


“Education is not a substitute for thinking about the future” (Peter Thiel)

Everytime I hear “This time is not different” or “History doesn’t repeat but it rhymes” I cringe. I’ll take the other side of that bet every day.

History is valuable. Not as a predictor of the future, but instead as a Lego building block instruction manual. When “A” is done, then “B” happens. Then it’s up to you to assess how similar are things to “A” and “B” nowadays.  

6. On money

“Money is a database for resource allocation across space and time” (Elon Musk)


“When designing Bitcoin, even aliens need to be accounted for” (Satoshi Nakamoto)

The “money is a database” notion is rich enough for a book in itself. What both quotes really open up though is the notion of building a database that is space/time resilient. The fact that fiat money systems are not designed for space/time endurance is one of the key driving forces behind the fall of most human empires.

7. On upscaling

“You should always choose the most capital intensive part of a line to be your bottleneck” (Ryan Petersen)


“Focus on what the compounding advantage is here and now. If no compounding advantage, then it is not scalable” (Sam Hinkie)

A ton of cheap capital will not turn something unscalable into something scalable.

8. On embracing change

“The Latin word for God is “Deus” – or as the Romans would have written it, “DEVS”. The people who create programs, games, and simulated worlds are also called “devs”. As time goes on, the two meanings will grow closer and closer” (Scott Alexander)


“You look at science (or at least talk of it) as some sort of demoralizing invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence” (Rosalind Franklin)

A common thread through this mashup has been “You can run but you can’t hide”. Those who have chosen to embrace the power of leverage, rather than run away from it, have profited and will continue to profit the most in the future.


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