I got a great email from a reader asking my thoughts on where he's at in life. He studied and worked in the USA, and went back to his home country to try to improve it... but he's having problems achieving all his goals with the culture there, and is thinking this through a lot. I like my response and I'm sharing it here - I edited out his personal details before posting this.
Good email. Tough questions.
First, I massively respect your point of view. It's interesting, isn't it? Whether you should focus on success -> change stuff, or try to do both at the same time... maybe both? Funny, I just wrote a blog post about this yesterday, but haven't posted it yet. I'm attaching it - "BLOG Ambitious Conundrum.txt" - some questions about how much to train, and how much to produce right away. Maybe it's relevant.
I guess the biggest question is, what's your main goal in life? What do you live and breathe for? Professionally, I'm working to be the greatest strategist of this generation. (It'll take me another 20+ years, but I think I've got a realistic shot at it) On a family level, I'm looking to build an international dynasty, a family like the Medici, Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Tokugawa, something like that.
Those goals come first and second, then I have other goals related to service, making change in the world, being a guardian of society, doing science, doing things professionally, etc. For me, I try to make my actions serve my larger roles.
Arbitrage and speculation get a bad rap sometimes, but they're incredibly useful.
I'm leaving Ulaanbaatar shortly and I'll be heading to Japan. I went to stock up on some basic supplies - personable consumables and work stuff.
Strikingly, paper is really expensive here for Western-grade, Western-style paper. The local shops literally don't carry it. Instead, they have this checkered sort of paper. It's like graph paper, but with thick black lines. I prefer black ink, and after trying out one of those notebooks, I couldn't read what I'd written.
I tried some of the upscale department stores (Sky Department Store, State Department Store) and there's literally no Western-style, 60 sheet lined notebooks in the $1 to $2 range like you'd see in the USA. They have high end notebooks for $6 to $12, and they have these thin flimsy 20-page booklet-type things for around $1. I settled for the booklet.
Now, if there was the demand to make it worth it, someone importing Western style paper from China at 20 cents a notebook and selling it here for $2 per notebook would be creating a lot of value. If this presented a large enough opportunity, eventually you'd see the margins go down towards cost, as happens in almost all industries.