1/ Some initial thoughts on personal moats:

Like company moats, your personal moat should be a competitive advantage that is not only durable—it should also compound over time.

Characteristics of a personal moat below:

2/ Like a company moat, you want to build career capital while you sleep.

As Andrew Chen noted: https://t.co/GClupyMUO6
3/ You don’t want to build a competitive advantage that is fleeting or that will get commoditized

Things that might get commoditized over time (some longer than others):

4/ Before the arrival of recorded music, what used to be scarce was the actual music itself — required an in-person artist.

After recorded music, the music itself became abundant and what became scarce was curation, distribution, and self space.
5/ Similarly, in careers, what used to be (more) scarce were things like ideas, money, and exclusive relationships.

In the internet economy, what has become scarce are things like specific knowledge, rare & valuable skills, and great reputations.
6/ Some examples of personal moats:

7/ Litmus test: If there is a Quora post with step by step instructions on how to do something, or if a lot of people have done it, then it’s likely not a durable personal moat.

If there’s a playbook for it, then how defensible is it?

(Unless you're the world's best at it.)
8/ Think of the moats described earlier:

How do you invest in 10+ unicorns like @eladgil?

How do you build a mega captive audience like @tferriss?

How do you become an encyclopedia like @tylercowen?

No playbook.
9/ How do you find out what could be your personal moat?

Ask others: What’s something that’s easy for you to do but hard for others?

AND very difficult for people to reverse engineer?
10/ Something that has high barriers to entry (e.g need to do 1 of below):

- Have the right relationships
- Be willing to risk social disapproval
- Get good at something w/ no playbook.
- Pick something that isn’t big now, but it will be in the future

11/ What is some tangible, yet wildly generalized, advice?

A) Discover what you can be great at. Align it w/ what could be important in the future.

B) Get so good they can’t ignore you.

C) Leverage super power to build other assets, but not too soon:

12/ In tech, the cleanest (albeit, hardest) way to build a personal moat is to start a successful company.

There are other ways, but they just take longer.

A future tweet storm will be on how to build career capital without doing so.
13/ All thoughts, questions, and other examples of personal moats are appreciated.

More from Erik Torenberg

1/ Here’s a list of conversational frameworks I’ve picked up that have been helpful.

Please add your own.

2/ The Magic Question: "What would need to be true for you

3/ On evaluating where someone’s head is at regarding a topic they are being wishy-washy about or delaying.

“Gun to the head—what would you decide now?”

“Fast forward 6 months after your sabbatical--how would you decide: what criteria is most important to you?”

4/ Other Q’s re: decisions:

“Putting aside a list of pros/cons, what’s the *one* reason you’re doing this?” “Why is that the most important reason?”

“What’s end-game here?”

“What does success look like in a world where you pick that path?”

5/ When listening, after empathizing, and wanting to help them make their own decisions without imposing your world view:

“What would the best version of yourself do”?

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