Farnam Street is an online intellectual hub that helps you get an edge, avoid problems, and live a smarter life.
My goal is to help you go to bed each night smarter than when you woke up. I’ll do this by giving you tools, ideas, and frameworks for thinking. We cover topics like human misjudgment, decision making, strategy, and philosophy.
I’m not smart enough to figure all of this out myself. So I try to master the best of what other people have already figured out. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
The best way to do this is to read a lot. And so I make friends with the eminent dead. Along the way I write about what I’m learning.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to launch your business?
Shane Parrish: I remember the exact moment Farnam Street started. I was in the middle of doing an MBA class on strategy and I realized that the 75k check I just wrote was basically worthless. Not worthless in a symbolic sense, but worthless in a learning sense. I paid to get an education and all I was going to get was an advanced degree. Rather than just sit around and waste time, I put my head down and started learning on my own. Since that point,I’ve been plugging away trying to go to bed each night a little wiser than when I woke up. I figured if school wasn’t going to give me the education I wanted than I’d have to find a way to teach myself. Now Farnam Street is one of the most popular websites in the world.
BusinessInterviews.com: What issue does your core product help solve and how so?
Shane Parrish: I help people discover knowledge that helps them improve the way they think. I don’t do this on my own — we’re fans of mastering the best of what other people have already figured out. Our readers include championship NFL coaches, bestselling authors, 4 star Generals, CEOs and decisions makers throughout organizations. We give them an edge by helping them better understand the world. More than that, we help them reduce blindspots and live a more meaningful life.
I’m very open about some of the mistakes I’ve made – like what it means to be a good friend. I hope that by opening up about some of my shortcomings, I’m able to help others avoid similar pitfalls.
BusinessInterviews.com: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
Shane Parrish: Dealing with people that are not living up to their commitments and obligations certainly puts a test on my patience and tolerance. However, as long as I don’t believe there is malaise behind it, I follow Taylor Swift’s advice and “shake it off.”
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you/your Company?
Shane Parrish: Continuing you to respect the reader in a world where people are tying to make money of every page view and deliver actual value is pretty exciting.
BusinessInterviews.com: Have you had any mentors or role models that have influenced you? Describe the impact.
Shane Parrish: My parents have had a huge impact on me but there are others like Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett. They’ve not only exemplified values that I share but they’ve also shown me that it’s ok to do things differently.
BusinessInterviews.com: Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Shane Parrish: I struggle with questions like this because I don’t really think in the standard terms. Farnam Street has helped millions of people over the last few develop a better understanding of how the word really works. To the extent that helps them make better decisions, explore themselves and live in a more conscious way, then this aspect of my life has been an enormous success. As to how I measure success that’s really an internal thing for me. Do you remember the old Kenny Rogers song the Gambler? There is a lot of wisdom on that. Specifically: “There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealings done.”
BusinessInterviews.com: How do your competitors view you?
Shane Parrish: In a way every website in the world is a competitor. Your attention as a reader is a limited resource. If you’re not giving it to me you’re giving it to someone or something else. I’m trying to exist in a world where the next person is giving you a dopamine-type response and playing with your mind by feeding you crack. I can’t compete in that world and I don’t try … There is an old saying that “if you do what everyone else does, don’t be surprised if you get the same results that everyone else gets.” We do things differently and hopefully correctly. We respect the reader and their time — for most Farnam Street readers time is their most valuable possession. We treat them the way we would want to be treated.
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