Posts Tagged ‘Concorde’

The Transfer of Wealth Versus the Creation of Wealth

Last month I wrote about some tips and tricks for making money with Amazon Associates. For example, by finding cheap traffic sources, any savvy internet marketer can make thousands of dollars each money by simply funneling traffic from one website to Amazon. That is the transfer of wealth. Specifically, transferring web traffic, eyeballs, from one website, to another website (Amazon) which is able to monetize those eyeballs much more effectively. A simple and nifty arbitrage trick. No new wealth created in the world, just wealth transferred from one place to another. This type of activity happens all of the time in finance, where investors shuffle their wealth from one investment to the next.

This month, I want to contrast last month’s blog post by making a note on the creation of wealth, an activity that I find much more interesting. For example, with my flight deals website, Concorde, I created a new website that (I hope) provides value to prospective travelers. I took a new idea in my head and I built something. Two weeks ago, after eight months of consistent part-time work, including over 700 code commits, I earned my first commission from the site. Exciting! $20. Not much for all of that work, you ask? Yes, but it’s worth it, because creating new wealth takes time. Every journey starts with a single step. It takes attention to detail, iteration, feedback, listening to the haters, and rebuilding. This type of work, creating wealth by building things, is much more appealing and inspiring to me. Come check out what I am building:


04 2016

Making My Own Luck

When I was 15 years old I worked as an intern at an New York-based Internet marketing company, MediaTrust, who happened to be one of the fastest growing private companies in America during the summer of 2009 (Inc. magazine ranked them #9). And I loved it. From taking the train into New York City every day, to becoming introduced to Shake Shack, and daily trips to Jamba Juice with my great friend Herwig, I learned a lot by even just walking the streets. This was the summer when “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas was at the top of the Billboard charts, and I know that Herwig and I truly felt like lucky guys.

During my exit interview with one of the leaders at MediaTrust, Trip, exposed me to two thoughts which have influenced my behavior ever since:

  • Don’t rely on luck. Make luck happen for yourself.
  • Communicate better. Many of life’s problems are rooted in communication failures.


Those two pieces of advice have stuck with me because this conversation was one of the first moments when I realized that my destiny is up to me to determine.

I never had great grades in school, so I didn’t often feel that I could control the destiny of getting into a great college. But when it came to making things on the Internet and selling them, I knew I could make my own luck by reading online and then performing experiments with the knowledge that I had gained. And so that’s what I did, and that’s where I excelled.

When I learned about Y Combinator and Paul Graham during that same summer from my co-workers at MediaTrust, I became inspired to find a repetitive problem in my life, and mechanize a solution with technology. I learned that I could make my own luck with the right preparation and the right opportunity. But perhaps equally important, I learned that thought leaders in technology companies and startups, such as Paul Graham, are great communicators.

Paul Graham’s essays gained the loyal readership of programmers and other hackers, who provided the seed for what became Reddit and then Hacker News. Likewise with Peter Thiel, his book, Zero to One, is now one of the best selling business books of all time. Their clarity of thought is the product of years of thinking deliberately on how to distill their experience and intuition into words. It’s something I admire very much about them and seek to emulate in all of my communications.

Looking back on my experiences since 2009, it’s clear to me that many of my “lucky” successes were developed by a combination of me vigorously pursuing a specific goal, in addition to clear and succinct communication that helped to relay my story. From writing to the Thiel Foundation about how I wanted to change the world, to my application essay at Wake Forest, to writing about “bacn” on the Glider blog and having that picked up by BBC News, my great strides have relentless execution and strong communication at their core.

I’ve spent much of the last six months working on the first part of this equation, making my own luck: writing code, drawing user interface designs, and purely executing. I am building a flight deals application: Concorde. I believe the last six months has been one of the most creative periods in my life. But I know that my dedication to writing has lacked focus during this time. Over the coming months, I am aiming to share more about my specific decisions for why and how I am building Concorde, because I’ve gotta feeling that my success depends on it.

Ciao and arrivederci.


01 2016

Air France Concorde Crash – 10 Years Later

10 years ago in aviation now seems like an eternity. The numerous airline mergers and acquisitions, new aircraft models released, security regulations imposed, and various other incidents have seemed to clear our memory of one of the most tragic Pre-9/11 air crashes. I’m writing about this rather unusual topic because today, July 25th, 2010 is exactly 10 years from the day when the Air France Concorde crashed on takeoff outside Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

While the crash of the supersonic airliner that could fly at twice the speed of sound has faded into the distant past of most flyers today, it’s an event that remains vivid in my memory. As a 7-year old visiting Europe for the first time, I didn’t fully understand the enormous distance separating the two continents but I did understand how we were going to get home on that hot summer afternoon in Paris. Let me explain.

My family was about to return home from a two-week vacation visiting the highlights of southern England and northern France, and we had already endured a lengthy 7 hour flight from Newark – London on the powerful wide-body DC-10 airplane. I remember jokingly discussing the possibility of using frequent flier miles to pay for the quick but expensive trip home on the Concorde,  but those thoughts vanished. In hopes of a bit more entertainment for the flight home, my older brother researched the aircraft that was scheduled to fly us home from Paris. The originally scheduled aircraft that was supposed to operate the flight was the brand new 777-200 aircraft which had just been delivered to Continental only a couple months earlier at the turn of the century. The entertaining advantage on the 777 was that everyone on the plane would have their own television to watch movies and play games, a concept that revolutionized in-flight entertainment 10 years ago.

To our disappointment the Continental aircraft that was waiting at the gate to take us back home was a DC-10. The equipment swap which took place in Newark a day earlier eventually turned out to be the source of crash which was according to investigators, the result of a titanium strip falling off the DC-10 onto the runway. After several years of investigation, French authorities concluded that a piece of titanium metal fell off the Continental plane which my family was flying home on, and then the metal caused the tire on the Concorde to explode. Once the tire exploded, the pieces of tire were ingested, which immediately started a fire in the Concorde’s engines, leaving the Concorde with no thrust and a tragic crash resulted.

My most striking memory is when we taxied to the runway past the Air France Concorde that day, I remember seeing the passengers climb the stairs from the tarmac onto the plane, self assured that they would be safe and sound in New York just 3 hours later. When my family did arrive safely 8 hours later at Newark Airport on-board the Continental DC-10, we learned about the crash and were completely confused and astonished knowing that such a tragic event had happened just minutes after we left France. In total, 109 passengers died on-board and 4 others on the ground. The crash also lead to the eventual end of the Concorde service as new maintenance requirements became too expensive for Air France and British Airways, combined with reduced passenger traffic due to the 9/11 attacks. Today a ceremony in Paris was held to honor the victims of the crash at the crash site in Gonesse, France. The two Continental mechanics who were responsible for installing the titanium strip are currently under manslaughter charges, and the ruling on the case will be determined in December later this year.

For more information on the crash, take a look at this video documenting the event-

Correction (Thanks to gvb of Y-Combinator news):
The official cause of the crash is more complex than the explanation above. According to Wikipedia
“During the Concorde’s subsequent take-off run, this piece of debris, still lying on the runway, ruptured a tyre which then burst. A large chunk of this (4.5 kilograms or 9.9 lb) struck the underside of the aircraft’s wing structure at well over 300 kilometres per hour (190 mph). Although it did not directly puncture any of the fuel tanks, it sent out a pressure shockwave that eventually ruptured the number five fuel tank at the weakest point, just above the landing gear. Leaking fuel rushing over the top of the wing was ignited by an electric arc in the landing gear bay or through contact with severed electrical cables.”


07 2010