This is an edited transcript of an audio recording between Tim Purcell [co-founder at Lykeion] and Doomberg [everybody’s favorite green chicken]
Full audio recording at the end of this transcript
We're live! Doomberg, welcome to the first Lykeion podcast ever.
Hey Tim, it’s great to be here. What an honor. What came first the chicken or the egg right? I guess that means the chicken came first in this case.
The chicken absolutely came first in this scenario. For everybody listening to this, Doomberg and I had initially thought about doing this as a written Q&A, but I believe Doomberg, your response to me was “it's a very extensive list. Why don't we do a voice.”
My original response was how about I just audio record it and send you a transcript because we were joking offline but we're dealing with the crunch of the launch of our Substack and we’re always trying to be as responsive as we can and to help out other content creators. But looking at the long list of questions you sent us, like you know there’s got to be an easier way to do this. I love you Tim, but this is… extensive. So I think this is the right solution, just hop on the horn and chat with each other and walk through the questions this way.
Yeah, I'm super excited and it's great because Diego and I have discussed doing a podcast for a while and we had never really put a stake in the ground and said “this is when we're going to do it” so when you mentioned this, it was like you know what, it looks like we're just going start it now and so here we go.
I was wondering if you could kick it off and tell us about what the content creation process for you guys is like. Are you driven by the news cycle or at least pay attention to what's going on in the news cycle and say “okay now we're going to talk about this topic” or do you have a content calendar planned out and cover what feels most optimal, or is there some other method to the madness that you follow?
So, at a high level, we pride ourselves on explaining non-finance things to finance professionals in a language they can understand. Our team is composed of a mix of heavy industrial science background, executive management background, and pretty hardcore finance background. Everybody on our team is trained in finance and has worked in finance. We have three objectives with Doomberg which is:
- We shall be funny without being silly.
- We shall be provocative without being polarizing.
- We shall teach without being self-indulgent.
And to the extent that our pieces accomplish those three tasks... that's what we call completing our brand ambition. So, for sure we follow the news cycle and we like to write about topical things... but really our work process starts with those three.
We don't take scheduled meetings as a rule and so we have an enormous amount of time for reading and thinking and creating and brainstorming. We consume an enormous amount of content from other creators and we pay prolifically for anybody who's creating value because we believe in that karma and value for value, and content creators are becoming a real profession and to do it professionally there needs to be a market for it. So the first answer I would say is there is no quote-unquote totally original content. Everybody is building off of somebody else's idea.
Maybe you're connecting dots, which is what we like to do, and then, in particular, when we see there's issues that require some explanation. One of the things about finance and science separately and then obviously when you put them together is there's a lot of technical jargon and a lot of people who are experts that like to take comfort in their expertise and like to talk over people… we’re the opposite of that, we really enjoy explaining as though maybe you don't know.
Like we joked in one of our pieces, we've never been afraid to be the person in the audience who raises their hand to ask a dumb question because the benefit of knowledge far outweighs the possibility of embarrassment, and our theory is that if we're asking or we're wondering then there's probably lots of people in the room that are too. So just go ahead and ask, it's okay and, by the way, people are always happy to answer a question that they know the answer to and they're always happy to teach and to explain. So we read an enormous amount of content and then when we see something that is not properly explained, that's a pretty good genesis for a piece. Or when we see the ability to connect the dots of several content creators into one piece, to add a new insight on top of theirs… that's a genesis for a piece. Oftentimes, we like to make sure that we do both.
And then the most important part of our content creation process is once we have an idea that we think we're going to write about, and we always have half a dozen at various stages mentally, the piece doesn't get started until we land on a great title. This is something that we stole from our mutual friend Grant Williams who's the master of a good title. We can't begin writing a piece until we have a title and then oftentimes once we have a great title, the peace writes itself and that part of the content creation process is so important that taped above the lamp on my desk is a bolded print out of the words, “Is the title great?” because I need to be reminded of that every time.
So right now, I have a piece in mind. For example, we're recording this on Friday, May 27th, the next piece is probably going to be about the Russian ruble and how our energy decisions are strengthening Putin. I have the piece in my head, but I have not written word one yet because I can't get a title. I've spent the morning answering subscriber emails but also just dwelling on what the title is, and I don't have one yet and if I don't get one, I'm not going to write that piece. So that's the work process. We consume an enormous amount of content. We connect dots. We explain things and then we start writing once we have a title.
That makes sense and I'm looking forward to that piece because I know you probably follow Luke Gromen and Brent Johnson and their back and forth on Twitter on the Russian ruble is fascinating and I genuinely don’t know which side I fall on.
Both always make great points on both sides as they do with the dollar conversations as well. So that'll be a really interesting one and hopefully, we can come up with a title on this chat. We'll figure it out by the end of this hour.
Ah, yeah, it’d be very helpful for me because it's one of those weird things like we had some great titles like the piece we posted just before this one “Grim Diesel” like once we had the title that's it… that's the good stuff.
I love it and I have so many questions that build off these titles…
Go ahead, knock yourself out. We got nothing but time.
Okay, perfect. So, we'll start off with the nuclear conversation because this is one where I think we share a lot of interests but you obviously have a much deeper knowledge on the topic. I think anybody who reads you knows your interest in nuclear and this is perfect timing because I just listened to the interview you and Grant did with Chris Keefer, which was just amazing, that guy is out of this world. And one of the questions I had sent you initially got brought up in that interview and it revolves around when you have the nuclear conversation with people, the thing that always comes up is the conversation about nuclear waste and if nuclear is safe.
You know, just look at Chornobyl and Fukushima and Three Mile Island and they start naming all these disasters and I've never really had a great ability at articulating why those things aren't that big of an issue. Other than regurgitating stuff from guys like you and Chris and Josh Wolfe, so I was hoping that you could bring this conversation forward and explain how you would respond to people on these two topics?
And then you can touch on the new reactor technology that we're looking at and how it differs from some of the reactors of the past that were being used during these disasters.
Okay, so at the highest level, I’ll just give you the conclusion. The nuclear waste issue is a canard. It is a completely fake totally made-up issue. So, let's start at the end now let me explain why that is.
So, at the highest level, everything in life is a tradeoff, right? There's no such thing as a magic wand - energy is life. The amount of energy we can harness dictates our standard of living. We have energy choices. We have a menu of ways to harness energy, some of those ways include nuclear power, solar energy, wind energy, burning oil, burning gas, burning coal, hydropower… pick your fit. All of these potential inputs into the necessary energy that drives life comes with some benefits and come with some tradeoffs or downsides. There is no such thing as zero. I like to say zero is an emotional number. With regards to oil, we've had massive oil spills. We've had explosions. We've had worker deaths. We've had, pick your favorite, you know, a lot of CO2 emitted when we burn oil and for a long time, we had lead in gasoline that caused a lot of brain development issues, especially amongst young people. With natural gas you have homes explode occasionally because there's a leak or with solar sometimes they catch fire and burn your house down and with wind, we kill all these birds and it's very difficult to recycle.