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Samo Burja - The Wallenberg Family Of Sweden (Most Powerful Family)

& other expressions of Samo's worldview...

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Why Organisations Thrive & Fail - Bismarck Brief

Samo Burja founded Bismarck Analysis, of which Bismarck Brief has spun off, which is a consulting and research firm that investigates the political and institutional landscape of society. 

I’ve listened to and read hundreds of hours of Samo Burja. He’s prolific both in writing and talking, and applies an academic analysis to express his interests. His interests are those which overlap with mine, and as such, should as well overlap with yours since you have selected this podcast. 

He’s been on my list of dream guests ever since this podcast began, and so it was a huge thrill to get a chance to finally record something with him. 

We cover the central thread of Samo’s work… why groups thrive and fail, the Wallenberg family of Sweden, Nassim Taleb and as well Samo offers an intriguing answer to the country he is most bullish on.

Forward this email or share this podcast episode with someone who you reckon has overlapping interests with you!

‘Show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome’ - Charlie Munger (goat of pithy quotes)

I want to grow this newsletter and I want to grow this podcast. Typically, fellow creators in my position will offer you (my dear reader/listener) some reward whereby, if you refer x amount of people I will send you y reward.

For every 5 people you bring to the newsletter, I’d send you custom merch (or something along these lines)

Now, as you know, I work full time at Quartr which means after a long days work, I am booking, researching, recording, editing and publishing a podcast plus (everything on this newsletter), and therefore only left with a few minutes for everything else that makes up a life.

And as such, setting up some type of rewards program hasn’t eventuated. BUT with that being said, I would nonetheless try to do something to incentivise you to share the show.

For the sake of transparency - about 5000 people follow the podcast across both Spotify & Apple, and several hundred subscribe to this newsletter. Not everyone listens to every episode, but so far in a 4 year lifetime I’m extremely chuffed with every new person - and I notice every. single. new. person

To get to the point where things are monetised I’d say tripling both of those metrics is necessary.

But for now, all I can offer is camaraderie - if you are reading this now you are, and will remain the most important viewership I will ever get… and this is because you are the early adopters. So all I can do is ask… if you enjoy this and if you know anyone who think might enjoy it as well - share it with them one at a time and share it on your socials to the masses. Follow the podcast wherever you listen to it and subscribe to this newsletter and bare with me, not everything will be directly interesting to you, but I endeavour that some of it definitely will be.

So pump your juice, send this to all your mates - and one day you’ll be able to say you were onto all this ‘Curious Worldview’ stuff from day 1.

Here is a transcript of the opening exchange from the conversation…

You've produced so much work on so many disparate topics, but is there a central thread that it's all sort of working towards?

Samo Burja
I think almost all of my writing and work focuses on the life cycle of institutions, of organizations, their origin, with exceptional individuals creating completely new archetypes, completely new blueprints for how humans can be organized through their maturity, whether or not they are functional or non-functional, whether they achieve their stated objectives or not, and then eventually their decay and dismemberment, which inevitably happens for all human organizations, all human organizations eventually are absorbed, reintegrated, or just disbanded because they fail. And this is true at the smallest scale, like a company scale or at the largest scale of entire societies and civilizations.

Why is it interesting to you?

Samo Burja
I think it's interesting to me because nearly all of our lives are spent moving through an institutionalized world, right? We go from school to work to, you know, at this point, realistically, we seem to go into retirement homes. We don't even return to, you know, family structure. But family structure itself is sort of very different society to society.

So I think humans are social species and I can't help but be fascinated in all the ways we can be.

In the analysis of all these different types of institutions, because they sit across, whether it's a sports theme, a big organization, a smaller community, what are, if there are any sort of recurring themes throughout them.

Samo Burja
I think one of the most important ones is that tacit, unstated knowledge pervades almost every aspect of human life. We learn so much implicitly, we copy so much from other people that we often don't even attribute it or remember it correctly.

There's so many examples in sort of the human world of remarkable feats that are considered impossible, but once achieved are easily copied, right? Every time a speed record is broken for a sprinter or a swimmer or something like that, suddenly a dozen athletes find it within themselves to match that new record where previously none of them could achieve it. Right. And even in, you know, how?

we come to be, right, when we're learning language and so on, we are imitating very profoundly our parents and other children around us. And I think that it is fascinating to me where these patterns originate from, right? Where do these human patterns originate from? And I think this is what is true at all levels of human organization. It's true for the individual.

So the child, it's true for a field and what might the peak achievement of a field be. But sometimes entire societies copy a mode of being from one society into another. Right? You have like the Meiji Restoration in Imperial Japan, where they basically transform their system of government, undergo industrialization and so on. But honestly, even governments we might think of as anti-Western, such as the Chinese Communist Party, right?

Where does that come from? It's obviously copying a sort of Soviet design, and its foundational thinkers include Marx and Engels and so on. Now, of course, this goes in all directions. All civilizations copy from each other, but I think this is why, when truly different societies encounter each other, transformation is inevitable, right?

And the transformation is usually somewhat lopsided, right? One side is transformed more than the other. So I think that is a very deep pattern that any scale of human activity you look at, humans will be copying behavior, re-implementing behavior, repeating patterns, picking up patterns.

Tacit unstated knowledge. Is that what you mean? Is that the imitation you're talking about?

Samo Burja
I mean, it can also be explicit verbal imitation, right? It can be explicit knowledge. It can be mathematics. It can be written law. It can be music notation and so on. It's just that it's in the nature of knowledge that the vast majority of it is unstated. You can, of course, write down every step of the proof of a mathematical hypothesis. You can have a theorem…

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