The Wisdom Letters w/ John Obidi

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Let The Eminent Dead Guide You

Is it not odd that when we get stuck, we search for something new, not realizing that if we looked hard enough, we’d see that it’s been here all along?

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new” It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.

- King Solomon

Charlie Munger (aged 98) is an American Billionaire, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, and closest advisor to Warren Buffet.

He popularized the aphorism “let the eminent dead guide you”.

It refers to the diligent practice of studying worldly wisdom left behind by the best of those who came before us.

In this letter, I have curated for you, some of my best resources from the eminent dead.

1. Virgil Abloh (deceased, 2021) was artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collection.

In 2019, LVMH recorded a 20% growth in sales and partly attributed it to his appointment.

He had earlier gained notoriety for creating the album art for Jay Z and Kanye West’s “Watch The Throne” album, receiving a Grammy nomination for “Best Recording Package”.

By 2021, he was given expanded responsibilities within the company and was now regarded by many as the most influential creative across LVMH’s $351 Billion empire.

Before his untimely death from cancer, he recorded a free course titled “Free Game: How To Make a Brand”.

It is a step by step guide for anyone trying to start a brand and ranges from newbie questions like “How to name your brand” to advanced topics like “how to obtain a trademark”.

My favorite section is “Figures of Speech Catalog”

Virgil passed away late last year (2021), so I don’t know how long the web domain will stay up for.

Get the course while it’s up, here.

2. George Orwell (deceased, 1950) was an English novelist and essayist.

His real name was Eric Arthur Blair, but he wrote under the pen name, George Orwell, after his favorite place, the River Orwell.

In 2008, he was ranked by The Times among "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945, coming in 2nd place.

His book, Animal Farm, earned him fame in his lifetime, and is one I recommend to anyone who would better understand the nature of political movements - past, present and future.

Here’s what I found fascinating about him.

In 1947, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. This drove him harder to publish a book he had had in his head, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

He handed over the finished book to his publisher and it was published in mid-1949.

He passed away in 1950.

I consider Nineteen Eighty-Four to be a near-prophetic prediction of the eventual totalitarian nature of governments.

He predicted that far future to be in the year 1984, but after reading it, you’d think it was written for the present day.

The contents of the books (Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four) were so revolutionary that they have been banned by multiple governments through time - The Soviet Union, Belarus, the UAE and Spain, though only Belarus currently still has the ban in force.

Read them both.

3. Felix Dennis (deceased, 2014) wrote the widely acclaimed book, How To Get Rich.

He was a spoken word poet, but found his fortune through his publishing company, Dennis Publishing.

He documented lessons from his rise to wealth in his book, How To Get Rich.

At the end of the book he summarized 8 Secrets to getting rich as:

- Analyze your need.

- Cut loose from negative influences.

- Ignore “great ideas”. Concentrate on great execution.

- Focus. Keep your eye on the ball marked “The Money is Here”

- Hire talent smarter than you

- Ownership is the real secret

- Sell before you need to

- Fear nothing and no one

The book is rich with worldly wisdom that won't be found in conventional schooling.

I highly recommend it.

If you prefer to consume his nuggets via video, I've got you.

These resources will help:

- Felix Dennis Book Summary (video)

- How to Build a Business Empire by Felix Dennis, at the London Business Forum


This post is already turning into a book in itself and I don’t want it ending up in your spam folder.

So I’ll just outline some more eminent names you can research without explaining details about their work, though I might do so as I find fit, in other editions of The Wisdom Letters.

- Viktor Frankl
- Al Ries
- Marcus Aurelius
- Benjamin Franklin
- Charles Bukowksi
- Nikola Tesla
- Some other dead guy so subvertively wise that I only recommend him to the inner circle

I do not fear death, but I would absolutely hate dying common as one of the nameless masses.

That's why I learned to write - to properly articluate and distribute my thoughts electronically, so that someday, I will be regarded as one of the eminent dead, still providing wisdom and guidance centuries after, from across the narrow sea, even as I do so now.

Until then, I'd gladly perform this role as a member of The Eminent Living.

And what about you?

Have you given this any thought?

Talk Soon,

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Modern Wisdom for Navigating the Modern World.

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