Subscriber Only: Imposter Syndrome
People are getting better at everything. The evidence is indisputable.
Not a day goes by that I don’t come across a new Substack and find myself mumbling, “Shit, that’s good.”
Of course, writing isn’t a zero-sum game. My prose isn’t diminished just because someone else writes better than I do.
At least that’s what my three therapists tell me.
I first noticed this trend in general societal excellence earlier this year when I came across a video of Greyson Nekrutman, whose mastery of his instrument is already, at the ripe old age of twenty-one, on par with the legends of drumming
He’s not alone.
All drummers are getting better. I’ve seen it and it makes perfect sense.
When I was a kid, I had to slow down my favorite songs by pressing my finger against the turntable in a futile attempt to decipher what the drummer was doing.
Today there are a gazillion videos that break down famous songs, dissect their iconic beats, and teach you how to play them note for note.
People are also getting funnier.
With an endless archive of comedic clips at their fingertips – everything from Chaplin to Chapelle – the public has absorbed and internalized the phrasing, timing, and beats of the greats.
I see the comedic bar raised every day on social media, to my great detriment and dismay.
When I first joined Twitter in 2010, I was hilarious. But by 2015 I had been reduced to mildly amusing.
Today, I’m lucky if my tweets rate a half-hearted chuckle.
This year, when I perused the list of the top 50 finalist in the main event at the World Series of Poker, I didn’t recognize a single name.
No Johnny Chan. No Doyle Brunson. And no Phils of any type, be it Hellmuth, Galfond, Ivey, or Laak.
Where were all the pros?
Squeezed out because everyone else has gotten so much better.
These days it seems like more people than ever are in the market. Everybody is investing and trading.
But are they getting better at it?
They’re certainly getting better at talking about it.
The 25-year-old with a Robinhood account won’t hesitate to tell you, with great authority, “You know, the biggest rallies come during bear markets.”
And why not? They’ve heard it said with authority by others a hundred times before.
They’re not wrong, but they haven’t lived it.
We can read the author’s elegance and feel the drummer’s rhythm, while the names on the leaderboard and the tweets that kill are public for all to see.
Not so much with the P&L of those who claim incredible returns and offer paid memberships to Discords with names like “Insider Edge,” “ATM Day Trading,” and “The Billionaire’s Club.”
And while many of life’s pursuits are elastic, with no restrictions on the collective wisdom and expertise of its participants, the stock market is a zero-sum game.
Someone has to win, and someone has to lose.
Over the past 100 years the stock market has averaged an annual return of about 10%.
That’s a lot of winning.
So, who is doing the losing?
Market Strategy Video:
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