Responses to Great House Plan
Second in series on how to become a Prince
I published Great House Plan last week and have received many very interesting responses.
Firstly, excitement. There are number of commenters who have expressed their desire to replicate some version of a patronage plan if they ever achieve the means. I’m enormously gratified by this; I wrote GHP to illustrate the realm of the possible and get people thinking about patronage and exponential growth in human populations, so in this respect the aims of the piece were successful.
Secondly, criticisms and feedback. These I acknowledge. There are lots of specific issues with the plan to work out, and I do want to address some problems and present potential solutions in a later article. What I want to do here is to flesh out a vision of what this new and pro-social vehicle could look like as completely as possible. Others might disagree, and others could take my plan and modify it, but as long as I’ve filled in enough details to make the whole thing look not only attractive, but plausible and eminently achievable, then I’ve done my job. I want to bridge the gap between theory and reality as much as possible.
I will go into more details in future articles, but for today I want to post the best feedback and criticism I’ve gotten, all from an anonymous internet poster who generously shared the following, which I will leave you to chew on while I work on our next post.
This feedback is excellent because it identifies specific issues (recruitment, cultivation, long-term cohesion) from a point of view that correctly identifies the primary bottleneck for a wealthy person, which is not money but time and attention.
Please have a look. If you have ideas related to these points, even potential solutions, I would appreciate if you shared them in the comments. I am sure the rest of the readership would be interested in seeing them as well.
1/n First the good points: Paulos nailed direct giving as the most straightforward and effective counter to the bureaucratic and legal structures that would trip up a charity, political party, or business trying to put together a crew.
2/n Long-term planning for generational success is a skill that is due for a comeback in Western society. Network effects are powerful. The Medicis ruled Florence by virtue of their centrality in the web of noble intermarriage and Harvard is Harvard because of its alumni network
3/n Any large undertaking needs a clear goal. The GHP's goal while not explicit, suggests itself as roughly "be based and multiply". Our hypothetical Patron will no doubt specify further (maybe "colonize Mars?")
4/n The order of proposed actions is right: Taleb catches a lot of justified shit on here, but "If you wish to become a philosopher-King, first become a King." is spot on. Now, some questions that arise on second reading…mainly to do with time and scale.
5/n Even Cyrus and Alexander the Great limited their leadership teams to just a couple dozen Generals and Satraps. Modern leaders like Trump or Biden meanwhile can't manage Talent to save their lives.
6/n Our Patron probably has a high public profile, vast business interests, and a family. In other words, a ton of existing demands on his time before this great undertaking kicks off. Managing people takes Energy!
7/n Assuming our Patron has the right stuff to mentor N clients once he collects them, his chief concerns will shift from executing his vision to managing churn and "face time" to ensure his top guys stay top.
8/n The prospect of the arrangement ending by the unilateral decision of one party means it often will. Recruitment will be continuous. Each new relationship starts from zero. This is an entropic machine & every executive will tell you HR is their least favorite part of the job
9/n Any organization needs a Creed: be that Bushido, Ikhwanism, or the Little Red Book, our Patron will likely have to do a little bit of cult-ing even if Paulos rightly sees avoiding the appearance thereof as important.
10/n Organizational behavior study tells us that without a shared mission and visible progress toward that mission, money alone doesn't retain talent.
11/n Loyalty to a leader develops via personal interaction facing shared adversity over time. The US State Dept. hands out billions to various freedom fighters the world over. Are they loyal to it as a result? Even when their ideology matches?
12/n While having top guys on call sounds good, our Patron likely overestimates his sphere of incluence's ability to absorb talent aligned with his goals.
13/n Some of our Clients may have the skill set to manage their Patron's business interests while being based family men bent on a cultural reconquista, but...
14/n 24 hours in a day mean our Patron can't sit on 20 different startup Boards, & keep his "day job" from which the millions flow, & lead a movement without an unsustainably superhuman effort
15/n The Children will carry on our vision. Maybe? The problems of rich kids are well known. Kids generally are energy intensive. The proposed 6 will strain our Clients like bowstrings, make the monthly 6k evaporate if they're living as "Elite" coastal US upper middle class
16/n Further a dynasty without a kingdom to inherit, just a raft of responsibility bequeathed from dear old Titan of Industry Dad may prove less stable than hoped. American political dynasties don't take long to produce a RFK Jr, or a Jeb! Who let's remember was a legit big fish
17/17 In summary: Paulos rightly sees supporting worthy people via direct giving is a killer app. Tradeoffs between scale & control need exploring. Strong mission alignment from elite performers in return for financial reward is unlikely to produce results the Patron wants.