Hi, I’m Tom.
I like pull-ups, making up my own lyrics to popular songs, and talking to people with unusual worldviews.
I write, here and in other places, to make sense of the world, and to spread this sense with others.
Some things about me
I’m a British-seeming Third Culture kid.
I studied maths & physics and now work in start-ups.
I work at Turpentine.co. When I’m not working I’m usually skiing, jotting down ideas, or playing touch rugby.
I also write Between the cracks. It’s a public diary of the ideas I’m kicking around.
I’m based in Vancouver, Canada. Contact me if you are around and fancy a coffee (or a ski sesh!).
Some of my favourite posts
- Life, School, and the 80:20 Rule: School compresses the ups and downs of life into nice linear sequences. It gives the illusion of progress. But real learning is nonlinear.
- The economics of OnlyFans: OnlyFans is a billion-dollar company, but most creators lose money. Why?
- Minimum Viable Novelty: In uncertain times we crave order, and in the lockdown we have to impose it upon ourselves. Our routines need minimum viable novelty so we don’t go insane.
- Why does maths work?: A summary of Hamming’s The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics
- Wait Attentively: Why waiting for groups of friends is like an infinite series.
- Benford’s Law Basics: In which I finally understand Benford’s Law.
- 2020 Review: Just over a year of writing online. It’s surprising how much I learned.
Some things I’d like to see in the world
If you want to discuss any of these, reach out!
- A scaled solution to the Two-Sigma problem
- Something between The Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, and Aristotle as a live-in personal tutor.
- Seems like LLMs could be highly promising here.
- Widespread nuclear power (especially nuclear powered container ships — did you know the biggest 15 ships emit as much pollution as all the world’s cars?)
- A company that absolutely nails moving-as-a-service
- When you have to move you should be able to push a button, and all the paperwork, finding a house, finding schools, opening a bank account, is done for you.
- Voluntary Imprisonment as a service — a solution to the “flying productivity paradox”
- People tend to be extremely productive on airplanes. This is in part because there is a lack of stimulation: no internet, limited room to move around, only sub-mediocre entertainment which is decided by committee, not tailored to your interests. How can we simulate this in a co-working environment?
- A really good consumer subscription management app.
- Because companies are after predictable revenue, the subscription business model will become even more prevalent. But most consumers don’t get persistent value from most of their subscriptions.
- Widespread permanent carbon removal under $50 per ton of CO2e
- Biochar and enhanced mineral weathering seem like two promising approaches here.
- A “COO in a box” for creators.
Richard Feynman once wrote: “Mathematicians think every problem is either impossible, or trivial”. To a mathematician, knowing you can solve a problem is equivalent to solving it. It’s not that there isn’t a lot of hard work required to get to the solution. But the path to the solution is known, and clear. And that’s mainly what mathematicians care about.
I feel the same way about business. I view business problems as either open-ended, where it’s unclear whether a satisfactory solution is possible, or closed, where it’s clear what the path to a solution is. In my consulting practice I help clients turn their open-ended business problems into closed ones.
I help clients break their problems down, figure out which elements of the problem to focus on and which can be safely ignored. Together we turn your messy, open-ended problems with fuzzy tradeoffs into a closed-form plan with tradeoffs clearly prioritised.
As my client, I typically won’t help you execute on the operational details of your problem—but by the time you’re ready to execute, the path to a solution will be so clear that you won’t need my help anymore.
I am excited by solving new problems—for me, the more unusual your problem is, the better a fit for my practice. I have expertise across growth, marketing, sales, data analytics, hiring, people management, and negotiation.
I’m currently at capacity for new clients, but to get on my waitlist, reach out at tom [at] xsrus [dot] com.
Some example engagements:
- Interim head of special projects for series-A crypto company: hiring, strategy, and org structure for data acquisition team.
- Advisor to CEO of seed-stage legaltech company: product strategy, growth strategy, and hiring.
- Advisor to CEO of seed-stage Onlyfans competitor: product strategy, growth strategy, and seed fundraising.
- Advisor to CEO of pre-seed consumer SaaS company: product strategy and growth strategy.
- Advisor to high-end Mayfair art gallery: hiring and strategy.
About this blog
I’m just trying to figure things out.
You can find out more about what I was thinking when I started it here.
I hope you find it useful!