Weekly Thoughts

VIEW ALL POSTS

Snakes!!

Here is something that caught our eye this week:

Some crazy factoids

Until last week, we never spent much time thinking about snakes other than how they got on a plane with Samuel L. Jackson.  Last week, however, we listened to a 99 percent invisible podcast about snakes that blew our minds.  Take, for instance, the way the majority of antivenom is made.

Snake venom can have up to 200 different toxins, each of which can mess you up in a different way (some can attack your muscles, others attack your nerves, etc.).  Also, snake venom isn’t universal, so different snake bites require different antivenom.  For instance, if you’re bitten by a black mamba, but the local hospital only has a rattlesnake antivenom, you’re out of luck.

To actually make antivenom, you start at a snake lab, which houses hundreds of snakes in individual boxes.  The lab worker has to open a box with a snake in it (mind you, snakes don’t like being kept in boxes, so they are not super happy at this point), sedate it using carbon dioxide gas (which only lasts for about 5 minutes), and then they “milk the snake” (use a metal object to pry the mouth open, and massage the head so venom comes out of its fangs and is collected in a glass jar).

As if this wasn’t crazy enough, little bits of the snake venom are then injected into horses (which apparently have very similar immune systems to humans). Injections occur at regular intervals so the horse’s immune system starts to build up antibodies against the venom.  After about six months, the antibodies are harvested from drawn blood, purified, freeze-dried, and put into vials for distribution. Insane.

We’ll admit none of this is relevant to Chenmark’s world of small business.  It’s just interesting.  What is relevant, however, is some recent research showing that snakes have personalities.  For instance, different snakes will react completely differently to various soundssome will fall asleep while others will become excitable.  As Roman Mars noted in the podcast:

“So it doesn’t surprise me that they have some personality. The fact that one would get really exorcized upon watching a Christopher Nolan movie and another one would be completely nonplussed by it is new to me, though. That’s fantastic.”

Working with many different businesses, we’ve noticed it can be easy to categorize people in a homogeneous way.  It’s important to remember that broad categorieswhether in reference to job type, gender, race, or reptilian speciesare comprised of a rich array of various interests, all of which should be respected and taken into account.

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

Subscribe to Weekly Thoughts

Also, we’re hiring!

Previous Post Next Post

Recent Posts

Skills Training

As mentioned in previous posts, we aim to help small businesses create sustainable processes by focusing on being “clock-builders” not “time-tellers.” For us, a crucial aspect of creating a lasting institution is the continuous education of our workforce regarding our particular approach to business.

Read More

Riding the Bench

We are keen students of long-term compounders and are fans of the greats—Berkshire, Constellation, Markel, and Danaher, among others. We take inspiration from these incredible companies, many of whom have routinely compounded capital above 20% for decades.

Read More

The Sound of Silence

We recently learned that Ruth Bader Ginsberg was known for her awkward pauses (to be fair, probably not awkward for her, just awkward for her counter-parties.) From a 2013 The New Yorker article: "During conversations, she is given to taking lengthy pauses. This can be unnerving, especially at the Supreme Court, where silence only amplifies the sound of ticking clocks.

Read More