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Getting Started... 

Last fall, I decided to go to a coding boot-camp in San Francisco. I put a $1,500 deposit down, bought the plane ticket, and took a leave of absence for the following semester. Instead, I ended up staying. I was both working part-time and a full-time student.

So, what changed? Read about it here.

By the way, as I write this newsletter, I know most of you aren't going to read it. I'm not too concerned about that, but I am interested to know how many people will 'save this for later' but not actually come back to it. 

Is this a problem many of you have? If so, would you like a reminder? 

For those who are wondering why I haven't sent this newsletter in 3 weeks, it's because I didn't make time for myself to do the things I want. Writing this newsletter is an adventure for me, 'sending' it isn't too important because I'm constantly working on it. Now that I have more time to myself I'll be more consistent. 

I'm changing up the format again, let me know what you think.  =]

What's on my mind? 

Every day we have millions of thoughts, there are a few big thoughts that I can't stop thinking about. I'll be sharing them in this section. 

"Working hard is over-rated, finding what to work on is much more important." - Naval Ravikant, Founder of AngelList

I've been thinking a lot more about the balance of working hard and working smart. As I'm currently determining what to work on this couldn't be more relevant. To build a great company, statistically speaking, it takes 7-10 years. One shouldn't do it if she isn't passionate about what she's working on. It's simple if she's not someone else who is will outwork her. 

The old cliché of, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life" rings true. I believe everyone has something inside of them that they're passionate about. Something that they do that others see as work. I also believe most of us discover it between the ages of 15-17 and spend the rest of our lives either denying or accepting it. Think about it... 

Back to the point of figuring out what I want to work on, this is something I'm struggling with right now. Finding the balance between doing and thinking. If you'd spoken to me a year ago I would have said go do blindly. However, today I'd say figure out what it is that you want to do first. The beauty of this is everyone knows what it is they want to do. They decide whether to accept or deny it with excuses. 

As for me, I'll be working on testing some hypotheses I have for products that customers want with the goal to disprove them as fast as possible. I'd like to train my intuition to see what feels right, and once it does I'll go all in. 

Providing a catalyst

Every week I’ll share key insights from a conversation I had learned a lot from in a series called, Providing a Catalyst.  

Over the past few weeks, I've had multiple conversations with interesting people. I'll highlight a few of my lessons here. 

During final exams week:

Many of my friends graduate this year, I made it a point to meet up with them before to ask about their experience. A central theme to many of our conversations was uncertainty despite the safety of having a job, for those who did. For those who didn't, the opposite was true, they were uncertain about getting jobs. 

This uncertainty comes from living in the future. A book that's next on my reading list is The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh. The title says it all, in a game if each player, coach, and employee does what they're supposed to when they're supposed to the score takes care of itself. 

This is what comes to mind when they told me about their fears. If they just focus on being present and doing what's in front of them to the best of their ability it'll work out in a long enough time horizon. The issue is when they're not doing what they want and it's difficult to perform optimally. More on this later. 

Before my flight to Seattle:

As I was waiting at the airport for my 6:30 AM overbooked flight, I had a conversation with an off-duty flight attendant. I asked her what she loved most about her job. She told me she loved her ability to travel to anywhere in the world whether it's during work or off-duty. 

A little-known secret is flight attendants and their families get to travel for free domestically and only need to pay taxes for international flights. She told me about how her daughter had just graduated from NYU and they were planning to go to Rome.

It was a pleasant conversation that reminded me of the need to travel more. I don't necessarily care about traveling to show others, it's more so to spur creativity. You're literally changing the world around you. This forces you to see things differently. 

Long story short, I ended up volunteering to offer my seat to someone else on the 6:30 AM flight for some money. The only catch was I had to take a later flight; which worked out because I forgot my passport at home. So, I ended up taking a 1:15PM flight to LAX and then a 5:30PM connection from LAX to Seattle. 

On my flight to LAX: 


I had a conversation with a nurse from LA and the mother of an entrepreneur. Her son is 30 years old and has spent the past 10 years starting a hedge fund with a focus on value investing. She was from Africa and knew Swahili, which I thought was really cool because not many people do. 

Talking to her, I learned about the courage required to believe in her son when no one else did. Doing what you want in any field, is a lonely endeavor. The world needs more mothers like her. I'm grateful to have one of them. 
 

Lighting a match

I hope these articles inspire you to do something or learn something new. 

My Updates: 

 
I just finished school and ended my internship with Interseller. Something I'm thinking a lot about right now is whether I should go back to school and finish the 18 credits I have left.

A question I've asked a lot recently is what's the marginal benefit of me finishing the 18 credits I have left and getting a degree? To me, the opportunity cost of spending those 6 months how I want to seems much more valuable. 

I just moved to Seattle. This is the first thing I've created since. As I said before I'll be testing a few hypotheses to figure out which seed to plant. 

As always, let's talk!

Thank you for signing up and reading this edition of Activation Energy. 

- Abhi Vyas 

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