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Getting Started... 

I’ve spent this past week living in Sunnyvale, CA. I had the opportunity to visit a lot of the surrounding areas to meet some incredible people: Burlingame, Mountain View, San Francisco, San José, Cupertino and Palo Alto.

Each place gave off a very distinct vibe, I could feel it from the people I talked to.

In the past week, I’ve heavily focused on learning more about myself. I’ve had conversations that make me feel uncomfortable. I asked myself questions like: What’s my inherent value? What do I bring to the table in a business environment? Why am I the person to be doing the thing I’m doing?

Contrary to popular belief, these answers don’t change with time.

The answers to these questions are what make you, you.

The difficulty for me has been to accept the answers to these questions. I’ve always overvalued building skills that ‘society’ thinks are valuable and undervalued my unique skillsets—what comes effortless to me, that seems like work to someone else. 

As I went on this journey of self-reflection, here’s what I learned:

  • I undervalue myself, this causes a lot of internal strife. 
  • I help people realize their own value by helping them do things they're incapable of. 
  • I learn by listening to experts first, then by going to the source of their knowledge.  
  • After learning the theory, I immediately apply what I learn to reinforce it. 
  • I gravitate towards authenticity in brands, people, and experiences. 
  • I have no patience for wasting time, whether it’s mine or someone else’s.
  • It’s more important to focus on what I don’t know that I don’t know than what I know. 

Most of the things I mentioned in the above list are things I knew but did not accept. Now I’m moving towards uncovering the things I don’t know at all—what I don’t know that I don’t know.

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.  

This past week I’ve had a multitude of conversations of people with varying backgrounds, experiences, and ages. To give you a better idea of the people I’ll mention a few personas:

**Note the charter traits I mention are not indicative of any of these people’s true stories, you’d have to hear it in person to make that judgment for yourself.

  • An ivy league college dropout turned startup founder who currently works at a major tech company, she’s 23. 
  • A founder of a major startup within the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning space, he’s 25. 
  • A software engineering manager at a fortune 5 company who’s in his mid-30’s and has a family. 
  • A startup founder in the marketing space that’s created a B2B SAAS product in his late 20’s. 
  • A college drop-out, turned founder, from a state school who’s coming off of his first exit and is deeply involved with the blockchain space right now, he’s 23. 
  • A college graduate, designer, early startup employee in the mobile gaming and crypto space, he’s 22. 
  • A supply chain engineer at a major tech company in the bay area, he’s 22.
  • A software engineer at a major tech company in Seattle going to WWDC, he's 30. 
  • An entrepreneur-in-residence at a venture capital fund in SF, he's 27. 
  • A 42-year-old single mom of 4 who's an uber driver and a beach-body fitness coach.  
  • A young couple in their late 20's, both studied engineering. 

I may be missing a few personas but the conversations with these people were the most memorable. The reason I mention their age is to find the common threads in people's thoughts from the different generations. I'm more interested in what doesn't change than what does. 

There were many common themes from these conversations but if I had to pick one thing that was similar across all of them, it was that—everyone’s searching. 

What for?

Fulfillment, meaning, and to be heard. 

From these conversations I’ve learned that problems don’t go away with age, they compound.

The things you’re thinking about doing that you’re not doing will turn into regrets later.

The concept of compound interest is simple but difficult to truly visualize because of the power-law distribution. Learn more about it here.

A quote comes to mind:
“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”
— Albert Allen Bartlett

I've learned that if there's something I want to do, I should do it now. There is no right time to do anything. The longer you wait for the longer you could have been moving towards what you want. Determining that is much more difficult, yet extremely important.

Another theme from these conversations was the importance of self-awareness.

We all know it's important, but what is it truly? 

I'm figuring this out as I go, by no means do I have an articulate answer to it but here's my attempt: 

It's your ability to analyze your thoughts, actions, and behaviors and have congruence. 

Have you ever met someone who says one thing, thinks another and does something different? I believe this can be attributed to a lack of self-awareness. 

Lighting a match

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

Deep Dive

If I had to pick one article from above this would be it... 

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

"People’s lives are a reflection of the experiences they’ve had and the people they’ve met, a lot of which are driven by luck, accident, and chance. The line between bold and reckless is thinner than people think, and you cannot believe in risk without believing in luck, because they are two sides of the same coin. They are both the simple idea that sometimes things happen that influence outcomes more than effort alone can achieve."

"After my son was born I wrote him a letter:

'Some people are born into families that encourage education; others are against it. Some are born into flourishing economies encouraging of entrepreneurship; others are born into war and destitution. I want you to be successful, and I want you to earn it. But realize that not all success is due to hard work, and not all poverty is due to laziness. Keep this in mind when judging people, including yourself.'"

"One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard goes something like this: If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it. It sounds trivial and obvious, but if you unpack the idea it has extraordinary power.” Wonderful money advice."

"Your personal experiences make up maybe 0.00000001% of what’s happened in the world but maybe 80% of how you think the world works."

My Updates: 

 
I just got back to Seattle from spending a week in California. 

I'm making progress towards figuring out what I want to work on. 

I'll be visiting Vancouver this upcoming weekend to meet a friend. 

I've been spending most of my time reading, 5+ hrs a day. 

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

- Abhi Vyas 

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