Slow & Fast

Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” -Kerty Levy

This tweetable thought randomly emerged over coffee today. It’s interesting how philosophies on life, wealth, and happiness evolve from entrepreneurial endeavors.

Perhaps it’s the personal nature of building your own business that causes such reflections? It might be the transformative skill of verbalizing your thoughts and ideas with others? Maybe it’s less about business and more like a beautiful side effect of mindfully aging?

The reason(s) and frequency at which you allow yourself to explore big ideas surely depends on the environment, people you interact with, and knowledge you pursue.

This makes me thankful for my own entrepreneurial experiences, but more important, the immeasurable blessing it can be to expand our minds by plugging into startup communities and entrepreneurial ecosystems. A willingness to show up and the trust built through such generosity has allowed me to become apart of so many other founder stories. As I mention throughout YDNTB, consistent action over the long run is required, but the remarkable insight we pick up along the way can provide a path toward true understanding for anyone, on almost any front. As we support entrepreneurs through the art of connection, the invitation to have more diverse discussions is unlocked more often. Whether it’s strategic, tactical or philosophical, what a gift this can become.

Along with stimulating conversations with agreeable people in a support network, it’s important to weave in perspectives from a challenge network. This is a group of disagreeable people we trust to point out blind spots, which helps us overcome our weaknesses with critical feedback we may not want, but need. Curious interactions within a challenge network also unlocks humbling opportunities to be wrong. This helps us avoid misguided confidence through intellectual humility, and brings us closer to the truth.

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Smart people change their mind all the time. Find joy in discovering you were wrong. You’re now less wrong than before, and when we admit it, we’re not less competent, we’re being honest and displaying a willingness to learn.

39

It’s my 39th birthday!

I love using birthdays to reflect on what was learned, trying something new, or appreciating memorable moments from the past year. I also like to craft recaps (e.g. 33rd birthday / 2014 recap) for my future self to read. This year, YDNTB is quite the relic to always remember this moment in my life so instead of a personal narrative highlighting the past, let’s lean into the future by exploring the idea of retirement.

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“Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow.” –Naval

I always told myself I wanted to retire in my thirties. Financial advisors are quick to remind us that the golden years of middle class leisure will require around $1 million in savings, but perhaps there’s more to this story.

Yes, the traditional path to retirement is all about earning enough money to cover the burn rate of your life. A second option to realizing financial freedom is to reduce your burn rate to zero, but not many people are cut out to be a monk.

I prefer early retirement in the form of leveraging what you love to do. Similar to what I describe as Career Nirvana, peaceful satisfaction can be achieved when you do something you love so much that it’s not about the money anymore. This doesn’t mean the work stops or that the responsibilities of life fade away. It’s quite the opposite, as more opportunities tend to present themselves when you figure out what you’re best at and map that to what society wants. This forges an abundance of innovative energy you can’t buy. As you collaborate with those who feed off this energy, you soon realize that nobody can compete with being you.

As you build towards such transcendence and realize that a neon future awaits us all, I’ll close with a toast. May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows. Cheers!

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Good, better, best;
Never let it rest,
‘Til your good is better,
And your better is best.

Exploring Education

Educational organizations are key actors within entrepreneurial ecosystems. As a community builder, collaborating with students and leaders within educational organizations has been enlightening.

While I’ve always enjoyed exploring the intersections between entrepreneurship, innovation and education, it feels like I’ve been thinking and talking about the future education a lot more lately.

Perhaps it’s my Regional Rep role for an educational program like 1 Million Cups? Maybe it’s how many caffeinated community builders I’m supporting, who also work in this space? Blunt thought provocations from Naval Ravikant keep me on the edge of my seat and having a daughter who’s about to experience the classroom for the first time has to play into my heighten curiosity as well. It’s clear that my interest in education does not emerge from a single source. It’s the collective interactions. It’s my interest in accelerating others. It’s wanting the best for my little startup that pays in love. Even deeper, it’s an optimistic enthusiasm for our future.

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I’m envious of students who are being encouraged to explore their entrepreneurial spirit so much earlier. I only regret two things from my experience in college: not starting a business and not understanding the value of an engaged network.

Our connected era and the rising cost of higher education seems to be signalling a cultural shift. It’s less about earning a piece of paper so you can work for someone else. The future of education feels more like providing a safe space to explore knowledge, social interactions and what creative activities feel like play to you, but look like work to others.

We learn, earn and then give back. My hope is that we can inspire future generations to go beyond what we think is possible. Can we leave behind parts of the system that feel like day care and replace them with curricula that reward pure wonder, initiative and skills that help more people evolve ideas into reality? Outside the classroom, can we celebrate life-long learning and those who break down barriers so more people are set free to push past the status quo?

As Greg Horowitt said in our conversational jazz, without order nothing can exist, but without chaos, nothing can evolve. Let’s build for the sake of our future, by never fearing unicorns in our balloon factories.

Jargon vs. Understanding

Seth Godin is my favorite thinker, but I’ve been pondering the words of Naval Ravikant a lot lately. In this interview, Tim Ferriss and Naval riff on how Richard Feynman differentiated jargon versus true understanding.

This has me reflecting on how humans seek the ability to effectively explain our thoughts, but too often a lack of understanding leads to fancy words and long-winded rhetoric. Sounding smart may protect our perceived knowledge, but as Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

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This tweetstorm first introduced me to @Naval. I’ve since listened to his podcast, read the Almanack of Naval Ravikant and enjoyed this Joe Rogan interview where Naval says, “We have two lives, and the second begins when you realize we only have one.”

As I translate this collective wisdom, I’ve organized a few simple constructs to practice this mental mindset.

  • Be more succinct with my words.
  • Ask an increased amount of concise questions.
  • Get comfortable with uncomfortable silence.
  • Inspiration is perishable. Act on it immediately.

    When trying to balance this cerebral equation, here’s are two questions to ask: Can we deconstruct, expand, or compress what was just said? Can we then describe the exact same idea five different ways? If not, seek further insight to go beyond memorized jargon for true understanding leads to more confident, diverse, and transformative conversations.