Work super hard. Instead of getting an apartment, he rented a small office and slept on the couch, showered at the YMCA. 7 days a week, all the time. Girlfriend slept in the office. Every waking hour if you’re starting a company. If you’re working 100, and someone else is working 50, you’ll get twice as much done.
Attract great people. Join a group you respect or gather great people. A company is just a group of people that are gathered together to create a product or service. Dependent on how talented and hard working that group is, and the degree to which they are focused cohesively, that will determine the success of the company.
Focus on signal over noise. Are these efforts resulting in a better product or service?
Don’t just follow the trend. Rather than reasoning by analogy, boil things down to the fundamental truths and reason up from there. Figure out if something really makes sense or if it’s just something everyone else is doing.
Now is the time to take risk. Once you have a family, you start taking risk for not just yourself but your family as well. Take risks before you have those obligations. Do something bold. You won’t regret it.
Be rigorous in your self analysis. Be extremely tenacious. Work like hell. Put in 80-100 hour weeks.
Starting a business is not for everyone. Have a high pain threshold. Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss. When you first start a company, there’s a lot of optimism and things are great. Happiness, at first, is high. Then you encounter all sorts of issues, and happiness will steadily decline, and then you will go through a whole world of hurt. Eventually, if you succeed, and in most cases you will not succeed, and Tesla almost didn’t succeed, came very close to failure. After a long time, you will finally get back to happiness.
Whatever you’re doing is a great product or service. If you’re a new company, unless you’re in a new industry or new market. If it’s an untapped market, the standard is lower for your product or service. But if you’re entering anything where there’s existing marketplace against large entrenched competitors, then your service must be much better than theirs. It can’t be a little bit better, because then you put yourselves in the shoes of the consumer. And they say why would you buy it as a consumer. You’re going to buy a trusted brand, unless there’s a big difference. It’s got to be a lot better.
Constantly seek out criticism. A well thought-out critique of what you’re doing is as valuable as gold. Usually your friends know what’s wrong, but they don’t want to tell you because they don’t want to hurt you.
Obsessive nature toward the quality of the product
Like what you’re doing. You think about it even when you’re not working
What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism
Last week I had a fun little photoshoot with an incredibly artistic and talented photographer, Helen Han! We were testing and thinking of a new theme to use for the final photoshoot for my product, Axent Wear “Axent,” shown above. Axent Wear is a company that I cofounded with my roommate Wenqing Yan. We make wearable hardware that the world hasn’t seen the likes of before. More on that to follow!
The Book of Jonas
Beautiful writing. I really enjoyed the description of Jonas’s experiences in the beginning. A lot of the characters oddly seem to lack a certain depth, and the ending was a little confusing and unsatisfying to me, but overall, it was an enjoyable read. I’d suggest this book if you want something quick and beautiful to pick up and want to read a book on an alternative perspective or on the conflict in the middle east.
Wizard’s First Rule
Quite an epic journey. I really enjoyed the rules and lessons that the book discusses, as they’re really good life lessons. Although it was long, I couldn’t put this book down. One of my only complaints is that the only main female character seems to almost get raped more times than I can count, which is unnecessary. The narrative is also obviously male-centric, as it goes into what I feel is an excessive number of soliloquies on Kahlan’s beauty. We get it. She’s beautiful. Overall, I would highly suggest this to readers who enjoy fantasy or to anybody in general. It’s a fantastically written book and has a lot of deeper themes, and is as addicting as crack.
Sheryl Sandberg tries to reintroduce feminism with a very reasonable, warm, and understanding tone. This book receives a lot of criticism, and I understand the reasons why. However, I think this book is still a valuable read for women who are reasonably privileged and have resources at their disposal. That’s a fair market. Sheryl Sandberg is clearly doing her best to make an impact on gender disparity, which I really respect, and she has a lot of great advice. I would say that her advice is mostly applicable for upper middle to upper-class, educated women, but this shouldn’t discount its value. I enjoyed it nonetheless. Great read if you are one of said women. It’s also a good read if you’re one of those people who believe that gender disparity does not exist in developed nations.
Dogrun’s plot revolves around a struggling young writer closer to her thirties than her twenties, but mentally closer to twelve. The setting is in gritty New York City, and captures the city wonderfully. This book was very frustrating, as are most of Arthur Nersesian’s novels, because the characters are so frustratingly irresponsible and incapable of making good decisions. That being said, I enjoy his writing, because even though the characters make me angry, his story telling is well done. Only read if you enjoy artsy novels and have a tolerance for frustration. Still enjoyable for the right people, especially if you’re an artist. If you like this author, I highly suggest “Chinese Takeout,” as that’s my favorite book from him.
In a 14 minute long TED talk by philosopher Ruth Chang, she explores why we should embrace difficult choices instead of agonizing over them. I paraphrase her words below:
In an easy choice, one alternative is clearly better than the other. In a hard choice, one of the alternatives is better in one way, another is better another in another way, but neither is better than the other overall.
Realizing small choices may also be hard, makes big choices seem less intractable. We also shouldn’t think hard choices are hard because we are stupid.
Fear of the unknown rests on a misconception of them. We don’t have full information, but even if we did, hard decisions would still be hard because there’s no best option.
A higher salary for being an investment banker makes that job option better than it was before, but not necessarily better than being an artist. Neither is better than the other, nor are they equally good.
That’s because we try to assign quantities to values. Justice, beauty, and kindness are values, but we assume they have quantities. They may be in the same league of value, but have different kinds of value.
We create reasons for the hard choices we make and thus we make ourselves into the distinctive people we are.
People who don’t exercise their normative powers are drifters. They let the world write the stories of their lives.
So instead of agonizing and fearing hard choices, we should see them as precious opportunities for us to celebrate the human condition.
I read the article linked above that describes a 4 year long struggle in the life of a startup founder by the founder of 99dresses. She’s gotten so much further than me, and yet I empathize more than I can describe.
Life is hard. I know that working in a corporate environment isn’t easy or necessarily enjoyable either (I’ve tried it and encountered obstacles that were as fun to deal with as getting kicked in the face, and they weren’t even as bad as they could have been), but at the same time, it didn’t consume me like my brainchild did. Working as an employee didn’t take over me and my life and my heart and hopes, but now I see the many benefits of learning in a corporate environment before getting cast into a struggle in which multiple bad decisions could lead to undesirable situations and eventually failure. Corporate is a good place to learn. Although the press likes to gloss over failure and glorify struggle, as Durkin mentions, there are some forms of struggle that are best to be avoided. There’s no point in swimming through a lake of poisonous snakes if you could have just hiked around, had you known. And while you learn the most by doing, I find that perhaps doing smaller iterative cycles of learning and building and success might be better than jumping headfirst into a four year long project.
I am so grateful to have the support of so many wonderful people, especially my parents. They have been indispensable as a support system, being real with me when they have to in the way only asian parents can (very bluntly), and listening to me and helping when anyone else would have been fed up 10 million years ago.
A good reminder to never give up, and to never let my taste discourage me.