Turning Twenty-Three

Finding a place to call home

Last year, I wrote a post ‘Turning Twenty Two’ to document my state of mind. Thought, I’d continue the tradition as I recently turned twenty three. 

It’s been said that, “comparison is the thief of joy.” I find it true when you’re comparing yourself against others but less so when you compare with yourself. 

This past year has been the most uncomfortable year of my life, both psychologically and physically. 

To give you some perspective I:

  • Stopped out of university.

  • Decided to leave a lucrative job and moved out of NYC.

  • Started a project I thought would turn into a company.

    • Stopped working on it after learning that I wasn’t the right person for it.

  • Moved to SF on January 1st with two suit cases and a dream.

  • Couch-surfed for the first 3 months in SF.

  • Once CoVID hit, I temporarily moved in with some friends to live and work together. Downgraded from a couch to a sleeping bag on the floor.

  • About a month ago, I finally moved into an airBnB while searching for more permanent housing. (Fortunately the prices are the lowest they’ll ever be.)

I’ve only highlighted the physical transitions above. I didn’t mention the emotional toil of moving to a new city, feeling alone, and learning new skills.

I’ve done things that I never thought were possible. This past year, I let go of my fear of math. Instead, I began to appreciate the creativity and art in it. I revisited my weaknesses to rebuild much of the missing foundation.

Although I’m still a novice, I started learning the intricacies of product design. Not just about creating pretty user interfaces and seamless user experiences but also about speaking to machines, structuring data, and presenting information in a useful manner. 

I’ve learned the steps involved in building a business from nothing: legal, brand, design, marketing, technology, manufacturing, and finance. Enough to know what I don’t understand and how to speak to an expert when necessary.

I didn’t just learn about it by reading books or listening to people who’ve done it. I learned by throwing myself into the unknown and by doing.

Most of all, I’ve been quiet, learning to listen more and speak less. It’s easy to do when you’re around people who know more and are kind enough to teach.

Twenty three is starting with a much needed sense of stability. I signed a lease for a nice space in downtown SF. I look forward to moving in on Aug. 15th.

For the first time in the past year, I’ll have a place to call “home” again.

I moved to San Francisco

After spending Dec. 31st at JFK airport, I flew to SF on the first flight in the morning...

I know I haven’t written in some time so let’s start with a recap.

At the end of September, I left my job at a startup in NYC to explore new ideas. Luckily, it was on good terms and I’m excited about where the team’s headed.

After leaving, I moved out of my NYC apartment and in with my parents to figure out what’s next. From September to December I spent time wandering. I traveled a bit, met interesting people, and tested ideas that could turn into companies.

At the end of December, I was debating whether or not to fundraise for an idea that had potential. After several conversations and reflection, I decided against it.

I felt defeated. It’s as if I gave up before starting.

Though, it wasn’t a ‘failure.’ Failure is mostly a story people tell themselves.

The process of starting something (anything) is much messier than most people think and often takes longer than expected. For example, how long did it take you to go to the gym consistently? Did you get in shape? How long did it last?

A lesson I’ve learned recently is to go slow before going fast. It applies to learning new skills, building relationships, starting businesses, and other aspects of life.

Spend more time figuring out why and what upfront and the how will figure itself out.

A good question to keep in mind is how do I minimize avoidable failures?

An example of avoiding a minimizable failure is not touching the stove when it’s hot because you know it will burn you. Applied to life, it’s thinking about the second and third order consequences of the decisions you make.

More questions to think about: Where do I want to be 5 years from now? What are the actions I need to take today to get there? Although the details will be messy and the path non-linear, it’s important to have a vision that’s worth working towards. Most people intuitively know this but few overcome fear to act on it.

As for me, I’m enjoying my time in the Bay Area. It’s definitely started to feel like home. I can’t share much about what I’m doing right now but will soon.

If you find yourself in SF, let me know!

@abhimvyas


Here’s a quote that’s been on my mind recently:

"The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, and you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion, the world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think." — Marc Andreessen


Updates

Lose yourself

What would you do with one shot?

“Look
If you had
One shot
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip?"

— Lose Yourself, Eminem

Had it not been for Dr. Dre’s belief in Eminem, we may never have heard this song.

Don’t know the story? Watch this…

For those who know me, I don’t listen to much music. Though recently, I’ve started listening to a lot of rap. I enjoy listening to the stories of an artist’s “come up” and the truth of their pain in the music. It’s a good reminder as I go through my own hardships.

As I mentioned last, I’m going all in.

I’m starting ZenAdvisor to make personalized financial advice accessible to the 93% of the US market that's currently in the dark.

Though ZenAdvisor is still in it’s infancy, I know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the people who’ve taken a chance on me and continue to believe in me.

The two common views of an entrepreneur from afar are: founders are either Gods or founders are villains. Often, the same founders are seen as one or the other at different parts of their lives. Almost all “successful” founders have went through this phase: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Travis Kalanick, Adam Neumann.

Perception aside, what’s undeniable about all of the above is the amount of work they put in to bring their visions to life. Whether it’s a starving artist or a visionary entrepreneur they both go through the struggle of making something new.

Justin’s tweet doesn’t just apply to startups, it applies to all creators.

If believing in yourself is hard, imagine how hard it must be to get others to believe in you. I think the catch-22 here is, it’s often hard to know why someone believes in you. You can almost hear the disbelief Eminem felt when he first met Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine in his voice.

Despite “no one giving a shit” entrepreneurs, artists, and researchers willingly choose to experiment every day in an attempt to make something new.

This past week, I wrote up a memo describing ZenAdvisor for potential team members and investors. As I shared it with my network for feedback I asked myself, what incentive does someone have to actually read this and care?

After asking this question I appreciated those who did infinitely more. The people who read it, did so, because they believe in me.

Thank you.

For the rest who’re reading this, I implore you to believe in your friends who’re making things.

Support your friends. Read what they write. Listen to their music. Support their start-ups. Watch their videos. Tell them you appreciate them. Amplify the positivity. They may not show it but they need it the most.


Updates

Going all in

I haven't slept in a bed for a month

Last Thursday, when I was visiting a friend in Seattle. I realized that night when he showed me the guest room that I haven’t slept in a bed for a month. 

Not that I particularly care about it, but it made me realize how uncomfortable growth is both emotionally and physically. 

It’s not Instagram worthy, but it’s my story. 

Over the past month, I’ve spent significant time looking inward to create a better version of myself. Spending time in unknown cities where I knew very few people helped.

Additionally, spending time with close friends and my executive coach has also helped.

I’ve created a vision of the person I’d like to become.

Gaining clarity has been difficult because there are too many options. 

With youth, we have the opportunity to spend our time compounding in any direction we want. Whether that’s building a skill, moving up the corporate ladder, or creating something (art, music, businesses etc…). 

These options felt overwhelming. 

On top of that, when I open Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter it seems like all my friends are getting ahead. 

There is this illusion that everyone’s moving faster than I am. As much as I wish I was immune to ‘mimetic desires,’ I’m not. 

So, how does one break through the noise?

For me, it started with taking a clear look at myself by working through pent up emotions, childhood trauma, and negative thought patterns.

Note, I said ‘working,’ it’s an on-going process. 

To construct a vision of the future, understanding the present is the first step.

Once you have a clear picture of what you want and why you want it. I’ve learned that the how figures itself out. 

I’ve decided to go all-in on myself and urge you to do the same for yourself.


Updates:

  • There should be a big announcement in the next newsletter, lookout for it. 

  • Unrelated to the announcement. I’m working on something exciting if you’re looking for a job, DM me. I’d like to help. 

  • I’m in New Jersey for the next week and then will be on the move again.

  • Let’s get coffee if you’re available! 

Why I'm terrified—Making hard decisions

As I write this I’m on a flight to a destination I have no particular business being in—San Francisco.  I’ve felt like I should be there for quite some time now that I finally decided to give it a shot. 

Some of you may already know, but for those who don’t, I recently left the startup I was working at and moved out of NYC. 

Not for any negative reason, it’s actually the opposite. I served my purpose while there and am on to figuring out what’s next for me with the support of my former team. 

Fortunately, I’ve managed to leave all of my previous work engagements on good terms. I’ve realized leaving on good terms is a skill in of itself. 

Saying no to an opportunity is almost always harder than saying yes. The reason is if you say no, the other person may become ‘better off.’ 

Yeah, it’s counter-intuitive. What we’re afraid of is not the person becoming ‘worse-off’ without us but ‘better-off.’ 

To feel good about ourselves, we tell ourselves that we’re worried about the other person losing out more often than is the case. 

This illusion causes us to commit to things we don’t entirely care about or to stay in situations we don’t want to be in longer than we should. This applies to all forms of relationships, romantic, family, friends, etc…  

Ripping off the bandaid hurts. Saying no, hurts. 

This is why making hard decisions is, well, hard. 

What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t have to hurt as much or be as hard. 

Here’s the secret: 

Through awareness that you’re worried about the person becoming ‘better off,’ you can catch yourself. Instead, you focus on finding a way to make the person you’re saying no to better off. 

It may not always be possible to do this though. However, what matters is that you try anyways. The effort isn’t wasted because you’ll feel better having done it than not. 

Let’s use an example, you’re thinking of leaving your current job. 

Help find a replacement. If you can’t, create an instruction manual for the next person to do the job better. Your employer is now better off without you and you assisted in making them so. 

An example where it doesn’t work, you break up a long term relationship. 

Tell the other person what they were doing wrong. They may hate you for it but it’s better they know the truth than not. They may even appreciate you for it in the long run. You’ll also feel lighter for letting your emotions out.

Now back to the story, why am I going to SF and what am I going to do? 

The simple answer is—I’m figuring it out. 

For those who’re inclined to learn more: I don’t have a job offer and no one’s expecting me there. I am working on a side project that may turn into something more but that’s to be determined. 

I plan to travel for the foreseeable future as I figure out what I want to do. 

I’ll be back in Seattle from Sept. 21st onwards.  


Lighting a Match

A post I’ve deeply enjoyed learning from, maybe you will too.

“I used to be afraid a lot. Many of my childhood memories consist of days spent in a perpetual state of worry over one thing or another. I dreaded going to the dentist and going to get vaccinated. I wouldn’t talk to the girl I liked in my class because I was scared the other kids would find out I liked her and tease me. I’d come home from school alone and stalk around the empty house looking for intruders, scared and yelling in my most intimidating ten-year-old voice. As a teenager, I was scared I’d get laughed at in gym class because I didn’t look as manly as some of the older guys. Wherever there was a possibility of something unpleasant happening, I was there, worrying about it – often many days in advance.

I felt guilty. If there was a chance I might have hurt someone or misrepresented the facts even slightly in something I’d said, it would eat me alive. I wouldn’t cross the street anywhere but a crosswalk, even if all my friends did, because my parents had told me not to and I knew how badly I would feel about going against their wishes.

I never skipped class. Not even once until my junior year of high school. It was like the possibility didn’t even exist in my head. I didn’t smoke or drink in secret. I had to get the right grades, I had to get into the right school, I had to… because if I didn’t, then… then what? I didn’t even dare think about it, but surely something unfathomably horrible would happen and everything would be completely miserable forever.

After graduation, I went into business for myself. It consumed my whole life. I had to make money, because without lots and lots of money, I was sure I’d never have the kind of life I wanted. I wasn’t happy, and as far as I was concerned, I would never be happy until I was rich. I hated the work I forced myself to do, but the fear of what kind of life I would have to face if I didn’t make money spurred me on like a slave driver. I thought of it as “determination” at the time, but it was fear. I wasn’t so much running towards where I wanted to be as I was running away from where I was.

I wasn’t alone…

want to keep reading? click here.


Updates

  • In San Francisco from the 7th to the 21st

  • Going to be in Seattle from the 21st onwards

  • Recently hired an executive coach, have learnt a lot about myself in the process

  • Back to reading and writing a lot


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