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


Turning Twenty Two

Growing up, birthdays never really meant much to me. 

Growing up, birthdays never really meant much to me. 

July 28th wasn’t a school day so I never really had the pleasure of being wished ‘happy-birthday’ by peers who would act a little nicer because it was a ‘special day.’ 

This year though, I made it a point to do something memorable. I invited a few of my close friends to a dinner that hopefully we won’t forget anytime soon.

Recently, I’ve started to work on being more intentional. 

There are often moments where I find myself doing something to be socially validated. It started when I was pretty young, I felt ashamed of my name and have continued to until recently.

I remember telling teachers in middle-school it was the letter A followed by B AB and somehow they still managed to mess it up and called me Abe like Abe Lincoln. 

It’s not that it bothers me when people don’t pronounce my name properly, I’ve learned that I was more frustrated at myself for not saying anything. 

Being intentional starts with speaking up when it matters. 

I’ve been a bit quiet the past few months because adjusting to city life hasn’t been easy. 

I’ve learned the conflict isn’t due to other people or my surroundings but rather it’s within. 

I’ve exposed myself to new environments, people, and lifestyles that make me uncomfortable. 

Unlike many people who’ve attended college, I rarely went to parties, can’t dance and never drank or smoked. I also don’t consume most popular culture: music, tv, politics etc… This was primarily due to the fact I wasn’t exposed to it growing up. 

I’ve recently come to accept that it’s okay. 

I always felt a bit self-conscious when I was around others who did those things. Questions like, “do they think I’m weird?” would run through my head. What I had never thought is there’s something incredible about being different and having a unique story to tell. 

Underlying these insecurities there was this thing called confirmation bias, the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories. 

Here’s how it works: cultural norms popularized certain symbols and as children grow up they unconsciously start to adopt them from their environment.

On the flip side, what most people don’t see are the people who aren’t ‘on the dance floor.’ Let me explain, have you ever realized that at many venues the dance floors are actually pretty small? 

Often, a small subset of the attendees at a social event actually end up on the dance floor. Everyone else huddles around and watches them. Since the dancers are the center of attention, you get this Fear Of Missing Out. 

In reality, there are many others just like you in your immediate surrounding but it’s not obvious to you that they may feel the same way.

I find this metaphor may be applicable to many other scenarios in life like education, careers, and relationships. 

With amplification of often ‘fictitious experiences’ represented in overly posed images and short videos by social media, it’s too easy to focus on the people who appear “perfect.”

Without being cynical, I often challenge myself to think what’s behind the curtain? Is that person truly happy in that job? Do they actually love their partner? Is a degree in psychology really worth it for her to become a screen writer? 

Before, I wouldn’t feel too comfortable asking those questions. Now, I don’t. I just ask. 

After moving to the city, I’ve started to experiment with consuming new forms of content and engaging in different environments. 

One of the questions that I still have a hard time answering is, “do I really want to be here?”

Many times the answer has been no and I’ve had to muster up the courage to leave. Sometimes, I couldn’t and that’s okay too because I forgave myself. 

Although, I’ve never really given birthdays much love. I’ve changed my mind, there’s little benefit in fighting with myself. 

The present moment is way more fun when I choose to be intentional about how I spend my time with the people around me. 

I hope this post keeps me publicly accountable. 


Lighting a match…

Some links I’ve deeply enjoyed learning from, maybe you will too.

“Secure attachment in childhood serves as a visceral map for a healthy relationship in the future.”

“The question in distressed relationships is always the same all over the world at every age: ‘Where are you? Do you care about me? Do I matter to you? Will you respond to me? Will you be there when I’m vulnerable? Am I safe with you?'”

“When the answer is ‘I’m here,’ you can deal with almost anything” You don’t have to solve all your partner’s problems – just be emotionally present with them.

“People think that conflict is the issue in distressed relationships. Conflict is the virus, the inflammation is emotional disconnection.”

"When you can be vulnerable for a moment and that person turns in and cares about your vulnerability, THAT’S the person to go with.”

“Emotional responsiveness is the basis of a secure bond” — It’s the willingness that someone has to tune into you emotionally and to allow themselves to feel what you’re feeling.

“People think that conflict is the issue in distressed relationships. Conflict is the virus, the inflammation is emotional disconnection.” — A happy relationship isn’t the same as avoiding conflict.

“We don’t educate people about relationships. We teach them trigonometry in school but heaven forbid we teach them about the most important thing of all.. relationships.”

— Dr. Sue Johnson


Updates

  • I’m moving again soon, let’s meet for coffee if you’re in NYC

  • I recently met Adam Robinson, it was a chance encounter that I won’t forget anytime soon. Ask me about it when we meet if you’re interested!

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