A Thanksgiving Reflection on My Life’s Journey

Today on Thanksgiving 2017, I head to Costa Rica for a 10 day vacation.

And I’m feeling grateful for all the blessings in my life.

In 2009, I remember this particular peak moment laying in the spa, after attending a 2 month immersion program in Berlin for 30 digital natives under 30 called Palomar 5.

I was on my gap year just after graduating high school 5 months earlier, and I’d been pushing hard for a few years to break free of the guardrails of the conventional life path and trail blaze my own entrepreneurial one.

While I was laying on my back immersed in the warm salt water, I remember a voice coming into my head that whispered, ‘your life is now exactly where it should be’. And a sense of inner peace, calmness and settledness washed over my soul.

Through hard work, courage and good fortune, I largely stayed on top of that wave for the next year and half, through the successful launch and emergence of the Startup Genome Project in 2011.

I had my physical and mental health. I had my purpose. I was growing and developing the organizational structure to share my gifts and vision with the world.

Then at the end of 2011, as I was galloping along like a white knight on his horse, an ambushing barrage of arrows blindsided me in the form of a soured former business partner, lawsuits, delayed fundraising timelines, going broke, getting burned out, losing physical and mental health in the burnout, diverging visions with my co-founders, multi-factor autoimmune illnesses, being forced out of my company, more lawsuits, autoimmune relapses that cut even deeper into my physical and mental health and fortitude.

The ensuing 5-6 years brought many ups and downs, many growth experiences, many multi-dimensional personal and inter-personal deepening.

But there was still this nagging feeling that my life wasn’t exactly where it should be, like it had been before. I felt like I was chasing my destiny, to catch back up with it.

It was like my Destiny was my horse from the time of the ambush, still running wild and free down a different timeline, continuing to trail blaze the path my self in this timeline could sense and one day catch up to.

Today, I’m grateful to say, I have caught up to my Destiny’s Horse, jumped back in the saddle and we’ve now been stably galloping through new lands for enough time that it now feels like the new norm.

Back in 2009, at Palomar 5, as I was getting to know my ‘campmates’ my friend Kosta Grammatis poignantly noted when I was still at the tender age of 19, ‘what’s interesting about you is that you’re so young but you feel like you should have already succeeded yesterday’.

This was more true than he knew.

I carried my ambition around in my life like giant jet pack of potential energy.

If I could unlock and master the gift on my back I could fly. I could soar.

But when I was weak, lost or confused, I felt crushed by the weight of it.

Kosmocentric Burden I called it.

My ambition wasn’t for self-validation.

I was born sitting on top of a metaphorical mountain, where I could see humanity’s vast potential for creation and for destruction. A world with both heavenly and hellish timelines.

And I could see what needed to be built to magnetize humanity towards the magnificently beautiful ones.

I could feel the capacity burning within inside me to bring this world into existence.

This was my hero’s journey.

It still is.

In a Campellian sense for these last 5-6 years, I felt stuck in my Road of Trials for what felt like an Inescapable Eternity. Even more so in the fog of multiple depressions.

Now I am through.

My younger self wanted to be here much quicker.

That it took much longer, was it because of failed tests or Destiny?

I’m not sure, but I now lean more towards the latter.

There are many paths up the mountain. And there pros and cons to any path.

I wanted to by farther along in my career and work goals by 27, but I have learned virtue of patience.

I have been molded by the stillness.

I have learned to love life out of the public spotlight before I’m thrust into it.

I wanted my training periods to be over sooner. To enter the field of battle and showcase the fruits of my training to myself and to the world.

But I was too eager.

“More training,” Spirit said.

“More Trials and Tribulations.”

And now my training has molded me now into an unbeatable warrior.

I have been afforded the time to to train longer, train harder, train deeper, train wider. Endure more pain and struggle. Plumb more depths of my shadow.

My struggles gave me more empathy for others struggling. More resilience to call on for the inevitable future slowdowns or down turns.

Now I look at the world’s best in so many fields: technology entrepreneurship, finance, academia, coaching, spirituality — sizing them up like a fighter.

Like Conor McGregor sizes up Jose Aldo, Eddie Alvarez and Tyrone Woodley and I know that I am better than them. That I have the potential to be the best of my generation.

So Today as I sit in LAX on my way to Costa Rica, I’m feeling grateful for so much:

I’m grateful for the opportunity to recharge in a beautiful, luxurious setting after busting my ass working 12-16 hour days for almost 6 months, founding multiple new projects and companies.

I’m grateful for finding the path to apply my understanding of technology trends, complex systems, informational synthesis and behavioral psychology, to expeditiously earn my financial freedom by crushing the stock market with ridiculous returns, with all signs pointing to me only getting better.

I’m grateful for having such magnificent to dreams chase.

I’m grateful for how strong my kosmocentric purpose has made me.

I’m grateful that hard work, engaged in full heartedly day after day, lifetime after lifetime, really does pay off.

I’m grateful for my connection to higher beings with sublime power far beyond my human capacity.

I’m grateful for my 2 year relationship with Tara — our depth, connection, mutual support and healing of my long lived wound of loneliness.

I’m grateful to have such amazing business partners who I share such a deep personal connection with. A mutual knowing that stretches across lifetimes set on a backdrop of unbreakable spiritual involution.

I’m grateful for the unconditional support and love from my family.

I’m grateful for being unburdened by childhood trauma.

I’m grateful for learning the skills early to enable my young adult self to process my young adult trauma and be fully free to offer my gifts to the world.

I’m grateful for all the opportunities I am being given to serve as vessel for radical individual and collective transformation.

I’m grateful for existence itself.

I’m grateful for all the beauty in the world.

The ecstasy and the suffering.

It is all perfect.

For one cannot know light without the dark.

One cannot know bliss without despair.

The journey is perfect.

The user experience is elegant.

And having the opportunity to live as self-transcending emergent oneness is so incredibly sexy.

I’m grateful for my spiritual teachers.

Tapping me into the timeless streams of wisdom in the deepest esoteric parts of Buddhism and Hindu Vedanta lineages.

I’m grateful the One is simultaneously the Many.

I’m grateful I get reconnect with so many souls I’ve shared so many lifetimes of karma with.

I’m grateful we get to be here.

To know each other.

To love each other.

To remember who we really are.

To paint novel evolutionary masterpieces together, sourced from the Groundless Ground of that Bottomless Depth.

PURA VIDA!

 

Do You Love Yourself?

Say to yourself,
“I love myself.”
“I love myself.”
“I love myself.”
Does it feel true?
If not, please share, what is in the way?
And then keep repeating this mantra every day until you melt away all resistance.
Whatever resistance is still stubbornly persistent,
Dissolve it through action.
If you feel too guilty, take action to make amends.
If you feel too angry, offer a letter or words of forgiveness.
If you feel too ashamed, find compassion for yourself and others.
If you have too many negative people in your life tearing you down, raise your standards for who you let have an intimate role in your life.
That you are worthy of love from yourself and others is always true.
Even when you can’t see it.
But when you can,
Your life will Bloom like a Thousand Gardens in the Orchard of the Divine.
So say it to yourself,
“I love myself.”
“I love myself.”
“I love myself.”
Until Universal Truth becomes your Personal Truth.

Capturing Fringe Thoughts

How do you decide whether to write about something you know vs something you’re figuring out?

Here’s my process:

I jot down my “fringe thoughts” on my phone all the time. I probably write a few notes a day. It’s all part of having a “mind like water” as they say in martial arts, and in GTD methodology. (http://verysimpletao.com/achieving-mind-like-water-through-getting-things-done/).

This way I don’t have to try to remember what I was thinking and when I do go to write, I’m rarely starting from scratch. I also just find myself to be more creative when I write things down. It’s a signal to my brain that writing these “fringe thoughts” matter.

These days I only decide to formalize my fringe thoughts into a written piece when I believe it’s something that some part of the world needs to hear.

If it’s just for me, I keep it to myself, on my phone, in my digital notebook/journal or whip up a quick coherent composition and email it to a few relevant friends.

For the category of “things the world needs to hear”, it could be either something I “already know” and have thought a lot about or something “I am trying to figure out”. But neither of those things really determine the urgency of the message. Whether I already know something or am figuring it out is fairly independent from what “the world needs to hear”. (Even though I may be inclined to believe that what the world really needs to hear, is just everything I know! :-p) Kidding aside, if I’m writing something that I believe the world needs to hear, the only difference between “something I already know” or “something I am figuring out” is how long it will take to write.

But they’re actually pretty connected, because endeavoring to write about something “you’re trying to figure out” is one of the best ways to really “know” it. And when you start writing about something you think you “already know”, you’ll often find out how much more there is to “figure out”.

And to wrap this little written splurge in a bow — the reason I took the time to write this is because I think understanding the value of writing fringe thoughts and turning some of them into formalized pieces, is something that the world needs to hear.

At this point it doesn’t deserve more formalization than a facebook post, but if the meme keeps revealing its relevance to me, I might take this “relatively developed fringe thought” and build it into more formal blog post or essay.

 

Twitter Roundup

I don’t know about you, but as activity on social media sites has surged the last year, I’ve found a lot more noise in my feeds and as result of my projects getting more serious I’ve had less time to sift. I know I’m missing a lot of interesting things people have to say and always find aggregation and curation helpful.

At my friend Tyler Willis‘ urging I signed up for the daily venture hacks email digest and they’ve been doing a terrific job of synthesizing important articles being written within the startup community.

In that spirit, here is an aggregation of my enduring tweets from the last few weeks:

  • The more you know the more you realize you dont know. But the more you know the more you can do. The goal is ability not absolute knowledge
  • Two consec 20 hr weeks != one 40 hour week of productivity. Off/on ramps to a project are long. Sustained focus super important. Batch.
  • The hedonic treadmill is so real. It’s great for accomplishment and progress but lame for happiness. Reflection of your path charted is key.
  • The right plan is critical. It’s not sufficient because the hard work is in the execution but executing well on the wrong thing is worthless
  • Time expectations: 3-5 hours are minimal if you’re coming from an empty schedule but fitting it in is a huge challenge if already maxed out
  • Good plans have agility & unpredictability built in. Bad plans steer you away from possibility of making bigger realizations.
  • A lot of smart is continuously eliminating false beliefs & building a repertoire of building blocks that construct increasing truthfulness
  • Authors of Made to Stick argue that mental simulation of the past is more effective then simulating the future. Counterintuitive. Pg 211-213
  • The music genome project aimed to “Capture the essence of music at the fundamental level”. The human genome captures humanity at a fund lvl?
  • Finished the checklist manifesto, excited by its potential. Its simplicity appears vapid but the way it interacts w cognition is profound
  • Noticed at the airport people are much happier at arrivals than departures. True with most things in life? Ppl seek comfort not uncertainty.
  • “Narcissists don’t care how you feel, whether you like them or not, they just want you to be in their movie. Apathy is your only weapon.”
  • “At times stories are ink-blot tests of what’s going on in the life of the reader.” – Steve Blank
  • “Many designers don’t measure real world impact. Many design orgs & schools give out awards for designing products that never get built” – Eric Ries
  • Great learning tool: ability to chat live w people reading the same blog post/article. Or easily see friends who have read the post. Exist?
  • One of my big irritations is when people make a mistake and I fix it, but they are unwilling to learn what went wrong so it doesn’t reoccur.
  • Customer Discovery provides a good way to inch into a startup idea partime before quitting your job and going full throttle.
  • Sean Ellis & Steve Blank measure PMF dif bc theyre talking about B2C vs B2B (& respectively Gratification vs. ROI are the important metrics)
  • The all things D interview with Steve Jobs makes me think a lot of the portrayals of Jobs as a dictator has some truth but is mostly wrong.
  • We all have tons of assumptions in our mental model of the world. Surrounding urself with smart ppl makes you more likely to adopt good ones

When Advice Contradicts It Usually Doesn’t

A pheonemna that really interests me is when advice from smart people clashes and there appears to be a contradiction.

However I don’t think there is actually a contradiction. Usually the contradiction can be resolved in one of 3 ways:

1) One or both people are wrong

2) They are actually both right, but they are describing different circumstances. For example the advice for a B2B business is different than that of B2C. Or what is useful advice for 5 year old may not be useful for a 25 year old. Overgeneralizing causes these different circumstances to be conflated and creates an apparent contradiction.

Note that most advice comes from people abstracting patterns from their experiences and since they likely had very different circumstances most of their advice doesn’t apply to you.

3) They are describing the same circumstance, and what they’re really describing are two different schools of thought, each viable. There is often more than one correct way to solve a problem.

Advice is not universal. It can only apply to finite number of circumstances and remain correct. But not all advice is created equal. Some statements apply to more situations than others, such as the golden rule: “Do to others as you want them to do to you.”

But even the golden rule as it’s limitations. People have come up with the platinum rule that describes even more circumstances than the golden rule. The platinum rule says: “treat others as they would like to be treated”.

What I am describing is partial truth. Things can be true but some things are more true than others.

I just wrote this post, attempting to resolve the contradictory advice given by Sean Ellis and Ash Maurya on pricing.