The Early Steps Of A Thousand Mile Journey

I continue to share a majority of my thoughts these days on Facebook, since the conversations are better there, and it is just the way the internet is evolving. The only downside is there is no exposure there beyond my immediate network and those subscribed to me, so I will try to re-post a few my more formalized posts like this one, here on my blog. But feel free to subscribe to me on Facebook. Almost everything I post on Facebook is public.


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

– Lao-tzu

The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)


Today I saw this video shared on Facebook, which was an introduction to the Institute For The Future where I had my first internship as a senior in high school.

Watching this video struck me in a way that compelled me to begin retelling some of my story the last few years:

It was that summer that I realized I wouldn’t not be leaving Silicon Valley or the Bay Area anytime soon.

I realized that the Bay Area was leading the most important edge of societal development.

It was then that I made a commitment to myself to strive to always live in the region that best embodies the most important societal edge. It won’t always be the Bay Area, but it is now. And looks to continue to be for at least the next decade.

Previously, I had been intent on, bordering on obsessed with getting into the Management & Technology program at UPenn. But with the insight that the Bay Area was the leading societal edge I realized that UPenn no longer made sense. I proceeded to throw away all my applications to colleges on the East Coast, much to the discontent of my family, planned to gap a year to explore Silicon Valley free from the educational shackles that had been clasped around my ankles since Kindergarten, and apply essentially only to UC Berkeley and Stanford.

I later got deferred early admission from Stanford, got accepted into Berkeley and then was rejected from Stanford a few months later. I accepted Berkley’s offer then applied again to Stanford on my gap year and got in Early Admission on my second try.  I relinquished my Berkeley acceptance before an official day of class ever took place and prepared for a year on the Farm.

I intentionally took a light load my first quarter, intending to put most of my focus on a entrepreneurship research project that evolved during my gap year and was captured in my fall quarter Stanford schedule by an Independent Study with startup thought leader Steve Blank. A few weeks into the semester I made some big breakthroughs applying Evo Devo Systems Theory to Steve’s work and started dating a few previous friends as potential cofounders in Palo Alto.  A few weeks later after Freshman Orientation I decided to drop out of Stanford in order to pursue full time what became the Startup Genome.

It’s been a thrilling ride so far, and yet just the early chapters of this journey have been written. The amplitude of both the highs and lows looks only to increase from here, so I know I better buckle up.

Thanks to the Institute for the Future for providing me with an extremely formative internship just a little over 4 years ago, which seems to be a pivotal turning point in my life.

Here are few posts I’ve written about the journey along the way.

We all are living out our own Monomyth, with some individuals getting farther down the road in one lifetime than others.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth)

It is fascinating to revisit my thinking and see how much my mind has changed but also how much has stayed constant throughout:

1) Post on getting rejected from Stanford the first time (April, 2009) : http://maxmarmer.com/2009/04/destination-now-approaching-college-admissions/

2) An update on my Gap Year (January, 2010): http://maxmarmer.com/2010/01/gap-year-update/

3) A story about how I got into Stanford when I applied the second time, covered on Ramit Sethi’s IWillTeachYouToBeRich blog (December, 2010) http://maxmarmer.com/2010/12/my-stanford-story-on-iwillteachyoutoberich-com/

4) My post about deciding to drop out of Stanford (December, 2010) : http://maxmarmer.com/2010/12/why-im-stopping-out-of-stanford-and-applying-for-the-thiel-20-under-20-fellowship/

5) Steve Blank telling the story of how our relationship began and an announcement of the Launch of the Startup Genome Project (May, 2011) : http://steveblank.com/2011/05/29/tune-in-turn-on-drop-out-the-startup-genome-project/

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