Writing

I practice writing every day. Not to aim for perfection, but to capture what I observe in my life. Enjoy your free look into my mind below.

What Got You Here Will Not Get You There

As you are building a company, or working on a creative project, chapters in your journey will emerge.

Once you succeed at the first level, a chapter closes and a new one starts. With different goals, challenges, and work. As you move through the chapters, there's one truth to keep in mind:

What got you here will not get you there.

The strategies, mindset, and work that got you to a certain stage will likely not get you to the next one. They served a useful purpose in their respective chapter. But the time comes, where you need to find new strategies, ideas, and focus. Past results do not guarantee future performance.

This leads you with the need to reinvent what you are doing as you progress through the stages of building a company or project. Uncertainty will come back again and you need to solve a puzzle again.

Acknowledging that what got you here will not get you there is the first step to looking in the right places for the right answers.

You will not find the right answers looking into the past, you need to go back to first principles, and figure out what will get you to the next stage.

What got you here will not get you there.

February 27, 2024

Finding, Not Executing

There's an important differentiator between early stage companies that determine their degree of success. And it's their understanding of what matters in this early stage: are they looking for a business model or executing one?

The former is the more promising mindset. As an early tech company that has not found product-market fit yet (few ever do), your job is not to execute on a business model. Rather, your job is to find a business model that is repeatable and working. And if you approach building the company with the mindset of looking for a business model, you start to focus on different things, the things that actually matter.

This advice, as much as it is true for early companies, it generalizes well to life.

Early in your life, your object shouldn't be to execute on a career, but rather finding a career you love. And approach your 20s with the mindset of finding, rather than executing, will again result in you focussing on different things.

The argument is the same: you don't want to execute on something that is not working (for you). And the chances of you knowing what career suits you best when you graduate out of school goes to zero. Instead, you need to try many things and follow your curiosity. These markers help you find what you love, and ultimately show you what career works best for you.

So the advice that is true for early stage companies applies to individuals early in their life: find a career you love, don't mindlessly execute on one.

February 26, 2024

Earning The Right To Build The Next Feature

When building a startup, focus is what is required to succeed.

At an early stage, you don't have the resources needed to get many things at once right. Instead, you need to pick your battle, focus.

If you build something generic for everyone, you end up building something for no one.

Instead, you need to focus on a very narrow customer and build something so remarkable that they start telling their friends. This is how exponential growth in startups happen.

This means that you shouldn't expand the feature set of your product too quickly. You need to get one feature very right first. So right that it is order of magnitude better than what is already around. And only then you are allowed to build more features.

In other words, you need to earn the right to build the next feature. And that requires you to get your core feature or use case very right first.

Following this strategy, you mitigate the risk of spreading yourself too thin with the limited resources you have at an early stage.

One common trap to fall into is believing "just one more feature and then they will come". This is rarely true. If you're a startup, you will not solve the problem that no one cares about your product by adding feature over feature. It's an illusion. Instead, you need to get one feature right. For a very painful problem a very narrow group of customers has. And then build something that is orders of magnitude better.

This is the most promising path to making it in the early stage. Earn the right to build the next feature. Focus relentlessly.

February 22, 2024

Small Teams

You want optimize for keeping your team as small as possible.

Every new person adds complexity and increases the transaction cost internally to get things done. This problem multiplies if there's multiple people working on the same thing.

A good team is a small team. With extremely clear assignment of responsibilities. There always needs to be one person in charge. Never more.

With AI, small teams can achieve even more. Their decision making, and judgment can be leveraged through AI by orders of magnitude.

Stay small. Large teams ironically can lead to getting less done, more chaos, and slower execution speed.

February 21, 2024

A Tiny Probability of a Huge Outcome

What is a venture-scale startup?

All it boils down to is a building a product for users that solves a painful problem they face with a tiny probability of huge success.

The last part matters. The way VC funds operate is about heavily skewed asymmetric risk to return ratios. Bets that have tiny probability of succeeding with potential for huge outcomes.

If the company you are working on doesn't satisfy this basic condition, it's not really a venture-scale startup.

Hence, there are a few things you need to prove to have a shot at building a venture-scale company. First one being that you are going after a huge market. One of the most common reasons VCs don't invest in companies is that the markets they go after are too small. And if the market is too small without an obvious way of transitioning to a larger market over time, it doesn't fulfill the basic principle of venture-scale investing.

If you want to play the VC game, you need to work on something with a tiny probability of a huge outcome.

February 20, 2024

Every Change Yields Resistance

Every change you make yields resistance towards that change. A force that pushes to keep the status quo.

Those forces can come from many places: the people around you, shareholders, customers, observers, expectations, past perceptions, unspoken hopes and plans, fears, idiosyncratic preferences.

As no world where no force working against a change exists, it matters that we still find a way to make the change happen that we set out to do.

We need to be prepared to handle the resistance to that change. You are here to make things better, so trust yourself. Be brave and stand with the decision even though short-term resistance appears. Stand still. Trust in your judgment. And reflect when the right time has come.

February 19, 2024

There Is a Limit to Working Hard

There is a spectrum of work in regards to how hard it is.

Work I used to do in University studying business fell on the easier, less demanding end of the spectrum. Coding on hard problems for me is on the other extreme.

Back when I was doing work on the easier spectrum of hardness, working hard seemed to be without limits. All nighters and little sleep for prolonged periods of time didn't impact the quality of the work too heavily.

For work on the harder side of things, there is a limit to working hard.

With coding, I see that my quality decreases after 6-8 hours of focused, hard work. The work I put in after that is orders of magnitude less effective.

What this shows is that there are different limits to working hard depending on the nature of work.

Work is not created equal.

February 16, 2024

Everything Comes in Waves

Everything in life behaves in a sort of sinus function, in waves.

There's always ups and downs.
Periods of expansion and contraction.
Periods of stress and relieve.
Intensity and calm.

That's the journey we are all in. And we cannot control it. All we can control is how prepared we are for the ups and downs. And how we respond to them.

February 15, 2024

Document, Don't Create

When thinking about creating content, most of us get it the wrong way.

It's not about *creating* content, much rather about *documenting*.

You don't need to come up with creative ideas, unique formats, and something original. In our current age of social media, all it takes is documenting your journey. This is what people resonate with, and what they want to see.

Your job is not to create entertaining content to grab attention. Rather, it's about taking your tribe on the journey with you. So they can be part of it.

This is how you build connection to a brand, person, or creative. And the good part is that it's easy.

Document, don't create.

February 13, 2024

Do What You Want

"It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it." - Seneca

Our time in this world is limited. Things move fast, and with the blink of an eye, months, years, decades pass. Life is short.

With the finitude of everything, there's just one object you should follow: do what you want.

There are hundreds of reasons you make up in your mind why you shouldn't do what you truly want. Fulfilling expectations. Playing roles. Making others happy. Giving into fear.

All of those reasons are bad reasons. And in light of the transience of life, if you zoom out and put things into perspective, just do what you want. What you want. Not your parents, friends, or mentors.

You only have one live, don't waste it by not living your life.

February 12, 2024

Permissionless World

Today, we witness an underlying shift in the dynamics of how our world works: we're moving towards a permissionless world.

Just 20 years ago, to release a song, publish a book, or create a fashion brand, you needed permission from gatekeepers in these industry. Labels, publishers, textile giants. And this made it hard for most to execute on their creative ideas.

But through the internet and shift in our world, these things have become permissionless. You can get your song on Spotify in 10 minutes. You can publish a book yourself with Amazon publishing. You can import small quantities of custom-made shirts from abroad. The gatekeepers are no longer around.

This new nature of the world is the biggest opportunity yet for creatives. You can start doing your work right here, right now.

What are you waiting for?

February 9, 2024

The Velocity of Adding New Things

In an early stage tech company, the velocity with which you add new things to your product deteriorates as your product matures and grows.

This is a natural process as you approach product-market-fit and focus shifts from finding a repeatable business model to executing one.

So measurement of effectiveness of a product team needs to change as the transition occurs from stage one to stage two.

Ultimately, the measure is still "does the product team ship?". But the focus is more on solidifying the existing feature set, rather than shipping new ones.

February 8, 2024

Doubling Down > Finding Something New

It's easier to strengthen an existing working effect than it is to find a new one.

Instead of finding a new fancy channel for your growth, it is easier to strengthen an existing one.

The likelihood of this impacting your company positively is higher than the lucky shot of finding something new.

February 7, 2024

Unicorn of One

In a recent video, Sam Altman shared the radical idea of a one person billion dollar company enabled by AI. And I agree.

The underlying dynamic we can observe in an AI-enabled world is that intelligence becomes a commodity. What used to be required to be done by human knowledge workers can now (already) be automated to a large degree with AI. This removes the need of human capital from the equation of building a productive company. And thus a unicorn of one will become possible.

The question that interests me the most is what things we still need to create to make this radical idea a reality. This is where I believe a lot of opportunity is still laying around unused.

What needs to be built to enable a unicorn of one?

The answer to this question in itself will be unicorn opportunities itself.

February 6, 2024

You Learn By Copying

Austin Kleon believes you learn by copying your heroes.

The process of re-creating and re-engineering the way your favorite producer made a beat allows you to understand his thought process.

And through that re-creation, you learn how to do good work.

It's not about imitation or plagiarism. It's about learning.

And copying your favorite work allows you to hone your craft.

February 5, 2024

Minimize Time From Impulse to Action

I recent belief that started to solidify in the way I view the world is that the best strategy for a creative is to work on the environment and belief set that allows one to minimize the time of impulse to action.

If you have a moment of genius, see the world vibrantly clear in front of you with an idea you wish existed, the shorter the time from this impulse to action is, the better things will be.

Waiting too long kills excitement and momentum.

Optimize for an environment where you can minimize this time. And you will be well of building remarkable things.

February 1, 2024

Establish a Body of Work

As a creative, your body of work is your identity.

The catalogue of work you have shipped is how you are perceived by the world. And also serves as evidence for the creative you want to be - the identity you want to take.

Perfection kills creativity. If you're too perfectionist, you are not shipping your work. And shipping your work is the only thing that matters. To build catalogue.

Get out of your mind. Start taking real action. And follow through. Your body of work will speak for itself.

January 31, 2024

The Daily Practice

There's something special about doing your work daily.

Casey Neistat made it big when he published a new VLOG on YouTube every single day.

Seth Godin attributes much of his success to writing a new blog post every day.

Kanye West made beats every day before making it big.

For me personally, my writing, music, and coding only improved once I engaged in the practice every day for a couple of years.

And I believe this is a universal principle: it's either daily or it won't work.

The magic about doing your work daily is that you establish strong evidence for your identity as a creative, and iterate over your craft with high velocity.

If you combine this with shipping your work online on social platforms, you are off to make it. You just need to persist.

A year of doing the work daily can change everything. And because so few are actually willing to commit to their craft with this intensity, there is so much opportunity for the ones who do.

It's either daily or it won't work.

January 30, 2024

Make It For Yourself

Forget the audience. Make it for yourself.

This is about you, not them. Ignore the trends, the reels, the comparison to others. It's not about them, it's about you.

When unsure, listen to your gut. It will guide you where you need to be going.

Make it for yourself.

January 29, 2024

Focus

Effort is not rewarded in this world, instead outcomes are.

So to be effective, you need to optimize for outcomes, not effort.

More work doesn't equal more outcomes. But more focus paired with intensity does.

Your energy and attention is a scarce resource on any given day. How you spend your average Thursday is how you will create your life.

You don't want to spend your energy, of which you have limited amounts, on too many things at once. You spread yourself too thin.

Instead, you need to focus. On 1-2 things.

Focussing requires you to say no. And you can only do so if you have inner conviction on your path. Determination for your journey. If you know why you're doing what you're doing saying no becomes easier.

This doesn't only hold true for creative individuals, but also early stage startups. In this setup, your resources are very limited. So you can only focus on 1-2 things at a time. And get those right first so you can earn your right to build more.

Focus is the most important ability if you want to create superior outcomes. And yet, the hardest to truly nail.

Focus to me means going all in on 1-2 things in the present moment with unmatched intensity until it's done. Only when it's done, I move on to the next thing. And this intensity is impossible if you focus on too many things at once.

In a world where outcomes are rewarded, focus is a superpower.

January 26, 2024

Your Inner Genius

Every human has an inner genius - something they could be so undeniably good at that they would bring forth exceptional work impacting the world greatly.

The closer you live to your inner genius, the more exceptional you will be.

But how to find your inner genius?

I believe the best indication for inner genius is doing things for the sake of it.

Atelic activities.

The hidden question in this is: what drives you in your pursuits? If it's anything extrinsic like money, status, or domesticated expectations, it's not atelic. You will not unleash your inner genius.

But if you do something intrinsically motivated, purely for the sake of it, you will unleash your inner genius.

This love the the craft, for the thing you are doing is what will allow you to hone your skill, stick with it for the long run, and bring forth something exceptional.

So the question one should optimize for is: how close am I living to my inner genius?

The answer may not be easy. It may prompt you to change things which are closely entangled into your current identity. And change is scary. But if you want to become exceptional, unleashing your inner genius, this is the quest you are in for. Your object is to find the pursuit you do purely for the sake of it. That's where your inner genius lies.

Now, go find it.

January 25, 2024

Being on the Hook

Seth Godin talks about being on the hook as a creative.

Being on the hook means knowing who you are making it for. And getting specific about that.

If you get specific, you can fail. People you made something for can say "this is not for me".

Creative success requires being on the hook. Getting specific. Knowing who it's for. Playing on the long-tail.

How to pick who to make something for? Easy. Make it for yourself.

If you truly make something for yourself, there will be others in the world that your work will resonate with. You just need to find them.

But also there, you are on the hook. Be on the hook.

January 24, 2024

Give First

If you want help from other people, you must give first.

And the best way to give is to offer someone help so they can get to where they were going.

But this starts with empathy. First, you need to understand where someone is going. Only then, you can help.

Give first. Without expectation.

Something like Karma exists in the world. If you give first, the world will notice. Things will fall into place.

But it doesn't start with you. It starts with them.

January 23, 2024

Where Ideas Come From

Ideas are not created by us. They're nothing we think of. Or that we actively create. But rather, ideas come from a higher plane.

Rick Rubin believes that creative potential cannot be owned, but channeled. Connecting with one's deepest self to allow for the reception of ideas from outside of us.

Steven Pressfield believes that there is a bridge between the material work and a higher power where ideas actually come from - and that bridge is the artist.

No matter whether spirituality resonates with you or not, it is clear that ideas are not created, but received.

January 22, 2024

Talent Is a Commodity

In our globally connected world, talent is a commodity.

It's no longer enough to be talented relative to your reach in a city or country. In nearly everything, you compete on a global scale now.

So talent is no longer enough.

The differentiator today? Personality.

Sharing good work online doesn't cut it. You will go unnoticed in the infinite sea of good work. People don't care about work itself.

Instead, people care about you. Your personality. The person behind the craft. And that's the story you need to tell. Being relatable, talented and unique through your character.

So in a way, it's easy. Just be yourself. But what makes this difficult is our fear of not being accepted. Our fear of finding out people don't like us for who we are. But this is unjustified.

As you compete on a global scale, every niche has its audience. You just need to find them.

Talent is a commodity. Personality the differentiator.

January 19, 2024

Define A Minimum Quit Threshold

When you finally build up the courage and drive to start acting on a creative pursuit, you should define a minimum quit threshold (MQT) to give your pursuit a fair shot.

Let's say you want to start making YouTube videos.

If you don't define a MQT, you will start creating the first video, notice no one cares. Then you might build up intense motivation to create the second video, just to realize how much work it actually is. Still, no one cares. And this way you are closer to quitting without giving it a real shot.

Instead, you should define a MQT which is a lower bound for what it would mean to give something a real shot. In the example of YouTube videos, surely, if you have not produced at least 50 videos, there is no way of knowing whether this thing is for you and whether it works out. There is a minimum quantity of work you need to do to make an informed choice.

Define a minimum quit threshold before starting any project. Otherwise, it's not worth starting because quitting is too likely without one.

January 18, 2024

Be Somebody Who Gets Things Done

We live in a world where talking takes priority over action.

And many people are very good at talking. They can talk about ideas they have. They can talk about ways the world should be different. They can talk about problems they see, describe them very well.

But this isn't going anywhere.

There's a shortage of people who actually get things done. People that don't talk about ideas, but just try them. People that don't talk about how the world should be different but get to work to create the change they wish existed. People that don't describe problems but actually solve them.

The attitude of "I will get it done no matter what" is what pushes you forward. It will not go unnoticed in the world, or your organization.

Be somebody who gets things done. Talking doesn't cut it.

January 17, 2024

Systemize Everything

Your pursuits are too important to leave their success up to pure luck.

If you leave the success of your pursuits up to the moments where you feel inspired and motivated to act, you will never make it.

Success is not a product of pure luck. It's a product of systematic efforts combined with the right timing.

So to succeed with anything, you need to systemize your actions. It cannot be independent one-off moments where you act. It needs to be built into a routine and system.

Instead of writing when a good idea strikes, write every day at the same time.

Instead of working out when you feel like it, workout on a schedule that doesn't change.

Instead of creating content when you have an idea, create a system that gives you ideas on a schedule.

If you want to succeed, you need to make compound interest work for you. And to achieve this, you need to let your work compound. And to let it compound, you need a system that doesn't leave this up to luck.

As James Clear puts it: "Goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress".

Systemize everything.

January 16, 2024

Everything Must Be Rooted in the Now

When making decision, acquiring knowledge, or executing ideas, there is one condition that needs to be satisfied to allow for a good outcome: is that thing rooted in the present or not?

Ben Horowitz recommends to only hire executives based on the present situation of a company. You should never hire someone on the grounds of anticipation that there will be a need for that unique skill set in the future. The only condition that matters is whether that person is the right person for the present situation.

This applies to knowledge in a similar way. Learning for the sake of learning doesn't really work. You forget the ins and outs inevitably. But there is knowledge that is useful in a present moment. And if you acquire knowledge out of that need of the present moment, you open up the possibility for deep understanding.

The same story applies for ideas. Timing is the number one success factor for all ideas. So if an idea is rooted in the present moment, and the right idea for that point in time, you should execute on it. But there are ideas which are not rooted in the now which should not be executed yet.

Everything we do from making decisions to acquiring knowledge must be rooted in the present moment. Doing things now in the anticipation of a given future tend to be suboptimal and a distraction, rather than an enablement.

January 15, 2024

Regrets of the Dying Pt. 1

With all the uncertainty in the world, one thing is certain: you will day one day.

Memento Mori is the stoic idea to "remember you must die". The perspective of the transience and shortness of life helps us see through the noise. If you think about what you would do if you had 1 day, 1 month, or 1 year to live, you can easily differentiate between what matters to you and what doesn't. So the visualization of death serves a useful purpose as we think about our lives.

Bronnie Ware has worked closely with people at the end of their lives as a caregiver and has assembled the common regrets of the dying. I believe that those are good evidence-based considerations to bring into presence as one thinks about their life.

The first regret being "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.

In the face of the finiteness of life, it becomes clear to see what things you are doing because of expectations, and what things you are doing because they are true to yourself. Things that stem from genuine, intrinsic motivation, are those things that true to yourself. But usually, our lives tend to evolve around expectations. We want to live up to the picture our past self created of us. The picture our close friends, and family expects from us. And society in general. And this is the default state of operation for most people.

So what is missing?

Courage.

Those laying on their death bed share that they wish they had the courage to life true to themselves. And hearing this, it makes sense. I notice how it resonates with my beliefs of the world. But once we leave the save heavens of our imaginative, thinking mind, and are confronted with the real world, courage lacks.

I cannot offer the answer on how to build up that courage. But what I can say is that this question is closely linked to inner the work of becoming more conscious, more aware, of one' self through practices like meditation and journaling.

Perhaps this can serve as an impulse. As a trigger to start the journey of discovering your inner world. Following the question of "How closely am I living my true self?". The answer will be useful, in one or the other way.

January 12, 2024

The Creative's Journey

Once you build up the courage to take the first step in your creative pursuit, you are already ahead of 95% of people who never take the first step.

The moment you take the first step is the moment you open up the potential for momentum, fate, and the world around you aligning in ways you couldn't imagine. But this only comes after you've put in the work. For many years.

The creative's journey is almost always the same. You start with initial excitement, feel good about the first step, and do the work. But then, you quickly enter the valley of quitting. The point where you realize no one cares about your work beyond the initial excitement. You start doubting yourself. And that's where the likelihood of quitting is the highest. Because it's easy to quit.

But then, if you stick with it and focus on your craft, things slowly but surely pick up over time. You rediscover your initial excitement. People start caring. But you're not done yet. It will still take even more time until things work out.

And then, many years down the line, your creative success compounds. Things start to work. People start to care. Your craft has advanced significantly. Momentum starts building, things start falling into place. That's where the journey begins to be externally rewarding.

Most creative pursuits never make it there. The lay on the graveyard of quitting.

If you're thinking about starting your journey following a creative pursuit, be prepared what it looks like. There's no shortcut to it. You need to live through all the painful steps along that journey. Embrace it. At the end of the tunnel, there is light. You need to trust.

The Creative's Journey
January 11, 2024

Certainty Is an Illusion

We live in a world where the only constant is change.

Uncertainty is all around us. We humans have an aversion towards uncertainty. Not knowing triggers a deep physiological reaction within us rooted in fear. That's why we seek certainty.

We have built our world in a way that it creates "certainty" for us. Going to school, getting a degree, getting a safe job at large corporation, finding the one, getting married, following the well worn path society offers us. All this is what satisfies our need for certainty rooted in our fragile sense of self.

Unfortunately, in a world where the only constant is change, certainty does not exist. With rapid technological development as we approach the beginning of infinity inevitable causes everything we see for certain in our society to change. From the way we make a living to the ways our social norms and hierarchies are organized. And this is a daunting thought. Because it exposes us to uncertainty.

But certainty doesn't exist. It's an illusion. We have succeeded at building a very sound illusion of certainty. A system and way things are that we can trust in. But all these beliefs in certainty ultimately expose us to risk of the black swan category. We are just not conscious of it.

A better way to life, I believe, is becoming more comfortable with uncertainty. Every change, as daunting as it seems in the moment, offers new exposure to unseen upside. And thus can be a good thing in the long-run once you go through the pain in the short run.

If you are able to look beyond the illusion of certainty the world gives us, you become self-determined and start to see the world as it is. You start to create a life that you want. Not a life your fragile self tells you you want because it's scared.

Certainty is an illusion. Get comfortable with uncertainty. The only constant in this world is change.

January 10, 2024

Optimism to Act

A difference between the people I meet in Germany, and the ones I meet in San Francisco is that in SF everything is about building.

In SF, people are optimistic and excited to build the future. Start coding on project, creating things, making useful stuff. They envision a better world through the lens of optimism and get to work.

Outside this bubble, the impression I get is that people don't act on that. They much rather talk an idea to death and find all the reasons why something wouldn't work instead of trying to make it work. Pessimism leads to paralysis by analysis and good ideas are rarely turned into reality.

The difference is a primarily about one thing: optimism to act.

To me, optimism to act is what creativity is all about. If you are creating things in this world, you always have a positive belief that gives you the confidence to try regardless of knowing the outcome.

Life is more fun if you have this optimism to act.

January 9, 2024

Screw Plans

The notion of life plans doesn't make sense to me.

The idea of "in x years I'm going to do y" seems like a self sabotage to creating the life you want.

If you feel an impulse to act, change, or start something now, you shouldn't put it off for x years until it fits your perfect expectations of a certain future. There is no certainty.

Instead, you should minimize the time from impulse to action.

This applies, of course, only to impulses you feel strongly with inner conviction. But the moment you make a plan, the conviction is a given.

Stop making plans. Build up the courage and act now.

January 8, 2024

Inner Genius

Everyone has an inner genius - a thing that, if they'd pursue it, would unleash a unique gift to the world marked by excellence.

Unfortunately, few unleash their inner genius.

Reasons are manyfold. Most notably tho, it's the way we are raised in this world.

There is a specific image of how things should be in our life domesticated into our minds from the first breath we take until we reach adulthood and gain the freedom to take charge of our own lives. And this image tends to be a mirror of everything we got exposed to: parents, society, values, friends, media.

Breaking through that image is hard. Ultimately, you are breaking through an image your past self created and believed. So it feels like betrayal to yourself. But it's not.

Everyone can find their inner genius if they look for it, sense closely, and have the courage to follow through the impulses that show.

And unleashing your inner genius is the best you could possibly do for the world and for yourself.

Start looking. If there is a quiet, fragile voice that speaks to you in rare, special moments, listen. Start to do inner work. And trust that this journey, despite consisting of ups and downs, has light at the end of the tunnel. Because it does. The brightest light you could possibly find.

If everyone would unleash their inner genius in this world there would be little to worry. Heaven on earth.

January 7, 2024

Isaac's Third Law

Isaac Newton's third law states: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction".

And this can be applied to life.

Kindness yield kindness.

Help yields help.

Creativity yields creativity.

Whatever action you initiate will have an equal reaction in the world. Use it for you.

January 5, 2024

Take More Shots

Success is a function of your work and randomness.

As no certainty exists in randomness, whatever you work on is a calculated bet that ultimately is not in your control.

You can increase the odds of success by doing good work, making the right decisions, and executing well. But this never guarantees success because the randomness factor doesn't go away.

Consequently the best strategy is to take more shots. This increases the surface area to potential success, and hence ultimately the odds of success.

Take more shots.

January 4, 2024

Understanding ≠ Understanding

Understanding is not a binary variable. Rather, it is continuous.

There are depths to understanding. Not just conceptually, but also from the representation of the idea in not just your mind, but your spirit and body.

The way understanding is advanced is exclusively through first hand experience. Not through reading, or hearing experiences. The only way to truly understand is to live through it. Living through an idea, a belief, or a concept. Applying it.

You can hear something a hundred times and "understand" it. But that's not enough. The moment you truly understand something is the moment it clicks. The moment it sets something new, unknown in motion.

Maximize your exposure to these moments. Not to shallow "understanding".

January 3, 2024

Systems Form the Foundation

Good systems form the foundation for a good life.

A systems is a set of things you do consistently. We find those systems in morning routines, weekly practices, or arranged schedules.

Uncertainty exists all around, systems form a certain foundation.

My system today is simple. My mornings are the same. Every day. Coffee, reading, meditation, writing. That's it.

The days where I'm not able to go through my system are the days I am reminded why having a good systems is the foundation for a good life.

Design your system. Start with the first habit. Stack on it over time.

January 2, 2024

Creatives Are Disciplined

Creatives that turned pro and take their pursuits seriously are disciplined.

They don't wait for inspiration to do the work. Instead, they do the work no matter what. Day in and day out.

Creative professionals understand that you don't create great work by feeling inspired in the right moment. It's more about the relentless repetition and deliberate practice combined with the lucky circumstance we call "randomness" that lead to great work.

Do the work. Again and again. Win the fight against resistance every day. And eventually you will produce good work.

December 28, 2023

Valley of Death

When you start following your calling of a higher, creative pursuit, you will always go through the valley of death.

You succeeded at beating resistance initially. You shipped your first piece of work. But then, you find out the world doesn't care. You work just sits there. Unrecognized. No one caring.

This is the moment where you start doubting yourself. Resistance reaches its maximum. And this is the valley of death. It might take months, or years. There is a way out of it. But for that, you need to continue to work. Ship your work. And not care about others not caring (yet). It's the ultimate test for any creative.

Do you have what it takes to make it through the valley of death? Most people's pursuits lay on the graveyard. But you can be different. It's your choice.

December 22, 2023

Disconnecting

In our connected world, we must make time to disconnect.

Get out of the city. Turn off your phone. Escape distractions & expectations. Make room to just be.

Spend a day in solitude. Observe what boredom does to you. Make space to feel the craving of distraction. But stay disciplined. This time is too important to give in.

This is what makes space to cultivate a dialog with the self. Listen to it. Reflect. Integrate. Gain clarity. Or chaos. In either way, it is what is needed to advance in your journey. Stay with it.

Few make the time to disconnect. But being disconnected is where the best decisions are made. Where the best ideas grow. Where we  commit to change. Don't rob yourself from this precious experience. Disconnect.

December 21, 2023

Letting The Best Idea Win

The best companies in the world have cultures of where the best ideas win. Hierarchy and status does not matter. The quality of the idea itself does.

Judging what ideas are good is what then requires discussion. But we must free our egos and expectations from where ideas are coming from.

If you want to win, you must build a culture where the best idea wins.

December 20, 2023

Undeniable Work

Work that is undeniable is going places. Music. Software. Writing. Film. Photography. No matter the expression. Undeniable work is the foundation for remarkable results.

What is undeniable? It's the closest expression of perfection I know. When your work is undeniable, the natural incentives and forces are aligned with the work you did. It creates a gravity of its own. And is self-propelling. It has this momentum that increases and with that, once people engage with the work, they are drawn in.

You don't need a lot of noise around undeniable work. It speaks for itself. It doesn't need fancy decoration. Or any other distraction. Focus is the essence. The focus on something that is so undeniably good it draws you into its spell.

That's the standard you should be setting for yourself. Making something that's undeniable.

December 19, 2023

Day One

Every day is day one of the rest of your life. Every day, you can start over again.

Jeff Bezos talks about how the day one mindset shapes the work at Amazon. The point of which is to not be trapped by history, past decisions, or self consistency. Instead, rethinking everything as it were day one of the pursuit you are in.

There's a powerful side to the mental liberty of being able to start fresh. You can base your decisions on first principles. Escape expectations you and others have on you. And go back to the ground truth.

You have the power to start over again. Escape traps, and rethink from scratch. It's always day one.

December 18, 2023

Self-Doubt in the Early Days

I recently started doing my own podcast. It's something I wanted to do for many years, but never had the courage to overcome the fears that were resisting me to take action. And I'm proud that I was finally able to make the jump.

But doing the first episode is not enough. In the early days of any creative endeavor, resistance is still all around. Just taking the first step is not enough. You start doubting. Start rethinking. And fight this battle with resistance.

Why should you continue? No one cares right now anyways.

Why should you continue? Your work isn't any good yet.

These mental obstacles are the way out. These concerns pave the way for what needs to be done. You need to do 100 iterations of your work to improve. And this requires deliberate practice even though no one cares. Even though your work isn't any good. But sticking with the craft through those times in the early days is what matters if you want to make it creatively. No one is given shortcuts. Every artist has gone through that time. So why should it be different for you?

In the early days, you are at war with resistance every day. Resistance that is the manifestation of self-doubt and fears. And this becomes the obstacle to the future you want to create. And that obstacle is the way. And it's in clear sight. Overcome it. Trust your journey. And embrace the idea of deliberate practice. You will make it. But you need to stick with it, iterate, practice again and again, and eventually one day get lucky.

December 13, 2023

Don't Make Decisions Based on Expectations

Good decisions are never based on expectations, but on our unfiltered inner voice. Unfortunately, our default is to base decision on the former instead of the latter.

Expectations are (sub)consciously all around us. Expectations we have about ourselves, expectations from our friends, expectations from our parents, expectations from the world. And it's so easy to make decisions based on these expectations. But this rarely yields good decisions. Instead, expectations cloud our sight of what actually matters, our inner voice.

We humans developed an incredibly smart instrument in our bodies called gut feel. It's a hidden superpower we can all tap into. It's our inner voice that is more intelligent than any conscious thought we can draw. So one must learn to use it. And more importantly one must learn to trust it.

Good decisions are based on our inner voice. And your object should be to remove any expectations from your decision making. Good decisions are never based on expectations.

December 12, 2023

Finding Your Way

Everyone tries to find a way. To find answers to how one should be living their life. In the pursuit of finding a way, there are two voices: the outer and the inner. The former tends to be loud and clear, the latter not so much. Opinions and expectations born in the outer world take the stage prominently and convince us of what the way should look like. Only barely (if at all) you can hear the small, fragile inner voice wanting to show you a different. Wanting to give you genuine answers originating from your *self*. But it's hard to hear. It's so much easier to mimic the outer and neglect the inner.

The assertion I propose that given the outer is stronger you are finding a way, not your way. The only way to find *your* way is to make space for the inner and observe curiously. And this takes time. And courage. And solitude. And stillness. In a world abundant with noise, hearing your inner voice is scarce. But there is another way. A way to find your way. It won't be easy. It won't be trivial to find. But it will be the only way to find your way. Not someone else's way. And life is too short, time too scarce, to live someone else's life. But this is what you are doing when you're not listening to the inner but the outer. You're living out the sum of expectations, opinions, and distractions the world offers you so conveniently. Don't be that sum. Be yourself. Make space. Learn to hear the inner voice. Learn to trust it. And find your way.

December 11, 2023

TAM Matters

In the startup and VC ecosystem, the total addressable market (TAM) matters a lot. Founder easily ignore that lesson because they believe their company can get big if they capture x % of the market. And that might be true, but for a true VC case a big company is not enough. It needs to be extremely large. And TAM is the decisive factor in that. The biggest companies are built in the biggest markets. And thus, TAM matters. Don't ignore it.

December 8, 2023

Vulnerability Creates Connection

We all have this image of needing to appear strong and bold. We believe that this is what drives respect and appreciation from our peers. That's how we believe we are heard and can lead. In that pursuit, we try to not be vulnerable but signal strength.

The truth is, vulnerability create authentic connection. Letting down the masks and personas we are trying to convey and showing that we don't know the answer to everything and have a vulnerable side drives connection. It speaks to the deep emotions and struggles every human has. And by showing yourself vulnerable you create genuine connection.

Surely this doesn't come easy. Vulnerability means exposure to pain. But if that exposure is the cost we incur to create genuine human connection, it's a good deal any day of the week. Vulnerability creates connection. And human connections are what life is about.

December 6, 2023

Working Hard

I don't think it's possible to convince someone to work hard. Either someone has this attitude or they don't. It's so deeply bound to one's character, foundational beliefs, and sense of self that it is nearly impossible to change through feedback or coaching.

The biggest indicator I know for working hard is passion. If someone has a deep passion and conveys that on all levels when they talk about their thing, they will likely work hard. If they just fake passion but don't feel it with every cell of their body, they will likely not. And hard work is required to reach mastery in anything. And your time is too valuable to work with people who don't want to work hard. Select wisely.

December 5, 2023

Days Are Long & Decades Are Short

Years pass so quickly, days can feel so long. Both are true at the same time. Time on a given day tends to feel slow. Days are long, there are many things you can do. But decades and years are short. They fade by quickly. If you're not careful you'll miss the good stuff.

Because decades are short, it matters what you do on a daily. It matters so much. The way you spend your minutes is the way you spend your life. Start there. Get your days right. Everything else will follow.

December 4, 2023

Perception

Reality ≠ reality. Perception = reality. The way one perceives the world is the reality one lives in. Perception does not only shape our reality, it determines it entirely. And perception shapes beliefs. Which in turn shape everything. If you perceive something to be extremely difficult and hard, it will be extremely difficult and hard. If you perceive and believe something to be easy, fun, and exciting, it will turn out that way. Your perception shapes your thoughts and your thoughts shape your reality. Perception is reality.

December 1, 2023

Turning Pro

At some point in the creative's journey, it's no longer about playing, exploring, and trying. A new chapter begins. The limits of the beginner's mind have been reached. Now it's time to turn pro. To get real. To go all in. To no longer treat it as a hobby. Your work is too important for that. So you turn pro. And for that your identity needs to change. It's the moment you realize your idea can work. And will work. It's on you now. Stop the excuses. Get down to the real work. Turn pro.

November 30, 2023

Lindy Effect

Why are old books that are still around better than new books? The answer is simple: they passed the test of time.

The Lindy Effect states that the longer something (an idea, book, technology) has been around, the more robust it is towards change. So the useful life of a book will be proportional to the time it has been around.

Instead of reading new books, focus on the classics that passed the test of time.

November 29, 2023

Write Your Story

In a talk I watched a while ago by Graham Weaver at Stanford, I learned about a powerful practice that resonated deeply with what I believe in. Graham talked about the power of writing your story. A practical way to manifest outcomes you want in your life effectively. Here's how it works:

The idea is that you take the time to sit down and write out the story for the company or project you are working on of how it will unfold in the coming years. There are 3 principles to this:

1. Describe the company or project 5 years from now in great detail.
2. Describe and imagine the outcome as if you knew you couldn't fail.
3. Forget about the 'how' and only focus on the most desirable outcome you imagine.

With these principles, writing out your story should be quite fun. Once you're done. You can get started on the first steps of implementing this story. One step at a time. Re-read it frequently to align everything you do.

In Graham's experience, this is what allowed them to eventually make this desirable dream become reality. One step at a time. Write your story so you allow it to unfold in your life.

November 28, 2023

Solve Causes, Not Symptoms

The most important vector in the effectiveness of your work is the attack angle you choose. If you decide to focus on solving high-level symptoms, all the work dedicated to solving will eventually be redundant and orders of magnitude less effective. The better decision is to spend time understanding the effect structure of the thing you are working on. If you descend down to the root cause and spend time solving that, all your work will be levered by orders of magnitude making you more effective. But this requires you to think deeply about the problem you are solving before acting. When working on a problem spend more time understanding the problem than solving it. The attack angel you choose makes all the difference. Solve causes, not symptoms.

November 24, 2023

Preparing to Act Is Not Acting

Very easily you fall into the trap of being stuck in preparing to act instead of acting. Your overthinking mind gives in into the resistance presented to you. You think thank doing just a bit more research, planning, or waiting for the right moment will get you closer to your goal. It won't. Preparing to act is not acting. Don't be fooled. The only that counts are actions, not words. Nor preparation.

November 23, 2023

F*ck Fear

Fear is the ultimate enemy you face in life. And most people lose the battle. They don't bet on themselves in the pursuit of finding something they love, but they go down the safe and comfortable path in life never realizing your unique potential.

So why is fear such a hard opponent? It knows your deepest weaknesses and insecurities. And it exploits in shamelessly. The way it manifests in your life is through resistance. If you're not doing the thing you dream of doing then you lost against resistance. It's the self-doubt, overthinking, and anticipation of discomfort that stands in the way.

But there's also a useful side to fear. It can serve as a compass. The simple rule in life I believe in is that whatever you feel most resistance towards is the thing most crucial to the evolution of you as a person. Thus, whatever you fear most is the thing you should be doing to maximize your potential.

Another thing about fear is that it never goes away. So to beat fear, you need to have courage over and over again to beat it. To declare war on it. To fight it. Inevitably, there will be days where you will lose. And other days where you will win. But just having the awareness that fear will always be there and that you can beat it consistently is enough to open up a new pathway in your life.

Be wise about fear. Use it as a compass. But declare war on it to overcome it. Every day. Don't let fear win. It's the only thing keeping you from all the great things you can achieve and the things that actually manifest. F*ck fear.

November 22, 2023

Find, Don't Execute

The mistake many young individuals starting out on their professional journeys make is believing that their objective is to execute on a pre-determined career path. The reality is, that the early transformative years are much less about execution and much more about finding. But most people confuse the two.

There are three reasons to believe in the paradigm that doing your thing (doing what you genuinely love) is the best life strategy. Firstly, you will have the persistence required to stick with your thing for a long time allowing for compound growth. Secondly, you will tap into a new, more powerful version of you if you're doing the thing you love. Thirdly, you will be overly happier and more fulfilled in your life.

If you believe the above, it is clear that the only way to do your thing is to find what your thing is. And finding is not trivial. You likely have many preconceived notions and biases of what you should and shouldn't do. Ideas of what you are good at and what you suck at. Implicit and explicit expectations you have of yourself that were shaped by society. And the hard truth is that all of them are likely wrong. As you grow up and learn that you are in charge of your life and have autonomy over the actions in your life, you realize that most ideas and believes you hold have no evidence of being true.

If you reach this level of awareness about your journey and past, you inevitably will feel lost and disoriented. But the good part is that you open up the trajectory of actually finding what you love. There are few lucky individuals that know what they genuinely love early on and their assumptions turn out to be right because of some lucky circumstances. But it's the rare exception.

So how do you deal with this realization? You get out there and start to search for something instead of executing on it. If your object is to find what you love, you are free to experiment. Try. Fail. Try something else. Iterate. And fully embrace that you are looking for an answer instead of thinking you've found it. And this process of trial-and-error might take many years. But it's worth treating your transformational years as such.

The biggest risk you have early on in your life is descending too quickly and narrowly down towards a path you end up not liking 20 years down the line. Those are wasted years. Because ultimately if you quit, all your work cancels out to zero.

So if there's one thing I wish I understood earlier in my it's this: find, don't execute. Don't work towards the perfect CV or storyline that will reward you with success in a career path you might not genuinely love. Instead, spend time finding what you truly love. And then narrow down.

November 21, 2023

Do Your Thing

There's one thing all world-class people have in common: they
genuinely love what they are doing. And this love allowed them to engage in deliberate practice for thousands of hours over decades without quitting. That's fundamentally all that is required. And this applies to building companies, making music, writing, and every other (creative) pursuit there is.

The reason why that's the only thing that matters is quite simple: if you look at the compound interest equation, the most powerful term is not the growth rate, but the amount of times this growth compounds. In other words, how long you stick with it. So if you want to reach world-class mastery in anything, stick with it for the long run.

What is difficult about sticking with it for the long run is that things don't work out in the beginning. You will encounter obstacles, crisis, struggle, and pain along the way. This is inevitable. And all of these are testing you whether you stick with it or not.

If you don't love what you are doing, the risk of quitting is significantly higher than if you are doing what you love. If work feels like play and you have fun while doing it, it's easier to get through the tough times. And this is what allows you to stick with it for the long-run. And that's how you take advantage of compound growth.

There is a second argument to why you should do what you love: you will be better at it than anyone else. If you do what you love you tap into a new, more powerful version of you. If you are genuinely passionate about what you are doing, you light up the room and have an unmatched energy to your presence. Someone who loves what they are doing will always beat someone who likes what they are doing at best. It's not a question of talent, but of passion.

And now onto the third, and most important argument for doing what you love: you will live a happier, fulfilled life. And this is always the goal. Life is short. And there's no point in living an unhappy life. The cost is too high. Considering we all are dead in less than a century, there is no point in doing something you don't enjoy. And I don't mean it in the pleasure-maximizing sense. But happiness as defined in the fulfillment and closeness to your purpose sense.

If you want to live a fulfilled life and become excellent at what you do, do your thing. Do what you love. Do what excites you. Do what feels like play and not work. Do what you absolutely must do. Do you thing. That's the best strategy for life there is.

November 20, 2023

Ceiling of Thoughts

The ceiling of your thoughts and imagination determine the limit of what you will accomplish in your life.

If you dream about and manifest the best version of your life, there will always be some (un)conscious ceiling. You could always think and dream bigger. But your mind allows you to only imagine up to a certain ceiling. And this ceiling is something you choose.

If you then start working on making your grande vision for your life a reality and creating the life you want, this imagined future is the limit of what you will ever be able to achieve. You will not and cannot go beyond what you imagine in your wildest dreams.

Being aware of this limitation allows you to consciously think about the ceiling you are setting for yourself. And expand if you feel comfortable. Dare to dream. Dare to expand. Crush the ceiling you set for yourself. It's time to play big.

November 17, 2023

Phones & Distractions

It's difficult to admit but I struggle with the relationship with my phone.

Over the years, I've developed an impulsive behavior where I subconsciously feel the urge to check my phone whenever I feel bored for just a second.

More specifically, it's the need to scroll, update, check, see messages, scroll again, rinse and repeat.

And I don't blame myself. The services we use like Instagram are designed to psychologically hook you. The smartest people in the world are working on making services as addictive as possible. It's an unfair fight.

If you're not careful, this can take you out of the present hundreds of times a day. The consequence is worse performance, more distraction, less satisfaction, and an unhealthy relationship with mundane boredom.

So how to change it?

For me physically placing my phone away from me (in another room or bag) solves the problem. The additional physical effort for me to get the phone allows for the time for my conscious to take over and stop the impulse. Although not perfect, this trick works for me.

And maybe this is just the first step of a painful breakup with my phone. Maybe not. We will see. But don't ruin being present through subconscious patterns you never consciously wanted to welcome to your life.

November 16, 2023

Dukkha

Dukkha is a fundamental concept in buddhism expressing that suffering is an inherent part of our existence. In other words, it expresses that there will be suffering no matter what. There will always be pain, obstacles, and suffering in your journey in life. It is impossible to eliminate.

In the context of entrepreneurship, Dukkha has one implication: if there will be suffering regardless, you shouldn't play to not loose but play to win big.

Our natural instinct which stems from the way we are domesticated in society is to limit the downside. Do everything to avoid failing. And more often than not, this mindset will yield the exact thing you are trying to avoid: failure.

The antidote to playing to limit downside is optimizing for upside. What would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail?

As suffering will be omnipresent regardless of the approach you choose, you might as well try to play to maximize the upside and ignore the downside. This is how you set yourself up for asymmetric returns. And asymmetry is what yields idiosyncratic returns. You should always try to live an asymmetric life measured by the ratio of risk to upside.

As life is suffering regardless, you must choose something worth suffering for. And for this you might as well play big, get obsessed over the upside and forget about the downside. Play to win big, not to avoid loosing. Dukkha will be there either way.

November 15, 2023

How To Give a Great Talk

Every now and then I watch talks on YouTube that leave me with a feeling of amazement, wonder, inspiration, and awe. But what do great talks have in common?

The first ingredient is that great talks aim to make a change happen. It's not unconnected anecdotes. Or some lessons that might be useful in someway eventually. Instead, they aim to make a change happen right now, right there. And this energy transcends to people listening.

The second ingredient is that great talks tell stories, not facts. No one remembers factual knowledge from talks, but people remember stories. Authentic stories that happened in your life that touched you. Focus on stories first, facts second.

The third ingredient is that great talks focus on emotions not words. People remember how you left them feeling, not what words you used.

Surely there are more factors contributing to outstanding talks, yet these are the ones that stuck with me.

November 14, 2023

How Hard Can It Be?

Starting a company or committing to your creative career are daunting endeavors. Often, they turn out to be significantly harder than anticipated.

Nvidia's CEO Jensen Huang has a trick he uses to trick his mind into believing that it is possible. He asks himself the question: how hard can it be? And it turns out, things appear easier than you think. Someone no smarter than you has already done it. They might have overcome hundreds of challenges along the way but they still did it.

That's what the power of entrepreneurs is: they know that the journey they sign up for will be harder than anticipated, yet they still get to work and do it.

Embracing the 'how hard can it be?' mindset is not just about overcoming overthinking; it's about actively breaking barriers to bring ideas to life.

November 13, 2023

What It Takes to Startup

As a startup, there are only two things that matter: building a product that is 10x better than the current alternative and taking the market quicker than anyone else.

If you succeed at both, crafting a remarkable product and nailing distribution, you will inevitably end up build a tremendously successful companies. Perhaps less than 0.1% of startups actually get there. Because it's extremely difficult.

Why a 10x better product? Making customers switch is difficult. They don't switch their current alternative for a slightly better one. To convince customers to switch, you need to be 10x better. As simple as that.

Why taking the market? Betting on word of mouth isn't enough. Startups don't take off because of a remarkable product but because the founders make them take off. You need to think about distribution as much as you think about product. It cannot be an afterthought. Chances are there are competitors working on the same product that you are working on if it's any good. And this means you beat them in distribution.

None of this is trivial. But it's important to be aware of the game you are signing up for. Craft a 10x product and take the market. That's all that matters. Everything else is a distraction.

November 10, 2023

Infinite Leverage

We live in an age of infinite leverage. Our work can be replicated and leveraged by factors of 1000x without requiring permissions from anyone else. Thus, it becomes increasingly true that effort is not rewarded, results are. The relative importance of skill to judgment is being turned upside down.

The forms of leverage that have been available for a long time are capital and labour. But today, there is a new permissionless form of leverage: code and media. Writing a piece of code that automates a process can 1000x leverage your time. Creating a piece of media and distributing it online can have an impact of 1000x your time.

What this means for us is that we should earn with our mind, not our time. That's how you earn outsized returns.

Reference: Find A Position of Leverage

November 9, 2023

Why Competition Is Good

If you are working on a startup idea, common feedback you will receive is that there is already someone or something doing the thing you want to do: competition. Often this is taken through a negative lens as a reason for why the idea you came up with isn't good. However, the opposite is likely true.

The biggest risk when building something new is that you are building something no one wants. It's easy to trick yourself into believing what you're building is something the world needs when in fact no one cares.

The best way to mitigate this risk is by building something that people already have some solution to. There is always some alternative you are competing with. But even for the case where there is another startup doing the exact thing you want to be doing, see it as validation for something people like want rather than as a reason for not doing it. Just because some startup works on the same problem doesn't mean that you can't also be successful. Markets on a global scale tend to be large and you can always outcompete another player in a niche segment by understanding some niche segment better than anyone else. There might be differences in return sizes, yet there will always be some surface area of the market where you can win.

The best approach I know when competition is present is finding something you do better. Likely, there will always be some dimension of better you can double down on. Customer support. Features. Distribution. All of these count.

Don't confuse competition with a signal to not work on an idea, rather, it's validation for what you want to be doing. Just be better.

November 8, 2023

What To Do When Things Are Changing Rapidly

We live in a dynamic world with ever-accelerating technological change resulting in uncertainty of how the world will look like x years from now.

Every month, the AI space presents new models which make possible what was previously believed to take many years. The pace of evolution in this field is astonishing.

For companies building in this space, times can feel disorienting. What used to be a competitive advantage a month ago can turn into a commodity today.

This environment urges those companies to radically refocus and react to changes in the market. If something proprietary turned into a commodity, there is only one right answer: refocus.

But how should you refocus? The answer is and always has been by  going to your customers. Ultimately, customers don't want foundational technologies but products that create outcomes for them.

The best orientation you get is building something people want. And it has always been that way.

November 7, 2023

Details Matter

There can be 2 players executing on the same idea with the same strategies and same resources but wildly different returns solely because of the attention to detail in the execution.

The truth is: details matter. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. The nitty gritty details that are easy to rush over and not care too much about are sometimes the details that make the difference. It's not one detail on its own. But rather a thousand details that together make the difference.

Execution of an idea is made up of many details. Sloppy high-level work will get you sloppy returns. The best people are obsessed with details because they know that details make the difference.

If you're playing for the long-haul, you must show love to the details. Obsess over them. Iterate. Again and again. Execute on the "obvious" strategy superiorly by focussing on details. This is what makes the difference. Ideas don't count, execution does. And the quality of execution equates to the quality of the details. Hence, obsess over details.

November 6, 2023

Enrollment

When building a company, creating content, or trying to build anything from scratch you need enrollment from people on your journey.

When someone is enrolled in a journey, they start to care. They start to be interested in the journey with its ups and downs and are willing to go the way together with you.

Without enrollment, you're always fighting for support across every steps and things will feel difficult.

The first step to take is enrollment. Then over time, together with the people who are enrolled, things will grow, mature, and ultimately work out.

November 3, 2023

Sticking With Routines

No matter what habit or routine you establish in your life, a moment will come where you miss a day. Something else was more important, you were traveling, or some other "special" reason why you couldn't do the thing you committed to.

If you're not careful, one day turns into two, and two into three, and all the sudden your routine is broken.

What works for me is engaging in a minimal version of my routine if I cannot find the time in a given day. Instead of reading for 20 minutes in the morning, I only read 2 pages. This allows me to keep going and not let it slip.

To stick with routines, you need to do them no matter what. Break it down to small steps on the days that are difficult.

November 2, 2023

After Shipping The Work

After you've shipped your work, it's no longer yours. The way it resonates in the world is out of your control. You need to let go. Start working on the next thing.

Your work might resonate with people. Or not. You don't know. And it doesn't matter. What matters is that you created the best work you could in current position. And that you constantly improve as you continue shipping work.

Once you shipped the work, it's time to start working on the next thing. Immediately.

October 27, 2023

Living Through The Journey

No matter how curious you are, the learnings derived from books, talks, or conversations are vastly limited. The real learning lays in living through the journey, making mistakes, and learning along the way.

Just like Herman Hesse's Siddhartha had to live through all the ups and downs in his pursuit of finding the ultimate answer to meaning in life, you need to live through your experiences too. Reading about lessons is not enough. It takes real experience to understand something deeply.

Another way to put it is that it is pointless to over prepare when doing something you are slightly afraid of. Instead, this time would be better spent living through the journey already and learning along the way.

There is no substitute for experience.

October 26, 2023

Don't Build For Everyone

When building a product, creating content, or make anything with the intent of people caring about it, there is one rule to follow: when you're building for everyone, you're building for no-one.

What the internet has changed is that now there is a large long-tail of niche communities and interests. There isn't no longer a handful of established products, outlets, or channels to follow. Instead, there are millions. The mass market is gone. What dominates are people building for narrow niche audiences.

So the goal should never be to make something thousands of people sort of like, but instead, make something hundred of people truly love.

You need to start focussed. With a very narrow and specific person in mind that you're building for. Everything else unfolds from there.

October 24, 2023

Risk = Exposure To Downside

If you're not exposed to downside, you're not taking risk.

We tend to shy away from ambitious projects because ultimately we think the risk is too big. Things like quitting your job to start a company feel "risky". More generally, leaving the conventional path and betting on yourself seems "risky".

But what does it mean to take risks?

Fundamentally, it means exposure to downside. Risk is what could happen when everything goes wrong.

Looking through that lens at ambitious projects we keep putting off, we figure out that they might not be that risky after all. More often than not, the exposure to downside is quite limited. And so is the risk of the bet you want to make.

October 23, 2023

Say It As It Is

Saying things as they really are is extremely difficult.

When giving feedback.
When arguing in a relationship.
When assessing a project.

We put a filter on what we really think because we are afraid of hurting other people or killing a good spirit. We water down what we really think to the point where our initial message gets lost.

Don't.

People tend to be genuinely grateful if you can say it as it is. If you can give honest, critical feedback. This way, you offer them a chance to improve and change. Not doing this is selfish.

The ability to "say it as it is" is one of the most useful qualities to establish and create great results.

October 20, 2023

Re-discovering The Inner Child

As a child, you see the world as it is. You follow your inner curiosity, feel emotions fully, don't worry too much about others, and just go about being yourself.

As we grow up, we're domesticated by the people and society around us. We develop complex filters in the (sub)conscious and start to lose our inner child. No longer are we freely and light-footedly following our curiosity without resistance. Instead, we now worry about what others may think. Our parents. Our friends. We start to learn to not feel emotions too much. And instead of being who we are, we start becoming who we think other want us to be.

Then eventually, we learn that this is not the way. But instead, what we knew so early on is a more promising strategy. A chapter of unlearning and freeing starts to unfold. We want to re-discover our inner child. Figure out what we truly love. Become ourselves again. Feel. Do. Try. Fail. Laugh. Cry. Repeat.

Pablo Picasso said "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.". The point is not to become a child again, but to take a shot at re-discovering our child-like qualities that made life fun. That made life easy. And trust your genuine curiosity once again.

October 19, 2023

Masks Cost Energy

The larger the mismatch between your authentic self and the self you are showing up as, the larger the cost on your energy.

If you cannot be your true authentic self in your life, there is cost due (in terms of energy) for just keeping up the persona you want to convey.

Most of the time that persona you want to show up as is entirely based on the expectations you think others around you have. Consequentially, you put on a mask to meet those expectations.

Surely masks serve a useful purpose in some areas of life. But we must be aware of the cost associated to having those masks on. That energy spent on keeping up the masks could be invested in more useful activities.

Hence, decreasing the mismatch between your authentic self and the persona you want to show up as is increasing the net results of useful output. And, more importantly, our sense of fulfillment, freedom, and happiness. Try to optimize for the former.

October 18, 2023

Awareness

The best path I know to reach a happy life is through awareness.

Becoming aware is like starting to see the world in color. The vast majority of things in our lives happen unaware - we don't actively observe or see them. Instead, our attention and awareness is somewhere else, stuck in thoughts. This holds true for the inner and outer world.

The key to change is becoming aware of what happens within and outside. Making space in your consciousness to be able to pay attention to the things that previously were unaware. Only if you are aware you are able to see things the way they truly are. And this is the first step for change.

Two practices useful to this are meditation and journaling. Meditation as a means to calm your mind and become an observer of your mind. Journaling to have an honest conversation with yourself. Both are free and accessible. But they require a little courage to (re)discover your own self.

October 17, 2023

Nothing Large Started Large

Most of the greatest technology companies in the world today started as small toys.

Google started as a search engine for academics before the internet was a big thing.

AirBnB started as a weekend project to host visitors of a conference to pay rent.

Apple started selling just 175 copies of the Apple I which was nothing like a usable consumer product to nerds.

All great technology companies started out extremely small building for a focused group of people in the beginning. Something larger grew out over time. Yet, the beginning was narrow and ultra focused.

YC's Paul Graham says "It's better to make something that 100 people love than something that 1,000 like".

Instead of chasing the big hit on the first try, start with something small a few people love. Everything else unfolds from there.

October 13, 2023

The Cost of Filters

The common way to live life is to communicate through masks that manifest as filters of the information you are transmitting.

When you have difficult conversations with investors, give feedback to team members, or have an honest conversation with a loved one, we always have the instinct to put a filter in front of the information we communicate. We do this because of perceived expectations, our aim to appear strong, and more generally avoid painful conversations that could hurt a relationship.

Yet, there is a hidden cost of filters. The moment you hold back  due to the motives outlined above, is the moment information asymmetries arise and you selfishly take the chance for change away from the person you are speaking with. Although this might seem like a nuance, the cost of filtering information compounds rapidly over time and eventually becomes due.

Luckily, the answer is simple: radical transparency.

This strategy might cause some pain in the short-run and be uncomfortable in the moment, yet avoids significant pain down the line. Radical transparency and "over-communicating" matter to stay aligned, in sync, and build healthy relationships with the world around you.

October 12, 2023

Someone Has Already Done It

Overthinking and the thought of "I can't do it" is inevitable when working on your own ideas.

You cannot avoid having such thoughts. Yet, the point is to not let them get in the way of what you are doing. It's just another form of resistance you need to fight against.

The remedy to "I can't do it" is the realization that others no smarter than you have already done it. So there is no reason why you couldn't be successful as well.

Even though it feels like we are special, and our situation is different, all of our overthinking doubts are manufactured pseudo-excuses from your overthinking mind. Acknowledge them as such, and move on. Someone else has already done it.

October 11, 2023

Goals vs. Systems

Having goals is good. But having systems is better.

Goals are good because they give you direction. You don't need to think about what you are doing next, you know what needs to be done to reach a goal. And once you reached it, you won. Onto the next one.

Systems are better because they give you direction inside an infinite game. There is no destination to be reached. Instead, it's all about the process. Doing the work. For decades.

Goals require new willpower every day. Systems don't as they become automatic over time.

Goals bring short-term satisfaction. Systems bring long-term fulfillment & happiness.

Goals are fragile. Systems are resilient.

As James Clear put it: "Goals are for people who care about winning once. Systems are for people who care about winning repeatedly."

If you want to win repeatedly, establish systems in your life.

October 10, 2023

Commitment = Exposure

When you commit, you are always exposed to risk.

Risk defined as the exposure to downside - to things unfavorable. When you commit, you are exposed to many risks.

There is risk to be judged, to fail, to be embarrassed, or to figure out a thing is not for you. All of which are painful to experience. Which is why many of us don't commit.

Yet, there is no upside without risk. There is nothing to be gained without committing to something.

So instead of never committing out of fear of going through pain, you need to commit and be exposed to risk. That's the only way to grow.

You can start small, but you need to, commit.

October 9, 2023

Perception of Others

It's easy to place more importance on the way others perceive you than the way you perceive yourself.

This instinct originates from the old days where being part of the tribe equated to survival. Naturally, being accepted by the tribe was an object worth pursuing. Hence, the way others perceive us mattered.

Today we live in a different world. Not being accepted by the people around us no longer means death. It just means that there is another social circle we need to find. So our instinct of placing importance on how others perceive us to that degree is no longer serving a useful purpose.

When you place more importance on the way others perceive you than the way you perceive yourself, you're killing the unique gift you can bring to the world.

Instead, embrace your self, and listen to what your inner voice tells you. Times have changed, and this is the more useful instinct to follow.

October 6, 2023

What Stands in the Way Is the Way

No matter what we decide to act on in our life, there will always be obstacles. Things that stand in the way. Things that make our actions difficult. Resistance.

One instinct we may have is that it's worthwhile to find a way around the obstacle. Perhaps there is a different way we can try with the hope of avoiding the obstacle. As intuitive as this approach may feel, it's a dead end.

Marcus Aurelius put it best: "The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."

If you want to do x, but y stands in the way, the only way to advance in your pursuit of x is overcoming y. There's no way around it.

If you want to become a public speaker but fear of judgment stands in the way, overcoming that fear of judgment is the way.

And this holds true for all pursuits. What stands in the way becomes the way.

October 5, 2023

Power of Thoughts

Our mind's job is to make our thoughts reality.

The subconscious mind has large power of everything we do in our life. It influences the decisions we make and the action we take. Fundamentally, its job is to make our conscious thoughts reality.

If we think that we are not good at, for instance, public speaking, our subconscious mind will work rigorously to make this thought come true.

Contrarily, if we think that we are great at public speaking, our subconscious mind will work rigorously to make this thought come true.

Thus, your thoughts determine your reality. Everyone of us has many voices in their mind from the self-doubting ego that doesn't want to be embarrassed to the empowering dreamer that envisions a brighter future. The point is not to get rid of any of those parts, but to consciously decide which voice should be the loudest.

Your mind's job is to make your thoughts reality.

October 4, 2023

Success is No Luck

Success is never a product of pure luck.

Instead, it's a product of being intentional with your actions, a high degree of clarity, and persistence.

The moment someone gets successful after many years of trying surely appears as an intersection of lucky circumstances. The role of randomness manifests as timing, a random connection, or a random event influencing the thing you are working on. And this is what one may call "luck". Yet, to be in the position of getting lucky is no luck at all.

The ingredients to "get lucky" are genuine intentions, clarity, and persistence. Sticking with this long enough will allow you to "get lucky".

Success is no luck in itself. It's about intentionally working on your craft to be exposed to the randomness of our universe where things align and success happens.

October 3, 2023

Clarity Drives Results

The clearer you are about your pursuits, the clearer your results will be.

The way manifestation works is by becoming extremely specific about how things will look a couple years down the line. The more specific, the better. If you then remind yourself daily of how things will look like down the line, your attention and awareness naturally flows to the actions driving those results.

Clarity makes it easy to say no to distractions.

Clarity makes it easy to focus your energy.

Clarity makes it easy to stick with it in hard times.

Clarity in your pursuits is what makes the difference. Sitting down, putting your future into writing. And bringing it into your consciousness daily.

October 2, 2023

Doing What Excites

The best proxy for purpose is excitement.

The more excited you are about doing something, the closer that thing sits to your why (=purpose) in the world.

The more you pursue things closely linked to your why, the more fulfilled, happy, and free you will be.

Becoming aware of your why is difficult. No one woke up one day an magically knew what their purpose in this world was. The way to get aware is trying things and reflecting on them deeply.

And the best compass to make the decision of what to try next is how excited you are about something. You cannot fake excitement.

Do what excites you most.

This is the best strategy for life decisions you have. But it requires courage.

September 29, 2023

Pursuits Create Meaning

Where does meaning in life come from?

One perspective to take is that meaning comes from pursuits. From the journey towards some destination.

This could be raising a child, building a company, creating the best art you can, getting a degree, exploring our inner world, or doing a job to make money.

Meaning in life comes from pursuits.

The difficult thing is that pursuits can change. We enter different chapters of our life. When pursuits are fulfilled, we are in this weird state of lacking meaning until we figure out what the next pursuit is.

The more clarity you have about your pursuit, the more meaning you feel in your life.

September 28, 2023

Where Art Comes From

Art is not about creating something new.

Creating art means to work through the experiences of one's life. Art is about processing. Emotions. Events. Lessons. Struggle. Wins. Pain. Victory. Relationships. Other art. The world.

Art is not created from a blank state and about coming up with completely new things. It's processing, recombination, addition, subtraction, and reinterpretation of what already is.

The source of art is right in front of us at all times. But we can only tap into it if we're conscious and aware. Ready to observe.

Observation requires consciousness.

September 27, 2023

Detachment

When acting on creative projects, being attached to the outcome is blocking your best work.

If you have specific expectations and are attached to an outcome, you put a lot of pressure on the execution of that thing. And ultimately you will be disappointed because the first time you're creating something, it won't be that good.

Instead, creative projects must be treated as a practice. When you shift your mindset from "I must create something awesome" to  "I am practicing to get to creating something awesome", the creative game becomes easier.

Expectations and attachment to outcomes block creative work. Detach, treat creativity as a practice, and iterate over time. That's the path to creating good work.

September 26, 2023

Your Mind's Job

Your mind's job is to turn your thoughts into reality.

If you think "I'm not capable, it's never going to work", it's never going to work.

Changing your beliefs and thoughts about yourself are the key to creating the life you want.

That's how manifestation works. If you deeply believe in a specific future and are acting towards it daily with patience, your thoughts will turn into reality.

This can work for or against you. The choice is yours. But it starts with changing the beliefs you have about yourself.

September 25, 2023

Freedom

I recently had a conversations with one of our investors about freedom.

Through his journey as an entrepreneur the definition shifted from "being free to do anything (through monetary pursuits)" to "genuinely being your true self".

True freedom, to him, is about not having to put on masks in your life. And instead, being your true authentic self.

Being free means being yourself.

Ultimately, what most people chase in life is freedom. And many believe this is to be found in success and money. Yet, true freedom doesn't come from the outside but the inside. True freedom starts with yourself, and is something you cannot buy.

True freedom is something you need to figure out for yourself. By becoming self-aware. And being conscious of when you are your true self and when you aren't.

The highest level of freedom is being your true self at all times.

September 22, 2023

Expectations & Happiness

The happiness you experience in life is equal to the reality of what you experience minus the expectations you had.

Let's say you are attending an event and you have very specific expectations of what it will be like. If it ends up being just alright you, are disappointed.

Instead, if you didn't have any expectations and the event ends up being just alright, you are satisfied because you didn't set an expectation baseline.

Even if this is a trivial example, it holds true in many areas of our life. The happiness and satisfaction we experience is always linked to the expectations we had.

Happiness = reality - expectations.

Thus, getting rid of expectations and being open-minded to what unfolds is the best strategy to genuinely enjoy the things you are living through.

Get rid of expectations. Just live through the moments you have.

September 21, 2023

Actions

Actions are the only thing that count.

Talking about what you want to do some day. Overthinking about taking the first step. Writing about what could be. All of this doesn't count.

All that counts are actions. The things one did.

Picasso put it best: “What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” ― Pablo Picasso

So what we need to figure out is how to remove what gets in the way of action. And this is different for everyone. But there is a way to remove any obstacle. It may take time, but there is a way.

Actions are the only thing that count.

September 20, 2023

Goals & Control

Setting good goals for your pursuits is what determines success or failure.

But what makes a goal a good goal?

Good goals are rooted in things you can control. For a goal to be useful, it shouldn't depend on anything else than things that you have direct influence over.

Instead of "I want 10,000 listeners for my new track", it should be "I want to release a new track I'm proud of".

Surely the intent of a goal can be something external, yet what matters is breaking it down to something you can control fully.

Good goals are rooted in things you can control.

September 19, 2023