To Myself of Five Years Ago Today.
I would tell my 21 year old self: "Be more disagreeable. Don't seek permission because it'll just cause you pain. "
People on Instagram were doing a "10 Years ago today" thing, this articles was in no way inspired by that. Rather, it was a practice recommended by Naval Ravikant on Shane Parish's Farnam Street podcast.
The first draft of the article was written on 2019-01-31.
What was I doing in 2014-01-31?
It was a Friday. I was in my final year of university, in my second last term. I had called my KPMG Partner and let him know that I would not accept the return offer back to audit. I remember the call being in January but not the specific date. With that, I had closed the door (momentarily) on my accounting designation. My parents and friends thought this was an insane decision.
I left audit intending to be a stock trader. Safe to say I knew nothing of equities or finance. Yet, I spent that month madly applying to trading jobs hoping someone would give me chance. Rejections came in just as fast. I tried joining the university's student investment fund to learn more about investing but was told I was too old. They'd rather invest in someone younger. I guess continuous learning and exploration was not part of my $18,000 annual tuition. I was also taking a quantitative finance course where the professor started the class with “No one uses CAPM, it’s stupid. Oh and trading is dead if you’re not a quant”. I paraphrased here but the message was clear. I had left a stable career trying to get into a field I had no business getting into it seemed.
I was near the prime of my strength in powerlifting. Little would I know I’d tear my meniscus later that year to go through a three year journey of misdiagnosis and identity crisis from not being my strong self. I learned who Warren Buffett was that month and my journey to investing would begin. I had read 0 non-fiction books up to that point. Not even textbooks really.
5 Years Later in 2019-01-31?
I am once again without a job. I worked in the hedge fund world like I intended to. Though, I detoured into management consulting and learned about that world while I was at it. I've spoken to CEOs around the world and learned about all sorts of companies in industries throughout the world. Yet, I'm once again back trying to do something the industry thinks I have no business doing. The difference now is that my family is 100% supporting me and I'm handpicking friends who support me the same.
The initial idea for this article came up while I was at the gym. I've had surgery on my knee and I'm now stronger than I was before. I used to eat six meals a day, now I eat two. I'm in year seven of a strong relationship. I've traveled to 22 new cities since. I've read about 70 non fiction books from none fives years ago.
I've gone on 300+ coffees to learn from people. I never thought about doing this five years ago. Well, I did but it was to just get a job rather than to build relationships. I've started a content platform with a weekly blog and podcast. I listened to my first podcast five years ago and I finally got myself to start my own.
What I've learned.
I was figuring things out five years ago and I'm still figuring things out now. I think that's a constant. The world is a complex adaptive system and with all the variables constantly changing it only makes sense that I will always be figuring things out. I had no idea what my future outlook would be like 5 years ago. I was a kid who had only known one profession and I had just learned to "learn".
The more I learn the more I realize how much I don't know. I guess I would've told myself to learn more and faster so that I'd limit my arrogance faster.
I would also tell myself to have more meaningful conversations with people. Build actual relationships with people by following your genuine curiosity and even though it will be frightening (it still is for me) have that genuine conversation to learn about that which you are so curious about. Build relationships early for they will compound.
Learn to focus. Multi-tasking is for losers. Focus is like some super power and even though it's super obvious I still struggle to zero in on it.
Learning stops or massively slows down for most people after school. This is where you can distance yourself in the race. This also means your friend groups can completely change. Mine has to some degree.
The advice I'd like to have given myself.
I think the advice I would give to myself is to "Do the disagreeable thing and don't seek permission because you'll never get it."
Getting a job in investing, acceptance into some club or student fund. They all require 1) permission from an external party that 2) needs to understand you and 3) believe in what you stand for. That's three things too many to expect from someone else to just "get you". My experience has been that most don't. Can't blame them too. Most people won't have the time and I'm not special.
Being disagreeable is obvious. You'll never do anything worth doing without being disagreeable. Nothing consensus becomes anything. Basic investment principle. What's painful and destructive is to seek permission. It's painful and destructive because you'll start blaming others. You'll shit on society and the crowd. Rather, you were just barking on the wrong tree. The entrepreneurial adage of "Build it and they won't come" is true. But continue to do more of what doesn't require permission and you will at least have done something. Seeking permission means you did nothing. Do by not seeking permission. A la Nike's "Just Do It".
My entire career has been filled with people who don't believe, people who I completely disagree with, people who've been turned off by my candidness and disagreeableness in opposition of their externally-driven beliefs.
Whether it's starting a blog, a podcast, a business or club, do whatever you think will help you learn more and develop yourself in the fields that you care for. Follow curiosity rather than the need to specialize. It's what I'd tell my 21 year old self. It's what I still tell myself now too.
I don't listen to advice from other people. I mean, I try not to. They're not me so they won't have a fucking clue. So, my advice to myself isn't for you. Rather, you should ask yourself what you'd tell yourself. Have you thought about your five year's ago today?
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