One thing people who know me will tell you is how curious I am.
It started when I was young.
I asked my parents questions that they didn’t have the answers to.
- Why is the sky blue?
- How do cars work?
- Where does wood come from?
In school, I asked teachers dumb questions:
- How does air turn into trees?
- What’s the human equivalent of keystone species?
- What kind of person becomes a biology animator?
- When was the last time someone re-wrote a textbook?
The questions stopped in college.
Everything became transactional. Pick a major, take classes, and network your way to a job. That’s it.
Research, not because you’re interested but because it looks good on your resume. Get a job, not because you want to create something new in the world but because you need to get paid. Meet people, not because you care about their stories but because they may open doors for you.
This may sound like an overly pessimistic view but you’d be lying to yourself if it weren’t true. After realizing the games that people around me were playing, I decided to stop.
Every time someone did something they were supposed to, I didn’t.
Freshman year, the investment banking club was all the rage.
Instead of joining, I went and looked for the club no one was in. This is how I found the Rutgers entrepreneurship society. I became President by default because membership was low and my predecessor was going to graduate.
Over the following year, I revived it with my friends.
Consistently chasing opportunities that others overlook has got me to where I am. This is my default answer when people ask how’d you do that?
This principle applies to many aspects of my life…
Instead of watching popular content on Netflix I watch lectures given by domain experts on Youtube. I only realized this behavior was abnormal when I’d try to talk to others about my interests.
Few people outside of tech twitter know who Naval Ravikant, Kamal Ravikant, Chamath Palhapitiya, Katrina Lake, Peter Thiel, Keith Rabois, Josh Wolfe, Sheryl Sandberg, Chris Fralick, Patrick O’ Shag, Shane Parrish, Bill Gurley, Doug Leone, Don Valentine, Marc Andreessen, Ali Hamed, Ben Horowitz, Paul Graham, Sam Altman, Patrick Collison, Richard Craib, Rene Girard, Eric Weinstien, David Tisch, Savneet Singh, Nikhil Kalghatgi, Henrik Werdelin, Dan Shipper, Delian Asparouhov, Jordan Gonen, Cory Levy, Virgil Abloh are.
Each one of these people has given me a new mental model. Not only do I consume the content they produce but I also consume the content they reference. The books they’ve read, the historical references they make, and the people they mention.
I try to connect the dots of their knowledge in an attempt to understand what they’re saying from first principles.
When compared to the millions of views that influencers on YouTube get, their talks get a very small fraction.
As crazy as it may sound, my disinterest in school stems from my curiosity and eagerness to learn.
When I listened to Bill Gurley talk about the difference between a direct listing and and IPO, I was amazed. My curiosity was piqued. Granted, I didn’t understand the underlying mechanics of 95% of what he said but I wanted to go learn about it all on my own.
Watch it here:
To most, this may be boring. To me, this is gold.
As a sophomore, I started reading Farnam Street. I’ve learned more from this blog than my k12 education and college classes combined.
If I could easily learn from some of the smartest people in the world, why would I pay attention to my college professor? Especially in business school where it’s unlikely the professor has operating experience at the cutting edge of technology.
While most people chase good grades then good jobs, I’ve chased my curiosity. I don’t know where it’ll lead me to but I’ll settle for a better understanding of the world.