Learnings in 2019

Sometimes there are moments of clarity — those usually get triggered by important life changes.

I feel that 2019 started and ended with moments of clarity for me. In those reflexive periods, things click. You look back, and you see a cohesive series of events that you can extract learnings from. I want to share some of them:

  • Discover uncomfortable truths: Uncomfortable truths about oneself are hard to discover because unveiling them usually hurts your own ego. But they are essential for personal growth.

  • Self confidence and stupidity are close neighbors: When I was a teen, I used to think that I knew way more than anyone else just because I had a younger, fresher perspective. That assumption is not only totally flawed, but also hurts learning and personal growth. Now I try to assume that everyone is smarter than me by default. This enables learning.

  • Say no: I’m overly idealistic and optimistic. Commitments pile and constrain. Saying no is the only way to not get into that situation in the first place.

  • Build something people want: Again, I’m overly idealistic. I usually dream about the world in a few decades, and then try to build that. Unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way. You cannot time travel and sell your product — so build something people want now.

  • Spend less money: Even if you do have it, spending more creates commitments — both in startups and personal life, you end up being a victim of the sunk cost fallacy. Spend less, have less commitments.

  • Value what you have: Remember this every morning and every night.

  • Listen: The people I work with are the best that I could ever dream of working with. The network that I have offers vast possibilities for advice — but to take advantage of it I need to truly listen. In meetings and calls, ask questions and let everyone speak first. Keep asking until you are satisfied. Act last.

  • Eat my ego: This is crucial for listening. Sometimes we only hear what we want to listen. Being a great leader means doing the best for the project, even if I need to face uncomfortable truths about myself.

  • Don’t be superficial in my assumptions: Don’t be satisfied with having superficial arguments to defend my positions. Ask myself more questions, be thorough. Foundational assumptions are important and we cannot build off a flawed foundation.

  • Don’t be superficial, in general: Listen before speaking, read before writing, research before making assumptions, etc.

  • Slow down to gain perspective: Sometimes slowing down enables getting on a faster direction. Tunnel effect applies to life and startups as well.

  • Short-term focus, long-term outlook: Long-term visions are only achieved by winning short-term battles.

I’m sure there are many others that I forgot. Thanks for reading, and hope you also take a few minutes to reflect and share yours!

Wishing everyone a prolific 2020!