Just Start

Lessons From an Entire Year of Daily Blogging

Today marks day 365. An entire year of daily blogging. I have grown an incredible amount as a result. A friend asked me if I’d learned anything that’d be valuable to share. I have never been a big fan of making lists like these as they often end up in a pool of saturation — but I thought I’d do my best to provide some actionable, transparent thoughts. If i had more time, I would’ve made this shorter, but here goes everything:

  1. Just start. Whatever you do: Build the app. Go for the run. Write the blog post. Record the podcast. Hit publish. You do not need some elaborate plan — you just need to start.
  2. On that note, realize that no one is going to come and do your work for you.
  3. Nothing is prescriptive. There are no secret recipes to follow that guarantee your success. Do not believe people who try and tell you otherwise, they are probably just trying to sell you something.
  4. Be patient. “Good things take time.” Overnight success stories are fiction.
  5. The only constant in life is change. Be ready to adapt, because most people will not be.
  6. Figure out your own why. You can do this in a number of ways: talking to people, experimenting, failing. There is no best way to do this. What is important is that you are making a conscious, purposeful effort to better understand yourself and become more self aware.
  7. Others will try and advise you on how you should be spending your time. They probably mean well, but often times its best to try and figure it out on your own. Most advice is just filled with hindsight bias.
  8. No matter what you do — someone will probably have a problem with it. Making enemies is not worth it. Focus on improving yourself and the people and things you care about. Good stuff will follow.
  9. Most people do not care about your excuses. “Being late” is one of those things that most people do not care about. Be on time to things, it shows you care.
  10. Take criticism effectively. Separate you as a person from your work and do your best to produce the best results.
  11. Aim really high. You’ll be surprised by how far drive alone can take you.
  12. Laugh a little. Actually a lot. It makes everything better.
  13. Age is just a number. Naivety is a good thing. My first blog post ever was so foolish. You are never too old or too young to learn.
  14. It can be awkward, but it is often best to just ask for what you want.Generally, the worst that can happen is that they just say no.
  15. When you start — move fast. It is easy to lose motivation when things are going slowly.
  16. Talk is cheap. So are ideas. Emphasize action.
  17. Most likely, no one will recognize your hard work. That will probably be the case for a long period of time. It’s tough. Stay focused.
  18. Every once in a while someone will take an irrational chance on you.They will respond to your DM, reply to your email, take your call — make that moment count and do your best not to let them down.
  19. Saying no is really hard. It only gets harder as you get older. You should probably say no to 99% of most opportunities — it is a weird concept.
  20. Family first.
  21. Work with people you like — working alone gets super lonely. Plus winning with friends is so much more fun. And fun always needs to be a priority.
  22. When you can, help people & companies for free. Play the long game.
  23. You can pretty much ignore “pre-requisites.” I find they are just obstacles to jump over, nothing more. Break all the rules.
  24. Stay curious. Travel the world. Ask hard questions. Life is too short to take the boring path.
  25. Always burst bubbles. It is really easy to get caught up in the present and the things around you. Startup culture is full of bubbles. Be careful. At the end of the day, the materialistic value of things will fade. Focus on what is most important to you.
  26. When life starts moving really fast, pause. Breathe. Everything will be okay. Trust your gut, not the headlines.
  27. Empathy is the most important skill.
  28. Defining moments: when you do not get something that you really really wanted. Work hard, rebound, get them next time. That shows character.
  29. Surround yourself with people not like you. One of the best ways to learn is by spending time with people who are different than you. In today’s world — it’s a must.
  30. Most everything dies, especially startups. It is the sad, harsh truth. Manage your expectations wisely.
  31. Unpopular opinion: San Francisco is overrated. There are no unicorns roaming the streets.
  32. Everyone is making things up as they go along. Yes, even adults. You do not have to wait for permission to just go try things.
  33. Most things in life are not easy. They are not supposed to be. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and luck to be really successful.
  34. External validation is short-lived and unfulfilling. Especially press, investor $, and awards. Focus on things that matter to you. Do your best to filter out the noise. I would not be writing every single day if I needed external stuff to motivate me — that stuff is too short-lived.
  35. Type softly and let your results do the talking.
  36. Just start.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

To another year. Thanks for sticking around, means a lot.
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