Personal Career Advice to a Younger Friend

I want to share a recent conversation with a millennial friend whose young career intersects with many possible paths since he writes, invests, and sells. He asked how I thought about my own endeavors. It’s not something you’re asked every day. It’s like being asked how a thermostat works.

My full response:

A meandering thought here…Writing and communicating better are explicit goals [of mine]. They self reinforce firstly. But also the writing part also serves as a test and a mirror for your thinking. I want to always be tightening that since reasoning better is important to improving decisions and bets. Which means it’s the highest leverage channel for improvement of your personal or professional investing process. But it’s also its own reward. The way learning an instrument makes you appreciate listening to music more. You become an active listener. You try to reverse engineer what the artist was doing. I personally find that this makes life richer because you can find stimulation everywhere.

If you can get your kicks from art, you are richer because you are intrinsically over-stimulated. Take that to its extreme. A person who is intrinsically overstimulated could be content living in a log cabin with a pile of books. That person is more free from material trappings. Hence being richer. You can probably think of people who are understimulated. They can’t sit in a room by themselves. They are always chasing some high. They usually spend all their money. I’m painting a picture of extremes but all of this lies on a spectrum.

I’ve heard of the concept of stimulation in the context of introversion. As in introverts are naturally overstimulated. Introversion/extraversion is probably thought of in far too binary terms. I think I’m pretty middle of the road. I’m using the model of introversion/extraversion defined by “where you get your energy from”.

I’m trying to be aware of where my social, intellectual axes intersect because that will be the foundation of where I am the most useful. If you can be useful in ways which are in commercial demand even better. I happened into my field when I was young and survived. But today I’m more concerned with questions as to where I can be the most useful and having faith that commercial opportunity will fall out of that. My smarter friends realized the value of that introspection earlier so that they can put themselves on long term rewarding paths. This allows you to compound cycles for longer. Rather than compromising for money, only to find yourself on a less personally aligned path later. Especially since there was no guarantee you were going to make money. Either way, you are likely best off going where your alignment is earlier.

Again this is all meandering and I think there’s some oblique advice (or warning) in there somewhere that is hopefully not didactic but just a byproduct of my actual experience.

In short

1. Understand what type of work allows you to be the best version of yourself. This makes you useful
2. Hunt down the matching opportunity that needs your form of usefulness

From there you are traveling downhill which means progress comes easier which means you go farther. And if you were thus aligned, the people around you will all be lifted and that will fulfill you more than anything. And you will feel rich regardless of whether your numbers get called in the game of capitalist bingo.

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