Learnings From Trellis
I had a 1 on 1 with one of my managers at Trellis yesterday. He told me that 5 years from now when I look back at what I learned at Trellis, I won’t remember the code I wrote. I’ll remember that something changed within myself. I’ll remember that I became more confident in my own abilities, and I’ll remember how much my work helped customers. That’s a massive win in my books.
Wang Yue was a 2 year old toddler who was hit by a van in China. For 7 minutes she laid on the road bleeding. 18 people passed by and did nothing. Another van ran over her again. After being helped by the 19th passer by, she taken to a hospital. Eventually she passed away due to her injuries.
I’m sure most people who read this would have helped her. The question is then, does it matter that if the person who needs your help is someone you can’t see?
Effective Altruists use their resources to do the most good they can. Each of us spends money on things that we don’t really need. Take the money that would be “wasted” and protect other people around the world.
4 Common Questions About Effective Altruism
- How much of a difference can I make?
- Make the impact you can. It all adds up. You don’t need to be a billionaire to make a significant difference around the world.
- Am I expected to abandon my career?
- A portion of your earnings can be given to charities and you can still have enough to live a decent life.
- The most high earning careers make you more powerful because you can give more.
- Isn’t charity bureaucratic and ineffective anyway?
- Some charities are 1000x more effective than others. It’s important to find the right ones.
- Use givewell.org to assess the impact of charities.
- Find missions you care about and put resources into it (i.e time, money, etc…),
- Isn’t it a burden to give up so much?
- Being an effective altruist helps one overcome the sisyphus problem (consumerism).
- Being an effective altruist gives you meaning and fulfillment.
These are my notes from Peter Singer’s Talk about Effective Altruism.
Feed Your Mind
The mind is easily influenced. It’s vulnerable to the opinions of the world. At least, my mind is. I often found myself valuing things based on the content I consumed.
- LinkedIn -> Career Clout. Wanting lucrative positions.
- Instagram -> Popularity. Wanting a cool or interesting social life.
- Tech Twitter -> Both of the above.
What consumes your mind controls your life. I need to feed my mind with intention. I need to make sure what I’m consuming is what I want to be.
A paradigm is how people see the world based on all the information that they have gathered and the beliefs that they possess.
The most impactful books, writing, and conversations have shifted my paradigms. Impactful content changes the way one sees the world. I want to create paradigm shifting content. I want to share the way I see certain things.
Focusing on the Abstract
I haven’t taken the time to focus on my abstract thinking in a while. In the summer of 2020, that’s what I spent the majority of my time doing. Thinking, and iterating upon my beliefs. The past few months have been heads-down work hard. I didn’t stop myself to think about what I find important.
I’ve been reading more memoirs, philosophy, and fiction to think about the world and my place in it. I’m going to use my blog to document everything. I want to take another internal growth journey.
It’s important to take time to focus on the abstract. It’s important to shift how you see yourself, and ultimately the world.
I’m never going to feel ready to publish something. Most times I look at a post I wrote and say it’s trash. I am my own worst critic. I will always the hardest on myself. That’s why my friends James and Alex have frequencies at which they write. They need pressure to post. They need a deadline. Because writing will never be perfect. Writing is subjective, it’s all up to interpretation.
Outliers vs Lottery Tickets
Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers shaped the way I see the world. I viewed the world through a deterministic lens. Where, if you are in the right place, surrounded by the right people, you will make it. A world where chance plays the largest role in making stuff happen. Zero to One’s chapter on not being a lottery ticket shook my worldview. You are not a lottery ticket, and the world is in your control.
Gladwell’s perspective on the world is susceptible to excuses. It’s easy to dismiss people as products of their environment. Thiel’s viewpoint follows responsibility. The onus is on an individual to will their vision into the world.
I would rather believe Thiel. It’s easy to make excuses when following Gladwell’s perspective. It’s easy to be stuck seeing the world through the lens of chance. Ultimately, the future is unknown. But I would rather believe in having the power to shape and control it.
Focus On Yourself
Focusing on yourself is one of the most difficult things to do in the information age.
It’s easy to get distracted by what other people are doing, or what people think of you. Focusing on yourself means to let go of all the things you can’t control, and to take action on the things you can.
At first, I learned to focus on myself in the gym and only see my own improvements. More recently, I focused on myself this past recruiting season.
The phrase living in your head rent-free perfectly summarizes this. If nothing lives in your head rent-free it’s powerful. It’s those time periods where I’m focusing on nothing but myself that are most productive.
On Internal Motivation
I saw this tweet recently, and I related to it. I feel motivated to prove people wrong or to spite someone quite often. Reflecting though, I realized my proudest achievements were internally motivated.
The reason I created this blog was to challenge my thinking. The reason I pushed myself this past recruiting season was to prove to myself that I was good enough. The reason I started exercising was to push myself physically and mentally.
Sometimes, I have external kickstarters. These kickstarters are very similar to Michael Jordan’s philosophy of taking things personally. External motivation is often just a boost. It can’t last throughout the whole journey. Even though Michael Jordan took things personally, he was still motivated by excellence and his desire to fulfill his potential as an NBA player.
Taking on big projects tends to get overwhelming. I used to find myself overplanning and overthinking everything. Often, I ended up not even doing anything. To combat this is simple. Take the first step. No matter how small or insignificant it is. Taking that first step is how to get unstuck.
I wrote this on November 25th, 2020, two weeks before my Khan Academy software engineer internship interview for Summer 2021. I passed it but didn’t get selected after going through the final round.
I have an exciting interview coming up in two weeks. It’s an algorithm-style interview, which usually requires two to three months of preparation.
Well, I set myself up with two weeks to prepare.
I thought about why I am in this situation. I have an interview and all of a sudden I need to drop my entire life and grind all day to prepare.
I can attribute this to a lack of discipline. I can say I was lazy. But the truth is, I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t think I would have a chance to interview with a Big N.
The question for myself now is: what else am I not doing because I don’t believe in myself? What other areas of my life am I letting doubt creep into?
I don’t want to let fear dictate what I do and don’t do.
What if I gave it my all, but it wasn’t enough? Then I can say I did my best. And that is all I can do. I have to do my best and call it a day.
I’m writing this a week before my interview. I’ll post it after either a rejection or as a reflection after I get the job. I’m just going to wait until the process is over.
I Miss Writing
I miss writing. It forced me to think about the world. It forced me to confront why I do things. It forced me to constantly iterate upon my beliefs.
I want my blog to be a place that enhances my life. A place where I log what is going on in my world.
I felt anxiety about publishing recently because I pressured myself to post amazing work. There shouldn’t be pressure to share anything impressive or life-changing. The point of my blog is to be an engine for creativity and exploration. I don’t want to be the next James Clear. I simply want to live a life worth writing about, and to do that I need to start small. That’s why this exists. To iterate, improve, and reflect.
Trust runs the world. Everything in business is about trust.
Do I trust this person enough to give them an interview? Do people trust you enough to hire you? Do people trust you enough to buy your products? Do they trust you enough to take your advice?
For a startup, landing a big client means you have their trust. Then you can leverage that trust as social proof. For a software engineer, getting a big company on your resume makes you more trustworthy.
The Second Generation Advantage
When things get tough I reflect on all the things my parents went through. Whatever problem I’m facing pales in comparison to the immigrant struggle. Coming to a new country, not speaking the native language and trying to feed your family.
All the sacrifices my parents made for me, I feel that I have no choice but to succeed. Many of my second generation friends share that sentiment. The ability to brush off a challenge or obstacle because of what our parents have lived through is the second generation advantage.
A Fresh Perspective
I spent the better part of my night helping my friend edit a written application. As the editing session progressed, I realized the importance of different perspectives. The value of an editor is their perspective because they can significantly refactor ideas.
Forming My Own Opinions
A bad habit of mine is that I need to hear a second opinion or review about any media before I spend time on it. My goal was to consume the best media available. But the danger with doing so is that I didn’t form my own thoughts about media. I echoed the opinions of others. I need to be okay spending time with content I might not like. If that means forming my own opinions, then the tradeoff is worth it.
Most, if not all great things are the result of imperfect processes. Demystification is finding out what those processes were. It involves breaking down large accomplishments into small steps. Nothing is as crazy or special as it seems if it’s demystified.
In the remote world, I realized that days are not different from weekday to weekend. During in-person life, I could distinguish each day because I was at school or work. On the weekends, my days would be oddly structured. In remote life, I find that weekends and weekdays are very similar.
The narratives we tell ourselves often dictate our lives. Much of who we are is the result of how we interpret our narratives. Narratives are how we interpret our experiences, and we can control them. We get to choose the stories we tell ourselves. If you choose to see yourself as an underdog, that story will repeat in life.
I want to reflect on the narratives I tell myself, and see how they shape my life.
Day One Philosophy
One thing I admire about Amazon is its day one philosophy. No matter how well they do, they always assume that they are still vulnerable. That is often the difference between the good and the great. The great don’t get comfortable.
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