The Immigrant 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. So many of my friends share that sentiment, and as children of immigrants, we share this advantage. The ability to brush off a challenge or scenario because of what my parents have lived through is one of my unfair advantages.
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.
Themes For The Year
One of my friends sets themes for each year. He decided upon Creative Discipline for 2021. I’ve been thinking about what I want to theme and center my year around. The first thing that came to mind was Bet On Myself. Bet on myself to get big things done. Bet on myself to create. Bet on myself to do what I thought was impossible. That’s what I want to center my year around.
I never considered how much control I have over my life. I thought that it was out of reach to live in a different country for 3 months or build a startup with great traction. After overcoming some past self-limiting beliefs, I feel ready to take advantage of this situation.
As I’m thinking about people to live with during the Summer, I have to consider our group dynamic.
My stress test for making sure two people get along is if I am the same person around them. We all have different identities, mine differ depending on the person or the place. If I act the same way around two people, then I am confident that those two people would get along.
24 Books for 2021
I didn’t read enough in 2020. This year I want to change that. So, my best friend and I made an accountability plan. We both will read 2 books every month. One book we both read and one book we have a personal interest in. We are only allowed to read one book at a time. So, we need to finish each book within the two-week time frame.
If we don’t finish a book in that allotted two weeks, we need to donate to the local food bank.
I want to create a community house during the summer. I’ve spoken about this with a few friends. The ideal scenario is somewhere rural, in park areas so we are surrounded by nature.
I find it essential to be around people who share the same interests and goals as me. I grew so much in 2020 because of the people I digitally surrounded myself with. I imagine that effect would be 100x more effective if I lived with them.
This is my ambitious goal for the year. To gather a community of builders, thinkers, and creators and see what we can do living under the same roof.
A New Challenge
Well, today is the first day of the year. In 2020, my friend James inspired me to write. Over the course of that journey, I inspired others to do so as well.
I want to start writing here frequently again. Whether it’s short or long, I want to treat this site as a public journal. A place to update the world on my current headspace, problems I’m thinking about, challenges I’m going through, and things I discover. Here is to an amazing 2021, and a new journey in my life.
Sunk Costs and Change
Jason Zweig, the Wall Street Journal investment columnist, worked with psychologist Daniel Kahneman on writing Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Zweig once told a story about a personality quirk of Kahneman’s that served him well: “Nothing amazed me more about Danny than his ability to detonate what we had just done,” Zweig wrote. He and Kahneman could work endlessly on a chapter, but:
The next thing you know, [Kahneman] sends a version so utterly transformed that it is unrecognizable: It begins differently, it ends differently, it incorporates anecdotes and evidence you never would have thought of, it draws on research that you’ve never heard of.
“When I asked Danny how he could start again as if we had never written an earlier draft,” Zweig continued, “he said the words I’ve never forgotten: ‘I have no sunk costs.’”
Sunk costs—anchoring decisions to past efforts that can’t be refunded—are a devil in a world where people change over time. They make our future selves prisoners to our past, different, selves.
People change, and their goals change with them. This passage from the Psychology of Money  hit me like a truck. I have changed so much and my priorities now are so different. Yet, I still cling to past efforts and let them guide decisions for me.
The ability to have no sunk costs is crucial in a world of constant change. I had a conversation with a YC founder about this. We were talking about their ability to make drastic pivots upon product and vision. I asked them how they became bold enough to make those choices. They told me that it was a choice that seems right, and they don’t see it as bold. They made a comment that their immediate network praised them for that ability, but they saw it as normal.
I realized that their team have no sunk costs. They are willing to let go of their previous efforts in pursuit of a new idea, vision, or product.
Having no sunk costs is an asset. It ensures that as you change, you are willing to adjust your goals and priorities.
 Excerpt From: Morgan Housel. “The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness.”
Personal Reflection On Internships: November 8th 2020
Right now it’s recruiting season. For many people in the CS industry, myself included, it’s a time of stress, anxiety, jealousy, and fear.
“What if I don’t get a big internship this summer?”
“I didn’t get an interview for any of the companies I wanted but my friends did. Does this mean I suck? Should I quit and give up?”
“I’m so excited I got this internship offer, but another person I know got a more prestigious one. I don’t feel as happy anymore.”
The above statements are things that I’ve heard or told myself these past few months.
The reason I’m writing this post is to acknowledge something that I’m experiencing. Thinking about how others perceive me. Wondering about how my internship will impact my image. Narrowly focusing on a magical end result.
For many students, these are feelings that the internship hunt brings along.
To be honest, I don’t know how to solve this problem. I don’t know how to overcome getting caught up with my image, instead of what I actually want to be doing.
Speaking to a friend today, he told me that even when you get your “big” internship it won’t be enough. There will always be something bigger to chase. Something more exclusive. Something better paying. Something with more perks.
I’m writing this to remind myself. There isn’t going to be a point where I will be satisfied with my
career life if I think this way. If I obsess over an image, I’m going to keep chasing until I burn out.
The feel-good answer to my dilemma is that the valuable part is the process. That the experiences I will reminisce about are the challenges that I’ve overcome. Not the outcomes. It’s hard to think about it this way right now, because I have this perfect future in mind.
With internships what is my goal? Why am I even doing them in the first place? Thinking about these two things: I want to find out what problems I care about and the things I enjoy doing. I want to find what my strengths are and how I can use them to the best of my abilities. Right now, I should use my time to experiment.
Writing For Myself: Reflecting On Why I Didn’t Publish For Month
It has been exactly one month since my last post. I told myself that I was too busy to write. Simply overwhelmed by school, work, and internship hunting. The truth is, I lost the motivation to write.
On the phone today with James I realized that I stopped because I forgot why I started. I started this blog to have a body of work to represent me. To create something that represents me.
But, as time progressed the reason I was writing was to impress readers with my ideas. To be respected for my ideas. To sound smart.
It wasn’t about me anymore, it was about what other people thought of me.
This blog is a hobby. A public thought wall. Something to reflect on. A place to jot down my current headspace.
James told me that writing is not mutually exclusive with anything. It is something that can express any topic. Over the summer I was writing any idea in mind. The ideas did not stop. I became afraid to publish them because I felt that they weren’t groundbreaking or different.
I’m not trying to become a professional writer. I’m doing this for fun. That’s it. I don’t want to set that expectation upon myself, because then it becomes work. And for the most part, hobbies shouldn’t feel like work.
What habits compound?
The first thing that comes to mind is reading.
“The foundation of learning is reading.” - Naval
Compound interest: Compound interest (or compounding interest) is the interest on a loan or deposit calculated based on both the initial principal and the accumulated interest from previous periods. Compound returns often cause exponential growth.
The act of reading compounds overtime.
Reading for 15 mins will probably feel insignificant. Over a large period of time though, consistently reading for 15 minutes everyday will heed exponential returns.
The fundamentals that you base your knowledge upon on will grow, and eventually you will be able to derive things from first principles.
Connecting The Dots
Steve Jobs famously took a typography class in college. 10 years later, that class inspired him to add different font faces to the first Macintosh.
What you learn now might not be useful in the moment. But eventually, it will all come together.
“Believing the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your curiosities” - Steve Jobs
I’ve been reading a lot of Charlie Munger, Naval, and Farnam Street lately so kudos to them for inspiration.
Be You: Some Thoughts On Self Improvement
A problem I had with self improvement is that I kept searching for the best way to do something, not the best thing for me.
I struggled with this for a while. I felt the need to mimic others because I saw their results. For example, I used to force myself to wake up at 5am. At first I felt “productive”, however, I quickly realized that my social life consists of late nights.
The hard part of living in the digital age is that we see everyone all around us in instant time.
TLDR: Be you. Recognize when things don’t align with your lifestyle and personality.
Self Belief: Achievement vs Honesty
Instead of attaching my self-belief to achievement, attach it to being honest with yourself.
If I acknowledge yourself for who I am, then I won’t be upset.
Then I won’t lie to myself. Then I won’t be arrogant. You think you’re already good enough when you’re arrogant. If I’m not good enough then why be bitter?
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” - Jim Stockdale
The Best Way to Take in Information
This upcoming term I’m taking a few online courses.
Something I’ve learned is that I understand information faster when I read. To read something, I have to be fully focused. Videos, on the other hand, can be lazily watched.
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