Baking for the Future
“Friends congratulate me after a quarterly-earnings announcement and say, ’Good job, great quarter … And I’ll say, ‘Thank you, but that quarter was baked three years ago. I’m working on a quarter that’ll happen in 2021 right now.’” - Jeff Bezos
All the good things in my life right now are the result of efforts put in two to three years ago. I want to make sure I’m doing things and building skills that will help my future self, currently that means working on 23 year old Ethan.
No Need To Be A Technical Genius
I felt like I didn’t belong in software engineering because a lot of concepts didn’t come naturally, especially in comparison to my friends. I spoke to someone at Google about this and he said that you don’t need to be a genius to do well in tech. You need two things: focus and time. That’s how you solve problems, and that’s how you become the best at them.
The Best Part About Interning at Google
The best part about interning at Google is the community that I have access to. Googlers are supportive and always open to sharing their experiences with others. As an intern, my favourite part about being here is learning about the different lives that Googlers have led. I’ve made it a goal to meet 5 new Googlers a week. It fits well with my aim to stretch my perspective of the world and to see unique paths available in the world of technology.
Since spending my first few weeks at Google, I realized I need to change how I value myself. Currently, I place almost all of my self-worth on my career.
My career is temporary. The jobs I have are temporary. The projects I contribute to are temporary. Those moments of triumph are temporary.
I want to place my self-worth into different things. What those things are, I have no clue. But I’m going to try to change.
Catch Them While They’re Good
Naturally, I tend to criticize others and point out where they are going wrong. Even though I mean to help someone by giving feedback, it’s most likely discouraging them from going any further with that endeavor.
I built more confidence in myself when someone I respected told me when I was doing well. In the gym, friends and mentors would point out my improvements. At my past internships, my managers and mentors made sure to notify me when I was doing well.
As I meet more people I want to keep this in mind. I need to make I am putting in an intentional effort to tell people when they’re doing well. It did wonders for my confidence, and I need to pay it forward.
Activity vs Action
- Being driven by fear
- Happens when you don’t know yourself and what you’re working towards
- Akin to running on a treadmill
- Knowing who we are and what’s important to us
- Being still and working on the right things
Activity is easy. It’s the default mode of most people. Activity is what I spent most of my life doing. I’m changing that from now on.
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.
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.
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