How A Quest To Create A Unicorn Startup Lead To Psychological Enlightenment
When I first started to notice the billion dollar ‘unicorn’ startups being founded by 20-something years old from their garages, it sent my mind into idea overdrive. It seemed like almost every week I had come across a new article of financial success achieved by a small group of young college or freshly post-college age students changing something in the world. Young, broke, and ambitious, I decided to try my hand at creating my own startup while in college. It was an exciting feeling of striking out for myself to create something new, a mobile app I envisioned called ‘ No Filter Reviews’. No Filter was a mobile app idea I began to envision which would let people record video reviews of themselves at restaurants and multiple locations opposed to text reviews like Yelp. Words can’t describe how happy I felt to be creating something completely new and that I thought would reap huge financial rewards at 19-20 years old.
While I had much fun using my creativity to envision designs and new user experiences, my sole drive had been to become a billionaire at a young age. I had put so much work into the product, spending money on UI designs, animations, promotional material and more. While I invested a lot in creating a great product, I never stopped to ask people what they wanted or analyze if they had this actual problem. This was the first lesson that I learned in my entrepreneurial journey and that was to think about customers when creating, but more importantly to think in general.
I had finally struck out on my own at 20 years old after years of being psychologically programmed in public schools and I felt a new feeling of euphoria. With me having no knowledge of how to create a startup, I begin to read tons of articles online, watch videos on YouTube, and buy popular startup books. This was my first step towards coming into great wisdom and a psychological transformation. I had bought those books looking for keys to succeed at building a startup, but ended up altering my ways of thinking completely. The mental models I had were strictly for surviving in the hood of Newark, New Jersey and ones taught to me in school, but these new mental models would have me questioning everything in my life.
Between Paul Graham’s mind altering essays, Elon Musk preaching of first principles thinking, and Peter Thiel’s “Zero To One”, I had begun to think in unconventional ways about everything and focus less strictly on financial, material, and social gain in life. Everything I consumed during that time made me question the school educational system and other archaic or flawed things in the world. For instance, years of schooling made me dread failure, but in reality its a great thing that happens to everyone before achieving success. It also made me think about myself in general and the relative lack of thinking I had done previously as I mostly let others do my thinking. From my guardian, schools, and jobs there was always direction given, but I had barely thought for myself. Peter Thiel expanded my mind to realize that competition was pointless and that doing your own thing would be much beneficial. Do something that nobody else is doing or would be willing to do!
To find yourself, think for yourself.”
The knowledge I received from watching these interviews, reading books, and overall studying successful business people had empowered me to think for myself and take action. I had not realized some obvious things like the fact that the future was just as much in my hands as it were in anyone else’s hands. I had never questioned the absurdity that we literally studied in class through lecture for days, but still needed to actually study intensely for days before a big test until I read one of Paul Graham’s essay. In chasing money, I had inadvertently learned to think for myself and question everything around me. From studying people like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk, I learned of people like Richard Feynman and Howard Hughes who I had not learned about in school and their ways of thinking which further inspired me. Just like authors develop writing styles and artist develop their drawing styles by consuming works of others, free thinkers can develop their own thinking styles by consuming unconventional thoughts of others through books, interviews, and more.
The biggest life lesson I have gained from this entrepreneurial journey is to reject anyone or form of propaganda that tells you what to think and be open to anyone or anything seeking to teach you how to expand your thinking. What started out as a path to find wealth, ended as a psychological transformation that has ironically built me into a better person to start a startup. This whole time I thought I was introverted, but really a introvert is just a independent thinker surrounded by conformist. What I needed was to hear from more unconventional thinkers and now be surrounded by them.
Take voyages. Set sail into the unknown with courage and realize that thinking for yourself will only land you in more desirable situations where you will have freedom to do what you want to do. Sometimes the gold at the end of a road is not money, but knowledge which you could not have paid to receive.
Think for yourself. Fail on your own and give yourself permission to learn whatever you want to learn. Nobody can stop you from taking on an ambitious endeavor and failure would have only taught you something. If you don’t do something because another person tells you its a bad idea or stupid, you will never learn or do anything valuable because you let others put restrictions on your freedom to learn and experiment. Experimentation and experience matter. Curiosity and Imagination matter. Opinions from others who blabber without facts does not matter. Ignore everyone but your inner daemon. Think, do, and speak for yourself out loud. Be bold and courageous and make what you want! Peter Diamandis tried to dissuade Elon Musk from pursuing Space X, but now he needs Elon Musk and his wealth for his Carbon X-Prize. Had Elon Musk listened to another man and not followed his own gut and thought for himself he may never achieved his goals.
Look at the world from a macro and micro perspective and always be developing your worldview. Never let anyone put blockers on your learning or curiosity.
People may criticize you, but their opinions don’t matter. Nobody cares about you, but they will care to give their opinion to keep you down or stop you from being great. Nobody has ever given me anything self-empowering for free, but they have given me their free criticism and slander to try and break me down or deter me from chasing greatness. Do what you want to do.
Always remember when you die, all the people who criticize you and kick you in the back and try to belittle your ambitions won’t care. So therefore don’t care about them or their opinions. Do, achieve and fail on your own accord. No project is too big for you to embark on.