I really like Garry Tan’s 3 lessons that he posted in 2013 that he wished he knew when he was 16 – I often refer to them and it inspired this post for me.
Here are a few things I’d tell a younger me, some re-enforcing and some to change my behavior:
- Compound learning: Optimize for learning per unit of time as early as possible in your career (read books, try new functions and industries). The earlier you learn the better this learning compounds over time and leads to better judgement and decisions. I did not read enough or take enough advantage of my educational opportunities. If you want to be a better investor, learn as much as you can per $ invested. When you invest small amounts you can still do big diligence (investment memos, models, post mortems etc) and you will make less expensive mistakes further down the road.
- Keep a low burn rate: When you are earlier in your career you can take more risk because you have lower cash requirements and these risks could have potential upside but lower predictable cashflow. It’s very easy to have your lifestyle scale up (especially in fixed costs) as you make more money and these can ‘trap’ you if you’re not deliberate about increasing your spending. This could cause you to trade short term vs. long term to maintain your lifestyle even when it might not be the right choice and may prevent you from trying something that is more fulfilling.
- Relationships are as important as outcomes: Don’t be completely (short term) outcome driven at work, at the expense of relationships. Don’t think that most important thing is ‘winning’ or shipping even if folks around you get burned along the way. When I was earlier in my career I made a number of mistakes here and thought I was making the right tradeoff at the time. Now I know this is is too short term-ist and you will benefit from building strong lasting professional relationships with high trust – over the long term this will allow you to have better repeatable outcomes with people you work with for long periods of time.