10% into my next decade today. If there’s one word that i can use to describe 2016, in my own life and the state of affairs in the world, that will be ‘flux’. Throwing out some keywords here, in no order of priority and definitely some recall bias at work here: Brexit, Trump, A.I., CRISPR, 1MDB, ISIS, Deep Learning, Blockchain… and the list goes on. It’s difficult to resist the feeling that the ‘new world’ is coming, and collectively we as a species are both excited and nervous at the same time.
Personally it’s been an interesting year as well – most markedly due to me hopping to the other side of the table. To be honest venture capital was never really a career consideration. In some sense I sort of stumbled into the industry. For that I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity that i was given by the crew at Jungle Ventures and SeedPlus. Looking forward to kicking things up a notch for sure, in honing my craft and hopefully play a part in the technology ecosystem building of Singapore, the region and beyond.
Now that I’ve set the context of 2016, i want to take the opportunity to review the list i wrote for myself last year when i turned 30 (The first iteration of the list is here: http://tianglim.net/wp/30-things/). Not sure if this will be an annual thing, but i do want to build some sort of habit of self-check, and perhaps this will serve as an opportunity for me to revise and solidify some principles and axioms i think make sense as a guiding list for me. It will be interesting to compare and contrast how some wordings will change over the coming years, i think.
- Always prioritise your family and important relationships over everything else.
- Never underestimate your ability to augment your immediate reality.
- Never take yourself too seriously.
- Be kind. (Which is different from being nice.)
- Be patient. (I think the virtues of patience comes from kindness in principle, though i do want to break this out as a separate item to work on.)
- Take chances on your career, and never be too comfortable.
- Leave room for uncertainty and surprises. This takes some conscious effort – uncertainty and surprises lie beyond your comfort zone. Get out of your comfort zone often.
ProtectEarn your reputation. Your reputation will be the greatest currency you have in your career. (One realization in 2016 is that you have to earn your reputation – it is not handed to you. This comes from putting in the work and the hours. No shortcuts.)
- Always strive to be effective and get things done. You don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room. It doesn’t matter.
- Make an effort to cultivate your friendships. Go out, stay up. Learn how to have fun.
- Go out of your way to meet and be around smart, interesting and ambitious people. I once heard that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Not sure how true that is, but I do believe in the importance of keeping good company.
- Be generous with your time and money. Most of the people that I came to admire and respect were always generous with their time and money. Incidentally these are the same people whom are pretty successful in their respective fields. Causation? Maybe. Correlation? Definitely.
- However, be prudent with your attention. A lot of things in life aren’t worth paying attention to.
- Your happiness is your own responsibility.
- True love waits.
- True love also takes effort. In fact, any genuine, enriching, long-lasting relationship takes effort. Make time.
- Even the deepest wounds will heal. The deepest wounds will also, incidentally, turn out to be the greatest teachers in life. (Yep.)
- Marry someone who inspires you to be a better version of yourself. Similiarly, marry someone who has the desire to grow with you, too. In a good marriage, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
- Having money is nice, but don’t stress over it too much.
- Keep your personal burn rate low, but remember to eat and live well too.
- Time is more important than money.
- When in doubt, always choose substance over style.
- Buy experiences, not things.
Also, buy utility and value, not fashion.Make good effort to stay healthy.(I realise #22 illustrates this implicitly in some ways, so crossing this one out. One thing i should definitely pay more attention to is my health, and thinking long term is something i should work more on.)
- Be confident, but not proud. Never let pride get in the way of learning.
- Choose long-term gains over short-term gratification. Think long term.
- Most people sleepwalk through their lives. Don’t be most people. Pay attention, be aware. An unexamined life is not worth living.
- Read. Read fiction to appreciate the beauty of language. Read non-fiction to learn how the world works. Read good essays. Again, be prudent with your attention.
- Take time off to wander and think.
- Grow wise. Stay curious.