M&Ms: Hunger & Ambition
When you come from the bottom like me, the thing that usually gets you out is that hunger and ambition.
But it's easy to lose that as you find your way out and onto comfort.
That comfort zone is well known for slowly killing dreams and killing companies.
It's why Jeff Bezos invented the saying, "It's always Day 1 at Amazon." Day 1 is simply about keeping the hunger and ambition going as long as possible. Bezos said,
"Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by an excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1."
Bezos later clarified what happens to most firms that lose their hunger and ambition:
"Companies eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is a Hail Mary bet at the very end of their corporate existence."
And there are a lot of parallels between companies and people.
Most startups I've encountered that raised capital in the last decade had this problem with Hunger & Ambition. They didn't stress over the little things when the runway was long. It was fancy offices, video games, and cool perks. Then 18 to 36 months later, as the runway tightened, everyone seemed to have a fire under their ass. The CEO stressed everyone to hit numbers for the next raise. Those do-or-die moments kicked the hunger & ambition right back into those over-funded startups.
Many people in the modern era operate like the over-funded startup.
But coming up from the bottom is sort of the opposite of that.
Coming up from the bottom is not a long period of being fat and comfortable, then a sudden need to become hungry. It is full of spikes of anxiety about how dire your situation is. These spikes can come from some random healthcare bill you didn't expect. Or some close relative messing up badly and needing a bailout. The anxiety spikes can come from anywhere. And at the bottom, the occasional lucky break is rare and fleeting.
The bottom is a constant stream of classical conditioning of hunger.
It's kind of like what my favorite rapper Nipsey Hussle once said:
"And when you stop eatin', that affects your weight
And when you get hungry, that affects your brain
See me; I'm not trippin'; I respect the game
I hope y'all do; because if I can't make it, I'm gon' take it..."
That's why when you meet people that come from the bottom that are lucky enough to be afforded opportunity, they usually seize the shit out of it.
As Andrew Carnegie famously said:
"It is not the rich man's son that the young struggler for advancement has to fear in the race for life, nor his nephew, nor his cousin. Let him look out for the dark horse in the boy who begins by sweeping out the office."
But what can you do to keep that hunger and ambition going long after you're no longer at the bottom? Or maybe you have never even seen the bottom?
You need to do what Bezos did; you have to invent it.
Personally, I've done many things to invent it for myself. I have constantly pulled myself out of jobs and work that I got too comfortable doing. For example, I quit my Senior Director of Engineering job two years ago to chase my dreams of entrepreneurship. But I have also used other tricks, like investing much of the money I made over the years. That lack of cash on hand affects me. As far as my animal brain is concerned, I never left the bottom.
But one thing seems true to me concerning hunger and ambition.
If you don't deliberately pull yourself out of your comfort zone way before life decides to yank you out, you might find yourself in a Hail Mary big bet situation with everything on the line. Your home, livelihood, and so on could be on the line.
A Small Update from Me:
We just ended a frenzy of classes & mentorships in the Small Bets community.
I taught some. And I learned a bunch from the others.
It was kind of like Summer School for small-time entrepreneurs looking to get ahead in this Internet Game; those recordings and all future live classes are available to anyone that joins the community. And if you are not a member yet, you can use code SUMMER at checkout to join at $185 (normally $245). A one-time payment that gives you lifetime access to our community and live classes.
Three Tweets: Urgency, Tech Skills, Carving the Internet
Manish and Julian are onto another way to keep that hunger & ambition going.
Work on really interesting things.
Regardless of what’s happening with AI, it is my firm belief that great tech skills will continue to be outlandishly rewarded, at least in the foreseeable future.
What are you carving in your corner of the internet?
Three Memes: America the Nice & Not so Nice, SUDO, Affordable
There might be something to this chart.
For my non-technical friends, sudo is a linux command line utility, also known as “super user do,” that allows you to run anything with privileged access to system resources, like an admin.
The other way that people afford this is the way Jay Z famously said:
“Take what the Forbes figured, then figure more.
Because they forgot to account for what I did with the raw.”
In America, a lot of people look income poor but are asset rich to keep their taxes low.
P.S. You can reply to this email; it will get to me, and I will read it even if I can’t always reply in a timely manner.