As 2018 comes to an end, I’m at one of the lowest points in my life.
Yeah, I said it. Life’s not perfect and not everything is up and to the right.
Despite that, I’d still like to take a moment to recognize I’m incredibly lucky, fortunate, and grateful for the experiences I’ve had and for the relationships I’ve fostered.
Amongst many people, the following have immensely influenced me: NS, Abhishek
Snapshots instead of highlights
Most popular media today focuses on showing the top and not the process. Most content in the physical world and social media is designed to share highlights not snapshots. The nature of highlights is conducive to views, likes, and shares. Snapshots, on the other hand, are boring and less likely to go viral.
Since I’ve started college, I’ve made it a point to document my experiences as much as possible. Although I haven’t documented as much as I’d like, I’m working to make it into a habit that’s unaffected by all the noise of everyday human life.
I find the biggest barrier in doing anything is becoming aware of and overcoming the influence of the outside world. Recently, I’ve started to become much more aware of the unconscious influences in my life.
The conscious influences in life come from the type of content we may choose to consume, the people we choose to associate ourselves with, and the environments we choose to be in. The unconscious influences are in the micro-behaviors we mimic from the people around us and the ideas presented in the content we consume.
For example, while I was in Seattle surrounded by engineers and people 2–10 years older than me. I found myself starting to think through problems with an engineering mindset not just from a marketing perspective. While the influence of those older and more experienced than me gave me perspective on how much I don’t actually know.
While I was younger, surrounded by my high-school friends I’d consume a lot more mindless tv shows, music, and movies. Now, I find myself appreciating the creation of art, story-telling, and depth in the content I consume. The type of content I consume has also radically shifted to long-form podcasts, music/ art/ movies/ documentaries from emerging artists, and books of all kinds.
If you’re curious, check out some of the influences I’ve listed on my site.
To shift unconscious influences into conscious ones one needs to be aware of the source. The hardest part about this is sometimes creating space from those who are both emotionally and physically close to us. It’s particularly difficult to accept that our best friends, significant others, and family are a part of the problem.
I’m working to create the space to think for myself.
December — May 2018
At the end of 2017, I had decided to take a semester off to go to a coding bootcamp in San Francisco. Two weeks before my flight I got an e-mail from Steven Lu, founder of Interseller an Expa Labs backed company, looking for a growth marketing intern.
It was an opportunity that was too good to pass up, leading me to accept. Read more about my experience at Interseller here.
While I was working close to full-time I was also a full-time student taking 5 classes. Working 10AM-5PM most days and attending classes from 6:40–9:30 every day to make progress towards my major in supply chain management.
There’s one class that made it all worth it though, Introduction to Pharmaceutical Supply Chain. I realized it was a class worth taking the first day when our professor stopped reading from the slides and instead drew out the entire pharmaceutical supply chain on the whiteboard. He went through each piece in depth throughout the semester.
A reader from this blog cold messaged me on Facebook. We decided to get on a phone call which ended up lasting 3 hours and led to me booking a flight ticket to Seattle the following week.
Little did I know then but this would become the start of one of the most constructive and rewarding experiences of my life. At the end of the 5 days, I spent with my new friend he asked me to come back for the summer.
This was the month of tough decisions… I had accepted an internship at Amazon for the summer in September of 2017, I was on track to graduate a semester early if I took a summer class, and the startup I was interning for was looking to make me a full-time offer upon graduating early.
I decided to decline the internship, leave my job on good terms, and drop my summer class to move to Seattle where I’d spend the summer learning to think for myself.
After school finished, I moved to Seattle.
Initially, after the move, I spent most of my time reading and writing. While I was in school inundated by class work and actual work from my job I had stopped making time to do the things I love…reading, writing, and building relationships.
One of the first people I met in Seattle is Richard Kim, who within 15 minutes of talking to me, offered me to speak at an event he was hosting in June. At first, I declined due to fear I didn’t know enough to talk about the subject. I later decided to accept the challenge.
During the first week, I traveled to SF for WWDC. Although I didn’t have a ticket, a few of my friends did. I just tagged along for the journey.
I was at the epicenter of the technology world. While walking around and sitting in coffee shops I’d overhear conversations about ideas, start-ups, and emerging technology.
I met several people who I had only interacted with on Twitter before.
I stayed in Sunnyvale and traveled to many of the surrounding towns: San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San José, Half Moon Bay, Sand Hill Road, Cupertino, Burlingame.
The beginning of the month was filled with anxiety about my talk on the current and future state of Voice at my friend’s conference. This was my first time giving a talk on a topic I wasn’t entirely familiar with. I did it though!
What’s more important about this experience is not giving the talk, but the other speakers I met in the process. Richard had even organized for us to visit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Each and every one of the speakers was a star in their own light and the moments we spent at the speaker house were legendary.
We built a bond in those two days that no one will forget.
Shout out to…Sam Park, Joel Hansen, Gregg L. Witt, Natalie Riso, Kara Mercer, Nia Anderson, Donnoven Nguyen, Kayle John, Natasha Takahashi, Arri Bagah, Chad Oda, Emily Kwong, Richard Kim, Kassim Sadiqqui, Jeremy Becker, Kenji YP, Chad Oda, Ruvim Achapovskiy, Sidney Brown and Vozhi.
I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, forgive me.
After some unforeseen circumstances on July 3rd, I decided to go to India.
On the 4th, I flew back to NJ before taking off to London then India on July 5th. This is by far one of the most spontaneous trips I’ve ever made.
There was no particular plan other than to visit the temple that both Jobs and Zuckerberg had visited when they went. On the first day of the
In 15 days I took 11 flights and visited 7 cities.
On July 28th, I turned 21.
For the first time ever, a friend, Abhi P., threw me a surprise birthday party.
Most of the month was spent heads down working to get a Minimum Viable Product for a side project I had been working on. Ask me about it in person!
Bradley Mitchell, a friend, came to visit and booked us a trip to Vancouver. We visited Bainbridge Island and made an epic trip to Van where we lived in the cheapest AirBnB in the entire city!
During August, I again had to make some tough decisions…
Should I return to college for the fall semester or continue working on side projects and living in Seattle? If I do live in Seattle where? How will I afford it? My savings had started to run out by this time.
I found myself in a place where I was learning, growing, and doing the things I wanted to around the people I wanted to be with all at an exponential pace.
This made me decide against returning to college in the Fall.
At the end of August, I confirmed housing at a hacker house near my friend’s place. I lived with 18 others at Grok Home and paid $1,500 in rent to stay in a bunk bed for a month. Yes, short-term housing in Seattle is expensive.
There I met some incredible people, Nkosana, Jeff, Yolane, Ivan, Matthew, Peter, Canelle and many others in the Grok Home community.
Most of the people there were in a transition period in their life and it was nice to see that I wasn’t alone. The people there varied in age and it was beautiful to see that living there was just a part of the process.
Early in September, I flew out to NJ to pitch the side project a friend and I were working on to potential customers. We realized what we were intending to build was technically challenging, the GUI was unintuitive, and that I wasn’t the right person to do it.
Although disheartening, we went back to the drawing board to think of products that were extensions of who we were as people.
During our trip to NJ, I hosted an event with some of my closest friends at Rutgers called ‘Following your intuition’ where Abhi spoke to the audience about his experiences.
A week before the event, a cold DM on Twitter to a follower, David Daines, led to him flying across the country to tell his story too!
Somehow, the night ended up with a group of 20 at our local Taco Bell. Who said fraternity parties are the only way to have fun in college?
I spent most of the month reflecting on the experiences of the summer and thinking about what was next. I was quickly running out of savings, parental pressure to get a job started accruing, societal pressure to return to school and finish my degree started building too.
I also came to the realization that in the process of learning to think for myself, traveling, growing, building new relationships, the opportunity cost was my relationship with my significant other.
With all the mounting pressure, I decided to apply to AngelList. My dream job since my sophomore year of college was to become a VC analyst there. Unfortunately, after making it past the technical interview and two phone screens I was told I didn’t make the cut.
This was a major set back considering I thought I had what it took to get the job. After the rejection, I decided to move back to NJ to devote attention and time to build my relationship.
A week after moving back home in NJ, my relationship came to an end.
The attention debt I’d accrued during my time away came at the expense of having to let go of a relationship that I deeply cherished.
Most of my time after has been spent letting go, learning to love myself, and on building deeper connections with those I already know.
I’ve also shifted my attention to building new relationships.
I’ve received funding to create a documentary series showing the snapshots of entrepreneurs, business owners, and creatives. We’ll start shooting Jan. 16th.
I’m excited to work on it with two close friends, Aman Purba & Kevin Lin.
These two projects will carry over into the new year as I go back to college to finish my last semester. Now that graduation is approaching, I’m thinking about what I’d like to do after.
I’ve decided against participating in on-campus recruiting.
The best piece of career advice I’ve ever received is to find someone who’s where you’d like to be in 3–5 years and work with them to get there.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be looking at people worth apprenticing and roles where I can uniquely provide value and learn.
What I didn’t mention…
I’ve been terrified every single day for the past 6 months.
Moving to a new city where I only had one friend and no job sounds much nicer than it actually is. Living with people who are at the top of their game with respect to their fields forces you to level-up your own game.
I learned that forward momentum is only acquired from consistent action.
As the youngest person in every room I’ve walked into, I’d feel like I had nothing to contribute. Coming to accept my natural skill-sets and being confident in my abilities was the hardest insecurity to overcome.
I slept on a carpet with a bedsheet, comforter, and pillow for 2 months in my friend’s apartment. It was an experiment to see if sleeping on the floor is really better for the body and a cost savings measure.
The rejection from my dream job hurt, moving back home was a blow to my ego, coming home to devote more attention to someone only to learn they were unwilling to accept it hurt.
So the story comes full circle, not everything is up and to the right. This may be one of the lowest points of my life although it may not seem like that on the outside.
Regardless, I’m determinately optimistic.
I’m learning, growing, and accepting myself.
Thank you to everyone who’s shared in these experiences or made them possible.
I’m eternally grateful for your kindness.
As the new year approaches, I’m focused on doing more of the things that make me whole. Here’s to an amazing 2019 ahead of us all! 😊