This is a rehash of an old SoG Letter that I wrote way back in Jan 2019. Original here.
This post is inspired by two things.
A. This tweet. Link.
The tweet is a quote by NN Taleb and it says, “Mild success can be explainable by skills and labor. Wild success is attributable to variance.”
Side Note. NN Taleb is one of the most influential thinkers of contemporary times. His concepts on Black Swan, Antifragile and Skin in the Game have shaped my thinking and my approach to work. Oh, and I have the rare distinction of being blocked by him!
B. A conversation with AS that made me think hard about the kind of things I want to do in life. He asked me what was my grand plan for life. And while I have thought often and thought hard about this, I was for the first time that I could put it in words. Thank You, AS for asking that question.
So, while thinking of the answer, I knew that I wanted to be a Wildly Successful person (and not just a mildly successful one).
And what is this Wildly Successful person?
Lemme start by defining the two.
Mild success is a few millions, some cars, luxurious life, respect from your peers, considerable impact within your community and so on and so forth.
CEOs like Indira Nooyi. These people rest on the laurels of an organisation where they “work” and paddle carbonated water.
Wild success is billions, irreverence for cars or luxury, actions that impact the whole of humanity and like Steve said, the ability to push the human race forward!
CEOs like Steve Jobs. These people actually created products that have enabled almost all creative people to do more.
Thing is, Indira Nooyi could do so well because she was and is smarter than your average business executive and she worked really hard and stayed on the course. Most of my classmates from MDI would chart the same path to being mildly successful. They are smart, work hard and are on their way to the top of their corporate ladders. By itself, it’s not a wrong thing, to be honest. Who doesn’t like 2 cars, 2 houses, 2 kids, 2 house helps, 2 club memberships et al?
But then, this life is not for me.
I’d rather be Steve. Steve Jobs could get wildly successful because of what he worked on, how he worked, the kind of things he did, the decisions he made and all that gave him that shot at sending the ball out of orbit (and not just the park). And while he did all that, he had his quirks, he lived life on her terms, and he chase things that he believed were right. And along the way, inspired others.
Of course, he got lucky. Numerous times. Luck had to play a part in his wild success but the path he was on was not going to ever make him just mildly successful. It was either going to be wild. Or it was going to take him to ruin. Something Elon stands for. Even Warren for that matter.
Wait. Is there a lesson? Is there a point to this post?
So, the lesson thus ladies and gents is twofold.
A. Understand what kind of success you chase. Wild. Mild.
I know I do. You?
B. Once you know what you are chasing (mild or wild), if you are chasing, look at what others in the same league (mild or wild) did and then tread the same path.
It is that simple! Rest is a function of effort, consistency, time, luck and variance. Over and out!
Lemme know what you think.
PS: When I thought about I'd like to become wildly successful and when I thought about the kind of people I think I want to become (I will not get into details but some people that I want to be like are Chris Sacca, Tim Ferriss, Naval Ravikant, Jason Calacanis, Chamath Palihapitiya and others), I realised that there is a clear pattern. These people have a LOT in common. Here's a small list...
- Great deal-making ability
- Envious network. Especially, a large set of loose connections that are willing to look past the biases that close friends may have
- Ability to communicate well
- The knack of spotting trends
- A very big bias towards action
I am sure there are more things that I can't spot right now. Just that to be able to create this variance that takes from your mild to wild, you ought to at least have what these guys have. Get the drift?