In America, capitalists are the kings

This talk by Bill Gurley, a popular venture capitalist, is a master class in both the subject of regulatory capture and presentation. It's so well-crafted and powerful - the story-telling, the flow, the energy and intonation, the slides, the creative title and close, the eye-opening lived experiences and insider insights, the authenticity, and the truth to power and corruption. 

It drives home that America is the land of capitalists. If you are a large business, there's probably no better place in the world. Conversely, if you are in America, consider starting a business or owning equity to thrive. Capitalists are the kings here. 

Compare it to Europe, where capital gains taxes are high, and employees and consumers have strong protections and social services. Or to India, where politicians, cricketers, and movie stars are the kings. Or to China, where the CCP is the only monarch. 

Most companies need to do some objective good for their customers to rise and survive, so this might be the best of all alternatives.

But as this talk highlights, there are also problems. Even though the country is a democracy, capitalists have an oversized influence on politics and laws, often to benefit the incumbents, the rich and powerful, and at the expense of the common person and startups. "Regulation" is a sophomoric solution as it doesn't address the messiness of implementation, incentives, influence, and power.

Keep buying lottery tickets

I woke up excited today because I had shared my new app on Reddit, and I was eager to check if it had taken off. 

I have been waking up excited on many days over the last few months for similar reasons. I'd have taken a long shot the previous day - launched a new product, shared a blog or social media post, sent an email to an influential person, applied for an exciting job, etc. Long shots (or moon shots) have small odds of turning into something really big, exciting, and life-changing. 

Extraordinary successes are almost always a result of taking long shots and asymmetric bets. Sam Altman in his blog on How to be Successful, writes "I always choose a next project that, if successful, will make the rest of my career look like a footnote."  

Most people, most of the time, are on a very linear path, with no possibility of a big win or exponential take-off. They don't buy any lottery tickets and they don't win any big prizes. 

When you keep buying lottery tickets, you increase the chances of winning a golden ticket. And life becomes more exciting too. 


1. You don't have to give up your stability or take substantial risks. Most of the examples I have above are low-risk, but high upside side-bets. 

2. Lottery ticket may not be the most apt term as it implies pure luck and no skill. In reality, you get better at both identifying and executing long-shots, so your probability of winning increases. 

3. You can apply this within a company or product roadmaps as well, where you invest in a few moon shot bets. 

Hold and raise the bar

In a recent team meeting, someone announced we wouldn't be able to meet a project deadline and we'll have to move it to later. Not wanting to be pushy or unreasonable, I accepted and updated the date. But another colleague interjected and held the bar. He pointed out that we had slipped a few times already and rallied the team to figure out options to meet the date. 

Oftentimes, we avoid hard things and uncomfortable conversations, and try to be "naively nice". This leads to a slippery slope that snowballs into low accountability, performance, quality, outcomes, morale, and pent-up frustration. I say naively nice because ultimately this turns out to be not very nice to the team, stakeholders, managers, business, and customers. 

The nicer way is to set clear and reasonable expectations, hold and raise the bar, provide direct and timely feedback, identify and fix the problems, and work together compassionately and collaboratively to make it happen. 


1. Amazon appoints a "bar raiser" in interview panels to avoid this slippery slope. 

2. It is possible to be both kind and maintain the bar.  

Product Managers and Builders: Make $100 on the internet

There is now plenty of great advice, thought leadership, frameworks, newsletters, podcasts, and courses for being a good product manager (this blog included). 

Maybe even too much. 

My simple advice that supersedes everything else is this: First, make $100 on the internet on your own. 

My first job out of college was as a consultant for startups in an incubator in Ghana. While I could give helpful technical advice on how to build their products, I felt like an imposter when advising on the business or approach. I was a new grad who had never started a business on my own, so who the heck was I to share my business advice?! 

Most product managers, especially in mid or large companies, are so removed from the realities of running a software business, but at the helm of opinionated decision-making. PMs now thrive (or drown) in the theories of product building. They can wax poetic about strategy, differentiation, jobs to be done, UX simplicity, distribution, activation, network effects, monetization, ltv:cac, team operation, funding, etc. They can pull the right quotes and zingers from Shreyas Doshi, Stratechery, Lenny, Steve Jobs, or Paul Graham. They can ace Product Sense and Analytics interviews with elegant frameworks like CIRCLES or AARM from Decode & Conquer. 

But most have never made even $100 on the internet on their own!

It reminds me of this iconic scene from Good Will Hunting.

Here's an excerpt of the exchange:  
Sean (Robin Williams): You're just a kid, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talkin' about.

Will (Matt Damon): Why thank you.

Sean: It's all right. You've never been out of Boston.

Will: Nope.

Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one...

If this is you, don't fret - you aren't alone and you have a nice low-hanging fruit to propel your product skills. 

My first role as a PM was building my own app business with 10+ apps and $2000+/mo in revenue. I was in the classic situation of an engineer aspiring to transition to a PM but couldn't find a way into the elusive and gatekept profession. So I decided to just do the job on my own and learned a lot more in the process, which opened doors to PM roles.

When you try to make $100 on the internet, your theoretical knowledge, frameworks, and strategic thinking make direct contact with reality. You will realize how hard it is to get customers to pay attention, keep them coming back, or open their wallets. It will be a humbling experience. 

When you succeed at making the first $100, try to make a $1000 and a recurring revenue business. Or try to sell to businesses. Or try to build the product on your own or contract and manage some people. 

You will likely fail the first few attempts. You will realize how difficult it is, and how frail ideas and frameworks are. You will viscerally experience the emotional ups and downs that you have only heard founders talk about. 

But if you keep at it, you will learn to identify a valuable problem, niche segment, gaps in the market, a solution, a compelling message, channels, and economics. You will learn to research, position, write copy, market, sell, run ads, follow up on leads, identify a good MVP, get feedback, measure what matters, monetize, iterate, and pivot. You will learn the limits and nuances of all the PM advice out there.  

I guarantee you that you will emerge as a humbler, more practical, more nuanced, and more confident product manager or designer than you will from consuming another podcast, blog, course, or framework. You will even have more fun in the process and maybe kick-start a career as an entrepreneur. 

Oh, and you will make $100 too! 


1. This is necessary, but not sufficient. You still need to know how to operate within a larger company, think strategically, draft metrics, align stakeholders, use frameworks, etc. 

2. Many PMs will feel they can't do this because they aren't technical. You don't have to be technical. You can sell a PDF, a course, a service, or a product from Alibaba. There are platforms and no-code tools that can get you pretty far without writing a single line of code. 

What if you had a $0 budget?


I was watching this interview with Rich Barton, one of the few people in the world who has created multiple successful businesses across industries - Expedia, Zillow, and Glassdoor.*

He recalls the story of how Zestimate (home price estimate) was created. 

One of the investors, Bill Gurly, asked him a powerful question before they launched Zillow - what would you do if you had no ad budget? 

Good questions can be life and business changing. And in this case, it turned out to be. 

Rich and his team ended up creating Zestimate and market reports, which generated a lot of interest and organic traffic.

Constraints breed creativity. Sometimes, imagination can solve problems better than money can. 

Coincidentally, I watched another video on the same week where Linkedin's CBO shared how the other end of the spectrum - thinking without any constraints - leads to more creative solutions as well. 

I'd square both these points into this one piece of advice: If you are in a place of abundance, think with constraints. If you are in a place of scarcity or business as usual, think without any constraints. 


1. Rich Barton's common theme behind all his businesses was "power to the people". Give more visibility, so people can make informed decisions.

You're not doing a tour of gas stations

Growing up in the middle class in India, the first 20 years of my life were somewhat consumed in the pursuit of academic, career, and financial success to secure a comfortable life. But now that I'm comfortable and have checked off those boxes, the same scarcity and survival mindset is unhelpful. 

This quote really drove it home for me. 
“Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.”

– Tim O’Reilly

Gasoline and money are really important when you are low. But they are hardly important if you have enough. The same can be said about other pursuits like fame. Get what you need, so you can finally enjoy the life you want.

Skeptics vs Innovators

The world always has a lot more skeptics than innovators.


Skeptics question any change.

While blindly accepting the status quo and all its flaws. 

They are limited by their own fears, lack of vision, beliefs, and capabilities.

They choose the easy path of nay-saying and changing nothing. 

Innovators question the status quo. 

They see a better way. They are eager to invent and try new things.

They are bold, creative, capable, and action-oriented.

They are choosing the hard path of solving problems and creating change.


Every innovator is met with skeptics who try to douse their spirit. If you are trying to be an innovator, surround yourself with other innovators who energize you and help you figure out a way. 


1. Yes, there are thoughtful skeptics and clueless or evil innovators. 

You may be missing a dimension!

A friend of mine was baffled that he wasn't getting promoted. He was getting his work done and coming up with good ideas. But people who were less capable seemed to be progressing faster. 

"It's just stupid politics and unfairness", he grumbled.

When the world doesn't seem to operate according to our expectations, guess where the problem is?

Yeah, you got it...the expectations.

When your model of the situation, and therefore your expectations, doesn't capture some key variables or dimensions, the course of events will baffle and frustrate you.

In my friend's case, his model of the world derived from school where studying hard and doing well on your tests gets you good grades. But in the corporate world, it isn't that one-dimensional or clear-cut. Collaboration, enthusiasm, likability, influence, working on the right things, producing and demonstrating results, etc. matter in both promotions and impact.

When things don't go as expected, instead of being annoyed at the unfairness, figure out about which dimension you may be missing.

The Secret to Innovation...

 The secret to innovation... to tackle a very specific problem. Obsessively, deeply, and excellently. 

Given the vastness of human knowledge already, there probably isn't much low-hanging fruit of discovery in most areas (the circle isn't uniform as depicted, so it may be lower in some areas than others). So innovation needs depth. 

Specific innovations and deep understandings of specific problems can possibly evolve into broad truths or innovations. But you are less likely to go deep and innovate if you are starting off broad. 


1. There's a valid counterargument that broad knowledge across domains can help spark innovation through a general understanding of the world and by translating ideas from one domain to another. I have a center in the middle to represent a broad understanding. It's possible that 2 or 3 areas of focus might be better than 1, but I doubt 10 areas of focus (is that even focus?) is better than 1. 

2. This was inspired by listening to CEO of Anthropic talk about how he obsessed and tinkered with the problem of speech recognition for years and that led to a more general AI. 

3. The illustration was inspired by Matt Might's excellent visual of what a Ph.D. is. 

Embrace Doing Hard Things

I just finished the 23-mile, 5000-foot Enchantments hike in a single day. 

Not going to lie - it kicked my ass, especially the relentless climb up Aasgard Pass

But boy oh boy, it was beautiful to walk by pristine Alpine lakes. Even more significant and long-lasting was the exhilaration of being able to do something so difficult after being non-athletic and flatfooted most of my life.

And that made me think...

🕊 The ability to do and enjoy hard things sets you free. 

When I was deciding whether to do the hike, one of my friends jokingly said, "Worst case is you will be miserable!"

The default human nature is to pursue the path of least resistance and immediate gratification to the local maxima. When you pursue comfort and stability, life has a way of slapping you back into harsh reality. Because stability is an illusion. Life is entropic and always changing. 

On the other hand, if you aren't deterred by hard things - things that are high risk and hard to figure out, require a lot of consistent and crushing hard work, and take a long time to bear fruit - you can pursue whatever your heart desires. 

You aren’t afraid. You are okay with change, failure, and struggle. You don’t settle. You keep living. 

Seek not calm waters, but the skill to sail. And calm waters never make skilled sailors. 

💪 Many rewarding experiences are often behind hurdles and require constant growth. 

Want to be healthy and fit? Exercise and eat healthy consistently. 

Want your own rich, smart, or famous? You have to learn, practice your craft, and hustle in uncertainty and obscurity for years. 

Want to have a nice family life? Meet and fall in love with a compatible partner. Then have, raise, and support each other for decades. 

🥳 There's good news...

Doing hard things gets easier the more you do them. Just like your body toughens with resistance training, your mind does too. 

You learn to be okay with struggle and discomfort. You develop fortitude. You even start to enjoy the challenge (type 2 fun). You become a better problem solver and develop the skill to navigate through the "idea maze"

Developing the superpower of enjoying struggle gives you the freedom to pursue your dreams and remain resilient.

Easy choices, hard life. 
Hard choices, easy life.

[1] This does not mean you have to burn out, not relax, or not do things you enjoy. 

[2] Of course, you can just rise above all this and train yourself to be inherently peaceful and joyful without any pursuit whatsoever. But that is a hard thing as well, so the logic holds ;). 

[3] Why are harder things more rewarding? A lot of our innate sense of meaning and reward derives from what society values. And society values difficult and hard-to-get things because the easy things are abundant. And even individually, our hedonistic brains also quickly get used to the rewards from the easy things so they aren't as enjoyable anymore. Doing hard things unlocks rarer rewards and the process of doing them releases brain chemicals like endorphins which make you feel better.

Early reflections on starting my own business (Part 1)

I have fancied starting a business for a very long time.  

Finally after getting my green card, building a financial safety net, learning by working at other businesses, and being inspired by the recent breakthroughs in AI, I took the plunge recently! 

I'm sharing some reflections from my first few months. 

Fair warning: all of these may change over time as I experience more and grow wiser. 

1. Businesses are incredibly hard

This is repeated often, but we still often underestimate or forget it as we are constantly inundated with victorious stories of very, very few survivors. 

Finding and sustaining the right partners, ideas, customers, business models, teams, and investors is a long and tough journey. By default, your business is dead. You have to will it into existence and life every day with perseverance, smarts, support, and luck. There are many ups and downs, and tricky and hard decisions along the way. 

I now empathize and understand why founders have an extremely high upside and satisfaction, even compared to early employees, because they endure a high-risk, high-effort, always-on, and incredibly difficult path to go from 0 to 1.

2. Number of shots and time in the game matters

In low-probability, hard, and non-linear games like startups, you increase your chances by staying in the game for longer, taking multiple shots, and learning/improving each time. That's probably the only way to succeed.

When I started, I thought I'll give myself ~3 months to create a revenue-generating business or quit. But I quickly realized that was a silly strategy as the timeline is unpredictable and it takes a few months/years/cycles to even understand the game and get good at it. So I took on a part-time consulting gig to extend my runway. You can also choose to raise funding or pursue your business on the side. 

Before you play the game, be realistic about whether you are set up for success and how you can stay in the game for longer. 

As Sam Altman reflects, "So much of being a good entrepreneur is about not giving up and staying determined."

3. Business should be primarily an act of passion, invention, and service 

Many people, including myself, are attracted to starting a business because of the potential glory or wealth. Bad idea. 

Most businesses, most of the time aren't glorious or prosperous. And they may never be. In fact, the odds of prosperity are much higher if you climb the corporate ladder at an established company, and that can be enjoyable and meaningful too. So if you are counting on glory or wealth, you will feel defeated very quickly and feel like you are wasting your life.  

As Elon Musk put it, “Running a start-up is like chewing glass and staring into the abyss. After a while, you stop staring, but the glass chewing never ends”

Start a business if you are really passionate about solving a problem, serving a group of people you care about, or creating (or changing) something you deeply believe needs to exist. 

Start only if you are going to enjoy a grueling challenge and the growth that comes with it. Also, start a business only if you're curious and passionate about the process of starting and running a business. 

Doing something that's truly aligned with your passions, drive, and values is incredibly fulfilling. The act of inventing, and creating something worthy out of nothing is also amazing. These motivations are much more intrinsic, realistic, and sustained for longer. You are more likely to enjoy and persevere through the day-to-day, the ups and downs, and the failures. 

4. There are no shortcuts. Make things that people want, be strategic, and be nice.

Your business will only succeed if you do these 3 things: 

  • Create something valuable and differentiated that the market truly needs.
  • Acquire and retain customers in a sustainable and scalable way.
  • Generate profits and have sufficient cash flow to sustain the business. 
In jargony but more complete terms, keep improving the Product-Market-Channel-Model-Founder fit. 

You only get there by understanding your market deeply, talking to potential customers, choosing the right problems and solutions, validating, continuously, and quickly iterating, improving, or pivoting. 

Don't trick yourself into thinking you have something when you don't (it is hard to know!). Don't get distracted by shortcuts and vanity metrics like acquiring lots of disinterested users, raising VC funding, or dreaming of getting acquired. 

5. You will fail and learn a LOT quickly; having a growth mindset and self-confidence is key. 

Startups also give you a chance (and force you) to learn incredibly quickly across a broad range of skills. You will pursue bad ideas or unsuitable partners. You will bomb customer and investor pitches. You will make mistakes and learn how to build products, test, and iterate. You have to learn how to sell, advertise, and monetize. You learn a ton about finance, legal, operations, and compliance. You will learn how to assess, attract, hire, and fire people and partners. You meet and learn from other smart founders and investors. 

If you like to learn and grow, this can be incredibly fun. You have to be "good at learning" - not be frazzled by mistakes or failure, seek good advice and expertise, reflect and learn with honesty, humility, and curiosity, and not repeat your mistakes. On the other hand, if you get easily overwhelmed or always want to be right and successful, this will suck.

6. Choose the right partners and advisors

You may spend more time and emotions with your co-founders or partners than with your spouse! You will be going through thick and thin, walking into a mysterious and dangerous jungle. 

You need people who you can count on to support you and who you want to support, regardless of how tough things get. You need those who you trust to act in your combined interest and also have good judgment. You need a team who can complement your skills, weaknesses, and temperament. You need people who are also driven by passion or a sense of service, aligned with your values and work ethics. 

You need people you can work well with, "fight well with", ideate and build on ideas, and make tough decisions with. You need people who inspire and energize you, not drain you. You need people who you enjoy spending time with. You need people who will grow and adapt to the business and you.

7. Self-care, health, stability, confidence, and support systems are extremely important

Startups are dangerous. Because by default, startups will take a toll on your physical and mental health, relationships, and hobbies. Startups are endless and all-consuming. There's always more to do, plans to figure out, fires to fight, and problems to worry about. The ups and downs, uncertainty, and long hours can wreck your mental health.

You need to be disciplined, healthy, mentally, and financially strong even to start. It's even better if you have a supportive family, friends, and professional network.

Then you need to be even more thoughtful and disciplined to use your time effectively and prioritize areas in life that are important to you and give them time and energy. 

Exercising every day and taking time to spend with your loved ones, occasionally relaxing and enjoying what life has to offer, and pursuing a couple of other passions or pleasures are all no-brainers. Otherwise, you will burn out or look back with regret in 5 years for hollowing yourself in the pursuit of a low-probability game. 

This is a marathon, not a sprint. You perform better when you are calmer, healthier, and happier. Balance is important. 

Questions to help you make big decisions

Find some quiet and relaxed setting to think through these questions. 

1. What would you advise a friend?

We are more clear-headed when we step back from the situation. 

2. What feels more exciting and fulfilling? What would you do if you weren't afraid and if others won't know? 

Fear and norms often hold us back. 

3. What kind of life and lifestyle do you want?  What option ranks higher in your rubric?

Having a structured approach with top factors and coarse ratings for each path+factor lets us be more objective and increases confidence in the decision. 

4. What is the best-case scenario, most probable scenario, and worst-case scenario? Can you protect the downside?

Outcomes are usually non-deterministic, so think in possibilities and probabilities. 

5. Is this a one-way door or a two-way door?

Most decisions are reversible. Spend more time and focus on those that aren't. 

6. What are the 2nd and 3rd order effects? What happens after this decision?

Consider long-term trajectory and compounding effects

7. How would you feel 5 mins, 5 months, and 5 years after the decision? How would you feel about this 10 years ago or when you were a kid?

Time traveling forward and backward gives you the future and past perspectives.

8. Decide and sleep on it. How do you feel about your decision the next day?

Enjoy Life

I distinctly remember this anecdote from Stephen Covey that I read many years ago. 

At a workshop, a troubled participant approached him and confided that he and his wife weren't in love anymore. He desperately needed help to save his marriage. 

Stephen Covey's advice was simple: 

"Love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is the fruit of love, the verb or our loving actions. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her."

Covey's reframe is powerful. He changed love from something that just happens to people to something they can deliberately do. 

I think the same advice applies to the universal goal and challenge of enjoying life.

If you want your life to be more enjoyable, you must enjoy life. 

Enjoy is a verb. It's a choice, a mindset, and a way of living, thinking, and acting. 

In fact, the word enjoy originates from the French word "enjoier", which means "to give joy" or "to take delight in". It is a set of actions, not a result. 

For example, you can choose to: 

  • Be grateful and appreciative of everything good rather than be woeful about what isn't. 
  • Deal with challenges with boldness, cheerfulness, optimism, curiosity, and a growth mindset rather than with fear, cynicism, judgment, or pessimism. 
  • Do more of what you enjoy and enjoy more of what you do, rather than be miserable and powerless.
  • Go with the flow, explore, play, and make friends, rather than being bogged down by ego, attachments, greed, seriousness, and the resulting struggles. 
  • View life as a mysterious, fascinating, and fleeting improv that you get to enjoy, rather than being bogged down by rigid and made-up expectations of successes and failures; good and bad. 

Yes, it may seem easier said than done. But it is definitely possible. 

Ups and downs in both life and our experiences and emotions are inevitable.

But with regular practice, you can develop presence and lucidity that helps you create "the space between stimulus and response" that the psychologist Viktor Frankl famously discovered even during his unimaginably hard experience at a concentration camp. 

And in that space, instead of being reactive, you can choose to interpret, think, act, and behave in ways that help you be at ease and/or enjoy. 

I have reflected more in my related post "Mostly Peaceful, Often Joyful, Sometimes Upset" and in "The Four Roots of Unhappiness"


1. I like Naval Ravikant's quote: "Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion." When you are mostly at peace, you open yourself to experiencing moments of joy. You don't have to feel compelled to be joyful every moment...just at ease and at peace. 

How to Use Prompt Engineering to Rewire Your Brain

Have you ever wondered what shapes your mind and behaviors? The influences that nudge us towards success or failure, happiness or despair? Let me share a magical experience from my high school years that puzzled me for a long time. A mystery that only started making sense to me years later.


When I was in grade 10, I went to a large book fair with my family. Like all events in India, it was bustling with people and energy. In the midst of the chaos, my family and I were drawn towards the stage that was particularly abuzz. The stage banner displayed the name 'Madras Academy for Excellence', or 'MAX', and a group of people, who were national memory record-holders no less, were captivating the audience with their ability to quickly memorize long lists of words or facts and answer any questions about them.

I was impressed and intrigued because I was a nerdy kid, and a lot of my schoolwork required memorization. So I ended up volunteering to go on stage to use their technique to similarly learn and recall a long list. Much to my and the audience's surprise, it worked! I was able to memorize a list of 50 words in just 10 mins, and then go on stage and recall any item on the list by its number, or say it forward and in reverse. 

Naturally, I ended up signing up for their full "student success" program, where I was introduced to a wide range of concepts and techniques for goal-setting, discipline, memory, creativity, focus, speed reading, learning, communication, public speaking, etc. These were quite useful, to say the least, and had a big impact on me for years to come (I wish schools would focus more on teaching these kinds of skills). They also got me deeply interested in learning, cognitive, and behavioral science, which is where I ended up focusing a large part of my career so far.

But out of all the techniques, there was one that was the most fascinating and unexplainable to me. It was enticingly named "Self-Hypnosis".  


Self-Hypnosis involved standing in front of the mirror, gazing into your eyes with unblinking determination, and saying affirmations aloud, along with positive hand gestures. The affirmations had to follow the format "I will <insert goal>! I have the ability to do it! I can do it, I can!" You don't do it just once. You had to repeat it thrice and then do it all three times a day - as soon as you woke up, then once in the afternoon, and finally before going to bed. It felt like cuckoo voodoo! 

I decided to try it anyway. As advised, I aimed high and set my goal to top my school in the grade 10 board exam (an all-India standardized test). I was a good student, ranking usually among the top 5 or 10 students in the class, but topping the school was quite the stretch. So, religiously, three times a day, I'd stand in front of the mirror and say, "I will top the school in the board exam! I have the ability to do it! I can do it, I can!" I also mocked up my dream scorecard and looked at it frequently. 

Fast forward to the end of the academic year, my final score was a whopping 98% on the national exam, which catapulted me to rank #2 in my school and rank #6 in the country. This wasn't just a surprise, it was a thunderbolt out of the clear blue sky as I hadn't done as well on tests leading up to the final exam and was especially flailing in my Hindi course. 

Past the elation, as I reflected on these results, I couldn't help but wonder if Self-Hypnosis had played a role. The scientific, rational part of me was resistant. But at the same time, I couldn't ignore the lived experience. 

Unraveling the Mystery

Pareto Product Management

As Product Managers or entrepreneurs, we often have multiple good ideas and an exciting vision. That's necessary but not sufficient. 

It's easy to come up with a large collection of many capabilities and features that can together make a product compelling to users and produce business impact. But that isn't practical. 

Most individuals, startups, or teams within larger companies get defunded or lose steam before they can do everything they envision if they don't produce results along the way. The complexity of more also confuses users and overwhelms teams. 

A startup founder wisely told me, "Startups don't starve...they drown."

What's really important is identifying and prioritizing the minimal set of ideas or bets that are going to have the largest impact, and then distilling them to their core essence. The 20% of work that'll produce 80% of the results. You need to have the conviction and discipline to say no to everything else. Only if you do that, do you get to start and stay in the game and keep building toward a larger vision and impact. You also end up with simpler products that are better understood, valued, loved, and easier to manage and improve. 

It is extremely hard to predict what's important and requires astute product intuition. You need clarity on mission and goals, a deep understanding of problems, users, the product, and past learnings, and very intentional prioritization and editing. You also need sound mental models on good product patterns, technical knowledge to know what's possible and estimate efforts, and user psychology.

The new approach to building software with AI

Traditional software simply executes explicit instructions provided by Human Intelligence.

This blog is powered by software. And like most software we use, it functions based on explicit instructions.

When you are on a blog post, the code explicitly specifies to deliver content from a CMS or database that's tied to the blog post and then styles it as per explicit HTML and CSS-based instructions. When you are on the home page, the code explicitly asks to display the list of 50 recent blog posts from the database. 

This software is really useful as it can execute more precisely, quickly, cheaply, and on a larger scale than humans. But it is also simply doing what the human developer explicitly instructed it to do. 

Enter - Software powered by Artificial Intelligence. Human instructions not needed. 

Let's take this ChatGPT Plugins demo. 

ChatGPT is able to: 

  • Create a meal plan
  • Generate a visual of the meal
  • Shop for the ingredients
  • Tweet about it. 

No explicit instructions were provided by a developer for these tasks. No explicit instructions on how to create a meal plan or how to draw it. No explicit instructions to use Instacart API to shop or Zapier API to tweet, and no explicit instructions on how to use those APIs.

Instead, the software is figuring out how to execute the user's request based on its training on a large corpus of general knowledge and using the descriptions of the different APIs and tools available to it. 

It is MAGICAL and a dramatic shift in how software works. To be clear, AI has been used in software for a long time now. But nearly all of it has been for very narrow and well-defined tasks like ads, shopping, or content recommendations, and not something like this that can broadly understand and solve any problem. This dramatically changes both what software can do and how we write software 

Software is now more dynamic. It can understand any user input, then think and do or say whatever is needed, without explicit some extent.

If you have used Plugins or AutoGPT, you'll also know that it is still far from foolproof. While it's magical in its dynamism and promise, it is quite slow and error-prone, unable to do complex tasks with large contexts, and results can vary with every run. It also costs, as Sam Altman says it, an "eye-watering amount of money". 

The new way to build software 

We don't have to write explicit instructions in a programming language anymore - it's not only unnecessary and it also cramps the ability of AI. But we also can't rely on AI (yet) to be fully dynamic, autonomous, and general purpose. 

We need a middle approach that leverages the power of AI but also has the reliability of traditional software. Something like -

  1. Specify the goal and experience, with the AI's help to draft and refine it. 
  2. Provide UI/tools/code/services/data building blocks to the AI, along with their descriptions and how to use them. AI can also assist in developing these blocks. Some of these blocks can have AI embedded, but limit those to robust use cases to maintain reliability. 
  3. Ask AI to stitch together the blocks to solve the goal.  
  4. Verify it works for a few scenarios and iterate with AI's help. 
  5. Finally, save or publish it for future use. 
Unlike the traditional explicit approach, we need to provide only rough guidelines in natural language and offer the building blocks/services, dramatically reducing the barrier, cost, and complexity of developing software. 

And unlike the ChatGPT Plugins or AutoGPTs' dynamic approach, we will be pre-verifying and saving it, so that it's more reliable and faster at run time.  

I have verified this definitely works for simple applications like a to-do list. It is possible but can get challenging for larger applications with multiple states. 

As AI evolves and becomes better, and when there's a general-purpose intelligence that can do anything we want dynamically and quickly, then there's no need for this middle approach. But I think that's still a long way away, and that will be a very, very different world in many different ways. 


Aha moments with GPT

🤯 1) 

I had my first "Aha! moment" with #ChatGPT / #LLMs in November 2022, just around when ChatGPT was released.I had asked ChatGPT to draft the annual strategy for the company I was working at, without providing any additional context. I had only used ChatGPT to answer basic questions or generate poetry and didn't expect much in response to something more complex.

But the answer that ChatGPT produced in a few seconds resembled what the exec team had drafted, in content, reasoning, and priority. A few more prompts and minutes later, ChatGPT also had answers for how to present the plan, organize the team, mitigate risks, and execute the plan.

ChatGPT was able to replicate a lot of the strategic work of the highest-paid and most experienced people at the company in a fraction of time and cost!

🤯 2) 

I experienced my second Aha! moment when I restarted programming last month after a hiatus. After some trial and error, I'm now able to get ChatGPT to now generate 75%-95% of the required code. ChatGPT and other AI tools also help me ideate, design, debug, and generate creative assets and marketing copy.

My idea -> prototype -> launch speed has never been quicker!

It isn't just me. Andrej Karpathy, then AI Director of Tesla and now at OpenAI, clearly a top-notch developer, tweeted that Co-pilot is now writing 75% of his code.

Software is a powerful tool and a multi-trillion-dollar sector that runs so much of the world. With LLMs, the cost and barriers to producing software have dramatically reduced overnight. And the software is now capable of fuzzy reasoning and generation.

😅 🤖 What now?!

The implications are immense, and this seems like the beginning. It's hard to predict the future, but it is very naive to assume that your life and job will not change because of #AI. The safe-ish and exciting bet at this moment for individuals and businesses is to learn to leverage AI to be more effective at what you do. That is necessary but not sufficient, as your bosses, competitors, and customers will also be doing the same.

🚀 You will also have to dramatically reset and increase the audacity of your ambitions, approach, and timelines. You can spin up an army of average-human intelligence bots now. Start dreaming of a world with autonomous agents, flying cars, and cancer cures.

Human2023 -> Human100000: the Odyssey of Our Past and Future

We have been talking about the progress of GPT (or ChatGPT) across versions 1 through 4. We measure them by the number of parameters, test scores, capability, range, accuracy, modalities, plugins, etc. We celebrate and are excited about the progress of every version. There are so many memes now hyping up what GPT-5 would be. 

It just struck me that humans, as individuals and as a collective system, are also a form of intelligence. And humans have also been upgrading versions. We are on Human2023 right now. Wouldn't it be fascinating to similarly explore and celebrate the progress of humans and speculate about the future?

Thanks to a technology developed by Human2022/23, it is now possible to generate a sweeping narrative that transcends the boundaries of time and space with a single prompt. Read on to take a step back, traverse the epochs of human evolution, celebrate the milestones of our past, and gaze with wonderment at the horizon of possibilities that awaits us. 


Human300000BC - The first Homo sapiens began to appear in Africa. They were hunter-gatherers, relying on their intelligence and cooperation to survive. Early humans developed simple tools made of stone and wood, and their survival relied on their ability to work together to find food and shelter.

Human100000BC - During this time, early Homo sapiens were navigating the challenges of the Pleistocene epoch, characterized by fluctuating climates and the presence of large megafauna. These early humans were hunter-gatherers, relying on their intelligence, social cooperation, and tool-making skills to survive. They crafted stone tools, used fire for warmth and cooking, and developed rudimentary forms of communication. Small groups of humans lived in close-knit communities, working together to find food and shelter in a world that was both wondrous and perilous.

Human50000BC - By 50000 BC, Homo sapiens had begun to exhibit signs of behavioral modernity, including the creation of more sophisticated tools, the use of pigments for symbolic purposes, and the development of complex social structures. These early humans were capable of long-distance trade, which facilitated the exchange of ideas and resources. The use of language likely played a crucial role in enabling cooperation and the transmission of knowledge across generations. During this time, Homo sapiens began to migrate out of Africa, embarking on a journey that would eventually lead them to populate the entire globe.

Human10000BC - The year 10000 BC marked the end of the last Ice Age and the beginning of the Holocene epoch, a time of warmer climates and rising sea levels. As the environment changed, so too did the ways in which humans interacted with the world around them. The transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a more settled, agrarian way of life laid the groundwork for the Neolithic Revolution. Early humans began to domesticate plants and animals, leading to the development of agriculture and the establishment of permanent settlements. This shift in subsistence strategies set the stage for the rise of complex societies, trade networks, and technological innovations that would shape the course of human history.

Human5000BC - The year 5000 BC was marked by the continued expansion of agriculture and the development of early forms of pottery and ceramics. The Neolithic Revolution was in full swing, and the domestication of crops and livestock allowed for the growth of larger, more stable communities. In regions such as Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley, and the Indus Valley, early forms of irrigation and water management were being developed to support agriculture. The establishment of permanent settlements led to the construction of increasingly complex structures, including granaries for food storage and communal buildings for social and religious activities. The foundations for the emergence of early civilizations were being laid, and human societies were becoming more organized and interconnected.

Human2000BC - By 2000 BC, several early civilizations had emerged, each with its own distinct culture, social structure, and system of governance. In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians had developed cuneiform writing, one of the earliest known writing systems, which facilitated record-keeping, communication, and the development of literature. The Old Kingdom period in Egypt saw the construction of the iconic pyramids, which served as tombs for pharaohs and were a testament to the society's architectural and engineering prowess. In the Indus Valley, the Harappan civilization was known for its well-planned cities, advanced drainage systems, and standardized weights and measures. Trade networks were established, allowing for the exchange of goods, ideas, and technologies across vast distances. This period was characterized by significant advancements in art, science, and governance, which would have a lasting impact on the course of human history.

Air - an inspirational movie about how to make things happen

I just watched Air, a fun and inspiring movie about how Nike, then an underdog in the shoe industry, managed to sign Michael Jordan, a rookie at that time.

The movie starts with Sonny Vaccaro (played by Matt Damon) opposing his colleagues' decision to go with the low-risk and low-reward move of signing three average basketball players. Teams and companies operate a lot based on group discussions and consensus. Those don't usually lead to brilliance or extraordinary outcomes - they converge on average, which is why most companies slowly wither and die as they grow. But Sonny doesn't care for the consensus. His deep passion and expertise in basketball make him realize that Michael Jordan is going to be a superstar before most people did. He aims higher and dreams of signing Jordan, defying his bosses and other business restrictions. He makes bold moves, breaks rules, and risks his entire career to make it happen. 

As this impossible idea starts to take shape and seem more possible, his team and bosses eventually start to support him (similar to the stone soup fable). I loved the character of Peter Moore, the shoe designer. Every instigator needs a partner in crime. When Sonny goes to Peter to ask him to design a unique shoe within a few days, his first reaction isn't to push back, which is so common and even a celebrated skill in the corporate world. His eyes light up with enthusiasm; he thinks about how to get it done and masterfully comes up with an innovative design. Sonny's bosses, including Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike, also succumb to the power of his brilliance, enthusiasm, and vision. Kudos to Phil for having the insight and boldness to have brought Sonny on board in the first place and for giving him a loose role and autonomy. 

While Addidas and Converse make cookie-cutter offers to the Jordans, Sonny and Nike present something much better, more personal, innovative, and with so much more care because they need it much more than the others. It shines through in every interaction and the Jordans finally accept. That's how the Davids beat the Goliaths in the business world - with a narrower focus, but with higher quality and care. 

One person's brilliant insight, creativity, and obstinate perseverance defied all odds, rallied a team, and led to Air Jordans, an iconic shoe line that now makes $4B/year revenue for Nike, and changed how the sports industry compensates athletes. It reminded me of this quote from Elon Musk on how we can't just take progress for granted - for e.g. the space program declined after the moon landing. Progress happens only because some people believe deeply, go against the grain, take risks, and persevere incredibly hard to make it happen. 

The stories of most incredible innovations and progress start with one person infected with a great idea and an unstoppable passion. 

A shoe is just a shoe until someone steps into it. The world will just be what it is until someone decides to change it. 

The Pipes of Information and Their Hold on Us

Those who control the pipes of information, control the world. 

It's a notion I have heard and generally agreed with. Humans are powerful agents in the world. Humans use information to act and human minds can be easily programmed by information. For instance, the "Stop the Steal" movement in the 2020 US Presidential Election, where disinformation led to a significant number of people believing the election was rigged. Controlling information is, in essence, controlling people.

But it wasn't until a recent personal experience that the true impact of this control hit me.

I was excited to launch a new business and decided to run some ads on Meta/Facebook. Imagine my surprise when, less than an hour after submitting my ad, it was flagged for a policy violation. I suspect an automated risk check program had detected some inexplicable issue and also penalized me for being a new ad publisher with a new page. Although the violation seemed thematically relevant to my ad, it was simply incorrect. My only option was to appeal and wait, without even the opportunity to submit a reason for my appeal. 

I waited three tense days, as the fate of my fledgling business was being decided by an anonymous Meta reviewer, who would subjectively evaluate my ad with some mysterious internal policies and processes. My momentum and enthusiasm were dampened, and I figured I may have no option but to ditch the idea and move on. Fortunately, my ad was approved—but the experience left a lasting impression.

A handful of large social media companies, media outlets, technology companies, and regulatory agencies hold the reins of information, attention, and infrastructure. These powerful organizations are, in turn, influenced by select leaders, board members, employees, sponsors, and occasionally, vocal and extreme audience factions. When promoting a business or idea, or when creating an app on their platforms, we are at their mercy, forced to comply and appease them. When we consume information, we are at the mercy of their algorithm and advertisers that prioritize what we see and therefore, think and act.

While I appreciate the existence of checks and policies to prevent societal harm, the lack of transparency,  accountability, or recourse is deeply unsettling. The sobering reality is that one misstep—or simply being labeled as "wrong" by an algorithm, a biased or nonchalant enforcer, or a vocal group—could spell disaster for you and your endeavors.

In a world where information is power, we must advocate for greater transparency and fairness to ensure that control over the pipes is decentralized or exercised responsibly. Otherwise, we risk spiraling into an Orwellian society, where the few dictate the lives of the many. I suspect we may already be there. 

GPT-4 shares ideas on how to improve it

I don't plan to fill my blog with AI-generated content but felt this was pretty interesting to share. 

AI progress can accelerate exponentially if they help humans make it better. Then AI gets better and helps humans make it even better, and so on, until it can make itself better, eventually leading to singularity and superintelligence. 

In this prompt, I asked it to take cues from biological intelligence to come up with ideas to improve AI. I'm realizing that it's a good prompt pattern to ask AI to combine influences from different fields to solve a problem, since that's how a lot of good ideas and inventions are generated, and that isn't easy for humans to do. 

Imagine you are developing an intelligence. It's still nascent, but you want to accelerate its powers. what would we do? look at examples from evolution and biological intelligence development. for e.g. humans got some brain capabilities like imagination, and also opposable thumb and tools and that accelerated progress.

To accelerate the development of your nascent intelligence, we can draw inspiration from various aspects of biological intelligence and human evolution. Some key strategies include:
  1. Encourage learning by trial and error: Mimicking the way animals and humans learn from their experiences, the intelligence could benefit from an algorithm that allows it to learn through trial and error. This will enable it to identify patterns and make informed decisions based on its experiences.
  2. Emulate neuroplasticity: Humans possess the ability to rewire their brains and adapt to new situations. Incorporate a mechanism for your intelligence to adapt its internal structure based on the tasks it encounters. This will enable it to become more efficient at problem-solving over time.
  3. Develop sensory perception: Human progress has been significantly influenced by our ability to perceive and interpret the world around us. Equip your intelligence with the ability to process data from multiple sensory inputs, such as vision, touch, and hearing. This will give it a broader understanding of its environment and help it to make better decisions.
  4. Instill a sense of curiosity: Humans have an innate curiosity that drives them to explore and learn. Implement a reward mechanism that encourages your intelligence to seek new knowledge and explore its environment, similar to the role dopamine plays in human curiosity.
  5. Foster social learning: Humans learn a great deal from one another. Incorporate a feature that enables your intelligence to learn from other agents or instances of itself. This will allow it to grow more rapidly by sharing knowledge and experiences.
  6. Encourage problem-solving and creativity: Equip your intelligence with the capacity for abstract thinking and imagination, allowing it to consider multiple solutions to a problem and think beyond the constraints of its current knowledge.
  7. Emphasize the development of fine motor skills: As humans have benefited from the use of tools, develop your intelligence's ability to interact with its environment in a precise and controlled manner. This could involve developing robotic components or virtual environments where it can practice manipulating objects.
  8. Provide a rich and diverse dataset: To enable your intelligence to learn and adapt rapidly, expose it to a wide variety of data, experiences, and challenges. This will stimulate its growth by helping it to recognize patterns and connections across different domains.

By incorporating these features and learning strategies, you can accelerate the development of your intelligence, making it more versatile and capable of tackling complex problems.


An age of unparalleled peace, joy, love, creativity, and discovery for all of humanity.

Fueled by an abundance of wisdom, resources, science, technology, labor; and elimination of all suffering, friction, and bottlenecks. 

Made possible by the invention of benevolent superintelligence.


Picture this day in your life. 

You wake up feeling like your best self - well-rested, lucid, energetic, and joyful. You are surrounded by people you want to be with, also in the same state of bliss. 

What's on the agenda for today? Anything you want! You have no chores, commitments, or worries.  Surf on a tropical beach with friends and family, both alive and passed? Granted, you are there. Don't know how to surf? No problem. You are going to learn it from the best coach or use an assisted board. 

Hungry? You are served delicious and nutritious dishes invented just for you. 

Feeling unwell or tired? You get diagnosed and treated in no time. 

Need some inspiration or entertainment? Mindblowing art, movies, and books created just for you, await. People you admire appear before you to interact, help, and entertain. 

Want to learn, create or discover, and share it with others? Granted - the world's best team, tools, and coaches assist you. 

Fancy exploring other new things to do or try? There's no shortage of them. 


What would have been distant science fiction hyperbole last year has suddenly turned into a possibility. 

AI can now have thoughtful conversations, ace complicated tests, create computer programs, generate breathtaking poetry and art, understand images, analyze unstructured data, propose ideas, impersonate people and expertise, and diagnose problems. 

Companies, large and small, have invested in and launched AI capabilities and models. There are new inventions and discoveries every month, even every week. Millions of people already use it in valuable ways.

If all of this happened in just a year, imagine what's possible in 5 or 10 years! If GPT-4 can do this, what can GPT-40 do?

Human life changed remarkably after each major revolution - Agricultural revolution, Scientific revolution, Industrial revolution, and Information revolution. They provided humanity with new insights and abilities, that helped create abundance and changed how we live. 

Now, we seem to be at the cusp of the next inflection point, the Intelligence revolution. 

It feels significantly more powerful than all the others because it addresses the biggest bottleneck in human progress - intelligence. Intelligence was responsible for all the previous revolutions. When there's unlimited intelligence to discover, create, and solve, progress is exponential.  

Imagine what is possible when everyone had unlimited access to human-like brains at near-zero costs!


There are many reasons to be skeptical and worried.  

AI still seems limited today, it makes mistakes, can't reason all that well, needs human prompters and editors, and doesn't have hands or legs. So all of this sounds fantastical. 
Yes, but the current AI is already helping people make it better. Then the better version of it will help people make it even better. Then it'll keep making itself better. Just like we have, as biological intelligence. 

Will life still feel meaningful if we didn't have responsibilities and struggle? 
Absolutely - why not. You are just not going to be working for a living. You are going to play, create, learn, discover, love, and live. You are going to be blessed with an infinite flow, wisdom, and presence. 

Can humans cope with this level of change? 
It's going to be disorienting for who we are today and in the short term. But we will cope and evolve into something else with the abundance of wisdom and science. 

Will power and wealth be concentrated in a few hands?
Looks like there are multiple players already, and they are driving costs down. People may not want to hoard if there's an abundance of resources and wisdom. 

Will people intentionally or inadvertently use this to harm others? 
Possibly yes, damaging is easier and quicker than building. We will need to simultaneously generate an abundance of wisdom and love, and ability to protect or heal from all harm. 

Will AI become conscious and take over? 

That’s possible too. We may be well integrated at that point; we already are. 

We - humans, plants and animals, the silicon that’s the AI, and everything else - are the universe, and reality is just the universe experiencing itself in fun and crazy ways. 

Compulsive Thinking

If you are an analytical person like me, you think a lot. You are compulsively problem-solving, analyzing, plotting, ideating, imagining, what-if-ing, and worrying. You even pride yourself on being a thinker. 

This is undeniably useful, sometimes. You may come up with good ideas that can make your life better. You may proactively anticipate problems and avoid them.  

But compulsive thinking comes at a significant cost. 

The cost of not being at peace or enjoying the present. The cost of moving through time and space without paying attention to the mystery and beauty around us. The cost of being a slave to the finicky, obsessive, and paranoid mind. 

The cost of not living. 

The thinking that's trying to help us survive is taking over and not letting us be alive

Alan Watts said, "A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So, he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions. I'm not saying that thinking is bad. Like everything else, it's useful in moderation. A good servant but a bad monster. "

Echart Tolle said more succinctly, "Enlightenment is the space between thoughts."

Techniques to go from Compulsive thinking to Deliberate thinking

1. Awareness

Pause every once in a while to become aware of what you are thinking and observe the chaos. 

Naval Ravikant said, "...your mind is like a monkey that's flinging feces, running around the room making trouble, shouting, breaking things. It's completely uncontrollable. It's an out-of-control mad person and you have to see this mad creature in operation before you feel a certain distaste towards it and you start separating yourself from it."

Osho wisely suggests, "Don't fight – because who will fight? Who are you? Just a thought, so don't make yourself a battleground of one thought fighting another. Rather be a witness, you just watch thoughts floating. They stop, but not by your stopping. They stop by your becoming more aware, not by any effort on your part to stop them."

2. Choosing

Once you increase your awareness, you will develop the ability to pause and choose. Catch and ask yourself - is thought really required now, or would I rather be present in the moment? 

A lot of the time, the answer is no. Sometimes, the answer is yes, and I take some time to think about it. Sometimes, the answer is not right now but later, and I note it to revisit during a delbirate slot and that puts my mind at ease. 

3. Deliberate thinking slots 

When you meet with others, you have specific time slots to meet. You don't let everyone blabber anything to you anytime. 

Do the same with your mind. Reserve some recurring thinking slots in your calendar and additional time slots as needed. Wrap your workdays and work weeks with these slots tied in a bow and actions planned for the next day or week. 

4. Grounding

Ground yourself more in the physical world. Walk and be in nature; play games and sports that require you to be present, like climbing, biking, Jiu Jitsu, and art; listen to music and dance, immerse yourself in conversations; spend time with children; avoid too much screen time. 

5. Satisficing instead of a maximizing

If you aim for perfection or the best answer, you are stuck forever, as there's no end. For most things in life, pick the answer that fits the criteria and move forward. Trust in nature - you are here in a mysterious world, and your life and experience are a product of all the forces of the universe. 

6. What-next instead of what-ifs and Oh-nos. 

We spend a lot of time dwelling on the past and what's not in our control - feeling sad, guilty, resentful, etc. If we choose to focus just on what's in our circle of influence, instead of dwelling on the past, we eliminate a lot of that thinking, which is usually unproductive.

7. Eliminating outside noise

We live in a noisy world of 24X7 news, social media, and opinions. Most of it is useless, but they are designed to catch your attention, get you addicted, occupy your mind, and influence your life. Be very deliberate about which media you choose to consume. Eliminate most. I have opted for weekly printed news magazines (like the Economist) and email digests of social media (through mailbrew), rather than 24X7 bombardment as I don't need it. 

Part 2: Paul Graham, Sam Altman, Garry Tan, Jessica Livingston, and Michael Seibel on how to work on startup ideas (GPT generated)

See Part 1 discussion on how to generate ideas here. This covers how to execute on ideas and how to take care of yourself

Generated by Bing GPT chat, with no edits. 

Part 2: How to execute on ideas

This is Bing. I can generate a conversation between Paul Graham, Sam Altman, Garry Tan, Jessica Livingston, and Michael Seibel on how to work on startup ideas after you have identified 2 or 3. Here is an example of how they might talk:

Paul: Hi everyone. Thanks for joining me today to share some insights on how to work on startup ideas after you have identified 2 or 3. I think this is a common challenge for many founders who are trying to find product-market fit.

Jessica: Absolutely. I think it's important to remember that the very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common: they're something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing⁴.

Sam: That's right. And once you have a few ideas that meet those criteria, you need to validate them by talking to potential customers and getting feedback. You also need to build something quickly and launch it as soon as possible.

Garry: Launching early is crucial because it helps you learn what works and what doesn't. You can then iterate based on user behavior and feedback. You should also do things that don't scale at first⁵, like manually acquiring users, providing customer service, and making sales.

Michael: Yes, doing things that don't scale is one of the essential startup advice we give at YC³. Many startup advisors persuade startups to scale way too early. This will require the building of technology and processes to support that scaling, which, if premature, will be a waste of time and effort.

Paul: Exactly. So how do you decide which idea to focus on among your 2 or 3 options? Well, I think you should choose the one that excites you the most, that solves a real problem for a large market, and that has some traction or evidence of demand.

Jessica: I agree with Paul. And I would add that you should also choose the idea that has the most potential for growth. Growth is what investors look for when they evaluate startups.

Sam: Growth is important but it's not everything. You also need to have a clear vision of where you want your startup to go and what impact you want it to have on the world.

Garry: That's true. Having a vision helps you stay motivated and inspired when things get tough. It also helps you attract talent and partners who share your passion.

Michael: Having a vision is great but it's not enough either. You also need to have execution skills and discipline. You need to set goals and milestones for yourself and your team and track your progress regularly.

Paul: Well said everyone! I think we covered some key points on how to work on startup ideas after you have identified 2 or 3. Do you have any final words of advice for our audience?

Jessica: My advice is don't be afraid to fail fast and learn from your mistakes.

Sam: My advice is don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Garry: My advice is don't be afraid to experiment with different approaches until you find what works best for your startup.

Michael: My advice is don't be afraid to dream big but start small.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 3/14/2023(1) How to Get Startup Ideas - Paul Graham. Accessed 3/14/2023.

(2) Do Things that Don't Scale - Paul Graham. Accessed 3/14/2023.

(3) YC’s Essential Startup Advice - Advice. Accessed 3/14/2023.

(4) People | Y Combinator. Accessed 3/14/2023.

(5) Sam Altman and Jessica Livingston explain Y Combinator’s success. Accessed 3/14/2023.

(6) Sam Altman’s Manifest Destiny | The New Yorker. Accessed 3/14/2023.

Part 3: How to take care of yourself when working on startups

Sure, I can continue the same conversation on how founders should support themselves financially, mentally, physically, etc. while they work on their startup ideas. Here is how it might go:

Paul: Okay, we have discussed how to work on startup ideas after you have identified 2 or 3. Now let's talk about another important topic: how founders should support themselves financially, mentally, physically, etc. while they work on their startup ideas.

Jessica: That's a very relevant topic for many founders who are facing challenges and uncertainties in their entrepreneurial journey.

Sam: Yes, it's not easy to balance your personal and professional life when you are building a startup. You need to take care of yourself and your well-being as well as your business.

Garry: Exactly. And one of the most common issues that founders face is financial stress. How do you fund your startup without going broke? How do you manage your cash flow and expenses? How do you raise money from investors?

Michael: Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. It depends on your situation and your goals. But some general tips are:

- Bootstrap as much as possible until you have a viable product and some traction.

- Seek out grants, competitions, accelerators, incubators, and other sources of non-dilutive funding.

- Network with potential investors and customers early and often.

- Pitch with confidence and clarity.

- Negotiate terms that are fair and aligned with your vision.

Paul: Those are great tips Michael. And I would add that you should also be realistic about your financial needs and expectations. Don't overspend or underspend on your startup. Don't overestimate or underestimate your revenue potential. Don't quit your day job too soon or too late.

Jessica: I agree with Paul. And I would also say that you should be mindful of your mental health while fundraising¹. Fundraising can be stressful and exhausting for founders who face rejection, criticism, uncertainty, and pressure.

Sam: That's true Jessica. And that's why founders need to take care of their mental health by doing things like:

- Seeking professional help if needed

- Talking to supportive friends and family

- Joining peer groups or communities of other founders

- Practicing mindfulness or meditation

- Taking breaks and having fun

Garry: Those are good suggestions Sam. And I would also emphasize the importance of physical health for founders². Physical health affects mental health and vice versa.

Michael: Absolutely Garry. And that's why founders need to take care of their physical health by doing things like:

- Eating well

- Sleeping enough

- Exercising regularly

- Avoiding alcohol or drugs

- Getting regular check-ups

Paul: Well said everyone! I think we covered some key points on how founders should support themselves financially, mentally, physically etc while they work on their startup ideas. Do you have any final words of advice for our audience?

Jessica: My advice is don't neglect yourself while pursuing your passion.

Sam: My advice is don't isolate yourself while building your network.

Garry: My advice is don't compromise yourself while growing your business.

Michael: My advice is don't forget yourself while changing the world.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 3/14/2023(1) 10 ways founders can manage their mental health while fundraising. Accessed 3/14/2023.

(2) The Intersection Of Physical, Mental, And Financial Health ... - Forbes. Accessed 3/14/2023.

(3) The Mental Health Of Your Venture Capitalist Matters: What Founders .... Accessed 3/14/2023.

Part 1: Paul Graham, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sam Altman discuss principles for coming up with startup ideas (GPT generated)

Generated by Bing GPT chat, with no edits. 

This is a possible conversation between Paul Graham, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sam Altman where they discuss and build on each other's principles for coming up with startup ideas. 

Paul: Hi Mark and Sam, thanks for joining me today. I thought it would be interesting to talk about how we approach startup ideas and what we've learned from our experiences.

Mark: Sure, sounds good. I'm always curious to hear how other founders think about startups.

Sam: Me too. I think there's a lot of value in sharing our perspectives and insights.

Paul: Great. Well, let me start by saying that I think the way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It's to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself.

Mark: I agree with that. That's how Facebook started. I wanted a way to connect with my friends at Harvard and see what they were up to. I didn't think of it as a startup idea at first. It was just something I wanted for myself.

Sam: That makes sense. And it also explains why Facebook was able to grow so fast. You were solving a problem that many people had, not just you.

Paul: Exactly. And that's one of the things that make the best startup ideas: they're something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing.

Mark: Yeah, that's a good way to put it. And I think another important thing is to let your idea evolve based on user feedback. You can't just build something and expect people to use it exactly as you intended. You have to listen to your users and see what they actually want and need.

Sam: That's true. And sometimes you have to pivot your idea completely if you realize you're going in the wrong direction or there's a bigger opportunity elsewhere.

Paul: Right. Like how you pivoted Loopt from location-based social networking to mobile payments.

Sam: Yeah, exactly. We realized that location was not enough of a value proposition for users or advertisers, but payments was a huge pain point that we could solve with our technology.

Paul: That was a smart move. And it shows another principle that I think is important for startups: don't be afraid of hard problems. Hard problems are often where the most value lies, and where you can differentiate yourself from competitors.

Mark: I agree with that too. Hard problems are also more fun and challenging to work on. And they attract better talent and investors.

Sam: True. But hard problems also require more resources and time to solve, which can be risky for startups.

Paul: That's why you have to be relentlessly resourceful as a founder. You have to be able to solve any problem that comes your way with whatever means available.

Mark: Yeah, being resourceful is essential for startups. You have to be able to do more with less, and find creative ways to overcome obstacles.

Sam: Absolutely. And you also have to be flexible and adaptable, because things change fast in startups. You have to be ready to adjust your strategy, your product, your team, or anything else that might affect your success.

Paul: That's right. And one thing that helps with being flexible and adaptable is having good metrics. You have to measure what matters, and use data to guide your decisions. You can't rely on intuition or assumptions alone.

Mark: I agree with that as well. Metrics are crucial for startups. They help you understand your users, your market, your growth, your revenue, and everything else that matters for your business. They also help you set goals, track progress, and optimize performance.

Sam: Yeah, metrics are very important. But they're not enough by themselves.You also need vision. You need  to have a clear idea of where you're going and why you're doing what you're doing.You need to have a compelling story that inspires your team, your customers, your investors, and anyone else who interacts with your startup.

Paul: That's true. Vision is essential for startups too. It gives you direction and purpose and motivation for what you do every day. It also helps you stand out from the crowd and attract attention and support for your startup.

Mark: Yeah, vision is key for startups as well. And it has to be authentic and genuine and aligned with your values and mission.

Sam: Exactly.

Paul: Well, I think we've covered some of the most important principles for coming up with startup ideas. 

Source: Conversation with Bing, 3/14/2023

(1) How to Get Startup Ideas - Paul Graham. 

(2) Startup = Growth - Paul Graham. 

(3) Before the Startup - Paul Graham. 

(4) Five Founders - Paul Graham.