They said “build for the future”. What about today?
The best thing I did to my life about an year back was putting together what I call as ‘my knowledge hours’ – which is nothing but my so called dedicated-to-reading time between 12 pm to 2–2.30 am every night. I read books, interesting blogs on the internet, end up watching some random video that connect, etc etc. If I find something appealing, I share it on Twitter & Facebook. I also try to read stuff that is different from my immediate work during this time (not related to growth hacks, industry news, etc which as it is fills a part of my day), since that would defeat the whole purpose of this being the relax-and-learn mode. But yes, what I read still does come back to work in the form of our vision and mission at Leverage.
Okay. Context set. Moving on to the real deal on why I write this piece tonight:
From the last many months, I have been reading more and more about where we are headed. Like my tribe, I am also mad about new technology doing awesome things, making life more sexy – and sometimes more meaningful as well. There are startups working on our escape from this planet, there are startups working on making this planet habitable – and then are those who are working on stuff that would make life, in whatever form it will exist, better. I am a fan of this last category (which unfortunately does not see as much obsessive fandom as some other stuff).
I came across the below shared blog by Hemant Taneja on the same lines (who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and taking advice from when my startup Leverage was in a super nascent stage and I was still at the Draper fellowship in San Mateo, out networking and trying to gain whatever I could by meeting awesome people in the Valley – two years back). It talks about something that touched a chord right away.
Link to the piece: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/silicon-valley-dreams-what-all-comes-true-hemant-taneja?published=t
It says this: “I want my children and grandchildren to live in a world where people can contribute to our society, and not spend their ever-lengthening lives just killing time.” It also talks about how a lot of money is going towards some incredible healthcare startups who are trying to solve problems that really make ‘today’ and the ‘tomorrow in sight’ a better place. That’s the same vision with which we build our company Leverage as well, razor focused on making a dent in the Higher Education space in the developing world, by connecting it with the developed world. And making that change happen right now. Everydy. We believe that if we can impact a few million lives by giving them awesome careers, we would have done our job well.
Putting the above article in alignment with a lot of recent history I read (1200 AD onwards), the book Sapiens, and the below seen tweet thread from Bill Gates:
-begs this one question: are we doing enough for the world we inhabit today?
Like all geeks, I also religiously follow what our gurus in the Valley say, what TC announces as disruption, and of course, the most recent news on AI (mostly that of it becoming more powerful etc these days) – but the moment I take my head out of this world, the question that hit me hardest is: what can I do today to make sure that the next 24 hours, or the next week, or the next one year is awesome for my fellow homo sapiens!
This, in turn, begs another question: while innovating out of the box is important, how can we make use of the available technology stack and build something on top of the awesome stuff already out there. As someone who’s trying to crack a problem for the developing world that’s largely under-penetrated at the moment (and will remain so for atleast some more time), that question becomes even more important, and just about always finds a mention in our weekly product reviews while analysing beta feedback.
There is so much out there today (in terms of resources) – in order to build products that serve the consumers of today, who we see all around us (and for whom we don’t have to do statistical and scientific guesswork). At Leverage, our engineers work with a psychology major, and that’s the most deadly mix I have seen in my life. It also brings so much clarity to the basic engineering thoughts and patterns.
We have often seen Silicon Valley taking the lead and defining where we are headed – and while I am not certain if the geographical area will continue to hold that power this time around, the Valley ideology most certainly will. As a small part of the system, I sincerely hope that as we continue to chase the future, we do so meaningfully, keeping one eye on the problems of today, and the other on a more mindful approach for the transition that definitely isn’t too far away.