An Honest Letter to Myself 11 years ago.
Today I get the honor of speaking at UCLA and LMU separately, to brilliant potential entrepreneurs. I wanted to write down some quick thoughts, but it quickly became a letter to myself 11 years ago.
Dear Adam in 2007,
You will want proof that this is really from you, because you are me and I would want proof.
Proof: You are currently writing a screenplay called TimeSnipers with Kobernick, you watch the movie Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix minimum twice a week with Gundy, and your favorite country is Australia.
Spoilers in the next 11 years:
- iPhones are still a thing but Steve Jobs passes away in a couple years. Yeah, huge bummer.
- Facebook is still a thing, but everyone is mad about the whole privacy on the internet situation. So everyone deletes Facebook but uses instagram… oh yeah, Instagram is a thing too, it’s like twitter for pictures. (Btw, great job getting that twitter handle when you did) also important to note that Instagram is owned by Facebook.
- Next year you are going to learn that the banks messed up, really bad. Pay attention, you are sort of helping people take revenge on the banks right now.
- DJing is a profession now. So is gaming. So your “Video Games” class is actually paying dividends.
- You know how you were on Nickelodeon for a bit, the internet has a long memory.
To answer your next couple questions:
- No we still have not seen the movie titanic.
- No your script “time snipers” did not become a big hit. It was too much like Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure without the humor.
- Yes we are ok with how DC handled the infinite crisis series.
I wanted to give some advice though, I didn’t invent a time machine to send letters back in time to you, merely just to regurgitate what is going to happen, I wanted to give you some straight forward advice and hopefully get you to establish habits that make me a super human.
You know how all you do is read comic books? Turns out that becomes important, after Iron Man comes out, Marvel gets acquired by Disney for the IP, and suddenly we have like 1000 super hero movies a year. Also, your entire career becomes helping people build super powers (flew a flying car last week).
But read up about everything. Be interested in things. Don’t read what the royal “they” want you to read, read in order to pursue your curiosities, and use that knowledge to build things.
You know how you really don’t care about anything other than girls and Super Smash Brothers right now? It turns out there are important points being debated all around you. You should read in order to develop your opinions. When someone is passionate about an opinion read about both sides, and feel which side fits you. Take a side, and see where it goes. You end up connecting to people on a new level.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be better.
The world is made up of people who say, “we can’t do that because…,” and people who say, “It’d be cool if…” both sets of people are important to make the world spin. However, where you are going, you need support, you need blind optimism. You want to surround yourself with the people who inspire change. Aim high and don’t compromise.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t play someone else’s game.
You are a junior in school, everyone is going to start talking about the future and what they are going to do with it. They have no idea, just like you have no idea. But their future is not your future, so don’t sweat it. Pursue your own mission, wander if you need to, make decisions and experience the world. You will end up in interesting places that help define you. Say yes to things, and decide. Don’t follow others in their path.
Help people up when they are down.
The world/economy is about to go through an epic downfall for you. People are going to be fearful about the future, and pessimistic about careers. Encourage then toward a world they love, and help them open doors when you are capable. Empathize with their journey and their fears, but console them with positive energy.
Be a better friend.
I have neglected my friends. It becomes harder when you aren’t living on top of each other to casually hang out. The world happens. Taking time out of your day to think about your friends the way that you think about your mission and career will enable you to be better than I am.
The world feels fast. We are in a world wind of decision making. We have 4 Billion people on the internet now, and everyone is constantly updating it with their latest cat videos… still a thing… still great… With this information overlay, it’s important to find time for you, to check in with yourself.
Fail. Fail again. Fail in public. Learn.
Trust me when I say, you are going to have no problem failing. You fail a lot over the next 11 years. The next 11 years is like jumping off a cliff, and then hitting every branch of a 1000 foot tree on the way down… but like in a good way. I would encourage you to fail more. Be willing to stick your neck out more. Fight for more.
Continue your optimism.
We are a happy species, you and I. We vibe off others light and make it brighter. It’s pretty awesome. I would be sad if this wasn’t a part of our core. So continue to ride the bright side of things. There is always a glass that is half empty somewhere else, it doesn’t need to be yours.
Learn to listen. Learn to ask questions.
You like to talk a lot. You think your opinion is the important one in the room. It’s important that everyone is heard. You can’t learn while you are talking. I think the one thing that they don’t teach at UCLA that they should is how to ask questions. Asking questions leads to deeper connection. I have only started to scratch the surface of this last one.
Most importantly, you could completely mess all these other things up if you want, in fact, knowing you, you will make it a challenge to not do any of these things because an authority figure (me) told you to listen, and I’m fine with that. Theres only one thing that you have to do, it will be the most important decision you ever make. And if you don’t do it, I will come back to the past and the plot of Terminator 1 will be about me tracking you down to kick your ass.
You must let your sister and your friends drag you out to the Old Pro bar in Palo Alto on Easter weekend of next year. This decision will net you purpose, you will learn what about life you fight for. You will learn what adventure truly is.
*Note: She is the one in the white top and jeans talking to Jesse.
Your adventure is just beginning. 11 years later, so is mine.