The Playbook for Ambitious People

Basically, How do you become an outlier?

One of the most troubling things which I have heard in my life is:

The most important thing you can get to be a founder is to pick your parents well. That’s a really sad statement about the world.

Who said it? Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator.

Why is it that an 18 year old sitting in India has less chance of being successful rather than an 18 year old sitting in San Francisco?

People should be allowed to be ambitious irrespective of their country, caste or religion.

I have learned some interesting facts over the past few days:-

Source: https://guzey.com

PS: I have been binge-reading all the content on this website. Alex Guzey has done a fantastic job building this website. Follow him on Twitter.
  • Out of 30 Nobel laureates in Physics between 1901 and 1925 only one laureate’s father did something manual for a living. (Johannes Diderik van der Waals’ father was a carpenter)
  • Out of 28 Nobel laureates in Physics between 2000 and 2009 only one laureate’s father did something manual for a living. (Carl Edwin Wieman’s father was a sawyer. Even in this case, this job was only for a number of years and Carl’s grandfather was a famous theologian at the University of Chicago)

Now, as an ambitious 20 year old sitting in one of fastest developing countries in the world, here are the things which I spend my time thinking about the most:

One of the things I spend a lot of our time thinking about how do I enable people to find their passion.

A majority of problems at least about happiness and efficiency can be solved just by helping people find their passion. But, what is that exactly?

There is nothing worse than untapped human potential;

Another issue here is how many people are there who don’t have idea what are they capable of?

Have you heard the logic of the frog living in the well and the ocean?
“The frog in the well” illustrates that a frog residing in the atmosphere and boundary of a well cannot imagine the length and breadth of the gigantic ocean. Such a frog, when informed of the gigantic length and breadth of the ocean, first of all does not believe that there is such an ocean, and if someone assures him that factually there is such a thing, the frog then begins to measure it by imagination by means of pumping its belly as far as possible, with the result that the tiny abdomen of the frog bursts and the poor frog dies without any experience of the actual ocean.

Imagine how many people end up living like this?

But, how do we help people see what it is out there? What kind of opportunities lie out in the world?

My answer is usually, the Internet.

Internet is a leverage point that most ambitious people never really the best use of. 😄

Investing in Talent

One of the most peculiar/not-so-common things that is emerging in recent times is Talent Investing. There are a bunch of companies coming up in the “space” if we could call it yet.

  1. Lambda School
  2. Pioneer
  3. Bridge
  4. Entrepreneur First
  5. Antler Global

They are just few pioneers in the space at this point of time. But, none of them have really cracked it yet.

The relevant question here is, what should you do as a person to find your thing and become an outlier there?

One approach to this is adopting the Five Chimps theory by Naval Ravikant which states, you become the average of 5 people you hang out with the most.

We are social animals

But, sometimes, you just need “that one guy” around you. Hangout with him/her.

Tip 1: Find “That One Guy”

I sent a rough draft of this blog to my colleague Adam Breckler, he talked about he got into building websites.

One of the things which I have discovered very recently is the concept of Passive Mentorship, where we try to first decode what is the person that you want to be like?

Tip 2: Copy People You Want to Be Like

Chamath Palihapitiya said something amazing during a talk at Stanford Business school a few years back,

“For me, I just copied. A lot of my life is just copying things that I see. There’s not a lot of original thought here. We can all pretend we’re all fucking geniuses. Honestly, be good copiers. It’s the best thing in the world. Be around high-functioning, high-quality people, and just copy the shit that they do. Observe the shit that’s crappy, and don’t do that stuff.”

Me and Adam Breckler go deep into this here.

Here are some points if you don’t feel like listening to our podcast:-

  1. Follow the people’s following list on Twitter you want to be like :)
  2. See what he/she is liking aggressively
  3. Try finding his old blog posts and binge read them. (For Naval, I went to Startupboy.com)
  4. Try engaging in a bunch of conversations with him.(I made an anonymous account to do so. Try it if you don’t feel comfortable doing it from your personal handle.)

Here’s a list of folks whose personal websites I frequently visit:-

  1. Patrick Collison(https://patrickcollison.com)
  2. Harshita Arora (https://harshitaarora.com/)
  3. Daniel Gross (https://dcgross.com)
  4. David Perell (https://perell.com)
  5. Naval Ravikant (http://startupboy.com)
  6. Alexey Guzey (https://guzey.com)
  7. Paul Graham (http://paulgraham.com/)
  8. Sam Altman (http://blog.samaltman.com/)

Tip 3: Build Networks on Twitter

Build and Invest in Networks

Networking is super tricky thing. The best folks I know who do it amazingly are Sar Haribhakti and Blake Robbins.

I always thought of networking as a very stupid thing but then I read this amazing blog post from Sar Haribhakti talking about how important interpersonal dynamics are.

Also, if you are complaining that you are not around enough smart people, here’s my(well, his) response.


With all this in your hand, just hope for some luck to go along your way here and you will just do fine. 😄

PS: You can follow me on Twitter @ankitkr0