Ikigai has changed my life. It’s a Japanese concept that helps you identify your life purpose.
Before ikigai I couldn’t focus on one thing. I constantly switched between projects, never truly satisfied for a long period of time. The last few months however have been an awakening as I’ve learnt to make sure that every thing I say yes to and work on is relevant to my ikigai.
Give it a go, it might change your life.
In mid-2015, I was successful in applying to an accelerator program in Melbourne, Australia. I’d found out about the program and I didn’t know if my chances were that good, but I thought I’d give it a shot anyway because I had a new business idea that needed some funding.
By context and by background, I am a serial entrepreneur so I love starting new businesses all the time.
An accelerator program, if you haven’t heard of it already, is an organization move that invests some money typically into a group of people — all with different business ideas. Giving each of them a portion of money and taking a slice of equity in the newly formed businesses. They then guide them through a few months of a program where they are held accountable and helped to turn their ideas into profitable and scalable businesses.
The most famous accelerator in the world, of course, is Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley based program. Out of Y Combinator have come amazing startups, such as Dropbox and Airbnb. Being a non-technical Australian, getting into Y Combinator is somewhat unlikely so instead I applied for Angelcube.
AngelCube terms were quite favorable to me honest in the Australian start-up ecosystem context because they gave you $40,000 and took 8 percent of your business. Giving you a half-million dollar valuation right off the starting line.
So. How did I get in?
There is a marshmellow underneath a glass cup on my bedside table. It’s there to remind me of the long term dangers of giving in to instant gratification.
I’ve had it there for about 6 months ever since I read a book called ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman. It’s an incredibly well researched book that explores the impact of emotional intelligence in our everyday lives. You learn very quickly that the traditional measure of intelligence; IQ, is by no means a predictor of success, happiness or health in life.
I learnt a great many things from that book, but there was one particular study the author referenced that made me want to resist the temptation of a marshmallow on my table everyday.
Do you have a bad habit that you’d like to break? If you do, rejoice! It turns out there might be an easy way to rid yourself of it.
I’ve been overly conscious of my bad habits more and more as I’ve gotten older. So much so that I would sometimes feel overwhelmed and frustrated with how it seemed my habits controlled me rather than the other way around.
More times than I can count did I try and fail to stop my various bad habits through sheer willpower alone. Each time I would crack with in a matter of days. Incredibly frustrating.
The solution it turns out has been incredibly simple – pain. In short, I’ve quickly learnt to associate various cravings and subconscious habits with pain delivered through the snap of an elastic band.
I made a prediction that Soylent will hit a billion dollar valuation within 10 years – I’m now revising that to 3 years. That’s because Soylent is one of the only scalable and sustainable solutions to the enormous strain we are putting on the food & energy chain that feeds the growing human population.
“Ok. Hold up Nathan, WTF is Soylent?”
Let me start from the beginning.
On February 13th of 2013, a young man named Rob Rhineheart posted an audacious blog post titled ‘How I Stopped Eating Food’. Since then this post has garnered 812+ comments and can probably credited as the blog post that birthed the company (that is now assumably worth north of $100M).
Founders have this weird tendency to aspire and believe they can reach the top 1% of any given field when in reality they never will. I’m talking specifically about startups in this case. The media has helped glorify billion dollar startups (known as ‘Unicorns’) and their founders that have come out of Silicon Valley over the last 10 years.
This has shaped the conversation and ambitions on the ground floor. I’ve spent time with a lot of young first-time entrepreneurs over the last few years. There is a common theme among some of them – they aspire to start billion dollar businesses.
This doesn’t make sense and is an inefficient use of a generations combined capabilities. Unicorns are not the norm – they are outliers.
You might be thinking – “aren’t we supposed to encourage our future entrepreneurial leaders to reach for the stars?” And I’d agree that we should, but only to an extent.
The main issue I see with encouraging the goal of joining the ‘3 comma club’ is that it breeds a dangerous environment of unrealistic goals, wasted resources and sets up the individual for a negative toll on their mental health.
I’m ruthless about whose newsletters I stay subscribed to. I feel a certain level of glee when I hit the unsubscribe button on anything in my inbox, knowing that I will never again need to spend precious time or focus on deciding what to do with the information in front of me from that particular sender.
With that said, there are two blogs that I have never unsubscribed from. I credit both of these blogs with having fundamentally altered my thinking multiple times. And why is that a good thing? Well, when you stop changing your mind – you stop learning. So, anything that can challenge my thinking, I welcome.
Let’s make a reasonable guess that you (yes, I’m talking to you) consume a lot of content on the Internet. Content like blog posts, tweets, articles, photos, gifs and videos.
You know what’s weird when you think about it? Far less than 5% of people who consume content on the web also add to it. That’s like putting twenty people in a room and then all twenty of them consuming the thoughts of just one of them.
There’s a consistent phenomenon across many web communities in terms of the ratio of users who create and consume content. The general rule of thumb seems to be: 90% of users consume, 9% create a little and 1% create a lot.
This is the draft transcript for a TEDx talk I delivered recently for the Sydney campus of NYU. When the video of the talk is uploaded I will edit this post to include a link to the video.
There’s something about entrepreneurship that makes my soul tingle. Every new venture created is like a voyage into uncharted territory. To me, capitalism actually feels like an art form. Your imagination is your brush, your business model is your paint and the world’s economy is your canvas.
I fell in love with business at the naive age of 15 years old, selling things on eBay. Each morning before school I’d make sure all my items were perfectly listed and each afternoon when I got home I’d pack up my orders ready to drop off at the local post office the next morning. It’s hard to convey the importance of the skills that I learnt doing this. The value of good customer service, learning how to recognise market opportunities and knowing when to double down or when to stop. I wish I could say I was smart with my revenue, but as a 15 year old I spent a lot of my money on the girl I liked at the time.
For all the glory that we place upon the successful entrepreneurs of past generations, the path of a young entrepreneur in the school system is still woefully under supported.