I’ve always seen personal development and learning as my real job in life. I don’t even necessarily enjoy doing these things, but ultimately they equip me with the tools to continue to survive and push back my fear of death to manageable levels. So it was wonderful to chat on this topic with my dear friend Shikshya Khatiwada, who is one of the toughest, scrappiest, most adaptable people I know, and who has never, ever stopped evolving. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/XNYpuVNrEZc
Shikshya was the project lead on the very first engagement of my career. That was a strange time in my life. I was fresh out of school and full of vigor to do, I don’t even know, fuckin something. It was at this time that I was tasked with building out an AI practice for the North American branch of a financial services management consulting firm of around a thousand people. I didn’t know shit about finance or consulting and barely knew anything about AI. In retrospect I think I overachieved spectacularly when it came to finance, consulting and AI. But I failed when it came to leadership. I attracted a crew around me and I was not able to effectively utilize them, or develop their potential, or communicate my intentions, and their faith slipped away bit by bit. My career continued to zip along but I was back to going it alone. I failed these people that believed in me.
Fast forward five years, three failed startups and a career change to crypto, and I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Beijing. And I feel like I’m finally ready to lead like. Five people.
Another four years and I’m leading teams of significantly more than five people, and also I’m a parent now. Every day, multiple times a day, I pick up an unproductive ball of lard and shove some nutrition in his mouth, just so he can poop it out later. And the surprising part is how natural it seems. I find myself feeling like a parent all the time. I’ll chew someone out for not responding to a production issue quickly enough and the whole time I’m thinking about the exceptional project manager this person could be, if only they keep delivering what I’m asking of them, which is to continue to learn and develop and evolve. I don’t believe in praise for doing your job (that’s a whole other can of worms) but sometimes all I want to do is stop and tell them how much I appreciate them trying to be who we need them to be, and how much I believe in them.
I think a big reason is, I don’t feel like my baby is my first child. My wife had a miscarriage the first time around and as far as I’m concerned, my first child died when she was six weeks old. With her died an entire lifetime I was going to spend with her. Because of that I no longer take a single moment I get with the ones I love for granted. And I no longer fear death as much because I think that, when I die, she’ll be waiting for me, she’ll ask what took me so long, and she’ll tell me about herself and we’ll have all the time in the world. And if she’s not there that’s OK too, because I’ll be dead and I don’t want to exist in a world where I never, ever get to meet her.