Its strange how the first step feels like the biggest. It’s like a leap into another domain. A shot at exploring something, by putting in time, energy and your most dearly held resources, just hoping it turns out to be half-decent.
One year ago, I created The Atomic Investor as a space to share what little I know of investing, tech and growth, lay bare this ongoing process of exploring different themes in these worlds and look at how to think though them. Maybe build a readership along the way. I believe I have barely scratched the surface and it still feels like Day 0.
As I also turn one year older this month, I tried creating a ‘note-to-self’ of sorts, a reminder of some principles I have (or want to) internalised, and some other gems I picked up from the people I follow, both in the online and the offline worlds.
- Experience: You have to be there to know how it will turn out to be. A lot of your experiences won’t be desirable, and some of them will be positive. But here’s the good part, all of them would be additive to your life. And the whole would be greater than the sum of them all.
- Anchor: Find your anchor. What is it that defines your purpose? Something that grounds you, something that gives you endless joy, that adds more marginal value the more you have it, unlike other things. I found mine in investing and the markets.
- Consistency: The only playbook that works for everyone, everywhere. I know no other way of mastering something or being better at what I want to. We tend to underestimate the importance of that 0.001% gain every single time we show up and put in the work.
- Don’t be stupid: I wrote about this here a while ago. We’re a part of a hyperconnected world where clicks, likes, follows and followers have become the KPIs of life. Its easy to feel left out, looking at your peers and your next door neighbours glorifying the riches of success, and rubbing it in your face. That FOMO feeling is here to stay and is a part of the world we live in. Do not risk what you have for something you do not need. Just don’t be stupid.
- Curious: You are only curious about what you know. Just asking ‘why’ makes a ton of difference when you’re trying to learn about the world, by making you look where you normally wouldn’t. You would be surprised how many doors it could unlock and allow you to discover much more than what you intended to.
- Degrees of belief: While curiosity will take you down rabbit holes and help you learn about the world, being fastidious with those ‘worldly truths’ will let you develop degrees of belief for those truths. How true is something you just learnt about the world? Under what conditions it is true? What needs to happen for the truth to not be true anymore? A very helpful tool not just in life, but in business, research, working with people and of course, investing.
- Via negativa: A very effective principle that lets you move forward by inverting. You can win not just by winning, but also by ‘not losing’. You can find the people you really need around you not just by trying to look for the right people, but also by weeding out the ones that are not. Via negativa allows you to extract your signal from all the noise it comes with.
- Failing vs Not trying: The biggest regrets in life arise not from your failures, but when you failed and did not try. A whole host of invisible forces make up that thin line that separates success and failure, grouped together as ‘luck’. Took me a while to internalise it but makes you feel a lot better about your failures once you do.
- Decide: Every point in your life could be viewed as the sum of choices you make and the paths you didn’t take. Having a sound decision making framework goes a long way in helping you take decisions that lead to more desirable outcomes. I find Bezos’ ‘reversibility’ criteria very helpful, which translates to taking as little time as possible with the decisions that are easy to reverse, with little consequences. For the ones that are not, one might want to look at the range of outcomes possible with that decision, upsides and downsides, risks and opportunity costs.
- Goals: We all have our goals and aspirations. Milestones we want to reach in the short term and during the course of our life. I believe while having goals at the back of your mind is necessary for you to keep pushing, having SYSTEMS in place is even more important. Creating a simple process that allows you to inch closer towards that goal every single time. If you have a 10-year goal. What would it take for you to do in the next 5 years to get there, or the next year, the next month, every day. Macro to micro.
- Say NO a lot: Everyone tells you to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way, to say YES to every shiny thing that comes around. Why not turn this on its head, and say NO a lot. At first it sounds counter-intuitive and feels like you’re shutting a lot of doors. But by saying NO to average people, average relationships, average books, places everyone else is going to and stuff that everyone else is consuming ensures you’re allocating your most important resource, your time, to something that really matters to you and something that is yours and yours only.
- Regret minimisation framework: This one goes hand in hand with your decision making framework. How can you minimise regret for your future self? The idea you did not execute, that extra effort you did not put in, that friendship you never cared about, that person you never asked out, all the coulda, wouda, shoudas that might make you feel regretful in the time to come.
- Asymmetric/transactional relationships: You meet a lot of people in your life. There could be times you let some of them into your space without realising the nature of your relationship with them. Beware of asymmetric or transactional ones, the ones that add little value for you.
- On caring about what others think: Choose opinions from the people you really value being there. If you don’t care what they think, and if you are not seeking approval, they have no power over you.
- Gratitude: It’s not just your actions that get you where you are, its a coming together of a whole lot of other people’s actions, and as I mentioned before, a stroke of luck almost every single time. Being grateful would keep you grounded, and not let you beat yourself too hard, for that you now know that it takes a lot to come together for something to work, and only takes just a tiny bit for it to not.
I hope to expand this list every year, and share what I think I know, and I know I do not.
An annual note-to-self is not a bad idea at all, I reckon?
Thanks fo reading, and have a great week.
The Atomic Investor