Sam Altman was formerly the chair of Y-Combinator. He led one of the most successful venture capital firms in the world. He shared about various practices that had enabled him to succeed in the venture capital and in life.
Here is some advice on how to succeed by Sam Altman.
- Compound self. Exponential power always works some great magic. Work in such a way that you are continuously compounding yourself. You should constantly seek ways of creating leverage by acquiring capital, skills, networks, brands and knowledge that can compound your capabilities. One of the ways of building this leverage is by letting small opportunities go in favour of pursuing bigger opportunities. Learn how to take long term view of things. Very few people who strive to develop long term things and perspectives of how things will work out which forces nature to rewards the few who do. Make the effort to have a long term view of your career or life pursuits.
- Have self-belief. Those who have self-belief are sometimes viewed as delusional. They have too much belief in themselves and their ideas. Have trust that you can deliver required results consistently. You can never succeed if you are not willing to have contrarian views that do not resonate with the majority. The only way of holding together during such time is by having high sense of self belief. Individuals like Elon Musk have succeeded because they have too much self-belief. They believe too much in their ideas even when there is no one believing or supporting their ideas. Elon Musk demonstrates this with his Space X which has a vision of making travel to Mars possible. However, self-belief must be counter balanced by self-awareness. Even with self-belief, be ready to accept criticism and differing viewpoints as they can enrich your views and ideas.
- Be a salesperson. Even if you have the best ideas and self-belief you still have to convince other people to support your idea. You have to be a great salesperson. At some time, all great careers involve some sort of sales. you have to evangelize your product, service to customers. You have to evangelize your mission and vision to employees, partners and shareholders. This demands development of above average communication skills and charisma. You can always get better at these skills by training and continuous learning. Sales and selling may be distasteful to some people but it is still one of the most important skills to have.
- Simplify taking risks. Success involves some sort of risk taking. Do not be afraid of taking risks. Many people avoid taking risks. Nature tends to pay handsome rewards to those who take risks. Taking risks is a necessity because you cannot always be right. You have to learn how take risks and adapt quickly to the outcomes. Sam Altman’s sum up this by saying “Look for small bets you can make where you lose 1x if you’re wrong but make 100x if it works. Then make a bigger bet in that direction.”
- Focus. Focus is an energy multiplier. Many people spend their time on issues that are not important. They spend long hours on stuff that is less important while ignoring and paying less attention to the stuff that matters. Focus begins by identifying the most important stuff where energy and resources should be spent.
- Be hard to compete with. Most people accept and know that the most valuable companies are those which are very difficult to compete with. This is because they have built some leverage that keeps competitors out. Just like companies, even individual can become hard to compete with. These leverage exist inform of personal relationships, networks, and skills. Most people do what the people who they hang out with do. They mimic other people’s actions which makes them do what everyone else is doing thus eliminating any competitive advantage that they could have by being different.
This explains why Sam Altman is one of the successful individual based on the advice he gives. Thank you for spending your time reading this.