We read Medium. We watch Downton Abbey. We drink Blue Bottle coffee. We read emails all day. We consume constantly.
As often occurs at the end of the year, we take a moment to look at the year's data in congregate. How much weight did we gain? What goals did we hit? Who did we meet?
At the end of 2013 I noticed 2 things:
- I consume too much.
- I create too little.
Let's break down consumption. I wake up to my iPhone alarm, browse a few emails that streamed in overnight, turn on NPR while I brush my teeth, make some Nespresso, eat some Fage mixed with granola, walk my dog, ride my Sole bike to work, make some Keurig coffee, open my Macbook, bang away on Gmail, edit a doc in Word, browse Techcrunch, Tweet, hear someone talk in a meeting, for hours, bang away at another email, jump on a conference call, sip on some Fiji, use the restroom...and it continues when you finally get home, gnaw on some leftovers, watch TV. (and all my consumption makes me a pretentious prick)
The difficulty in separating consumption from creation is that one can often be mistaken for the other. For discussion's sake, let's define creation where the value is increases because you interact with or add to it versus consumption where the value decreases because you interact with or take from it. (Draft 1)
Now, let's measure creation. As an investor (of investors, ie Fund of Funds), you're mostly just a service provider. So, by taking someone else's money, sticking it in somewhere you think it'll grow, then walking away, by definition you are not the creator, you are the person that finds the value-adding firms and passes over the cash. Ironically, most of the finance industry isn't creating anything (ie hedge funds), but they get paid the most. VCs today are doing some interesting things where buzz words range from "capital efficiency" to "value-creation." Andreessen, for example has a slew of Talent Recruiters that source and place talent in their underlying portfolio startups and USV has a General Manager that helps productize and guide its companies. In that sense, some VCs have a true thesis revolving around value creation. But...
let's get to the point. I am at a huge deficit of consumption > creation.
For example, when I attempt to create things I suck at, it takes a lot of energy. Blogging, woodworking, among others, are difficult for me. But trying something new is also difficult and no matter how steep the learning curve, becomes easier with time. It's a matter of finding your core skill(s) that you want to optimize so that you can produce more efficiently than everyone else and create a positive-sum game. It's not just about specializing; it's about specializing in something that matters. Imagine how many "specialists" exist in large corporations that have honed their skills but are mere luxurious cushions to the corporate structure. Fuck that. Be the Elon Musks of the world and make sure you're putting more of yourself out there rather than letting others define who you are. It's the alternative to immortality.