Hi, I'm Nick. This is my blog. I'm a life-long unschooler living in New York. You can find more about me here.

I help run the Recurse Center (YC'S10).

Follow me @nicholasbs

First, know thyself

November 12, 2010

I think the most important thing for being an entrepreneur is to know yourself. People say it's resilience or determination, but I think those are second-order attributes. You can't be determined to get something if you don't know what you really want. And you can be broken and pushed off your path if you don't know why you really want it.

Ask yourself what you really want out of life. Is it fame? Fortune? Respect? Love? To have a family?

Knowing what you want is the best way to make sure you get it. I don't mean wanting something like most people want to be rich. Almost everyone will say they want to be rich. What they really mean is, all other things being equal, they'd like to have more money. But that's not going to help you get rich, because most people who want to be rich also want to watch 30 Rock tonight, go drinking with friends, and start a family.

I'm the last person to tell other people what they should want.[1] Different people want different things.[2] I don't just think that's ok, I think that's one of the most remarkable things about the world.

What I'm saying is you should optimize for what you really want, and the way to know that is to know yourself.

  1. Those who know me know that my personal philosophy is founded on trying to build a world in which as many people as possible can live the lives they want to.
  2. Two examples: I'm thankful that other people want to have children, because if everyone wanted what I want, the species would go extinct. Another example are MDs. There's really no amount of money you could pay me to be a doctor, but I'm thankful every time I go to one that's not the case for everybody.