In search of things new and useful.
The Unexpected Benefits of Random Change
I had a meal with a friend of mine a few weeks ago who had been in a bit of a funk for the last year or so. He has two young kids that take up a lot of time and he does great but emotionally exhausting work (he’s an oncologist). I noticed that he was in a much lighter mood, and I asked him why that was the case. He said that a few months ago (in the dead of winter) he decided to take stock of many areas of his life, big and small, and just make changes. This included both mundane, routine stuff (what he did first when he got out of bed) to work behaviors (where he decided to focus his research efforts) to personal stuff too. It wasn’t so much that any particular change was necessarily better, in fact, some were pretty random. But the point was just to do something different to expose himself to different stuff and shake him out of his funk.
I’ve had a couple phases when I’ve done something similar to varying degrees. I’ve always been surprised by the unexpected benefits of shaking yourself out of your routine, and the new learnings that such changes provide. When I was in high-school, there was a year when I made a resolution to essentially say “yes” twice as often as I normally would. Yes, a scary sentiment for a teenager growing up in a large Asian city, but it actually changed my life trajectory quite a bit.
Recently, I’ve made a bit of a change in how I’m spending my time at NextView. Historically, I’ve been somewhat thesis driven around certain types of markets or businesses. Even though there is always room for serendipity in venture, I had a sense of what I was looking for, and would spend a fair bit of time just focusing on the areas that were of interest to me.
More recently however, I’ve been struggling in this regard. I think it’s because I tend to enjoy digging deep into markets with less froth and attention, and today it seems like there is a ton of enthusiasm everywhere. I’ve been learning about drones and AI recently, but while I have found the areas fascinating, I don’t have a strong thesis about where things are headed and what needs to exist.
So I made a bit of a change the last few months. Instead of focusing on areas or sectors, I’ve been trying to formulate a thesis around people. In particular, I’ve thought about personas of founders or early-stage operators that I think are interesting and am trying to meet as many people as I can that fit so I can expand my own knowledge set. These two personas are 1) deterministic product designers and 2) early stage growth marketers.
Most of the meetings I’ve had have had a very different agenda than my typical meetings. I’m mostly taking the time to introduce myself and to learn. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m developing some unexpected theses that I wasn’t really looking for but I think will make me a better investor and allow me to help portfolio companies better in the future. I’ve also met some terrific people along the way who have been generous in sharing their time and knowledge with me with little in return, and that’s been super valuable.