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Life Advice

Introduction

This page does not seek to offer one concrete solution to living well; it is instead an ongoing collection of what I believe is good advice for living a life full of meaning. There is no priority or order to the individuals listed, I am adding advice as I encounter it.

Advice

Richard Hamming

“I am preaching the message that, with apparently only one life to live on this earth, you ought to try to make significant contributions to humanity rather than just get along through life comfortably—that the life of trying to achieve excellence in some area is in itself a worthy goal for your life. It has often been observed the true gain is in the struggle and not in the achievement—a life without a struggle on your part to make yourself excellent is hardly a life worth living.”

Frank Wilczek

  1. Cast a wide net: Really look around and see what looks promising and what captures your imagination. Balance these two criteria.
  2. Read the history and masters of ideas: Read Einstein, Feynman, Darwin, etc. Learn how to write with style and express yourself well. Be familiar with the context of great thinkers and the history of the subjects they wrote about.
  3. Get the basics under control as soon as possible: To produce great works with confidence, these fundamentals should feel like your native language. The sooner you can do this, the better.

“These pieces of advice can and should be achieved in parallel.”

Sergey Nazarov

  • What any individual should do is whatever activity they won’t be able to do in the later stages of their life. The way to think about that is that the amount of obligations and time that a person has seems to diminish over time. Soon enough, the time you have to educate yourself, travel and engage in creative endeavour disappears.
    • The way that this should be conceptualised is to imagine that the choice of what you can do is cut down by 90%, what would you regret not doing at 80?
    • If you never get the chance to do ______, do whatever you feel the worst about not doing? Do that.

Marc Andreessen

  • Don’t follow your passion. Seriously. Don’t follow your passion. Your passion is likely more dumb and useless than anything else. Your passion should be your hobby, not your work. Do it in your spare time.

Instead, at work, seek to contribute. Find the hottest, most vibrant part of the economy you can and figure out how you can contribute best and most. Make yourself of value to the people around you, to your customers and coworkers, and try to increase that value every day.

It can sometimes feel that all the exciting things have already happened, that the frontier is closed, that we’re at the end of technological history and there’s nothing left to do but maintain what already exists. This is just a failure of imagination. In fact, the opposite is true. We’re surrounding by rotting incumbents that will all need to be replaced by new technologies. Let’s get on it.

Themes

WIP.