Things I Wish I Knew Before Turning 30

Somebody asked me to write this in 2017. It's a bit late.

Here we go... a somewhat random collection of wisdom, in no real order:

  1. Start building companies in your 20s.
  2. Real wealth is not money, it's what you can learn to build, with a team of cool people.
  3. "Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable." — Naval
  4. Live on the border between chaos and order. Maximum learning.
  5. Stay an engineer. Don't become a manager. Stay close to technology.
  6. Build recurring services businesses, things that make money while you sleep. They are easy to start and fairly easy to scale.
  7. What is the most important thing? - Adventure. We are wired for adventures and risk.
  8. Go to AfrikaBurn / Burning Man a few times. It will teach you about adventure. Have a few friends who enjoy these adventures.
  9. Fail spectacularly, once. It will take you a year or two to recover, but it will put things in perspective.
  10. Find great co-founders, it's hard to overstate the value of this.
  11. First rule of startups: no assholes.
  12. Work on things that are fun. Life is too short for lame projects.
  13. How businesses are built: sleep, have ideas, make notes, discuss ideas, create two or three crappy things a day (not perfect just functional), remember that it’s your own little (Sivers) universe, learn, sleep.
  14. Creating something from nothing is very rewarding. Zero to one.
  15. Build your own dreams. Don't be a sucker building other people's dreams. Own a part of what you build.
  16. "To get things done, you must love the doing." -- Ayn Rand
  17. Wealth is a side effect of passion. Love the doing.
  18. Ideally you want to have 6 unrelated investments.
  19. Support the underdog, progress and change. Get involved in a few non-profit projects. Open Source etc.
  20. Getting there, is all the fun. “The road to the top is better than the top, don’t be in such a hurry that you don’t enjoy the ride.” — Dan Bilzerian
  21. Things that are annoying often make good opportunities.
  22. Learn how to code and how unix operating systems and networks work. Use Debian. Run your own email server, don’t use Gmail. Try to avoid “the cloud” as much as you can.
  23. Make regular off-site backups. Leave backup drives at friends' houses.
  24. Pick a username, get a personal domain name. Have a personal website.
  25. Always be on the the right side of technological change.
  26. Find growth markets and waves to ride. Timing is the 4th dimension in the 4D chess of entrepreneurship. Lean to park some ideas, keep a text file with notes for project ideas.
  27. Keep a text file with all the projects and startups you have worked on over time. I'm on about 20 now. Aim for at least one per year. Don't worry if half of them never make it past prototyping.
  28. Have strong opinions. Share them.
  29. Develop good writing skills and publish what you write. Blog, weekly. Writers get to live twice. Write drunk, edit sober.
  30. Stay healthy. Sleep. Eat clean. Fast. Mobility. Diet. Squats. Deadlifts. Low rows. Meditate.
  31. Never get more than 10 kg overweight. It's hard to make your way back from there.
  32. Spend time in nature. Go for long hikes or beach walks. Try to live close to the sea.
  33. Keep in touch with friends. Often have dinner with close friends.
  34. Avoid sugar. You don't need three meals a day. After a few fasts your relationship with food will change. Don't smoke.
  35. Focus on health span. The idea is to feel young past 65.
  36. Figure out a morning mobility routine. Stretch. Get a foam roller.
  37. Get an electric toothbrush.
  38. Figure out a routine for taking supplements. Take some basics daily. Do a bigger batch weekly.
  39. When you are tired. Go sleep. Rest.
  40. Be kind to your joints. Don't run.
  41. Go to gym early in the morning - much better than in the afternoons. Lift weights every 2nd day.
  42. Fast for one week every three months.
  43. Have at least one child, when you have the opportunity.
  44. Take a year off when your kid(s) are 3 or 4 yo.
  45. Never do anything for your child which they can do for themselves. Have dinner conversations which them to challenge them to think for themselves.
  46. Try not to rebel against all conventions.
  47. When people hurt you, they are probably just acting in their own best interest.
  48. Make notes. Develop a system for processing and filing notes.
  49. Get a great chair.
  50. Type Dvorak. Qwerty is lame.
  51. Learn to use some graphic design tools, at least the basics.
  52. Use 24 hour time when you write something. 09:00 or 21:00, not 9.
  53. Listen to podcasts. Found time.
  54. Calm is a superpower.
  55. Hang out with curious people.
  56. People you want around you: calm, technical, relentlessly resourceful, relentlessly optimistic, energetic, self motivated, infinite learners.
  57. “Work ethic, taste, integrity, curiosity – the rest you can learn.” — Matt Mullenweg
  58. Get a dog. I'm still working on this one.
  59. Give people a break. Sometimes they still have to learn.
  60. Search for meaning. Work on projects with meaning and a good story.
  61. Never go cycling in the desert at night after a breakup.
  62. Learn the multiplying skills: speaking, writing, psychology, design, conversation, 2nd language, persuasion, programming, meditation/focus.
  63. Life is a comedy adventure story, don't be too serious, you probably don't control as much of it as you may think.
  64. Have favourite song and a favourite album.
  65. Don't be too busy. Make time to learn.
  66. Hell yes, or no. If you say no to lots of things, you have time to dive into interesting things.
  67. Make good art. Learn, create, repeat.
  68. Do meaningful work. Be useful.
  69. Write to get over things. Write to shape your future.
  70. "Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly."
  71. Take photos. Have a system to keep them organised. Browse old photos from time to time, it's a great way to travel.
  72. Desire one thing at a time. Focus.
  73. Live in the future. It's a good way to find ideas for projects. Pay attention to what nerds do on evenings and weekends.
  74. Read a few marketing books early on. Something like The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries.
  75. Have side projects and hobbies.
  76. Watch lots of classic movies in your teens and 20s. Especially sci-fi movies.
  77. Read a lot in your 20s. Classics. Philip k Dick, Bret Easton Ellis, etc.
  78. Go to live music concerts.
  79. Fall in love with music, spend time exploring, make playlists. Make mix tapes for people you are in love with. You probably will not have this kind of time later in life. Listen to Disintegration by The Cure.
  80. Be a tourist in your own city for a few years, live in many different neighbourhoods.
  81. Travel.
  82. Figure out which wines and whiskys you like. Go for lots of wine tours.
  83. Stoicism: focus on what you can control. Don't worry about the things you can't.
  84. Get comfortable with discomfort.
  85. Take note of your instincts. Trust them.
  86. If you don't know what to do, sleep on it. Take note of the three ideas you wake up with every day.
  87. Develop healthy routines. Especially a morning routine.
  88. Date nerds, smart and interesting people.
  89. Get comfortable being single. Dating is a huge waste of time and energy. If you find somebody really cool (smart and interesting), jump in and love them like crazy. Do this a few times.
  90. Optimal stopping theory: If you are destined to date ten people in your lifetime, the optimal thing to do is to reject the first four (37%), then stop as soon as you find somebody that's better than the previous experiences.
  91. There's no point to life. Life is the point.
  92. Meaning does not come from stuff.
  93. Practice mindful eating. Taste every bite.
  94. It's totally fine to go eat at a restaurant on your own.
  95. Notice interesting things around you. Be hyper aware of small details. Take different routes through your day. Wonder the woods.
  96. Ask better questions. Ask why? three times.
  97. The best way to judge your days and weeks is simply to ask yourself it that was time well spent.
  98. Don't add things that can cause unhappiness. The more things you have the more things can break. Don't focus on getting more things, focus on removing things which annoy you.
  99. Use broad spectrum reflective sunblock, vit-c and vit-a face cream, and eat lots of collagen.
  100. In summary: learn, create, swim, sleep, take long walks, write, listen to podcasts, have adventures with smart and interesting people.

This is a work in progress. Obviously not all these ideas are mine. The original project brief was things before 30, but it's probably relevant before 40 also.

I ended up making it a 100 item list. I'll probably update this post from time to time and replace the weaker items with more interesting ones.

Make your own list.


Now go read How To Get Rich. Listen to Anything You Want and at least two Naval Ravikant interviews.

2 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Knew Before Turning 30

    1. Hi. Nothing prescription. At the moment: VitC is a Nivea product, and VitA is something called Dermastine. Still need to investigate the prescription options. Sunblock is something called Heliocare.

Comments are closed.