It Took a Plane and “Buying the Balloon”
This is going to be a bit of a rant. Beware.
My head is swimming right now. I’m on a plane right now listening to Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk about The Most Astounding Fact. The way that Neil talks about life and how remembering that the Universe is in us and not that we are in the universe is incredibly powerful.
I wanted to write about how it took a plane for me to make some serious realizations today. It took a plane to Austin, TX, and another plane back for me to really put my priorities in order. A lot of people think that work is a thing you need to take a vacation from, but I realized this week that I was working the whole time at SXSW. My company and my self are one in the same right now as a separation of the two would feel unnatural. I realized this week that vacations aren’t about getting away from anything, they’re about immersing yourself in a new environment that enables you to learn and meet incredible people.
This week in Austin, I met some of the most incredible people. I’ve been given shit for name dropping in the past, so I’m not going to name drop a single person because the point is that I met a lot of people who are incredible human beings this week. There is not a more incredible feeling on Earth than being around human beings focused on moving the ball forward. Mentors, parents, advisors, etc., have told me to beware of people, to not trust people, but the entrepreneurship community is so incredible. It is so incredible because the community is made up of people who want to help each other, and not only do they want to, they actually do.
Five months ago I helped organize a Startup Weekend in Columbus, Ohio. I pitched an idea that turned into a company a few months later that I’m now moving to do full time. I don’t know much about the future of my company other than the fact that my team and I will succeed. We will help alter the face of the Earth in a way that moves the ball forward and gives human beings tools to do things they were never able to do before. We’re going to start modestly, but I kid you not I can not wait for the future. I’m convinced the future will be the most incredible thing, other than right now that is.
I had an excellent conversation today with a friend of mine in the airport where we discussed the incredible effect of exponential technological growth on our generation. We talked about how the internet has shaped our generation despite having been kids that first encountered the internet through connecting with each other on Xanga and AIM. We’ve moved so quickly, and we’re only moving faster. Despite having talked about how great, mysterious, and fantastic the future will be, we talked a lot about how excellent things are today and how infrequently we sit back and take that in.
People talk a lot about “hard work” in America, or in the world, or in life, or wherever whatever. I think a lot of people have a real bullshit opinion of what hard work is. Hard work is doing whatever the hell you have to do to get to a point where nobody can tell you what to do. Sometimes that means a significant amount of forfeit. It means forfeit of experiences or the “journey” that we all know is so important. I constantly struggle with the idea that I could get hit by a bus in the next week or I could live to be 120. Both of these prospects are a little bit absurd but are possibilities. I want to maximize my happiness in both situations. How do you do that though?
We all want to build a legacy. We all want a legacy that outlives us because we’re afraid we might get hit by a bus next week and the world will forget about the things we thought might make the world a better place. Building a legacy is hard though. A lot of people have tried to build a legacy and have failed. Another good friend of mine pointed out to me this week how important being genuine was. Being genuine is so important because so many people have ulterior motivation that they wear on their face so blatantly even though they think people don’t see it. Building a legacy means giving up a lot of the things we want so we can learn to enjoy the things we have and pass on that knowledge to others. That’s what I think right now at least.
The whole point of this post for me was to say that it took me getting on a plane and meeting a ton of new people to finally decide I needed to man up and articulate a lot of the things I know I’ve been feeling and believing for a while. It took a plane for me to realize that hustle isn’t sexy but if you’re a hustler you don’t just fucking quit. You are hustle 24/7, you absolutely love it, but it comes at an expense and you won’t always know how to deal with that.
To wrap up, my co-founder, Carrie Phillips, once told me to just “buy the balloon.” The context was that she was walking through the store one day and had an urge to buy a balloon because it would make her happy. She out-rationalized herself though and didn’t buy the balloon. I could tell she was bummed for the day. That night we talked about the importance of just doing things for yourself that make you happy. It took a plane for me to realize how right she was.