Two years ago I “found” entrepreneurship and applied for an AI startup.

No qualifications, just hungry.

I gave the application everything I had; a Twitter DM with 3 ideas to grow the business.
The first idea was using the tool to generate content for online courses.

At the time, I could see a world where GPT3 would be used by content creators in every medium, but knew it would start in text.
The second idea was to integrate SEO into generated content.

SEO is still a black box that’s difficult to systematize, but keyword targeting and optimization would be an easy feature add.
The third was to get the tool in front of the people who would use it: hustlers and marketers.

I proposed an introduction to a now very famous podcast whose entire audience would use the tool.
I had never been more excited for a reply, much less to meet with a real founder.

I came prepared, ready to own my lack of experience, but aggressively seeking the opportunity to prove myself by executing on the ideas I presented.
The interview was fine aside from the individual not even paying attention to me for the 20 minutes we spoke.

They worked through the whole interview and had me on in the background like television. At several points, minutes of silence passed while “work” happened.
Because I felt that I didn’t feel worthy of the interview, I brushed it off.

I excused downright disrespect because I thought that’s what being a founder was. Relentless.

I was so so wrong, but I didn’t know it for a while.
They decided they weren’t ready to hire. I was crushed and it kept me from applying to startups for over a year.

As it turns out, this was the best thing that could have happened. It changed two critical parts of myself.
The first is it forced me to put my ego aside.

Despite knowing I didn’t have the background, it felt like fate was working. I was creating my own hero story - rookie with no background lands early position at startup.
At the end of the day, hiring decisions aren’t, or shouldn’t be, personal.

Despite feeling like I had lots to offer, the arrogance of believing I was entitled to that job was overconfident and unwarranted.
This “failed” application led me down the road of trying to aggressively fail.

I’ve applied to over 100 different companies since this. I wasn’t hired by a single one, but I’ve learned so much, more than I ever would have had I not.
Removing the fear of failing was 99% of the fight and led me to a personal framework:

Remove the downside and start swinging.
The second change was that there are some things that should never be compromised on.

I look back at this experience and wonder how miserable I would have been working for someone that treated me that way.
I hear business people say they love taking others out to dinner to see how they treat wait staff.

The way people treat others speaks more about their values than work ethic or product output ever will. Businesses need people to grow and sustain. You need to retain to do that.
This is a great reminder of why it’s important to spend your time doing things you actually care about.

Some meetings are unavoidable, but don’t proactively set something up without the intention of giving your 100% effort and attention.
SOF community runs on the following framework:

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

Relationships are always worth overdoing.
Said AI company had a massive head start in the market, but has since been supplanted by a newer startup that’s growing much faster.

Ironically, the new company executed on my original suggestions almost to a tee.
This isn’t a victory lap, but a reminder of the things that are the most important.

Famous startups tout company culture often; culture is built by fostering a positive work environment with rockstars.

As Naval aptly puts it, long term games with long term people.
Here’s to long term games.

If you liked this thread and want to follow a dude just being a dude, I’m your guy.


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"Relationships are always worth overdoing" Great thread brother! (FAR better than any "thought boi" thread out there!)