Make things better than you found them

This is my personal mantra. Anything I invest my time in is focused on how I can make things better in a lasting way. This has carried me far both personally and professionally.

I think one thing that always holds people back is the belief that others should have it “just as hard as I had it.” Adversity is good for everyone, but life is too short to make everyone learn only on their own. I’ve always loved this quote that captures this idea well:

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto von Bismarck

I believe any time you can help people hack a system and level up faster, everyone wins; it means someone can become more productive, faster and devote their energy to taking on new, yet-to-be-conquered challenges. It doesn’t take long for the gains to then become exponential from multiple people in a group buying into this idea.

A few quick examples of how I’ve done it and benefitted greatly:

  1. When I found it difficult to navigate the Boston startup community, I started Greenhorn Connect to be the guide I wish I had. It also turned out to be my living resume of what I could do to build a useful product, market it and jump-started my career in internet tech.
  2. I found moving to San Francisco to be quite the challenge both in finding a place to live and adapting to the culture. To help, I wrote blog posts about what I learned on how to find an apartment in San Francisco as well as the things I wish I knew before moving to San Francisco. Both posts have been widely read and helped me meet interesting people I wouldn’t have otherwise.
  3. I mentor a number of people in the tech communities of SF and Boston. When I do, I focus on helping people avoid rookie mistakes. In turn, these people have leveled up in their careers much faster and are now often teaching me as much as I teach them.
Do you follow a similar mantra? How do you approach your life and those around you?

2 thoughts on “Make things better than you found them

  1. Mantra: Patience is a virtue. (Rinse and repeat.) I also have a personal goal of getting at least 3 people a day to laugh (or maybe just smile!:)

  2. Good to see someone so proactive. Too many people sit back and wait for good things to happen to them. When they don’t, they say life is unfair. Hard, honest work is the key to success. I admire your tenacity in moving across the country and adapting so well to a new place.

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