Embrace Big Risks

Life is all about risk. As with every Finance 101 class or general trope, “no risk, no reward”. My whole life, I’ve found the best outcomes by embracing big risks and optimizing for upside.

I don’t come from a privileged background, not in any shape or form. I did my first internship when I was 14, and continued to work hard to get unconventional opportunities. In my mid-teens, I gained an interest in startups. The autonomy and the idea of being able to do something different, that the world needs, really jumped at me.

Whenever I’ve had a chance to choose between a safer path or a riskier one, I’ve always favored the riskier with more upside. Having interest in speaking and writing speeches, I spent more time showing guests around in school than doing coursework. Late-teens I chose a vocational track instead of an academic track so I can learn to be hands-on (and still use those communications, design, and other skills today). I dropped everything to move to a new country to attend an accelerator, instead of taking up steady employment. Now, I choose to work on my own company instead of taking well-compensated roles. I pick small companies with high growth over big ones with limited growth every time. It’s all about the upside.

I sincerely believe that I’ve gotten the most out of the experiences that I chose that involved the highest risk. I believe that most people exaggerate the risk that they actually face because of anxiety over uncertainty as a result of that risk. If you fail, you probably picked up a bunch of skills and experience that you otherwise wouldn’t have, and that makes you valuable. I think the rewards actually stack more than the risks that you take.

Part of it is my mindset of believing that we’re lucky. Once you believe that you can figure it out, and that it’s a worthwhile stab at something that can take you on an off-beaten path closer to the goal, it will all make sense.

I have to say, I’m terrible at taking personal risks though. I dislike any sport in which I may fall and break my neck (or any part of my body, for that matter). People ask why I don’t try skiing, for example, and the truth is that I constantly imagine being skewered by a ski pole in a run gone wrong. So yes, you don’t have to take every risk out there!

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