5 minute read

Today I listened to a youtube talk by Bill Gurley from 2018 about ‘running down a dream’ - how to persuit greatness professionally, at something you truly love doing. Here are my takeaways.

Big disclaimer - I think ‘dreams’ are kind of bullshit, or at least, not for everyone. It’s great that some people truly love some pursuits, and can make a living pursuing them - but in my mind, it’s equally great to take a job that you don’t like to feed your family, or to enable some other goal you have in life. Likewise - some people (myself included) may not ever feel ‘love’ for some profression or past-time the way that other people do - and that’s fine too. Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with being a janitor, though fewer people would find that rewarding than being a movie star; moreover, our society depends on many people, likely the majority, griting their teeth each morning and doing work they don’t love.

Having said all of that - doing work you love is better, all things being equal, and this talk shows us how that might be done.

Key Points He Makes

  • Find your passion; nothing else will help you succeed (or be happy) then doing what you naturally love to do. It should be yours, not someone else’s. As a test - do you love to train/learn/prepare about your craft as much as you do to perform? Are you doing it for money or love?
  • Hone your craft; be obsessibvely curious, be more knowledgable than anyone else, understand the history and immediately become a part of the best groups for your craft that you can. It’s very reasonable to be the most knowledgable in your local community about your craft within 6 months if you work hard (and you’ll work hard if you love it). Greatness isn’t random, it is earned.
  • Find mentors that are great at what you want to be great at. Study them, learn from them, contrast them, emulate them. Do this throughout your career, not just at the start.
  • Embrace peers in your field that you respect. Discuss, debate, argue, share and celebrate - these are forcing functions that accelerate your development. Leverage their expertise but trust your own judgement.
  • Be gracious and humble. Share and treat with others and your mentors do with you. Pride is correlated with stagnation.

Key Points I Add

  • You can very quickly get good at something if you are serious about it. That is - get a book and actually digest it, rather than skim read over 2 weeks. Actually practise guitar with purpose, rather than mess around and strum for a while with TV in the background.

Further Notes

  • Do what you love. You have to do something, so you may as well do something that you have natural motivation to do.
  • Envelop yourself in your prusuit; for example, take a crappy job to get exposure to the elites of a field, hang out in the right places, and live your pursuit with great focus.
  • Take (measured) risks to chase your prusuit. Things like social norms (making connections with the right strangers) are easy to overcome if determined.
  • Trust the process. Sometimes, your trust in a plan will be tested because results won’t immediately come - you need to periodically validate the plan makes sense, but stick with it if does and results will come.