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Life Math: Compound Interest

I read this quote a long time ago and it has stayed with me "compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." The saying is commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, but after Googling it doesn't seem very likely Einstein ever said it. Regardless of where it came from; today, I linked it to a new meaning.

I've been thinking about how to define entrepreneurship, or more broadly how to describe the entrepreneurial mindset. One way that has resonated with me is efficiency in leveraging current resources. Or simply, making more out of what you have right now. Then repeating the process many times over. The result is compounding returns, which are quickly very rewarding. When evaluating how entrepreneurial someone is, one route is looking at what they have been able to accomplish so far through the lens of what resources they had at the time.

This will only get you so far, as some people are not able to continue compounding the returns. Some people are great at getting new companies or projects off the ground and then not the right people to take them from a small to medium scale. On the other side, some people are great at scaling companies or projects but their strong suit is not getting them started from scratch. Making sure the right people are involved at the right time is tricky. Ben Horowitz discusses this extensively in his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

Determining the life cycle of a company you are most capable of contributing at is a really helpful lens when thinking about your career. I've recently determined that mine is in the earliest stage of a company where it is just a few people looking to get an idea off the ground. 

In other areas of life "what you made out of what you were given" is often something I am interested in learning about when I meet somebody. And a question I often ask myself is "how can I use the position I'm in now, to get more of the things I care about?" This sounds a little crazy, probably because your mind probably jumped to money. Don't think of it in the context of money and it feels a lot better. For example, "How can I use the things I have today to show my partner just how much I love them?" or "How can I leverage my volunteer time into affecting the most change for our cause?" 

Think about what limited things you have and how you use those resources today to drive the results you want. People who are good at this are often very successful.

Overcommitted

I've said "Yes" to working on a lot of projects lately as a helping hand. Over the last month, the volume of these commitments has been too much and I've lost focus on the things that are most important to me. The things where I am a core contributor have suffered for the activities where I am a part-time contributor. This doesn't make sense.

Over the next few days, I am going to work on winding down many of these extra commitments. And over the next few weeks, I am going to lean much more of my weight on the areas where I am a core contributor.

Saying Yes to something new can be easier than saying No. What have you said "Yes" to that doesn't directly contribute to achieving your goals?

Be Happy and Improve the Ability of Others to be Happy

The other day somebody asked me "If you had to, what would you say the purpose of life is?" The answer I chose is "to be happy and improve the ability of others to be happy."

We all share the human condition. Some of us started life in a really great place, while others were dropped in chaos and suffering. None of us got to choose and I can not think of a better notation of meaning than helping our fellow travelers make the most of life.

What a wonderful opportunity we are given, be happy and improve the ability of others to be happy.

Boulder Skyline Traverse

Running for the last 5 years I've had a straightforward goal. Complete a marathon. It started as a dream and slowly with effort turned into a reasonable goal. Then last October, I did it. With my friend Sean Hamborski, I ran the Detroit Marathon. Sean and I have a long-running history together. We ran our first 5k, half and finally full marathon together. I couldn't have asked for a better running partner. And the goal of running a marathon was a great forcing function to get us out running.

I've been thinking this year that I need something new to keep motivating me. But what? In the short term, I have absolutely no intention of becoming an ultra runner. I like my knees too much. Eventually, I'd like to run a marathon on every continent. But I'm in no hurry. That will be a lifelong challenge and I won't do another marathon this year. My next one will be in Antarctica in 2020 and I'm putting together a team. Email me if you are interested in joining: antarctica@davidkircos.com

Here's my new goal for this year: run the Boulder Skyline Traverse. 19 miles, 6k foot vertical gain. Sanitas Mountain, Flagstaff Mountain, Green Mountain, Bear Peak, South Boulder Peak. All 5 of the peaks on the Boulder front range. I haven't established exactly what a success condition for this run will be. There are some very steep parts of the trail. It's not safe to run 100% of it, so maybe I'll set a time goal. I have to attempt the route first to calibrate exactly what that time will be.

I am really stoked about this challenge. Happy running in 2018!

Brain Health: Why I Choose to be Open

A few months ago I wrote a blog post describing my personal struggle with depression. That post was the first time many people who know me realized that I was struggling with depression.

Friends reached out offering support and about 10 people shared with me their own experience with depression.

All of a sudden I wasn’t alone. Without intending to I had built a support community for myself and a network of others who share the same struggle.

This support community has been enormously helpful in avoiding depressive episodes and working through them when they do happen. It has been a life line and helped me to realize that I am among a huge, hidden group of people struggling with an atypical neurology and the data supports it.

Over 20% of people experience a brain condition and that number jumps 2x in the tech industry. So I began to wonder, if I only found this community because of my blog post, where is everyone else finding support?

Through my work at Techstars, I found Sigmend’s Open Labs whose founders graduated from our Boulder Accelerator in 2016. They have since built a nonprofit support system that focuses on people with a bipolar neurology. Open Labs creates a line for people who are bipolar to communicate and support each other. They talk about bipolar as a neurotype that falls within the set of natural human variation instead of a pathology or disorder that should be cured. The goal is to create a safe and empowering environment for those who impacted by bipolar to thrive, and give them the hope they need to live openly.

There is often little consideration for how to live with neurologically different people, the focus is mostly on pushing them back into the “normal” bucket. I don’t believe this is the right way to treat any type of diversity. Diversity fundamentally should be celebrated. Neurodiversity is no different.

People whose minds work differently than the median neurology are very valuable to society the way they are. Finding ways to help individuals with neurological differences embrace their differences as an asset is much more productive than considering all neurological differences a problem.

I’ve also chosen to join Sigmend’s Open Council, a group of people who lend our names and expertise to the Open Labs mission to support the practice of open conversations about brain health in and beyond the workplace.

If you are impacted by bipolar neurology or know someone who is, I encourage you to share Open Labs with them. Being open about depression significantly improved my ability to effectively deal with the condition. Open Labs does the same for those who are on the bipolar spectrum and their allies.

This post originally appeared on blog.sigmend.com