Saturday, October 30, 2010

Am I Smart?

When you start talking in terms of a tech startup with IPO ambitions, I think it is fair for people to ask if you are smart. I am smart. I am plenty smart. I am a ton smart. But I don't walk into a room thinking I am the smartest person in the room. I don't think I ever have. Because when I enter a room, I am not looking at a mirror, I am looking at other people. I am eager to listen to what others have to say. And when people are being themselves they are interesting as a rule. I l-o-v-e making small talk with street vendors, for example. The street is not a room.

It is 1,000 times harder for a smart kid in Nepal to end up at Harvard than it is for a smart kid in America to end up at Harvard. The number two guy in class in Kathmandu went to Harvard. The motherfuckers in Kathmandu destroyed the final three and a half years of my high school experience. I am a high school dropout. It is called being a Madhesi in Nepal. (Larry Ellison) I was at the top student in my class year after year at the top school in Nepal before the motherfuckers who ran the place decided they want to mess up.

You can leave Nepal, you can leave Kentucky, but there is nowhere to go after New York City. With New York I have my back against the wall. I will take over if I have to. I don't belong to any country. I belong to the Global South. Washington DC belongs to America. New York City belongs to the Global South. I want residency based voting like the Irish had in Boston 150 years ago. Because I want to take over. (I Am In Finance, Microfinance)

In politics people die, and I am not just talking about the Kim Jong Ils of the world. When Bush invades Iraq, hundreds of thousands die. When Bin Laden gets mad, towers fall and people die. When New York City ends with a bad mayor, the crime rates go up, and people die.

I am not a politician, I am a tech entrepreneur. But just like Larry Ellison takes his sailing pretty seriously, I take my politics pretty seriously. I have many dogs in many fights. I will have it no other way.

I had a very happy freshman year at college in Kentucky, got myself elected student body president within six months of landing at the number one liberal arts college in the South. But just like the motherfuckers in Kathmandu misbehaved after a super duper year in group dynamics kinetics I exhibited, the motherfuckers in Kentucky misbehaved, and they destroyed the final four years of my college experience. I am a college dropout.

The Masters degree has got to be the most ridiculous degree in the world. And there is a reason why literally all the top tech entrepreneurs on the horizon are dropouts. To make a mark in tech entrepreneurship asks for out of the box thinking, and if you are going to first go finish your doctorate, you are not exactly doing out of the box thinking. The time is now. If you don't get that feeling, go get a job. And if you like startups, go get a startup job.

For me it has never really been about smarts, it has always been about out of the box thinking. I believe all people are smart. They are smart in their own ways. Talent is evenly distributed, what is not evenly distributed is opportunity. The world does not lack for smarts, the world does not lack of knowledge. What is scarce is out of the box thinking. And there I compete. When I walk into a room I do ask if there is someone else who has done more out of the box thinking - and action is thought - than me, and so far I have not walked into such a room.

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. I never went to Harvard. If I beat that guy in the out of the box thinking department, who the fuck are you? (Iran Democracy)

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