How to deal with uncertainty?
As a founder, you are basically trading a life of certainty, in terms of having a conventional job, with a life of uncertainty, and whilst at times, this can feel exciting and liberating it can also feel rather stressful (most of the time, in my experience).
Learning how to live comfortably in uncertainty is a great mental exercise and this is something I started to learn a few years ago.
While studying uncertainty, I have stumbled upon “I Ching”. It is probably the oldest guide on how to deal with uncertainty. The classic Chinese text is also known as “The Book of Changes”.
The dating of the earliest version of the “I Ching” goes back to probably 4,500 years ago. The “I Ching” has touched almost every aspect of Chinese thought — from philosophy to statecraft, from music to medicine, and from astronomy to painting, and that on account of that alone, it should be counted as one of the most influential books in the world.
Most people think that the “I Ching” is a book of oracles or mystic mumbo jumbo, since one can interpret the 64 different hexagrams in very different ways. Those who use the “I Ching” ask: if life is affected in random and unpredictable ways, how should we think about handling such challenges?
What is this book about? I see it as a game of imagination, possibilities, and also as a beautiful piece of art.
Think of any question about your life or business. Get two random hexagrams from the book (by throwing coin six times).
Read the first diagram (cast) - it is your current situation. Read the second diagram (transformed) - it is the simulation of your imagination of a new perspective of your problem.
There are no lucky or unlucky hexagrams. They are just different perspectives on your question/situation.
A nice essay by Will Buckingham, a philosopher, novelist, and Reader in Writing and Creativity at De Montfort University on his quest to understand the “I Ching”: https://aeon.co/essays/forget-prophecy-the-i-ching-is-an-uncertainty-machine
And play the “I Ching” online: https://www.ichingonline.net
What other methods of dealing with uncertainty do you use?
Antanas Bernatonis asked:
"I would love to ask if you could come back in your 20s, what would you do on everyday basis? Where would you invest your time and what would be the main advice you could give to yourself?"
I will start with my belief that every human being has a unique story of life, a unique path of how they got to where they are today. It is quite rare that the advice of a person to themselves apply to somebody else. Thus, don't take my answers for granted. They will probably not be useful pieces of advice for you or anyone else because of everyone's unique situation.
I would suggest to ask the right questions to yourself and figure out the answers by yourself in a way that makes the most sense to you, as you have the most in-depth knowledge of yourself. And I suggest starting with the question 'What kind of life you want to have?'.
Getting back to Antanas' questions, I can say that I feel quite happy where I am today. Thus I wouldn't change anything that I was doing in my 20s. And what was I doing? In my early 20s, I was coding 12-16 hours per day, it was my passion, I loved the process of building software and its impact on people. I mastered my professional skills. However, I wasn't mastering my soft skills, everything human-related. I was so bad at them that I even wasn't aware they exist. The phrase "emotional intelligence" was just a random buzzword to me. In my late 20s, I was running a company with 100+ people. My professional skills were irrelevant in that position. Soft skills were those which were needed the most. However, I had them completely undeveloped. Therefore my advice to myself would be "figure out what the heck is emotional intelligence and master it as good as you code".
N.B. This is an experimental insight. What is the experiment? Instead of broadcasting insights based on what you think is interesting, broadcast them based on what people want to learn from you. Do you think it is a good idea? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you like to ask me more questions, do that from my profile. If you like the experiment and want to be asked, let us know!
Photo below: my dog in dunes:)
What is the purpose of debate? Most of us, if asked, would say it’s about helping someone with an incorrect, harmful idea see the light. It’s an act of kindness. It’s about getting to the truth.
But the way we tend to engage in debate contradicts our supposed intentions.
Much of the time, we’re really debating because we want to prove we’re right and our opponent is wrong. Our interest is not in getting to the truth. We don’t even consider the possibility that our opponent might be correct or that we could learn something from them.
As decades of psychological research indicate, our brains are always out to save energy, and part of that is that we prefer not to change our minds about anything. It’s much easier to cling to our existing beliefs through whatever means possible and ignore anything that challenges them. Bad arguments enable us to engage in what looks like a debate but doesn’t pose any risk of forcing us to question what we stand for.
It’s never fun to admit we’re wrong about anything or to have to change our minds. But it is essential if we want to get smarter and see the world as it is, not as we want it to be. Any time we engage in debate, we need to be honest about our intentions. What are we trying to achieve? Are we open to changing our minds? Are we listening to our opponent? Only when we’re out to have a balanced discussion with the possibility of changing our minds can a debate be productive,avoiding the use of logical fallacies.
Bad arguments are harmful to everyone involved in a debate. They don’t get us anywhere because we’re not tackling an opponent’s actual viewpoint. This means we have no hope of convincing them. Worse, this sort of underhand tactic is likely to make an opponent feel frustrated and annoyed by the deliberate misrepresentation of their beliefs.
And if you’re a chronic constructor of bad arguments, as many of us are, it leads people to avoid challenging you or starting discussions. Which means you don’t get to learn from them or have your views questioned. In formal situations, using bad arguments makes it look like you don’t really have a strong point in the first place.
Read more about bad arguments and how to avoid them: https://fs.blog/2020/05/bad-arguments/
Being in a privileged position, I want to give back.
During my last 12 years as an entrepreneur, I have found myself in many good and bad situations. I have made millions of mistakes, yet found the way out often thanks to other people I considered smarter than myself. Merely seeing a different perspective through their eyes on a situation I wanted to change often was the first step to find a solution whether that was business, life, or career.
Being in a privileged position as a unicorn co-founder (Vinted), I want to give back: I am offering my experience & perspective to young entrepreneurs and other fellows who believe I can provide a helpful perspective on their business problems. I will not solve your problems. Only you can do that, yet, I might offer a different approach to your problem.
I have already reserved 1-2 slots per week for whoever wants to talk to me. During last year, I have already done close to 100 such meetings/calls, and, based on the feedback, people were happy (5 out 5 stars).
Yes, I am doing this through this platform. I charge a symbolic fee for a meeting because I learned that there is a massive difference in people’s motivation, whether they pay or not. Well, there is no free lunch, after all. And yes, all proceeds automatically go to a local dog shelter as a charity. Some of you might know that I am a big fan of dogs 🐕.
I will respond to all meeting requests, yet will accept only those which I believe are relevant to me. So, please be specific on your problem/situation prior sending me a request. Also, I might have a queue of requests/meetings, so please give me time to come back to you.
To those who don’t know me, briefly: I am an engineer in my heart. I was coding since I was 10. I represented Lithuania in international olympiads in informatics when I was at school (yet, never got the medal). I made my first exit when I was 14 and since then worked as a software developer. At age of 24, I co-founded Vinted, which 12 years later became the first Lithuanian unicorn. I left my own company when I was 34 (it was both a happy and painful experience). Today I am building Qoorio, a platform to connect people like you and me.
I experienced working, studying, and building a company all at the same time by day & night. I have hired over a hundred people and fired tens. I raised tickets from €5k to €25m. I pitched to hundreds of investors of all kinds: angels, seeds, growth, PE, investment banks, etc.
I was micromanaging people, bullying people, empowering people, making their dreams and nightmares come true. I was the best leader and the worst one. I have seen teams coming together, I have seen teams breaking up. I have seen companies dying, and I have seen companies skyrocketing.
I made brilliant decisions, and I made terrible decisions. I was in euphoria many times, and I was in hell even more times. I have been the winner, and I have been the looser. I was loved by some people, and some other people hated me. Some people thought I am a genius, marketing guru and a mastermind, while other people thought I am a delusional psychopath.
Well, after all, if you think I can be of any help to you, then let’s talk! If not, then share this message with those who might want to talk.