Why We Need a Better Future, and How We'll Build It Together
As stated, my mission is:
To spread individuality, knowledge, and opportunity through technology.
I arrived at this through these 10 things I learned in life and work, and where I believe the future should go.
The first five are what we need and why: economic growth (especially the kind tied to knowledge and well-being), innovation (or the audacity to work on new things), courage to work on hard problems and inspiring others to join us, individuality, and opportunity.
The second five are how we'll get it: ironclad principles, building great teams, purpose, taste, and building tomorrow today.
- Economic growth that seeks to advance humanity's knowledge and well-being is imperative for the long-term peace and prosperity of society. It creates better standards of living, better ways of working, exponentially increased productivity, longer lifespans, lower mortality rates, better healthcare & education systems, and more fulfilling lives for more people. Lack of economic growth may result in the opposite and has serious ramifications for the future of the population.1
- We must dare to create new things if we want economic growth not just for the sake of profits but the betterment of society and the longevity of the planet. Technology that leads to significant progress in science, commerce, education, productivity gains, wealth, and employment is an extremely important driver of economic growth. Progress made today can alter the trajectory of society tomorrow.
- We must have the optimism, courage, and patience to work on hard valuable problems and inspire people in the process. Hard problems challenge creativity and push the needle on what's possible. You must believe you can get it done. You choose to do it anyway because you believe it needs to exist in the world. You have a stomach for the long-term and endurance in the face of setbacks because new things take time to get built, get right, and get adopted. And we won't get there unless we inspire others to join our cause with us.
- We need to widen opportunity, mobility, and access to serve as many people as possible. Diverse experiences, perspectives, skill sets, and interests will help solve a wider range of problems. This can only add to a richer sphere of technological possibilities, more intelligent discourse, and more active participation from the population. There is no limit to man’s creativity, therefore the more people that can build technology and build with technology, the more potential for economic growth there will be.2
- We need to spread genuine individuality and a love for the pursuit of truth. Individuality tied to a strong purpose enables man's greatest contribution. It helps people connect with their character, their gifts, their potential, and their art. We need to pursue truth and not merely accept what is spoonfed by the powers that be or manufacture narratives that are consistent with our biases. A more enlightened individuality can lead to greater economic, creative, and psychological freedom. The pursuit of truth leads to a more cultivated and more intellectually honest—rather than an intellectually bankrupt—society.
- While technology provides leverage (through product, but most importantly, through distribution), it needs to be built on strong principles. What we build is essentially an approach to what we believe the world ought to be. Building things, while fun and exciting, has the potential to create an alternative future that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. It can accelerate a particular version of the future. Therefore, we must build technology based on strong principles—even if not everyone agrees with it—from its very foundation and not merely as an afterthought.
- Great technology teams are at the heart of great technology companies. Talent absolutely matters but only so far as how cohesive the team is and the degree the team puts its objective first, front, and center. Why? Execution is driven by the culture, commitment, velocity, and inventiveness of the team. Strong team dynamics lead to talent working not just with each other but also for each other. Great teams comprise of talent that prioritizes the interest of the whole versus the interest of just themselves or their subgroup. Great talent can do great things, but great teams move mountains in spite of great constraints.
- Work ought to be meaningfully challenging. We find deep sense of meaning in giving our best towards something we believe in. We grow the most when we discover our true potential in the midst of difficulty. Growth through the right level of challenge met with a sense of purpose is what creates fulfillment, not endless moments of comfort and predictability. When it comes to organizational culture, winning sustainably, ethically, and strategically at the right things that gives us autonomy, mastery, and purpose is the most important factor.
- Taste is the great equalizer. You can have the most capital, the most distinguished pedigree, the most connected network, even the biggest brand, but there is still one thing none of those things can simply get: taste. Taste is a deep instinctual understanding of humans—what drives them, how they work, how they feel—and creating things that evoke a powerful want and need, matched with how it will work in the real world. It may take time for the market and society to catch up to that taste, but you can feel good taste when you see it.3
- We must build tomorrow today. The future won’t design itself. Those who have vision and ability to create it have a moral obligation of doing so to create a better society. It also sets up the next generation of builders that can contribute to humanity's peace and prosperity. We have to look forward and actively build the future. The world is counting on you and me and all of us.
I've seen firsthand what lack of economic growth looks like while growing up in the Philippines: significant income disparity, widespread corruption, underinvested infrastructure (especially in healthcare and education) reducing faith in the country's prospects in the future. This results in civil unrest and valuable human capital searching for better lives elsewhere, as was the case for my family. In more extreme scenarios, declining economic growth leads to violence, crime, and war. This is why healthy economies are necessary: without it, humans are focused strictly on survival and competition and less on higher order things like human welfare, purpose, potential, imagination, and innovation. ↩
I wouldn't be the person I am today if I didn't get the exposure to technology that I did thanks to my parents' hard work and sacrifice of sending me to a school in the Philippines that taught it. This is why I'm hellbent on education and opportunity as a catalyst for progress. To understand more, read my bio. ↩
This is extremely hard to get right because there's no equation or training that can easily produce great taste. It's abstract. It's visceral. It takes intuition, a disdain for the status quo, and extreme care for detail. It requires a balancing act of idealism and realism. It's a mix of imagination and really really giving a damn. ↩