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Date: 2022-07-03 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00015748

The Modern Economy

How To Reverse Engineer Entry Into The Fields Reimagining The World


Peter Burgess

How To Reverse Engineer Entry Into The Fields Reimagining The World

“During the past three decades, startups in the United States have created nearly 40 million American jobs, all the net job creation in the country over that period.” –Steve Case

To hear a deeper discussion on the following topics, listen to:

It’s amazing to think that our world is safe and prosperous enough now that we have the freedom to pursue our mission. This blessing has been brought to us thanks to technological progress: better information, access to food, lowered trade barriers, and cures for a myriad of diseases that used to exist. We are living in a rare and unique moment in history. We can ally ourselves with companies doing amazing work, and we don’t have to put aside our ethics. We can join those that are changing the world and aren’t relying on corrupt practice to stay in business. There are now many startups that have turned into massive businesses that have been built by risk takers which need to hire great people. They need self-actualizing people who are pursuing the mission to join them.

Even if it’s only for a few years, I can’t think of a better way to learn about our mission than by working for a business who is creating technology to make the world a better place.

Who and Where are the Builders?

If there was a group of people taking a small amount of money and turning it into technology that produces jobs and wealth, we’d always hear about them on the news, right? Not necessarily. In America, small businesses and venture-backed startups account for a majority of the net job creation over the last several decades.

We would think there would be a race to work at these innovation hotbeds. But in truth, working at these startups and businesses requires enduring some risk. But this risk is nothing compared to what the founders of these startups have endured. And without building our capacity to endure risk, our mission would be meaningless.

Consider the staggering facts about venture-backed startups in the United States. The amount of money invested into them every year is a tiny .02% of GDP. This means venture capital funds invest around $346 billion into a portfolio of startup investments every year. With that investment, they create around 11% of all private sector jobs. That’s around 15,378,000 jobs! Venture-backed companies have created revenue which accounts for over 21% of American GDP, or around $3,633,000,000,000. The top 12 largest technology companies in the U.S. account for ~$2 trillion of our GDP. Those dozen largest companies were all venture-backed. Venture-backed companies each start with a few hundred thousand or million dollars, and in turn spread innovation, jobs, wealth, and opportunity.

Now for a stark comparison, consider the job creation impact of the 2008 Federal Stimulus plan. This plan directly cost taxpayers around $800 billion in government debt. This means limiting the options of current U.S. citizens and mortgaging the future of unborn children. Depending on reports ranging from think tanks to the Congressional Budget Office, it’s estimated that the Stimulus plan “created or saved” between 0 and 1.5 million jobs.⁠ Those numbers are disputed, but without more government debt, those “jobs” which were “created” don’t continue.

Venture-backed startups aren’t investing with debt. They’re investing with money given to them voluntarily. Across the entire country, these startups are taking a fraction of capital and producing returns that are thousands of times greater than government deficit spending.

For the first time in history, we have opportunities to work at the type of companies which are taking a little bit of capital and turning it into massive amounts of value for all of humanity.

For many of us, we’re blessed to be able to choose work and careers at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We can choose the type of work which causes us to wake up excited and go to sleep exhausted (but satisfied) from a day well-invested. We can choose the type of work which gives us exposure to risk, but also exposure to the upside of being part of the technological progress that will make life better for every person on the planet. This article isn’t a call for everyone to work at these companies; it’s designed to present the option, and maybe spark new ideas or perspectives on finding our mission.

By joining or aligning with these businesses that are creating technology, we’ll put ourselves on a path where our rate of learning is enormous. This is the path where, along the way, we’ll meet life-long friends, co-founders, mentors, and investors.

The future is here, and it’s waiting for us to find it. So where can we begin looking for these opportunities?

1. The INC 500 list is published every year containing rapidly growing small businesses from all over the United States. This list is especially useful if you’re looking for something outside of traditional technology or software companies.

2. AngelList is “where the world meets startups.” But in reality, it’s so much more. Consider building a profile and start learning about the site. AngelList is the future of finding investment and job opportunities at startups.

3. Check out the “Portfolio” or “Investments” page on the websites of top-tier Venture Capital firms. These pages contain lists of all the companies that particular VC firm has invested in. These companies are quite literally building the future. Some of the top tier VC firms in the United States include:

... A16Z
... Greylock
... LowerCase
... Founders Fund
... Foundry Group
... Google Ventures
... First Round Capital
... Upfront Ventures
... True Ventures
... YCombinator
... The OS Fund

Now, let’s get tactical about aligning ourselves with the growth of these economic engines.

Reverse Engineering Entry Into the Businesses Rebuilding America

Learn about many of the companies through the three main hubs for them: INC 500, AngelList, and VC Portfolio Pages.

Find 30–50 startups/companies which fascinate us. Study everything about them including what they sell, the markets they’re in, the stage of business they’re in, what jobs they need to fill, what products they make, and who makes up the founding team. The more knowledge we have about them, the better.

Start a correspondence with some of the founders of these companies. Reach out to the people who hire and make decisions. Reach out to the sales, engineering, growth, or design team, depending on where your specific interests lie. Introduce yourself and figure out how you can (or could) be helpful.

Determine the exact type of skills they would need in order to hire you immediately. Do you have them already? Do they offer a trial period of working for them as a contractor before they’ll considered hiring someone full time? What can we do or show them to make them unable to ignore us? It’s our mission to find out. Are they looking for a college degree? Are they looking for candidates from a certain training program or developer boot camp? Find out the exact credentials and deliverables you need to get hired. If coding or designing is out of the question for us, the best startups always need sales people, data scientists, project managers, and amazing customer service representatives. Remember that startups and technology companies often times compensate earlier employees with equity or stock options. The first person who did customer service at Facebook is probably not doing customer service anymore.

From the intelligence we gather, we can determine if working at a place like that sounds energizing. Ask 30–50 people what exactly we need to get hired, find the unifying themes and specific credentials they continually cite, and then find the best way to get that training. From there, we can work to acquire the training or skills we need to gain entry, and then begin building a portfolio of work. As we build up our portfolio, we can go back to our contacts them from time to time to keep them apprised of our progress, and continue to hustle for an opportunity to get our foot in the door. In the next discussion, we’ll go over how to verify that any training, course, or college we’re attending produces a positive outcome.

From there, we can continue the process of meeting individuals, founders, and key employees at these businesses, and then connecting with them on LinkedIn after our initial conversations. We can learn even more about these industries and display our newfound knowledge by writing articles. We can even send these articles to the people we contacted to demonstrate our expertise.

At this point of reaching out to all these different types of founders and startups, we’ve learned how to access economic opportunity in the new economy. This is the ultimate insurance policy, and one that ensures we can access work that produces the byproduct of our mission.

“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes — then learn how to do it later.” –Richard Branson

“Fear is the disease. Hustle is the antidote.” –Travis Kalanick

There are a few myths which prevent many people from starting these exercises. Sadly, many people who fail to find meaning don’t take themselves seriously enough to become their own taskmaster.

In order to reverse engineer an amazing work life where you earn respect and income from your skills, you must be willing to try many things. Let’s take a moment to cover a few of the myths that prevent many people from getting started. If you don’t need to review these myths, feel free to skip this section.

Myth: I need an Ivy League degree (or some other amazing credential) to unlock opportunities.

Truth: It doesn’t matter what you think you need, or if some people say college is worthless while others say college is the only way to opportunity. What matters is what the companies you want to work for think. Instead of thinking that these great companies only hire “Ivy League” graduates, we can prove it to ourselves by reaching out and talking to people who make decisions. We can find out the exact credentials we need to be hired today. Those are the answers that matter, not random people’s opinion on brand name colleges. The two biggest things needed at small businesses and VC-backed technology companies are those who can learn really quickly, and those who are Chief Emotional Officers. The people who fight to control and master their emotions are those most valuable to small businesses and VC-backed technology companies. These people have attitudes that are a net positive to the company. The right attitude at companies who must innovate or die is far, far more important than where you went to college.

Myth: It’s not smart to join a company which might fail.

Truth: This is partially true. Yes, if you know a company is going to fail, then it may be stupid to join. But if the company can fail, but also has a chance to succeed in a big way — this is the sweet spot of learning, progress, opportunity, and risk. All of these opportunities signal a choice that will lead to long term gains.

What is so special about small business and venture-backed technology companies is the fact that they can fail. This forces us to increase our own rate of learning. Ultimately, being an entrepreneurial employee at companies of the right size ($1mm — $1 billion) is the first step to building the capacity to find meaning no matter what life throws at you (apatheia). Even if the company fails, now we’re armed with more experience and lessons learned on the front lines of value creation.

Myth: The goal is to never look foolish.

Truth: An unwillingness to look foolish is a character trait of failures.

A Few Thoughts on Losers and Winners

Losers eat up all their willpower and mental ram each day by worrying about looking foolish. They let technology use them, instead of using it as a servant. They use technology only to consume, never to create.

Winners ask questions. Winners appear stupid to those who don’t matter. They’re willing to be thought of as foolish for extended periods of time. In fact, it’s often those who can stand being thought of as foolish the longest that find the greatest meaning in life.

Winners send cold emails and make cold phone calls. They introduce themselves to other people who know their mission and ask, “how’d you do it?” They don’t let fear of saying the wrong thing prevent them from making conversation. They don’t care as much about their “elevator pitch” as much as they care about adding value. They ask for what they want. They hear “no” again and again, and aren’t afraid to ask that last time when “no” turns to “yes.” They hear yes and are careful to not press their luck, but also analyze when it’s the right time to make a second request.

As You Go

We shouldn’t worry about sending emails and asking for things along the way. As long as we’re genuine, we have nothing to lose. If you word something wrong, you’ll find out quickly and be able to adjust. The people who are self-aware but willing to put themselves out there and risk looking foolish will be able to learn at a much faster rate than those who are unwilling to ever look foolish. The people who occasionally look foolish get a shot at everything they want, whereas those who care only about how they are viewed by others never take the risks necessary for the big wins.

Skyrocket your own learning by being willing to feel ignorant. Feeling ignorant just means you’re being challenged at the appropriate level. It’s not a sign to turn and run, or shut down in a conversation. Feeling ignorant is a signal to ask questions and listen, not shut down emotionally.

Deeper Strategies and Tactics

Here are some more strategies to use technology effectively, build proof of skills, and learn how the new economy works.

Set your Feedly with several feeds recommended by influencers in that space, or where influencers write online

Download podcasts on your phone about the space you are interested in

Examine the job openings at these places

Reach out and establish contacts in these industries

Contact sales people on these teams and talk to them (sales people will always answer their phone and email)

Email industry contacts and executives and ask great questions

Email industry contacts and executives and ask what skills they wish applicants applied with

Write for publications in those industries and link back to your social profile

Ask to work pro-bono on projects or help out at these companies, contingent on an interview down the road

Comment in message boards and forums if you’re too worried to become active and ask certain questions aloud

While discovering more ideas for exploration into the new economy, remember that unlocking opportunities is a matter of:

Finding what skills are necessary to break into these industries Finding out how to acquire these skills. You could look at LinkedIn profiles, and email people working in those positions and ask (they’ll likely be incentivized to help by getting paid to bring in qualified candidates) Reach out to recruiters and make it known what you’re looking for. Find out what skills the recruiters have seen consistently in demand, or how the recruiter will be incentivized to place you at a great venture-backed or mid-size technology company

On Reaching Out and Cold Emails

Ask questions, but try to tailor and orient everything to show you respect the value of the time of those you’re reaching out to. Whenever possible, offer value first. Don’t ask for anything difficult until you’ve confirmed you’re delivering more value than you’re being compensated for. Do enough research so it’s easy for the person you’re questioning to want to answer your question. Do enough research beforehand so you’re not asking for what can be found online in five minutes. Make it easy for the person you’re questioning to say yes. Appeal to their curiosity and their particular knowledge. Structure your questions in a way that acknowledges the recipients experience and wisdom and communicates that you respect what they say.

On Following Up and Responding

Show and demonstrate that you’ve made progress since the last time you spoke. Any way you can demonstrate the rate at which you’re able to learn is incredibly positive.

Pro-Bono Work and Delivering Value First

Help them out (reach out after you’ve done your research to know exactly what that person needs that you can offer to do)

Deliver value (do work that they actually need done)

After you have delivered value, don’t be afraid to ask serious questions such as, “Will you hire me for (insert job here), or will you give me a recommendation to someone who will? Will you recommend me on LinkedIn? If this type of work won’t get me a job with you, what would?” (Get something in writing, and then deliver.)

Common Question about Pro-Bono Work

What if they shaft me or take advantage of my free work, help, or the value I provide to them? Don’t waste time being angry or feeling defeated. If you’re being taken advantage of, leave and cite your work as proof of skills as you approach the next opportunity. Add the proof of skills to your LinkedIn profile. Reach out to a competitor or place where the name of the organization you helped will be valued.

In summary, the new economy is here, and there are companies rebuilding our world. Exploring them is a great way to find our mission.
To learn more, listen to: The Mission Daily Episode 53: Reverse Engineer Opportunities The Mission Daily Episode 54: Connect With Anyone The Mission Daily Episode 55: These Lies are Holding You Back If you enjoyed this story, please click the 👏 button and share to help others find it! Feel free to leave a comment below. Venture CapitalStartupEntrepreneurshipEconomicsLife Lessons Go to the profile of Chad Grills Chad Grills Medium member since Apr 2017 CEO of The Mission. The Story podcast, Season 1 is available now on Apple Podcasts: The Mission The Mission We publish stories, videos, and podcasts to make smart people smarter. Subscribe to our newsletter to get them! More from The Mission How Writing for One Hour a Day Can Improve The Quality of Your Life Go to the profile of Srinivas Rao Srinivas Rao More from The Mission If You Want to Design Your Life, Start by Designing Your Environment Go to the profile of Srinivas Rao Srinivas Rao More from The Mission Habits are the Compound Interest of Self Improvement Go to the profile of Srinivas Rao Srinivas Rao Responses Peter Write a response… Peter The Story podcast, Season 1 is available now on Apple Podcasts: The Mission Daily Episode 53: Reverse Engineer Opportunities The Mission Daily Episode 54: Connect With Anyone The Mission Daily Episode 55: These Lies are Holding You Back

Chad Grills ... CEO of The Mission.
Jul 16 2018
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