625 Hours of Change
Zayn's Digest - August Edition
summer is a synonym for be as curious and exploratory as possible. summer is a good bottle of shampoo, you attempt to squeeze every good particle out of it before you're ready to throw it away. summer is a probiotic, a pill that cleanses the entire body.]
my summers are none of those. It was a major hustle, I felt like a french cyclist struggling to keep up as other bikers passed me on the way through Avenue des Champs-Elysées during the Tour de France.
I'm kidding. this summer was a fusion of both. long-term growth and an investment in my future self while challenging myself mentally, physically to couter-act self doubt.
this summer entailed 35+ hours of learning. figuring out more about the truths in the world, why businesses are successful, the formula to facebook's growth and user success, re-discovering the art of casey neistat and how to make high quality youtube content that is timeless. I thought about why leadership in most governments fails and why we haven't created a better system for policy. understood the faults of the healthcare system and its overly reactive nature to the most important thing in our lives.
I figured out that humans and animals differ based on the key element of narratives. Doubled down on what creates prolificness in the richest, most important people in the world, realized that jeff bezos is a mastermind at slow growth, compounding companies. thought about what a renovated model for venture capital would look like after watching Chamath Paliphayata's Stanford talk every Monday for the past 10 weeks. I learnt a lot.
meetings with important, high quality individuals was a major part of my agenda this summer. 200 hours were spent on zoom talking to people from around the world. France, Portugal, India, Singapore, Canada, Haiti, were some of the places I virtually visited during these calls.
I talked to investors, founders, community builders, makers, inventors, parents and understood their world view, how this manifested in their current occupation, and their desired impact through that work. there is something incredibly unique about developing relationships with people across the united states and the world in every industry imaginable.
so many people have different occupations, view problems/solutions in alternate ways, define happiness, success, failure unlike others in the world but it's all so interesting. talking to others created a massive serendipitous zone where I could vet my ideas through the people I talked to. if I wanted to write a new article about heutagogy vs. pedagogy I could speak to 2-3 other people in education and figure out the best angle for the article.
if I needed feedback on my designs through figma, I could reachout to 3 designers and comprehend the points of improvement in this project. there is a major unfair advantage to having a massive network of people in multi-disciplinary zones of the world.
my favorite part of the calls was refining my proxy system for what a good call looked like. there's a well known theory in entrepreneurship called the chicken feet theory where you ask others to introduce you to another person in hopes to expand your influence and network through that connection. asking others to intro me to one of their friends/connections didn't make sense to me because it felt forced whereas them voluntarily introducing me to someone else or two demonstrated to me that they had enough confidence that I would make an impression based on our conversation.
every call turned into a challenge of me increasing the amount of people that would send notes to others about the conversation we had and it continuously unlocked more doors and opportunities.
the part of the summer that had the most embedded frustration and emotional fluctuation was the 139 hours of project building. it entailed several hours of self-loathing and a few key hours of self-brilliance. it challenged my intellectual incision and the ability to double down vs. walk away when things got hard. the end result was 7 projects across edtech, augmented reality, venture capital, etc.
perhaps my biggest weakness and self-imposed restriction is my ability to execute and submit high quality projects with challenges. it's hard to create a project but easy to replicate that project in similar variants on the same platform. for example, creating a mockup on figma once becomes easier as you start to build more, but there is less learning in similar variants than in different ones. creating mockups in figma was level 1, creating more art boards with higher fidelity designs was level 2, creating a functioning prototype with drop shadows/buttons/flows was level 3. there are an infinite amount of levels with the challenge of figma but the personal challenge is the ability to start trying something harder and finish.
my past self started a ton of projects and thought it was cool to state I was the founder @x or the builder @y. but what did that actually mean? nothing. I hadn't build anything, most of these ideas were only in my head and my imagination traveled me on crazy whirlwinds where I magnified my success without building anything tangible. that was the key for project building this summer. complete it.
the building process taught me about thinking 1 level higher. I continuously asked myself what does good look like and how can I create great. seems obvious but too often I found my past self thinking about great and failing to settle for good. I created mediocre results.
I moved the needle on this discrepancy throughout the summer but challenging what my mind believes as true is the next part of project building. That's another thing. It's so easy to play into the negative self-talk game and permit your mind to tell you that you lack the ability to create something meaningful. Part of this summer was spent understanding how my insecurities manifested and the fears that were invisible to me because I hadn't allotted enough time for reflection. I began daily loom standups wherein I would review my day and the major thoughts I had that led to certain decisions. Reflection is an interesting trend and we've increased the formats that we reflect with → google docs/notion, physical journals, lined paper. None of these methods are as data-filled as a video. You can visually see what you looked like, listen to your tone, watch your non-verbal communication through a video whereas a paper is a running dialogue of thoughts I had at a time. These thoughts lack major context and don't really have validity in the long-term, hence the transition to video.
all of the projects are available on zaynpatel.com(website isn't working but loads/you can view).
38 hours of change was donated to writing Gamifying Education - the book I've been writing through the Creator Institute at Georgetown University. I met the 30K word mark earlier this week and submitted my manuscript. couple intentions for the writing. the book is the backdrop for a larger project I'm building and has been a fantastic synthesizer of key learnings from some of the top educators, thinkers, creators in the world. second intention was thinking about how to become once-in-a-generation. a ton of my time this summer has been spent on a recurring dominant question of "what creates asymmetrical people." The individuals that stand out in a room, the ones that capture our attention when they write, speak, the people that create revolutionary ideas that re-imagine how we look at society, life, etc. It's been the hardest question to seek an answer to because of its non-obvious nature but asymmetrical people are clear thinkers with high quality habits. writing provides me both. 90 minutes of writing a day and a clear state of mind.
the book also serves as a mega-compounder vs. an article, tweet, youtube video. the book will continue generating passive readers without me having to actively market the book. anyone whose interested in edtech, the future of work, how and why education needs an update can stumble upon it in different forms at length. few youtube videos are timeless, fewer tweets are timeless, and timeless articles are scarce.
the last intention is about hard-wiring my brain to solely focus on the long-term. writing a book takes months/years to create. it's not a simple process to create 60,000 words and distribute it to an audience of readers. it's not easy to talk to 50+ people and gather their thoughts on the future of work x education and synthesize it into a book. the goal isn't to make it easy, put a book on the shelves and gain social capital of having a book and being an author. the culture of my future self is someone that wants to be methodical and obsessed with compounding. 1,000 words/day for 60 days = 60,000 words. all of this training and the intentions for writing begin to collide and it's for the macro image of how can I make my future self's life easier through current actions?
life isn't all about fast. it's not about the perceived sense of perfection we get in the short-term from social media and people commenting on our posts. we conflate hearts, likes, and thumbs up with truth habitually.
life's really about defining what matters to you. what smart means to you. what success in a summer means to you.
and, I think I accomplished that. this summer wasn't filled with 625 hours of work. it was about making intentional changes in my life for a happier, gritty future self. the idea of time is so similar to money it's curious. some people see $10 as an opportunity to spend. others will see it as an opportunity to donate. some will see it as an opportunity to save. each of these personas manifest money in different ways. I manifest it as a measure of change. how much change can I make today with the time allotted to me? how much change can I make in a life with the time allotted to me?
I think the moment when we discover that we aren't attached to time but we can dictate it's flow and how it's distributed in our lives, I think it's the moment we become liberated from the watches we wear and see everyday.
throughout the final days of summer, I encourage you to squeeze your shampoo bottle + extract all the substance that's left.
tl;dr on this month
- Built Disruptor Labs - an asynchronous project based learning platform which provides students the opp to learn about emerging tech, etc while building real world skills like learning in public.
- Completed 30K words for my book, Gamifying Education.
- Built a venture capital academy to provide founders seeking capital access to a central resource with information from how to raise a pre-seed to angel investors.
growth in public - favorite moment
I’ve been using twitter as a method to make my ideas more tangible and scalable - allowing me to reach more people with my thoughts.
My thinking this month was around changing the culture around patience. How can we increase the amount of slow growth & compounding globally? This tweet thread discusses how we move that needle.
slow & steady against hard problems.
Hey, hey thanks for reading the newsletter! I would love to hear your thoughts on August. Click email below and send me a note with some items you worked on!
If you want to get in contact with me, here are some quick links: