I'm sharing this here since being agentic has become somewhat of a meme in EA circles. Despite its meme status, I find the idea very helpful and empowering, though difficult to put into action.

This is written as a personal self-affirmation — my hope is that by writing it up and sharing it publicly, I will internalize these words more and act on them. In the context of this post, being agentic means being more ambitious, doing more things out in the world, putting myself out there more, and tolerating higher levels of rejection, discomfort, and failure.

  • Your life can become much better or worse based on your actions and, more generally, the randomness of the universe.
  • Nobody knows what your talents, ambitions, and knowledge base are like except you.
  • There is no divine providence for your life. Just being kind, talented, or good at your job won’t provide you with opportunities or good outcomes — good outcomes don’t just happen automatically because you wish them to; you need to actually go out and create the opportunity for yourself. If you were famous or the child of a billionaire, perhaps people would proactively think of opportunities to bring to you. However, since you are not, it is crucial that you advocate for yourself. If you don’t show the world your talents or share with individuals what you are seeking, others won’t know what you have to offer or are searching for.
  • You have a distribution problem. If you have twice the network and outreach, you’d probably have twice the amount of goodness in outcomes/opportunities. Actually, likely more because these good things compound and make the next thing more likely.
  • Ask people for ambitious, specific requests for support rather than just hoping for general support. When you make a general request, it requires the person to brainstorm all possible ways they could help, which is too broad. In contrast, specific requests narrow down their thought process and reverse the onus so they need to come up with a reason why they cannot help, making it counter-intuitively more likely for them to offer meaningful support. If they can't meet the specific request, they often think of an alternative solution they can provide, which they wouldn't have considered under a general plea for support. It may feel uncomfortable to make these asks, but it typically isn’t costly for someone to say no or ignore you.
  • Many world-renowned superstars only became recognized late in life, or in some cases, posthumously. Just because you feel like a 'nobody' now doesn't mean you aren't of the same calibre, or that you won't become a 'somebody' later once your initiatives take off. Imagine the confidence with which you’d pursue your next initiative if you were already widely recognized.
  • Most great outcomes come from a heavy-tailed distribution, where the benefit from an initiative truly succeeding is orders of magnitude more beneficial than a minor win. This means that you actually don’t need that many things to go well for all of your efforts to be worth it. Potentially, one or two good things will bring all the goodness and future opportunities you need for the rest of your life. Even if you’ve received a lot of friction and failure so far, the positive outcomes from these tail distribution events still make nearly all of your agentic actions highly positive EV.
  • Nobody think about you very much. Nobody will remember or care about you doing something that doesn't succeed, or you reaching out to them, even if they ignore you multiple times, you posting about something too many times online, you requesting help, advice, or to attend some event, etc. For the most part, it honestly doesn’t matter — and when it counts, you will still be at square one with these people.
  • Unless you are famous, most worthwhile initiatives need to go through the moat of low status because they require you either being bad at something or vulnerable, so if you feel like whatever you are about to do is low status, embrace it, because this is often a sign it's worth doing, not that it's harmful for you.
  • The people and opportunities around you likely are not the people who are best poised to recognize your talents, so it isn’t a negative sign that they don’t fully appreciate what you are working on or recognize your skills — it would be pretty unusual if they did.
  • Probably the people and opportunities that will be most compatible with you are outside of your current network and community. You will only gain exposure to the types of people and opportunities, who appreciate your value most, and/or are most compatible with you, by putting yourself out there in their orbit. 
  • By putting more things out in public, it gives more people awareness of what you are doing, what your skills are like, and what you are interested in. The more the public can see this, the more people will think to include you for future opportunities.
  • There's a lot of randomness in what turns out to be successful (versus just being a measure of quality), and you probably aren't perfectly calibrated on which of your efforts or projects will hit the mark. So, it's better to give yourself more shots at success than to wait for what you think is your absolute best work or initiative.
  • You only get feedback and enough repetitions to actually improve at things by doing and trying a lot of things in the real world. You will better understand what you are good at and what you don’t like by actually trying these things and getting feedback from others.
  • You can create a lot of value for other people by proposing fun things for you to do together, hosting events, and helping build community. Make sure to consider this value as part of your equation.
  • The projects you hope to accomplish can make the world a better place. Make sure to consider this value as part of your equation.





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