Auren Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and investor in over 75 tech companies. He’s the CEO and Chief Historian of SafeGraph and co-founder and former CEO of LiveRamp. This is a conversation about thinking, reasoning, and cultivating self-awareness. We discuss: default options (such as going to college or buying a house) and the need to reaffirm these on a regular basis; combatting status-seeking behavior; the challenging skill of holding two opposing views at once; how being “cool” or a social outcast impacts entrepreneurship; and why when it comes to work-life balance, Auren thinks we should recruit “proud members of the anti-balance society.”
Learn more about Auren
- @auren on Twitter
- Auren’s EPIC Quora Profile
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On why we should recruit “proud members of the anti-balance society”
[su_quote]If you’re balanced, just by the definition — it means you’re not great at anything. I think balance is really bad, we should all be against balance. You should not give equal-weight to all parts of your life. You should have a very concentrated portfolio, so you can actually concentrate on things. [/su_quote]
On determining what type of business you should start
One, do you have an unfair advantage. Two, is this going to be valuable in the future. Three, do most other people think this business will NOT be valuable in the future.
On default options
The things you do because either everyone around you does them or because you’ve always been doing them in the past. And they’re generally the right thing to do, but one should occasionally question them. [They include] going to college, getting married, your job, having a kid, your religion, core philosophies, political beliefs.
How to avoid conformist thinking
Charlie Munger has a saying: The best thinkers can hold two opposing views at once.
Doing the default option just because it is the default can lead to life not lived to the fullest
— Auren 📚 𝐇𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐦𝐚𝐧 (@auren) September 24, 2017
question your default options once a year (the things you do because everyone around you in society are doing)
— Auren 📚 𝐇𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐦𝐚𝐧 (@auren) September 23, 2017
One of the biggest mistakes smart people make
They focus so much on their weaknesses an never end up being great at anything.
What your number one goal in life should NOT be
To aspire to be something that a person can be born with. People can be born rich, healthy, good looking, and happy. It’s fine to pursue, but it shouldn’t be the number one thing you’re optimizing for.
What you should optimize for
Something really really difficult to achieve because that’s what makes life really exciting. It should be something very ambitious or doing something to help others.
On optimizing over different time horizons
I think people should try to optimize for the long term and by doing that, often the best strategy is to do more short-term optimizations and not a mid-term optimization.
On loving yourself
It’s really important to love yourself. It’s really hard to love others if you don’t love yourself. It’s easier to love yourself if you are lovely, and act lovely — but that doesn’t mean you have to be perfect.