This article sums up the interview video of Sam Altman from the How to Build the Future series of Y Combinator.

You may use this notebook post to quickly extract value from the following video without watching it entirely.

Watch the video

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  • Do what is at the intersection of what you want to do and what you’re good at
  • Be willing to move to a place to find a lot of good people
  • Success is focus, personal connections and self beliefs
  • Work harder than most people think you should (maximize chances)
  • Decide when to quit, give up (a startup, a project)
    • Most people give up too early: they try something, it doesn’t immediately work, after 7 week they give up
    • Some people tell you your product sucks, but most of the time people say nothing at all (when it actually sucks)
    • The best entrepreneurs Sam knows make internal decisions to when to quit
    • You need to derive satisfaction to what you’re doing
  • Sam started off starting projects with the motto “Make Money”, and now he starts project based on how interesting it is. The former can drain your energy and burn you out. The latter can provide you a lot of energy to work on hard interesting things.
  • In case of failure-to-be, quit, shut the company down and go on vacations. Then you figure out your next thing.
  • Most people don’t take enough risks. Be young, unknown and poor is a great gift. People don’t capitalize enough on that. People regret more things they didn’t do than they did do.
  • The worst risk is not to do something because you don’t want to fail.
  • Reasons people don’t do things: because it’s hard and because it’s risky. So take the risk of committing to build something hard.
  • Ask for what you want. Ask that person to quit his job and join you. Be someone aggressive. Being agressive is one important characteristic of being an entrepreneur.
  • Each crisis get less scary than the one before. There are a lot of things going run, you feel you’ll never survive at each crisis, but eventually you always figure a way.
  • One of the few arbitrage opportunity left in the market is time. You cannot go beat the market in a lot of ways, but one way to do is to make long-term commitments.
  • People are increasingly focused on the tick (in the world). You should go for the tack (the other way).
  • You get paid as a founder for the wealth you create for others. A few manage to steal money from other people (that’s short-term commitment), but overall great founders build great business and provide a huge value to people (that’s long-term commitment).
  • Start with a strong belief, have strong opinions about the future. Be flexible on how you implement it, as the future is unknowable.