Juan David's Newsletter - May 15, 2022
Where are the "smart" people?
Hello my friends,
College is over which means summer is finally here. I moved out and I’m back home since January. Now, I want to choose my summer projects. 3 months but without intentional focus will feel like a week.
I've been thinking about the following question: Where are the "smart" people today? Smart meaning people who are doing great and important work.
In the 1900s, the smart people were doing science and engineering up until about the 1970s. Then, some started creating companies all the way until the 2010s.
Science/engineering and creating companies. But now where are the smart people? Are they creating companies and startups? I have a hard time believing that, I just don't think so. Why do I think that? I have no idea but it's an intuition.
This makes me wonder if what I'm saying is true. If so, where the hell are the smart people today? What are they working on? What are they thinking about?
Genesis Fund seems to be a magnet for these people. People who want to do great and important work but are thinking about the best ways to do so. No, starting a company isn't always the best way although everyone seems to want to start a company to "make the world a better place using (insert in the blank a buzzword)."
We can't just think starting a company is the only way and NYPS seems to be a start in that direction because if you're young, smart, motivated, and want to do great, important work, there needs to be a way to let you do whatever the fuck you want to do. We just have to. The world would, then, become the so-called "better place." The reason is simple. There are some people who need to use their minds to work on important problems and we need to help them in that effort. Otherwise, we run the risk of every brilliant person ending up in Silicon Valley.
The other day, I was talking to my professor and he had this student who was way more brilliant than she could realize. The student didn't realize how brilliant she was. My professor tells me that one day she came up to him and figured all out on her own a problem they've been working and the professor was in shock. This student graduated and you guessed it, she got a job at a big tech company in Silicon Valley where she's been for the past ten years. I asked my professor what he thought about this. He told me that not everyone needs important work in science. Science isn't the only way and I would agree. But do you really think working at this big tech company as a manager or whatever the hell she is doing now is important work? Is that what she grew up wanting to do? Who grows up wanting to be a consultant or product manager? No one but sometimes you have to, and that's ok. Those are perfectly fine jobs. But then, there are some people like this student. She's so brilliant, so brilliant yet her brain and ability are almost like being sucked into meaninglessness.
I couldn't help myself and I contacted this person on LinkedIn (of course). We talked and I introduced myself and then I had to ask a question: "What drives you these days?" It's been two weeks and she has not replied and probably won't reply.
What could have this person been doing in a world where young or old or anyone who wants to do important work is able to do important work? The ability to get out of the system and do whatever the fuck they want to do. That is the world I want to live in and help create. Again, it's not letting you do whatever the hell you want because it doesn't mean sitting around and being a parasite to society. The types of people who I'm talking about, they ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO be working on important problems. It's a need they have.
Currently, I'm in college, and I always tell my smart friends who are very few that the purpose of college is to create an exit. Somehow, society allows people to be free for four years to "study" and that's fine but if you want to do important work, you need to get out of the system someway. You have four years, and that's the goal. At least, that's my goal. What does that look like? Do anything possible to avoid getting a job after graduation. Again, this does not mean I'm trying to pursue the fanciest thing or whatever. It means it's an opportunity to find what gets me excited and do that. That is the other purpose of college.
I have over two years left and creating an exit for myself and for other smart people is one of the most important problems right now, and something we cannot ignore.
Life is good. Life is exciting. But we need to make it happen!
On Friday, the semester was over. I attended a talk by the NASA Science director and then I spent the whole evening playing frisbee and spikeball. Graduates were taking pictures and I told my friends, “Why wait until graduation to take pictures?” I stopped them and asked someone to take us a picture.
Until next time Alma Matter.
And I’ll see you next week,
Juan David Campolargo