Six years ago I read this sentence by Donny Miller and became obsessed with it. “In the age of information, ignorance is a choice”. This is the age of information. I felt empowered, inspired, and most of all, I thought it was true as well.
I am a living example of how this can be true. I have a formal Engineering education, a luxury for many families. Yet, the concepts I learned during my engineering education contribute to maybe 1% of what I do today to earn a living. The other 99% is a mix of experience, and knowledge I acquired on the internet, for free.
I started studying AI online years ago. For free. I keep myself up to date by reading blogs and research papers, for free. I studied digital marketing, accounting, web development, UX design all online, for free.
All this knowledge is accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
The Kenyan priest who hosted me in Mombasa didn’t have running water, but he had a laptop and an internet connection. His compatriot athlete Julius Yego started his javelin throwing career watching YouTube tutorials. When he started winning big and journalists asked him who was his coach, and he said “YouTube”.
If you paint this picture, " In the age of information, ignorance is a choice" stands true and powerful.
But today, I think there’s a twist.
Tens of young students DM me on social media asking me for advice on how to find their professional path. They don’t know whether to study AI, blockchain, digital marketing, or become chefs.
I realized that their problem is not lack of information, but lack of awareness. They don’t know what is going on in today’s technological world, and can’t picture what’s their role in it. They don’t need to know how to study something. They need to understand what to study, and why they should.
If I look at my career, my real privilege wasn’t my internet connection. It was that I was sitting in a cafe in Silicon Valley, surrounded by people that were changing the world.
I met Apple engineers at Starbucks, VCs in line for a basketball match, Dropbox designers in clubs. I literally just had to leave home to hear firsthand experience building cutting-edge technology. They gave me the awareness I needed to realize my own “why” and “what”.
From that moment on, figuring out how to study it was easy and free. But sitting in Silicon Valley, that was hard, and definitely not free ($2.000/month in rent for a room, anyone?).
So I’d like to offer my own version of Donny Miller’s sentence: “In the age of over information, ignorance is a choice and finding a path is a blessing”.
Recently I became obsessed with how to maximize everyone’s likelihood to “be blessed”. How can we help everyone get the same inspiration and guidance I got when I was sitting in one in Silicon Valley?
The recipe I found for now is: curiosity + intention. Be curious about new topics, and intentionally put yourself in a position to get new stimuli from people you admire.
Practically, for me, it means to intentionally search for experts who talk about their work (it could be investing, crypto, biology, or whatever). Then, be curious about their message, and if that resonates with me follow them everywhere.
Since you won’t spontaneously meet experienced people in cafes, you have to actively seek them and follow them on the internet.
I’m trying to become one of these references in my field. I often say that I started getting interested in AI after I saw an ad on a billboard on a Silicon Valley highway. I hope that one day someone will say that they started a career in AI after reading a post I wrote.