How Should I Choose?

Mar 22, 2013

I am in a fortunate position where I get a selection of companies that would like me to think about joining their engineering team. Last week, I got one that stood out to me from Asana. I think I was particularly taken by that one because it didn’t come from a generic-non-descript-faceless-recruiter, and used the language “strong” which I think is the bee’s knees. More important than ``consider’‘ing an opportunity at Asana, they included a promo video. This led me down the rabbit hole of listening to this delightful hour long video from a previous Q&A.

I decided to revisit the age old question of what should I be working on, once again in light of this. The answer comes from Matt Cohler. I drew a venn diagram on my notebook, took a picture and texted it to friends. What ensued was a back and forth, that led to this post.

![Venn Diagram](

This is not about making money, its about leading a satisfied life. If life is led in the intersection of this diagram, money, more than likely, even wealth comes as a byproduct, an epiphenomenon. Emphasis on strong by product.

If you are passionate about something, that the world does not find valuable (judged by the capacity to retrieve payment in exchange for it), you may not be able to sustain yourself, let alone, a family doing it. Hence being a painter or a classical pianist, or philosopher, and on … This is of course based on the assumption that you are not independently wealthy, and as such, you need to be financially sustained through your profession.

Comparative advantage like degrees, networks, and so on, without passion, but in something the world finds valuable, will guarantee some success, and some money, in some cases, even wealth, but more than likely a soul sucking experience. Just ask some folks in consulting and hedge funds.

You’ve got to nail all three to really be happy while making money. As technically savvy people, we are fortunate to be in a position to have a skill that the world deems as valuable. For most of us, we’ve got the whole comparative advantage thing down. The clincher is the “passionate” bit. Don’t waste your talent on something you are not passionate about.

Luckily for us, technology now touches almost all facets of human experience, so finding your sweet spot in this intersection should not be too hard.