Rhodes Scholar on Grit, Discipline and Serving Humanity

Avthar's Weekly Wisdom #49 (04/11/2021)

Welcome to edition #49 of Avthar's Weekly Wisdom!

🔥 This newsletter is where I share practical wisdom about self-mastery, entrepreneurship, health and happiness, all to help you live better. My guarantee is that you’ll discover one thing that will help you change your life every week.

Here's what I want to share with you this week:

  • 🏆 A Rhodes Scholar’s thoughts on grit, discipline and serving humanity

  • 🚀 Garry Tan’s framework for navigating your career

  • 💪 How to program your mind for fitness

  • ☀️ A quote to get you out of bed by Marcus Aurelius

To your growth and success, 


🏆 On Self-Mastery — 

Jordan Thomas on Grit, Discipline, Serving Humanity and degrees from Princeton, Oxford, Yale and Harvard (including the Rhodes Scholarship)

Jordan Thomas hails from Newark, New Jersey, USA and is one of the most accomplished young people I know. He graduated Princeton University with a degree in public and international affairs. He's a Rhodes Scholar, and earned his Masters degree from Oxford University in social intervention and policy evaluation.

He's the Chief of Staff to philanthropist Ray Chambers and will enroll at both Yale Law School and Harvard Business School for a unique JD/MBA dual degree. Jordan is motivated to do work that most directly promotes equal opportunity, social mobility, and justice for all.

Here’s what you’ll learn from our conversation:

  • Jordan's journey from engineering to policy and how he found his strengths and developed self-awareness

  • Why Jordan believes waking up early is a core habit which fueled his success

  • How Jordan developed grit and resilience and wants to take David Goggins’ soul

  • Why focusing on helping others is Jordan's secret to his success

  • The application writing techniques that got Jordan into Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Oxford

  • Books and speeches that most impacted Jordan’s life

I guarantee you'll leave this episode motivated and ready to conquer the world.

🎧 Listen to the full audio now:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Online

📺 Watch the full video podcast on Youtube!

🚀 On Entrepreneurship —

Learn, Earn or Quit: I came across this framework for navigating your career by Garry Tan, a venture capitalist and founder at Initialized Capital. It’s great advice for both young people finding their footing in the working world, and those later in their career looking to take the next step after establishing themselves as a professional.

Here’s my summary of Tan’s core points:

  • While in a job, ask yourself, “Are you learning or earning?” If both, great. One or the other is fine too. If neither, it’s time to go.

  • Early in your career you want to learn, in order to become good at something 

  • You can learn to be a maker or a hustler. Makers excel in engineering, product and/or design. Hustlers excel in sales, marketing and management

  • The learn phase consists of learning about yourself and your strengths and then mastering those skills.

  • The earn phase consists of putting money in the bank. You can do this by earning equity as a business owner or early employee at a startup, or cash as a top employee or executive at a more established company. 

  • Tan believes that you shouldn’t trade-off learning for earning (e.g working a job you don’t like just for the money). You could become trapped in the hedonic treadmill and miss the chance to do work that’s best suited to your strengths.

  • The worst case is when you’re not learning or earning. Then it’s time to go (e.g working at a bad startup or dysfunctional company).

📚 Related reading about navigating your career:

💪 On Health —

How to program your mind for fitness: Advice like “Be disciplined, work hard, put in the effort and you’ll achieve your goals” is commonly preached not only in health and fitness but for just about any other skill you want to improve at. This advice is well-intentioned but ultimately ineffective. 

I want to share principles for programming your mind for health and fitness. These principles are useful to help you build lasting habits in any area or skill, be it writing, working out, cooking, studying, reading etc.

Here are the 6 pillars to program your mind for fitness:

  1. Recognize that if getting unhealthy is effortless, so is getting healthy.

  2. Start small. Build momentum. And never let go.

  3. Make being healthy an effortless habit, like brushing your teeth.

  4. Be wary of too much intensity, focus on consistency instead.

  5. Make time for health or make time for sickness, your choice.

  6. Reframe your attitude to overcome your excuses.

In this article, I dive deeper into each one and show you how to apply it to your life.

🙏 On Happiness —

I’ll end this edition with a quote from “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, which helps me avoid the snooze button and wake up to embrace the day, even when I don’t feel like it: 

“When it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, remind yourself: I am rising to resume my life’s work. How can I be unhappy when I have another opportunity to do what I was born to do?

...Were you born for this — lying in bed under a warm blanket? Life is meant for action and exertion. Consider the ants, bees, and birds, working to bring order to their corners of the universe. Are you unwilling to do the work of a human being?” 

- Marcus Aurelius, Mediations

👨🏽‍💻 What I'm up to these days:

📚 I finished my second (whole) book of the year: I usually start many books and read bits and pieces of them without finishing the entire book. But as I mentioned in My Essential Reads for 2021, this year I’m trying to read fewer, higher quality books all the way through. My first was “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman. This past week, I finished my second book of 2021, “Direct Truth” by Kapil Gupta. I’ll share a summary of my major takeaways from the book in an upcoming newsletter.

💼 I started a new job: I recently started a new role as a technical Product Marketing Manager (PMM) at Timescale. I had no idea this job existed when I was in college, which goes to show that you can’t plan where life will take you. The decision to take on this role was a result of lots of reflection about my career and life ambitions, but also coming to terms with my comfort zone, my perceptions of success, status and worthwhile work. It’s a decision that I made with the help of my manager/ mentor, family, girlfriend, close friends and my spiritual coach. I’m grateful to have a support system to help me see clearly, and I’m excited to grow and contribute in this new role.

🙏 Thank you again for reading and for your support! I wish you a week of happiness, success and peace!


🌐 avthar.com

🐦 Keep in touch on Twitter

📈 PS. I’d love your help to make the newsletter the best it can be. Please share your feedback with me, it will only take a minute:

Give Avthar Feedback

🌊 If you found this online or someone forwarded it to you, please take a moment to join the Wisdom Wave:

Let me know which parts spoke to you by replying to this email or hitting the comment button below:

Leave a comment

🎉 If you enjoyed this letter or any of my previous letters, please do share it with friends, family and coworkers who would enjoy it too: