I remember reading that visualizing what an outcome looks like makes you more likely to reach that outcome. For example, visualizing yourself after you’ve built a successful company increases the odds that you build a successful company.
The reasoning behind this line of thought is that visualizing an outcome places in motion the subconscious changes in your actions which are necessary to achieve that outcome.
The problem was that, after trying the approach on some small goals, I noticed that it doesn’t work for me. So I tried a different approach. Rather than visualize what the outcome looks like, I decided to write about it. My reasoning was that the general practice of internalizing an outcome might be right while the specific medium which I was using to internalize the outcome might be wrong for me.
Sure enough, when I began to write down what specific outcomes would look like, I began to achieve them much more readily. It turns out that I think through writing rather than images. Given the fun I have writing this blog, this isn’t surprising.
So if there’s an outcome you seek to achieve, it helps to internalize the circumstances of the outcome through whatever medium works for you. This could be by writing about it, visualizing it, recording yourself talking about it, or another medium specific to you.
An investment memo is a very useful tool to help collect your thoughts in advance of an investment decision. It’s basically a document that summarizes the important factors which help inform an investment decision.
In the context of a startup, these factors include a minimum of the team, the market, traction (if the company has it), and the investment terms. It can also include case-specific factors like likely future expansion areas and regulation.
Rather than invest solely based on consuming the information presented by the company you’re evaluating, the advantage of investing based on an investment memo that you prepare is that it forces you to articulate your understanding of the company. Doing so may help you identify weaknesses in the argument you’re trying to make which may lead you to reconsider your conviction in the investment, holes in your knowledge which you need to go back and address, or alternative approaches to areas like the team, market, and investment terms which you may want to discuss with the company.
In terms of format, investment memos tend to come in the form of Word documents or Powerpoint presentations. I prefer written text because it promotes substance over style and forces you to articulate your thoughts at the level of depth enabled by sentences rather than the more superficial level which results from using bullet points.
And an investment memo doesn’t need to be long. If you’ve done your research and thought about the startup at length, 2 to 3 pages of crisp text written in half a day is all it takes.
The resulting improvement in the rigor of your thinking and the quality of your investment decision makes the time investment well worth it.
A reader of this blog recently asked me why I write in English rather than Turkish. Given that most of our investments are in Turkey, that’s a fair question.
There are three reasons for this.
The first pertains to the audience of this blog. Specifically, it’s read by both Turkish speakers and English speakers. However, while most of the native Turkish speakers also speak English, the reverse is not true. Most native English speakers don’t speak Turkish. As a result, writing in Turkish would mean not serving a big fraction of this blog’s current readers. That’s not something I want to do.
The second reason is the fact that the technologies produced by the tech sector serve multiple countries at once. This makes the tech industry global by nature. And this is why the industry operates primarily in English. If you want to be part of it, reading, writing, and speaking in English is an important asset. Hopefully this blog can serve as practice.
The third reason is personal. Since I think in English, I’m more comfortable expressing my thoughts in a structured way when writing in this language.
Earlier this week, someone asked me how I’m able to write a blog post each morning. Here was my answer:
1. I don’t actually write each morning. Probably about a third of the posts I publish are written that morning. I write the other two thirds at different times of the day when I feel like writing. I then publish them on a future morning.
2. I find meaning in sharing my learnings, both about startups and personal, with others. Hopefully these learnings help others in their personal and professional lives.
3. I enjoy writing to better articulate and structure my thoughts.
In other words, it’s a combination of planning, meaning, and fun that keeps me going.