César D. Velandia

Career Planning

Some of my notes from Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) Guide to Career Planning

Personal productivity

  • Don't keep a schedule
  • Work on whatever is more important or more interesting
    • Want to spend all day coding? Do it!
    • the best odds of maximizing flow
  1. Keep 3 lists

    • To-do: commitments within time freame
    • Watch: to wait for, reminders
    • Later: want to do or wish you could
  2. Every night 3-5 important tasks on index card

    • During day, fill in anti-todo list (+1 accomplishment belt)
  3. Structured procrastination

    • you should never fight the tendency to procrastinate
      • you should use it to your advantage in order to get other things done
    • While you're procrastinating, just do lots of other stuff instead.
  4. Strategic incompetence

    • Avoid tasks you dislike by knowing/affirming you'll screw it
  5. Email 2x a day

    • 30 mins. top before leaving
    • Clear inbox
    • Avoid notifications
    • Mail states: Pending > Review > Vault
  6. Limit phone calls

  7. Hide in iPod

    • People less likely to interrupt if using earphones
  8. Start day with a sit-down breakfast

    • Fills you up and emotional preparation (45min)
  9. Only agree to new commitments when both your head and your heart say yes

  10. Do something you love

    • Keep self free, to pursue one's core interest and dreams
    • If you're not doing something you love with the majority of your time, and you have any personal freedom and flexibility whatsoever, it's time for a change.


  1. Do not plan

Career planning = Career limiting
Everything is changing and future is highly uncertain

  1. Focus on developing skills and pursuing opportunites, opportunities either:

    • Present to you:

      • right place, right time
      • come quick, quickly go
      • be continuosly alert
    • You go out and create:

      • What your gut tells you to do?
      • Manage risk and opportunities portfolio

The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, and you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion, the world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think. 🔑

  • career as a portfolio of jobs/roles/opportunities

    • each job has a risk profile
    • max to your 50+ work career
  • Quantify and carefully analize RISK on each opportunity

    • within your lifetime portfolio of risks
    • risk good if leads to good opportunites
    • jump btw fields if unhappy ⚡️good risk!
    • location w prospects, less contacts, lower standard of living ⚡️good risk
    • big co. job, poor skill dev ☔️high risk!
    • opportunity cost, doing something at expense of other stuff 💭watch out!
    • Other people reflexively avoid every risk or grab every loose dollar without caution.

Seize any opportunity, or anything that looks like opportunity. They are rare, much rarer than you think...

Skills and education

Anything with real world skills, like degrees with technical elements are always useful

  • will help you go through other serious learning experiences in your career. Complexity and difficulty will not faze you.
  • teach how to use reason, logic, and data
  • seriousness of purpose (doing something)
  • much better would be an MBA on top of an engineering or math undergraduate degree. That combination are invaluable, and there aren't nearly enough of them running around
  • Aim for the best uni you can: Don't worry about being a small fish in a big pond

Continuously developing and broadening your base of skills.
Seek to be a double/triple/quadruple threat -Scott Adams

If you want an average successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:

  1. Become the best at one specific thing. near impossible
  2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.
    Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty goods” until no one else has your mix...


  • An MBA plus a law degree
  • Two undergrad degrees like computer science plus physics


  1. Communication: *I always advise young people to become good public speakers (top 25%). Anyone can do it with practice. If you add that talent to any other, suddenly you’re the boss of the people who have only one skill ... At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. -S. Adams *

  2. Managment: People, best way is to learn from a manager, get a small team.

  3. Sales: Learn how to convince people that something is in their best interest to do, even when they don't realize it up front. —Also help you recruit, raise money, talk to investors, create business partnerships, deal with reporters and analysts

  4. Finance: financial theory, understanding financial statements, budgeting and planning, corporate structure, how equity and debt markets work

  5. International: Perspective, culture, and trends

High achievers, risk not failing hard enough:

You're going to screw up —frequently— and the screwups will have serious consequences, and you'll feel incredibly stupid every time. It can't faze you —you have to be able to just get right back up and keep on going.

Where to go

Look for industries where:

  • Founders of that industry are still alive and involved
  • There is growth, therefore a lot of opportunities and changes, avoid 2nd gen, 3rd gen industries
  • 👆Unless, you come as a disruptor, bring radical change
  • Get on the center of the industry ASAP
  • Nevermind being small 🐠 in a big pond: industry, company or city.
  • For technology: pick younger, high growth cos. = do lots of stuff, quick promotions, high-energy environment, enjoy reputation

Avoid mediocre small and mid-size cos. you'll be stuck. Big cos. teach you how to work at big cos. Startups can be variable, most poorly managed, aimed for well established ones. When done learning in a high growth company, then go a for a startup where you understand the business or start your own.


kick ass and take names —gain skills and experiences that will be valuable to you in the future, and do so well that everyone you work with is singing your praises for decades to come.


Learn everything you can about the business and the industry in which you find yourself