How Learning vs. Doing Guided My Career Path

Published by: Cody CandeePosted

It was the afternoon during a very odd week for me in New York City. I'd just split up with my business partner, leaving a company I'd co-founded. I asked a friend for advice to think through what I should do next. At one point, he mentioned how lucky I was to have experienced Techstars—one of the top startup accelerators in the world—with this company, as I must have learned so much. Although I agreed with that statement, something about it felt off.

It was that moment that I realized I was no longer interested in optimizing my career around learning. Instead, I was ready to be actively doing something, to put everything I learned to work and optimize around impact.

On Learning

Learning is something I’ll constantly implement my entire life. I read a lot and always find smart people from whom to get advice. I think in your early 20s, focusing on learning and optimizing your career around this gained knowledge is the best thing you can do, as it gives you a better setup for future opportunities. But when does it stop? When do you say, I no longer want to just do things for something distant in the future—I want to do something right now? I think this “future optimization” loop can go on forever. A person can have the ultimate resume but never do what they actually want to do.

On Doing

Optimizing around doing feels much different. It starts with the question, What's the life I want to live and the impact I want to have in the world? Then, it’s time to get out and do that, learning what you need to learn along the way to make that happen.

I realized that I had optimized my life around building a startup, learning everything I could. I saved money, met tons of people who had done it before, and had a lot of relevant experience. There were certainly more things I could have done to learn, such as working under the tutelage of an already successful founder, but I realized I just needed to take action and do it.

Taking the Risk

By not having an income for two years due to traveling and working on my last startup, it was scary to go back to square one and try my hand at another startup. However, the thought of anything else just didn’t feel right.

So I called up Aleks, and asked him if he wanted to start Bounce with me, and the rest is history. Thankfully, it turns out my intuition on confidently taking action worked out for the best.

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