the right to define your own parameters

Jay Clouse inspiration, stories

I felt anxious all day on Tuesday. I had dinner plans with a friend and mentor who I hadn’t seen in nearly a year.

I knew he was going to ask me what I was doing now. After a couple of weeks thinking, talking about, and pitching Unreal Collective to folks, I have a much clearer idea of what it looks like.

But, it’s not your typical “startup.”

Wil gave me some sage advice after leaving Tixers, and has had a ton of success himself in starting, funding, building, and selling companies. He mentors a lot of people, most of them in the tech space with massive world-changing opinions and ideas.

My biggest motivation with Unreal is to connect authentically with people, work only with people I want to work with on ideas that I am excited to work on, and design that work around my life. I have a lot of projects and ideas I’m working on to that end, but it’s still pretty squishy.

I dreaded pitching the idea to him and trying to paint it as something big. I worried that he would be disappointed in the lack of grandiosity.

But Wil never really asked for the pitch. We caught up on the last 11 months, what we had each been doing and what I had learned at my previous gig.

What I had the opportunity to do, he said, was take everything I’ve learned and define my own parameters.

“Look,” he said. “Most people don’t give themselves the opportunity or the foresight to do what makes them happy.”

He continued, “I spend a lot of time in San Francisco, and I meet a lot of founders and people who are making millions of dollars with their company, but they still don’t know what makes them happy.

You don’t have to know what it is you want to do. In fact, you haven’t had the life experiences yet to truly know what you want to do. What if you were completely transparent about the fact that you didn’t know what you wanted? If your drivers are to be happy and make enough money to live the life you want, you can figure that out.”

Talk about a validating perspective.

My biggest challenge is self-imposed: I often feel guilty or selfish by considering how to craft my work around my life. Have I earned that? Have I “paid my dues?” Do I need to pay dues? To what end would I be paying those dues?

What I constantly remind myself, and what I would like to remind you too, is that it is your right to structure your life how you want it.

Having that right doesn’t make it easy, and it doesn’t give you any answers. But with those as your drivers, “you can figure that out.”


Get my honest reflections on personal and professional growth straight to your inbox.