My Inspiration List

I sometimes get asked who I find inspiring. This is an important question, particularly because the path to answering this question requires that you implicitly identify the values that you hold dearest.

Doing so by first identifying people you find inspiring is a good trick to understand your values, which can sometimes be difficult to determine when approached more directly. It’s a great exercise, and one that I recommend you do too!

Without further ado, here’s my list:

Mohammed Jaffar

Mohammed Jaffar

Value: Life Balance

I’ve had the great fortune of attending 2 events where Mohammed Jaffar was speaking. I remember always coming away inspired in equal parts by his tenacity and religious piety.

The value I think Mohammed Jaffar epitomizes is a balance between two extremes: the go-getter, die-hard work ethic that the Valley glorifies — and Islamic values that stem from the recognition that life is evanescent and that we’re here for but a brief period of time. The balance between the need to create value in this life, to fulfill one’s inner drive to accomplish — while never keeping your eyes off what truly matters: the next life.

There are many things that I find admirable in Mohammed Jaffar: his humility, hard-work, personal ethics, diplomacy for e.g., but I think they all the result of a consistent and deliberate pursuit of life balance.

I’ve learned alot from having this real-life role model to emulate, and hope to continue to learn from him in the future.

Patrick Collison

Patrick Collison

Value: Learning

I think Patrick is what I would’ve become had my parents forgotten me in a library as a toddler, and come back to pick me up at 18. I did not think it was possible to read so much and yet he continues to devour everything from blog posts to non-fiction to academic papers.

This is what I admire most about him: it’s that he knows alot but doesn’t have the complacency often present in those that know alot. It’s like a line with a high y-intercept and a high slope.

The other quality he has groomed masterfully is the ability to surround himself with incredibly smart people. Once more, I’ve had the fortune of meeting him in person and have been following the company he founded (Stripe) closely — I have often found myself mulling over the decision to join Stripe myself because of the sheer quality of the talent there. Many of the smartest people I follow on Twitter are working there, and that’s an incredible testament to the strong learning culture Patrick has forged.