PayPal创始人/硅谷最牛投资人告诫毕业生"不要忠于自我"; 过早规划职业很危险

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上周既是美国毕业季,也是大学各显神通邀请名人的演讲秀。名校请名人来做毕业演讲是历来的传统,可有一个人同样出身名校、成就斐然、享誉世界,但却一直被各大学嫌弃......


他是谁?

出生在1967年的西德法兰克福,1岁时跟随父母移民美国,父亲是名化学工程师。

大学就读斯坦福大学,本科主修哲学专业,研究生在斯坦福法学院继续深造,1992年获得法学博士。

博士毕业之后,他顺利进入纽约的一家大型律师事务所工作,但不到一年他就选择退出。

之后,他给法官做过书记员,也在银行做过衍生品交易。

1998年,他以联合创始人的身份创建了PayPal(美国的支付宝),从此在远离律师职业的路上一路狂奔。

2002年,PayPal上市并以15亿元被eBay收购,这位创业者华丽转身成了投资人。

要说他的投资有多成功,看看下面几个公司的名字:Facebook,LinkedIn,Quora(美国的知乎),Yelp(美国的大众点评)。另外,在卖掉PayPal之后他又创建了一个公司Palantir,这家神秘的大数据公司高大上到连CIA、FBI和美国国土安全局都是它的客户。

他就是硅谷显赫的明星投资人,也是传奇创业团体PayPal黑帮的核心成员之一,彼得Ÿ泰尔(Peter Thiel)。


这么牛的背景,他为什么被各大学嫌弃?


彼得坚信高等教育存在极为可怕的泡沫,就像人们疯狂购买房地产一样,一旦某样东西被过度估值和过度信任,那就是泡沫产生的时刻。也就是说,跟绝大多数人相信的“读大学之后会更成功,更能赚钱”不同,彼得认为在美国大学花费的几十万美金根本没那么大价值,反而会阻碍我们去追寻自己真正想投身的理想。

他对高等教育批判的原话是,“It’s something about the scarcity and the status. In education your value depends on other people failing.”(高等教育是关于稀缺和身份,在这样的教育中你的价值是源于他人的失败。)大概的意思是,我们在市场上特别看重名校出身,比如哈佛耶鲁清华北大,并不是因为他们在大学四年到底受到了什么教育,而是因为他们在入学时打败了其他人,赢得了名校的标签。

为了打破他认定的高等教育泡沫,财大气粗的彼得创立了泰尔奖学金(Thiel Fellowship),原名叫20 under 20,意思是每年挑选20名左右20岁以下的年轻人,为他们提供为期两年一共10万美金的创业基金。选择标准有三个:必须辍学,必须表现出对科技强烈的热情,同时必须有动力在未来的几年努力中去实现这种想法

所以,这个奖学金还有个更直白的名字,叫“辍学基金”。自2010年发布“辍学基金”项目以来,每年都有很多名校在读生放弃学业选择加入彼得的创业计划,其中不乏斯坦福和哈佛这样的顶尖高校。到2015年,一共有2800名来自全世界各地的年轻人来争取不到30个的名额。

那这些入选者到底表现如何呢?彼得的“辍学计划”是否成功了呢?目前发布的数据表示,前四年的80名辍学者在创业中一共筹集到了1亿4千2百万美金的风险投资,创造了4千2百万美金的收益,同时还为市场提供了375份工作。

不管彼得自己有多么牛,他这种公然挑战传统高等教育地位,还拼命挖人家墙角的行为,不被暴打一顿就不错了,被各大学嫌弃简直太理所应当了。估计没哪个大学想在毕业仪式上听到这样的演讲,“嗨,同学们,你们今天出现在这正说明了你们已经浪费了四年生命。”

不过,出乎意料,今年有所学校冒着风险、壮着胆子请彼得来做毕业演讲。这所学校是汉密尔顿学院(Hamilton College),在2016年USNews上排名14的私立文理学院,纽约州第三古老的大学。


他在毕业演讲上都说了些什么?

当然,彼得还是很给汉密尔顿学院面子的,他在演讲中肯定了传统高等教育的价值,并且给出作为一个设立“辍学基金”和21年未曾为别人工作的投资者出现在大学毕业仪式上的理由:我的工作就是思考未来投资未来,而毕业对你们来讲也是未来的一个起点。不过,彼得的演讲绝对还是颠覆了我们的既有观念。

过早规划好职业道路非常危险


1989年,我也像你们一样坐在毕业仪式的台下,那时我对未来的想法是要做个律师。虽然我并不知道律师成天都在做什么,但我知道想当律师首先得上法学院。事实上,我一路都是过关斩将的资优生,从中学到大学,再到法学院。

在法学院里,我还是学得不错,一毕业就受雇于纽约的一家律师事务所,但是很快我就发现那里是个奇怪的地方。外面的人想进来,里面的人却想出去。于是,7个月零3天之后,我离开了律师事务所。我的同事很惊讶,他跟我讲他从不知道原来我们有可能逃离恶魔岛。人们觉得难以离开某一境遇,是因为他们已经把身份绑定在这个通过竞争获得的位置上。

回首当年一心相当律师的自己,与其说那是一个对未来的职业规划,莫不如说是为当下状况找的托辞。选择当律师什么也不用操心,更不用对父母、朋友和自己解释这样的选择。因为我就是完美地在轨道内不断向前。然而,那时我最大的问题在于我其实并没有去思考这条轨道将带我驶向何方。

与目前绝大多数的家长和学生一样,彼得并不是天生具有冒险精神的创业者和投资人,他也经历过盲目竞争的迷茫阶段。不知道自己为什么学这个专业,不知道未来这个职业到底做什么,不知道自己是不是会喜欢做这样的工作,只知道无休止地跟别人竞争。从小就得挤破头去面试最好的小学,参加各种能在简历上添光加彩的课外活动,GPA和SAT一定要高,去读一所最好的大学,选择最有前途的专业,然后毕业后从事最体面最能体现精英地位的职业。

就像彼得说的,这样的选择其实很轻松,因为其实也并没有做什么选择,奔着一个单一的目标努力就好。从来不去思考我想做什么,而是盯着别人都在做什么。所以,在轨道中运行肯定是最容易的,但却也最可能丢掉真正的自我。

因此,彼得劝诫毕业生千万别那么早就给自己的人生定性,不要将自己本来拥有的各种可能性就此局限在一条路上。如果彼得在律师的路上一直走下去,也许今天会多了一个还算优秀的律师或法官,但却少了一个改变世界的创业者和投资人。

挑战思维定势才能改变世界


当我跟人合伙做一个技术型创业公司,我们决定不能按照既定轨道行驶。我们有意识地把目标设定为改变世界,方向既明确又宏大。我们要创造新的电子货币形式来取代美元。当时,我们的团队都是一帮年轻人,我是里面唯一超过23岁的,而我们产品的第一拨用户就是公司里的24个人。在外面的世界中,有几百万人工作在金融领域,而当我们把我们的计划和产品介绍给他们时,有这样一个现象:越是在银行里待的久的,就越觉得我们会失败。

事实证明,他们错了。目前全世界范围内,每年通过PayPal流转的金额高达2000亿美金。尽管我们没能实现最开始的宏大目标,用电子货币取代美元,但在这个过程中我们创造了一个成功的公司。更重要的是,我们了解到尽管做新东西很难,但并非不可能。

此刻,比起未来,你们的生命中还没有那么多限制、禁忌和恐惧,所以不要浪费这份无知(无知者无畏),去做那些你的老师和父母觉得做不了的事情,去做那些他们想都没想过的事情。

那些沉浸在银行氛围里的人已经习惯于货币的流通方式,他们觉得现在的状态挺好的,没必要改变啊,有现金的用现金,有信用卡的用信用卡,要想转账也可以在网上银行里实现,为什么还要搞电子货币呢?PayPal的成功告诉他们,现有的状态并不好、并不够,人们可以用更便捷的方式周转资金,一个邮箱地址就可以随时随地搞定一切。(不了解PayPal的读者,可以参考支付宝的使用模式。)他们判断失误正是因为被思维定势束缚住了手脚。


不要忠于自我,这个自我可能有问题

熟悉的轨道和传统就像是陈词滥调,它们无处不在,可能有时候这些说法是对的,但是更多时候它们只不过是一次又一次的重复罢了。莎士比亚曾经在《哈姆雷特》中借御前大臣波隆尼尔(Polonius)之口说出:必须对自我忠实。然而,波隆尼尔在剧中是一个沉闷乏味的老糊涂,所以莎士比亚其实讲的是相反的意思。

第一,不要对自我忠实。你怎么知道你有个叫自我的东西。你的自我很可能是通过与别人竞争时激发出来的,就像当初的我一样。你得学会约束你的自我,培育和照顾好这个自我,而不是盲目地服从于它。

第二,莎士比亚是说你应该对别人的建议持怀疑态度,哪怕这些建议来自于老一辈人。波隆尼尔是以一个父亲的身份在给女儿忠告,但是这个忠告却是非常糟糕的。

我们以前经常听到的是“听从内心的声音”,大概就是“忠于自我”的另一个版本。本来这很好,能够找到自己的想法,并按照这样的想法去走自己的路,是值得肯定的。然而,彼得提醒我们,有时候我们以为的自我可能并不是真正的自我,而是被大众舆论裹挟的自我(比如律师、医生是每个精英应该追求的理想职业),或者是不加思考一味与传统作对的自我(比如叛逆青少年和无脑愤青的偏激想法)。

“忠于自我”在这样的情况下自然是很危险的,所以彼得希望我们不要把“忠于自我”当做偷懒的托辞,而是要时刻保持清醒,时刻去灌溉“自我”,时刻去重新审视“自我”,时刻与“自我”进行辩论,然后才有可能找到真正的“自我”。


 

兼听则明,像我在文中提到的,不管你是否同意彼得Ÿ泰尔的建议,了解这样一位剑走偏锋的成功人士的看法总是对我们思考世界很有帮助的。最后,我为大家推荐一本彼得Ÿ泰尔的畅销书,《Zeroto One》(《从0到1》),里面结合自身的创业和投资经历阐述了他的商业哲学,同时也体现了他的人生观、价值观和世界观。 



彼得Ÿ泰尔毕业演讲原文:

Thank you so much forthe kind introduction. It’s a tremendous honor to be here. 

Like most graduation speakers my main qualification would seem to be that I am one of the few people who are even more clueless about what is going on in your lives than your parents and your professors. 

Most of you are about 21 or 22 years old. You’re about to begin working. I haven’t worked for anybodyfor 21 years. But if I try to give a reason for why it makes sense for me tospeak here today, I would say it’s because thinking about the future is what Ido for a living. And this is a commencement.  It’s a new beginning. As a technology investor, I invest in new beginnings. I believe in what hasn’t yet been seen or been done. 

This is not what I set out to do when I began my career. When I was sitting where you are, back in 1989, I would’ve told you that I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t really know what lawyers do all day, but I knew they first had to go to law school, and school was familiar to me. 

I had been competitively tracked from middle school to high school to college, and by going straight to law school, I knew I would be competing at the same kinds of tests I’d been taking ever since I was a kid, but I could tell everyone that I was now doing it for the sake of becoming a professional adult. 

I did well enough in law school to be hired by a big New York law firm, but it turned out to be a very strange place. From the outside, everybody wanted to get in, and from theinside, everybody wanted to get out. 

When I left the firm, after seven months and three days, my coworkers were surprised. One of them told me that he hadn’t known it was possible to escape from Alcatraz. Now that might sound odd, because all you had to do to escape was walk through the front door and not come back. But people really did find it very hard to leave, because so much of their identity was wrapped up in having won the competitionsto get there in the first place. 

Just as I was leaving the law firm, I got an interview for a Supreme Court clerkship. This is sort ofthe top prize you can get as a lawyer. It was the absolute last stage of the competition. But I lost. At the time I was totally devastated. It seemed just like the end of the world. 

About a decade later, I ran into an old friend -- someone who had helped me prepare for the Supreme Court interview, whom I hadn’t seen in years. His first words to me were not,you know, 'Hi Peter' or 'How are you doing?' but rather, 'So, aren’t you glad youdidn’t get that clerkship?' Because if I hadn’t lost that last competition, weboth knew that I never would have left the track laid down since middle school,I wouldn’t have moved to California and co-founded a startup, I wouldn’t have done anything new. 

Looking back at my ambition to become a lawyer, it looks less like a plan for the future and morelike an alibi for the present. It was a way to explain to anyone who would ask-- to my parents, to my peers and most of all to myself -- that there was no need to worry. I was perfectly on track. But it turned out in retrospect that my biggest problem was taking the track without thinking really hard about where it was going. 

When I co-founded atechnology startup, we took the opposite approach. We consciously set out tochange the direction of the world: very definite, very big plans. Our goal wasnothing less than to replace the U.S. dollar by creating a new digital currency.

 We had a young team.When we started, I was the only person over 23 years old. When we released ourfirst product, the first users were simply the 24 people who worked at ourcompany. Outside, there were millions of people working in the global financialindustry, and when we told some of them about our plans we noticed a clear pattern:the more experience someone had in banking, the more certain they were that ourventure could never succeed. 

They were wrong.People around the world now rely on PayPal to move more than $200 billion everyyear. We did fail at our greater goal. The dollar’s still dominant. We didn’tsucceed in taking over the whole world, but we did create a successful companyin the process. And more importantly, we learned that while doing new things isdifficult, it is far from impossible. 

At this moment in yourlife you know fewer limits, fewer taboos and fewer fears than you will ever in the future. So do not squander your ignorance. Go out and do what your teachersand parents thought could not be done -- and what they never thought of doing. 

Now this is not to say that we should assume there is no value in teaching and tradition. And here wecan take inspiration from a graduate of Hamilton College, the illustrious Ezra Pound, class of 1905. Pound was a poet, and he was also a prophet of sorts, andhe announced his mission in three words: 'Make it new.' When Pound said 'makeit new,' he was talking about the old. He wanted to recover what was best intradition -- and render it fresh. 

Here at Hamilton, in America and that part of the world called the West, we are all part of anunusual kind of tradition. The tradition we’ve inherited is itself about doingnew things. The new science of Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton discovered truthsthat had never been written down in books. Our whole continent is a new world.The founders of this country set out to create what they called 'a new orderfor the ages.' America is the frontier country. We are not true to our own tradition unless we seek what is new. 

So how are we doing?How much is new today? It is a cliché to say that we are living through a timeof rapid change, but it is an open secret that the truth is closer tostagnation. Computers are getting faster and smartphones are somewhat new. Buton the other hand, jets are slower, trains are breaking down, houses are expensiveand incomes are flat. 

Today the word technology means information technology. The so-called tech industry buildscomputers and software. But in the 1960s, technology had a more expansivemeaning and meant not just computers, but also airplanes, medicines,fertilizers, materials, space travel -- all sorts of things. Technology wasadvancing on every front and leading to a world of underwater cities, vacationson the moon and energy too cheap to meter. 

We’ve all heardAmerica described as a 'developed country,' setting it apart from countriesthat are still developing. This description pretends to be neutral. But I findit far from neutral. Because it suggests that our tradition of making newthings is over. When we say we are developed, we’re saying, 'that’s it.' Thatfor us, history is over. We are saying that everything there is to do hasalready been done, and now the only thing left is for others in the world tocatch up. And in this view, the 1960s vision of a fantastic and far betterfuture was just a mistake. 

I think we shouldstrongly refuse this temptation to assume that our history is over. Of course,if we choose to believe that we’re powerless to do anything that is notfamiliar, we will be right, but only in a sort of self-fulfilling way. Weshould not, however, blame nature. It will only be our own fault. 

Familiar tracks andtraditions are like clichés -- they are everywhere, they may sometimes becorrect, but often they are justified by nothing except constant repetition.Let me end today by questioning two clichés in particular: 

The first comes fromShakespeare, who wrote this well-known piece of advice: 'To thine own self betrue.' Now Shakespeare wrote that, but he didn’t say it. He put it in the mouthof a character named Polonius, who Hamlet accurately describes as a tedious oldfool, even though Polonius was senior counselor to the King of Denmark. 

And so, in reality,Shakespeare is telling us two things. First, do not be true to yourself. How doyou know you even have such a thing as a self? Your self might be motivated bycompetition with others, like I was. You need to discipline your self, to cultivateit and care for it. Not to follow it blindly. Second, Shakespeare’s saying thatyou should be skeptical of advice, even from your elders. Polonius is a fatherspeaking to his daughter, but his advice is terrible. Here Shakespeare’s afaithful example of our western tradition, which does not honor what is merely inherited. 

The other cliché goes like this: 'Live each day as if it were your last.' The best way to take thisas advice is to do exactly the opposite. Live each day as if you will liveforever. That means, first and foremost, that you should treat the peoplearound you as if they too will be around for a very long time to come. Thechoices that you make today matter, because their consequences will grow greater and greater.  

That is what Einstein was getting at when he supposedly said that compound interest is the mostpowerful force in the universe. This isn’t just about finance or money, butit’s about the idea that you’ll get the best returns in life from investingyour time in building durable friendships and long-lasting relationships. 

In one sense, all ofyou are here today because you were approved by the admissions office ofHamilton to pursue a course of study, which is now over. In another sense, youare here because you found a group of friends to sustain you along the way, andthose friendships will continue. If you take care of them, they will compoundin the years ahead. 

Everything that youhave done so far has had some kind of formal ending, some kind of graduation.You should, and I hope that you will, take time today to celebrate all thatyou’ve achieved so far. But remember that today’s commencement is not thebeginning of one more thing that will end. It is the beginning of forever. AndI won’t delay you any further in getting on with it. Thank you.




“美国留学妈妈圈”活动预告 


新SAT 6月4号考后情况分析

时间:6月9日(周四)晚8点

主讲:朗播网创始人CEO杜昶旭 


伯克利妈妈对于儿子留学伯克利的反思                                

时间:6月10日(周五)晚8点

主讲:伯克利妈妈Connie


参与方法:加妈妈圈助手 【mamaquanzhushou] 好友,注明孩子年级,所在城市,及感兴趣的讲座。助手会将您拉到相关讲座群。

 


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