Yesterday I was in Velocity. Today I'm not.

Reflections on getting kicked out of a program I've been looking forward to for 6 months.

Laura Gao

26 Nov 2020 • 6 min read

Scene: November 25 2020, 6:34 AM

Kim: Anyone who didn't complete a requirement this week, now is the time for you to own up.

Me: *timidly raises hand*

Kim: Laura?

Me: Uhh... I didn't have an external meeting

Kim: Why not?

Me: I was scared to reach out to people

Kim: You were scared to reach out to people. Do you think that will get you very far?

Me: Uhh... probably not

Kim: Probably not. Well, that's something you should get over sooner rather than later. Anyone else?

There goes my dreams.

Every question is like an onion. There are many layers to it. You don't see most of them at first, and the more you peel back the layers, the more accurate of an understanding you have of onion anatomy. The first layer is often not very representative of the whole thing.

Why didn't I have any meetings last week? When put on the spot in front of 40 people, I instinctively blurted out, "I was scared to reach out to people."

But... I'm not satisfied with that answer. What really happened?

You should reach out only to people you actually want to have a meeting with. My main problem isn't that I'm scared, but that there aren't a huge number of people that I actually want to meet other than ones that I really look up to - the people who's content I've been watching for years, the people that appeared in my deepest of dreams in the darkest of nights. I'm not scared to talk to most people, just the ones who are god-like status to me. At the moment, I don't have time to look through 40 people's publications to decide whether I want to meet them. I know I can reach out to a ton of people with half-templated half-personalized messages and probably get a meeting. But I don't want to do that.

When I get to a certain point, such as when I go deep into my focus, I'll want to meet people who are researching at quantum computer companies. When I actually go deep into writing the (3? 4?) articles I have planned, I'll want to meet with writers. And when I start making this video that was on my mind for a month, Ii'll want to meet with filmmakers/animators. But now I'm too preopccupied with the challenge to do any of that. So meetings will come. Just now is not the time.

I see the value of external meetings: to grow your network, to hear inner industry insight, advice from experts, even possibly get your work seen by more people / get more newsletter subs - all beneficial for maximizing serpendity and long term success.

I plan to go 100% into my focus, after the challenge is over. Now I'm spending every ounce of free time on the challenge, no time for anything else. I'm going to go 100 into the 3 article ideas I have and talk to industry people from the topics of each of the 3 articles. But now is not the time to do that, now my priority is the challenge.

Now, I don't have time to revamp my personal website, build more online presence, put out content, and to go 100% into external meetings.

I'd rather start meeting people a few weeks later and do them well.

I'd rather get kicked out than stay in, knowing I'm half assing a requirement just to check a box.

Despite the inexorable wave of anguish that washed over me as I slammed my laptop shut, I'm not (too) sad with being kicked out. Why?

Because Velocity has helped me so much already. In the 2 weeks I was in velocity, here's how my lifestyle changed:

  1. I started eating healthy. I started cooking my own lunch and dinner every day. It feels good to be in control of what goes into your body.
  2. My self-cooked lunch and dinner for the past 10 days
  3. Sent daily updates for 2 weeks. Daily updates are great, I used to timeblock every 15 mins of every day but .. I stopped. Daily updates allows me to plan my day without the work of timeblocking while getting the same benefit of spending each minute intentionally.
  4. Exercise. A month ago, I never thought that I, a long distance runner, would ever do strength training. But look where I'm at now: my abs hurt fron those core exercises I just did. Yes I'm working towards getting abs. [1]
  5. I discovered stoicism. Focusing on how you react to uncontrollable things rather than what life throws your way has become the new mantra that I repeat to myself 5x a day. No more contemplating the unfairness of life. This philosophy is going to benefit me in the long run for sure.
  6. We're in for the long game, baby. Focusing on the long game ⇒ makes discipline 10x easier because i remind myself that there'll be a day where this hard work im putting in now will pay off :>

I grew more in the 2 weeks of velocity than in the first 2 months of TKS combined. Even my going 50% into velocity has transformed my habits and my philosophy. Once I'm ready to go back, once I've freed myself put velocity as #1 priority, I can't imagine how much growth will come out.

At the end of the day, the purpose of velocity is for you to grow. It's about the long game. I've set up my framework for good habits, and will keep them up during my time not in velocity. I'm going to keep growing whether I'm in Velocity or not:

  1. Still cooking my own meals. at least 12/14 lunches/dinner ever week.
  2. Daily strength training at least 5 days a week. or more. who knows.
  3. Sleep 9-5
  4. Sending daily updates every day to friends
  5. Fix my fear of cold emails. Get em weekly meetings ;) Doing velocity requirements out of velocity. More on that in the next section

Because Velocity upholding these high standards has 10x'ed my respect for the program. Last week, no one got kicked out. People didn't fill out the weekly tracker, get meetings, finish the requirements, showed up late, but didn't get kicked out. This subconsciously influenced me to slack off a little this week on velocity requirements, thinking that it's no big deal. From this week forward, after people got kicked out, I'm sure no one will slack off on velocity requirements.

Because I wasn't ready for velocity when I joined. I had too much going on, I wouldn't have been able to go 100 into velocity. This kinda reminds me of when Sigil told me that TOPS changed his life, yet he dropped out. I was confused. But now, I kind of understand. Velocity has changed my life, but now I'm not quite ready to go 100% in velocity. [2] Once I sort out the other things and able to go 100% into my focus, content, and velocity, I'll (try to) rejoin (if my directors don't hate me).

I needed the reality check. My whole life, I was used to being the best - top of class, "95% is bad" friend: "ur amazing", being known as that smart kid. How badly do you need to fail laura before you realize you're not invulnerable? I wasn't ready for velocity, I was going to fail sooner or later better sooner than later so I can really reflect and figure things out sooner.

Looking back, I don't think I have much regrets. Yes, I got kicked out of a program I've been looking forward to for 6 months. Yes, I embarrassed myself in front of 40 people. But at the end of the day, this experience has transformed the way I think and live. I'm grateful for it. Looking back, I don't think I could've or would've done anything differently. No regrets.

Ok laura, doesn't that sound like you're making excuses for your lack of meetings?

Maybe I'm trying to justify it to myself. Either way, I care about the long game. My fear of reaching out to people probably serve me in the long run.

So, after a night of wild inspiration, here's what I'm going to do within the next week:

Master Plan

Reach out to the people I'm the most scared of with the BEST COLD OUTREACH STRATS [3]. It's common sense that the only way to get over a fear is to dive into it head on. Iin this podcast I listened to (OFF RCRD: Phil Stutz), he talks about how if you're scared to do many things, make a list of all the things you're scared of. Then do the thing you're the most scared of. After I reach out to the people I'm the most scared of, I guess later everything else's scared-ness will go down.

Reach out to people:

I'm gonna do the emails as best as i can, following Kim's principles of cold outreach. And I'm going to follow up with everyone, even if it's essentially screaming into a void into the inbox of someone who's probably never going to open my email. And I'm going to use that Notion taskboard to organize follow ups. Gotta train the cold outreach skills 😎

Alright that's it for now. Time to go yeet the Instacart challenge 🥕

As for Velocity... I'm not going to try to rejoin now. I'll rejoin in a few weeks when I've sorted my life out and I'm not so busy, when I have the time to to put full effort into it.

[1] To stay motivated towards a fitness goal, keep in mind the real reason you want to exercise. If you really want abs, telling yourself you're exercising for abs will help you stay much more motivated when it's time to work out. (Instead of telling yourself you're doing it for some abstract reason of "being healthy" that you might not fully internalize.) - Tom Bilyeu from Impact Theory

[2] No I don't have time to go full effort into velocity. I don't have time to make content - as I'm sitting here writing this during class instead of paying attention.

[3] If I find people's private emails or personal instagram accounts through mildly stalking-ish methods, is it creepy if I message them there?