Turning 30

Give a damn

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

The sad reality is that most people never find something they’re truly passionate about. But life is an inspired person’s game. Having something to give a damn about is a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Surround myself with people who enrich me and make my life better

2017 was an intense year in many dimensions. Between raising two kids under three, building a home from the ground up, and keeping up with my work, it was the year where my productivity went from a skill to a superpower out of sheer necessity. It was also the year where I began to see my energy as precious and realized that the people I choose to surround myself with have enormous implications.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” - Jim Rohn

Earlier this year, I read Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and I think this philosophy of discarding everything that doesn’t spark joy applies to personal relationships as well.

Work Life Harmony, not Work Life Balance

As someone who sees my work as a labor of love, I’ve always struggled with the term work-life balance. The term implies there’s a strict trade-off, work on the evil side and life on the other. The truth is feeling productive and inspired at work makes me better at home, and being happy at home makes me better at work.

Spend energy on how to organize

One great thing about having kids is that they’ve made me more accountable to how I spend my time.

“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” — John Wooden

A few years ago, I listened to Deep Work’s Cal Newport podcast interview and it transformed the way I think about time.

From Ideas to Action — Scott Belsky

Take ownership of my life

Keep my privilege in check

There is a myth in our culture that we earn our lot in life based on our talents. But the context under which we are born matters and this is my context: I am a citizen of the U.S., my skin is light, and I was born into a loving family that had the resources to give me the best education and take care of my every want. These things don’t shield me from personal hardships, but they do make my life much easier than most.

Keep my ego in check and err in the direction of kindness

There are two pieces of writing that profoundly influenced me and have stuck with me over the years.

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able to care about other people and sacrifice for them, over, and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways over and over again”

— David Foster Wallace”

I so deeply and intellectually appreciate what Wallace is saying, and yet it is so easy to succumb to the day-to-day temptation of living life in a default state of being the center of my universe and looking at the world through my filter.

  • Apply the 10/10/10 rule: This one in particularly has been hugely helpful, and delays the anger and emotional response out of many situations. How will I feel about it 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? How about 10 years from now?
  • Deliberately cultivate experiences and activities that help me get out of my mind.
  • Consciously tell my brain “no” when it wants to relate to a conversation with a bigger, personal story. What I mean is, if somebody is telling me a story about an experience they had and I have a related story, rather than jump in with my story, consciously let that desire go and ask them more questions about their experience.
  • When I’m stubborn, ask myself: Do I have an opinion? Or does the opinion have me?



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Sari Azout

Sari Azout


Building products and brands that solve important problems @levelVC. Subscribe to my newsletter: https://sariazout.substack.com/