Navigating Your Life As A Startup

Yaniv Rivlin,
Founding CEO, Bird Israel and Bestselling author, “Life as a StartUp”

We began our conversation with a low point. The moment after Yaniv graduated from Harvard, he moved to Atlanta where he got a job at Schusterman foundation. After all of his education, being told over and over that anything is possible - reality hit hard, it wasn’t like he imagined. He was all alone, surrounded by boxes in his new house, not sure if he’s in the right place, and what’s the right move forward - every exclamation mark in his mind became a question mark. He felt lost.

Luckily, he had the support of his amazing family, and his sister flew over to him to help him out. She knew exactly what he needed. 

The first thing she did was to unpack all of his boxes, and carve a routine for both of them - waking up early and going to work out every morning. Yaniv didn’t know how much the environment and your surroundings are crucial for your mental state -

“before I couldn’t even imagine myself getting out of bed and working out - by her pulling me out, literally, and working out, I realized that this state I was in is not permanent - I suddenly felt better.”

For each and everyone it’s going to be a different thing that pulls them out of their ‘fogg’, like working out is for Yaniv.

 We should all find that one thing (or more) that helps us get out of our own heads and shift our perspectives - especially when we experience a big change in our lives. Yaniv shares that when he feels the same feeling creeping in, he puts down everything and leaves to work out - it’s always worth it.

Understanding our own potential

Yaniv shares about his childhood in Katzrin with a smile -

“growing up, I wanted to be Michael Jordan - Sadly I didn’t have the skills. I didn’t have the most amazing grades, nothing in the beginning would imply where I would go in the future - although my mother doesn’t like it when I say that.”

Of Course it’s not actually true - his potential was there under the surface for a long time, so even he couldn't see it. Our potential is something we all think about, but can’t really quantify or measure, and it makes things difficult.

We wish we just had the answers, the guidelines to our own life, the destinations we can make sure to cross and not miss out, but we don’t always know where our potential lies. Sometimes it’s hidden, and we have to make our own guidelines from our experiences -

“It's super important to understand through the journey where are the points where you can actually take the things that you have, and build on them - our life’s portfolio. We need to treat our lives like a startup. Our portfolio is made of the experiences we gain, and we need to start building it from the beginning of our lives. When we’re younger we tend to have more freedom to take risks without going into ‘debt’, we should use it.”

When talking about creating value through our experiences, Yaniv gives different types of jobs as an example: a job where you get paid a little bit more than others is not always better - because other jobs could build your portfolio in a much more profound way, so if we think about our lifetime value expectancy, a job that pays a little less can be worth more in the long run.

Being a CEO

After years of experience, Yaniv shares about his passion for being a CEO -

“In the end, I need to know everything, but I need to know when to go into the macro, and when I need to get out of it and go into the micro - you need to ask yourself if you like it. There are people who like to be in their own domain, excel in it and build their own kingdoms - and that’s great. I go for the second aspect, which is more like being a bird - you need to understand when to go from point A to point B, because if you stay too much in one point you won’t empower your team, and also - you won’t be the leader the company needs you to be.”

There is no right or wrong - we just need to understand the prices of our choices, and be fully committed to it. Yaniv emphasizes the importance of doing what you love. He Shares about a conversation he had with two of his friends - while Yaniv and the first friend studied Political Science in the IDC like, their other friend studied Industrial Engineering in the Technion -

“I remember him saying - ‘I’m going to make way much more money then you’, and in response they both said - ‘we’re going to do what we love and it’s going to be ok. Fast forward - we don’t make any less money than him, and we do what we love.” 

It’s still complex, especially these days, but when you love the journey, you learn what to take from it and appreciate how you’re growing from it. It doesn’t mean you need to know the end goal from the beginning, but when you act from that same love and follow what your gut tells you, you’ll navigate your way through the best path for you.

Yaniv summarized it all in just one sentence - “The game is on, most of the people are passive about it. Once you play actively, you're already one step ahead.”

So where is Yaniv heading? when I asked him, he simply said -

“what’s next? I don’t know.”

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