S2 #4 'Dispatches from the world of a Climate Tech VC', with Hampus Jakobsson
Series 2 Episode 4
[00:00:00] James Gill: Hi there. Welcome to another episode of the EcoSend podcast. I'm the host James, and every week we are speaking to other inspiring people in the world of climate. Whether they're building businesses, investing in them, working in fields like Marketing, or dedicating their whole career to a climate cause.
[00:00:19] We're speaking to people to build up our own understanding of what we can all be doing to make the planet just a little bit better. The hope is that every week we speak to people and we learn more about building a more sustainable, more climate conscious business. And hopefully by doing that ourselves, we are going to share some of that wisdom with you, the dear listener.
[00:00:39] Each episode is about 30 minutes long. Some are a bit more, some are a bit less, and we'll try to bring one out every single week. This is now series two and we're thrilled to be bringing you a fantastic episode today with Hampus Jakobsson and Hampus is a general partner at Pale Blue dot a seed stage climate tech VC, investing in reducing and reversing the effects of climate change and preparing for a new world.
[00:01:07] I had an amazing chat with Hampus. This episode is a little bit different because we sort of got rolling into a pretty casual conversation about all sorts around the world of investing around VCs, around how they think about funding ideas, and particularly in the world of climate. For the most part, I let Hampus speak because I think, I'm sure once you've heard this, you'll see why Hampus has so much wisdom to share.
[00:01:34] I didn't want to waste too much energy or taking time from you listening to Hampus. So I really hope you enjoy this show. Would love to hear what you think. And yeah, let's get to it.
[00:01:49] James Gill: I clearly don't think I'm gonna need to say too much on this episode because I feel like I could just listen to you all day.
[00:01:56] What I want to make sure is I focus on things that you really feel would be valuable things to talk about. As you said, it's easy to ask some really stupid questions, but our listeners are not necessarily au fait with the world of VC investing and seed investing. So I think there's certainly an element of just making sure people understand some of that, but Pale blue dot is your general partner there, and I feel like there's so many things we could talk about within this remit of climate conscious investing.
[00:02:32] And I feel like there's stuff we could talk about around any of the companies you've invested in and how you've made decisions to invest in those, how much you work with those. What are the challenges of working in the climate world and are there trade-offs versus not dealing with climate at all, is there a question around revenue, profit versus greater good for the world?
[00:02:57] Hampus Jakobsson: I think there are a couple of things I think that if you take them there are two things that I think intersect that I think are very interesting.
[00:03:02] I think you have one which is climate and one which is venture. And they intersected a very interesting point. And I think that if we just take that from above, what I find very fascinating is that if you start with climate, I think that it is extremely obvious or should be obvious that this is the biggest challenge humanity has ever had.
[00:03:20] Like so far we have been on a trajectory where we've always tried to figure out a way to utilize more energy out of something that's like been the whole thing by like extraction. So we've been like we've, we've gone from like cooking our food, we've gone to agriculture, right? Like all these things we go from, it used to be, I wasn't around, but it used to be that you killed an animal and you ate it and that was what you did. Or you gathered plants. And that's a very inefficient way, right? And I think that then we get humanity to figure out better and better ways of like heating our food, like, you know, process more energy out of it or planting stuff so we wouldn't have to move around or we extracted oil out of the ground, which is essentially compounded energy, right?
[00:03:59] And then, and nuclear and so forth. And I think we've been on this trajectory and it like, it looks like a hockey stick. If you look at amount of kilo jewels that you get as a human body or if you think about a car, essentially, it is like a body extension, right? So we've been on this amazing trajectory.
[00:04:13] And the thing is, the weird thing that we haven't realized is that we become very myopic in what we measure. Like we measure output per dollar or whatever you want to say. And that's the way of thinking about it. And we actually don't think about all these other externalities that happen around it.
[00:04:27] So is there enough of this material in the ground or what happens when you over fertilize or what happens when you actually burn oil? like it goes up to the skies. And I think that it's only the last like 30, 40 years that this has been even a topic right at all. Before that it was ridiculous.
[00:04:42] And it's interesting because for a lot of people, it's very hard. I find it's very interesting. It's very hard to hate on the oil industry in the 1950s because the oil industry and the coal industry, they got us here. Without it like none of us would be alive. We would not be sitting in houses.
[00:04:56] Like it would never work. Right? And the same thing with many other things. And I think that now the last years, it's been very obvious that okay, we have to get a lot more efficient.
[00:05:04] Otherwise it won't work. And, and I think that if you look at it, I think that there are three different ways of solving it. Three different kind of categories, and then there are three different ways of solving it.
[00:05:13] So I'll just go through that and then if you look at the three different problems, I would say you have inequality problems, you have infrastructure problems, and you have innovation problems. So inequality problems are, if you think about it, it's very obvious. The global north is spewing a lot of energy like in the sky.
[00:05:29] The global south is not, they don't have the same energy production, therefore they like, it's way harder. And then also because they live closer to the equator, they're being hit by all of the droughts, the heats and the floods and everything. So there's a vast inequality just geographically.
[00:05:43] Then there's of course , you have the same lens that hits on ethnicity, on gender, on every single thing. Because I think that if the world is harder, if you're a white Ivy League dude in a mansion, it's not that actually much worse. But if you're a like like a poor person in Haiti. You don't actually have the margins.
[00:06:00] So that's like a massive lens of how do we as a humanity solve this problem? And then I think secondly, if you think of this infrastructure problem, we have massive amounts of stuff that we just need to replace. Like anything from electrical cars to how we produce energy, to how we produce food, which are technically, they're like infrastructure.
[00:06:16] We cannot know how to do it. There's just a humongous amount of atoms that need to be replaced and moved and removed. And the same interesting thing, carbon capture, some of the carbon capture technologies are infrastructure problems. Like we know how to do it. It's just like you just need to deploy this now to an extreme extent and then find an economical model how to do it.
[00:06:31] And then the third kind of problem is an innovation problem where you look at these problems and you're like, we actually don't know how to do this. Or we don't know how to do it in like an efficient way or costly way or something like that, right? And venture only solves that third bucket.
[00:06:44] So whenever somebody says, why is venture capital not looking more at replacing asphalt? The thing is, well, there are replacements. The problem is there are definitely like innovation problems because asphalt is a pretty miraculous material, like cement.
[00:06:57] But the thing is, like if you start thinking about it, if you actually just want to replace it, that becomes not actually an innovation problem. It becomes a massive capital deployment problem. And so, I think that's one lens to look at problems and ask yourself, is this problem inequality, infrastructure or innovation?
[00:07:10] And then I think when you actually then boil down to saying, okay, philosophically, how do we as humanity want to solve the problem at all? I would say it's a Venn diagram of three circles right now. So I would say they have the green camp, the red camp, and the blue camp. And the green camp are like ' we have to change our behaviors'.
[00:07:25] It's essentially the icon for it is Greta Thunberg. It's fly less, eat less, do less. I mean like, just don't destroy the planet anymore. Please Stop, stop, stop, stop. . And then you have the blue camp, which I would say is like Bill Gates, which is we can just innovate ourselves out of this.
[00:07:36] We just like create nuclear energy. There's no reason actually, we can still fight. We're gonna figure it out. And then you have the third camp, the red camp, which is like, we actually need to change the incentive system. And, the economical system is actually geared towards the way, and that's where you've started seeing these like web three projects that people are saying, oh, maybe the forest should own itself and stuff.
[00:07:53] And what's very fascinating is that I think neither of these are perfectly right because I think that it really depends on what problem you have. Just as like if it's an innovation infrastructure or inequality problem, like some of these solutions, they perfectly match and some of them are very hard to match.
[00:08:08] It's just like I don't think you can solve this problem with technology because it is like essentially an unfairness problem. So, so I think as you start by that lens and I think that for me at least, most other problems we have on the planet are essentially rearranging chairs on the Titanic. Like it becomes one of those things.
[00:08:23] James Gill: That's an uplifting thought!
[00:08:25] Hampus Jakobsson: No, but if you start thinking about it, like I have a very hard time when I meet a startup who's saying like, we're doing this amazing new, marketing automation system thingamagigy. It feels like, is market automation one of those problems that I think we have as a planet?
[00:08:37] No. Do we have a problem that we need to get people to buy stuff faster? No, not really. But you could say, 'Hey, we have inefficiencies'. So like, I'm not saying like these people are evil or anything, but I think that if you start thinking about it, we have a massive problem and we should spend time on focusing on that.
[00:08:52] But the same time, if you think about; you're a 22 year old, or you're a bank or whatever you are, or you're a government official. Your problem is in the now, like either you want a job and a career, you're the 20 year old or you're the bank, you actually want to return. You need to make money for other people because that's your fiduciary responsibility or you're a government official and your essentially biggest problem is actually getting people employed and happy.
[00:09:14] Right? So if somebody says, oh, CO2 missions are on the rise, or methane or whatever it is, you're just thinking, 'do I have a proxy? Which is my goal, creating more unemployment for the people in my constituents? Can I do that while also solving this long-term goal? So it's very hard.
[00:09:29] So I understand people who postpone these problems because they have a short-term problem they're trying to solve on their own and they actually don't see themselves as the Messiah or somebody who is part of the bigger journey because, you know, they want to get their kids to college or something.
[00:09:43] So I think that's a super fascinating thing. And then I think that if you cross that with venture, what I think is so interesting about Venture is that venture is an extraordinary machine to fund and create innovation. Like we have found different ways of creating innovation.
[00:09:59] Like universities create stuff, right? Of course. And you have government funded stuff. You have focused resource organizations. All of these are essentially people that are in discovery mode. Like none of them are, if you look at explore versus exploit, like the computer, like algorithm style of thinking about stuff. All of research or like when we say research, we usually think explore.
[00:10:17] So people go out there and they turn around stones and they try to figure out something. The interesting thing with venture is, venture is an amazing way of doing exploit. Exploit is a like a negative connotation word, but I think it is actually like applied is a positive word. So what venture does is like, 'Hey, you've figured out a way to do synthetic air fuels'.
[00:10:33] And given the fact, if you would get like a hundred million dollars, I think you would be able to get to a point where the unit economics of this would work and then we can replace fuels and you would be a, a genius. And like, of course I would be really wealthy because I fund. Right?
[00:10:48] And the cool thing about venture versus banks is that banks don't like risk.
[00:10:53] So a bank's job is to make sure that they don't lose money. They're on the risk mitigation end of it. The interesting thing with the venture fund is the venture fund is the opposite because the mantra Venture Fund is like, you can only lose your anti; you can only lose how much money you put in.
[00:11:06] Which means that you're essentially just betting on stuff to work. And if it works, it works. If it doesn't work, it's fine. It doesn't matter. Which is like, think about how few times in life we have that opportunity to have that attitude to be, 'I'm gonna do 35 things'.
[00:11:21] I want three to really work. I want five to kind of work. And the rest, it's okay if they don't work at all. And I think that we can apply that lens on this with a really fascinating thing. And I think that most people really don't think about that amazing vehicle that venture is, if you apply it that way, that what you actually can do with it.
[00:11:41] And I think that the weird thing about venture is that dynamic, which means that what people do wrong is that they present ideas that are good for venture capitalists. And the thing is that good ideas are actually not what venture capitalists wants. Like venture capitalists about sorting out is this good, crazy or bad crazy. Like you only as a venture capital fund, you're only interested in stuff that potentially could be humongous. And I think what's fascinating, what people really don't understand is the fact that if you ranked the best to worst outcome for venture capital fund, so if, if we invest in a company that is amazing, that is of course the best. The second best for most normal people, right, is doing something which is really good.
[00:12:27] And the worst is doing something which fails within two years. Like for normal people, right? Like it's kind of obvious you want to do something amazing, something which is solid and not something which is bad.
[00:12:35] That makes sense. The strange thing for VCs, it's that the two bottom ones have the order. So for us, it is like the amazing we want. Next thing, please disappear within 24 months. And please do not, for Christ's sake, survive and be around for 10 years and like build the company. Because then you're constantly taking the venture capital fund's time.
[00:12:59] You're constantly not doing something else amazing because you're an amazing individual, so you should do something amazing. And it's so funny because when one is pitching their idea to venture capital fund, you're thinking like a human. Of course. And if you're thinking like a human, you're thinking I want to remove the risks for you.
[00:13:16] And I'm not going to say something crazy because then you're not gonna do it. But the thing that you should do is you should really distill the last drops of crazy out of it and say, I think we can do this. It's like one in a hundred that it works
[00:13:28] because for VCs it's much better if you can say, I think we can build fusion reactors in space and beam down the energy to planet earth then that you say we can actually make wind farms 6% more efficient.
[00:13:42] Because for a VC, 6% more efficient wind farms, it's kind of obvious that that would work.
[00:13:46] Which means there's just thousands of competitors. It's impossible to build a monopoly. It's impossible to build a crazy big company about it. Unless you're an infrastructure company. Because if you're one of those, yes you can a great company, but VCs can't fund infrastructure advice. So it's really interesting that when you see the crossing of those, I think it's so fascinating.
[00:14:01] And then the last point in the crossing, which I find so interesting is that in climate, if you look at innovation again. One of the biggest problems we have to look at is additionality. So should you, I mean there we have figured out plenty of ways to do something, but if you wanna do it, is it done already?
[00:14:18] If you want to put money in something, are you actually just again, rearranging chairs here? Are you just like, oh, okay now we're replacing this one. That thing, it doesn't really matter. Like, it's innovative, but it actually doesn't really matter because the previous solution wasn't that bad and so on and so forth.
[00:14:32] The fascinating thing is that venture is obsessed with being quote unquote contrarian, because your, job is to find crazy, right? So my job is to find crazy and separate good, crazy from bad crazy. Which means that for me, if I find something with low additionality, it is essentially something which is good.
[00:14:51] So my job is to find something with high additionality, which means that it's high quote unquote contrarian. Because it's new, it's different, right? Otherwise it wouldn't be interesting for me.
[00:14:59] What I find so then so interesting is climate tech is the ultimate intersection because we want something which has really high contrarians and really crazy potential of being huge or disappear because otherwise it wastes resources.
[00:15:14] Climate is a problem where it's very urgent. We need very high additionality and we need something that works very big, otherwise it doesn't matter and it needs to work very quickly, which means that if you have smart individuals to spend their time on something which might not work, it's better that they just stop doing it in in two years and do something else with their time.
[00:15:30] But if they're on a trajectory to actually replace oil, please grow it as fast as you technically can. And that's crazy because think about how few industries you have that perfect thing where, 'oh my God, the more you grow that part, the better it's for them and vice versa'. And therefore, anybody who comes to me and says, okay, so climate tech, is it impact first?
[00:15:51] Is it revenue first? What is it? I would say the crazy thing is that they're linked..
[00:15:56] Like, we need companies that intrinsically are quote unquote good for the world and that what they do is not a tax. Like it's not that they sell a shoe and every 10th shoe they sell, they donate a shoe.
[00:16:09] Because the problem is then you have a new board, a new management, and they say, why don't do every hundred shoe, right? We're still a good company. It's nice, we're doing donations.
[00:16:15] We need a thing where we get people to not eat meat. We get people out of cement and steel. We get people to transport themselves without fossil fuels, stone and so forth.
[00:16:25] Right. And the cool thing is that means that when they do this thing, it actually is nothing, no impact because they're producing it without energy or whatever. Or it actually reverses the problem when they're doing it. And that means that for us, when they do this thing, then the technical term is scale the shit out of it, which is a secular adventure one.
[00:16:44] So I think that has a base model of thinking what we're doing. I think that's how we're thinking about stuff.
[00:16:51] James Gill: Wow. . Yeah. Thank you. That was, I feel like this is the least I've ever spoken on an episode of this podcast. That was absolutely phenomenal. I I feel like I myself, as an entrepreneur, sort of thinking, wow, how, like what do I do now ? What do I do?
[00:17:09] When you're thinking about, there's so much life advice in there as well as business advice and ways to think about the climate too. And I think anyone listening might be thinking, yeah for so many areas there that could impact their own life on what you've just said.
[00:17:23] I guess I, I'm fascinated there by, traditional investing is prioritizing that revenue outcome, I guess. And is that ever a big conflict then when those two meet? You know, I guess it is very convenient if someone does reinvent cement and and that I'm sure would be a very valuable thing.
[00:17:45] But is there ever a question of like, it may be successful in that very short space of time for the innovation piece, but the revenue model; the business model is delayed
[00:17:56] Hampus Jakobsson: Yeah, absolutely. I think that the edge cases that we find are ones that, we see that this problem needs to be solved, but we can't see how the externality can be priced. .
[00:18:07] So I think that our favorite kind of companies, I sometimes say this to the chagrin of my co-founders, but I think that my favorite kind of companies are the ones where the client is a climate denier.
[00:18:17] That's my favorite startup, like one of our startups reduce the energy needed to build cold storage. When you , you know, store food and stuff with 40% and it is like 10% of the budget of most of the big companies that store food or vaccines.
[00:18:30] Another company reduces the energy needed to make steel. Like with massive amount of numbers. Another company helps to figure out risks when you're looking at property for climate risks. I think that all of these things is that the customer, they actually don't have to believe in climate change. They just have to care about their own bottom line.
[00:18:49] They know that they're going to be fired if they're, you know, like if they're... or on the positive side, they might get promoted if they save costs, decrease risk, increase revenue . So I think that those are the companies where it's extremely easy to see how you actually can extract part of the profit and you make a company that is economically sustainable and can grow.
[00:19:09] The hard ones are, where like the value you're creating is something where you're actually looking at the externality, like you're saying, we're sucking down carbon from the sky and we're making this dust and this dust, the carbon can never leave it. Like it's amazing. And now people are saying, that's well done. Applause.
[00:19:28] What do you wanna do with that dust? And you're like, I don't know. I don't know what we're gonna do with it. That's great. So I think those companies are really interesting or companies that actually look at, for example, the inequality problems where you can see, 'ah, this is amazing to actually help the people that are hit the worst.'
[00:19:40] But how do you find a business model to that? And those are the edge cases where we have to scratch our heads quite a lot. And some of those cases we actually just believe we just have to... the only thing that we can have more conviction on than anyone else in the world is that we believe climate change is real.
[00:19:57] So when we look at some companies, we actually just say that part will need to be priced.
[00:20:04] So like we can, we could do it, right? Whereas other funds, they could look at... like, we invest in a company that measures biodiversity. Biodiversity, it's invaluable, but it's also doesn't have a value like a price.
[00:20:14] So it's really, really hard, but it's very obvious for people to understand that if we destroy biodiversity, we're all gone.
[00:20:19] Like to the degree that people don't even understand, if we would kill all sharks on planet Earth, like if we would click a button, all sharks would die. We would all be gone in a hundred years.
[00:20:28] Because sharks like they're part of the ecosystem and web of life. And if they disappear, one more species will pop up. You know, like the Australian rabbits and foxes kind of level of stuff.
[00:20:36] And those are the ones where, back to your question is like, those are the ones when we look at it and just say, how on earth can we figure out a way that this company can be financially huge and economically sustainable? And that's really hard.
[00:20:50] There's one very interesting, fascinating thing about the different venture fund and between a quote unquote bank.
[00:20:55] And that is, venture funds are looking for what is usually called this deep J curve or like a J curve. We are happy if the company loses money, loses money, loses money, loses money start like turns around and now they like, they make more money than they lose. But they still, historically they've lost more money than they made and then they start making, making more money and suddenly they hit the point where now they have like summed up, made more as much money as they have spent and now they're actually, you know, on the positive part of the curve.
[00:21:20] And I think that for a bank, when they look at that curve, the part under the curve of how much money they need to like credit line or whatever you call it, needs to be very small. Because that's a big risk that the company will default. We have the opposite, we're fine with it going down as long as it goes up to the sky.
[00:21:35] And that's I think is really fascinating because that means that if somebody says we will be cashflow positive in one year, that could be a negative thing for us.
[00:21:43] Because then we're asking, hey, could you be more ambitious? Like, you know, get the bow even further back because it's fine with us if you have to spend 6 million or 10 million or 20 million because otherwise you're building like a consultancy, a company or a studio. That's that's not going to change, or make a dent in the universe
[00:21:59] James Gill: mm-hmm. Interesting. Yeah it's fascinating flipping around because I think a lot of people listening will be, you know, as you said at the start, thinking like a human, and not that investors are not humans... Just, the way the mind shift that it takes, but it makes so much sense when you, especially when you put it as eloquently as as you do, Hampus
[00:22:18] Hampus Jakobsson: I think about it this way as well. I think that what I meant with 'as a human', I think that if you think something it's about something as a human or as humanity, it's a very big difference.
[00:22:26] So it's the same thing. I think that if you're a government official, if you're a politician, you should not be thinking like a quote unquote human.
[00:22:32] I mean, you should be human, you should think about human suffering and other people. But you need to think about stuff as a system. You need to look at it and say, 'I need to create a lot of jobs. I need to create safety'. And I think for me, the role of government is to remove unluck. That is like your, your job is to
[00:22:48] James Gill: Remove unlock?
[00:22:49] Hampus Jakobsson: Unluckiness.
[00:22:51] James Gill: Yep.
[00:22:51] Hampus Jakobsson: Like, and I mean, I'm Scandinavian, so I really think equality is really important and I think that government's role is really to have a veil of ignorance and say, I don't know what gender you are, where you're born, what your education is. If you are in my country or if you're in my region, I want you to have a good life.
[00:23:06] Right. So I want you to remove any kind of unluck that comes from genetics or location or, or age or anything, right? That's my job. And it's really complicated because that means that in part of me, I have to be thinking about the old person and like she's walking up the stairs, can you have wheelchairs here or whatever?
[00:23:22] That's really important. And but on the other hand, you also need to think as a system to think, can this system efficiently make people safe and like feel comfortable? Do you talk to neighbors and stuff like that. And I think venture capital is the same thing, right? Venture capital is like it's a system.
[00:23:38] It's a system of betting on really bold innovations that should work or go away. And I think humans, we don't think about that way because it's your life. And I think that one of the things you need to rewire there is you need to rewire people's fear of failure.
[00:23:55] Because if you take anybody who's done a PhD and you go out to them and you say you did a PhD, that was amazing, I loved it! Did everything you worked on was that like perfect? You know, every single thing you took on during a PhD was like bullseye? They'll just laugh at you. It's like, 'No, you don't understand'.
[00:24:09] They spend 89% of their time to turnaround stuff that won't work. And sometimes that actually is a part of your thesis that you prove that these things don't work and that's great and you're like, oh, interesting. So the falsification of stuff had a value, right? But if you would go to somebody in a normal career and say, how much time did you spend doing stuff that were duds and failed? They were like, I don't wanna talk about it.
[00:24:28] We're doing this job interview about the other parts, right? So we had to rewire. I think that we have to realize that if you go to Netflix now and scroll what things you want to see; if Netflix only recommends stuff to you that it's a hundred percent sure that you will not dislike, it's not going to be a good algorithm.
[00:24:45] So Netflix shows you 80% that it's fairly sure that you will like, Oh, the next episode of the podcast, like the series you're watching' . But then 20% of the time it shows you stuff that it's like... let's try Gilmore Girls. And you're like, Gilmore Girls? What just happened here?
[00:25:01] Right. And the reason it's doing so, it's the only way it can discover new stuff for you is spending time in that explorer mode. And it's because it doesn't cost you anything. You won't get crazy irritated that it shows you Gilmore Girls. But the problem is when we think about our own careers, we're so afraid of doing those one side steps that might be wrong.
[00:25:19] Instead of thinking I should be discovering tons of stuff to maybe hit that one thing which is like my Ikagai jackpot. Because I think most people think success means you're wealthy on a yacht or something. Success is not wealthy on the yacht. Success is the Japanese expression, which is you're doing something you feel like is , you know, you feel great about doing, you feel you do something which other people find valuable when you do it.
[00:25:46] And then what's the third one? And you do something which you're good at. Sorry. And it's interesting because the problem is many people actually ignore that first part. They do something they're good at, that people pay them to do, but they don't get an inner fulfillment of doing it.
[00:25:58] James Gill: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:26:01] Hampus Jakobsson: And that means you should just move on. Fold, move on fold, move on, fold, move on. And one day you're going to find a thing where you realize, I would do this independently of if people paid me to.
[00:26:13] James Gill: Yeah.
[00:26:14] Hampus Jakobsson: And then you found it.
[00:26:17] James Gill: Yeah, I didn't think we'd get onto the definition of success and finding people's inner fulfillment. It's got so much deeper than I thought it would Hampus, but I feel it's all so connected though, and I don't know if I've got a fully formed question here, but I'm just thinking if I was a 20 something person right now and wanting to go on some sort of entrepreneurial journey that can have a big dent in the world, what would you have any advice for that person?
[00:26:48] Would it be come talk to you, or would it be go do? Like are there things that you feel that are lacking that you haven't seen?
[00:26:57] Hampus Jakobsson: I think that there, there are 3 things I would spend my time on. I think one is just sharpening my tools. So one is just figuring out how I spend my time, how I spend my focus, how I'm efficient, how I'm a nice person, like all of the things that means that whenever I'm doing the thing I'm doing, I'm actually doing it well.
[00:27:14] So I think for example, Atomic Habits is a great book about how you spend your time. I think Good To Great is a great book of thinking about actually how to build stuff. Brené Brown's books are really good about vulnerability. They're really good books about thinking about how to hone your system, just to think about algorithms to live by as an amazing book, really how to think about stuff structurally as as a person.
[00:27:32] So I think that there's so many great books and podcasts and stuff about actually how to sharpen your tools and build a panoply of stuff you carry around with you. But I think that means you can be an auditor, an entrepreneur or whatever. Like you can be a gardener, you can be anything like, it's just about like doing the thing you're doing.
[00:27:47] And that's, that's really good. And I think one part. And I would actually spend significant amount of time doing that. I think one of the problems we have with the education system is our education system is very focused on skills and not focused on sharpening your fundamental tools . But the weird thing is that, education systems try to get you to learn how to focus, but they do it indirectly, right?
[00:28:08] They ask you, can you please memorise all that Shakespeare wrote? And that's great because what they don't actually care about you remembering Shakespeare whatsoever, but the system wants you to learn how to focus, right? That's what it wants you to learn. But I think at the same time we recognise that we can actually look at the educational system and we can say, if you're a student, I mean you can just say, 'Ah, so previously I thought I don't like maths, or I think history is meaningless'.
[00:28:29] But if I see this purely as the sharpening of my tools, it's amazing. Because that means the subjects I suck at, they're great trainers. For me, it's kind of like you have weak upper body muscles, and you go running all the time. You should go to the gym and practice those muscles you're weak at because that's going to get you so much happier in life. Right? And then the things you're great at, you feel like, 'Whoa, I'm so good at this'. That means, hey, spend more time on it! Because now you can sharpen your skills to be at the edge of it, right? So I think one thing I always think about myself; if I'm bad at it, should I just stop doing it immediately and get away from it because I'm incompetent, I'll never get there.
[00:29:01] Or should I actually lean in and be like, can I get myself to par because it's going to be so good for my self confidence, but also my base skills. That's one part.
[00:29:09] The other thing I would look at is, I'm going to try to find the part where I can apply myself and I'll get back to that. And the third thing is I would surround myself with ambitious peers.
[00:29:18] Everybody knows that you become like your five peers. So the headache is that if you grew up in a place where nobody's ambitious and nobody cares about the planet and everybody essentially just want to spend their life hanging out and doing nothing. The problem is it's extremely hard for you to not, and that's why I think it's really fascinating.
[00:29:36] The people that are black in a white community, or they're from an ethnical background, or they're immigrants or they're gay, or they're already an outsider. Or they're like back in the nineties they were computer geeks. So what's so amazing is if you are not in the in- group, you have to search for your peers.
[00:29:54] it's an amazing opportunity to actually look at life and say, how do I find my peers? And it's strange enough so that the highest risk for you is you grew up in a super comfortable life with somebody who you think are your peers, but they're actually not your peers. Instead of you feeling ' I'm not finding my people.'
[00:30:10] And I think one thing I always think about myself is if I'm ever in a room where suddenly I get that jolt feeling in my body where, 'these are my people'. I really have to pay attention and try to spend more time in this room. I mean, it can be like me playing a board game with friends. It can be like me listening on a podcast.
[00:30:28] I don't even have to interact with these people. I just listen to podcasts and be like, 'these are my people'. I just spend more time with doing that thing because that's going to make me mold myself into that frame better.
[00:30:39] And then back to category two, where do I apply myself? The thing about that, that is so complicated, because that has to do with your skills and your mentality and your style and everything. But it also has to do with the extreme randomness of life. If you were Bill Gates and you grew up in a world where computers just came around and you happen to be lightly kind of focused as a person. I don't know if you want to call it like Asperger's, autism, autistic, or whatever, but you're a very focused person. He was so lucky to grow up in that place.
[00:31:11] And so was almost every person you know, that you find extremely successful is they were just randomly at the right place at the right time. And the interesting thing is that we should all search to find that place. And part of it is figuring out. I think for me there's a quadrant of life to think about a bit, is that I think about it as breadth first or depth first.
[00:31:35] And I think about it as if you want to be driving or if you want to be enabling. So like you have these two by twos now. So breadth first, depth first. So breadth first is like you want lots of opportunities. Depth is you want one opportunity and you're gonna be great at it.
[00:31:49] The headache is, are you mostly afraid about being called out, not knowing what you're doing? Or are you mostly a FOMO person where you feel like, Oh no, I'm on the wrong boat'? So if your fear is 'I'm on the wrong boat', you should be breadth first thinking, and if you're 'I cannot be called out not being the expert', you should be a depth first person.
[00:32:07] And so if you want to be a PhD in an narrow subject, that means you do depth first, right? If you are a journalist, you're a breadth person; you have a lot of opportunities to move around. And then you have driving, enabling. And driving means like, the buck stops with you. Like you're the president, you're the leader of the community.
[00:32:22] You're the person that signs the papers and says, we do this. I will take the risk of it being wrong. Which means that the risk you're facing in being that kind of person is that if you're great at this, you know that you will have to decide when you have only 80% of the data.
[00:32:35] So you will have to be the person that goes to bed at night not knowing if you did the right decision, but protecting your own organization and sleep well at night. I've decided I'll take the blame if it goes wrong. And certain people do that really well, and certain people really don't do that really well.
[00:32:52] And, enabling is a person that you are the wizard that whispers advice to the king or the queen. You say like, 'Sir, I would do this. I would do that'. And if the king or the queen says, I don't wanna do this, you just said, Hey, I told them, but what can I do, right? And some people they love that feeling because they feel like they can act what says, I told you so.
[00:33:11] But some people hate that feeling because they get so frustrated that they feel like If I could just sit at the steering wheel...' So I think that like these two by two quadrants, you can ask yourself not what you want, but what you want to avoid.
[00:33:23] You want to avoid being the situation you're at McKinsey, you tell the client you should do this, and you see them squandering an opportunity and you just get so irritated.
[00:33:32] That means you have to move from enable to drive. That means you should start your own. If you feel like you're right now working in, I don't know, in banking, and you really feel frustrated that you're not working with nature. And Bitcoin and well, like you have five subjects, you should ask yourself, is there a way I can move out of this? Like banking is very wide, of course, but you know what I mean? If you're working in a depth area, is there a way you can move yourself to breadth where you can be like all of these four? So I think that's a way of applying yourself. And this, again, I'm not even saying if this is STEM or humanities or whatever, it doesn't matter.
[00:34:04] That's like a whole other matter and that's just super hard to figure out what you want to do. But I think just trying to figure out which situations you really want to avoid and where you feel you can apply yourself best, that's going to help you so much to just figure out if you're in the right room.
[00:34:18] James Gill: That's amazing. I feel like even whether or not you're a twenty something or a thirty something, forty something. Wherever you are, that's some very valuable life advice and ways to think about things, Hampus. I gosh I appreciate that. I feel like everyone's drawing that quadrant now of what are these things?
[00:34:36] Yeah. Hampus, I feel like we already had a great show and it's definitely been totally different to our normal episode because I've just let you talk and I've not had to say almost a thing, and I feel like anytime me speaking on this is just wasted time. What I would love to do is to just wrap up with, where can people find more of you?
[00:34:58] Because I am sure if anyone's listening to this, they want to hear more Hampus. They want you to be one of their five people in their life.
[00:35:03] Hampus Jakobsson: I think that the, the easiest way to find me is on Twitter or on my blog. And so both of them are H A J A K, so five letters, so Hampus Jackobsson. And so I'm H A j A K on Twitter, and my blog is H A J A K dot se. So what I find also very interesting about Twitter as a medium, and like Twitter is now, it's a scandalous medium in many shapes, of course.
[00:35:25] But I think what's very interesting is, essentially you have a weird mix between somebody's inbox and somebody's blog, right? So what's really interesting is, I don't understand why, like people should really curate who they follow on Twitter and really think about if they find a person interesting, they should not only read their quote unquote blog posts, but they can also interact with them.
[00:35:46] James Gill: Mm-hmm.
[00:35:47] Hampus Jakobsson: Which is really fascinating because a lot of people actually just respond to. If you kind of ask a question they might respond and that's something you have a dialogue with somebody. And I think that's some something that people should just do.
[00:35:56] James Gill: A hundred percent. It's definitely, it is incredible, isn't it? When you just try and reach out to someone. Twitter is an incredible mechanism for connecting people without too many barriers. It's remarkable leveling for people to connect with the people they admire and find fascinating.
[00:36:13] Yeah. I might do With you when I start following you after this!
[00:36:18] Hampus Jakobsson: Go ahead. I mean, thanks a lot for this, James. I think that podcasts are also really great way. I think that generally, because podcast is one of my favorite tools also of learning. like when you do a podcast, the cool thing is you can start a podcast about any subject and interview people.
[00:36:31] That means that you can actually ask them questions, right? It's way easier if somebody says, can I get 30 minutes of your time to talk to you? Versus, can I get 30 minutes to record your time and actually then have other people also to listen to it. It's a really good way of being able to talk to people and I think that it's back also to spreading knowledge and thoughts.
[00:36:46] I think it's a really great way to kind of figure out that room you want to be in. So I mean, thanks a lot for doing this. I think it's great you're doing it.
[00:36:51] James Gill: Thank you, Hampus. Honestly, that's a big reason why we do these actually. Like I know that there's so many wonderful people like yourself who I probably wouldn't be able to get 30 minutes just chatting one to one .To be able to record it, to be able to share this with so many other people and hopefully inspire other people, drive people to some sort of action and find out more about themselves from this episode.
[00:37:12] For sure. I thinks just incredibly fulfilling. Thank you so much, Hampus. I think we'll call that a show and hopefully see you soon,
[00:37:19] Hampus Jakobsson: Thanks alot ,James.
[00:37:26] James Gill: Thank you so much for listening to today's show. I hope you enjoyed listening to Hampus as much as I did interviewing him. If you've enjoyed today's show, please let us know. We would love to hear from you, whether that's via a rating or a comment on any of the podcast players you use.
[00:37:42] And if you did enjoy it, please tell more people about the show. We love trying to make sure that every single episode gets to be heard and seen by as many people as possible. If you have any suggestions for future guests, you'd love us to talk to, do let us know and we look forward to seeing you again next week.
[00:38:01] And thanks for listening. See you soon.