Richard Feynman was the Michael Jordan of physicists. Nobel Prize Winners in Physics talked about how Feynman was on another level. Think about that for a second. F*cking Nobel Prize Winners are saying he was a level above. They were Clyde Drexler
, he was Michael Jordan.
Feynman affected my life more than any other. I was a struggling and somewhat directionless 18 year old. I wasn’t sure what I liked; I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. As Tony Soprano said, I was too lazy to think for myself
My Dad saw this and encouraged me to study Physics because I was decent at Math and Physics was more practical. So I took my first Physics class (didn’t take any in high school).
I was a disaster. I still have nightmares about the pulley problem
, and the fucking ball rolling down the hill
. Newtonian Mechanics was counter-intuitive to me. The professors were subpar so I wasn’t particularly interested in the topic as well.
My friend suggested that I read Feynman’s Red Books
. He said that Feynman could explain any complex topic and help me understand them. He was right.
Feynman’s gift was that he could not only explain complex topics simply and clearly but he could also do it enthusiastically. For the first time, I became interested in Physics. His passion and enthusiasm was infectious. I can’t say that I became passionate about Physics, but I stuck with it long enough to help propel me to a career in technology.
The ability to explain a complex topic simply, clearly and enthusiastically is rare. You could master the first two parts but it would be hard to fake the last part. And if you are a master of the third part, people will follow you.
People often ask investors what I look for when meeting founders. There’s no archetype or template. But, if there was one such template for me, it would be Richard Feynman. Especially in this part of the tech cycle when underlying technologies and trends are more complex than ever - deep learning, genomics, cryptocurrencies, complex regulatory environments and so forth. If a founder can express this in a 45 minute meeting, then I’m hooked. I’m a sucker for this.