Credit: Otmar Winterleitner
My editor is ticked at me. This post is way late, but in my defense: It's Ryan Allis' fault. See, Ryan Allis is one of my favorite kinds of people: a young pseudo-tech entrepreneur with an almost Ivy League education, far too much money, and a level of self-love that would make Alexander the Great wince.
Furthermore, Ryan's about to hit the big 3-0. To a guy my age, he might as well be dangling from his umbilical cord, but Ryan doesn't think so. In the Silicon Valley startup universe, 30 is so old, you're practically undead and certainly able to sell yourself as a life experience prophet. In Ryan's case, that's especially true because his life experience is what all Silicon Valley tweeners are looking for.
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In his 20s, he sold an email and social media startup to some poor suckers for $170 million, did a year of Harvard b-school to show he could, and started a "global network of leaders and entrepreneurs under 40 who are creating a better world." (You too can join that hallowed list for a mere $850, by the way.)
The wisdom of whippersnappers
With all those accomplishments under his belt, he's obviously far wiser than the average tweener or indeed the typical human being. To prove it, he's decided to park his methane-fueled Ferrari long enough to offer us -- indeed, the world at large -- the one birthday present that will keep on giving: "Lessons From My 20s."
Yup, you can snarf up the wisdom of a pre-30, tech-bubble-bred, Ivy League dropout via an easily digested 1,286-slide PowerPoint deck. That's not a typo. With 1,286 slides' worth of truly migraine-inducing subject matter, I think it's easy to see why my weekend took a few unexpected turns.
Ostensibly, he's trying to pass on the wisdom his mother taught him, which appears to revolve around Web development, startups, and a rehash of every be-a-more-effective-executive self-help book ever written, starting with radically insightful advice like "write down your goals." That's followed by about 10 slides on exactly how to write down your goals, including opening Google Docs, printing, and eventually framing.
Next up: More quick instructions on how you can figure out your life's purpose in 90 minutes or less, followed by another multihour exercise on putting this information on the wall in a "vision board" that captures all those goals, life purposes, wet dreams, and bucket lists. Ryan's bucket list is in the deck, by the way. It takes up seven slides that include mature, not-at-all-childish leader-type goals ranging from traveling to space to seeing a Cirque du Soleil show. I cried myself into an involuntary sleep, eating away at my precious deadline.
Waking up with a start, I dove back in hoping to find absolutely anything I could respect. In return, I got more sage advice, including not allowing foolish considerations like chance, love, family, or sentiment to determine who your friends are. In fact, Ryan thinks you should dump everyone who can't directly help with your career goals and replace them with folks you've handpicked based on the above criteria. He even provides a step-by-step guide on how to stalk these unfortunate souls, manipulate them into having coffee with you, and sucker them into becoming friends, mentors, co-workers, and eventual restraining order issuers. I'm sure that's exactly what his mother taught him.
He also prattled on about achieving your dreams and becoming a Jedi in an adult context. That led to Ryan's tale of forging his character in the long and dire crucible of his 20s. I'm not exactly sure because I rolled my eyes so hard I went blind for an indeterminate stretch.