Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke on the Philosophy of Building a Better Future on the Daily Stoic with Ryan Holiday

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Key Takeaways

  • Value building is when you build or create things to help other people – it’s humanity as its best
  • Stoicism is the counterbalance to creating – because building is irrational
  • We tend to value others opinions more than our own
  • There’s never a goal to reach a horizon – the only potential step you can take to reach your horizon is to gain more vision towards it
  • It’s your job to adhere to your own standards, not to get someone to like you – their job to like you because you are a likable person
  • Every time you consume something, you vote not just for the thing that got created by an inventor, but for the entire supply chain that brought it to you
  • The stoics talk about money and fame and things as a preferred indifferent – nice to have, but not necessary

Intro

Tobias (t: @tobi)”Tobi” Lütke is a German-Canadian billionaire entrepreneur, and the founder and CEO of Shopify.

Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism

  • In Meditations, Aurelius says, if it’s humanly possible, let yourself know what you’re capable of doing
  • You can become powerful in your own way and not be corrupted by it
  • Marcus also said, you might be powerful right now but don’t let it corrupt you
  • Understand that soon enough, you will be dead and none of this will matter – no one will remember you and they’ll move right onto the next guy
  • Aurelius noted that power is as difficult to understand as stress

Life Philosophy

  • People should build their own life philosophy in a meaningful way
  • A catalog of life lessons are available in the writings of Cicero and Marcus Aurelius and Seneca
  • Philosophical questions:
    • What do you live by?
    • What’s important?
    • What are the rules?
    • How do you find the meaning in life?
  • “We’re in an analogous time where, you know, religious faith is plummeting, faith in institutions, even in countries and these things are sort of falling away and people are wondering what do I live by?” – Tobias Lütke
  • Sometimes you have to question the past and tear down broken systems to move forward

Value Building

  • Value building is building or creating things to help other people – it’s humanity’s high moments
  • Humans can build really fast when they apply themselves
    • E.g. the Corona virus vaccine
  • If you’re trying to create something, you want to improve things and create something that hasn’t been done before
  • “Shopify enables so much entrepreneurship it’s hugely inspiring to see people, people do this but there’s a demon that you’re not good enough in the back of everyone’s mind”- Tobias Lütke

Self-Doubt

  • We tend to value others opinions more than our own
  • Anyone who has ambition knows it’s a double-edged sword – the other side of ambition can be ego or selfishness or arrogance or delusions
  • You have to think: this is a good idea. I’m going to go do it. And I’m, going to proceed. Even if other people are saying there’s no value in it
  • If you are a builder, stoicism is a really good tool to have in your toolkit
  • Stoicism is the counterbalance to help stay rational – because building is irrational
  • It’s your job to adhere to your own standards, not to get someone to like you – their job to like you because you are a likable person

Being A Member of The Billionaire Founder Club

  • Many of the billionaire founders have built amazing things and contributed very positively to society – but not all necessarily
  • As you become successful, think about staying true to what you believe in and the kind of person you want to be
  • There’s never a goal to reach a horizon – the only potential step you can take to reach your horizon is to gain more vision towards it

A Corollary To The Golden Rule

  • Philosophically, ask what are the negative externalities of the things that you are doing
  • “The pandemic has really forced people to struggle with this and made us realize how bad we are at it. You know, even it’s like, I’m not going to go to the grocery store cause I’m going to socially distance, but somebody still has to bring me my groceries”- Tobias Lütke
  • Think about how your actions affect other people
  • ”I’m so in love with entrepreneurship, just making sure that entrepreneurship stays participatory and stays available as a thing to as many people as possible. I think it’s actually a fairly fragile institution and can, go away”- Tobias Lütke

Every Time You Consume Something, You Vote

  • You vote not just for the thing that got created by an inventor, but actually for, the entire supply chain that brought it to you
  • This is a very stoic idea – we can come together to change the world and have as much control over our own stuff as possible according to our own standards
  • “I actually tried to design a company that is aware of all the externalities – at some point you need to understand it.” – Tobias Lütke

What is it Like to Suddenly Have More Money than One Could Ever Possibly Need?

  • “I just never cared about money. I never spend a lot of time thinking about it. I think more about energy”
  • Money as a form of energy can be directed into causes and creating things that you really want to exist
  • The stoics talk about money and fame and things as a preferred indifferent – nice to have, but not necessary
  • Seneca says a philosopher can be rich, but a philosopher’s money should not be stained with blood
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Notes By EWerbitsky

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