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Fundamental Questions

October 13, 2018

Author: Bianca Yang
Email: ipacifics@gmail.com

I frequently see people taking action without understanding whether their course of action will resolve some fundamental questions.

For example, I see lots of startups who haven’t answered the fundamental questions of: Why should you exist? Why will people find value in your product? Why will people “hire” your solution? What technical or business insight have you made that will allow you to carve out a place to start in? Why do you care about the problem you are trying to solve?

For example, I see lots of companies trying to recruit at Caltech who haven’t answered the fundamental questions of: Why will Caltech students want to work here? Are Caltech students the kind of people I want to have in my company? Do I have the infrastructure to support junior employees or to support advanced employees coming out of academic environments?

For example, I see some Caltech clubs who are trying to improve engagement and membership numbers without having answered the fundamental questions of: Why should we exist? Why should Caltech students spend time with our club? Do we have the right leadership to create the right kind of club environment for members to thrive in? Are we targeting a subset of the population that exists?

For example, I see people taking jobs without haven’t answered the fundamental questions of: Do I agree with the company’s vision? Are they giving me an opportunity to work on things that will fulfill me and allow me to develop my faculties in a desirable way? Do I admire and respect the leadership of the company? Do I admire and respect my coworkers?

Unless you have seen to the essence of an opportunity, of a plan, you surely cannot achieve the most fulfilling results. And it is fine to fail, but you must, afterwards, understand which fundamental question you failed to answer.

The lists of fundamental questions above are likely incomplete. I am happy to receive inquiries regarding additions or revisions to the fundamental questions.