Sam Altman on deciding whether to go to college, join a company, or start your own as an ambitious young person.
The critical point is that you want to do the thing that is most likely to get you on a path to do something great.
No matter what you choose, build stuff and be around smart people. “Stuff” can be a lot of different things—open source projects outside of class, a startup, a new sales process at a company you work at—but, obviously, sitting around talking with your friends about how you guys really should build a website together does not count.
The most fulfilling experiences I have had in my young career have happened when I have put myself in a position to create new things and learn from smart people who shared my passions. None of these experiences has occurred on a college campus.
If you’re a young person who takes themselves seriously, challenge yourself to find opportunities to spend time with people who are doing things you find interesting. Even better, go do interesting things yourself and you’ll find others who you can learn from!
Sam’s framing is 100% right. If you’re trying to decide what the next step in your professional journey is, don’t think about what is expected of you from others. Ask yourself what will push you further along the path to greatness.