30 MINS

EPISODE 13 | ALBERT WENGER

December 19, 2017

 

This week, Cory speaks to venture capitalist, angel investor, and entrepreneur Albert Wegner, who is best known for being a partner at venture capital firm Union Square Ventures. Before joining the firm, Albert founded several companies and was the president of del.icio.us through the company’s sale to Yahoo. He was also an angel investor in successful startups such as Etsy and Tumblr. In this weeks episode, Albert gives us his take on blockchain and bitcoin, tells us what skill every young person should do more of, his secret on making hard decisions, how you can figure out your career path and towards the end gives a very interesting insight into the AI debate.


“I think anything that you love to do; you should always just continue to do it because (it will) fulfill yourself, (and) your proficiency in that activity will grow.”

What do you want to do with your life? If you don’t know, start by working on things you’re interested in, but you first have to know what you’re interested in. According to Albert Wenger, most people haven’t been forced to seek out and gain experience in their interests. “The school system doesn’t give people necessarily the room, the freedom, to explore their interests, but that’s what you should do,” says Wenger.  

Albert Wenger (@albertwenger) is interested in many things, including technology, specifically artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. Albert talks with entrepreneur Cory Levy (After School, Internapalooza) about these interests and gives advice for young people and startups in his interview on OFF RCRD.

Albert is an entrepreneur and investor with a history of success in both running companies and investing in them. Albert is graduate of Harvard, majoring in economics and computer science, and has a Ph.D. in Information Technology from MIT. Currently a partner at Union Square Ventures, Albert was previously the president of del.icio.us, which was sold to Yahoo in 2005.

Instead of running startups, Albert now helps young entrepreneurs grow theirs as an investor.  During their OFF RCRD conversation, Cory and Albert talk about what startup founders need to know and focus on, which can be difficult when launching a company due to the many roles a founder takes on. “Knowing what the one thing is that you need to get right, and working on that, and pushing everything else aside is critical to making a startup succeed,” says Wenger. Once that product/market fit is found, importance can once again be placed in the other areas of the business.

In his interactions with young entrepreneurs and students, Wenger is often asked for career advice. Before he gives a single piece of advice, he asks the question, “What’s your purpose in life?” Their response isn’t always an answer according to Wenger. “That stops a lot of people dead in their tracks because they’ve never been asked that question so directly. Also, it’s a little unfair because they didn’t expect that I was going to ask that question necessarily. I do think when people coming for career advice, not asking that question is almost like malpractice because that is the central question. How can you give somebody advice on what they should do in their career, if you don’t understand that, or if, more importantly, they don’t understand what the answer to that question is?”

If you have yet to find your purpose in life, take Wenger’s advice and explore your interests. Doing what you genuinely enjoy doing well can lead to many opportunities, and just may lead you to find your true purpose in life.


Show Notes
  • 1:10

    Albert’s advice for young people trying to figure out what to do with their lives

  • 1:30

    The school system doesn’t give people necessarily the room, the freedom, to explore their interests.”

  • 1:40

    Albert answers the question “What do you think are some good ways one can figure out (their) interests?”

  • 2:33

    What Albert’s childhood was like in Germany

  • 3:20

    Why Albert believes in reading and writing frequently

  • 4:20

    “Everybody has to find, I think, what works for them when it comes to how do you calm down your own mind.” Albert talks about his habits and routines starting at:

  • 5:54

    “My biggest challenge continues to be for me to say no to more things.” How Albert says “no.”

  • 7:20

    Albert’s advice and strategy when it comes to making hard decisions

  • 10:34

    Albert talks about Blockchain technology and Bitcoin

  • 15:32

    What Albert is excited about and what he’ll be working on over the next decade

  • 17:55

    “Product market fit is an absolutely critical thing to be looking for.”

  • 18:56

    The traits Albert Wenger looks for in founders. “I think there are no substitutes for spending time with founders, having in-depth conversations, asking them tough questions.”

  • 21:24

    Cory asks about Albert’s mentors and who he learns from starting at

  • 27:23

    How the education system will have to change to adapt to current changes in technology and the way we work

  • 28:20

    How Albert approaches the education of his children

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