How to be better than average

Aadil Kazmi
2 min readAug 30, 2023

Most things in life are relative, heck even the word average is the typical value found in a data set. Want to get that job? You’re being compared to the 6 others applying. Want to win a marathon? Beat the 10 other runners. Want to IPO? Deliver superior returns to industry peers.

To be better than the average you must find alpha in aspects of your life. Alpha (in finance but can be applied to our lives as well) means achieving returns better than the benchmark.

Ben Cogan argues that innovations in AI will eventually lead to depressed margins for DTC business operators because “…AI productivity tools may lead to lower costs for you…but also for everyone else”. In other words, if everyone has access to the same tools and information then eventually all end up with average margins

Unthrottled access has made alpha harder

I was 5 when my family got our first computer and I was introduced to internet-based messaging (MSN Messenger!) around age 10. MSN was a game-changer! For the first time in my life I could communicate with multiple people in real-time across all my friend groups — it broadened my perspective and ability to consume information immensely. Prior to MSN I was limited to the information I had access to by where I was physically at what time and with whom.

Fast forward to today and I’m amazed at how easy it is to consume information (unthrottled access) but appalled at how many people are okay with consuming mass media, adopting mass morals and letting these ideologies define major life decisions across relationships and career (the two most defining characteristics of any individual; who you are with and what you do).

I propose the following questions to you:

  1. If you consume information from an influencer (be it any type of advice or tips/tricks like how to make money) and 1M others are able to access the same information; how then do you expect to achieve alpha in your own life?
  2. If you adopt morals pushed by mass media (TV, movies, music) — how then can you differentiate yourself in relationships and achieve alpha?

Older generations struggled with access, we must deal with excess

The internet and democratization of access to information is a marvel of the modern world and I wouldn’t have it any other way because the old world was oppressive in it’s own way (walled gardens built to keep knowledge silo’d in the hands of few). Today’s challenges aren’t those of access but of excess — it’s never been more important to be specific and intentional about the information you consume, because if you aren’t careful you’ll fall trap to being like everyone else — average.

How to be better than average

  1. Be intentional and selective with the information consumed;
  2. Recognize that alpha is found in places where most people don’t look (hence why it’s alpha);
  3. Recognize that by adopting mass morals, media and information you’re only enriching the creator and depressing yourself to mediocrity; and,
  4. Find/build your own path “be yourself”