I have only ever wanted seven jobs in my life:
- Goalie, St. Louis Blues: 1992-95
- Astronaut, NASA: 1995-99
- President, USA: 1999-2010
- Owner, St. Louis Blues: 2000-Now
- Help Dad Rebuild His Business: 2010-12
- Make Independent Testing Ubiquitous: 2012-2020
- Solve the World’s Biggest Problems: 2020-Now
I picked these jobs not because they were easy, or fit my skill sets, but because I truly believed at the time that each of these jobs was the most important job in the world.
- My first loves were hockey and the St. Louis Blues. I started playing hockey when I was four, first street and roller hockey, then ice hockey in school. (I still play.) Back then I was a goalie. I loved the idea of being the last line of defense, the one most responsible for winning and losing. I studied Grant Fuhr on TV, and once took my grandma to wait in line at a Sports Authority to meet him (so she could get an autograph for me too). I copied his moves on TV and in the mirror so much that I wore my glove on the left side.
- When I was seven, I really wanted to be an astronaut. Then one day, I read in a book that astronauts had to have perfect vision. I cried and cried and thought my dream was over (I already had a -5 prescription at 7 years old.) But then my mom took me to a book signing for Astronaut Mike Mullane. I got his book signed (I still have it) and asked him if I could still be an astronaut. He said I could do it – there’s laser surgery. But that I’d have to be great at math to be an astronaut. So I made it my mission to learn math as fast as possible, even reading my babysister’s calculus textbook for hours.
- Growing up, every presidential debate was appointment viewing at our home. 1999 was the first time I understood all three (!) candidates and saw the frustrations from all sides. That’s when my ambition really started kicking in, and I started studying famous presidents. We visited Lincoln’s birthplace and tomb as a family and rubbed his lucky nose. I also studied Theodore Roosevelt’s life and speeches. I’ve always been fascinated by how these elite leaders navigated their childhoods and early struggles. That made me believe that the best way I could use my talents and change the world was to be President.
- A Wal-Mart heir and her husband bought the St. Louis Blues in 1999, mostly with the idea of buying the then-Vancouver Grizzlies and moving them into the same St. Louis arena. When that deal fell apart, the Lauries let “my” team struggle for years before selling them for $150M. I saw that number and told myself one day I’d make enough money to buy the team and make it better. I also started following Mark Cuban as a teenager and wanted to be like him. (Mark is now the lead investor in my startup Labdoor.) One Stanley Cup later, the Blues are now worth $640M, and I still want to buy the team. (This is my only real reason for wanting to be a billionaire.)
- I watched my immigrant father run small businesses my whole life, starting with a one-employee testing lab in 1990, to 10+ labs, 500+ employees, and $100M+ value by 2008. After bootstrapping for a decade, he had gotten $24M in loans in the 2000s to finance seven acquisitions. In the 2008 Recession, Bank of America essentially foreclosed all of his businesses and liquidated them for ~$25M, leaving him less than $1M to start a new business. My dad and I talked extensively through this process, and when I graduated in May 2010, we immediately started working on a new testing lab. Avomeen launched in November 2010 with us as the two employees. It’s now nearing 100 employees and was acquired for $30M+ in 2016.
- In 2012, Avomeen was at 14 employees and profitable for the first time. I was looking for new ways to grow and started applying for awards to get press. We won a big Startup America pitch competition with this video. I got to go to Super Bowl where Scott Case mentored me and helped me meet Mark Cuban and Kevin Plank. Everything that weekend was about pushing me to reach my highest potential. I went home and knew I had to do something bigger. I immediately started working on my idea for a “people’s lab”, a lab that independently tests the quality of consumer products. In May 2012, Labdoor was born.
- Ten years into Labdoor’s history, we’ve changed an industry. We’ve driven the “lab-tested” movement and ensured more consumer products are independently tested. I love Labdoor and am so proud of it and want it to outlive me. But I don’t want this to be the only industry that I change. The last 3+ years since Labdoor has been profitable, I’ve been looking for ways to solve more of the World’s Biggest Problems. Since making this list public in September 2020, it has become my bat signal, attracting other ambitious optimists to share their ideas and dreams with me. I want to work with these people and solve these problems for the rest of my life.
That’s me. Give me the world’s hardest jobs and I’ll step up and take my best shot.
There is so much hidden ambition in this world.
- Everyone has a dream project they’re saving for later.
- Don’t save anything for the swim back. Do it now.
- I write these posts to inspire more people to chase their highest ambitions.
How much greater would the world be if you maximized your potential?
- Tap into your potential energy and use it for good!
Don’t wait until you’re richer or older to chase your dreams. Do it now.
- I’ve had my World’s Biggest Problems idea in my head for 10+ years. I’ve been making a list in my notebooks for 5+ years. It’s now been on my website for less than 2 years, and this short time in public has changed my life.
- Don’t wait 10+ years like I did. Do your dream project now.
My goal now is to launch or invest in all 100 solutions to the World’s Biggest Problems in my lifetime.
- Utopic Studio is my high-risk incubator to launch new ideas.
- Utopic Ventures will be for my high-risk investments.
I want to help more people find their highest ambition.
- I believe this is one of the highest leverage ways to change the world.
What do you think is the most important job in the world?
- Let me know @neilthanedar on Twitter!