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On Being Built Different
One of my favorite compliments people give me
Sometime recently, maybe 12 or 13 years ago, a friend of mine witnessed me performing a physical task that required herculean, almost unbelievable lower body strength. After completing it (it was easy for me, due to having spent most of my waking life refining my body to nothing more than its core competencies, and keeping my body fat below 5% at a maximum, at all times), my friend was rendered speechless. He could only muster the wherewithal to send me a DM on Viber by Rakuten, despite sitting merely three feet from me: “damn dude ur built different. forreal lol”
This comment did not provoke any immediate recognition in my mind—I was already used to receiving compliments at any hour of any day—but a short time later, maybe 6 years and 7 months previous to now, I completed a similarly mind-bending feat of individual prowess, only this time it required an unparalleled intellect rather than peak physical performance. The same friend heretofore described as awestruck was, once again, cowed by how perfect of a human specimen his friend had proven himself to be yet again. This time, his fingers trembled, danced upon the teak wooden table upon which we were sharing a couple virgin daiquiris, and his lips finally parted to say, “Dude, Nabeel? Straight up? Your ass might be the most built different ass I’ve ever seen.”
I now am so accustomed to hearing this specific phrase—that I’m “built different”—that it is perhaps my favorite compliment that I receive, even if it is trite at this point. Like, obviously I am lol. But I like to note down which compliments strike me as most true to my conception of myself (“You possess the ideal balance of creativity and humility”; “How do you maintain such perfect internal stability, amidst all the idiots that surround you?”; “That dick is goated”; etc.) and which strike me as somewhat mid (“You remind me of Larry and Sergey”; “You remind me of a young Kevin Systrom”; “Something about the way you conduct business is reminiscent of Lee Iacocca—all killer no filler”; etc.) and thus can be forgotten.
Being built different is something not everyone can claim. It’s in the phrase itself, actually. You probably didn’t notice that until I pointed it out, but go back and read it. Really think about it. By using the word “different,” the inherent definition of the phrase is that not everyone can be as such. So now that you know that, don’t go saying it to everyone. (I honestly love to teach people things; it’s so easy for me because I have so much knowledge to give, such as a complete and utter command of every Germanic language.)
Here, I’ll give you some examples of people who are built different frfr: Palmer Luckey, Jason Calacanis, Chamath Palihapitiya, Ron Jeremy, ShoeNice, Mencius Moldbug, Casey Neistadt. And people who aren’t, but are commonly mistaken to be built different frfr? Your Sonia Sotomayors, your Ketanji Brown Jacksons, your Elena Kagans, your Amy Coney Barretts, what have you.
The thing is, as a serial entrepreneur and builder and future founder and one-day effective altruist, I am passionate about so few things in life other than amassing wealth and clout. And so, in terms of human connection, I only really want to be around other people who are built different. It’s something I look for in every relationship that I entertain. Being built different frfr is something of an indicator for me that said person is of a similar grindset, and I can talk to them about various philosophies and and put options and whether the AI bubble in SF is here to stay.
But at the end of the day, I don’t even get it lol…everyone says I’m built different but I honestly can’t see it. Seriously! I’m being for real! I guess it’s because I’m so blind to my own capacities for greatness or am too humble to truly speak into existence how much smarter I am than the average Hayes Valley resident lol. It’s all so crazy to me. But people tell me these things all the time so I guess it’s true that I’m built different frfr, and that I’m nice with it, and that I can lay pipe with the best of them???
So that’s what I have to say about that. Happy new year, wherever this may find you—in the back of a dingy bar that has been retro-fitted to look like a dive but caters exclusively to the moneyed class or in a fast-casual chain that serves spicy margs and $18 Baja fish tacos on quarter-sheet pans. Here’s to Us, that are built different frfr.
There has been a pernicious online shift in recent months… the advent of ChatGPT has reinvigorated the most craven and base among us, animated their tweets with an intense fervor. I’ve seen the battle lines being drawn. There are the serious people and the unserious people, the optimists and the media commenters, the doers and the talkers. There is a continual discourse about “Sf vs Nyc” and how “it’s cool that in NYC there are people who aren’t just tech, but also if you want to get any serious work done you need to be in Sf.” The VC reality bubble has hardened, shrunk, elevated the voices of those who decry the soft whining of the effete moral class as the death throes of 2010s era wokeism, brought to its apotheosis during that fateful Covid summer only to sputter and fizzle in the face of America’s ascendant right wing politic… yes… I’ve seen all of this happening from the position of a lowly unambitious software engineer (recently unemployed) with some creative side gigs, and to all of this I say: