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Enter the Zone of Genius.
I’m writing this from Los Angeles, where I had the opportunity to attend LA Tech Week among other founders, operators, and investors.
It’s been over a decade since my last trip to LA. I’ve been spending a lot of time by the water and beach, watching the surfers and the stillness of the ocean—and I was inspired to write a short piece on finding flow, purpose, and fulfillment.
In the first few years of my career, I was lost. I had little sense of direction, unnecessarily took advice from others without a second thought, and stumbled from activity-to-activity, chasing shiny things.
Because I wasn’t fulfilled in my career, I was constantly partying, binge drinking, engaging in superficial relationships, and doing things on autopilot, and it wasn’t until recently that I started to learn what it meant to find fulfillment. To find yourself, you have to first get lost—and I now see that first era of my life as a period of exploration and experimentation.
A few years ago, I came across a framework: a very neat Venn diagram, that perfectly summarizes the idea of career fulfillment. It’s transformed the way I think about finding fulfillment in my career, and today I’d like to share it with you.
Your Zone of Genius
Enter the Zone of Genius.
Coined by Laura Garnett, author, speaker, and performance strategist, the Zone of Genius is the intersection of what you enjoy doing (your passions), what you’re good at (your strengths), and what the world needs (your value).
Your Zone of Genius is what is most effortless for you—it’s where your “work” feels like play.
Most of the people I know operate in each zone separately. For example, you might have a lucrative programming job but hate it, or be tremendously talented at drawing, but unable to squeeze a drop of profit from it.
But once you play in the intersection of the three zones, you’ll find flow. You’ll be riding with the wave—not against it.
Let’s explore how 👇
Start by identifying your strengths—the things you’re exceptionally skilled at. You might already know—perhaps you’re an excellent writer or you have an eye for aesthetic design. Or maybe you’re extraordinary at organizing things.
But if you’re stuck, try this:
Ask past leaders, managers or mentors to tell you. They likely have a clear idea.
Try the StrengthsFinders exercise.
Then identify what you’re passionate about. This can be a cause, an activity, a domain area, a type of work, etc. Find your play.
What work do you do that doesn't seem like work?
What activities make you completely lose track of time?
What impact do you want to have on the people around you?
When in doubt, experiment. Open your mind and your heart to the world, and try things you normally wouldn’t. You never know what will stick.
Finally, determine the value you’re able to create for the community. This may translate to: “What will people compensate you for?”.
Consider new categories—ideas, products, and services that don’t currently exist—beyond evaluating existing business models.
If you’re solving someone’s pain point—they’ll pay for it.
I wouldn’t say I’ve completely found fulfillment in my career yet, but I have gotten a taste of it and plan to continue down the path of discovery.
I’ve discovered the things I like: creating media, telling stories, producing events.
And the things I don’t like: crunching numbers, reading reports, following rules…
The things I’m good at: bringing people together, marketing, operations.
And the things I’m not good at: coding, math, design.
The remaining piece of the puzzle is to determine the value I’m able to create for the world.
Once you’ve discovered your Zone of Genius—your alignment of your strengths, passions, and value to the world—harness it to conquer your aspirations and create a positive impact on the world
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