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I grew up in New Jersey, USA, right across the river from Manhattan (New York City). I was among the best students in my elementary and middle schools, and for high school I attended the prestigious Bergen County Academies’ Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (abbreviated BCA, AAST), which exposed me to the work ethics of some of the smartest people in one of the richest counties in the nation. I didn’t find the classes interesting, and my parents were fairly hands-off (letting me do what I wanted), and I didn’t care about making a lot of money, and so I didn’t study hard to get the kind of GPA that would get me into a prestigious college. I instead spent all of my free time in high school playing computer games and learning a little programming so that I could customize the games I played.
Transitioning from high school to college was a transformational experience for me; I suddenly felt like I was handed the reins to my life in a way I hadn’t felt before. I had a few different experiences in the year or so after I graduated from high school that combined to make me lose interest in computer games and instead focus on studying and social extra-curricular activities (sports, acting, dancing, and various other clubs).
I graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2009 (3.81 cumulative GPA, psychology and philosophy double-major). I spent my first year out of school preparing for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and got a perfect score (180 out of 180), which would make Harvard Law School pretty much a sure thing and would make Yale Law a question of my work experience.
I didn’t want to rush to take on $200,000 of debt, and so I spent a few years reading lots of (auto)biographies and just generally thinking about how to make a decision about what career to go into. I ultimately decided that the four skillsets I should focus on were: entrepreneurship, programming, finance, and mathematics (in roughly that order). For a year or two I was thinking I would try to copy Michael Burry’s path to becoming a hedge fund manager, but I ultimately decided that the tech sector was less competitive than the financial sector and easier to raise money in for someone with unconventional credentials.