Book Review: It’s About Damn Time by Arlan Hamilton

How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage

Arlan Hamilton started Backstage Capital while homeless and raised more than $10 Million since 2015.

Arlan shared her hard-won lessons and life advice in her book It’s About Damn Time. Today I want to share a few highlights from the book.

Why Start Another VC Firm?

Arlan started Backstage out of an urgent calling: to serve other massively underestimated founders like her. She has invested in more than 130 companies to date.

If you want to find your calling, ask yourself:

What do I want to see next?

What role would I play in it to make it happen?

Become the money

Become your own mentor. You can always learn more.

Arlan was building her intellectual capital and learning everything she could get her hands on. Becoming the money is about knowing everything (the leaders, the competitors, etc) you can about a space and leveraging the knowledge to create something more.

Relationships

There are threads that connect us all, and only by being insatiably curious about others can we discover them.

Arlan hustled really hard to build relationships in real life. She would find Chris Sacca(literally!) at the backstage of a conference or through their family. In addition to being curious of others, she also highlighted the importance of sharing privilege (especially when you have it in abundance), having a bold opinion, and adding value to others.

Resilience

You have to look at your experiences and understand them for what they are: An education built just for you.

Arlan detailed the unique challenges and stories she had to overcome in the book. The ultimate lesson is that she has learned to adapt quickly and protect herself through compartmentalization.

Authenticity

Being so deeply truly yourself, as a nonnegotiable, is the answer to everything.

Sharing your voice is a gift, but we are not always taught this way.

Throughout the last few months of book interviews, I have been inspired by so many Taiwanese/Chinese Americans. Many told me that it’s the first time they have told their story. It’s the first time they felt that their stories matter. I am so sad to hear that they have suffered so much, and I hope this book can serve as a platform to amplify the beautiful voices of Chinese immigrants in the States.

As Arlan said in the book, “If you share your full self with people, you are able to relate to them on a much deeper level.”

Confidence

Everyone has imposter syndrome because we’re all figuring out this thing called life.

It is hard to always believe in yourself. Whenever Arlan doubts herself, she would ask herself, “What would a White male do?” Do accordingly.

Self-care

Self-care is about recognizing your value.

There are many ways to achieve self-care. You can treat yourself to a nice trip or directly invest in yourself.

Here is a great strategy: know the value you bring to the table and stick to it. Naval also said something along the lines of setting your personal hourly rate and accept nothing less. I’m still working on this, but I always felt awesome when I stick to it.


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