Why.How.What — High Agency. Why suddenly it’s surfacing in culture docs and job descriptions??

If you haven’t noticed, it’s all over the place and has become a highly sought after soft talent in corporates these days. You might have found it in some cultural or HR document of a company. It has entered into THE lingo! Although it has a basic connotation, it means that you, like any excellent agency (say. advertising), strive to keep your clients pleased by providing what is necessary at the time and not neglecting something by simply stating, “Sorry! This is not in the scope of the contract.”

But, when it comes to harbouring this potential as an individualistic capability, it needs to be understood deeply. And that’s why I’m back here again to “keep it simple”. And what is more simplistic than our old and gold — an X v/s Y quadrant plot.

Here as you can see Talent is plotted against Agency.

Again, Agency stands for the high service potential or resilience of a person.

High Talent, High Agency = Game Changers

Low Talent, High Agency = Go — getters

Low Talent, Low Agency = Cogs-in-the-wheel

High Talent, Low Agency = Frustrated Geniuses

If you have already understood it, that’s good but if you wish to go deep — let’s discuss some examples and use cases apart from the one that is mentioned in the cover photo to understand this better.

We used to frequent these clubs in Koramangala in Bangalore (India’s Silicon Valley), and one time we went to a very popular one and were denied admittance because we were stag. So, after attempting to persuade that person several times and even offering to bribe him with an Rs. 100 note (which was large money for us at the time), we returned home. We returned back the next day, and the situation was the same, but we modified our strategy and asked a few females to help us inside. We didn’t accomplish anything spectacular, and I believe many of us may have done or witnessed something similar.

This is High Agency. What looked impossible to us the first day, we tried to overcome and find a way around it to get over it. It was both our talent and resilience at work — be it in a bar :D.

Now let’s look at some other examples and popular uses cases, also as quoted by George Mack and Shreyas Doshi in their popular Twitter Threads.

As George Mack quotes in a Twitter thread,

High Agency is a sense that the story given to you by other people about what you can/cannot do is just that — a story.
And that you have control over the story.
High Agency person looks to bend reality to their will.
They either find a way, or they make a way.

Let’s get into some quoted popular examples on the same.

Story Shot #1

JeffBezos has a framework for identifying high agency friends/romantic partners.

Answer this question: “If you were stuck in a third world prison and had to call one person to try and bust you out of there — who would you call?”

Story Shot #2

To help fund AirBnB, @bchesky & @jgebbia sold limited-edition cereal boxes called Obama O’s & Captain McCain cereal during the 2008 election. They raised $40,000 — from selling cereal.

Story Shot #3

Elon musk instead of ranting about free speech, bought Twitter for $44b (there might be other reasons but this is the perception, right now)

Shreyas Doshi who is an advisor to some of the fastest-growing startups like ex-Stripe, Twitter, Google, Yahoo also quotes on HA,

Observing and adjusting your language and self-talk is an important aspect of cultivating High Agency

It is also categorized in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as:

I will not leave Steve Jobs behind on this, as he said “Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

Now, Why companies are looking for people with high agency?

Because game changers are uncommon, there are few of them, and go-getters may become game-changers if they are properly schooled with the freedom to work on their specific skillsets. They are the next generation of emerging leaders who will operate the firm in their name.

To end this in an action mode, here are a few questions, which can help you in bringing out “the high agency” in you!

  1. “How can you achieve your 10-year goal in 6 months?” (by Peter Thiel)
  2. Do you know or believe anything that the rest of the world thinks of as being nonsense?

3. Do you have the resilience and ownership mindset to execute this XYZ thing with creative freedom and express the same explicitly? (Ask yourself honestly)

4. Think of something you will do today/this week/this month. Now, ask yourself ‘What are some ways you can get 10x or 100x that goal’

Note: I’m also learning and practising HA as I’m advocating it, I thought of putting things together for you and me. Pls, extend more suggestions and slice-of-life out of examples to enrich it.

Last-mile brief:

  • Question everything
  • Bend reality
  • Never outsource your decision making

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For further reading, I’m attaching here:

Podcast transcript of conversation b/w Eric Weinstein (MD at Thiel Capital) & Tim Feris: https://tim.blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/131-eric-weinstein.pdf (this is GOLD!!)

Twitter Thread of George Mack: https://twitter.com/george__mack/status/1068238562443841538

Twitter Thread of Shreyas Doshi: https://twitter.com/shreyas/status/1276956836856393728



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