We had the good fortune of connecting with Shireen Jaffer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shireen, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Thinking for myself–that has been, hands-down, the most important factor behind my success, and the success of my work. As an entrepreneur, especially a young one, you are given so much advice. Even if you aren’t an entrepreneur, you’re likely bombarded with people telling you what you should do, and how you should do it, and when you should do it by. And if you grew up in the traditional education system like most of us, you are used to being told what comes next. I had to break out of this conditioning. Instead of relying on mentors and experts, startup veterans and successful entrepreneurs, to tell me what to do and how to build my business, I had to learn to think for myself. I valued opinions for sure, but when things get hard, it’s really easy to blindly follow someone else’s path because they found success with it. But whenever I’ve done that, I’ve found that the path didn’t always lead to success for me. And because I didn’t love the anxiety and feelings of dependency, I wanted to find a way to become self-reliant and confident in my ability to make strong decisions for myself. That’s when I came across Mental Models. These are powerful thinking tools that we all use, except not all mental models are valued the same. Some are great while others are toxic. And there are plenty of mental models, like First Principles Thinking and Inversion that have proven to be beneficial in problem solving and making strong decisions. By embracing mental models, and really understanding how to use them, I found myself thinking independently and developing conviction in my abilities to overcome any challenge. And now I’m focused on raising awareness for mental models so that anyone can feel confident in their ability to overcome everyday life challenges. As a passion project, I launched a 10-Day Think Better Challenge where I share one new mental model every day, along with a personal story and a mini-challenge. The challenge is available at thinkforyourself.substack.com.
What should our readers know about your business?
I’m building Edvo to create the tools people need to think for themselves and learn anything they desire. Throughout our education and professional careers, we are told what’s worth learning and what we’re capable of learning. But I believe that with the tools and empowerment, we can learn and think through anything. In May of 2020, my colleague / dear friend and I launched a passion project to introduce people to powerful thinking tools. We built it within 3 days and simply put it out there. I’m so proud to say that it ended up being the #1 product of the day on Product Hunt and got 15K users within 4 weeks. We got so much love and feedback, and it only motivated us more to build a better version that people could use in their daily lives to think better and navigate life with confidence. And now we’re creating two products, one called Mental Models by Edvo and the other is Personal Learning by Edvo. The latter is a personal learning management system that makes learning fun, and empowers people with the tools to learn anything they desire and consume information online in a healthier way. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that as an entrepreneur and product leader, you must have relentless self-belief and unwavering confidence in your ability to bring meaningful change into this world. We believed in our instincts and welcomed feedback, and are now building products that we truly align with and use ourselves daily.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love planning and showing people around! Here’s my itinerary for the weekend: Saturday: Drive to Langham Gardens in Pasadena, visit 2-3 gardens before heading to the rose garden for afternoon tea. Enjoy tea and then visit the remainder of the gardens. This takes 5-6 hours easily. Come back, take a nap or just rest, and then head out to a fun Sushi dinner at Uzumaki in Culver City or Irori in Marina Del Rey. Sunday: Breakfast at Hash in Playa Vista, followed by a beautiful walk in the parks of Playa Vista and a visit to the Farmers market. Spend the afternoon at the dog park or head to the beach for a bike ride in Playa Del Rey. Wind down Sunday night at Bacari PDR for sangria + tapas.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, Raaid Hossain. He and I met when I was just launching my first company at age 19, and he has been my best mentor since then. He dropped out of college to pursue his entrepreneurial visions, built and advised multiple companies, and gave me the confidence to build mine when traditional education tried to discourage me.
Edvolve Together weekly newsletter: shireen.substack.com
Edvolution Podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1009330 (available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify)