Alexei Sorokin
3 min readNov 28, 2023

I like this word, even though I associate it with being fired. Not once, but twice or even more, I heard my bosses say, “Alexei, the output isn’t there.”

I knew what they meant. I even have another expression for the output of my unsuccessful endeavors. I half-assed.

As I thought about writing this story (I was doing my usual evening run!), it occurred to me that the word “output” has no direct equivalent in Russian. So this story has the same linguistic angle as my other two recent notes: serendipity and commitment.

When did I first discover the word “output”? It’s such a common word that it’s impossible to trace how I learned it, but I imagine I came across it in my math or science class, either during my first year in the US in 1994–1995 (Oklahoma!) or at school in England where I headed after my time in America.

So I like the word. I can use it to analyze my life’s various endeavors and experiences, not just the situations when I got fired.

I failed at a couple of start-ups. In hindsight, I didn’t work enough. I raised money, knew intimately the product we had developed, and raised more money. I was the visionary. I persevered when the start-up started to struggle. Still, there was never enough output. Persevering is fake heroism if it doesn’t involve extraordinary output.

How do I know what’s enough output? Well, in my teen years, I studied like crazy and excelled academically; I got into Cambridge. I then had a very hardworking stretch in investment banking early…



Alexei Sorokin

A Russian immigrant in America, father of 4, Cambridge and Harvard Business School alum. I run and write every day. https://runningwritingliving.substack.com/