Output

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 in my career and was very successful even as a junior analyst.

More recently, I excelled as a runner. Why? The odometer on my Garmin that I purchased in the summer of 2020 is approaching 10,000 miles. That’s output. I don’t know how many gallons of blood and oxygen my body processed during all this running, but it’s a lot.

I am producing a lot of output in my writing. The results are harder to measure, but my audience is growing, and I just know that the output is there. You’re welcome to verify my output by scrolling through my 723 stories here on Medium and 134 on Substack.

It’s harder to judge other people’s output and how it correlates with their success, but it’s rare to see someone succeed in business or sports without producing a lot of output.

One of my measures of output is producing something every day. So, not just a lot, but a lot every day without any days off. I run and write every day. My long run yesterday was twenty miles, and today I ran again. Between Medium and Substack, this is my fourth story in forty-eight hours, and I spent time networking for work in the writing space. I don’t even care about making money at this point. I enjoy writing and want to grow as a writer in every dimension.

In my opinion, output is the single most critical reason for success. Quantity helps to improve quality. Quantity increases the chances of luck. Ouput is the heartbeat of success.

You can follow me on Substack: https://runningwritingliving.substack.com/

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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/