Everyone's a legend in their own mind.
That was something my Dad always used to say. It took me a while to truly grasp its meaning - was it an exercise in bravado, in claiming our place in the world, proud of our accomplishments? Or was it meant to teach me humility, and that true satisfaction came from being authentic, with nothing to prove? I think pretty deeply about what I've learned in my life and this page is here to give you a glimpse into my journey.
A Brief Timeline of Memorable Events
1994: Born at a shocking 1lb, 9oz, full of breathing tubes. To give you some perspective, that's in-between the weight of a football and a pineapple.
2006: Started at the historic Cranbrook Kingswood School in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
2008: Moved to Shanghai, China and slowly worked my way through three international schools over the next few years. Learned Mandarin.
2010: Shifted back to the States again and got my first car.
2011: Admitted to and attended Yale's Ivy Scholars Program, fka Young Global Leaders, focused on international negotiation and foreign diplomacy.
2012: Graduated from Cranbrook. Moved to Illinois to start my BA at Lake Forest College.
2013: Fulfilled my major requirements in Asian Studies as a freshman. Initiated into Delta Chi as a fraternity brother.
2014: Started my first company, Arsh Shah Technologies, in Chicago, focused on emerging technologies consulting for small businesses around the country.
2016: Graduated Lake Forest College with Honors in Asian Studies, International Relations and Economics, also admitted to Pi Sigma Alpha and Phi Sigma Iota.
Took the LSAT as a pre-law student obsessed with Suits on USA.
Started in business development at Sidley Austin, often enamored by the cool factor of it being the law firm where Barack met Michelle.
2017: Left Sidley for my next big adventure.
2018: Decided to move to Sydney, Australia and become a 1L at Sydney Law School, a top-15 globally ranked law school and no. 3 in the world for research. No, it wasn't as bad as The Paper Chase!
Started editing the Oxford Guide to International Humanitarian Law with a few professors from Harvard and Oxford (I secretly wanted even more academic exposure after that little taste of research).
2019: Explored Japan by train for three weeks and took a course on Japanese Law at Ritsumeikan University.
Lost my Dad to a short battle with cancer within one week - it was stage 4 and undetected. He was 56. Let his ashes go later that summer off the coast of a beach in of Palermo, Sicily. Those were some of his last wishes.
Took a course at Humboldt University in Berlin on the Philosophy of Law. Partied a little too much at the world's most notorious club: Berghain.
Discovered my passion for solving the legal challenges of emerging technologies and conducted law reform for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of Australia with a focus on data sharing and privacy.
2020: Moved again due to COVID-19.
Practiced Transcendental Meditation a little more.
Started working with Stanford Law School's CodeX Center for Legal Informatics on blockchain regulation.
Appointed a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum.
Became an AI trend forecaster for Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Tech.
Applied and admitted to the Harvard Project on Asian and International Relations as an Emerging Technologies Scholar.
Got closer to the people I love.
2021: Slowly began writing and reflecting again, promising myself to be more intentional and deliberate with my time, energy and work.
Admitted as a foreign lawyer in the Supreme Court of New South Wales
Finished the CORe program at Harvard Business School.
Worked at Sidley Austin once again, bringing my legal and business development expertise back to the firm, post law school.
What I Value
Looking back on the last twenty-something years of my life, I now see just how lucky I was. Lucky to have the experiences I had. Lucky to exist. The people in my life that so blindly offered me their shoulders to lean on when I thought I wasn't strong enough and their ears when no one was listening were invaluable. I've had a good life so far, but as I've now passed a quarter century on Earth, I can't help but wonder, how am I progressing? I've written a great piece on status anxiety in this vein here.
I think a distinction has to be made between living to succeed and living to understand. We as humans create goals as measures of value, of success. When a box is checked off, is that enough? I've climbed an ivory tower (by my fingernails I might add) and suffered countless rejections over many years. My Dad's passing taught me that life isn't guaranteed, that every day needs to be valued. Our time here is finite and I think that presents a beautiful chance to reflect. Not just on each day, but how we spend our time, the decisions that we decide to make. It's inspired me to make better choices and I've most recently dedicated my time to the service of making our world better.
Minimalism + Conscious Consumerism
I grew up with parents that gave me as much as they could. Every experience carefully curated to paint the most wholesome, true, real image of the world. Experiences also included possessions - books, computers, and clothes. It also meant travel: I've now seen most of the US, Europe, Asia and Australia by my mid-twenties, including a significant number of world wonders. Being a third-culture kid living in the Fourth Industrial Revolution meant that I was surrounded by human advancement. More stuff and more technology in even more places. In America, we're raised on mass consumerism, the era of upgrades and the concept that anything old is trash.
Today, I focus on two key philosophies:
1. Spend your money once. Buy a high-quality, repairable good that you'll cherish and maintain over the course of your life with minimal upkeep. Declutter and donate what's been collecting dust in your closet.
2. Invest 30%-50% of everything you earn. Live below your means. Put it in the market, crypto or some alternative invesment.
Authenticity + Kindness
The importance of being who you truly are has never been more important. Read that again. In our world today, we're afflicted by social pressure. Be this, do that, accomplish this. How many Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Clubhouse, TikTok, Pinterest followers do you have? Are you good enough? Rich enough? Smart enough? Capable enough?
It took me a really long time, but I've finally learned to admit to myself who and what I truly am in our world. I can sleep well at night knowing how hard I've worked for the things that I want to accomplish, placing zero weight on anyone else's opinions.
In the end, the battle is with ourselves. Not Mom, Dad, your spouse, your kids, your ancestors, grandparents, or friends. Just with you. Understanding that no one has it figured out in life should provide you with some peace.
We come into people's lives like a dog-eared page, somewhere in between. It's important for us to not judge them for the chapters we could never read.
Everyone is on their own journey to achieve their own happiness, and if we're lucky, we might get to help them.
Progress + Innovation To Seek Purpose
I've grown into an academic researcher, a tinkerer, a lover of new technologies, all because of my own intellectual curiousity. I'm always on the hunt for new tools, methodologies and strategies to improve process, work and the human condition. I was told once that going into tech makes no sense - its fruitless, it's too fast, too bleeding edge. I jumped in anyways and I don't regret it for a moment. That thrill gives me so much joy - to contribute, invent and shape the future of our existence. To work alongside people just as curious as I am. These opportunities have always caused me to refine my own purpose and goals, not just for personal knowledge but for the change I wish to see as a result of my work. I could not be more grateful.
Last Updated: February 26th, 2021.