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Contrarian philosophies: A discussion with Max Marchione

Mainstream thinking leads to mainstream results. Many people follow these preordained rules of society. However, someone who intends to leave his mark on the world by advocating against this philosophy is Max Marchione.

Max is a young founder, investor, creator, and contrarian based in Sydney, Australia. At the young age of 22, he graduated from the University of Sydney, did an exchange at the University of California, Berkeley, and worked at Goldman Sachs, as well as other venture capital groups.

He founded a rolling fund called Ultraviolet Ventures that consists of an Angel investing syndicate of creators. For those who aren’t in the venture capital world, angel investing is most simply the investing of small amounts of money in really early stage startups.

Currently, Marchione is working on a health tech startup to fix a broken part of healthcare: preventive medicine. He and his team realized that diseases like heart disease and diabetes are preventable but there isn’t a great system to facilitate prevention. Thus, his idea is to gather the best solutions in the world for preventive medicine. And then pair patients and doctors to choose the best solution for each patient, providing highly personalized care.

How did he do all of this at such a young age? He lives and promotes an uncommon and contrarian way of thinking that has helped him be so successful.

Right after high school, he decided to take a gap year before starting university. He used this time to “learn how to learn.” He went out to discover the things that you can’t at university. When you’re locked into a set path towards a degree, generally, a narrower education is received. He strived to learn what made the most sense to him—as opposed to what he was told to learn—so that he could enact the greatest impact on those around him.

In doing this, he advocates for multidisciplinary learning—the idea of learning about a broad myriad of topics. Having knowledge in multiple fields across the board can help you find what you are passionate about, what you are good at, and even aid you in making complex decisions within whatever job you may have, he explains.

I wholeheartedly agree. As a chemistry major, I have elected to take classes in philosophy and political science just to broaden my own understanding of how our world is built and run. It is vital for us to step out of our disciplines and into other perspectives to better become informed members of society.

Give in to that child-like curiosity that still lies inside of you. Jump down the rabbit hole of an endless queue of YouTube videos discussing topics from economics 101 to quantum physics. Listen to a few different podcasts while working out or taking a drive; you never know what you may learn and how it may help you in the future. There’s never a better time than college to fall in and out of love with the many intricacies of the universe.

Max then went on to the University of Sydney where he first studied law and commerce. He even climbed to the top of his class in his law school. Despite this, he decided to forgo law to pursue finance, math and statistics. Why did he do this? Simple: he didn’t want to be a lawyer. Studying law, he explains, is just a resume stamp to help graduates obtain the best jobs.

These “resume stamps” are just another norm that has grown rampant throughout our society. They are a manifestation of signaling. Every college counselor and teacher will tell students what “stamps” they need to have to show potential employers that they are most qualified for the job. Max said no to this, and instead took a path that he thought would be more interesting. He wanted to obtain skills and experiences instead of a potentially meaningless “stamp” gained by a law degree.

Although these credentials may be necessary for careers like medicine or engineering, for some people—especially those in entrepreneurship—they aren’t actually that important. College can be a positive experience for many people, but it can also stifle creativity and the ability to build something new.

I’m not saying to drop out of college at this moment. Dropping out only makes sense for a small percentage of students. I am rather recommending you look at what takes up your time and decide if it is actually something you are interested in. Don’t just do things to check off a list. Do things because you are authentically passionate about what they are. Use the time in college to create a network of other people who are just as driven as you. During this time, allow yourself the ability to learn and explore what you can do to change the world.

In addition to Max’s unique education pathway, he deliberately preaches ideas that are polarizing. He believes there are enough people in the world that echo the same, mainstream ideas. But when you elevate opinions that are contrarian, they add to the conversation and allow for people to rethink their own thoughts. Controversy helps to spark change and an evolution of ideas.

I myself am a huge proponent of this idea. I believe that the facilitation of these diverse ideas allows for people to continually develop their own ideals while simultaneously propelling society forward.

Put simply, if you have an opposing viewpoint, don’t be afraid to voice it. “Get people out of their comfort zones,” as Max says.

However, on the flip side, he advocates for radical open mindedness. What does this mean? It means that any or all of your ideas or values could be wrong. Max puts it simply as “strong opinions loosely held.”

So how do you implement this philosophy in your daily life?

Max notes “If someone says something I disagree with, my default response is never ‘I disagree,’ it is always ‘Tell me more. Help me understand.’”

Our society has fallen into a pattern of every controversy turning into a debate. We should instead listen to each other. Try to understand why others believe what they believe. And most importantly, why we believe what we believe.

When we do this, one of two things can happen, explains Max. “You can learn something new and your view changes,” or you can change the other person’s view. This doesn’t mean viewpoints will completely change, but it means that they can be refined. “I believe in questioning rather than posturing.”

This is a call out to question contrarian ideas instead of debating them. Don’t immediately say ‘I disagree,’ but instead ask people to explain why they have that idea. When confronting or voicing contrarian ideas, have an open mind that you may be wrong. Stop debating and start listening.

Remember, Max is only 22 years old. He believes that he owes a lot of his success to his learning philosophy and how he deals with interactions in his daily life. By leaning into a multidisciplinary process of learning, a hyper open mind, and contrarian ideas, Max has become a notable young founder who has and will continue to positively impact the world.

This is not an advertisement to completely change your lifestyle to be as contrarian as Max. If everyone in the world was like him, our world would be dysfunctional. And being contrarian for the sake of it isn’t helpful either. Instead, this is a reminder to follow your own path. Don’t just follow what others have done, but rather pave a unique trajectory that is authentic to yourself. Go out and learn a bit more about the world. Figure out what you are passionate about, and then don’t let it go. Stand up for what you believe in. Truly listen to others and try to maintain an open mind.

Max has made it his mission to try to better himself every single day. We should all embark on that same path to be more conscientious of how we conduct ourselves within society.

If you want to learn more about Max, check out his website at


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