Benevolence and Core Problems

28 05 2008

Two principles I believe in from this talk from Paul Graham at Startup School 2008:

  • Benevolence and helping people can parallel profitability (and improves your morale)
  • Work on core problems, make something people want

Go here.


Long Term Confidence, Short Term Stress

28 05 2008

I’ve recently summarized my current status many times as “long term I’m very confident, but tons of short term stress”.

This probably characterizes most startups and entrepreneurs.  If you’ve given up on the long-term confidence, the battle is probably lost.  Phrased this way, short-term stress can be alleviated by what an entrepreneur does best, producing results, en route to long term realization of that confidence.  It requires two skills:

  • Ability to push through short-term stress to get to long-term success
  • Ability to spot when your long-term optimism is simply delusion

Notice I call them skills, instead of abilities.  Skills of most stripes can be learned, abilities are more innate.  It’s the subject of Seth Godin’s The Dip.  It’s not a new subject, but perhaps still underrated as required skills of succeeding.  If you don’t acquire and possess BOTH, your chance of success is truly reduced.

Getting Ahead of the Curve, Lost of Reason

13 05 2008

I’ve been busy in the weeds, the real work to make iLetYou as useful to people as possibly can be.  Blog posts have been slow in coming, and this post might even be a little light on substance (although most are).

As of this writing, I’m about 8 months into my San Francisco/Silicon Valley/Bay Area adventure.  I could make hundreds of observations thus far, but I’ll make one stand out: acclimation comes quickly here.

When applied to the hype machine of the Valley, live here for a while and you start to see things the way the collective “we” of the patch stretching from approximately San Jose to San Francisco (maybe partially into Marin County) sees things…  And I think most people actually believe that is a positive.  I tend to agree.

This is a land of forward thinkers, borne of reason and deep contemplation (there’s the Ivy influence for you).  I always fancied myself a forward thinker, but this is where forward thinking is pushed to boundaries.  That boundary where most reasonable people would label people a “nut job”.

Steve Wozniak was a nut job.  Bruce Sterling can seem like a nut job.  On and on.

And it’s in the fabric here.  Everyone who’s anyone has an idea, everyone’s an innovator of some sort small or not.

An aside about Twitter: I have not yet set up a Twitter account.  To balance the sides out, I can see how a lot of people don’t get Twitter.   I can see how it’s enjoyable as is updating your Facebook status, but I really can’t understand it myself because I’m not addicted to it.  There’s just so much going on, that sometimes I choose to filter noise to the better cause of focus.  Lots of people here choose to always be the prototypical early adopter – some wisely, some not I would think.  For me, sometimes you can’t always allow yourself to hear the noise – it’s much better to concentrate on the signal.

So now when people ask about Facebook apps, social networking monetization, online video monetization, Twittering, Office versus Google apps, altruistic and open source projects, cloud computing, software as a service, I just tell people that it’s just a matter of time.  In these easy cases, the signal is loud and clear.

To do something interesting and to have the best chance of success, you have to get ahead of the curve.  This is especially the case in technology.  Like I said, I think I possess the ability to see ahead but it’s a process that I’m glad my peers in the area embrace likewise.  And, yes, you do have to be right.  And you do have to be in a position to take advantage of trends.

Sometimes you get trampled.  But it’s necessary to lose that sensibility that every naysayer espouses.  That loss of sensibility is what drives the area, what makes me really embrace all that the Valley is about.