Work on Stuff that Matters (aka: how we can turn our economy around)
Tim O’Reilly’s got a great New Year’s themed post out, titled “Work on Stuff that Matters”. Here a few of my favorite quotes from it:
“You should regard money as fuel for what you really want to do, not as a goal in and of itself. Money is like gas in the car — you need to pay attention or you’ll end up on the side of the road — but a well-lived life is not a tour of gas stations!”
“Whatever you do, think about what you really value. The time you spend understanding your values will help you find the right kind of company or institution to work for, and when you find it, to do a better job.”
“If you’re thinking more about the competition than you are about customers and the value you’re going to create for them, you’re on the wrong path”
“You may sometimes find that others have made more of your ideas than you have yourself. It’s OK. If your goal is really big, then you’ll want your competitors to jump on the bandwagon and help spread the word”
Abridged version of Pmarca’s Guide to Career Planning
Marc Andreesen’s blog is chalk full of fantastic advice from someone who’s been there, done that with regards to the web world….in this post I’ll share a summary and some notes from reading his three part guide to Career Planning.
- Career planning = career limiting. Instead of planning your career, focus on developing skills and pursuing opportunities.
- The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, and you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion, the world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think.
- In life, there is generally no opportunity without risk.
- (pulled from a Dilbert quote) Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things. It sounds like generic advice, but you’d be hard pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.
- Five skills that you can develop once you leave school that, in combination with your degree or degrees and your other skills, can help maximize your potential:
- Sales - Think of this as the art of being able to interact with people such that they will do what you want, predictably and repeatedly, as long as you are making sense and offering them something they should want.
- In my opinion, it’s now critically important to get into the real world and really challenge yourself — expose yourself to risk — put yourself in situations where you will succeed or fail by your own decisions and actions, and where that success or failure will be highly visible.
- If you’re going to be a high achiever, you’re going to be in lots of situations where you’re going to be quickly making decisions in the presence of incomplete or incorrect information, under intense time pressure, and often under intense political pressure. You’re going to screw up — frequently — and the screwups will have serious consequences, and you’ll feel incredibly stupid every time. It can’t faze you — you have to be able to just get right back up and keep on going. That may be the most valuable skill you can ever learn. Make sure you start learning it early.
- Pick an industry where the founders of the industry — the founders of the important companies in the industry — are still alive and actively involved.
- Optimize at all times for being in the most dynamic and exciting pond you can find. That is where the great opportunities can be found. Apply this rule when selecting which company to go to. Go to the company where all the action is happening. always make sure that your startup is aimed at the largest and most interesting opportunity available
- Reputational benefit. Having Silicon Graphics from the early 90’s, or Netscape from the mid-90’s, or eBay from the late 90’s, or Paypal from the early 00’s, or Google from the mid-00’s on your resume is as valuable as any advanced degree
- working for a big company teaches you how to work for big companies.
- When picking a startup - look for one where you understand the product, see how it might fit into a very large market, and really like and respect the people who are already there.
Phew, that’s a lot of stuff….some scary, some challenging, all inspiring. Now off to reread everything and try and let it sink in and dwell on some of the important questions.