Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Probably the most important piece of advice I’ve seen so far

I’m finding out that — at least sometimes — you can “feel it” when an inflection point is coming.
It’s as if things are starting to fall into place.
Around the time I wrote this blog post, I had already started to formulate a new strategy. Immediately things felt better, although the wheels are only slowly getting into motion.
Without clearly identifying what it was at the time, I could nonetheless sense that it would, from that point on, be easier to execute on my objective — (although I’ve got a shitload of work ahead of me).
Coincidentally, or in a rather uncannily timely manner I’d say, Fred Wilson wrote a seminal blog post two days ago, titled “Get the Strategy Right and the Execution is Easy.
It could not have been more à-propos!
And so when I read the post, something clicked for me regarding the importance of strategy; and that's an understatement.
I find it puts the old adage, “Work smarter, not harder” into proper context.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Equality doesn’t mean being the same

Joanne Wilson wrote a blog post yesterday, titled “Women look at things differently", in which she points out the differences in the genders’ way of making decisions.
The first thing that popped into my head when reading it was:
Equality doesn’t mean being the same — it means equal rights and opportunities.
I’m obviously not the first one to have said it, as a Google search will quickly confirm, but the thought hit me very clearly.
And it doesn't just apply to the gender issue.
People are different in many ways, and you can’t expect them to be the same.
But they all deserve to have equal rights and opportunities.
In every area of human interactions where equality is sought, whether it is gender, sex, ethnicity, health, etc., the mistake can commonly be made of saying, well, “They claim to be the same as us so we don’t need to give them any special treatment”.
That would be like saying that a handicapped player in a sport would have to play by the same rules if she wishes to be a part of the group … but she’s missing a arm and two legs, and so the considerate (and obvious) thing to do is to make concessions on the rules and allow her to play in a wheelchair with a prosthetic arm.
That logic might seem less obvious, however, in more abstract situations, but I would offer that the right thing to do is to focus on ensuring equal rights and opportunity while embracing the inherent differences that are present.
So following this formula, if I am a teacher for example, and I have a student that stutters very badly, I won’t have that kid stand in front of the class and be subject to embarrassment, ridicule and the resulting low-self-esteem that is sure to follow. He or she will have the exclusive right to present their presentation in writing and have another volunteering student read it out loud for them; as the goal is to give them an equal opportunity to present their ideas (which is the point) while working around what is different about them. But if they chose on their own accord to present it verbally, that would be up to them.
I obviously took the concept into another direction than what was essentially Joanne’s point; but that’s where her post has lead me to; and I think it’s touching on something real about Human Rights.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The power of the side project

There’s definitely the archetype of the super-founder: she’s graduated from MIT or Stanford, has top expertise in a particular field, has acquired the skill of differentiating between going after a hard problem versus an unattainable ideal and has the evangelical persona with which to enthrall both investors and potential teammates.
And even she will have a difficult time of it.
Startups are hard.
I haven’t experienced it personally, as I haven’t raised any money, but everything I’ve been reading and listening to in the last six years tells me so in no uncertain terms.
Doing a full-fledged startup is a major undertaking which deserves serious consideration prior to taking the plunge.
And now imagine the non-technical solo founder trying to become a tech entrepreneur. The odds are stacked so high against a positive outcome that it’s nearly ludicrous to consider (although, believe it or not, that too is slowly starting to gain acceptance with some early-stage accelerator programs such as Forward Partners in the UK and Science in Santa Monica, CA).
But there is a way out — or rather, a way *in*:
Work on it as a side project.
In other words, it’s something you’re not trying to scale, but you are tinkering with.
Duck Duck Go started out as such, and while other search engines have raised a ton of money and have since disappeared, it is still among us.
This approach may not work for some, as it requires some cash outlay in getting the prototype(s) made; but it might just “be the ticket” for someone who has earmarked some money for the purpose of investing it (or should I say gambling it?) on trying to create something new in the world.
This is assuming you can’t code. If you can, then common sense dictates that the requisite would be to put in time initially — rather than money — for a software startup (hardware reportedly being a different ballgame).