The secret to avoiding burnout: be on a mission that doesn’t suck. — Aaron Levie
He poured out his energies in a thousand ways but always, always with wit, with panache, with a sumptuously exquisite use of language, with a deep understanding that the connection between style and substance is absolute. A true thing badly expressed becomes a lie. — Stephen Fry on Christopher Hitchens
When the train of history hits a curve, the intellectuals fall off first. — Karl Marx
Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way. — Charles Bukowski
It’s commonplace to be asked why anyone would quit a ‘fancy’ lifestyle to go build something in the so-called developing world? It’s a wrong question.
An effective way to think about the world is to reject the idea of ‘nations’ and replace them with sets of problems. India, then, appears not like the next economic superpower, but a country with less toilets than cellphones. Kenya is not a third world nation, but the global leader in mobile payments. Delusional? Sure. You can’t separate politics, demography and macro economy from startups. But it’s a zone startups deliberately live in.
We have no time to think of our careers in relation to national GDP growth rates. Let’s pick hard, valuable problems and solve them.
We live in a time when building a startup is increasingly becoming a science. The world is awash with ‘lean’ methodologies, ruthless A/B and multivariate testing and communities where ‘talking to customers’ is known as ‘customer discovery’. Is that signalling goodbye to the good ol’ ways of building a company? I’d argue not.
Data, of course, is a great leveler. Suddenly, every idea is an opinion that needs to be proved or disproved. It keeps the team on one page without hierarchical bias. Warm and fuzzy feelings of anecdotal growth are irrelevant.
In its most extreme, anal and obsessive avatars however, this culture can be fatal.
A better way to understand data is that it helps you get comfortable with your counter intuition. To arrive at a mental state where the exact opposite of your expected result is equally obvious. Go beyond just objectivity and start telling your intuition that it’s ignored brother named counter-intuition is also important. It’s almost a deep, philosophical level where useful contrarians exist.
Let the science underpin your art. Not the other way round.
Over a recent dinner with a mobile money guru, we waxed eloquent on how cows are a great savings tool and its analogies with mobile money.
Too often in the race to compete, we learn to confuse what is hard with what is valuable. Intense competition makes things hard because you just beat heads with other people. The intensity of competition becomes a proxy for value. But value is a different question entirely. And to the extent it’s not there, you’re competing just for the sake of competition. Henry Kissinger’s anti-academic line aptly describes the conflation of difficulty and value: in academia at least, the battles are so fierce because the stakes are so small.
That seems true, but it also seems odd. If the stakes are so small, why don’t people stop fighting so hard and do something else instead? We can only speculate. Maybe those people just don’t know how to tell what’s valuable. Maybe all they can understand is the difficulty proxy. Maybe they’ve bought into the romanticization of competition. But it’s important to ask at what point it makes sense to get away from competition and shift your life trajectory towards monopoly.
Source: Peter Thiel’s Startup Class: Chapter 4
It should be obvious, but it isn’t. Placements are killing Indian education.
Every year, families, friends, neighbours and marriage bureaus go frantic about the size of ‘packages’ in Indian universities.
What do we lose?
Imagine a world without mass recruitment
I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant where you get the dish that the person next to you orders. — Stephen Fry
Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible. — Richard Feynman
It’s a critical balance, often debated among entrepreneurs.
Professor D.Sarasvathy draws a clear line through a nuanced rendition of the famous Alan Kay quote - “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
In Prof. Sarasvathy’s words, entrepreneurs think Effectually - “To the extent that we can control the future, we do not need to predict it.” Managing uncertainty and chaos.
Causal thinking, on the other hand, says “To the extent that we can predict the future, we can control it.” Prediction dictates, while control takes a backseat.
The ‘control’ bit in Effectual thinking doesn’t imply total ignorance of research/data/evidence. It’s like being an airplane pilot. Before taking off, you’d at least ask the Air Traffic Control if there are planes on the same runway, won’t you? That’s the bare minimum to fly.
P.S: If you have a moment, please read the Paper by Prof. Sarasvathy, delightfully sprinkled with annotations.
If simple is beautiful, then complicated must be drop-dead gorgeous.
It seems democratic and non-elitist to set it and forget it and let the users take over. But the tools we use (Wikipedia) and the brands we covet (Nike or Ducati) resolutely refuse to become democracies.
Maybe stories are just data with a soul. — -Brené Brown