Weekly Review #17

Don’t sell your time for a living – it sucks. To avoid it, 1)Learn how to make something, 2)Connect with audience, and 3)Keep doing it to become good. Startups are a good way to do this communally.

  • “It always shocks me when people don’t really know how to make anything. Or haven’t ever tried. It’s something we’ve all done as kids – drawings, crafts, etc. – but somehow a very large number of professional workers find themselves in a state where they only know how to repackage other peoples’ work rather than doing anything themselves.”

Ira Glass on Creativity. Refers to the paradox of making something because you like the end result, but your initial efforts aren’t good enough to satisfy your own taste. You gotta keep at it.

  • “What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

    But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

    It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Lessons learned going through Y Combinator. Be comfortable doing anything. Avoid all distractions when starting a company. Don’t forget human contact. Listen to your customers and iterate. Set deadlines and measure progress. Nobody knows what they’re doing. Take advice, not too seriously. Enjoy yourself.

Midstage startups are the best first tech jobs for new grads. duh. Because your work will have direct impact, there’s no layers between you and the managers, the team will stick with you, your options will be gold, and people look highly at you.

Paul Graham notes that every city has a personality that will make you ambitious towards something. In NY, it’s money, in Silicon Valley, it’s power, in Paris, it’s style. This matters because where you live is either a force multiplier or dampener depending on what you’re doing.

  • Walk through your town at dusk and look through windows. What do you see? “The conversations you overhear tell you what sort of people you’re among”
  • “it helps most to be in a place where you can find peers and encouragement. You seem to be able to leave, if you want, once you’ve found both. The Impressionists show the typical pattern: they were born all over France (Pissarro was born in the Carribbean) and died all over France, but what defined them were the years they spent together in Paris.”