Highlights from the Internet: Part 5
Below you'll find part 5 of my collection of highlights from the internet. I read and highlighted most of it in the Pocket app.
Vetting a startup (or two): The systematic birth of @WPEngine
Of course I’m the first one to say that unless you can find ten people who will actually give you money, you have a hobby, not a company. So that’s exactly what I did.
Price isn’t just a number — it dictates target market, which dictates competition, feature set, and the route to those customers. If you don’t talk about price, you don’t get into these questions deeply enough.
Of course your idea is pretty good, and of course you can convince people your features are pretty interesting. But without getting down to brass tacks of pricing and business model, you haven’t proven anything about your business.
But if you’re building something that’s supposed to be straightforward, that’s supposed to solve an obvious problem, supposed to be easy to enjoy, supposed to be easy to spread the word about, and supposed to make money, then you have little excuse not to talk to 30 people before you invest hours in writing code and building websites.
Even with awesome ideas, you don’t know whether it’s a business until you talk turkey.
Natural and Artificial Intelligence
We cannot communicate all of what we saw, or the details of how we are about to react. Instead, we need a shared understanding. One that allows us to infer each other’s intent through context and a common sense of humanity. This characteristic is so strong that we anthropomorphise any object with which we interact. We apply moods to our cars, our cats, our environment. We seed the weather, volcanoes, trees with intent. Our desire to communicate renders us intellectually animist.
Most of the time, real pain points addressed by great products are not a business. Which is why founders confidently begin and are surprised when it fails. A business also requires that there are many potential customers, who realize they have the problem, who you can reach at a reasonable cost, and then convince to convert, at a profitable price, against existing market dynamics, and last for years. Early on, your job is to validate that there’s a business, not to validate that your idea is good or that a pain exists.
Your product must materially impact one of your customer’s top three priorities. Otherwise, they don’t have time to talk to you.
Endure long enough to get noticed
If step one in building an audience is to create great content, step two is to endure long enough to get noticed.
The #1 Reason People Fail at 30-Day Challenges
When you fail at a 30-day challenge, there’s a reason for it. For most people that reason for failure could have been spotted at the start of Day 1: the lack of a clear and committed decision. They flaked on the challenge before it even started, and there’s little chance of making it past the first week. They didn’t do what it took to succeed in advance.
My biggest gains came largely from taking bold, committed action in the direction of self-trust. This was especially pronounced when I went all-in to trust my own reasoning and intuitive feelings well before there were clear outward signs that reality would reward my actions.
My biggest failures often stemmed from doing what was expected by others or by favoring other people’s expertise, knowledge, and advice above my own reasoni#ng and instincts. When I bowed to outside influences and acted contrary to that gentle voice that suggested that maybe I was right, the outcome was often regrettable.
Honoring Negative Predictions
Just say no to what you don’t want, and you’ll have a better chance of getting what you do want.
How are you supposed to map out what you want while you’re still tolerating what you don’t want? Those paths are incompatible.
Is it absolutely guaranteed that if you leave such situations, you’ll find something better? Not quite. But it’s highly likely, especially if you haven’t explored much of the possibility space yet. If there’s an expansive space you haven’t explored yet, you have a good chance of finding something much better than the merely tolerable.
That said, you may have to explore a bit to find it. But isn’t it better to explore and have real hope of finding something better than not to explore and cling to irrational false hope?
The lesson here is both simple and unpopular. When you’ve figured out what you don’t want, stop doing it. Stop doing what’s similar to it as well. Say no loudly and proudly. You needn’t explain yourself. You needn’t apologize for your lack of interest. Just let your no be a no. This is critical if you ever hope to discover your bigger yes.
Making Sense of Infinite Possibilities
If we wish to gain clarity, we must get busy gaining experience. And we’ll generally achieve the greatest gains by courting fresh, new experiences as opposed to repeating previous ones. Thus, if you want to hit the accelerator in terms of clarity gains, make a habit of embracing new and different experiences. Go where you’ve never been. Do what you’ve never done. Try what you’ve never tried. This will have the triple benefit of upgrading your mental models of reality (truth), refining your palette of desires (love), and boosting your ability to blaze a trail to your desires (power).
How to Write Usefully
Useful writing tells people something true and important that they didn't already know, and tells them as unequivocally as possible.
If you don't learn anything from writing an essay, don't publish it.
Honoring Your Future Self
It’s empowering to ponder what kind of future self I want to become and then to think about how to honor his presence by leaning into actions that make him feel closer.
You have lots of options for what kind of future self to imagine. I recommend playing around with different possibilities till you find a future self that feels good to you. Then when you make important decisions, think about which direction would honor your future self.
When you create a vision of your future self that feels good to you, you won’t want to betray that vision. You’ll want to move towards it. This desire to honor your future self enables you to commit to bigger challenges and expect that you’ll follow through. You’ll be able to handle more discomfort and take more action because you won’t want to push away a future self that you really like.
Replacing Mission Statements with Invitation Statements
How about if we replace mission statements with invitation statements instead? Invitations are much more agreeable. Invite people to participate in your vision to create a better future, but don’t push your vision on the whole world because people will fight you on that.
Energy Wants to Flow
Feeling needy, stressed, or frustrated is a sign of stagnant energy. So if you notice yourself feeling needy and self-absorbed with your personal concerns and stresses, consider that this is a hint to look for areas of stuck energy.
Reducing Mental Effort – Part 2
A simple practice for when your mind feels cluttered and distracted is to do a brain dump. Write down every distracting thought you can think of, either on paper or one of your devices. Get the info out of your head, and externalize it somewhere.
Another step is to process and prioritize some of that info you’ve just dumped from your brain. Turn those to-dos into tasks and projects, and organize them into a list or a system, so you can track them more intelligently.
Facing the facts
The past is gone and the future doesn’t exist yet. In short: Right now is just right now: Stuff is happening, including a little voice in your head.
Beverly Hills Rambo
Imagine looking at your life through the lens of being the movie director in charge of it. Do you like how the picture is progressing? Do you have the right people in the right roles to make it work? Do you need to make any cuts or changes to ensure that the film turns out well? And there any counterproductive forces at work that you need to address?
What keeps you going through all of these tough decisions? Ultimately it’s your vision for the film – or your vision for your life. You can let a variety of different forces push you one way and then another, or you can sit in the director’s chair and direct.