I like 37 Signals. I like Joel Spolsky. I like Paul Graham. I occasionally even read Techcrunch. However, I believe all of these people (and many others) tend to occasionally overstate and undersupport their positions. I can’t blame them for it. After all, shoddy generalization provokes snarky rebuttal, which leads to counter-rebuttal, which leads to increased exposure. It’s a great play for the writers; unfortunately, while the writers are busy racking up traffic, readers are unwittingly pissing away the hours spectating a geekier version of Jerry Springer.
I would pay good money to obtain access to a stream of intrinsically interesting content without any of this overstated, undersupported crap.
Edit: My (overstated? undersupported?) assertion that this article is overstated, undersupported crap is now the top comment. The irony is disturbing. I hope someone builds a product that eliminates these frustrations for me (and others) in the future.
I guess I'm just frustrated that the current structure of web has created all sorts of malincentives around the exchange of knowledge. Trollish content attracts more attention, so well-meaning creators of worthwhile content are incentivized to wrap legitimate ideas in trollish presentation in order to reach a larger audience.
I wish this weren't the case. I hope it changes in the future.
That's the same problem that TV and radio "news" has had for a long time. I don't think the problem has to do with the structure of the web. I think the problem has to do with human beings. And given that this keeps repeating itself, I wouldn't call it a "problem," more just "reality." I agree it sucks though, but presumably the low cost of spreading information on the web will allow niche information sources to flourish. HN itself is an example of getting closer to that.
Be careful. Once the dog grows up and calms down it will spend large portions of time sleeping. The solution then is to get another puppy, and next thing you know you're addicted and running a kennel, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
For example, my Australian Kelpie is now about eight years old. She spends most of her day sleeping. She has to be let in or out once every few hours so she can look for kitties, and I take her for a 20 minute walk in the evenings before bed. She spends the rest of the day napping while I program, read, or play games.
The general formula is: this worked for me, therefore this will work for everybody. I value their experiences and opinions, but sometimes they overlook all the confounding factors that made their situation unique. Of course, if they didn't do that, nobody would read their stuff, people like to hear strong opinions with fiery delivery.
I agree this article was mostly hastily written over-generalized crud. But there is no need to throw Joel and Paul under that same train. Usually, they do a better job of supporting their positions, and their articles are much better written.
Andrew is definitely guilty of frequent link-bait headlines, but that doesn't mean the videos are low quality. There are a lot of real gems in that stuff, and it is mainly because Andrew pushes past the unsupported assertions that the grandparent is complaining about and pries for details.
I do watch many of the videos yes. They are well done. He asks good questions and he's not like a typical journalist, because he asks questions he shouldn't. Sometimes he puts the interviewee on the spot and I like how he helps them feel comfortable sharing things they otherwise wouldn't. That part of it is great, because it helps entrepreneurs understand that the reality of business isn't pretty PR releases.
Packaging is important. It can be just as important to focus on the failures, but we don't see that a lot. People don't want to talk about their failures. It's hard to find the failures though, they aren't as famous. We can really learn a lot from failures though.
I believe it may be precisely because we don't see many failures that we keep failing. It's very difficult to understand why a company succeeded. We aren't told about the neighbor who had $1 M to invest or the happenstance that led to a great sale.
It's easier to identify reasons we fail and help us avoid them. Oddly, most failures we read about are due to the environment created by vc. Expectations, short runways, business/techie conflict, yet we continue to be led to believe that vc is a good thing for entrepreneurs. If you run the numbers, the first decision you should make as first time entrepreneur is to avoid VC.
Bootstrap the first one and get VC for the second one. Or, as some suggested to me in the past, get VC for an easy idea you don't really care about. Sell the investors that idea, keep the good one for yourself, then use the money to fuel what you're really passionate about.
For Anu, as a serial entrepreneur, there must have been some failures. Ask lots of questions about those and how they might have been avoided. What lessons were learned? How is trial and error used to make better startups in the future? What things are important to remember and forget? What are some of the less intuitive things to think about? What are some motivations.
Ask Fred about Zynga and why he was quiet about it so long. Why does he think what they were doing is acceptable? Ask him why he doesn't push Zynga to give the ill gotten gains back.
Ask the VCs how to techies can manage expectations and package their startups in a way that can help them better understand them. What motivates them to invest in a particular startup. Do they actually read emails? What's the best way to contact them? What is an introverted techie to do? Can a techie focus on the tech stuff and still succeed in a VC backed startup? How?
For Ed of course, what kinds of prejudices did he face in a world dominated by twenty somethings? How did he balance risk inherent in older life with risk in a startup? What is different at that age than a 20 something entrepreneur? Do people respect his opinions more or was he considered washed up? Why did he wait so long? How has the environment changed over the past couple of decades?
For what it's worth, I think Mixergy is useful just as it is. Why does everyone want people to "cough up their secrets"? There is value in discovering some of this stuff for yourself. The founders Andrew talks to certainly didn't have Mixergy there when their companies were founded, simply spitting out "secrets". Yet, in an hour of listening to Andrew talking to these guys, I learn quite a bit, not just about tactics (which many founders are hesitant to reveal), but about the way that successful people think and formulate ideas.
Hearing other people's stories and ideas is great, but at the end of the day, it's just fluff. Only by trying to start a successful company will you actually figure out what works for you and what doesn't. Obviously, no one wants to hear that. They'd rather hear convenient doctrine, packaged up nicely in a book or podcast, that makes founding a successful company as easy as baking cookies. Here's the newsflash for those people: That recipe doesn't actually exist.
Andrew: you're not a hopester. But what you need to do: really push harder to get your guests to cough up their secrets. You do try. But too many of them end up getting away with answering key questions with vague answers. "Oh, well, we just kept trying and somehow managed to build an customer base." Stuff like that. HOW did that happen? Accident? Happenstance? The guy from Aptimize got away with skimming right past the most important question he could answer: how the hell did he manage to build a business with little or no marketing? His answer was "oh, some SEO and stuff" -- not good enough, not if I'm trying to learn from his experience. The wu-themes guy -- same thing. He "built a community" and then starts charging $100 per theme. Little or no detail about how exactly he built a community -- what specific steps he took -- and what exactly he said and did to get people to cough up $100 for a wordpress theme.
That's been my frustration. It's good to hear these people explain their success, but if you managed to squeeze a bit more detail out of them, I would even consider becoming a Mixergy subscriber.
I don't think anyone has a generic formula for success yet (other wise we would be busy working on it and everyone would be a success story). And in my experience other's people success formula is not going to help me much even if I copy it bit by bit, unless it tune it to my personality/environment/limitations/resources etc.
So I just read these articles (or watch interviews) in the hope of just getting new insights and not looking for a sure way to make millions.