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Ask HN: How do I find meaningful work?
141 points by throwawaybs on Oct 16, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 72 comments
I look around and I feel like all the startups are either bullshit or making the world worse off. I've been a software engineer and data scientist. I've worked with machine learning. What should I do next?

I'm sick of working with advertising-based businesses because I believe advertising is convincing people to buy useless shit. I don't want to work in health, because the government and insurance have fucked up the healthcare system, and I don't want to be part of it. I kinda like fin-tech, but it seems at the end of the day about make rich people richer and/or getting poor people to pollute more. I've thought about heading more towards pure research, but I want to know I'm doing something for a good purpose.

I'm also totally sick of the ideological crap at lots of startups. I don't want to have to drink the kool-aid. Neither do I want to work for some large corporate machine.

I want there to be real values behind what I'm working on that I can believe in. Despite claims to contrary, I find the entire business culture rotten to the core. What should I do?

Try the nonprofit world: http://idealist.org/

I used to say "Nonprofits? They aren't doing anything interesting with tech!!"

One day, my wife convinced me to try searching on Idealist just to see if there were any nonprofits doing anything interested with tech. I feel in love with the very first result, got the job, worked my way up the ranks, and am now Chief Product Officer at GlobalGiving.org and I couldn't be happier.

Looking for a shortlist of orgs that I'd recommend? Try any one of the orgs at https://www.ctosforgood.org

This! But you know, starting your own non-profit is a great idea too. I started one this year, and now I get to invent my very own job every day: fighting and sometimes suing the government under state and federal Freedom of Information laws, and rescuing millions of records that I return to the public domain! It's meaningful work that I can do on my own schedule, and it fills a void that no one else was doing. And no dumb-ass recruiter is ever going to beat that.

I read through to see if anyone had mentioned this.

When I retired I was rather bored and felt as if life was not really giving me any challenges. So, I found it in volunteering, including a small non-profit startup.

I'd also add that there may not need for it to be your work, as in gainful employment, that is meaningful. You may be able to fill that outside of work - assuming you have time. Dunno if it will work for you, but I'll add it.

It's nice to be able to give something back. It's uplifting to fill a void for someone else. I suppose, in a way, it may even be a little selfish. I do, after all, sometimes do it because it makes me feel better.

Ah well... Just some potential food for thought.

+1 for non-profits with a mission. There are many good projects out there, and they are often can't afford a full-time and experienced devs, so the addition of one competent person could make a significant impact.

You'll definitely experience more higher-level-Maslow-pyramid buzz when working for a big mission than for big dollar.

This. Without stating my employer I rub elbows with people from all the household name cloud vendors and an knee deep in their stuff plus we invent new things where they can't cut the mustard.

It's hard to find but it is possible

Really? You don't think that any for-profit companies are doing anything meaningful? That's quite a leap. Surely there are physical products in your life that provide a tangible benefit, thereby making the labor behind them "meaningful." I mean things like your car, your house, your clothes. All of which involve tech these days.

Not the OP, but I have had the experience of working on worthwhile products, but in the context of a preponderately meaningless job. Even if a product has some value, you can find your role demeaned by terrible ethical practices, psychopathic bosses, sales-dominated practises insisting on low quality work, institutional insistence on lying to clients, etc etc. The word 'meaningless' may be a bit over-categorical, but I'd consider it defensible to refer to situations where the meaningless/negative aspects overwhelm the positive.

My experience was that this was the case with all commercial jobs I did. Bearing in mind that only the top 10% or so (which by definition we can't all be included in) have a very wide choice of work.

I think you're the one making a leap here...

Suggesting that non-profits are a good place to look for meaningful work is nowhere close to claiming that for-profits can never do anything meaningful.

Yep. I'm sure there are plenty of for-profits doing meaningful stuff too. Given OP's original question, seemed like he was missing non-profit from his search.

I'd suggest searching (non-profit + meaningful for-profit).

hey wow, i use gg a lot :)

Thanks! Always open if you have any suggestions or bug reports :)

I think that the companies delivering the most raw value to the world are the ones that fly under the radar. The 100 person software company that builds a properly meaningful product isn't making the news because it isn't sexy, or because it isn't generating huge cash (like we see in fintech or advertising or social media). And 100 person companies aren't hiring a ton, so you don't always see them on job boards. So I think it is partly a matter of looking really hard, jumping on the perfect opportunity, and staying a while.

The company I work for today builds software for the marine shipping industry that makes people better at their jobs, and cargo ships more fuel efficient. I feel like the work that I do has a legitimate positive impact on the world. Purely because of the work I have done on one of our products, I will forever be carbon positive. I deeply care about the environment so that means a lot to me. Send me an email (profile) if that interests you.

One suggestion might be to just work 35 hours a week at a business you find “passable”. The other 35 hours can be dedicated to something that really makes a difference. In fact it’s really hard to find a job that does serious good. Good agencies throughout the world are so low on funds they need volunteers, not workers for the time being.

Since you hate advertising, a not-immediately similar path might be anti-corruption. These guys advertised for help from data scientists a while ago on HN: https://www.occrp.org/

Also Open-EMR, which is a free end-end software for hospitals is also an option. By implementing this software, hospitals save immediately $1 M+ compared to systems like Center or Epic, it’s almost comical. There are lots of statistical packages, so your help could be useful there: www.opem-emr.org

I'd be up for volunteering. I'm not quite sure how to find a good group to volunteer for.

Occrp looks interesting, but it looks working there involves going to Kosovo. Open-emr looks potentially interesting, but I'm not sure how much I care about hospitals being able to make more money. I'm not convinced electronic medical record are actually a good idea.

This is the project I like, open source hospital software for poor countries: http://hospitalrun.io/

I see it that way that you can make healthcare more efficient with low risk of fraud (there is no money involved directly here).

There’s a lot of “I don’t want X” in your text but no “this is what I believe in”. This is the core of your issue.

If you don’t have an ideal you work toward then you will always end up hating your job.

You sound like a smart guy, you just need to take some time and work out what your ideal world would be. When you know what that ideal is then work toward it every single day of your life.


I’m guessing you’re someone who has looked to others to make decisions for you from the tone of your text.

You need to start putting faith in your own actions and needs, rather than getting advice from others.

Don't count on work to be meaningful. You might find it, you might not, but so much in the world of work is outside your control. You're more than your job, find meaning elsewhere: in making art, activism, politics, altruism, building something, family, whatever feels meaningful to you. Let your work support that and don't let it define you. Eventually these may align and your passion and your work will become the same but you can't make that happen.

I work in aviation safety/training. The most meaningful work I've done is developing code for flight simulators, so that pilots can learn how to handle real-world problems. Sometimes that means modeling data from flight recorder boxes, which is a special treat.

Reading through the list of things you don't like, one thing they have in common is being software-only. Hardware products have a huge impact on people's safety and well-being that might inspire you. Aviation, robotics, medicine, even manufacturing.

The change from software-only to hardware can have a great impact. That's a very interesting observation of yours.

> I don't want to work in health, because the government and insurance have fucked up the healthcare system ...

Eloquently put, but you don't mention where you live (ie. which government this is). Generally people that don't say where they are when asking these kinds of questions are in the USA - a fair assumption, I'm sure, as 5% of the world lives there.

Anyway, consider that 'health' is big - really big - and isn't just the bits you've seen. I'm confident there are some good efforts being made under that banner domestically that may fit your criteria. Further, if 'the government has fucked things up' maybe consider relocating to a place where things aren't quite so regrettable -- lots of (perhaps 'every other) countries have better health systems than the USA. Useful if it's an area you're genuinely interested in but for local government (mis)management.

Research Effective Altruism and check out the 80,000 hours job board.


I absolutely second your sentiment - 100%. Of course, this is not going to resonate well in a forum where the majority is invested one way or another in startups producing what I would also refer to as bullshit.

Defining the term bullshit is a bit difficult though in this context. But one definitely can categorize a product or a project into "attempting to improve society and environment" and into "creating incentives to consume more".

I think ML and data science driven political and legal investigations is an interesting field. The only downside is that companies or organisations in those areas usually pay less.

But I would love to do work for Greenpeace or Human Rights Watch or similar projects as opposed to my IT position in ad industry. But it feels odd to voluntarily accept a low wage for that. I guess I will give it a try sooner or later - at least for a couple of months.

1. Identify causes that truly interest you.

2. Make yourself look like a strong candidate on paper.

3. Search for companies that are focused on the causes you care about.

4. Reach out directly to the appropriate individuals at those companies. Don't pay any attention as to whether or not they are hiring.

5. In your approach, briefly mention your qualifications but also your interest in the organization's mission. Mention the latter first. Make it clear to the recipient that your message was written exclusively for this organization.

Get married and have children. Make them happy and let them grow to happy adults. Or adopt children who weren't lucky enough to born in a happy family.

Start an own company, treat and pay your employees well that they can provide a happy and secure life to their children.

It's almost like you can derive joy outside of the characters you punch into an editor :-)

Just imagine you are sitting on a lonely island till the end of your life, alone. What would you do? Punching characters into the editor or listening to the birds and waterfalls?

Does punching characters into the editor make more sense if you are not sitting on a lonely island alone, as long as it pays the bills? Do your friends, spouse, children, humanity like you less, if you hit the wrong characters?

As others have and would point out, going out on your own and doing something you _want_ to do will be one of the real ways to work on what you want to work on, unless you're not keen on the overhead that comes with entrepreneurship.

It'll take time to find a company that both exudes the same values as you and is in a domain that you enjoy working with. More often than not you get one but not the other.

Usually what I would do when evaluating a company, is ask if I'd ever want to spend my weekends contracting / part-timing / volunteering for that company. If you have a M-F 9-5 job and are looking forward to the weekend with that company, then it's a good step in the right direction.

Then meet with the team and talk to their employees both while on an interview or if you can get one or more of them out on an informal coffee or meal to talk it would help too. Plenty of times interviews are too official, too rigid and pre-meditated to truly gauge the culture of the company/team.

You might end up jumping around a few times before you find something you like, but the important thing is you find something you like, instead of droning on at a big tech company or startup where you reap the benefits financially but suffer emotionally and psychologically.

1) Go to your local job board. Here in the us, I recommend indeed.com or https://angel.co/jobs

2) For your local and particular interest get a list of potential jobs

3) Do a pairwise comparison between first two jobs. For these two jobs and only these two jobs, which you would prefer to do in your current state. Ignore qualifications or everything else, if you were given the choice of starting only one of those two jobs tomorrow, which would you choose.

4) Then do a pairwise comparison between second two jobs

5) Keep doing this for at least 10 minutes

6) Now you have a list of potentially attractive jobs for you.

7) For this list you compiled, do this process again.

8) Then once you've made it through all of those, do it once more.

9) By the third time, you will have chosen some jobs 3 times over other jobs. So you're task now is to look deeply at all of these jobs that won 3 times and try to figure out what is in common between all of them.

10) Once you have some of those clues, go back to step 2 and try searching for more jobs that have those key-words and/or criteria you found in step 9.

What you are doing here is to force some sort of revealed preferences for your self based on currently available jobs. You aren't trying to solve the "what you should do next", you are trying to solve the what interests me enough that I would do it over something else. With enough research you'll have a few more ideas of what roads you should be exploring.

I've been going there, and thinking I want to work for any of these companies.

You sound like quality founder material. I mean that: a lot of good innovation comes from people who simply loathe how something is currently done and want to improve the situation by doing it right.

Have you thought about starting your own business? It doesn't necessarily have to be a startup; lifestyle businesses are just as valid a path. That said, startups do unfortunately require you to drink your own Kool-Aid to a degree. They do not however require you to foist bullshit upon your employees, which most founders unfortunately do anyways.

Of course, founding isn't for everyone. It's hard, and there's a lot less guarantees involved than working for someone else. It may not even be a possibility given your current life situation, I don't know.

> I'm sick of working with advertising-based businesses ... I'm also totally sick of the ideological crap at lots of startups. I don't want to have to drink the kool-aid. Neither do I want to work for some large corporate machine.

Work in health care. Lot of work there building apps that support clinical trials, etc. Probably a lot of ways you could apply your data scientist hat.

Work for a small company that creates a real product or service. That means you might have to look outside of the typical startup world and may lose all the coolness that goes with, but it sounds like you're over all that anyway.

Do your own thing. Training, consulting, etc. I'm sure you have an idea burning in your mind, like we all do.

This might sound cheesy, but first of all: Know yourself.

- What are your values?

- What do you stand for?

- What do you want in work and life?

A design thinking approach, how to find a meaning in your work (and life) is through a simple 3 step process, provided by Burnett and Evans (http://designingyour.life/ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SemHh0n19LA):

1. Get curious

2. Talk to people

3. Try stuff

Simple as that...

Nevertheless, I think that work defines us and it becomes our identity (e.g. Joseph the Carpenter, Bob the Builder), but at the same time there is so much more in you than just work. From what you are writing, I could identify what you don’t stand for and don’t want :-) this realization is a good starting point. However, now is the time to get curious, observe, reflect and start choosing your battles wisely, because you might wake up one day and realize that all you have been doing is wasting your time and energy on fights you didn’t actually care about that much… And this is precisely why it helps to know yourself, know your values, what you stand for, your talents and strengths, and maybe even your vision or dreams of how would you like to live in the future, and how would you like the world to look like in the future… Knowing this, I think, would allow you to focus your energy on something that is meaningful for you. Because meaning exists only in your head. So whatever we do, whatever happens in the world or the universe is meaningless per se. The meaning is interpretative. You create and give meaning to whatever you do, or whatever happens to you or in the world.

> but I want to know I'm doing something for a good purpose.

I think, you can never know in advance whether the purpose turns out to be “good” or “bad”, here is a little illustration of that :-) https://www.conures.net/stories/horse.shtml

I moved from being in a software only world where I couldn't see the benefit of my work, to one where I see my work being used on a daily basis. I find the sense of helping people and improving their lives oddly satisfying.

I do acknowledge working with non-technie teams is frustrating to start with, but once you bring them to learn the benefits it becomes pleasurable.

What about designing software for prosthetics? Seems like that could make a huge difference in people's quality of life.

Prosthetics and implants are the coolest shit

I want there to be real values behind what I'm working on that I can believe in. Despite claims to contrary, I find the entire business culture rotten to the core. What should I do?

Have you considered seeking employment with organizations working in extremely distressed parts of the world, like refugee camps?

I understand you're asking about meaningful _work_, but there's more to life than work. Sometimes it's good enough to have a day job that doesn't suck and find your meaning outside of your work: faith, family, art, volunteering, etc.

"Meaningful", by itself, doesn't mean anything, because meaning is entirely subjective.

You will first have to identify what really makes you tick, grinds your gears, revs your engine, and whatever other mechanical analogies seem appropriate. This requires a lot of introspection.

Look around you. What upsets you? What do you consider among the most pressing issues of our time? Once you've done that (think a timescale of weeks, not hours), start hunting for groups at home and abroad who are trying to rectify those things, and who are doing so in ways that you feel are effective.

You can have a diverse set of concerns, which means that finding a relevant project is easier.

"The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to.... No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it.” - Richard Feynman

I could give you ideas on how you could change people's lives by volunteering to teach at places like http://shhkids.org/ but I won't. What you should do though, is find something where you can cause impact, no matter how small, and then work your way up from there towards something that gives value and happiness to YOUR LIFE.

Plenty of companies doing useful things. E.g. just from reading their website these people seem pretty cool: https://www.remix.com/

Work on privacy enhancing block hain. Work on stuff like Monero. Couple of reasons - it is well within your ideological beliefs, it's technically super challenging, and you can make gazillions of money

Our world needs real leaders to start companies that do make a difference and you might very well be one of them. You've got an incredible skillset as a software engineer and a data scientist - I've a similar background as well and I'm interested to see how we can pit our brains to try and solve problems for the needy. A belief I've held is that education has the ability to transform lives. Maybe this is something you'd be interested in as well?

> I'm also totally sick of the ideological crap at lots of startups. I don't want to have to drink the kool-aid.

I don't mean to threadjack, but what are some examples of this?

The typical is we are the best and we are changing the world for the better. If you make critical comments, you get pulled aside and told that criticism is frowned upon. The general expectation that employees be true believers while the founders are just in it for the money. The ideological belief that entrepreneurship is the solution to the world's ills.

Basically, I'd say the TED ideology. Look, tech is amazing, and it can all the solve all the worlds problems. Yet, beneath the veneer it is just propagandizing the power and wealth of 'divine' founders.

I'm also sick of startups talking how they are doing good for the world, when it turns out they are actually serving ads. When you look at the ads, the ads are often dishonest, unethical, and encourage behavior not in the interest of the viewer or broader society.

This can all be compounded by the creation of 'reality distortion fields' by dishonest founders. This can be compounded by the whole game of misrepresenting the value of stock option. Then, this is compounded by the naive belief in stock options. Further, I object cult-like devotion to the startup cult over strong moral values.

The irony here is that many of the responses in this thread are pushing you to start your own thing and change the world in a way you care about... which is pretty much the origin of these cult mentalities you're trying to get away from.

It's a real tough challenge to go from strong founding values and vision to then having to promote those values in a way that keeps your business alive. In fact, it's antithetical to the dominant business model of the internet.

My suggestion: focus first on the business model you want to operate with. How do you want to exchange with the world? As a non-profit? As a VC funded startup? A private company bootstrapped on revenue? A large public company? A consultancy? Making royalties on IP? Investing? A small local business?

IMO you'll find more relevant people and opportunities that share your value system this way.

Not O.P., but 1 type of "ideological crap" is probably in reference to how certain startups enforce and indoctrinate certain "practices" that they staunchly believe are core to their organization. Some even wear these practices like a badge of honor on their job listings.

Example: Pivotal Labs is known for it's insistence on "Pair Programming" and touts it as an "extremely beneficial" practice.

Source: Pair Programming Considered Extremely Beneficial => https://content.pivotal.io/blog/pair-programming-considered-...

...and here's one person who left because of that.

> When you pair program, you're effectively joined at the hip with your pair. You can't pair if only one of you is there. This means that you both come into work at the same time, you both take lunch at the same time, you both take breaks at the same time, and you both leave at the same time. The work is so concentrated that you work 8-hour days (which is good). But you can't take time off without affecting your pair.

Source: Why I Don't Like Pair Programming (and Why I Left Pivotal) => http://mwilden.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-i-dont-like-pair-pro...

Your link is quite a good read, and I say that as a "pair programming advocate". Some people don't like pair programming. Some people will never be particularly good at pair programming -- often for the very real and reasonable reason: because they don't want to. That doesn't mean it's a bad practice. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't build a team around that practice. It just means that some people won't want to join your team -- and if you are building your team around that practice, then that's an incredibly good thing!

I can tell you from experience that good pair programming teams exist. They get tremendous benefit from pair programming. These benefits may not be obvious to those who do not want to do pair programming -- even after a month of trying. The same can be said of many, many, many other practices.

At some point, when you are building a team, you have to decide on practices that you are going to follow -- even if those practices are, "Do whatever the heck you like". Imagine if you are working on such a team and everybody is getting along well and is productive. Imagine hiring someone and saying, "Feel free to institute any group wide practices that you want. You may force anyone to do anything you like". Yeah, obviously it won't work

Similarly, imagine working on a team with an established set of practices. Imagine that everyone is getting along well and is productive. Then imagine hiring someone and saying, "Feel free to work however you want. You can ignore any group wide practice that doesn't suit you." It's not nearly as obvious, I suppose, but that's just as disastrous. Everybody then has to work around that person and none of the practices work any more.

So, as you are building your team, you need to hire people who will be willing to work with your practices. If it's a "do whatever the heck you like" team, then you've got to be pretty clear: "We value programmer freedom over group coordination. We are unlikely to value practices that require everyone to work the same way". On the other side of the coin, if you are working in a coordinated manner (and is there anything more coordinated than pair programming???) then you have to be pretty clear, "This is how we work as a team. If you do not like that, then you will be very unlikely to be happy on this team".

Neither one of these scenarios is "ideological crap". It's reality. Both scenarios are realities that some people don't like -- and let's face it: both scenarios are referred to as "crap" by people who don't like it.

So, I get the point that you don't think pair programming is a practice that is worth build a team around. I think that's a thing where reasonable people can differ. But from the perspective of this thread, my best advice is to pick a team where you think you will be happy and successful. If you turn out to make a mistake, then try to find another team. If you go through that experience many times without finding a place where you can be happy -- perhaps you should consider the possibility that external factors are not the driving force in your unhappiness. YMMV.

How about your own non-profit? I founded one. Actually, not non-profit at the moment, but I was lucky to win a grant of $25K from one non-profit accelerator (they scammed me and didn't pay at the end). But it's kind of fun to do it if you're willing to spend your weekends on something.

There are plenty of other non-profits, but they usually don't pay good enough to even cover the rent in SFBA. So IMO it's better to play your own game if you have a plan.

I'm on the same page as you about advertising, and that really eliminates a lot of companies. But I would encourage you to reconsider your reluctance to work in any part of the healthcare sector. I work for a company that provides medical treatment programs, and I feel great about what I do; there's room to work in health care without being part of the insurance complex. (Although insurers are still how you get paid.)

Would you be interested in co-founding a startup with me? I currently work in fashion and feel the same disgust/dissatisfaction with my current business as you've described with yours. I want to build an industry-wide platform which will help clothing companies reduce waste as well as promoting (smaller) companies who are already working to do this.

You want to build or you want your co-founder to build while you do "marketing"?

I'm not a programmer. The last time I did anything technical was about 20 years ago, when I taught myself basic HTML in order to make a fancy Angelfire website for my 13 year-old musings. Needless to say, that is not the career path I followed. That being said, I am willing to learn, but my efforts would probably be best used establishing connections throughout the various companies, factories and contractors who would need to be onboard in order for this to actually work. So yes, I am looking for a technical co-founder, one who actually cares about making a difference in the world. I'm not desperate, my husband is a test manager and has plenty of contacts. I just saw the posters comments and felt that we are in the same mindset, which is crucial for co-founders.

Oh $deity I can't tell you how many times I've run into this. Usually the "marketing" person has a comfortable 9-5 job and wants to do the startup work in the spare time available when not attending to work or family responsibilities. The technical co-founder, in contrast, will naturally be expected to work 40-60 hrs/wk (at least) for no salary, just some kind of usually-not-well-defined "equity", and not much of it, simply because she didn't produce The Idea.

Meaningful work has less to do with the company or job than the person doing it and his/her set of values—“real values” and “good purposes” describe an infinite set of potential jobs/companies. If you cannot find meaningful work, perhaps the problem is that your values are poorly defined. I’d suggest focusing on that part of the equation first.

I advise a few companies that are using data to truly make the world a better, smarter place. Feel free to send an email: chris [at] abrams.ventures

Also, my wife works at Engima if you want an intro: https://www.enigma.com/

What an excellent question. Possibly one I should have asked years ago, but instead I largely turned my back on the world of work in disgust - not a course of action I would recommend!

Anyway, there's a slew of helpful and positive answers here and I wish you luck in making use of them.

Think of who you needed the most during the hardest time of your life, and be that person

Perhaps you might be interested in working at a B Corporation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefit_corporation

Self driving cars are fun. Immediate feedback on code on car after down ramp up.

Meaningful hmmm... I started teaching in a high school once a week (cyber) it’s meaningful and really fun ! Try the goverment as well you can really make a difference if you can handle the amazing slow speed

Find someone who’s vision is inline with what you want.

What type of work do you like? What type of business would you like to build?

Fuck it, what’s your feeling on building solutions for people just like you? That’s what I’m looking to do.

I want stronger community and trust between people. I don't want to just build something for individuals. I want to transform overall society.

https://www.sundayassembly.com/ might have opportunities that would fulfill those desires.

Love the truth seeking of your inquiry. Hope you find your work nirvana.

Ok my thoughts 1) Pick up a problem that is worth working on. Like healthcare, nature conservation, poverty reduction 2) Find a company that is working on this 3) Talk to them 4) Work with them

What do you do that no one pays you to do? Answer that than apply software engineering to it. If there's a company try to work for them, if not start a new company. That's my advice.

You may find some interest working in the social enterprise / social innovation space with your skillset and desire to connect a passion and purpose.

I'd be very surprised if you manage to find a sector with a better "good" vs "corrupted" ratio than health.

Meaning is subjective. It's hard to try to answer here. Please msg me on torchat (ID:fp5gkjilpvllfi6z) within 48 hours.

Come work with us. https://www.freeplayapp.com/

We want to take all of the advances in psychology and ML, and instead of applying it to the problem of getting people to click on ads, we want to persuade people to have a fun exercise that improves their life.

Email me. adam@freeplay-app.com

You can always donate the money you make. This can bring alot of meaning to what you do.

I think transport companies are doing largely beneficial work. They're making cars, airplanes, spacecraft safer and more efficient. This was my former field, and it was great to hear a story of how one customer used our product to rescue family members from a volcano, or how people just found them safe and useful. Like it was clear that what we made actually added enjoyment/utility to their lives. You just don't hear people say things like "thank god for Facebook" like they do about their cars, or a good rice cooker. Agriculture has potential too. FarmLogs is helping farmers grow more efficiently, competing against the goliath Climate Corporation (Monsanto). Weather tech - for startups there's Dark Sky and ClimaCell, of course there are the big players like Weather Channel and NOAA. FlexPort has massive potential in overhauling global freight.

I think in tech, meaningfulness is inversely correlated with sexiness at this point. Just focusing on industries with physical goods will yield markets that have less frivolity and pointlessness than say, social media.

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