Every Saturday, my wife and I volunteer at our local library (northside branch in santa clara) to teach people how to code.
We've been doing that for almost a year with surprising results. Now I'm leading about 10 engineers that I've taught from the ground up and they are happily building features for my app for minimum wage (temporarily). I'm hoping that one of my apps take off and I can pay everyone great salary.
Story went like that:
I'm a gold miner. Gold mining is cool, everybody wants to gold mine. So I'll teach you FOR FREE how to gold mine, but during first year I offer you to gold mine for me at minimum wage. It's a shity goldmining you're doing, as you're newbie, so that excuses minimum wage, right? And I'm doing teaching for "free", right? There were hundreds I trained to goldmine and they didnt accept my WORK (sacred word) offer. They didnt also goldmine afterwards. I call it free service and in addition for my goldmining minions get 'feeling good' from it. Others call it sieve just to find enough 'wanna be gold miner' newbies.
I started back in uni doing software dev for McDonald's wages. By the time I graduated I had two years' experience which got me my first 'real' job.
For me, it's been excellent too but I chose something physical, challenging, outdoors and completely unrelated to tech. Selfishly, it's a needed change from sitting in front of a computer but still gives the satisfaction of helping people in deep ways.
But yes, directly helping people is deeply rewarding and satisfying.
Rob Walling is in MN right now, might be worth asking this question of him via his podcast, Startups for the Rest of Us. I assume he mostly interacts with his existing network remotely now though, not sure he could offer advice on creating such a network without bootstrapping in-person.
Not everyone can draw/paint; not everyone can sing; not everyone can learn new languages proficiently; not everyone is good with numbers; not everyone is good at teaching; not everyone is good with working with other people; not everyone is athletic. And by this I mean that some will naturally be good at learning and ultimately mastering the above list of things, while others have to work much harder to get even close, with a lower ceiling.
Most importantly though, it's not up to someone else to decide whether you're good at something or not. Everyone should have an opportunity to take class or learn a subject and find out for themselves if that's something that they're good at or naturally inclined to. And if they're not good at it, it's not the end of the world because there is something else that's probably more suitable for them that's just as important to this world as coding.
The trouble we run into is that we often think of programming or coding as something more important or more sacred than other disciplines, when in reality it's just another in a long line of disciplines that takes practice and a little bit of natural talent.
Basic coding is rather simple and basically everyone can do that.
Actually writing/designing larger applications is a skill most people don't have the time/patience to learn, similar to how most people can write on hackernews/twitter/facebook etc, but only few people can write a novel.
Apart from the sequential understanding of how a computer operates, not everyone can express the goal in code that is, for lack of a better word, beautiful. Meaning 'easy' to read/follow, simple, expressive etc. And even less people can document/describe what happens, and even less people can see how the code they uses resources (cpu cycles,wait times,storage,etc) and thus cannot optimize appropriately.
1. Test - before starting any topic, make sure your student has a grasp of the prerequisites by giving them simple tasks. Just because you have taught them the prerequisites a week ago does not mean that they didn't forget.
2. When you are teaching them, talk as little as possible. The only thing you should be saying is the concepts.
3. Ask lots of questions. Ie: What is an object (expect them to repeat what you told them); What happens if (insert 10x different cases). Teach by asking.
4. Set 0 expectations. If you get frustrated its because you have expectations. Many people have self confidence issues. Being disappointed will cause your students emotional stress and they will not be able to learn. They might start to avoid asking you questions...
5. Listen. Many times, your students could be saying what you wanted to hear, but worded differently. Their analogy could have the same concept as yours but very different. Learn to recognize what students are saying.
I can't emphasize #3 enough. When I teach, I never say more than 2 sentences without asking a question. Because you quickly realize that people have a hard time retaining more than 2-3 sentences at a time.
You should 100% invest your time to get better at teaching. Teaching is a skill that schools robs from our childhood growing up. It helps you sympathize with people better, understand people better, communicate with people better, etc., all pretty real skills to have.
You have a bit of a goldmine here: there are _guaranteed_ a ton of people on here who wouldn't mind a bit of private tuition. Bam, instant feedback.
It may take longer if they're not as adept. They can try some strategies to assist coding, such as books, checklists, pair programming, etc.
Worded much better than I could have put it.
That being said a founder support group is an awesome thing. I really want to go to a VR one if such exists.
I am thinking on volunteering on an institution which helps people with less social resources.
Your idea sounds like a good way to give those people more possibilities, as you can learn to code without paying anything if you have an internet connection and enough motivation.
What I'm afraid of is asking too much from them. Did your 10 engineers start with some background in computer science or math?
Don't ask too much from them if your goal is to help them. People with less social resources have confidence issues (even though most don't show it) so compliment them frequently and make sure to tell them what they are doing well. Let them take their time!
What works for for me is that I have my students teach more beginner students so it lightens my teaching load and I can focus leading the engineering team. If someone is having a hard time understanding something, they just keep teaching that topic over and over again until they get it.
I've five weeks into working for myself and avoiding loneliness has become a key task for me every day. I wouldn't say I'm succeeding at it, to be honest. I know I could join a coworking space but I question whether it's worth $400+ a month when I wouldn't be able to attend the networking events since I have a family and need to be home at night. (And I don't need meeting space, and have a desk at home, and etc.)
I've started going to Whole Foods to work during the day just to be around other people. Not that we necessarily interact, but, you know, it's something.
Not sure why that never dawned on me.
I could, you know, go to the office, but everone interrupts me there. It's not lonely, but unproductive.
The trick is to be productive, but to feel like a human in the mix. For me, Starbucks does that.
Some kind of optimized noise is a weird concept, but I've found that it really works, from time to time. Especially if I'm doing something that requires a great deal of concentration rather than just "production".
The core of the UX is the Focusmate session, a structured, 50-minute video interaction, where you and another user act as accountability partners for one another.
You'll find lots of solopreneurs as well as a handful of sole founders, but above all, you get human interaction without compromising productivity.
Disclaimer - I'm the founder. I was a sole founder for a lonnnng time and doing these sessions was my saving grace.
Some days, though, you are alone at Starbucks, but it's a different kind of alone than working at home all day every day. You're surrounded by people, and when the alternative is zero social contact during your work day, it can make a difference.
Maybe weird. But I don't like sitting in my quiet apartment alone working. (I'm not particularly lonely - I just like the energy better when I'm "out")
Because people are really forward in rural areas.
Hm, now I see the bugs in this idea; poor internet speed for one, compounded by the fact that said person is likely going to want to move out there permanently...
And it's perfectly cool if we never interact with them. That's fine. Maybe sometimes all we want is to have someone around to be faster than when a lion comes out of the shadows and takes the slowest person down. Even if that, or some metaphorical equivalent of it, is exceedingly unlikely in a coffee shop.
I don't know how to know beforehand if a co-working space has lots of social activities or not, maybe see if they have an event page or a FB page showing past events.
It sounds like "coworking space" and "coder makespace" got lumped together, and need to be teased apart to clarify what to expect.
Solves the socialization part, though not the lack of feedback and discussion.
I'm not sure whether this is available in every country/big city, but I've been working from Seats2Meet . You can work there for free, and although it can get noisy, for me, having some buzz around me helps against loneliness and doesn't impact my productivity that much.
I get to meet some people outside of my realm. That also appreciate me. That want to talk. Not about engineering stuff.
Just show up with a pie and a smile - and ... you realize that: 1) everything isn't so bad, 2) we're all going to be here (perspective), and 3) they know more about life than you do.
Give it a try. I've been doing it for 20 years. After my girlfriend at the time ended up a paraplegic from an accident, she ended up in rehab at one of these places. Other than her brain, she got better and left. I keep going back. YMMV.
EDIT: My point is-- you aren't the only lonely person out there. Sometimes you have to take the first step to make a friend. Even outside of your realm of experience.
The only way to break the cycle (and I apologize if this sounds harsh, but it's really the only way) is to just give yourself a swift kick in the pants and fucking DO something about it, and I don't mean posting on HN about how lonely you are. You have to actually GO somewhere where there are people and INTERACT with them in a positive way. Smile. Introduce yourself. Take interest in them. Listen. It hardly matters where you go or what you do. Just pick a random meetup near you and go. Or volunteer somewhere. Or just go to a random homeless person and offer to buy them a meal. The key is to project a positive attitude. This will be exceptionally difficult at first because every neuron in your brain is telling you that YOU are the one who needs to be listened to, the world has abandoned YOU, it's all about YOU. Well, guess what: you are not the only one who feels that way. EVERYONE feels that way at one time or another. You have to force yourself past those feelings and smile even though it's the most unnatural thing in the world for you to do right now. It feels like a lie.
But trust me, this feeling will be temporary. It might take more than one session, but eventually the mere act of smiling and listening to people will make them want to interact with you, and THAT will make the depression and the loneliness go away. And after a while it will start to work even when you are alone!
One disclaimer: depression can be very serious. It can be so serious that it does not respond to this kind of self-help. If you try this and it doesn't work, get counseling. There are professionals out there who can help. But whatever you do, don't succumb to the temptation to numb the pain by inaction. You can't get yourself out of a hole by curling up into a ball.
Then relocate. Or learn to drive. Or invite people over to your place. Anything will be more effective than complaining about your plight on HN.
But video chat is not a good substitute for face-to-face interaction in this case. Video chat is great if what you're trying to do is exchange information. It's much less well suited for providing emotional support. When dealing with emotional issues it's best to be closer to the ancestral environment.
Have a regular 1 hour video call every week or two. Everyone gives updates, support, and keeps each other accountable on goals.
Keep a Slack/Skype channel open in between to say hi, help each other, share wins, etc. Bonus points for meeting locally, but online is fine.
Why? Masterminds are the biggest thing I did going from wantreprenur to actually shipping & earning from products. They're also one of the best things you can do to beat entrepreneurial loneliness. Every week you meet other people who share your struggles and are invested in your success.
Here's a good resource for running one: https://taylorpearson.me/mastermind/
If you find at least 1 other person willing to do this (a few candidates on this thread already, or make a FB / LinkedIn post) I'll happily join the first one to facilitate & show how. Email in profile.
P.S. A coworking space + online communities like founder cafe, product people, complice, wip.chat (h/t other posters) can also be super helpful.
One thing I like about listening to this is that you really hear about the struggles, not just the successes.
You say you're happy to have a contrast to the usual, but here you are sort of arguing for the other extreme. There are plenty of people who have made amazing things in isolation and work well under those conditions. The point here is that not everyone is the same.
If you feel this way please get in touch with Sherry or listen to her podcasts and read the content. It can change your perspective and help embolden you.
Any person who takes on tasks where there is high degree of uncertainty will feel lonely because the vast majority of people around you do not do that or even have the mindset to do that. In short even if you were surrounded by a lot of caring people, you may not be able to relate to them. I think you will get substantial mileage if the support group is trying to solve a similar problem as your are, but you may not, if their domain of work is significantly different than yours.
When I used to work alone, I had to schedule regular social interactions to keep from getting lonely (coffee or lunch with friends, meetups, etc...)
It's important to focus on your startup, but it's impossible to do that unless you take care of your mental (and physical) health.
Last summer when IndieHackers launched on HackerNews and Complice was one of the businesses featured there, I made a "Hacker Hall" room (https://complice.co/room/hackers) and posted it to Show HN. It had people in it for a few weeks but it never quite stabilized.
Based on the experience with the private rooms, I think it would only take a couple of champions--people spending most of their working hours there--for it to then be attractive to visitors. This thread probably has enough people to do it. I'd say just comment below if you're willing to hang out in the room consistently for the next few weeks, even if nobody else is there. And if a few people are up for it, then give it a shot. And let me know so I can support you in that!
I think the other thing that's needed is for at least a couple people to actually turn on their cameras, and to chat during the pomodoro breaks, so that people are actually connecting with each other.
People could check in with you every few hours and ask you about the progress on your TPS Reports.
All just for 5% of your startup.
A while back I was playing around on shodan looking for open webcams and found a few where you 'could log in and see people working'. Or, mostly, watch people who probably should be doing something productive not actually working.
My favorite was a town square in Bulgaria, wonder if that one's still open...
Far cheaper than typical startup desk-rental.
If you're interested, check out https://electricautomata.slack.com/
If you need to be invited, give me a shout, I think I can invite people.
If you are in Orange County CA check out this place:
We (ZeroTier) and many others are residents. As a bonus it features a 3d printing lab, a martial arts dojo (which somehow fits with hackers), and regular meetings of loads of hacker meetups and hackathons and the like.
Edit: I was thinking of https://www.focusmate.com, which has live streaming.
- Check out meetup.com. Lots of crap and there and mostly uninteresting but there are few gems for startups and tech people.
- Hang out in downtown areas of nearest cities on weekend. You probably won't be doing anything but its still great feeling to be in crowd and people watching. Most cities have some list of trendy places.
- In your areas of outdoor interests find local groups. For example, hiking, mountaineering, caving etc. This is one of the best way to build deep relationship with great folks.
I commit to them that I'll do X items this week, and we catch up on them each few days. It helps me with keeping promises to myself and others, since I picked up bad habits during my depression's worst states.
It doesn't help with loneliness, but at least you have a person to talk to about what you're doing.
If you're working only on your startup, I'd recommend not burning too much time on it, and using the other time on other activities with other people.
We shall discuss a lot, just like dating.
I like to talk with someone who has a good character, and probably I prefer a CS partner.
I love to have perfection in many things, I don't want to do, anything stupid with my life-partner. This perfection of mine may lead to something bad.
You need to make time to do things that will allow you meet new people: visit the library, gym, etc but keep in mind good character is relative. Please accept that although you seem to have the tendency to want to make things perfect before shipping, you'll never to be able to truly ship one.
Oh, and you'll make stupid mistakes. It's unavoidable, that's part of what makes all of us human. Better to accept it and view embarrassing mistakes as a learning opportunity.
I’ve seen friendships forged by volunteering together on the same thing. But not by people working in proximity on different things.
Coworking spaces have worked out for me but only by giving me access to job opportunities.
I thought it would better than working from home, on my own all the time, but in a way it ends up worse. I'm in an office with a load of other people but I can't talk to any of them. It can feel a lot more isolating than if I was just sitting alone at home.
The only time I see friends is at weekends, so if I don't go out on one weekend, I can easily go 6 days a week without having a face to face chat with an actual real person.
It's been a big shift from my previous company where going to work felt like going and hanging out with my mates.
I'm not sure how long I'll be able to do this, I feel it can't be good for your mental health long term.
- a friendly community of close-knit people who ask about your welfare if you’re absent
- vigorous aerobic exercise
- A well-lit space during the dark winter months
In a lot of ways, it’s a bit like a church, but without the religion, and a whole lot more exercise.
Also, this isn’t unique to aikido. I’ve also done judo and another style of jujitsu and found similar experiences (albeit with a little more difficulty finding a non-testosterone-soaked environment). Presumably other styles offer this too.
If you want to get involved, join our Slack at http://invisible-slack.herokuapp.com
I’m currently working on a startup to help people that are remote so love this type of discussion.
Email is my username at gmail.
I've found that creating around other people has a ton of benefits both personally and professionally, and so I create those spaces for people via video chat. https://unrealcollective.com
A slack group spun out of this for founders looking to stay accountable to each other for a September sprint.. but now it's ongoing. Its a good place to chat with other fellow founders, mostly devs and a few marketing. I can send you the slack link if you like, just reply.
I work from home by myself so i get your problem!
Your friends don't have to do the same thing you do.
Find people whose schedule matches yours and hang out with them!
Also: go to meetups. Talk online with your developers (if you employ them) with screensharing etc.
And your FAMILY -- the perfect opportunity to spend time with them.
Don't let American mores of individualism keep you from spending way more time with your family.
I feel that one of the main motivations/actions of an inventor is to try to communicate their ideas with others. I feel like my entire job is to live in a dream world, and to try to bring that dream world to the real world. So my entire job is spent mostly totally alone in a world that doesn't even exist, and that no one can visit.
Sign up and indicate you want to join a founder group!
My co-founder and I are also still working on the right setup for optimizing efficiency/cost/culture, and this discussion is great.
That said I can tell you what helped me:
1. Good family and friends. Your support network is key - it will support you both financially and emotionally. After a hard day or a bad meeting I have someone I can talk to for advice or just to vent. Having great advisors there to tell you when you're on track or off track is incredibly important. They could be your SO, a successful Aunt/Uncle or even your parents.
2. Co-working space. After several months of trying to code my prototype at home and getting very little done compared to my previous day job where I was very productive I realized I needed to get out the house. Try telling a three year old 'no' when they're tugging on your finger and asking "Daddy, wanna play?".
Co-working is an expensive option at £400 odd per month and some angel investors will poo-poo it as a waste in those early months but for me it literally changed my business. Not only was I able to (finally) code after months of being stuck in a rut but just by being in close proximity to successful professionals and attending networking events nearby I felt energized to keep trucking.
3. Networking. Talk to people, attend networking events (I attend 2-3 a year at most right now so it doesn't need to be nuts to start with). These people become your vendors, your contractors and sometimes your future mentors and employees. A ready smile and willingness to push myself a little and chat with folk about their companies and problems has helped me solve my own company's problems.
4. Save money. Sounds simple but as a solo founder you have almost HALF the contacts a two man founding team has. Your money pool to dip into is also considerably lower. Keep your burn rate low as possible but not too low! Invest in your training (Safari Books, online courses). I didn't hire anyone to help me or buy an expensive computer until I'd built my prototype and demo'd the concept to my friends and family. Of course I'm a coder so if you're not that might be easier said than done!
5. Effective time management. Accept that some days just getting to your desk and answering emails is gonna seem like you're trying to climb a mountain. That's normal. Calendaring helped me with this - by scheduling certain afternoons as my "Do whatever you like" period I was able to look forward to an art exhibition or going to a beautiful library downtown and reading some business and management books. It's different for everyone but do schedule your week to help avoid poor time management.
There's loads of stuff you can do and I could probably write for hours on the subject. I'd say the TLDR; is to have a good support network since flying solo is emotionally tough and to have a productive space where you can work.
Or if you want human friends, be an employee at a corporation and you will find plenty of colleagues to make friends with.
Otherwise, toughen up. If it was easy, everyone could do it.
> If it was easy, everyone could do it.
It seems these two sentences are mutually exclusive.