This is harder than the sentence makes it seem. Subproblems involved in finding a mentor include:
1) Knowing yourself well enough to know who would make a good mentor for you.
2) Finding and asking someone in a way that is not functionally equivalent to asking someone "Hey, could you commit to spend an unbounded amount of time helping a stranger?"
3) Asking well-framed questions that set your mentor up for success in helping you.
Does anyone have recommendations or advice on how to better frame the "find a mentor" problem or how to accomplish it?
Be experienced enough to know enough people in your field.
Find a contact channel and ask someone you respect. If that fails, ask someone you've already known and respected for a long time. If you can't or won't do that, then you should go it alone. You don't need mentors to succeed.
I find that I know enough people after working for more than a decade that my mentors have become the people I already ask for advice, so making it official was a minor step.
To address your specific requests:
1. Knowing yourself well enough means knowing your blind spots. Anything you dismiss without question is a blind spot. Have mentors who cover them. I have robust conversations with all my mentors, and they always give me pause for thought.
2. Asking for time means you need to focus on what you're asking of them. Mentors are there to advise, not make the decisions for you, or finance your endeavour (unless they already do). Ask politely and they'll say yes.
3. Well-framed questions help, but I find that I won't know the questions to ask until I've experienced something unexpected. Also, sometimes I find some of the best conversations come out of asking open-ended questions. I think there's a time for both.
As to my situation: I've asked mentorship from people younger and older. I've asked friends and acquaintances; some I know well, some I don't. However, they are all willing to be honest. It's necessary that we disagree on some things.
My blind spots are things such as raising money vs. bootstrapping (bootstrapping all the way!); revenue from products and services vs. revenue through finance or advertising (I believe revenue should come from creating material value, not increasing it through financial vehicles); cryptocurrency as a business model (I find few projects are genuinely useful). If the opposite of my belief happens to be useful, then it helps to have someone who understands it.
basically my thought since I found out most of these crypto projects are trying to solve problems that are already done centralized. (like logistics)
Seeing stuff like this is why I only believe Crypto is going to be used as a Currency and not for apps.
Or you can take Warren Buffett's approach and keep on bugging your mentor, even be ready to work for free so that you get to work with your mentor.
Btw Buffett's mentor did not hire him even though Buffett wanted to work for free. He later offered him a paying job.
TLDR; No one's advocating working for free. The Warren Buffett approach is "trade money for time with a good mentor."
And I don't know about you, but I can't buy food or pay rent with "time from a good mentor."
Perhaps I could use some mentorship from you. =)
As someone who comes from a poor family, couldn't afford college, and went the mentor-with-free-work route instead, your comment is particularly and hilariously myopic. :)
And tell me, how did you eat while going the "mentor-with-free-work" route? How did you put a roof over your head? If the answer to those is "family", then you're not one of the people that my comment was about.
Are you advocating against mentorship as a principle?
Ask specific questions. Even to strangers. Many will be flattered you asked and will answer. Some will tell you that they do not have time or energy right now. Many will not answer at all (1).
How do I know? I do ask strangers for advice. And I am open to questions: From time to time, I publicly say that on Twitter (like "Reminder: Ask me anything about code quality, technical excellence, TDD or freelancing. DMs open"). I get interesting questions from total strangers, and I answer them as best as I can.
So, maybe also do search for people who offered their help to strangers in the past.
Maybe you will not find a mentor right away by asking strangers for advice, but maybe you can be able to evolve a conversation into a form of mentorship.
(1) If someone answers in a rude or condescending way, block them.
Right. Lots of people ask "will you be my mentor", which is such an unspecified question that it is effectively the same as asking for an unbounded amount of time.
Asking a specific well-formed question or asking if you can meet with someone for a specified period of time are bounded requests. I'll bet there are other more creative types of requests we can come up with.
For example, if you really like some open source project, you could be mentored by a committer (common interest) which will have incentive to help you contribute (help back) to the project.
You Had Me at Hello World by Dona Sarkar
We’re talking about expectation here, not clairvoyance or hindsight.
> I don't see any evidence that a positive outcome is any more likely than a negative one
You don’t see any evidence for seeking mentorship to accomplish your goals? Is this what you’re saying?
Most people just need a good group of people to talk to. It obviously helps if they have more senior experience and have seen the problems already, but sometimes exact peers can also help via adding a new perspective.
It's like dating. Yeah, suck. But others don't. And with each step - albeit some backwards - there's something to be learned.
p.s. When in doubt, read (books). There are plenty of top shelf mentors who have shared their "secrets." But again, this is a process. This is learning and growing.
Right, if you know what the process is rather than just "stumble around frustrated" or "quit your job and move across the country without knowing how mentorship actually works". I'm just trying to save folks the cost of lots of wasted time/effort by fleshing out this process into something more concrete.
> It's like dating.
oh dear I hope its not that nebulous and terrifying.
> Yeah, suck. But others don't.
I think you might have dropped a word here.
> When in doubt, read (books)
Tip: asking for book recommendations on HN or a subreddit can give you much better results than just googling, as long as you write a well-framed description of your problem.
If you're looking for a mentor (especially a technical one), check out https://www.mentorcruise.com - no affiliation, just a cool team working on a worthy problem...
For someone like me, with poor social skills and mostly "logical brain", it was really hard. I say "was", but after 16 years, it still is.
Also, while it might seem "good", don't try to manage your company like family. You will have to take difficult decision, you will hurt people. Just be straight and honest with people.
Treat human problem first. Speak one on one with every human around you on a regular basis. Be discrete and protect everyone's privacy.
Finally, find someone you can exhaust to, you will rage, you will cry, you will feel lonely, and if you don't have support, you will perish. For me it was/is my wife but I find myself lucky.
My first contractor I learned the hard way-
>Train people well
Twitter really isn't the right place to write a blog post.
Where the trend is to write single sentences.
One per line.
Instead of complete paragraphs.
When you write it on multiple lines.
Is shallow, empty corporate-speak.
Dressed up like insightful life lessons.
I don't think he even once owned up to screwing up. I ended up leaving the company due to irreconcilable differences. In our last meeting, I tried talking to him about how I thought there were problems on both sides of the table (specifically in regards to communications skills), I was quite happy to admit that I had problems and had fucked up from time to time, but he absolutely refused to admit that he had done anything wrong.
I believe that core value is in things that are created by focused groups of professionals, and all that 300-500 growth along with ‘success’ badges is a marketing cancer that kills it all. Does anyone experience similar issues(?) with this topic?
"Leadership" has to be one of the biggest scams in the history of civilization, because it is actually really hard not to buy in, even when you don't want to. Are there great leaders? Maybe, I guess? Or are we all just propagandized (by the shitty leaders we actually have) to think that they exist? I've certainly never met one, and the only examples that seem plausible are far enough in the past (Lincoln, FDR), or so tied up with other, ideological identities (Moses, Martin Luther), wealth and power (any President, CEO, etc), or traumatic/dramatic events (military leaders) that nobody alive can remember them personally or objectively.
We're a hagiography-driven species and it gives the impression that you're somehow a failure unless you're one of the lucky apes with enough "leadership" to get one written about you.
That said, I'd definitely agree with you about people being a species driven by dominance hierarchies more than capacity or will to lead. Achieving management status is a reward, not a role that requires its own skill sets and ambitions. Which is probably where much of the white collar work place suffering comes from.
But do these people posses something called "leadership" though, or are they just in control of a lot of capital (either by the lucky success of their app, or by being crowned by VC firms) and people. I don't know that we, as apes, can really disentangle the two.
Even Nadella turning around Microsoft is arguably just down to business strategy, which is a technical skill like anything else, but we imbue it with this aura that defines it as something more valuable than merely coding, building something mechanical, dispatching subway trains, or comforting a sick person.
In my view, it's not. There are two categories of business leaders: capitalists who are looking after their own assets, and paid managers. Neither deserves any more respect than any other rich guy or technocrat, respectively.
Leadership is the ability to make decisions on behalf of the group under you that are good. It's seen as being altruistic because it can enhance, or detract from the quality of work, and the quality of life of everybody beneath you. The effect of good decision making is multiplicative based on how great the scope of your 'leadership' is. A good decision maker in charge of 100,000 people will therefore bring a lot more productivity and positivity to society than a good decision maker in charge of only 100 people.
Moving forward by replacing 'leadership' with the term 'decision making' - which is really what it is - there are a lot of individuals who have consistent history of good decision making. These individuals exemplify good decision making far too often for it to be a function of luck or random chance. Of course, there are definitely some people who got lucky and were mistakenly labeled as 'good decision makers' (lest we forget November 2016). I'd also say that because we don't live in anything remotely close to a meritocracy, some people achieve leadership and management only because they come from a position of privilege in society. Nevertheless, the concept of good decision makers bearing great importance in society should not be dismissed, because historically the human race has excelled, or completely grinded to a halt based on how, and who we let make decisions.
My objection, or I guess social critique, is that we have a lot of undue reverence for decision-making. It's important yes, and can have a big impact, but it's just a skill, not fundamentally different from other skills, and isn't especially more difficult than most.
The Little Dutch Boy had a huge impact too, because of the leverage of the situation he found himself in, but we don't seem to imbue sticking your thumb in things with any special reverence.
The brand of leadership which gains actual reverence in society seems to be top performers. And top performance in any role is revered. Brain surgeons, athletes, "rockstar programmers", investment bankers, etc. all possess a certain 'aura' about them that makes people idolize them, perhaps disproportionately or unfairly in some cases. But I would say your "Steve Ballmer" brand of CEO does not get much reverence in society whatsoever.
In purely financial terms, Nadella probably did more for Microsoft's stock price than any one person "in the trenches" could have. Business decisions have enormous consequences.
Microsoft can't survive without it's coders, but none can make or break the company. Making billions of dollars for a company is a real accomplishment, and being able to lose billions of dollars is a huge amount of responsibility. Much as I love to code, maybe respect should* correlate with those things, and maybe it's worth aiming for those things personally if we think it'll move the needle further than what we're doing now.
(Of course, if there aren't a large number of decisions of consequence to be made then the leader-quality/impact correlation will be loose, and it probably has to be measured against companies in similar sectors too.)
In sports, the ability to perform especially well in high-leverage situations is called "clutchness" (as in "comes through in the clutch") and it's a real debate whether or not it exists at all. I'm of the opinion that it probably doesn't (good pitchers are just good pitchers, regardless of the leverage of the pitch), which effectively is the same opinion that leads me to believe that "transformational leadership" is a scam and the whole C-suite is vastly overpaid basically everywhere.
If Nadella provides 1% more value than the next guy, that's a lot of money (from leverage, as you say.) Why wouldn't Microsoft pay top dollar for him if it means not settling for a lower market cap?
And sure, 20% of idiots and 12.5% of fair coins might have made all the great decisions Nadella did, but as a board of directors, do you want to sample from coins or idiots or second-best CEOs when billions of dollars are at stake?
As far as pay goes, you can say they have a "big impact" all you want, but that's not how any other labor market works: it doesn't matter how much value my labor provides. Plumbers are paid the same to fix the toilet in the Louvre as they are at the gas station down the street from it. Leverage or no, my salary is determined by how little other, similarly skilled people are willing to take. If you can find somebody as skilled as Nadella in the technical skill of managing a software company, but for much less money, then you should either hire that other person or make Nadella take the lower salary.
But again, I'm not talking about money. These corporations have shareholders, and the shareholders are free to overcompensate whichever of their employees they choose too, even the C-suite. My point is that we revere "leaders", our "history" classes (unless you actually study history at a univesity) are mainly hagiographies of past "leaders," and every societal norm tells us that "leadership" is this powerful, ineffable magic. It's not. There's no such thing. Some people are in charge. They might even be powerful. They might get incredible things done. That doesn't mean that people who could have gotten the same things done given the same power or leverage are scarce.
Management is a technical speciality, probably one that's less difficult than, say, being a good welder. We pay good welders tons of money too. I'm not trying to say either is overpaid. I'm just trying to say "leadership" (i.e. directing the work of others, business strategy, and decision-making) is over-valued in terms of respect and esteem.
To begin with, in my opinion, leadership isn't stopping doing, but reaching the point where the interesting work isn't humanly doable by a single person, and at this point deciding the only way to keep going is finding people to do the stuff with you.
At no point do I think leaders aren't doers : a CEO takes on a mission of finding money (be it through fundraising, having an actual product, or pretty much any mean), and never ceases doing that, he just gradually stops doing pretty much everything else.
A great developer may start leading technical project, and will develop the most complex (and in his mind, interesting) part of the code while trying to delegate the parts he doesn't find as interesting. Cf. the large number of open source projets with "available for beginner bugs" documented, or calling for help with documentation.
And this is what, I think, defune find great leaders : some person will at the same time continue their mission, federate people and will make you them great for helping them, because they'll feel adequate at the scale where you're working.
And when this happens, they start federate always more people because working for/with them is a rewarding experience.
So, I'd contest that :
- leaders are people "who want to be in charge of people". There are definitely people who want explicitly that, but they're not what I'd call leaders but rather managers.
- everyone who is "in charge of people" is necessarily a leader. And ultimately the shitty "leaders" we have sometimes aren't leaders at all, be they President or w/e. They may very well be here through other means than aligning people wills.
But I find there are plenty of people, at all levels of society who just at some point say "I want to go forward, but I can't do it alone, so let's go together and I'll go in front because I'm too damn curious and passionate and I wanna know what's out there, and here's why it's exciting", and it's always great to embark on a journey with them !
TL;DR : the "details" in the original citation I think aren't the intricacies of your core product/mission, but rather everything that's in the end noise disturbing the path forward.
RMS is a something, but not exactly what I'd call an excellent role model for leadership. Especially for anything outside of the narrow niche of Free Software. His leadership style would never, ever work in a for-profit company or, especially, a startup. There is no room for unbending, unwavering principled stands in a startup--you'd completely lose your shirt and go bankrupt if you never changed your startup.
Movement leaders often become unpopular for a time before they become relevant again. For instance, MLK was exceedingly unpopular after his anti-Vietnam speech until his death. I don't mean to put RMS on the same level as MLK, he's just the prominent example of that pattern that springs to mind.
That being said, this isn't the preferred career path for many (especially for those on HN, based anecdotally on the comments / attitudes I generally see in these types of threads) and that's fine. Not everyone wants or needs to be a CEO much less a strategic leader.
There are all sorts of places in our lives where we make these trade offs. We give up being single to enter a relationship; we don’t “give up our inner self”.
There are projects that only large groups of people can take on, or at least timelines for them. If you want to be involved in something like that, you have to trade off other things.
After all groups of 1000 people can't work together effectively the same way as groups of 10. This is true even if your 1000 people are separated into 100 groups of 10...
Anyway, there may be a lot of BS around too, but fundamentally you have to come up with ways to deal with the above two facts.
That is a conflict of interest. You can't do both. A good leader delegates to others.
- You start doing the work yourself and nobody will challenge your (probably questionable) technical decisions--your their boss, so you have to be right, right?
- A leader knows when to make course corrections. You start doing the work yourself and you'll be more likely to get caught up in the sunk cost fallacy and hold onto projects you worked on longer than they ought to exist.
The older and hopefully wiser I get, the more I have realized that the technical decisions almost never really matter as much as you'd think. Having a vision for your product, a roadmap to get there, key metrics to correct course with, and buyin from key stakeholders are very important things to a successful project. No technical person will do that work. That is on you...
Where I draw the line, I think, is trying to make meaningful “productive” contributions at the “worker bee” level. Be it code commits, installing rebar, or packing a shipment, you are there to gain empathy and to learn what is up on the front line. This means you get to watch and ask a lot of questions. If you do actual work, your host will be right next to you guiding you. They get all credit for any work produced.
You are the guest, they are the host. Trying to do their job for them isn’t gonna help you do yours. Learning how they do their job, why they do what they do, and how to make it better... that is your job.
Note: I’m talking about leaders that are one or two levels removed from the rank and file.
Whatsapp, with 55 employees at the time of their $19b acquisition, is more of the type of company I'd want to strive to become. Not a company that has "30 fortune 500 clients," and will not say anything about the nature of their relationship with those companies or the cash flows that they create.
I'd also strive for minimum employees -- not because I am cheap but because more people means more problems. Even adding 3rd person in a team of 2 upsets the balance quite a lot.
Every person comes with their own baggage of emotions, prejudice, way of doing things, and bad habits. Accounting for an increasing amount of those is emotionally so draining that managers have been known to commit suicide many times in the past.
As for why supposedly very smart people buy into crap like "30x Fortune 500 clients" and "we have 250 employees!", I can only theorize that most businessmen are followers (and not leaders) and to them such numbers are something to strive for to prove success and that's why they finance people who toot their own horn in such a lame way.
That, plus filter bubble. When you start having dinners with people like that you definitely can change and become one of them. From then on, you start using their lingo, dress like them and think like them.
It is exciting to see what you can achieve by communicating your goals to a team and by working with them on the goals. It feels like you are able to multiply your forces.
What the author points out is you need to be willing to do different things than before: instead of coding, you mainly listen and talk, and remove obstacles so that others can work undisturbed on the details.
I totally agree that this is not what everybody likes. But it is also not some 'marketing cancer'. It is simply what must be done if your team becomes larger than ~7 people.
> And you need to give up control and really allow them to do their part as they see fit (and not as you see fit).
...in reality that's exactly what's NOT happening, 99% of the time.
CEOs and bean counters better at coding than me abound. They're all better than all programmers!
- "Can't you just... not do it that way?"
- "Do it faster, we're on a deadline." <-- yeah, this one REALLY solves your problem, right there and then.
- "We cannot afford your solution." -- what they mean is they want to save money this month and spent 50x the money over the course of the next 2 years.
Examples are endless.
I like your sentiment and that's how I think about good managers but for 16.5 years of career I barely met 3 managers fitting that profile. Everybody else was not suited to even coordinate cardboard boxes distribution in a small warehouse.
There are 3 core parts to just about any business today.
2. Business Administration
Odds are if you are on this board, you will be pretty comfortable with #1 or at least be interested enough to learn more.
For #2 there are companies who can help you a lot.
Become a client of a quality accounting firm who can provide you with at least basic guidance on some of the financial side of things.
Become a client of an HR firm when you get to the point of hiring employees. The structure of these companies is worth every penny for a small business. They streamline employee paperwork, act as a co-employer for you, help you with things like employee handbooks and software, allow you to offer benefits as part of a much larger entity and allow you to delegate all of the questions related to this stuff from you directly to experts. They will even advise you if something you are doing could get you in legal hot water. If you get sued, they get sued.
For #3...take a sales class.
Hiring good sales people is important, but I learned far too late in the process that I did not truly understand sales. I wasted a lot of time on people thinking that I knew what I was doing. Sales education is usually a very, very foreign concept to technology focused people.
Even if you aren't going to be doing it, taking a class so you understand that side of the business better will make your life a lot easier.
Which class you would recommend? :-)
You ask questions to understand the problem and help guide a prospect to a yes or equally good, a no.
Other complementary books are SPIN selling, (where spin is an acronym for types of questions) challenger sales, and getting naked.
They all advocate for a consultative approach to sales where you ask questions vs. pitch.
I tried it, thought I wanted it, but when it failed the relief that I could keep fucking up and partying was immense. Some friends are now very successful founders, and while they say they're happy, that they don't regret spending their youth 'businessing', this is always said with a pang of insincerity.
There's no right way to live your life, and people will take different paths, but more and more it seems like the myth of founder, the desirability of it, is a farce sold by VC's who want to turn £2 million into a 10x google acquisition.
I'm 38 and I'm just now trying to get my own business off the ground, for an idea I had back in 2003. I registered the domain and ran it as a side gig, but there wasn't a viable business back then. Now SaaS and cloud services are more mainstream, there's a lot more potential to develop the idea. The only downside being that now I have to balance a family life and a career path along with it.
You can also lose your mental/physical health, family/friends, love life
Alternatively, if you need to raise investment (once you have established the model actually works) there are alternative ways to fund the business (i.e. family investment funds who want to be your longer term partner rather than flipping it in two to five years)
I'd rather take a 50% chance on owning a smaller niche business (think Convertkit) that does a few million a year, of which most profit ends up in my pocket, than playing the VC game with low odds and hoping for a $100m exit.
The only ones for whom the odds are great, are VCs. They'll make back their entire fund on one or two investments as part of their portfolio and will pocket a healthy amount of carried interest as a result, on a massive amount of money. But they're not the ones slaving away. And their management fee makes sure they're always well compensated and living well.
VC is a gladiatorial ring where rich people do economic battle with each other. But it’s largely zero sum with some small, highly localized gains.
If you're a two person VC fund managing €50m, and you return 50% in 10 years on that money, you'll make close to €5M + a €1m management fee for 4 to 7 years.
The only reason why I assume that is, is because it's not super closely aligned with the performance of the stock market (well, it sort of is -- you often need public companies to acquire some of these startups).
My hypothesis is that the Unicorns need public-company levels of financing but don’t want the oversight used to have to go public to get money. But now that Goldman and SoftBank are writing $10B checks, they can also set terms favorable to late stage investors. This can wipe out many of the mid-late VC investors’ gains, but they are under pressure to take the money in the short term just to get to an exit, so they agree to it.
I actually think that what took Travis Kalinik down was the fact he diluted his early investors so much they just want to get to an IPO. That wasn’t going to happen any time soon under Travis. The sexual harassment stuff was legit, but his days were always numbered once he diluted as much as he did.
Anyway just some speculation. Would love to hear others’ opinions.
At any rate I’ve noticed a funny thing where peers who aren’t doing startups in many cases end up working just as hard. They’re young and out there to prove themselves at FAANG or other places and they make up for their lack of experience but putting in long hours. Same with investment banking, law firms, medicine and many other careers where the path to success is paved with very hard work.
Everything else is as you said -- it's never too late! I found the love of my life at 34 and discovered I can be even more energetic than in my 20s (although not for weeks on end which is actually a very good thing). And I am making more money than before because I now know my price and don't let myself be trampled all over. Examples in other areas exist.
RE: The hard work, I am not even convinced hard work is strongly correlated to any amount of success. Once an organization commoditizes its way to success, most creative people like designers and senior programmers eventually become miserable and move away because there's zero career and financial growth for them in the organization.
No startup? "Maan, I wished I would have done more with my youth!"
Startuping? "Maan, I wished I would have done more with my youth!"
Traveling sucks. Expensive. Time consuming. I feel unhealthy. I get to see a bunch of physical monuments and experience cultures that I dont understand.
I enjoy traveling when I'm already there, its been 2 days where I'm not jet lagged and the non-american sizes of protein havent taken a physical toll on me.
So I'll prob regret it the next time ISIS destroys some roman building, but I have a life I consider a 9/10 or 10/10
Then I got a girlfriend. I love her, but now I don't like traveling anymore. Now traveling means, plans, finding the _optimal_ place to stay, everything has to be settled beforehand, the housing has to have some standard of decency, now we have _objectives_ and no time for spontaneous whims.
Let that not sound like me being an asshole. But your true love would follow you everywhere and overcome the hardships of spontaneous travel with you.
However, people truly loving each other while having drastically different interests is also an undeniable fact of life. Maybe you should just periodically travel alone, without her?
In a way, choosing to be an entrepreneur made me appreciate the stability and cadence of a 'normal' life. This over-glamourized blood bath of startup culture makes people commit years of their life to being unhappy - for the chance to make their 'dream' come true, assuming that their dream will even make them happy once they achieve it. It's a little fucked up, to be honest.
I would find this characterization depends heavily on the person. I'm much more happier at pushing 40 than when I was in my 20:s.
"the relief that I could keep fucking up and partying was immense"
I would rephrase that: People are happiest when they can be true to their inner self and are able to do those things which bring them pleasure.
Not all people enjoy parties, for example...
So Im 27 and Ive been spending almost every moment outside of work, programming.
At least 1 night of the week, me and the wife go to a party, and our lifestyle usually forces us out of the house 1-2 other times during the weekend.
Ive considered this, I could spend every other moment of my week playing video games or going to party.
I kinda am bored of most video games until I get really into it. But the same can be said about programming.
I enjoy parties, but its usually based on the people rather than the drugs. That said, the people are often miss and the drugs I can do while I program.
Here is my current outlook: Programming is always interesting and it is often fun. Parties are rarely interesting and is often fun. My wife is interesting and fun. Bacon is fun. Diet Caffeine free Coke is fun.
My conclusion, enjoy what you enjoy, enjoy being productive, enjoy the physical pleasures. I find video games and netflix an inferior method.
We also run a charity, Kids In Kitchens and I run Efficiency is Everything.
Drugs? I cycle caffeine and weed every 3-4 months to maximize productivity. Been doing this for about 3 years and I can pull off a 70-80 hour work week. I sew clothes for recreation/withdrawal periods.
I'd give my lifestyle a 9/10 or 10/10. My programming skills automated lots of my day job and I really like my SO.
I'm in my late 20s, maybe a reasonable time to think where I want to land up or the journey I want to take :). (Edit:Wow I reread your post, you're about the same age as I am)
Thanks for sharing this :)
I don't know about 20 though. I was busy chasing girls and drinking beer. Maybe 25 would be better. I wised up a little by then.
The best time of any person's life is not necessarily on their twenties. If that were the case, most people should just call it quits never having achieved anything. Maybe I'm just telling myself this since I'm about to turn 30, but in the other hand, I just don't think being young is particularly good for anything interesting to me.
1) Listen more than talk. Take notes and ponder for later meetings.
2) Meetings are not bad things if done right.
3) Don't be afraid to delegate; resist instinct to micromanage left over from co's smaller days.
4) Don't let big problems fester, confront them directly.
5) Recognize your weaknesses & mistakes, admit to them, apologize freely, and try to constantly improve. We are all imperfect.
6) It can be brutal and lonely at the top, don't take it personally. Get a therapist if you need to, and socialize with other CEO's to not feel alone.
7) Don't let your ego and emotion rule you.
However I did learn to read, and a book on the bare basics of accounting is like 200 pages.
In the end, accounting means: how much are you earning, how much are you spending and how much taxes do you need to pay
1) Finance management
2) National and international law
I kinda get tired of otherwise educated people having no idea what the difference between profit, revenue, margin, wealth, and income are. Also, the ones that exhibit such ignorance correlate with those who have disastrous personal finance behaviors.
Once in a while you need to go straight to the source and get information first-hand.
Talk to employees at random once in a while. Conduct surveys. Evaluate managers.
Bezos replies to random emails, even if only with a question mark. Jobs answered to customer service calls.
If you find jerks exploiting information asymmetry at the expense of the company, fire them.
In this kind of environment, it can be valuable to to learn to avoid vast classes of wrong answers, and this can be done without 1st hand experience -- someone's already done the hard and expensive work for you. Warren Buffet is attributed to the quote, "It's better to learn from other people's mistakes." Every failure is a de-risking exercise for someone else.
In the startup ecosystem (like most evolutionary ecosystems), it's not necessarily your failures that make you stronger. Instead it is all the failures in aggregate that make the rest of the system stronger. And the way it does that is to have people learn from observing failures that have occurred, and doing better.
(whether this actually happens or not is another story; humans are full of foibles.)
The list was compiled by a ~30 year old, with a decade's worth of experience. The HN title focusing on "CEO at 20" missed that context. In any case, the list itself is insightful.
> Experience is learning from your mistakes, wisdom is learning from other peoples
I apply this as much as I can, for example when looking at a new technology I bypass the people raving about it and look for the negative cases first.
I don't immediately accept whatever they say as valid but I do take notice.
It helps me avoid falling for the hype around "new and shiny".
* Introspection — A recognition of mistakes made where you had a part, and the ability to translate that learning into future beneficial actions,
* Extrospection — A recognition and study of peers’ actions and outcomes and how these are applicable to your own life.
John Maxwell offers a variation on the theme which goes one step further:
“It's said that a wise person learns from his mistakes. A wiser one learns from others' mistakes. But the wisest person of all learns from others's successes.”
Only humid CEO that I can think of is pintrest founder.
I kid, what in particular makes him humble?.
I'm trying to imagine a founder starting a company and sitting down with this 15 point checklist. In my experience, things happen fast and much more organically, and so a list like this is great in hindsight, I don't see anyone trying to tick each box off and getting anywhere.
I know too many people who get into trouble because they don't confront others and hope problems will solve themself
Not to say the advice is bad
I think the only thing I have learned is to be more confident in the choices I make, and don’t 2nd guess so much. There is no secret to success, no miraculous connection, and no magical idea. Try to understand the world the best you can, and bring as much value as you can. And that can apply to everything.
(btw: yes, 42!!!!)
The key in almost every successful business is relationships, and those always take time to build.
Its like a lottery winner giving life lessons.
Also I would look at it as lessons learnt from someone who had the privilege of being part of a journey that few of us have.
He's made a list where each point fits a single tweet, so it's not awkward to read, and twitter makes chaining posts pretty trivial (plus of course it can be unrolled easily).
Sure he could have done a "traditional" post somewhere like medium, but would that really have made a difference to the message he's delivering?
That seems like a Big Deal (TM) if you're a company selling web analytics.
For context, Mixpanel is a big player on the Analytics field. Their service is pretty good IMO. I believe they were the first big company to aggregate demographics in a way that allowed clients to construct a view of their audience based on cross app use - eg "30% car enthusiasts".
They also publish a lot of their data publicly, so you know, day, the percentage of public iOS 11 penetration with a good degree of confidence.
Industry Benchmark report
- low barriers: easier than setting up a blog, as easy as FB
- reach: Twitter is a good platform to reach a lot of relevant people outside your own network