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I became CEO at 20. Here's what I learned (twitter.com)
563 points by sus_007 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 188 comments



> Find a great mentor

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?


I think the sage advice is to find someone who's doing what you do, but is ahead of you on the roadmap (but not too far ahead, perhaps). How do you do that?

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.


> (I find few projects are genuinely useful).

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.


> Ask politely and they'll say yes.

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.


Working for free devalues the entire profession, and disrespects us all. It reenforces the idea that people should have to work for free to "prove themselves", which shuts things out to only those who can afford to work for free (people from rich families, people who don't have a family to support)


I agree with you but in reality you do what you have to do.

Btw Buffett's mentor did not hire him even though Buffett wanted to work for free. He later offered him a paying job.


Without context, working for free requires careful thought. But in the context of this conversation "free" means without monetary compensation, but you're still receiving the benefit of the mentorship (and thus not free).

TLDR; No one's advocating working for free. The Warren Buffett approach is "trade money for time with a good mentor."


The person above literally said "work for free". Those were the exact words said.

And I don't know about you, but I can't buy food or pay rent with "time from a good mentor."


I think you're missing the point, but maybe I'm missing yours.

Perhaps I could use some mentorship from you. =)


I'm saying that, when working for free becomes the norm to advance, the only people that can do so are those who can afford to work for free. If you're someone who isn't already rich, or someone who doesn't come from a wealthy family, you can't afford to work for free. You still have to pay for rent and food.


Um. Can't the same be said about college?

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. :)


No, it can't. For one, college has massive amount of financial aid that can come along with it.

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.


I moved into an overpriced shithole apartment at 19 while working at a NOC in the city. Before moving out, I was doing a 5hr/day commute and paid rent to my parents. Pretty sure I'm one of the people you're talking about.

Are you advocating against mentorship as a principle?


I'm advocating against free work. If you do work, you should be paid for it.


I agree that 1) and 3) are hard, but you don't have to do 2) like you said. Asking strangers is not that hard, and most people I know don't find it annoying to be asked. Just do not ask for an unbounded amount of time.

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.


> Just do not ask for an unbounded amount of time.

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.


I think you have to put something on the table that will interest the other party. It might not be huge, but being able to help back in a way or another will certainly motivate someone to spend time for you. Also, having a common interest for something, on which you could work together.

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.


I haven't read it yet but this book has been highly recommended often.

You Had Me at Hello World by Dona Sarkar

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26166862-you-had-me-at-h...


That one strikes me as hindsight advice. As in, something happened to work well for me, so I'm listing it as advice for others, even though it's likely not really actionable. Not quite "win the lottery", but for every ten people who seek a mentor, I'm going to guess that nine of them either can't find one or find one who doesn't contribute to their success.


It's the difference between "buy a lottery ticket" and "buy a winning lottery ticket". The latter is complete garbage advice, but the former is good advice, if lottery tickets are going cheap enough to make the expected value positive.


Its advice that is useful if you interpret it as "keep an eye out for things which will help you actionably do X". But its also a category of advice I find personally frustrating, so I'm just trying to accelerate the process of finding those resources.


Doesn’t this assume that trying to find a great mentor has non-positive expected value, which is probably not true?


Well, if it's time better spent on other things, or if the mentor gives bad advice (or worse, actively undermines you), then it's a bad idea. I don't see any evidence that a positive outcome is any more likely than a negative one, but we tend to only hear about the positive ones.


> if the mentor gives bad advice (or worse, actively undermines you), then it's a bad idea.

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?


I dont know anyone that has a mentor, except maybe parents. Is it really that common?


Not really. The problem is that people grow and change and even a few years so it's highly unlikely you'll have a single person who you can even constantly learn from, unless you're on a very long and well-defined career path and know somebody else who has been on or studied it well.

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.


Fraternities pair pledges with "big brothers". Groups like AA pair those early in the program with "sponsors". It's often not so formal, but any situation where someone is being "taken under the wing" is a mentorship.


Yes but we're talking about mentorship in business. For what it's worth I only know one person with a 'mentor' in that sense and it's just one of his rich dad's friends.


Perhaps "Look for and ideally find a good mentor or mentors" would be better? The point being, there's plenty of value in the process.

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.


> there's plenty of value in the process.

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.


Excellent points worth bearing in mind.

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...


Not to sound like a douche, but that sounds familiar to having a girlfriend/boyfriend.


I created my company at 18yo while being a programmer/geek. For me the utmost important thing is to focus on communicating with people (employees and customers). Being a CEO is 99% human management.

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.


Got my first contractors last year, I had some rough moments.

My first contractor I learned the hard way-

>Train people well

>Dont overdemand



Thank you!

Twitter really isn't the right place to write a blog post.


It's where the audience is


..momentarily. In a sea of distraction... ;)


No different than any other site. For what it's worth i read this thread all the way through the first time i saw it


Links exist lol


Links aren't immediate


Apparently he didn't learn how to write a blog post as CEO.


At least it wasn't.

On linkedin.

Where the trend is to write single sentences.

One per line.

Instead of complete paragraphs.


It's so much more impact-full.

When you write it on multiple lines.

See?


Not when what you're writing.

Is shallow, empty corporate-speak.

Dressed up like insightful life lessons.


If only the CEO at my old company was this self aware.

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.


Sounds like a taker[1], maybe a bit of a narcissist too.

[1] https://www.ted.com/talks/adam_grant_are_you_a_giver_or_a_ta...


This is 9/10 CEOs I’ve dealt with, sadly.


Maybe people in power or executive positions are. It probably was a factor in how they got there.


This “give up on details and grow” always make me feel bad. Basically, i feel it like you’re trading your inner self and idea for money and few other respectable things. I understand that this is inevitable if you want to grow, but usual results (big companies around) do not really impress me in any way. It feels like creating a bubble to sell it to anyone.

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?


Totally agree. The idea that was should all strive for some nebulous quality called "leadership" and all talented people should want to be in charge of other people, rather than doing interesting work, drives so much needless workplace suffering.

"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.


There are plenty of great examples of modern day leaders versus poor ones. I would argue that tech has the best, and most clearly defined spectrum of leadership. This ranges from the moronic, buzzword-driven MBA's to the CEO's cultivating trillion dollar companies. Even a changing of hands for CEO at Microsoft has shown clear, well-defined improvements for the company over the past few years.

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.


> CEO's cultivating trillion dollar companies

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.


People organize themselves into hierarchies. I'd say this isn't because of any biological predisposition, but because hierarchies are the most efficient power structure for decision making among large groups of people. This is only because the alternative of weighing everybody's opinion equally is chaotic, and prone to poor decision making due to lack of education and experience among an entire set of people. Look at any election, and the consequences of letting everybody have a voice become evident (that said, there are other tremendously good qualities of elections that make us keep them around).

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.


Exactly. Hierarchies aren't inherently bad (though I think newer forms of organization are increasingly ripe to displace the largest hierarchies. Amazon's success in moving to computer-mediated APIs between departments rather than strict up-the-org-chart, down-the-org-chart communication, "networked" companies like Uber or Bird, etc).

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.


Ha! You're right. But at the same time, The Little Dutch Boy is looked up to with reverence because he made a significant impact. As far as leadership goes, I'd argue that the skill is polarizing in terms of reputation because of your responsibility. Good decision makers contribute highly to society, but bad, or even mediocre decision makers are seen with disdain. Middle management is hated because it's associated with barely-experienced decision makers. So I'd say that the net sentiment towards leadership isn't that high (once you factor out those noisy MBA's and middle managers on LinkedIn who obviously have a bias, that is).

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.


> ...this aura that defines it as something more valuable than merely coding..."

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.)


Nadella can only "move the needle" and have a big impact because of the high leverage of the position he's in. That has little to do with the skill required to pull it off, unless high-stakes decision-making is inherently more difficult than low-stakes decision-making.

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.


"How difficult" isn't really at issue -- value is.

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?


Well first, I'm not talking about pay necessarily, though executive compensation is (IMO) out of control. I was more referring to the intangible "respect" afforded to decision-makers (aka "leaders").

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.


I think we have different views of what leadership, and it'd be interesting to compare them.

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.


I have been coming around on RMS. When I was younger I thought he was awesome, then I started to think he was unrealistic, now I'm coming back to awesome (if extremely cantankerous).


I dunno man. RMS-styled leadership can only work in very narrow markets. And even in his market (free software), I'd argue his success has been hampered by his complete lack of pragmatism. Being an unchanging, unbending visionary has a very high risk of losing relevancy and/or pissing a good swath of people off.

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.


I agree with you. I think his style of leadership is as a movement leader, not a corporate leader. Whether he is effective as a movement leader is a question, but I think he is starting to be more relevant again with the kinds of questions we are asking these days about control and privacy.

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.


He's unrealistic, cantankerous, awesome, and more.


Leaders are incredibly important. Every household is made up of 20-80% leadership position. Now, maybe having everyone try to be king is bullshit.


Some jobs can't be done on the front-lines and giving too much focus on the little things will most likely inhibit you from dealing with larger strategic concerns. You need to have a good team who can synthesize and summarize the poignant insights from the details and allow you to make big decisions.

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.


This is a very negative way of looking at it. Choosing to be a leader meant I had to give up being an individual contributor. I wasn’t “giving up my inner self” or some other bullshit; I was giving up something I loved for something I loved more.

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”.


I’m sure that there are lots of people who reach success and think that my feels are “bullshit”. The question is how you love that new thing when usual product of it is pretty average.


You may be looking at this the wrong way.

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.


One way to mitigate that is to continue working on the project; even if you only spend one day a week actually working on a team, you will have to actually understand what is going on and what the technical problems are. If something is delayed you are in a much better position to know why and how to fix it than just getting vague reports from people who don't want to disappoint you. That would probably help a lot of other things like empathy, etc. and if your team has to stay late to finish a release, you stay late too. I think managers often use moving up an excuse to stop doing anything technical, when they should really be keeping in touch with the tech, the teams, and the projects in an intimate way.


> One way to mitigate that is to continue working on the project; even if you only spend one day a week actually working on a team

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...


A good leader should work on tech support and bugfixes in the part time, to get empathy for the pain points and to not get stuck in big projects.


I would agree with that. Everybody top to bottom should at least shadow tech support and sales.

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.


And that is fine; to each their own. There's a reason why top CEOs are psychopathic narcissists, it's because most people don't have those personality traits required to get to that point.


That's illogical. More people being narcissists wouldn't make non narcissists CEOs. Those traits win (if they do) because they are efficient in the competitive landscape.


I absolutely agree with you. To me, the purpose of business is to organize people and other resources to accomplish something. Money is simply the fuel; it allows us to find organize a larger and more diverse group than if we had to barter. The philosophy that "the purpose of business is to make money" is pretty unenlightened IMHO.


I can't figure out why the number of employees a company has is a benchmark of its success. Employees are just an easy expense that anyone can incur if investors give them the money to do so. It seems like every year or so startups invent a new, largely irrelevant, metric with which to advertise their success.

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 know right? These buzzwords really don't say anything, I guess it tells us something about the quality of the thought process of the people with a load of money who buy into them!

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.


Look at it from another viewpoint: you want to achieve something that can't be done by one person. So instead of doing it yourself, you need to organize a group of people to make it happen. 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).

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.


That's my exact sentiment on quality management, but...

> 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.


The best advice I can give to somebody in the technology mold who finds themselves in the business leadership chair is this: learn and delegate.

There are 3 core parts to just about any business today.

1. Technology 2. Business Administration 3. Sales

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.


> take a sales class.

Which class you would recommend? :-)


sandler is by far the best method suited to technical people that I have seen. Ultimately in sandler you do not persuade or pitch. You dont talk about benefits, features, or yourself. "You cant teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar"

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.


Sandler is what I did as well.


At one of the best companies that I worked at, the founder acknowledged that he was only good at creating things, not running them. So he hired someone for the day-to-day stuff so that he could focus on company growth and creating new business units. Worked out great.


I really like this, but I can't help but think that encouraging young people to throw away the best time of their lives being startup founders has been a massive mistake and will be looked back on as stupid by future generations.

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.


In one sense, the fact that you can "keep fucking up and partying" is exactly what makes it the perfect time to be a startup founder. To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you can lose everything you own and you're only out $15.

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.


>To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you can lose everything you own and you're only out $15.

You can also lose your mental/physical health, family/friends, love life


This is true. But you can do that at 40 too. At 20, you've got a lot more time to get back on your feet.


You can do a startup, but grow organically. No one says you need to play the VC game with crappy odds and low chances of payoffs.

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.


Actually the VCs don’t make out so well either; VC as an asset class generally underperforms the public markets. A few whales (Kleiner, Sequoia, et al) run the market, and they’re market-makers who prop up valuations and bring in other folks.

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.


Very true. To be honest, it's a bit of a crapshoot, but in comparison to other asset classes VC managers are very well compensated for the mostly meager returns they deliver.

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).


Right, even then you have more funds end in the red or very close to break-even than the black. It’s definitely a portfolio game.

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.



Are your twenties the “best time of your life” though? It seems to me that you can find happiness and satisfaction at almost any time in your life, if the circumstances are right. I acknowledge that in your twenties you’re more able to stay out all night and have crazy adventures.

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.


I too would hardly describe the 20s as "the best time of your life". The only thing that is undoubtedly best is the amount of physical and mental energy you have which almost feels for free because most youngsters don't really eat healthy and have an awful sleep schedule. Not to mention they barely hydrate themselves well, if at all.

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.


I honestly believe that no matter what you do, if you think about it, you're going to regret it.

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!"


My problem is going to be 'not traveling' when I was young.

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


I'll have a confession here that will make me sound like an asshole. I used to love to travel, alone. I went, made summary plans or even spontaneous ones, savored the place, got lost, walked a lot, got into weird situations, interacted with the locals.

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.


I can definitely hear my wife saying while smiling at you: "Then you don't have the right girlfriend".

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?


Maybe that's just a different kind of life, I guess?


Exactly. This is related to The Deathbed Fallacy, discussed recently in another post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17112241


Completely agree with this. I was raised on the 'follow your dreams', 'hustle every day' flavour of kool aid that defines being an ambitious, young developer right now. Slowly I phased out weekends, sex, friends, conversation, stories, and almost everything that is supposed to mark your early twenties. Once the early stage startup I was with failed, I realized how one-dimensional I'd become, and how unhappy I had been during my 'dream job'. Sure, if you become a multi-millionaire, then it all seems worthwhile in retrospect. However, when most startups fail, you need deeper motivation than just a sliver of a chance at wealth and fame. I couldn't find that motivation.

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.


"...throw away the best time of their lives"

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...


There is a flip side to this: wishing you hadn't partied away your youth and instead actually tried to do something meaningful or productive.


Surely this is a false dichotomy no? The alternative to some "CEO of some internet company" isn't "party away your youth." Perhaps you are creative and really want to be involved in creating movies, music. Some people enjoy hardcore technical work and don't wish to "elevate" to the point of CEO and want to do research.


This, this is why I love HN, logical people making good points


>wishing you hadn't partied away your youth and instead actually tried to do something meaningful or productive.

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.


Just out of curiosity, what do you write? (i.e. web apps, embedded systems, C/assembly/scripting langs.) What drugs do you take? (unless this is too personal to ask)


I am an engineer by day, then I run a few projects at night.

App isnt cryptocurrency, but the concept is to make ETFs spendable on a debit cards and peer to peer. App is a react-native javascript full stack with redux, php laravel and mysql.

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 really like your current life state as you've mentioned it. I've saved to wonder if that's (perhaps in part) my life goal.

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 :)


Ya, it's tough. The best time to do startup stuff is when you're young, IMO. When you are older, you have many more obligations (bills) and it's hard to just take a few months off to build an idea.

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.


> I can't help but think that encouraging young people to throw away the best time of their lives being startup founders has been a massive mistake

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.


Here's a "compressed" summary:

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.


16/ Learn to read financial statements. Read them every quarter at least.


This. I work for a retail sales company that has many different business units that have different financial statement formats. I wrote a daily report that harmonizes the disparate financial statements, creating a consistent view across all units, and then highlight various sales and expense categories. It has grown to include forecasting and goal tracking, and in my opinion is easy to understand, yet to this day unit managers will contact me with basic questions regarding sales vs gross profit. How they got into the position where they run a $1.5M/month sales operation is beyond me...


I consult for $25 million firm with great people that just grew too fast. Took them 8 years to get good numbers.


Do I assume that 'get good numbers' meant the company had massive expenses, and sloppy accounting, so it didn't have a clear and understandable balance sheet? In my case, the company has excellent accounting principles, but sales managers that don't know the difference between sales and gross sales.


The former. Your company’s problems are also terrifying


This should be taught in high school. It's amazing that high schools teach nothing about how business works in a market society.


Probably depends on where you go to school. My high school was in the middle of a pre-trump era industrial region of WI. High school was teaching us the basics to go work in a factory.

However I did learn to read, and a book on the bare basics of accounting is like 200 pages.


Accounting is just arithmetic, some jargon, and some rules. There's nothing hard about it. There's no reason high school can't teach it to ordinary students.


When you say "pre-Trump-era industrial region", do you mean that there is now more industry there, or less?


There were many small manufacturers, and I think 2 very large ones near me. When I was around 13 I think, one of the big ones closed down, and many of the small ones followed soon after. It went to Democrats every year (but the margin was dwindling over time). 2016 it finally flipped completely. I think there is a trickle of new things coming back, but I don't think it is correlated with Trump in any way. I describe it as pre-trump because, at least to me, I get a very vivid picture of a region with a long history of successful industry that's dried up, and the only thing people have left in the area is retail and healthcare.


To be fair, the sort of people who used to live there then are not of a kind with the variety that live there now. Most of those who could leave — undoubtedly like yourself — did.


Yeah, the basics are important. And it doesn't matter if you're a CEO of a top 500 or self-employed.

In the end, accounting means: how much are you earning, how much are you spending and how much taxes do you need to pay


Three things schools should teach everyone:

1) Finance management

2) National and international law

3) Privacy


Most people don't even have basic finance skills. And you want them to learn how to read balance sheets and accounts? :)


The two are really the same. Balance sheets and accounts are the standard way of managing finances.

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.


how can i learn that? What should I read if i want to understand the whole annual report of a largish company, say Ford?


You want to avoid information loss ("telephone games") and distorted information.

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.


Similarly doesn't Musk ban acronyms for things in his companies? "Knowledge should take the shortest path" may be a quote.


This is actually a pretty good list, but like all such lists emulating it won't bring you success.


All lists of this type are not “do this and you’ll succeed” but rather “don’t do these and you’ll increase your likelihood of failure.” Just like looking before you cross the street won’t ensure you survive, but not looking will make it quite likely you won’t.


Right -- in most systems, there are a few correct answers, and many wrong ones. The search space is vast.

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.)


Surprisingly insightful! I half expected to be shaking my head thinking "oh, the follies of youth, he'll learn the hard way" - but this is a really good list.


Point #10: "Best solution I found after 9.5 years...".

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.


Great clarification.


Missed the most important one: learning from others instead of making mistakes yourself. (And the general list lacks humility - apparently no CEO can be humble anymore ever. Overconfidence rules.)


A saying I like.

> 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".


I agree, it’s a very valuable way to look at things. I appreciate the assertion because it requires (a least) two steps:

* 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.”


I agree with that, but for the longest time, and I still believe it somewhat, is if you learn the hard way, you will understand the mistake completely and will perhaps learn more than if you just took someone's advise. Of course this only applies to little mistakes and not life changing ones.


So that is the current state in SV now huh?(Aren't there suppose to be several charisma type for leading?)

Only humid CEO that I can think of is pintrest founder.


He is warm and damp?

I kid, what in particular makes him humble?.


"The night was sultry"


I'm sure this will be unpopular, but these kinds of posts seem out of touch with the reality of a startup.

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 imagine this to be food for thought. If, after reading this thread, you'll learn and implement at least one item of that checklist, that would still be a win.


"4/ Over time, you will feel like all you’re doing is spending time in meetings but not getting any real work done. You are though. Your job is now helping other people through the medium of meeting. Don't resist it, embrace it. Now's the time to design it to be fun & productive."

:sigh:

Yep.


Would anyone here have reservations joining a company with such a young CEO? I’m dubious of our tech culture’s inclinations to drop out of college and start a business. It feels like setting yourself up for failure. Like joining the NBA having only watched it on TV.


As with most anything, it probably just depends on the person. Probably most 20-year-olds are not ready to helm a company. Some exceptional few probably are.


8) Attack problems, not people. Don't avoid confrontation


So important.

I know too many people who get into trouble because they don't confront others and hope problems will solve themself


And when the final drop hits the goblet everything is spilled on the person. eg. If you let things accumulate the problem always seem to be the person.


Funny when you go on the mixpanel glassdoor, many of them talk quite negatively about this CEO (I believe he stepped down recently)

Not to say the advice is bad


I was CEO at 21 bootstraped with full time employees and profitable.

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.


What is this twitter thing? Blogs for ants? :(


You can become CEO at 20 or 40, what matters is how you deal with it, what you make of it. If you can maintain a calm head, get your priorities right, age is not a hindrance.


I think it is though. There was a discussion recently on HN about an article that said that the average founder age of the most successful startups was 42...

(btw: yes, 42!!!!)


I wonder if it has to do with 20 more years of experience, or 20 more years of dealing with, and being sick of other comapanies' BS. Maybe both.


They are just as smart, with 20 more years of experience, and now also very large networks which can get them what they want much faster.

The key in almost every successful business is relationships, and those always take time to build.


Yeah. 40 is a good age. I have read that article.


In theory yes - in practice, the extra two decades of experience are almost impossible to fully compensate.


Can someone tell me what is company (Mixpanel) even does? Does it just track what pages your users click on in your UI and then show the metrics in graphs?


Yes. That's exactly it does and more. Like, you can trigger an event for all or the important actions on the product, track them, create funnels or whatever and analyze. It's a pretty popular product.


I'm surprised that's worth millions.


People have users who use their products. If someone can help make you better are understanding how your users are using your product so you can make it better by removing bottle-necks, wouldn't you pay for that?


Does anyone else think it's kind of luck having this kind of success?

Its like a lottery winner giving life lessons.


I don't think he's pretending to do be doing something else. It's not advice for "how to be a CEO at 20".


No I mean it's cool that he's giving this advice but why do they have to put 'at 20' in the title. Also most of the advice is really common sensical or vague.


it's what he said


Nope. Luck is an ingredient in success, though not the only one. The idea that all successes could/should be boiled down to luck does an injustice to the ability of humans to impact outcomes.

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.


Not a lot of tech startups in Sudan, simply because the environment makes much more of a impact than Human Beings on `outcomes`. Human beings have much less ability to impact outcomes than they like to think they do. It's mainly luck.


You're comparing success in the US to success in Sudan. Success is relative, and most importantly relative to others who have grown up in similar situations.


luck is necessary but not sufficient


Really interesting concept, the site looks almost identical to what I would expect form stripe.


uBlock Origin blocks mixpanel, not entirely sure why, assuming its spam


in summary: 1. start a company (that might be the easiest one in his expereince!) 2. Find a VC 3. Find good mentor to enter the group of "rich people".


Yet he uses twitter to deliver list of lessons/insights...


and why not? Looking at his post he's already got considerable engagement and here it sits (as I type) on the front page of HN.

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?


uBlock Origin blocks https://mixpanel.com

That seems like a Big Deal (TM) if you're a company selling web analytics.


I believe uBlock Origin blocks all analytics scripts, no?

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.



Why, oh WHY do people attempt to use Twitter as a means of communication?


I hate it too, but I guess

- 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


Getting the counters spinning


[flagged]


He's run the company for nearly 10 years; couldn't be less of a pump-and-dump play. Built the only analytics product to rival Google Analytics. Gainfully employed 300 people. Earns tens of millions of dollars per year in revenue, from clients including BMW, Intuit, Samsung and Uber. Of course not profitable because it's insane to be profitable when there's growth potential. Few CEOs have ever done this well, at any age.


Is this DJ Khaled?




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