YC produces a ton of great resources that are very helpful, but this is one that makes me scratch my head.
I'm curious how someone who is not a physicist can tell if someone has the potential to 'finally solve physics.'
Is that a type of person? Is it a bad type of person? I don't understand the insinuation.
As an example I grew up in a poor farming town in the Midwest. Everyone drove an older pickup. Occasionally someone's truck would break and they'd buy a new one. It was the gossip of the town, look at Mr So-and-So flaunting his wealth, his farm must be doing great, what's his secret, why is he showing off? A few years later his truck is dusty and dented and rusty but someone else's truck breaks and they get a new one, and now they're the talk of the town.
Recently I drove back into that town in my BMW... I should have known better. My grandparents called me afterwards to let me know how everyone in town is talking about them, my grandparents, for raising such a braggart of a grandson that he'd drive around town in a BMW. Doesn't matter how much money you have, you don't buy a nice car because it's self promotion.
Not saying it's right or wrong, but some cultures try to avoid people who brag about their own accomplishments. This goes hand in hand with other comments saying they wish they could nominate someone because some people would never nominate themselves.
When I'm pitching (or applying to YC or whatever), it's really hard for me to talk about my achievements in that way. I just feel bad doing it. Naturally, I do it less. For investors or partners that are used to people telling them why they are the next Steve Jobs 24/7, and assuming I'm doing the same, think I'm the dumbest person ever.
Virtually all of life is self-promotion (however massaged and clouded we make it -- we see humility as a virtue because it's great if everyone else just gets out of the way), and sideways mechanisms to do it do little but feed into raw dishonesty. And let me say that I have pretty strong social anxiety so this contest has no draw for me, but I have no animosity for those who it fits.
As an aside, I grew up in a small, blue-collar working town, and it operates very similar to your description. But it isn't that people value humility, but rather that they impose their own limitations and hangups on others. It was the crab mentality.
Regardless, there are many paths to changing the world. Even if we accept the notion that only the bad wouldn't cow under humility, to quote Ahad Ah'Em (Asher Ginzberg) - "Men With Self-Confidence Come and See and Conquer". There is a high correlation between people who have a sometimes inflated confidence and those who actually affect real change.
Women with self confidence get put in a damned if you do, damned if you don't bind. They have substantial challenges trying to self promote. I'm convinced it's mostly systemic, not innate to women per se.
this isn't a critique of your choice of cars, but your reaction is interesting. some people in that situation would have their ego boosted. others would't care much either way. but this clash of cultural values seems to be a point of contention.
with that said, we each find our own balance between braggart and self-effacing behavior. neither extreme is particularly ideal. being social is all about negotiating esteem with each other if anything.
It's a big change of culture to to want to draw attention to your success rather than drawing attention away from it.
Peter Thiel has some interesting thoughts on the decline of SV. Interesting times to be an inventor.
No value to meeting any of these people? Even if just for future contacts that could be beneficial or ideas? I am not seeing much downside to this at all. If I had the time I'd fly out on my own dime and just hang around and 'press the flesh'.
For anyone else who is interested, it might be fun to have an organized "Show HN" where we exchange and critique pitches.
Edit: Since this is getting some upvotes, here is what I propose: I'll post a "Show HN" here at around 10am PST on February 15th. People can reply to that with links to their pitches, and then everyone else can respond/critique in the replies. (This should leave enough time for people to edit their pitches based on the feedback they get.)
In my opinion, if you've done work with a lot of different companies, that's actually great experience to have as a college student! Working is one of the best ways to get exposure to different sorts of problems and ways of approaching solutions.
Personally, the way I find problems to solve is by trying to do everyday sorts of things---be that building an app, game, a scientific simulation, a data analysis script or whatever---and then observing what's hard about it. Do this a couple times and you may start to see recurring problems. Usually my biggest problem is that I tend to undersell myself because these issues seem "obvious" to me after I've been in the trenches for a while. But sometimes the obvious problems are the most fundamental.
Anyway, if you have ideas of your own, I'd say just go for it. The instructions say they're "adjust[ing] for whatever life circumstances you were born into", and I think it's probably not unreasonable to expect them to adjust for e.g. age and stage of life as well. Compared to people in similar age categories I think you'll compare favorably in an application like this.
> We’ll invite about 100 people who could use more of a network...
>What have you done so far that shows your potential for greatness, adjusted for whatever life circumstances you were born into?
To do something great that shows potential, you've probably already built a decent network, so I guess the value add is a network with much greater reach? Also, I've met people who've done astounding things "adjusted for life circumstances", but this would never reach their radar.
Can there be a nomination process? I just feel like the people for whom this idea makes sense would never know to apply or might not even find it applicable. Those people need to be sought out, not expected to show up. Regardless, I'd be curious who the final 100 are and how they fit the two criteria above.
YC/HN is for startups. You don't need to wait for permission to do something. If you want to nominate someone great, I would just email that person to encourage them to apply. Done.
I really think people can become experts (to a certain degree) and provide a lot of value and think differently about problems without having years of experience. A great example is the 4Chan user that solved the 25 year old permutation math problem by looking at it from a different lense.
Bringing people together to build their network is great. But I really think there is power in bringing people together who have a desire to change something regardless of how much greatness they think they have achieved.
Here's the wiki article with the improved lower bound for the 25 year old permutation problem: http://mathsci.wikia.com/wiki/The_Haruhi_Problem
And a news article: https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/24/18019464/4chan-anon-anim...
Here's the original thread where you can see people confused about what the actual problem is, I think it's a fun read: http://4watch.org/superstring/
To be precise, the anonymous user did not solve the problem. They lowered the bound on the set of possible solutions.
EDIT: I realized this isn't sufficiently precise either...the user increased the lower bound of the set of solutions. What I originally said could be interpreted as the upper bound being decreased. That's not the case.
But he was only able to create Tesla and SpaceX because he gained a massive windfall from PayPal. That payout could have easily been an order of magnitude smaller, or even gone to zero. He wasn't even involved in the company so he got super lucky with that.
Even though he had a network of powerful friends, virtually all of them were too cowardly to invest in SpaceX or Tesla, especially after things got hard. They all thought he was a dumb "web startup guy" tilting at windmills and burning up his money.
His early investors totally bailed on him. The fact that he could personally bankroll his companies is the only reason they exist today. Having to answer to anyone else would have doomed him to failure.
So, you want more Elon Musks? Find super smart and crazily ambitious people and give them massive fortunes.
If you want more Elon Musks, start electing politicians that are willing to invest in things that private citizens can't or won't, and stop caring about whose name is on top of the org chart.
The DOE loan probably did save the company, but before Telsa there was no electric car company worth giving a government loan to in the first place. And they paid it back 10 years early.
Fisker, a Tesla copycat, got ~$1.4 billion in DOE loans and failed completely. Tesla got a third of that and succeeded because they had Elon Musk.
This is in many ways counter to current models for success. Where everyone wants a quick fix. Zero to hero. Where substance is a liability. Because if you have to accomplish something in particular, what is the angle? "Oh, a physics degree would be useful? Well, that is clearly unreasonable I want to be successful".
You want another Musk you get 'real' companies, doing 'real' work, selling 'real' technology. And where that is the main purpose. If it isn't, there is no need to work on technology that you sell. It becomes a disadvantage in an endless quest of prototypes and promises to please investors.
And yes, it is sort of ironic, but at the same time not, that one of our most celebrated entrepreneurs had a lot of backing of the US government and already existing industries. I don't think it makes much sense to critic that as such though.
Agree. Bezos was earlier, but threading lighter. Carmack didn't have enough resources. Investors were slow even after 2004 X Prize. So Musk had little competition.
EDIT: interesting that just a few years earlier Andrew Beal folded complaining about unfair NASA competition. And less than decade before that McDonnel Douglas were trying to jumpstart with Delta Clipper... The window of opportunity isn't that big...
I'm working on liberating child students trapped by coercive institutions. Inmates have a reason for their incarceration, but students are trapped through no fault of their own. Unlike students, inmates in prison have the luxury of choosing what they read.
> What have you done so far that shows your potential for greatness, adjusted for whatever life circumstances you were born into?
I have been actively working on increasing my influence so I can save those who can be saved during my lifetime. I have been tutoring, and teaching, and teacher training, and running programs in schools, constantly broadening my scope. My experiences working in public schools have convinced me that 'working from the inside' is a fool's breakfast. I am now working on founding a school in a methodical and careful manner so that it can succeed in Toronto and grow to other cities. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to liberate a few hundred students before I die, and the schools will succeed without me.
> In a best-case scenario, what do you want your obituary to say?
Loving grandson, son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, Ryan checked out at the hour of his choosing and saved 7 lives through organ donation as his final gift. His autobiography 'Not Everyone Likes The Flavour' lays out his reasoning for ending his life as 'passing the torch', exhorting young people everywhere to realize their true power to shape the world. His legacy endures in the schools he founded and the students he empowered.
I should be so lucky!
• If you could have the resume you want, what would it say?
• If you could write your eulogy, what would it say?
(As the company/manager/advisor: How can we help you to get there?)
It's hard to outdo some historical ones:
Great king, strong king, king of the world, king of Assyria, king of the four quarters (of the world), capable shepherd, favorite of the great gods, guardian of truth who loves justice, renders assistance, goes to the aid of the weak, (and) strives after good deeds, perfect man, virile warrior, foremost of all rulers, the bridle that controls the insubmissive, (and) the one who strikes enemies with lightning.
The god Aššur, the great mountain, granted to me unrivalled sovereignty and made my weapons greater than (those of) all who sit on (royal) daises. He made all of the black-headed (people) from the Upper Sea of the Setting Sun to the Lower Sea of the Rising Sun bow down at my feet. Thus did recalcitrant rulers come to fear battle with me. While they were abandoning their settlements, they flew away alone like bats (living) in crevices to inaccessible place(s).
On my first campaign, I brought about the defeat of Marduk-apla-iddina (II) (Merodach-baladan), king of Karduniaš (Babylonia), together with the troops of (the land) Elam, his allies, in the plain of Kish. In the midst of that battle he abandoned his camp, fled alone, and (thereby) saved his life. I seized the chariots, horses, wagons, (and) mules that he had abandoned in the thick of battle.
I joyfully entered his palace, which is in Babylon, then I opened his treasury and brought out gold, silver, gold (and) silver utensils, precious stones, all kinds of possessions (and) property without number, a substantial tribute, (together with) his palace women, courtiers, attendants, male singers, female singers, all of the craftsmen, as many as there were, (and) his palace attendants, and I counted (them) as booty.
With the strength of the god Aššur, my lord, I surrounded, conquered, (and) plundered 75 of his fortified cities, fortresses of Chaldea, and 420 small(er) settlements in their environs. (i 45) I brought out the auxiliary forces of the Arameans (and) Chaldeans who were in Uruk, Nippur, Kish, Ḫursagkalama, Cutha, (and) Sippar, together with the guilty citizens, and I counted (them) as booty.
I made that city Bīt-Kilamzaḫ a fortress again (and) I strengthened its walls more than before, then I settled therein the people of the lands that I had conquered. I brought down from the mountains the people of the land of the Kassites and the land of the Yasubigallians who had fled from my weapons and I made (them) dwell in the cities Ḫardišpu (and) Bīt-Kubatti. I placed them under the authority of a eunuch of mine, the governor of the city Arrapḫa. I had a stele made, had all the victorious conquests that I achieved over them written on it, and I erected (it) in (that) city.
From the booty of those lands that I had plundered, I conscripted 30,000 archers (and) 20,000 shield bearers and added (them) to my royal contingent. I divided up the rest of the substantial enemy booty like sheep and goats among my entire camp and my governors, (and) the people of my great cult centers.
I built palatial halls of gold, silver, bronze, ...-stone, breccia, alabaster, elephant ivory, ebony, boxwood, musukkannu-wood, cedar, cypress, juniper, elammaku-wood, (and) Indian wood, for my lordly residence, then I had a house with double doors, a replica of a Hittite palace, opposite (its) gates, constructed.
Since time immemorial, the kings, my ancestors, created copper statues, replicas of their (own) forms, to be erected in temples, and through their manufacture they had exhausted all of the craftsmen. Through ignorance (and) failure to give thought on the matter, they depleted the oil, wax, (and) wool in their lands for the work they desired.
(But) as for me, the foremost of all rulers, expert in every type of work, regarding large columns of copper (and) striding lion colossi, which none of the kings of the past (who came) before me had cast: with the ingenious mind that the prince, the god Ninšiku, had granted to me (and) taking counsel with myself, I intensively pondered how to perform this work. Then, with my (own) ideas and knowledge, I created a cast work of copper and expertly carried out its artful execution.
I made bull colossi with copper features, two of which were overlaid with zaḫalû-silver, (and) bull colossi of alabaster, together with bull colossi and sphinxes of white limestone, hold the door bolts of my palatial halls.
Sphinxes of alabaster, as well as sphinxes of cast urudû-copper that were overlaid with zaḫalû-silver, and sphinxes of cast ...-metal, whose features were brilliant: I erected over them columns of ebony, cypress, cedar, daprānu-juniper, juniper, and Indian wood, with pašallu-gold and silver inlays, then I positioned the architraves of the inner rooms of my lordly residence (on those columns).
I surrounded their (the palace rooms’) lower courses with slabs of breccia (and) alabaster, and large limestone slabs (and) made (them) an object of wonder.
I made those palatial halls beautiful. To be an object of wonder for all of the people, I raised the superstructure of the entire palace. I called it “The Palace Without a Rival.”
I laid the foundation of Nineveh's great wall, Badnigalbilukurašušu, (which means) “Wall Whose Brilliance Overwhelms Enemies,” upon limestone and made (it) 40 bricks thick. I raised its superstructure 180 courses of brick high.
I enlarged the site of Nineveh, my capital city. I broadened its squares, making (them) as bright as day. I had an inner (and) outer wall built and I raised (them) as high as mountain(s). I had gardens cultivated upstream and downstream of the city. I gathered in them fruit trees of the mountains and of all lands (and) every type of aromatic tree of the land Ḫatti. On newly tilled soil, which is beside the game preserve, I planted in great number all (types) of mountain vine, every type of fruit tree from all over the world, (including) spice and olive trees.
The Ḫusur River, whose waters since time immemorial had been deep and which none of the kings, my ancestors, had confined (i.e., made its water flow through a canal) so that they (the waters of the Ḫusur) poured into the Tigris River: to make (those) planted areas luxuriant, I dug with picks a canal straight through high ground (and) low ground, from the border of the city Kisiru. (Thus) I provided a regular supply of those waters to the plain of Nineveh and I made (them) gush through small canals into those gardens.
I mounted an expedition to search for water at the foot of Mount Muṣri, then I climbed high and marched with difficulty to the city Elmunaqinnû. I found sources of water in front of the cities Dūr-Ištar, Šibaniba, and Sulu, then I made their narrow openings bigger and turned (them) into springs. For a course for those waters, I cut through rugged mountains, confined areas, with picks and directed their outflow into the plain of Nineveh. I strengthened their channels like the base of a mountain. I provided a regular supply of those waters in them. (Thus) I forever added (them) as an addition to the waters of the Ḫusur River.
In summer, I enabled all of the orchards to be irrigated. In winter, I annually had water provided to 1,000 seeded fields in the plains upstream and downstream of the city. I created a marsh to moderate the flow of those waters and planted a canebrake in it. I let loose in it herons, wild boars (lit. “pigs of the reeds”), (and) roe deer. By divine will, vines, all kinds of fruit trees, olive trees, (and) aromatic trees flourished greatly in (those) gardens (planted) on newly tilled soil. Cypress trees, musukkannu-trees, (and) all kinds of trees grew tall and sent out shoots. The marshes thrived greatly. Birds of the heavens, heron(s) whose home(s) are far away, made nest(s) and wild boars (and) roe deer gave birth in abundance.
In the future, may one of the kings, my descendants, whom the god Aššur names for shepherding the land and people, renovate its dilapidated section(s) when that wall becomes old and dilapidated. May he find an inscribed object bearing my name, anoint (it) with oil, make an offering, (and) return (it) to its place. The god Aššur and the goddess Ištar will (then) hear his prayers.
That's like saying "solve this coffee table".
If I can set down my mug on the coffee table, I'll consider the coffee table to be solved.
Are there comparable venues for much larger sets of people? Those who can't brag about particularly nice answers to entry questions?
There are other ambitious people out there, YC only wants to find the ones that they can use for their own goals. Don't wait around for them or anyone else if you have ideas and need a network. If they wont let you through their gate, find another way in.
And it also helps companies and just about everyone else, too, since they might not have to pay quite so much due to the extreme cost of living in that area.
I would just submit that.
What mention of career would you like ?
When was this fact-based debating era?
It’s funny the similarity in name!
This is YC's mission statement:
"Y Combinator provides seed funding for startups. Seed funding is the earliest stage of venture funding. It pays your expenses while you’re getting started."
I am looking for people who are interested in transforming education. If me and a group of similar minded individuals are able to make people learn twice as fast, then that would be a huge win for the world.
People say that education (idea generation and implementation) comes easy to me. And I also find it the most fun sector to work in.
If the ed tech startups of the world are reading this: I'm available . If you want to be in education too, then let's meet up (IRL or online)! My email address is in my profile.
: this invitation is also extended to YC.
Here's my website/profile: https://www.csdojo.io/
That said I always love the arbitrary numbers they assign such as '100' or similar those '30 under 30'. And so on. Heinz of course popularized 57 varieties of ketchup (not sure I have seen that duplicated).
Why not say 'roughly 100'. Give yourself the flexibility to go up or down if needed.
 This is what happens when money meets creative ideas.
YC has come up with a very concise prompt, though, so I'll have to give this a try next time I'm out recruiting...
If you have something to show, it's more in venue of incremental, predictable work, and less in "out there" ideas perhaps.
You are describing a scientific conference, or perhaps a grant proposal.
Unlike NSF/NIH/etc., they're not really asking for people who have dedicated their lives to a problem to write up a compelling and realistic plan of attack for a hard tech problem. That can't be done in a few minutes of a video, and certainly can't be done if in that video you also have to write your ideal obituary. What they're looking for, I think?, are charismatic and driven leaders.
The world is _actually_ shaped by mothers and fathers. Teachers and physical therapists. Doctors and pastors. Friends and romantic partners.
I hesitate to write the following because I'm not going to express everything how I actually think. But it should add to the discussion...
Here's an interesting spin on it. I'll give my "real" answers and my technocentric answers. Both could be said by accurately. But my worldview aligns much more with the former.
>What are you interested in and what are you working on?
I'm interested in creating a world where everyone has a human network of mutual support and care. I'm genuinely concerned that the technocentrist worldview that seems to consume a generation of our brightest minds will miss the human element of life and lead society in a worse direction. I am building neighborhood-level community with the lower middle class and poor.
I work with what I have, to best of my abilities, to love and serve others. I'm often selfish and mess up. I try to correct my mistakes and hope to get better.
>In a best-case scenario, what do you want your obituary to say?
Loving husband and father, caring neighbor, and example of a life of service.
>> What are you interested in and what are you working on?
I'm building better automation in the tech stack for life science research to accelerate the discovery and delivery of medical care for the sick and dying.
>>What have you done so far that shows your potential for greatness, adjusted for whatever life circumstances you were born into?
4.0's, valedictorian, PhD, publish in fancy journals, design and deliver millions of dollars of research systems to all the major pharmaceuticals, ya ya yah...
>> What have you done so far that shows your potential for greatness, adjusted for whatever life circumstances you were born into?
Discovered a tailored medical care approach to eliminate deaths caused by cancer. Loving husband and father, caring neighbor, and example of a life of service.
Though I do wonder if YC at this point could even select for authenticity, empathy, and genuine pro-social goodness if they even tried. We all know that you need to keep your audience in mind when writing. How many applicants sincerely view the YC audience they would be writing here for as anything other than mega-capitalists with a fetish for "disruption"? (I know I'm being unkind to some decent people who work there, but this stereotype isn't too far off base).
A system that only filters on "who is most likely to be able to disrupt industries and seize income for themselves and investors" will never be able to differentiate between good and bad people. At best, the bad ones will only be selfish, at worst, they will abuse their power and make the world a worse place because it is profitable to them.
I agree with your concerns completely on the issues with technocracy. I'm going to focus on making my own community stronger and building out my networks with people that would have been missed by the VC meat grinder. I may still fail at fixing big problems like I want - but at least my conscience will be clean knowing I wasn't complicit in making things worse.
...wondering why they wouldn't publish that so that folks who apply have a better idea who they'll be spending time with.
> What are you interested in and what are you working on?
Ugh... what a terrible selection process...
So, no, I don't think this kind of fit is good here.
1. What do you want to accomplish with your life's work?
2. What have you accomplished so far to get there?
3. What's next?
Selecting for life passion, not temporary dreamers.
i think to get the right mental model, imagine instead that they only wrote "send a one-minute video and convince us to invite you".
The obituary question is so insincere and disingenuous.
Can we vote on people we feel should be there?
Can we see their submission videos?