However, neither of them have made any progress on building an actual business. One of them has supposedly been developing the same simple product for almost 7 years now, but they’ve never been able to produce even a proof of concept prototype.
I thought I was missing something for the longest time, until I let go of the idea that they were really trying to build a company. They’re not. They’re building their personal brand, and succeeding wildly thanks to publications like the “30 under 30” list that have an insatiable appetite for underdog success stories.
Surely some of these companies are legitimately successful with great business models, but they’re mixed into these lists with the brand builders who know how to game the system. I’d be interested in reading an honest “Where are they now” follow up series that checks in with these founders at the 5-year mark after they make this list to see who the real successes are.
I have no idea how she's in Forbes.
Social media has truly altered reality in a weird way.
Everyone involved are millionaires now and are permanently set for life. They're just going to spend their time now looking for the next narrative to fit and the next thing to take credit for, knowing nobody is going to fact check until they've done the cycle again.
If she would've had that on her resume over here, sheesh, that would not have looked good. Especially if she claimed that her work saved a patient's life.
I don't doubt that some genuinely notable people are mixed into this list, but it's impossible to take Forbes' word for any of them.
I've seen quite a few of these people in my area and they disgust me every time, coming from a "work is only valuable if it's hard" work-ethic family.
I just feel that the work I do should be all the "brand" I need to build. Yet everything around me points to the contrary.
My corporate brand is doing fine
It's sort of too bad, because these people don't provide the type of value that we respect. But they do ultimately provide value by connecting people, and for that they are rewarded.
> The article on the Forbes website was attributed to Drew Hendricks, a contributing writer. As The Times revealed in an article last week, he was not the author of the piece. Instead, it was delivered to him by a public relations firm, and he said he was paid $600 to attach his byline and post it at Forbes.com.
> Mr. Hendricks said he had not been aware of Mr. Epstein’s history. “All I knew was, this is a guy doing a science thing,” he said. “If I had known otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it.”
pretty sure a good bit of his 'brand' was in profits from his 'side business' here as well..
If you need to get something difficult done, awards (other than academic) in my experience are a warning signal. People who are thinking about awards are always a problem.
2) Having access to highly coveted angel deals like Uber, or Twitter when they were just startups.
3) Getting paid for giving high-level fluffy advice in conferences.
4) Book deals.
A little digging reveals that Feat Socks sells socks and hoodies. (https://featsocks.com/)
>“Hell yeah, it’s better than going to Harvard or Stanford,” said entrepreneur Katelyn O’Shaughnessy, who didn’t attend either school.
For what, the social validation? O'Shaughnessy's business (https://doctours.com) appears to be a get-healthcare-in-another-country-and-have-a-vacation travel agency.
>“I wanted to throw up at the entire thing,” said Andy Sparks, an entrepreneur who was on this year’s list, describing his reaction to the Summit, a Forbes event that celebrates the Under 30 community. “I had an existential crisis coming back from it. I wondered why I wanted to get on the list and be a part of this community in the first place.”
Ah! A critical thinker.
> Corporate sponsors such as The Macallan whiskey and Courtyard by Marriott pay big fees to get their brands in front of the young professionals who flock to the events. In 2016, Ocean Spray created a cranberry bog in a wading pool in Boston during the event, partly to highlight the fruit as an ingredient in cocktails.
Sign. Me. UP.
To be fair, that's not a bad idea or business. Medical tourism is a big industry and finding trusted healthcare providers in a foreign country is a tough task.
I'll admit that part was kinda fun and silly to wade in the pool
I'm not surprised they were able to find a few that were crazier, though. It's not substantially different from an obsession with getting into YC or raising VC money. I've done both of these things as well, and I met many of the same people. They will always find something to be obsessed by.
And for what it's worth, all the recognition I've gotten over the years has never really translated to much of a business advantage, but it's still pretty neat to be recognized for something you've been putting a lot of work into.
>I know two people on the “30 under 30” list. Both of them are incredibly charismatic and charming in person. Their Instagram and Twitter accounts churn out constant brand building material. They both have pseudo-startups with noble causes and vibrant websites. Their startups have a list of impressive advisers, including B-list senators and industry executives. However, neither of them have made any progress on building an actual business. One of them has supposedly been developing the same simple product for almost 7 years now, but they’ve never been able to produce even a proof of concept prototype. I thought I was missing something for the longest time, until I let go of the idea that they were really trying to build a company. They’re not. They’re building their personal brand, and succeeding wildly thanks to publications like the “30 under 30” list that have an insatiable appetite for underdog success stories. Surely some of these companies are legitimately successful with great business models, but they’re mixed into these lists with the brand builders who know how to game the system. I’d be interested in reading an honest “Where are they now” follow up series that checks in with these founders at the 5-year mark after they make this list to see who the real successes are.
And your bio:
>Tyler Menezes is the Executive Director at SRND, where he works to increase diverse Computer Science enrollment across North America by inspiring underrepresented students to give coding a try. Born in Canada but raised in the Pacific Northwest, he briefly attended the University of Washington before dropping out to start a Y Combinator and venture-backed social video startup in 2011. This, combined with stints working in machine learning at Microsoft Research and as a programmer at several Seattle startups, led to his work finding data-driven solutions to increasing CS diversity and enrollment since 2014. In his free time, Tyler helps run the Projects in CS class at Garfield High School, and organizes the public speaking event Ignite Seattle.
>Their Instagram and Twitter accounts churn out constant brand building material.
>They’re building their personal brand
I don't even have an Instagram? And literally I made two business-related tweets in the last month, one of which was a RT of someone commenting on how the org I run is valuable. Which brings me to...
>They both have pseudo-startups
I run a nonprofit that's had about 42,000 students attend mostly physical, in-person events in 53 cities, over the last 10ish years. We are profitable and have employees. Our programs have a NPS of 70-80 and we get grants from a bunch of big companies on the basis of our outcomes. This has been my full-time job and only livelihood for the last 5 years.
>I’d be interested in reading an honest “Where are they now” follow up series that checks in with these founders at the 5-year mark
We've been around for 10 years, and I've been the ED for 5. We have continued to grow and improve our key metrics although we're not a startup and I'm not going for meteoric growth.
Please don't confuse the need to storytell to funders when running a nonprofit with vapid self-promotion.
Is there anything you would have done differently in your career trajectory / educational path if you started over?
More than anything I wish I'd explored more "unrelated" fields like bio, finance, medicine, cooking, (...) when I had the free time of a student. There are a lot of very interesting problems that don't fit neatly into a single career path. But it's much harder to make time for learning for the hell of it at 28 than it was at 18.
(It does remain possible, though, and I'd like to think that I haven't totally stagnated in my learning.)
There is actually quite a bit of reassurance in that comment. I'm a full time developer and part-time student. I read through the articles linked above because I'm trying to decide on continuing my studies in the fall after receiving a promotion at work. The return I get from my work projects far outweighs what I've learned in school and I'm getting paid for it!
That comment shares a feeling I _don't_ want to have. If I have any motivation to learn something, why waste it on forced material that may not be relevant to me. I'm leaning towards not taking classes. Instead I can focus on learning technologies to integrate into systems I've built. I can read more for fun (which I was able to do this summer). I can finish that game I've been working minutes at a time for the last few years. I can build that bookshelf that I desperately need, to replace the particle board one that's falling apart in my room.
No hate here. If you're younger than 28 (or not) and you have regrets after reading it, you can still change that path. It might just take a bit more work or motivation that you were putting elsewhere.
If you make something a priority, it’s possible.
I know someone who made the list last year, and it's literally their only accomplishment. They spent so much time trying to look good on paper that they've yet to accomplish anything real in life.
Their resume _looks_ great though...
I guess the younger generation is getting better at faking it until you make it, I guess? lol
Have enough HR bullshit thrown at you before getting an actual technical interview and you sooner or later learn to cope with a nonsensical system. I would see it similar to figuring out how you can bypass a useless automated support hotline and get in contact with an actual human with enough power to fix your problem.
Edit: I'm dumb, this isn't what 30 under 30 means.
This made me laugh out loud, thanks :)
My co-founder ended up on the list a few years back. We did things that were cool, but I think my co-founder ended up on the list because they had a hard time filling 30 slots for our niche.
That's my impression as well. I know someone who made the list, from what I've heard Forbes basically approached the people running the program we were in together and asked "which one of them would fit the slot the best", and that's how they were chosen. At that point they didn't really have anything notable to show for other than a few weeks old company.
I find this pretty distasteful, at least in the startup context. They’ve repeatedly approached me (after covering my startups) to apply. I’ve asked them if we can have the fee waived since they’ve essentially pre-vetted us, but no dice.
It might make sense to suck it up and pay them since we probably have a decent shot of getting selected, but I’ll never do it.
1: publicity from being on the list, which FastCo presumably promotes at least once during the year (and probably leave up during the year)
2: being able to say you were selected for FastCo's list, which presumably gives you cred among certain groups. I do wonder if you might be held in lower regard by people who are aware that the competition costs so much just to enter.
OTOH, if a small percentage of companies are honored, then that means lots of companies are paying non-trivial fees and getting nothing in return. I believe the money is used to pay the people who review the applications, but unless those people have to be paid hundreds of dollars per application, or unless they have a high degree of redundancy in application review, the application fees wouldn't make sense. Basically, it would mean the list is a money-maker for them because they're accepting fees from so many unqualified companies.
Either way (pay-to-play or revenue source), it definitely leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Frankly, it'd be cool if they offered a way to crowdsource the selection process, where each company that applied was given 10 companies to rank. As long as the 10 given to each person were randomly selected, it would be difficult/impossible to game the system and upvote friends. Also, companies could be given applications from other lists (I think there's a social-impact list and a general-purpose innovation list) to make sure there are no conflicts.
It doesn't seem too expensive as far as marketing costs go.
Even though he's an ass, I find Taleb's approach amusing. Copied from his webpage:
> (Please refrain from offering honorary degrees, awards, listings in "100 most...",& similar debasements of knowledge that turn it into spectator sport).
But I'd take all those from someone with actual substance and talent as Taleb, than the barrage of fake-ass (as you call it) PR content and pleasantries, on this fake-ass world we now all live in.
In fact, I actively dislike the non-flaws (or just "admitted flaws" they're now "overcoming") "wholesome" all-too-decent people and writers, who never want to dirt their hands and have it good with everybody, and mostly produce trite of the TedX variety...
Other times he's spot on. Usually it's not anything actually new, but he deserves some credit for being such a bulldog about it.
He's famous for lambasting psychology, some of which is deserved, but some of which is just ignorant. Earlier this year he started complaining about psychologists ignoring long-tailed/skewed distributions, which is so absurd and widely written about I don't even know where to start, as it's a basic corollary of a lot of modern models. He also selectively miscites literature; god forbid he should do a systematic meta-analysis.
More of my concern is reinventing the wheel. I think he deserves a lot of credit for drawing attention to wrong models and assumptions in economics but model misspecification has been a topic that's been written about for decades in the statistics literature (e.g., "all models are wrong but some are useful", sandwich error estimators, pseudolikelihood ratio, model averaging, the work of Dawes, etc.). I agree with the general point he's making with these types of things, but his discussions would be a lot more interesting if he gave credit where it's due, expanding on others' past work rather than burying it.
Mostly I wish he'd tone himself down a bit, to get his signal:noise ratio in a better place. But then maybe he wouldn't draw attention to some of these issues.
As for the publication, almost anyone can write for it. Calling yourself a "Forbes writer" is one step above a "Medium writer".
Dude's also one of the types who acts like doing "so much good in the world" gives him the right to put down literally everyone else in the community.
It's one of those things, where the more personal brand building you do (speaking, posting on LinkedIn to a degree, tweeting), the more of a negative signal it probably is, with a few notable exceptions (Keith Rabois for example stands out as a VC with a good track record, yet posts a fair bit).
I do sales recruiting. It's never the strongest startups, that are doing the best that have executives and VPs all posting content 24/7.
To that degree, I have a friend who is a personal trainer at Equinox, who essentially said the same thing in the health and fitness world - the people who are posting the most impressive work on social media, actually tend to have fairly lagging results in the real world.
Also, final point, it's not really 30 under 30, it's 600 under 30, and it's a bit ridiculous. You can't really compare someone like Kylie Jenner or Lil Uzi Vert or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with someone who runs a startup that sells socks online.
There was no explicit quid pro quo that I was witness to, but I know that we gave the magazine an exclusive interview with our CEO not long after and I heard they were related. My point is that so many of these rewards are just more of who do you know, and have little value in fact when you dig in a bit.
Do people under 30 even read Forbes? Or magazines?
The MIT Tech Review seems more focused and also does a "Innovators under 35" list
I think “RTFA” was invented on Slashdot, but that’s probably because I’m too young to realize it’s from newsgroups.
I wish there was something like a LeftVsRight.com that had the user base of HackerNews where citizens uneducated on politics could go to see viewpoints from both of the two major opposing political parties.
The “MIT” Tech Review list is equally manipulated. Ask your company’s PR company to get you on the list.
I put “MIT” in quotes because the only connection this magazine has with MIT is that it licensed the name from the alumni association in exchange for sending a copy of each issue, bundled with alumni note,s out to each alum.
From my personal bubble, I wouldn't say so. Regardless of that I think quite a few people know the 30 under 30 lists, I would say.
At one point in my life making it on that list was also a goal of mine, until I saw firsthand how they were picked which completely devalued it.
I am not seeing how that is even relevant to getting on this list and that in no way means I think the list isn't fluff.
The list claims to do the following:
'annual list chronicling the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada'
The list is mostly bullshit, I’d go as far as to say you should be very skeptical of anyone on it or that bothers to mention it, as they are almost surely just brand builders.
By the way, I lied about actually being on the list, but I bet if I never said that most people wouldn’t even think twice to fact check me. Funny how that works. Try throwing in a “Forbes 30 under 30” bullet point in your next resume and see what happens.
I still think it can be valuable to be on the list. The US loves its secret and the not-so-secret societies and being in them can afford a rather nice fun life. I would generally recommend them if you can.
The age requirement is more than a youth fetish, it is a way of discerning privilege and privileged people are more likely to succeed and not make you look bad.
You probably shouldn't believe most of what you read in the news. For the people making investment decisions based on this list I'm sure the same people would have found some other way to waste their money.
> annual list chronicling the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada
Implied of course that the list is arbitrary but even more ironic given it's limited to a number that makes a good headline that is counter arbitrary (if there is such a think..)
Those are some interesting word choices. I wonder what "temples" means in this context.
I spent 4 years building mailmyprescriptions.com into the lowest priced online pharmacy before half a dozen clones. In 2018 we were the highest ranked (trustpilot) and lowest priced. Read the reviews... literally saving lives and increasing quality of life. Do you know what $1-2k a year in savings is to a family with an income of $50-60k? We saved Americans over $10m last year. That’s more than what congress has done on drug prices in years.
I bootstrapped the company, and eventually raised $m’s on my own from FO’s and strategics - without a network (an achievement by itself) and this is when healthtech wasn’t sexy.
I also did this while starting a family and eventually got massive burn out. I left the company a few months ago.
Prior to that I bootstrapped in the ad space instead of going through college and taking on the debt.
So to conclude: no network, no degree, bootstrapped disruptive health startup while starting a family.
I got an email from them asking to fill out a survey and so I went through the process. (You can also self nominate - see end of comment)
If they consider you then you fill out a 10-min survey and they exchange some emails thereafter if you make the cut. There’s 3-4 rounds of cuts from what I recall. There are an equal number of questions about what you actually do as the “how popular are you” questions: who invested in you, how much, notable board members, press coverage, etc.
I knew based on those questions it was unlikely I would get on the list going into it.
I also gave pretty short answers ( I was more worried about >60 min hold times because we had just gotten product market fit) and probably shot myself in the foot.
Either way they emailed me and told me I didn’t make the last cut. I never looked at the list, and this thread just prompted me:
Most of the people on the list are doing some really incredible stuff, specifically actual scientists. Founders in under-serviced markets like Africa. Etc.
But there is a webmd clone that somehow raised $9m.
And one person on the list is an investment associate at a notable VC. With no notable investments.
If you look at each of these lists you’ll see the trend that if you have a notable VC Investment, and/or work for a notable company, and/or people from the same company keep getting on, then it becomes obvious that while there are some serious outliers on these lists: Forbes still has to serve the corporate interests and make sure some of their people are “on the list”.
I’ve been trying to mentor some young founders during my sabbatical and a few of them are convinced these lists will get them more business. They are spending more time on self nominating through their network than just asking for a check for the friends and family round!
They want to brag. It’s a problem with millennials and subsequent generations on social media. It’s FOMO. It’s social media envy.
Let me tell you something: You WONT.
You will get one linkedin bump with a few hundred views.
The next day you will wake up and be the same person you were the day before.
If you think it will help you raise money... the VCs know the list is rigged, they get 20-something associates on it every year, so what do they care?
They produce these lists every year with more and more categories - the value of the list has been diluted to oblivion.
Who’s made the list? Theranos CEO. WeWork CEO.
Time is money. If you (italic)get(/italic) nominated, cool go for it. If not: don’t waste your time.
Go get product market fit! Generate EBITA! Build something awesome!
My email is hnusername@gmail
Ageist because someone 31, 41, or 51 could achieve great things for humanity, yet doesnt deserve our accolade?
And strange because if 200 find a way to revolutionize the lives of billions. We still have to pick 30? Why not celebrate everyone who markedly improves the lives of 10% of the planet or some other absolute measure?
I mean, you could say this about anything. The Nobel Prize has limited slots. Nobody's saying those are the only people on earth worth honoring.
I'd say the real problem is putting too great an emphasis on youth and hustle. Who makes their magnum opus in their 20s? Why would you even want to? Most people's greatest accomplishments happen in their 30s and 40s, even 50s. Setting up early burnout as something to aspire to feels pathological.
But being newsworthy has (monetary) value so this list, which used to be a metric, has become a target, and per Goodhart's Law is therefore no longer a good metric.
I predict another such list will arise, make those chasing 30<30 look foolish, and the cycle will begin anew.
But I'd say that the peak accomplishment of someone who peaks later is probably better than the peak accomplishment of someone who peaks early. So in that sense we're celebrating the wrong thing.
Let's just be honest with ourselves about how lucky we are to be born into our station, both as technocrats and as narcissist snowflakes.