Find people that are cooler than you and try to be even cooler than them seems like a particularly terrible command to give in general. So many of the people I admire the most just don't care so much about image. And I've met too many people who've exposed their own shallow foolishness trying too hard to be cool.
If it worked for the author, fine. And I'm sure there exist people for whom that is actually all right advice. But life is full of edge cases and exceptions, and no one should act like their life should be the prototype for everyone else's.
If you've tried something and it didn't work out, write up a rebuttal and post it! Personally I'm a little dismayed at the negativity surrounding these posts when it's obvious that everyone is armchair quarterbacking here.
What really kills me is his bio. "Hi, I’m Julien Smith.I help people lead more productive, awesome lives— one day at a time. This is my blog. If you like it, please subscribe below."
For me that might as well read: "Hi! I'm an overconfident asshole who gets off on telling people I've never met how they should be awesome exactly like me. And I get paid for it! Please let me manipulate you into buying my stuff."
You're armchair quarterbacking -- the OP isn't.
You're commenting on his actual web site, telling everybody how it should be. That is armchair quarterbacking.
He wrote a blog post for a general audience. It wasn't about you. It didn't describe specifics of your life. It didn't question your judgment.
I don't think they're trying to prove that they're better than you, they could be genuinely trying to help you by telling you what worked for them.
Life is easier if you learn to trust by default.
Sure, that's often the case. And then there's ridiculous arrogance like "All your accomplishments are pointless without your child next to you", from a recent parenting thread. (And that's a case where "trying" it to see if it works would be an exceptionally bad idea).
I've heard this sentiment before and I don't get it. If it makes you feel better to have authors qualify every sentence with "In my opinion ...," you ought to simply imagine it there, not force that kind of timid writing on everyone else.
The best way to do that (according to my teachers) was to ground your argument in a fact and apply your opinion in an obvious way. Ie. I think the goverment is .... because they .....; Rather than: The goverment is ....
Any scientific paper knows this, which is why they cite a dozen other papers. So then you can say "I think B because this person found out A".
(Indeed, the cynic in me can't help but read this as a complaint that the essay isn't full of such small things to nitpick about and use to casually dismiss it, as is our mental habit... but perhaps that's too cynical.)
Besides, all attempts at wisdom transfer like this have the problem that if you understood the explanation, you almost certainly didn't need it in the first place. You're better off just spending some time in thought about these sorts of essays, asking yourself how and why someone saw fit to write these things, wondering what experiences they had that led them to these conclusions...
... or, more likely, not, until about 15 years later.
I read the advice not as "spend time with people who have a well engineered social image" but "spend time with people who are genuinely more interesting, knowledgeable, capable, effective than you are".
This is just another one of the endless lists of N things posts that proliferate on the intarwebs. Take it if it benefits you or leave it if it doesn't.
... oops, was that a command? ;)
Or putting yourself and ideas out there to let people take them apart and see what holds or what you can improve.
He's really just trying to share what he's learned and it seems very honest.
It's not like "you should follow me on Twitter" at all.
And for the record I am much older than him and his suggestions are pretty good ones.
That's a fully general counterargument.
You are not special, get over yourself (oh no! command... best rebel and complain, its lazier and easier than learning or thinking about it).
Cool is different things to different people.
Your comment's about as useful as the reviews I saw recently on Amazon for a Reader's Digest book on travel -- the angry reviewers complained, essentially, that it's Reader's Digest style for a Reader's Digest audience.
If you don't like it, don't read it.
If by institutions, we are talking about universities, then they are one of the best places to access vast amounts of information and experts on different domains that you'll ever find. Most of us are just too young to realize it and don't care enough about learning to make use of those resources.
Hell, we see article after article here on hacker news about how horrible it is that science papers are so often paywalled. Yet nearly everyone went through university during which time they probably had free access to nearly every single relevant english science article on earth.
Perhaps if people bothered to learn a fraction of what is available in just the computer science or engineering departments of their university we wouldn't see the same old 50 year old technologies being reinvented again and again. Hey look! It's event driven frameworks again! The next greatest thing that's 50 years old!
The only part of point two I like is to not have faith. Never have faith in anything. Always observe, reason, and experiment.
Right on the money -- even if you're in forced schooling, you need to go out and get knowledge.
Plus, think about all the programming curricula out there. How many are just mediocre Java certification programs? If you want really outstanding programming skills, you're going to have to go get them ... possibly using a university along the way (possibly not).
So his point # 2 resonated strongly with me.
The problem is that for most people (be it salaryman or enterpreneur) knowing a lot of computer science (and other academic stuff) is irrelevant. I mean knowing the basics is good, but learning a lot of it is irrelevant compared to other things (connections, social skills, dealing with pressure, dealing with boredom, capacity to see through complex systems, luck, experience, talent (in fact different kinds of talents)). Even the companies which seem to prefer academic kind of knowledge in fact prefer (and test for) raw talent of some kind.
Of course if your goal is to do research, academy is extremely important. Otherwise (for example if your goal is financial independence) not that much (beyond the basics, but talented people learn the basics pretty quickly).
That seems wrong. Without believing in both yourself and in something beyond yourself (it doesn't necessarily have to be physically real), there's little point in observing, reasoning, or experimenting.
Expertise in epistemology doesn't help much if you've got no normative philosophies for applying it.
What else should I believe in?
I don't believe that gravity is real, I just operate my life on the assumption that it exists and is predictable. It's working great so far.
I don't believe climate change is real, but I accept the evidence provided, and will continue to do so until such time as I'm provided with further evidence to consider.
I don't believe my mother loves me, I'm quite satisfied that she does. I have enough evidence.
Your content is or should be the most important part. The rest of your blog should be subservient to the content.
Edit: it's a good list, though. Content > presentation, when it comes to actual reading material.
Sent from my iPhone. (Note: really android but iPhone for dramatic effect)
1. The world is trying to keep you stupid.
2. Do not have faith in institutions to educate you.
3. Read as much as you can. Learn to speed read with high retention.
4. Connect with everyone, all the time.
5. Don’t waste time being shy.
6. If you feel weird about something during a relationship, that’s usually what you end up breaking up over.
7. Have as much contact as possible with older people.
8. Find people that are cooler than you and hang out with them too.
9. You will become more conservative over time. For this reason, you need to do your craziest stuff NOW.
10. Reduce all expenses as much as possible.
11. Instead of getting status through objects (which provide only temporary boosts), do it through experiences.
12. While you are living on the cheap, solve the money problem.
13. Learn to program.
14. Get a six-pack (or get thin, whatever your goal is) while you are young.
15. Learn to cook
16. Sleep well
17. Get a reminder app for everything
18. Choose something huge to do
19. Get known for one thing.
20. Don’t try to “fix” anyone.
 Change the title to "Things I Should Have Known at 20" http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html
> 1. The world is trying to keep you stupid.
> 2. Do not have faith in institutions to educate you.
> 3. Read as much as you can. Learn to speed read with high retention.
> 4. Connect with everyone, all the time.
> 5. Don’t waste time being shy.
> 6. If you feel weird about something during a relationship, that’s usually what you end up breaking up over.
> 7. Have as much contact as possible with older people.
> 8. Find people that are cooler than you and hang out with them too.
> 9. You will become more conservative over time. For this reason, you need to do your craziest stuff NOW.
> 10. Reduce all expenses as much as possible.
> 11. Instead of getting status through objects (which provide only temporary boosts), do it through experiences.
> 12. While you are living on the cheap, solve the money problem.
> 13. Learn to program.
> 14. Get a six-pack (or get thin, whatever your goal is) while you are young.
>15. Learn to cook
> 16. Sleep well
> 17. Get a reminder app for everything
> 18. Choose something huge to do
> 19. Get known for one thing.
> 20. Don’t try to “fix” anyone.
My addition: don't make shallow lists like this.
No it doesn't. Quite the opposite. While the idea that less educated are easier to manipulate is true the item on the list says expresses a different idea.
He is actually right, in several ways. For example, how do you find the average joke posted by a friend on Facebook? Also TV is called the idiot box for a reason. And its not easy to break the addictive traps. And this is just one way.
Similarly if one _thinks_ there is a lot of weight in other points as well. But of course one has to interpret them in one's own context.
Actually foreign news, not just US forces adventures, and human interest.
Do yourself a favor and watch at least source of foreign news, such as the BBC, CCTV, CNN Intl, Al Jazeera etc.
One of the things they touched upon in the early chapters was how people, in general, are more liberal in their youth and, as they acquire wealth and other serious assets (mortgage, family, 20 foot boat, etc), they become more set in their ways and thus, conservative. Makes sense when you think about it...
Now, I can just say, "Did you know PG does that too?".
(We need a name for it.)
Math is slow because you have to work things out as you read it.
Books written very long ago are slow because I read them like a detective, looking not just at what the author means to say, but also at what he's saying implicitly about how things were at the time.
Other books I read slowly because they're so good I don't want them to end. I used to have to make a conscious effort to make Patrick O'Brian novels last, and I stopped reading them at about number 12, to save the rest for later.
(I worry though that I wouldn't like them so much now.)
As it is, I find my recollections of the Aubrey-Maturin adventures muddled and vague, since I burned through the first 20 at an addict's pace. Not recommended.
I wish I still had eight and a half more to go!
When I was younger, I read a little Confucius with a lot of time, that's very different life.
You need to come to terms with what the author is claiming, critically evaluate the argument used to support those claims, and then decide the relevance of this new perspective on the world (eg, how will you implement it in your life?)
This all takes time.
In my experience, "gulping down" a book instead of "savouring" it leads to a rough comprehension of what the book is trying to tell you, so if someone asks you'll be able to give a brief summary.
But if you take your time (with a pencil) you'll be able to actually follow the person's trail of thought that went into writing what you're reading, ultimately helping you in making similar conclusions in differing areas, which is at least why I read: To broaden my own horizon, not to parrot-like mimic what other people think.
>Don’t try to “fix” anyone. Instead, look for someone who isn’t broken.
Not sure about this one either - having had a few relationships from that department I know that I learned a lot about people in general and had amazing experiences, something which I couldn't have learned from a relationship with a person who's "normal". Of course ultimately, it's not worth it in the long run.
There's a huge difference between enjoying the eccentricities of someone, and trying to change/fix them. There's a large class of eccentrics who are very interesting/entertaining if you keep them at a modest distance, though they can be explosive or toxic/harmful if you get them too close.
The corollary is, of course, you're broken too to many people. The key is finding someone who's no more or less broken than you.
While they generally don't grasp the meaning, subject, of what they're saying. It's this must-have-read-everything syndrome, but you don't actually gain anything from it. Just like the hundred of news items on HN tbh.
For example, the list is most likely right about sleep. However, if you're not sleeping enough you'll most likely say "It's ok man, it's under control".
Only when experiencing personally the damages of sleep deprivation you'll say "I should sleep more". Not because you read it on a list or your friend tells you.
As for six packs, yes, it's important, because it will insulate you from 95% of back pain. But who's going to do stomach crunches after reading such list?
Céline said it better than me: Experience is a lantern that lights only the carrier (L'expérience est une lanterne qui n'éclaire que celui qui la porte).
Good ways to make your back and abs stronger include squats, deadlifts and progressively loaded ab work.
I'm not a big fan of intermittent fasting or any 'program' for that matter.
What I'd like to say, from personal experience, is that nothing beats a balanced diet and regular exercise. No program, no "method". Just an old fashioned healthy life.
And sorry, but if you want a six packs, at some point, you'll have to sweat for it.
Me, I was working out anyway, so I figured I'd lose the fat to look lean as well.
I am 25 and these are things that would have helped me at 20.
I am trying to accomplish some of these now.
3. I used to read a book per week. I stopped and now I need to get back.
9. I never thought I would be a conservative person. I see the difference between my younger cousins and I.
10. I am jobless. I definitely am trying to eliminate costs.
13. I started taking Udacity classes. I have a business degree. It has been harder than I imagined. I still am motivated to learn more languages besides python.
14. I go to the gym six days per week. I ride my bike everywhere I go.
20. A very simple statement. That is very true.
Too many people who are new to programming assume they need to learn all the languages. What you really need to learn is the theory behind each lesson. When learning loops don't think "so this is how you do a loop", rather think about why you are looping, when, and what types of loops there are.
All the languages (listed above) have looping mechanisms, and you will use them for the same reasons you did in python. You will know when to use loops, and then you can just look up the syntax for the language you are currently in.
I would add something about not burning bridges.
It's just a different way of saying: Your network matters and is way more important than most geeks would like to think.
Those are mostly about developing the characteristics of a leader -- someone others admire and want to follow.
1. Having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed.
2. Intended to satisfy high aspirations and therefore difficult to achieve.
laid back (adjective)
1. Relaxed or unhurried.
2. Free from stress; easygoing; carefree.
One of the best entrepreneurs I've ever worked with had that quality. The guy was focused like a laser on where he was going, but I never saw him get upset or look like he wasn't in control of himself and the given situation. He exuded "cool" and he attracted people like a magnet.
Fast forward 20 years and they're in the same place. Just the "uncool" kids have overtaken them by a long way.
It's about finding the RIGHT people to hang out with not just ones who seem cool. If you're 20, your idea of cool is different to when you're 35.
MY advice would be to hang around with people that challenge you because that is really what people need.
The image I carry is of a special forces soldier in movies/tv: "the situation is not what we prepared for. crap. okay, let's move forward with our skillset."
Trying to emulate this in bad situations seems to always work out to my benefit, even though I'm not being shot at. Accept your situation, and start problem solving from it, not from what you expected. This is an amazingly important skill and gives what results in the air of relaxed and unflappable. That is what I think the author is labeling as cool.
It's not about "cool" in terms of having the right sneakers or knowing the best band on the cusp of fame that only a couple hundred people listen to ("I listened to them before they were big, man ..."). That's hipster cool, teenager cool, and it's ephemeral and ultimately has almost nothing real at stake.
Instead, it's "cool" in terms of "cool under fire" - having self-assurance and confidence to know whatever happens, no matter what that is, I'll handle it. Or I'll handle the consequences of not handling it.
That latter kind of cool is what you need to lead men into combat, win an Olympic medal, or start a meaningful and profitable company. It's coolness dedicated to a mission, a purpose.
I think coolness is about how one responds to situations, esp those unexpected.
Think about how people talk to gate agents when their flight gets cancelled. Those that are reasonable and rational are cool (as in cool headed). Those that yell are not. They also tend to get more of what they desire while not making enemies.
The definition of cool should not be stuck in a 15 year old's perspective of jocks vs. nerds.
As an adult, I know that's more true than ever and I'm able to believe it, yet only partially. I'm working on it.
When you think things yourself then you're not bound by the limits that other people before you have set. You don't need to be bound by "what's true and what's right": you can rediscover your own life in a very different setting. But it's a courageous path and I'm not always so courageous. I'm working on it.
Limiting the size of the page horizontally improves readability.
Limiting the size of the page vertically is just annoying.
Would have saved me 3 agonizing years.
But after the exam and with nothing further to lose, you tried to get to The Block to escape the nonsensical world of jellyfish sex for something more practical; however, lacking directions ended up in a even sketchier part of town and during some ensuing endeavors, caught the claps? And finally experiencing natural selection yourself.
Only way one'd memorize those three things.
Submission URL should be changed to: http://inoveryourhead.net/20-things-i-should-have-known-at-2...
This is the very opposite of how I've been trying to live my life. I do not know what to think of that.
Say if you're considering buying a new thing, is it just an impulsion to get the endorphin rush, or logically do you need that item?
Or maybe it's a moral question. You're 20. A friend's cute sister wants to have a beer with you. Logically you can see where it could lead and the negative impact it will have on your friend and yours relationship. On the other hand, you're getting all sorts of cues from your emotions to go for it. That's evolution for you, we're wired that way. So these two things are at two very opposite ends of the spectrum.
I've considered logical decision making to be a superior route for some time, and I thought that was somewhat well accepted. To hear the opposite just kind of threw me.
It seems to me like the author of the article agrees, too, though. I think he's saying that shyness comes from putting your emotions first, and I assume he thinks shyness is a bad thing.
>2. Do not have faith in institutions to educate you
Except if you learn the fundamentals, instead of the specifics. Learn paradigms and methodologies, instead of individual systems and practices. This way as time goes on you've always got something to fall back on.
> eg. in my opinion: Read as much as you can and The world is trying to keep you stupid really go together. Read as much as necessary to overcome common misconceptions and educate yourself. don't spend weeks speed reading thru the twilight series.
> Find people that are cooler than you is a poorly worded advice / way to become less socially inept. Eg if you want to stop wasting [your] time being shy, you need to learn from people who are more comfortable in all the social interactions you go thru every day.
"Otherwise known as morons on the internet telling me about the world like they know better. God, these people are unbelievable"
Or you know, you can also just
2/ think, learn, try on your own instead of reading blogs that are telling you to be superman (cause of course you've the will power for that right?)
works rather well.
While I agree with the thrust of this suggestion (that if you leave everything up to memory, you'll miss out on some important opportunities), I've found I'm most productive if I let my subconscious pick what to work on next (with a little artificial bias towards working on long-term projects to counter the inevitable fatigue).
Perfect use for a time machine, check-out these know-it-alls later in life, when life has thrown them a few curve balls, and their bodies are falling apart in their 80s.
But knowing that doesn't make it easier for me to ignore it.
(FWIW, I appreciated your opinion on this. This point struck e, too, but it wasn't until I saw your comment that so closely echoed my own feelings that I stopped to put more thought into it.)
Oh dear, I don't think so.
Forgive me, but this strongly reads like the thoughts of a man who was once twenty many years ago :)
I am always very interested in the advice of my elders, but I have difficulty swallowing your advice. (Secondary Bias Alert: I've already got a preexisting set of rules to follow)
These articles on what I'm missing out on at 20 both seem to carry some deeply held beliefs that emerge as a result of some societal preconceptions about the origin of success and happiness. You stress breadth but you don' seem to put much stock in depth. It is safe to say I have learned everything I know from studying computers very intently. In this century especially, it is entirely possible (perhaps preferable) to understand the many human disciplines by examining them in that context of your own discipline. Very disparate fields coexist in any sufficiently complex system. The intersection between computer science and literature, finance, anthropology, semiotics and a slew of other fine arts, social and hard sciences seems especially apparent to me. I don't think I could fully appreciate (whatever that designation implies) Postmodernism or Bell's Inequalities through any other context. Nontechnical books tell us more about the current cultural climate than any sort of great human truth.
As far as steadfastness on goals - I started working on a NoSQL database for high speed transactions when I was 19, I now make a considerable portion of my living doing support through this open source, entirely altruistic and ultimately exploratory process. I wasn't "sticking to" anything, I was hanging out and having fun and not really thinking about solving any kind of money problem (perhaps this betrays my own naivete). Regardless, I don't think I could have learned Erlang, Mathematics or anything about databases without a very considerable amount of "wandering". I personally can't fathom the idea of sinking 5 years of your life into something that leaves you with some sense of inescapable dread. I can't help but think you've framed 'youth' in a cliched middle-life tone - crossing nostalgic sentiments about bygones days and entirely present-day concerns (kids these days!).
As far as negotiation: I am always very blunt (sometimes to a fault), but pithy negotiation has always struck me as nothing more than an intentional disregard for another human being's dignity. I once worked at a Del Taco when I was 15 and absolutely hated the many people who tried to nickel and dime the drive-through. Negotiation as a sales process is entirely different than dealing with people who work very hard, and whom you choose o pay to provide you with a service.
I don't care much for reminder apps or pomodoro or any of these 'productivity enhancing' apps, not to say you can't benefit from them. I can, however, speak anecdotally to the efficacy of hard physical work and deliberate focus on improving productivity. We let ourselves get away with too much, too often.
I think you don't emphasize compassion for other people enough. It is far too easy to become so enraptured in your own schemes that you forget how valuable it is to be in good accord with others and to have a good name. If we cultivate ourselves with an awareness that's rooted in 'reminders' and success and not human welfare, we won't get far.
~~~ Side Note
I wrote these out many months ago to codify some internal dialog spanning many years on what sort of system of action is the most profitable use of my time. I have imposed these on myself for a very long time with varying (but monotonically increasing!) degrees of success over time. I consider having rules like these to have been a considerable source of permanent, lasting change on myself. Maybe they will be useful to some other young people.
- Stop "collecting" programming languages beyond what is pragmatically useful or is genuinely spiritually/intellectually enlightening.
- Don't hold onto things I no longer need, try to think
critically about if buying something will make me happier.
- Don't take yourself so seriously, but think seriously about the world.
- Never commit myself to action with only partial confidence.
- Do something to detach myself from desire every day
- Try not to prefer anything over another thing
- Never complain
- Don't let myself be guided by either love or lust
- Try hard to judge people only by their skill in their craft and how they treat others, not by their charisma or attractiveness.
You'll find that everybody is 'broken' in their own special ways. There really isn't any such thing as someone that isn't broken (unless you're talking about serious mental trauma as the definition of "broken"). We all accumulate baggage over a lifetime, and from each relationship; we all have weird quirks and strange behaviors and eccentricities of varying degrees, and weird reactions to things we do or don't like, and so on.
Find someone whose 'broken' qualities are acceptable to you (not a deal breaker), or even adorable if you're so lucky.
#793: a modest product today, is better than a perfect product next year
#794: incorporating, lawyers, accountants, are not that important, build something and then worry about that
#795: find a pin, and knock it down; if you never knock down that first pin, you're never going to knock the rest down
#796: force yourself to get very good at selling; selling yourself, selling your vision, selling your product, etc.
Could not agree more with this. When I was 20, man I was crazy. Now, everything scares me. I am only 30.