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Startup anthem

Educating a market that doesn’t want your product is a losing battle. Stick to your ideals and vision, but respect trends. If you believe the world needs iambic pentameter poetry, sell hip hop, not sonnets.
You need to find customers, understand what they need, decide what your product offering will be, and figure out a way to communicate that value to your customers. In short: you need to figure out what your product should be, not how it should look.
the more complex an industry is, and the more complicated a particular product or service within that industry may be, the more opportunities there are for simplification
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.
Bertrand Russell, Dunning-Kruger Effect
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
Shakespeare, As You Like It, Dunning-Kruger Effect
Most of all, remember that bad code is always the first step to good code. Never let any experienced programmer tell you otherwise.
Responsible parenting

Responsible parenting

After trying a new variety every week for past 6+ months @magnoliaboxing declare this Brazilian beauty the winner (at MagBox Towers)

After trying a new variety every week for past 6+ months @magnoliaboxing declare this Brazilian beauty the winner (at MagBox Towers)

Startup lessons from Bounce

I’ve just finished reading Bounce by Matthew Syed, a book primarily disabusing the talent myth in sport but which also contains many universal truths applicable to startups.

The following highlights some of the shared characteristics:

Fixed v’s growth mindsets

“Those who held the belief that abilities are transformable through effort not only persevered but actually improved in the teeth of difficulties; those labouring under the talent myth, on the other hand, regressed into a state of psychological enfeeblement.”

Bounce heavily references Carol Dweck’s work on fixed and growth mindsets.

With a fixed mindset, people believe that talent alone creates success. Your basic qualities, such as intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. You have a finite amount your goal becomes looking smart the whole time and never looking dumb. Time is spent documenting and promoting intelligence rather than developing it.

With a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication, persistence and hard work. Brains and talent are just the starting points. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for motivation, productivity and accomplishment.

It’s almost trite to suggest that a growth mindset is essential when starting your own business. A reliance on innate talent is rarely going to be sufficient due to the multidisciplinary requirements involved with creating a startup. As Paul Graham states: “We learned quickly that the most important predictor of success is determination…In most domains, talent is overrated compared to determination.”

Domain knowledge expertise

Many studies demonstrate that innovation comes from domain experts working tirelessly on specific problems:

“…creative innovation follows a very precise pattern; like excellence itself, it emerges from the rigours of purposeful practice. It is the consequent of experts absorbing themselves for so long in their chosen field that they become, as it were, pregnant with creative energy. To put it another way, eureka moments are not lightning bolts from the blue, but tidal waves that erupt following deep immersion in an area of expertise.”

The myth of the overnight success or the child prodigy is just that. Even Instagram, the poster boy for overnight success, evolved from a long series of deeply related experiences.

Later doesn’t always come to everybody

Hardwork is a fundamental component of success. It’s continually proven that the very elite sports stars are also the ones striving the hardest to improve. Shaquille O’Neal describes how he came to realise this:

“Camp was real competitive… You’ve got all the best high school players from everywhere in the country. At Cole High, I was always ranked first, but at camp, I saw other guys ahead of me.’”

When he got home, O’Neal told his mother that he was having doubts about his future in the sport. She responded by encouraging him to try harder, but O’Neal was not having it: ‘I can’t do that right now, maybe later.’ Then his mother said the words that would change have everything: ‘Later doesn’t always come to everybody.’

‘Those words snapped me into reality and gave me a plan. “You work hard now. You don’t wait. If you’re lazy or you sit back and you don’t want to excel, you’ll get nothing. If you work hard enough, you’ll be given what you deserve”. Everything got easier for me after that.”

The cliche that there’s no substitute for hard work is true. You also have a finite window in which to execute, otherwise the opportunity will pass you by.

Purposeful practice

You need to be continually challenged by domain experts and mentors if you are going to reach your true potential: “Feedback is… the rocket fuel that propels the acquisition of knowledge, and without it no amount of practice is going to get you there.” 

Hard work alone is not enough (another cliche!). Your work must be focused and purposeful: 

“Purposeful practice is about striving for what is just out of reach and not quite making; it is about grappling with tasks beyond current limitations and falling short again and again.”

Accelerated learning comes through purposeful practice, through pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. For example, it is perhaps surprising that the very best ice skaters fall a lot more frequently during their practice sessions:  

“Elite skaters regularly attempt jumps beyond their current capabilities; less elite skaters do not…The conclusion is as counter-intuitive as it is revealing: top skaters fall over more often during their training sessions.”

The very best are continually pushing themselves beyond their current capabilities. There’s a clear analogy here between the Lean Startup ethos of “Fail fast then succeed”.