I found this on Yaron Schoen’s website. It’s pointing to the “current environment in Silicon Valley and how ideas are formed to make money, not to push humanity forward. Which is a stark difference than the previous generation.”
I know I’m in the technology field but I recently came across this guy. He’s a very respected actor coach in LA and NY, having coached dozens of well known actors around Hollywood. He makes a point around actors, but I think that his thoughts are equally valid for everyone involved in the “art” business. Either a painter, a singer, a writer, a indie developer or anyone trying to make a living off his art has to reflect on the same idea.
Here, some food for thought:
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What makes a good software product work is the ability to build a business around a compelling idea. And while this seems obvious in America and especially in Silicon Valley, in almost any other place, people say “Well if you wanna build a business, how are you going to make money tomorrow?”
In the Valley, businesses are built around an idea and then they’re figuring our how they’re going to make money. And this is really important, because if you want to make something work, something that’s really complicated, you cannot hire people that are motivated by a paycheck. They have to live it and breath it and they have to do it over a long period of time.
And it’s not a problem of venture capital. Risk capital exists everywhere. But the companies that have been the best at using that capital, exist in the Valley, and that’s about it. And it’s not because they’re smarter. It’s because they work better together. They’re more likely to be compelled by a big idea and put monetization second.
Google’s the perfect example of a company that has a great ability to make meaningful products, but, like never before, they produce concepts that force non-existing behaviors into people’s lives.
It was funny to read Michael Arrington’s post this morning and I remembered this idea that Professor Clayton Christensen expressed during his “Jobs to be done” talk , that companies shouldn’t decide what people want, but fulfill existing needs.
“I would say, without any background or substance, that the probability of any software company to be successful is somewhere near 0(zero) if the concept was developed in a company that has decided what the customer wants. And you develop a product and then you find that people don’t buy it so then you have to hire, I don’t know if you ever heard of people like this, they’re called marketers . And the reason you have to have a marketer is you’re trying to convince the customer that they need to buy the product that you decided they need. If instead you understand the job the customer’s trying to do, you actually don’t need much marketing because customers will pull it into their lives. And almost always, those companies had somebody that was on the other side who knew the job. And it’s understanding the job that’s critical, in short supply. It’s not the ability to make products.”
I don’t think it’s about Facebook finally treating it’s users as customers. It’s about Google that’s developing ideas that are intended to shape user’s needs, as opposed to fulfilling them.
If your friends ever say they have ADHD, just show them thisADHD is about having broken filters on your perception.
Normal people have a sort of mental secretary that takes the 99% of irrelevant crap that crosses their mind, and simply deletes it before they become consciously aware of it. As such, their mental workspace is like a huge clean whiteboard, ready to hold and organize useful information.
ADHD people… have no such luxury. Every single thing that comes in the front door gets written directly on the whiteboard in bold, underlined red letters, no matter what it is, and no matter what has to be erased in order for it to fit.
As such, if we’re in the middle of some particularly important mental task, and our eye should happen to light upon… a doorknob, for instance, it’s like someone burst into the room, clad in pink feathers and heralded by trumpets, screaming:
HEY LOOK EVERYONE, IT’S A DOORKNOB! LOOK AT IT! LOOK! IT OPENS THE DOOR IF YOU TURN IT! ISN’T THAT NEAT? I WONDER HOW THAT ACTUALLY WORKS DO YOU SUPPOSE THERE’S A CAM OR WHAT? MAYBE ITS SOME KIND OF SPRING WINCH AFFAIR ALTHOUGH THAT SEEMS KIND OF UNWORKABLE.
It’s like living in a soft rain of post-it notes.
This happens every single waking moment, and we have to manually examine each thought, check for relevance, and try desperately to remember what the thing was we were thinking before it came along, if not. Most often we forget, and if we aren’t caught up in the intricacies of doorknob engineering, we cast wildly about for context, trying to guess what the hell we were up to from the clues available.
On the other hand, we’re extremely good at working out the context of random remarks, as we’re effectively doing that all the time anyway.
We rely heavily on routine, and 90% of the time get by on autopilot. You can’t get distracted from a sufficiently ingrained habit, no matter what useless crap is going on inside your head… unless someone goes and actually disrupts your routine. I’ve actually been distracted out of taking my lunch to work, on several occasions, by my wife reminding me to take my lunch to work. What the? Who? Oh, yeah, will do. Where was I? um… briefcase! Got it. Now keys.. okay, see you honey!
Also, there’s a diminishing-returns thing going on when trying to concentrate on what you might call a non-interactive task. Entering a big block of numbers into a spreadsheet, for instance. Keeping focused on the task takes exponentially more effort each minute, for less and less result. If you’ve ever held a brick out at arm’s length for an extended period, you’ll know the feeling. That’s why the internet, for instance, is like crack to us – it’s a non-stop influx of constantly-new things, so we can flick from one to the next after only seconds. Its better/worse than pistachios.
The exception to this is a thing we get called hyperfocus. Occasionally, when something just clicks with us, we can get ridiculously deeply drawn into it, and NOTHING can distract us. We’ve locked our metaphorical office door, and we’re not coming out for anything short of a tornado.
Medication takes the edge off. It reduces the input, it tones down the fluster, it makes it easier to ignore trivial stuff, and it increases the maximum focus-time. Imagine steadicam for your skull. It also happens to make my vision go a little weird and loomy occasionally, and can reduce appetite a bit. Hope this helps and please do share this so that more people can learn what its really like to have ADHD.
This was originally posted on Tickld. You can view the original version here .
Today I remembered to be truthful.
First, let me tell you about one lonely afternoon, when I was in high-school. That was the day when I decided to be truthful to others.
While listening to my form master, I had a small but powerful moment of clarity and decided that no matter the situation I’d find myself into, I would always tell people the truth. Don’t think I was excessive in terms of “not telling the truth”, as against other friends or kids the same age. I was normal. But, out of the blue, I concluded that any version of the truth except “reality”, was a waste of time. Mainly I came to that conclusion because I was always forgetting what I previously said. I also saw it as an unnecessary load that I didn’t want to carry on even at a small level.
It was a rule of mine that helped a lot and strangely enough, I stuck with it since then.
Today though, something strange happened. I had a casual meeting with a friend who’s also an entrepreneur. We were talking about my company and for the first time, for the first time in quite a while(years), I felt completely dishonest. While talking, I was trying to make logical connections that didn’t exist between unfinished pieces of my work so that it would enhance the “vision”. When I realized that some of those connections weren’t there, I pushed them to be. I knew it’s not good and I panicked. The feeling became so intense to a point where I saw every single thing that was coming out of my mouth as a complete chain reaction of odd, illogical set of words that go up against each-other in the most obvious possible way. My stomach turned upside down and I entered into a state of anxiety that blinded the conversation and sent me at a 3rd person, observer level of the situation. When I got out, literally, I couldn’t even talk. I was blank.
That didn’t happen to me before and I will never let it happen again. As a Founder and CEO of any company you have a big vision, a vision that you’re always selling to other people. You know/see every detail of your work and try to make it, so that it reflects the future and the “grand plan”. This is very common between entrepreneurs. “Fake it till you make it” they say.
My simple advice: don’t fake it. You either make it or not.
Be aware that faking could lead down a slope where you try to convince other people that something you believe in is true(even if you don’t know for sure). You will come up with details to enhance your point of view and you will not be honest with yourself. You will start defending against simple questions that come from people with good intentions and you will start protecting the image of your work in an aggressive way, to its complete detriment. As with the high school story, faking, it’s more complicated than making it. So focus on making it.
Be patient with the things you create. It takes time for them to become “big”. You should love them even when they’re small and ugly and people say they’re useless. It’s your work.
I don’t think I will ever forget this day. If back then I decided to be truthful to others, today i remembered to be truthful to myself(and my work included).