That’s right. I took the plunge.
For the first time since this crazy journey began I’m working on my startup wholly. No contract work, no nine-to-five, no side projects, and as I’m quickly discovering, no free time to think/write about anything! I started writing this post on 22nd June and only just got time this evening to proof read it and click Publish.
justFDI began with an email, from me to Spode. It took about 20 minutes of digging around old inboxes, but I found it, dated 26/04/2009:
Another sleepless night got me thinking- we should really start getting these ideas / products off the ground.
Here’s what I propose: justfdi.com
JustFDI seemed like a good name for a company at 4.30am. By registering as a proper company, we have limited liability, can pour different amounts of equity & debt funding in, be paid by it as staff, and add/ remove people (including ourselves) with relative ease.
JustFDI would start services, launch products, build websites, consult on other projects, whatever.
And just like that, we started. The name, short for Just Fucking Do It, marked my intention that we bootstrap a company and approach each project with the attitude that we would deliver or die trying.
It’s now 2012 and I’m finally working at justFDI full-time. The time it has taken to get this far is easily double what I anticipated, but I’m thankful for the journey here and the lessons I’ve learnt. And I cringe at how cheesy that last sentence reads.
Joel wrote about ways to bootstrap a startup on the side which I think is a pretty accurate description of what that path looks like.
I have not seen anyone talk about the immediate shock of having all your time to coordinate for yourself. For at least the first two weeks, I had this sick feeling in my stomach, which I guess was guilt. I felt like I was skipping work and I feared a phone call at any stage from my former employer asking where the hell I was. My mind and body both craved that routine to the extent that it felt very similar to when I quit smoking.
Next came a wave of uncertainty about what I was actually supposed to do with my time. To go from spending evenings and weekends on my startup, to having all hours of the day and night to pour my heart and soul into work – this was a massive change. I needed a whole new approach to time and task management.
What saved me was getting set up with a proper office that wasn’t in or near my house. Working from home isn’t something I could adjust to. I either found myself completely distracted, or unable to separate myself from my work, and really anti-social to the extent you could say I had cabin fever.
I am pleased to say that for the first time – I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
Nothing to see here.
Today I found out David has died. In the night. From a heart attack. Bugger.
I have a handful of happy memories of David, my godfather.
I remember him being a lodger in our family home. At the time he stayed in our spare room, which he slowly filled with books.
He had an old green BMW with rusty doors. Then he bought a new BMW in navy blue with sports mode – which made the car so fast it scared him.
We had a party or something in the summer and he pushed me on the rope swing in our garden. I was getting quite high and then the swing rotated around and I went back-first into the tree. I cried a lot, he looked mortified.
Then more recently I went to a pre-selection weekend at the Royal Corps of Signals. There I met this guy who had studied under David at Sherborne School. In his words, “you’re Hedders’ godson?! He’s a LEGEND!”
I really wish I had seen David teach. He spent all his time reading, absorbing new information like a sponge. I never got to see how he put that knowledge and his razor sharp wit to use.
When I think about David, I think of a man I looked up to – and not just because he was so damned tall – but because he was a true academic who instilled in me a thirst for knowledge.
He showed me the value of reflection and quiet time to gather your thoughts.
David, you’ll always be in my thoughts. RIP.
Source: Allen Gannett for The Next Web
Imagine a world without networking.
A world where someone introducing himself at a conference isn’t trying to invade your Rolodex.
A world where people try to form relationships with you, not just because you can help them find a “rockstar CTO,” but because they want to be your friend or share and build ideas with you.
A world where endless “networking events” are replaced with mixers and mingling, where panels on “how to network” are erased from conference programs, where books such as Networking Like a Pro have been burned and relegated to the ash heap of history.
The networking needs to end
Sometime in the last five years, people decided to take career advice far too seriously and center their professional lives around this oddfangled concept of “networking.”
The technology world is particularly guilty. With entrepreneurship and (especially) fundraising being such connection-driven activities, there are countless events designed to give techies networking opportunities. Go to one of these events and witness attendees accosting others they barely know: “Can you intro me to Dave McClure?” “I hear you brunch with Fred Wilson?”
Stating your desire to network with someone is a bald assertion that you seek a transactional relationship. You want to leverage their business and personal contacts to your advantage. It’s explicitly manipulative.
There shouldn’t be barriers between professional and personal relationships
Some of this stems from our general awkwardness around professional relationships. We tend to keep the people who we meet through work in a bucket we call “professional relationships.” We create a false barrier that prevents connecting with them personally, other than idle banter at the start of a conference call.
In fact, the people you meet through work are perhaps your best pool of potential friends. You have a shared interest with them, spending a substantial part of your day working on similar problems. Placing them off limits as friends because they are “work contacts” is a false and unnecessary restriction.
The utilitarian would ask, “What’s wrong with doing business or networking where there is a mutual benefit?” However, business deals done with bad people never end well. If someone is not good enough to be friends with, then why do business with them? Ultimately, humans are responsible for implementing business contracts and partnerships. If you can’t trust the person on the other end, then why do it?
We Need to Start Treating People as People
Being technologists often means that we spend a lot of time interacting with systems: Engineering is a system, digital marketing is a system, venture capital is a system. Systems abound. Yet we need to stop trying to manipulate human interaction as if it was just another system. Our connections with people, even in our work life, should be based on relationships of genuine humanity, not shallow tit-for-tat interactions.
Maybe it was just that we misheard the career advice. Somewhere along the line we thought that building relationships with other people meant simply getting their email address and guilting them into responding. But we’re missing the point. These pseudo-relationships aren’t fulfilling. They end the day you stop providing material value to the other party.
The line between personal and professional relationships should be blurry. We should do business with good people, and we should be friends with good people. Creating mental dividers is neither necessary nor desirable.
Instead, we should focus on people above business. Think about that first time you met your significant other’s family. You had a lot in common (i.e., your shared appreciation of their son or daughter), but at the same time knew very little about who they were as people. You don’t enter these relationships seeking to leverage them, but rather with the understanding that these people may be future family. You seek to understand them as people, and embrace them as people—not just “connections.”
Try viewing other people in tech the way you view your potential in-laws. You share a love with other techies, but it’s of technology and innovation. What’s wrong with valuing your other techies as people and getting to know them as people, rather than viewing each as just another node in the system?
Let’s not only imagine a world without networking, let’s live it. Let’s embrace friendships within technology, not just LinkedIn connections and AngelList introductions. Let’s stop reading those HackerNews pieces on “Hacking the Social Graph.”
Let’s ask people to hang out on weekends, not just grab coffee to discuss work.
Let’s go on a mountain hike, not just smile across the room at another techie happy hour.
Let’s never have to get invited to a “networking event” again.
Let’s end networking.
I agree, to an extent.
We need events to take ourselves away from the keyboard, to meet the faces behind those RFPs and Invoices bubble wrapped in passive-aggressive emails.
What needs to happen is a fresh look at Networking 2.0
That was the title of my post-graduate dissertation, examining the relationships built between entrepreneurs in the Web2.0 industry and providing an alternative view of how start-ups interact with large enterprises (a published study titled “Dancing with Gorillas” had made strategic ties seem clumsy and impossible).
A great deal has changed since I sweated over my own War and Peace. Namely I would expect a new study to include a look at start-up incubators like Y Combinator.
My hunch is relationships forged in an incubator between companies will be considerably stronger than otherwise. I sincerely hope that working at an incubator is akin to joining a close-knit community.
If each day slipped by with incubator members sat in total silence – as though stood awkwardly in an elevator with total strangers – that would surely negate any advertised benefit to owning desk space there.
The in-laws analogy is tight. Give everyone you meet the best possible impression of yourself, and put their needs first in a genuine way.
I’ve seen two videos that I like:
The Day The LOLcats Died
@Google: Lawrence Lessig: Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It
I know this second video isn’t specifically about SOPA / PIPA, but once you’ve watched it I have no doubt you’ll understand why I like it.
Problems I encountered:
- Does not automatically check for new content
- Does not maintain the formatting from the Note (although it warned about this in the plugin FAQ)
- Does not bring any of the meta data I had hoped for – tags, URL the Note is clipped from, author etc
The Everpress plugin has now been uninstalled from this blog, but I am still fond of the original idea so I shall be researching for an alternative process.
The Internet Is a Human Right At first, I was surprised to see a New York Times OpEd by Vint Cerf with the title “Internet Access Is Not a Human Right .” But once I started to read I began to understand the point that Cerf was trying to make. It comes out clearest in the sentence “technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself” which in modified form is also part of our investment thesis at Union Square Ventures. We don’t invest in technology per se, but what that technology allows startups to build. That’s an important distinction. We don’t go looking for “mobile startups” but rather startups that use “mobile” to do something that wasn’t possible before . Yet I think Cerf is selling the Internet short, which is ironic given that he is one of its co-creators. The Internet is not really a technology but rather a set of principles that have become embodied in a bunch of different technologies. I am going to quote at some length from a document that Cerf also co-authored about the history of the Internet :…
All the Angry People A man out of work finds community at Occupy Wall Street. by George Packer December 5, 2011 Until this fall, Ray Kachel had lived virtually all of his fifty-three years within a few miles of his birthplace, in Seattle. He was a self-taught Jack-of-all-trades in the computer industry, who bought his first Mac in 1984. He attended Seattle Central Community College but dropped out; not long afterward, he was hired by a company that specialized in optical character recognition, transferring printed material into digital records for storage. Eventually, Kachel was laid off, but for a long time he continued to make a decent living; keeping up with advances in audio and video production, he picked up freelance work editing online content. He also programmed and played keyboards in a band, and had a gig as a night-club d.j.; sometimes, between technology jobs, he worked in his adoptive parents’ janitorial business. He spent his money on a few pleasures, like microbrewery beer and DVDs. His favorite m…