This is my second week being a full time entrepreneur and the most striking feature of the journey so far has been the extreme uncertainty of it all. I would like to share some of the Q&A sessions which have occurred in my head in the past few weeks, and their outcome.
In the past couple of days, I have had the pleasure of reading two thought provoking essays. One by Paul Graham, the venerable programmer / entrepreneur, and the other by Seth Godin, the venerable spokesman for permission marketing in the modern world.
Many connections formed in my mind as I read those essays, and those connections have made their way into this blog post.
In my previous post, I talked about the unique difficulties faced by a total newbie. At the end of that piece, I said that a beginners best friends were persistence, diligence, and awareness, coupled with a good dose of openness. That post got me pondering on the very fine balance between planning, learning, and adapting.
The crux of the matter is that not very much gets done without some sort of planning. At the same time, planning incites action and action incites learning. So ones plan needs to be constantly adapted in the light of new experience in order to remain relevant.
So, how does one plan effectively? While there is no one-size-fits-all method, I would like to share my planning strategies in this post.
These days I have been reconnecting with the trials and tribulations of being a total newbie. The credits for this humbling experience are due to my efforts to get my first Internet company off the ground. My experience has caused me to reflect on the oh-so-familiar situation of being a rank beginner, and I would like to share my thoughts on the topic in this post.
I think there are two skills which are crucial for a programmer: the capacity for elegant mathematical thinking, and a keen understanding of the characteristics of computing technology. In this post I would like to elaborate on the nature of each of these skills and share my personal methods for keeping them sharp and relevant.
The topic of industrialization has been on my mind a lot these days. By 'industrialization' I loosely mean the principles that have driven large scale manufacturing during the industrial revolution. These principles include the division of labor, specialization of skill, the use of production lines, increased usage of numeric metrics of quality, etc.
While I concede that the comforts of our modern life are largely the product of the industrial process, I find myself rebelling against the idea these days. The reason for my rebellion is that I am being exposed to 'industrial processes' for the first time in my life as a programmer, and I find them very stifling.
How do industrial processes enter the life of a programmer? Through the theory of Software Engineering, which prescribes sets of rules and metrics for programmers in large organizations to follow. This theory tries to apply the principles of division of labor, specialization, quantitative metrics for quality, etc. to software development.
The distinction between practice and play for musicians is fairly clear. A musician spends most of her time in the privacy of her practice room working on her music. She spends a comparatively small amount of time playing her music for audiences. There is a clear boundary between these two activities.
In practice, the conscious focus is on the minutiae. One focuses on the fingering, clarity of notes, being in rhythm, being on time, getting it all right. One brings a totally conscious awareness to the practice process. One listens to every sound, feels every sensation, and maintains a clear intention of what one wants to achieve. And all of this is toward sensitizing your body to the music and training your subconscious correctly.
In play, one puts the conscious mind to rest and lets the subconscious carry one through. Play is about feel. It is about flow. It is about letting go and letting the music take you. Only the greatest musicians are able to maintain this flow through an entire performance. And this capacity is earned through decades of the right kind of practice.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have dreamed would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.
WH Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition