Sebastian Marshall wrote a great article about a way to prevent yourself from “giving in” when you’re working towards a goal. Often times, I say “screw it, I finished such-and-such medium-sized project, let’s dig into some steak/these brownies/some dessert… I haven’t in a long time.” Not only is it dangerous, but you eventually lower the criteria for “event for celebration”, and it’s so easy to give in.

One way to suppress this urge to give in, says Sebastian, is thinking the following: “Self destruction is generally counterproductive.” It’s smart. The idea is that, all things considered, giving in is almost always net negative. So why do it?

The thought goes from appealing to counterintuitive—usually, at least. Sometimes those brownies just smell too good.

*  *  *

It’s important to think about why this works, since that could tell us what makes it so effective, and maybe we could apply this thinking elsewhere. When you get into a stage where you’ve done away with something and used your self-control to do so, you eventually fatigue of doing the correct, but enormously less satisfying thing. (At least, that’s what dieting tastes like.) Rewarding yourself is now appealing and your self-discipline is weak.

So how does it work? My thought is: getting this reminder triggers a subconscious memory of when you first decided to set the goal, and reminds you of why you did it and what you imagined the end result to be. With this perspective floating in your mind, the urge to do better and be better, because indulging does mean a net negative, overpowers the nagging thought of the satisfaction of indulgence. This reminder gets you into the perspective and mindset from when you set your goal.

Another method for reconsidering the decision to indulge (or in this case, to drop the ball) is the well-known Seinfeld rule of “don’t break the chain” for keeping habits. I think there are a lot of ways this can be triggered.

However, rewards are definitely important, and sometimes indulging is the right thing to do. The problem lies with that it’s too easy to get into a habit of bad rewards. The idea of repositioning your perspective to see things from a past mindset can help set better, net-positive rewards. It’s powerful because one thing that is incredibly hard to hold on to is a mindset you had in the past, which you used to set a goal. Sometimes, after a short while of inspiration and discipline, it deteriorates, while the urge to defect becomes stronger. Being in the original mindset is a good way to hold fast to your original goal.

Steve Jobs’ magnum opus—his life’s great work—will be not just Apple, but creating an Apple that will continue to revolutionize without him.

It’s one extraordinary feat to build a company from near-collapse 14 years ago, to one of the most innovative companies today.

It’s a whole different story for Jobs to look back on what he’s done and try to build the company to follow the dynamics of his leadership and his direction to continue without him. To reflect on what worked and replicate that success. To reflect on what didn’t work and avoid those in the future. To train his succeeding leaders on what he’s learned and how to implement that knowledge.

If Jobs succeeds, then he was able to isolate the secret sauce of building one of the most innovative and disruptive companies, with all of its leadership dynamics, strategy, operational procedures and everything else—and implement it, so that the company operates on cruise control with help from the leaders he’s trained, and continues its unmatched innovation.

Doing what Steve did—building a revolutionary company—is something that few have done. He will have taken this a step further, if this switch succeeds. Steve Jobs would have achieved his magnum opus: understanding why what he did worked, and implementing it so that Apple can continue revolutionizing technology.

That’s the barometer of meaningful work.

Don’t work to be famous and be on the minds of those that don’t intend to do anything with their lives and go day after day without ambition.

Change the lives of the individuals that are making change themselves.

Success and failure, they are separated mainly by those who try, those who don’t, and all the subtle levels in between. To try means to move your ass, get out there, and hustle. The whole fucking world is open to you. Everything you love in this world that nature didn’t deliver to you was created by a hustler. By those who try. All the billions of people on this planet, they each need help with almost every detail of their existence. You can certainly be of value somehow.

Had to share this. From Judd Weiss’ about page.

Thursday, January 27, 2011
Microsoft NERD
  • “Most of you are entrepreneurs, which means most of you are going to fail.”
    • we’re wasting time by pouring smart people into ventures set to fail.
    • remember when Web 2.0 was still cool?
  • we have to get better about talking candidly about failure
  • waterfall methodology/traditional product management
    • all entrepreneurship is difficult to manage, so we manage it by a metaphor
    • why doesn’t waterfall work?
      • we successfully can execute the plan, but we don’t know if the plan is good
      • metaphor: drive at the right speed, on schedule, but we drive off a cliff
    • three “shadow beliefs” that we don’t really know
      • #1: “we know what customers want”
      • #2: “we can accurately predict the future”
      • #3: “advancing the plan means progress”
        • if we’re building something nobody wants, who cares if it’s high-quality? is it progress to advance the plan, or do your job, if the plan is failure?
    • main idea against waterfall/traditional product management: “If we’re building something nobody wants, what does it matter if we accomplish it?”
  • Lean Revolution
    • in Japan, started the lean manufacturing mantra
      • old mantra is wrong
      • if we go lean, we can drive waste out of the process
    • Ries picked up Agile Product Development
      • despite the name, agile still has its roots inside larger companies
      • Agile works when the problem is known, solution unknown
        • (this doesn’t work in startups)
  • we need a iterative, waste-free customer-based way
    • Lean Startups’ unit of progress: validated learning
    • Eric Ries at IMVU: his really good idea (interoperability with instant messaging + 3d avatar system), used 6 months to build the product, which actually turned out to not be a good idea
    • had to throw it out and pivot – all of the code was thrown away
      • he built something that nobody wanted, so it was of no use
    • If my goal in the last 6 months was to learn this important bit about customers, why did we need 6 months? we would have learned the same from less code. or… even any code?
      • we could have basically learned the same with a fake landing code with a spec. we would have known people didn’t want the product because we didn’t get any clickthroughs on a landing page
    • job #1 in startup: do whatever it makes to make the company successful period.
      • need new vocabulary for what entrepreneurs “do”
  • entrepreneurship is management
    • institution-building: the coordinated building of something
    • we’re prejudiced about “management” – we need something called Entrepreneurial Management
      • design and build institutions under situations of high uncertainty
    • Eric Ries apologies for the overhypedness of this word.
    • What do successful startups have in common?
      • they know the process on how to tell good function from bad function
      • systematically re-evaluation of your startup until you achieve product-market fit (PMF)
      • what is runway? it’s how many pivots you have left
      • pivots powered by learning
      • lean startups are all about speed.
        • if you have fast cycle times to tweak until you achieve product-market fit, you can get to PMF faster than others – speed
    • startup: catalyst for ideas -> code
      • customers interacting with code: qualitative and qualitative data
    • Apple found a balance: don’t overinvest into something that doesn’t matter, but put in just enough to get to the next pivot (more learning)
  • Lean startup principles
    • 1. entrepreneurs are EVERYWHERE
        • “we can find entrepreneurs everywhere we seek out uncertainty”
        • no “safe industries” – “waves of destruction” went through industries
      • innovation accounting
        • the most boring topic in entrepreneurship
        • today: accounting -> accounting where money goes
        • not what it was made for – accounting was invented to drive accountability for managers
        • it’s a mathematical model for management
        • at GM, they had mathematical models – accounting was meant to separate what managers did versus the random environmental factors that happened
          • (if a manager exceeded their sales estimate by 10%, but it was a 10% better year for cars all year, they’re at parity, not exceeded)
        • we need a new accounting paradigm for entrepreneurs
          • actionable metrics, not vanity metrics
          • not what happened in the past but the future
        • test of value in the startup: customers engage in a voluntary exchange with the startup
          • time, attention, referrals,
          • Facebook: viral growth, value component, because there was customer engagement and interaction
      • need an accounting paradigm for entrepreneurs to demonstrate quantitatively that we’ve done validated learning – real experiment
        • we can affect customer actions through our own actions
        • actionable metrics: our own actions affect customer actions (mark’s notes: this is repeatable)
        • vanity metrics: random environmental events, press spikes, etc. (mark’s notes: this isn’t repeatable)
    • how do we know when to pivot?
      • we know when to pivot when our product experiment efforts don’t really move the needle
      • we can make excellent decisions 3 years ago, but if our current experiment efforts aren’t doing anything, there is a problem
    • the automobile revolution: 500 other companies before Henry Ford that failed because they didn’t have the right process that Ford had
    • when we pivot, we DON’T pivot the VISION, we PIVOT the STRATEGY
  • should a feature be in your MVP?
    • good rule of thumb: no


  • #1: Jason Evanish: how do you keep your engineers having faith in the process when so much is done without them initially for mvps? #leanstartups cc @msmamet
    • keep them calm
    • abandon the crutch of the reality distortion field to keep them calm
    • dishonest to do that ^ — accept uncertainty
  • #2: questioning the usage of the word “movement”
    • it’s not religion, it’s science
    • ……. still going
    • used to think VCs are the way to evangelize to entrepreneurs
      • (though they want to advance their portfolio)
  • #3: How do you test a product people aren’t actively searching for?
    • when does it work?
      • solves an acute problem
      • … that customers know they have
      • … that customers know the name of the problem
    • what if it doesn’t work?
      • need another way
      • outbound advertising to inbound learning
        • IMVU: adjacent markets
        • “world of warcraft chat”, etc.
        • didn’t want to know anything but: what are the differences in conversion rates across channels?
          • they found out who the customer wants
      • dropbox’s video: an MVP on Digg and etc
      • Ries works with MBAs. why?
        • process/discipline oriented
        • predisposed to learn a new management paradigm, since they’ve already done that
        • entrepreneurs are a bit sloppy about it
      • we need to know what exactly is making things go up or down – reject vanity metrics
  • #4: innovation accounting: know what to measure? consistent across all startups?
    • the right things to measure are clear and consistent across all startups (but only at a high level of abstraction)
      • measure two things:
        • value test: does it make value?
        • if yes, does it have an engine of growth that is working?
      • driving metaphor
        • engine: constant revolutions
        • driver: build-measure-learn
          • you can’t build a list of step-by-step actions of how to drive a car to a destination (with every action, turn on steering wheel, etc.), because you respond to the environment
          • however, that’s how we do product development, right now — build a plan, execute on that plan, without responding to the environment
        • compulsive behavior with Facebook, like photo tags (viral)
      • sticky growth: engine of growth that is addictive
    • engines are all feedback loops: they have compunding effects
      • we can have hockey-stick improvements but we don’t know what is driving it
      • that is what we’re trying to prevent – control over the actions that really make change and results
  • #5: advice for getting to market first if your product is easily replicated?
    • exercise
      • take your second best idea.
      • try to get somebody to steal it.
      • contact a product manager and try to get them to implement it in their next version.
    • <over-repeated>ideas have no value</over-repeated>
    • you have to go through the process of REFINING a good idea
    • first-mover advantage: extremely rare in reality
  • #6: how to get this into a company that isn’t really built on lean startups?
    • work is a system, and systems are perfect at what they do today
      • what is the organizational change process we want to do?
      • implementing cold-turkey lean startup methodologies won’t work
    • find one areas where there is a stress/pain point in the company
      • there are a community of people that might be trying to solve the problem
      • try an experiment – lean startups are a science
    • can’t have high expectations – have to measure the actions with validated learning
  • #7: how does lean startups affect the world of sales force?
    • four steps to the epiphany – Steve Blank
    • sales people aren’t really paid at listening – they don’t take no for an answer
      • entrepreneurs: no is powerful: we want to figure out why
      • Mark’s notes: to sales people, no is a dead end. to entrepreneurs, no isn’t a roadblock or a dead end, it’s an opportunity for validated learning to take place – why did they say no?
    • entrepreneurs should start out doing their own sales for validated learning