Network thinking

Some while ago I read a book that demonstrated something about how different people think. The book showed that at least 90% of people, when working out a problem, would create a list, with indents and subindents, etc. This was true even if the native language was Arabic or some other non-English alphabet. Same format.

A much smaller group created notesheets that wandered in circles, included pictures and arrows, and generally looked like total disarray. Michaelangelo was among that group.

I see that real network thinking is a process of bringing in information from apparently random sources to re-organize it in a new way to create a new entity — solution, poetry, piece of art, invention, whatever. Not all people think in this way.

But I believe that this thought process can end up looking like genius when it has access to enough dots to connect, so that finally, the connected dots make sense and innovation happens.

The Value of Time

If you’ve ever taken an Economics class, you probably understand that opportunity cost is an important idea to keep in mind — which is essentially what Jack Groetzinger, founder of SeatGeek, described in his recent post titled “The Value of Time“.

However, there are some other factors which are also important. For one, money now is worth more than money later. It’s easy to imagine future earnings discounted based on how far in the future they are; I think traditionally they are discounted exponentially.

Another is that time worked is not necessarily proportional to productivity. Perhaps this is true for the most menial of factory work, but for creative endeavors like programming it isn’t. In fact, working more can make you less productive.

You also have to keep your risk tolerance in mind. That is, a 1% chance of earning $1000 is not the same as a 10% chance of earning $100.

And, of course, opportunity cost also applies to all sorts of resources like money (especially in some liquid form) as well as time. This is something to keep in mind if you plan on investing money in something illiquid (ie. a startup).

In short: opportunity cost is important, but so are a bunch of other things.

Failure is part of the process

Most people in your life are always going to disapprove of your entrepreneurial decisions, or outside-the-norm inclinations. If you’re always looking outward for validation, you’re never going to get it.

Unfortunately, failure is the risk we outside-the-norm types face. We roll the dice, even if we try to roll them intelligently. And so, you failed this time. The dice came up empty. It sucks. I can’t possibly tell you it doesn’t, and I won’t try to sugar coat it. It cuts you to your very soul, and it weighs you down. It makes you feel worthless and helpless.

But the important thing is that you don’t let a failure become failure. Learn from this one. You’ll need time to get back on your feet, rebuild, and distance yourself from the emotional impact of this failure. But eventually, when you’re strong enough, you’re going to want to revisit it. Because you’ll find quite a bit of experiential knowledge in it.

The difference between people who fail, and people who are failures, is that the former learn from their mistakes. They draw wisdom from them, so they don’t repeat them. That’s what matters.

Crappy people

Everyone thinks their opinion matters. Don’t argue with a nobody. A farmer doesn’t bother telling a pig his breath smells like shit.

A number of years ago I had a two part epiphany.

There are crappy people in the world. They are rare, but they exist. They fight with everyone and can’t help themselves. They are unhappy and want to spread their misery.

But since I already knew the world had plenty of crappy people, there was no reason for me to be surprised, angry or upset when my path crossed one. When someone appears to be a crappy person, one of two things is going on.

First, this may simply be a good person having a bad day. If so, they don’t need me in their face.

Or, this could be a genuinely crappy person who needs a can of whoop-ass opened up on them. But I don’t have to do it. They will come across another crappy person and serve each other. Not my job.

Simply understanding these two things has greatly enhanced my peace.

Twitter ate my lunch

Earlier today, Twitter announced a new feature called “Tailored Trends”, something almost identical to what my friend Bilal and I created at a hackathon two months ago. We pulled an all-nighter this past Sunday to finish it so we can launch by the end of the week.

Trends help you discover the emerging topics people are talking about on Twitter. You can see these topics as a worldwide list, or select one of more than 150 locations. In order to show emerging topics that matter more to you, today we’re improving our algorithms to tailor Trends based on your location and who you follow on Twitter. [source]

Stay focused. Have clarity of purpose. Move on.