Inc. Magazine shared the following on their Facebook page.
“Do you share characteristics of super-successful people, or ordinary ones?”
With a link to the following article: 7 Traits That Distinguish Super Successful People From Ordinary Ones
Below is what I wrote in reply.
#1: “Do What You Love, But Follow the Money”. Great advice, he’s making the point that if you want to do what you love you have to make a sustainable business out of it. Though I much prefer P. Diddy’s quote: “Don’t Chase The Paper, Chase The Dream”.
#2: “Save Less, Earn More”. Good advice, don’t trap yourself by thinking you can’t be more wealthy. Be careful about this though, because money does not buy happiness.
#3: “Imitate, Don’t Innovate”. Awful advice. If all you care is about turning a dollar and not innovating then by all means use this as your mantra. Though this is why Microsoft is were they are. They have yet to break into any other market (tablet and smart phones) or create any other meaningful product aside from their original OS, which is only able to stay alive because of their monopoly. They are no better then the copy cat companies that exist all over the world.
#4: “Know-How Is Good, Know-Who Is Better”. Great advice, no one gets wealthy by themselves. You need to find your mastermind group that is going to send all the positive energy your way.
#5: “Win-Win Is a Sure Way to Lose”. Having a hard time trying to figure out what
this exactly means. My best bet is that you need to know what you are worth and
not sell yourself short.
#6: “Spread the Work, Spread the Wealth”. This quote is tied for first, spread the wealth that you generating. There are no self made millionaires, we need to give back society and to to those who have helped us and help those in need. We are all one big family in this world.
#7: “Nothing Succeeds Like Failure”. I would like to say upfront that I am a HUGE Steve Jobs fan. I love his story and what he has accomplished (plus I’m a native to the Bay Area). This is MY mantra, if you are not failing often (and learning from it) then you are not pushing your limits, you are not innovating, you are playing it safe. You might as well stick to advice #3 and put all your energy into raking in the money and not adding value to the world.
This is my summary of the third chapter (theme) of Do More Faster. Feel free to check the summary for the first chapter here and the second chapter here.
Chapter 3: Execution
Do More Faster
- Use your startup advantage over corporations. As a startup you are able to do more faster and take more risk.
Assume that You’re Wrong
- Be able to admit when you’re wrong. You must be able to admit a mistake before you can fix it.
Make Decisions Quickly
- Use your advantage of being able to make quick decision in your startup. Head in the direction of where the market is going not where it is.
It’s Just Data
- Learn how to sort through advice and decide what you think is good advice and what you think is bad advice. At the end of the day you should know what is the best decision for your startup.
Use Your Head, then Trust Your Gut
- Use your data to make decisions but be wary about using your data as the #1 decision maker. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.
Progress Equals Validated Learning
- Don’t measure your success purely on sales. Measure your potential to grow and be successful by knowing how to scale and automate your sales.
The Plural of Anecdote Is Not Data
- Don’t take an anecdote as literal advice. Gather more information before you start using an anecdote as data.
Don’t Suck at E-Mail
- Have a system for responding to e-mails. Accept the notion “You can’t get too much e-mail”.
Use What’s Free
- Use free and open source technologies. Stick with proven solutions and keep it simple.
Be Tiny Until You Shouldn’t Be
- Don’t be obsesses with growing your company. Focus on your product and once that is established you can focus on your company growth.
Don’t Celebrate the Wrong Things
- Celebrate the important milestones in your company i.e. hitting a large customer mile stone, hitting a revenue target, etc… Things like getting a new round of funding only matter if you are able to actually succeed in making a great product.
- Be specific to the things you are committed to doing, especially when it comes to release dates.
Learn from Your Failures
- Don’t hide your failures, learn from them. Wear them like a badge of honor, it lets people know that you’re experienced.
Quality over Quantity
- Focus on having a couple really fleshed out features on your product instead of implementing every feature you can think of.
Have a Bias Toward Action
- Be a person of action. Talk is cheap.
Do or Do Not, There Is No Try
- Go for something or don’t, if it really matters to you do it.
Favorite piece from this chapter? “Have a Bias Toward Action” takes the cake. I’m always a fan of doing instead of talking, I like to show what I’m doing and not just talk about it.
This is my summary of the second chapter (theme) of Do More Faster. Feel free to check the summary for the first chapter here.
Chapter 2: People
Don’t Go At It Alone
- Have at least one co-founder. Building a start-up is hard enough alone. Having someone to share the work, feedback, and downsides is a huge asset to your success.
Avoid Co-Founder Conflict
- Make sure everyone agrees on equity, company direction, and how the company will be run (salaries, shares, hiring/firing procedures). You want to get these things out of the way so you can focus on what really matters, your product/service.
Hire People Better Then You
- Don’t be insecure about hiring better people then you. Hiring better/smarter people will make your startup exponentially better.
Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly
- It takes time to find/hire great people. Don’t be afraid to fire an employee who doesn’t fit. Have something along the lines of a 90 day performance and 360 degree review (after someone works for 90 days you have the option of firing them if it’s not working out).
If You Can Quit, You Should
- You should be so obsessed and passionate about your startup that quitting is not an option, it should be impossible to quit.
Build a Balanced Team
- Find co-founders with complimentary skills. At the early stages of a startup it makes no sense to have more then one non-technical co-founder.
Startups Seek Friends
- Focus on establishing friendships in the early stages of your startup. Create two way relationships were both parties benefit. Do not create a sales-customer relationship early in your startup since you probably won’t have much to sale.
Engage Great Mentors
- Mentors are in invaluable part of a startup. It allows you to learn form other people’s experiences. Seek out a mentor if you don’t have one.
Define Your Culture
- Start up success is determined by the team, product, market, and culture. You must create a great culture in order for your startup to make a successful product/service.
Two Stikes and You Are Out
- You are only allowed to screw over Brad Feld once via lying/deceiving him, doing something illegal/immoral, or hurting him. If you screw him over a second time he’s finished with you forever.
- Help others without expecting anything in return. At the very least you’ll have the satisfaction that you helped someone.
Be Open to Randomness
- Be open to meeting random people, you’ll never know who you’ll meet and what impact they might have on your future.
I have to say, my favorite section from this chapter is “If you can quite, you should”. There are so many road blocks that you hit when running a startup, the ones who make it to the end are the ones who said “no” to quitting every time they hit one.
I recently started reading the book Do More Faster By David Cohan and Brad Feld. It contains a bunch of small stories of various entrepreneurs who have worked with Cohan and Feld at TechStars. What I really love about the book is how each small story is design to deliver one important message about running a startup.
For my own personal (and anyone else reading this) reference, I will be outlining the sections of each chapter (which they call themes) and writing out what I think is the take home message for each section.
Chapter 1: Idea and Vision
Trust Me, Your Idea Is Worthless
- Ideas are worthless, execution is everything. Most startup’s ideas change during the process of running the startup. Dont’ be gung-ho about executing your idea exactly as you pictured it, it will probably change.
Start With Your Passion
- The startup path is a very difficulty path, make sure you are doing something you are passionate about.
Look For The Pain
- Find something that people are having a painful time with and then fix it by making it easier and less painful.
Get Feedback Early
- Share your idea with as many people as possible and as early as possible to see if people like it. Don’t be afraid of people “stealing” your idea.
Usage Is Like Oxygen For Ideas
- Iterate in the in the wild. Push frequent updates in order to test features on actual customers. Do A/B testing.
Forget The kitchen Sink
- Avoid “everythingitis”. Focus on one thing and do it better then anyone else. Focus on quality not features.
Find That One Thing They Love
- Observer how your users use or misuse your product. This will tell you what your users really want to use your product for. You could use this as a sign to change the direction of your product or make a spin off.
Don’t Plan. Prototype!
- Focus on prototyping and iterating, don’t spend so much of your time planning (plans change).
You Never Need Another Original Idea
- Listen to your customers, they will tell you what your products needs.
Get It Out There
- Get your product out ASAP so you can get feedback early. Don’t build a “Dream Product”, you need customers in order to know what they want.
Avoid Tunnel Vision
- Don’t be set on a plan, most plans change in a startup.
- Focus on one thing, don’t waste time branching out.
- Iterate on all your products. Take the mistakes from your past products to learn about how you could make your current and future products better.
- You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Fail fast, learn quickly, and try again.
Pull The Plug When You Know It’s Time
- Learn when to pull the plug on a dead idea, don’t just wait and run it into the ground.
That’s all for chapter one, lots of great messages! I definitely recommend getting the book if you want to read the stories behind each message.
I decided to finally continue with the Challenge for Game Designer course that I started way back in July of 2009. I just finished up reading the second blog post by Ian (the person running the course), in which he stresses the importants of iterating and rapid prototyping a game. The take away message from this reading is that a game gets better the more you iterate through it. With that, he gave us a small assignment to go back to the original game that you designed in Level 1 (Ice Mountain) and actually give it a play through. Afterwards he wanted us to make one change and see how that affects the game play. Below you can see a picture of the final result of the first play test. My girlfriend helped me by being my only opponent, I ended up winning as the green thumb tack
Ice Mountain Play Test 1
- Lots of boring iterative play. There wasn’t really a whole lot going on, just lots of die rolling with nothing really fun/exciting happening
- Perhaps this could be solved by using more then one die. You could start out by being able to roll 3 dice, as soon as you are 1/3 of the mountain up you start rolling two dice. When you hit he top 1/3 of the mountain you roll one die
- Once a player got a head start, there was no real chance for the other players to catch up.
- The entire game revolves around luck, it all depends on how lucky you roll the die.
- No avalanches occurred the whole time we played.
- In order to fix this, all players could start with one “avalanche” card. Which allows them to cause an avalanche whenever they desire on either part of the board.
After taking my notes into consideration I decide to make the following two changes.
- While a player is between the starting square and the square marked with a two (see below) the player rolls 3 dice per turn. After the player passes the square marked with a two, the player rolls two dice per turn. Finally, once the player passes the 1 mark (towards the top of the board) the player is allowed to only roll one die per turn.
- Each player is given the ability to cause one avalanche on which ever side of the board they choose. This is kept tracked by placing two As at the bottom of the board and crossing them out when a player chooses to cause an avalanche.
Below is a picture of the final result for play test round 2. Again, I was declared the winner as the green tack .
Ice Mountain play test 2
Here are the my notes after testing the game with the new rules.
- The new rules caused confusion with my previous rule of avalanches occurring when a number is rolled 3 times consecutively. What if a player was at the point where he can only roll two dice, and he ends up rolling two dice of the same number. Does that mean that if the next player rolls that same number (whether the player is rolling 3/2/1 dice) an avalanche will occur? It seems like this rule would either have to be changed/refined or completely taken out.
- The ability to cause avalanches added a bit of skill to the game. Players needed to be careful when they used it, since they would like to maximize the number of square they knock back their opponent. But, at the same time not knock themselves back.
- The rolling of 3/2/1 dice rule helped the game move along far more quickly. There was less of a mindless die rolling time frame at the start of the game.
That’s about it. It was really fun testing out my first paper prototype, even though I only spent 15 minutes on the design:). Looking forward to Level 3!