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You wind around ridges and through valleys, woods, farms, and the odd tiny village for quite a while and then take a very long dirt and/or gravel road in various states of upkeep. Keep going for a few miles and you come across a small pull off, and a sign.
In 1856 this area was pretty wild, and one spring day two children, brothers ages 5 and 7, disappeared. Their dad had gone off into the woods to see why their dog was barking. When he returned they were gone.
The dad looked for them and not finding them enlisted neighbors. Within a few days there were apparently hundreds if not thousands of people from the wider region out combing the mountains.
A guy wrote a book about this whole series of events in 1888 that chronicles how weird things got, which if you have the time and inclination to read this extremely dramatic and maudlin retelling of things, you can find here:
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How did you get your first customers for WIP? How did you grow BetaList’s traffic? Etc.
Makers are looking to reverse-engineer success. I see it everywhere.
I don’t think it works that way and the answers to those questions are mostly useless. 💥
I have built dozens of different products over the last couple of years. The vast majority failed. 😭
Surely if I know the answers to these questions, but still fail over and over again, these answers aren’t that useful. 🤷♀️
So what’s a better question to ask? 🤔
99.9% of the questions I receive are about the products that did well. In a way that makes sense, because we quickly forget about those that didn’t succeed.
🧠 This is known as survivorship bias.
Focusing on what survived, while ignoring what made it survive in the first place.
The real question, what you really want to know, is this:
What makes @WIP, @BetaList, and to some extent @AllStartupJobs succeed where my countless other attempts failed?
What separates a failed product 👎 from a successful product 👍?
Honestly, I don’t know. I wish I did.
It’s like Steve Jobs said “I’ll know it when I see it.” 👀
Same is true when we make products. We don’t know upfront what will work. But once we see an inkling of a product that does have potential, it’s not that hard to spot.
Twitter: ok sure, we've changed the stars to hearts for likes
Users: no no, zero Nazis please
Twitter: yep we're getting rid of Vine
Users: nah hey, what about the Nazis
Twitter: ok ok fine, no more likes
Really though, if you had to ask any average user what were the main things leading to a bad "quality of debate" on this bad website, the tiny little heart symbols would not exactly be at the top of most people's lists
The Sentinelese are often described as “uncontacted,” but this not strictly true. They had a very significant contact in 1880 with Commander Portman.
Portman, the black sheep third son of some minor noble, was assigned by the English Royal Navy to administer and pacify the Andaman Islands, a job he pursued from 1880-1900 with the full measure of his own perversity.
Portman was erotically obsessed with the Andamanese, and he indulged his passion for photography by kidnapping members of various tribes and posing them in mock-Greek homoerotic compositions.
During his 20 years in a sexualized heart of darkness, Portman measured and cataloged every inch of his prisoner’s bodies, with an obsessive focus on genitals.
Like company moats, your personal moat should be a competitive advantage that is not only durable—it should also compound over time.
Characteristics of a personal moat below:
I'm increasingly interested in the idea of "personal moats" in the context of careers.— Erik Torenberg (@eriktorenberg) November 22, 2018
Moats should be:
- Hard to learn and hard to do (but perhaps easier for you)
- Skills that are rare and valuable
- Compounding over time
- Unique to your own talents & interests https://t.co/bB3k1YcH5b
2/ Like a company moat, you want to build career capital while you sleep.
As Andrew Chen noted:
People talk about \u201cpassive income\u201d a lot but not about \u201cpassive social capital\u201d or \u201cpassive networking\u201d or \u201cpassive knowledge gaining\u201d but that\u2019s what you can architect if you have a thing and it grows over time without intensive constant effort to sustain it— Andrew Chen (@andrewchen) November 22, 2018
3/ You don’t want to build a competitive advantage that is fleeting or that will get commoditized
Things that might get commoditized over time (some longer than
Things that look like moats but likely aren\u2019t or may fade:— Erik Torenberg (@eriktorenberg) November 22, 2018
- Proprietary networks
- Being something other than one of the best at any tournament style-game
- Many "awards"
- Twitter followers or general reach without "respect"
- Anything that depends on information asymmetry https://t.co/abjxesVIh9
4/ Before the arrival of recorded music, what used to be scarce was the actual music itself — required an in-person artist.
After recorded music, the music itself became abundant and what became scarce was curation, distribution, and self space.
5/ Similarly, in careers, what used to be (more) scarce were things like ideas, money, and exclusive relationships.
In the internet economy, what has become scarce are things like specific knowledge, rare & valuable skills, and great reputations.
1/ Mindset: Someone from NYC won't think about it twice before taking a 6h flight to the Valley for business. Why do Europeans perceive a 2-hour flight / train ride as such a big deal? Travel more, there's plenty of opportunities around the corner you know nothing about ✈️
2/ If you spent more than a month considering whether to expand abroad or not, just try. What’s the worst that can happen? You can always do a big international launch, fail, try again and communicate it as a big thing every time - no one will care / remember the previous time :)
3/ Europeans perceive int'l expansion as a massive cost and therefore spend 1/10th of what US startups spend on it every year. Invest more, but keep a startup mentality: launch from home first, assess the market & then save costs as you go in, e.g. stay at a friend's; not a hotel
4/ Whilst not excessively risky / costly, expanding internationally is HARD. It's like starting up all over again, finding Product Market Fit all over again & building your team all over again. PMF will have to be your #1 priority, and an indicator of whether to keep going or not