I’ve been noticing a lot of noise in the startup ecosystem recently and I’ve seen enough to the point where it’s worth writing about it.
Working for a startup can be one of the most exciting things you do. The lessons you learn from working at a startup are no doubt invaluable and will help you as your career grows. You pour tons of blood, sweat and tears into building an exciting product that you think has a shot at changing the world. Most fail, but that doesn’t matter to you because you’re a gambler.
Startups are great but I’m starting to see some recurring themes that are dragging down the culture of getting shit done. A lot of people think startups are the cool thing to do so they want to be part of it. The problem is that there’s just too much dilly dallying and not enough doing. I call all this nonsense ‘being caught up in startup hype’.
Startup hype = recurring themes in the startup ecosystem that look like they will help you reach overall goals but in reality don’t.
Here are some examples to avoid:
People will read articles on Hacker News and then go around spewing advice as if they have executed on these strategies on their own. Then when you sit back and think about their relevant experience, you’ll realize they have none. Wtf? Never take advice from someone who hasn’t done it. Unless you want to look stupid of course.
You’ll have the occasional person that attends literally every single networking event and yet doesn’t do much real work. They totally miss the point of networking by trying to collect as many ‘contacts’ as they can by moving on from individual to individual until there’s no one else to whore their business card out to.
What is the real purpose of networking anyway? It’s to help other people. What value is there in going out to every networking event when you bring no value to others? The goal should be to help others first and in order to do that, you need to have a skill that enables you to do so . Instead of focusing on building a rolodex of contacts, focus on building great relationships through the value that you provide.
When you hit goals, that’s fantastic. Celebrate with your teammates, give some high fives and then get back to work. Fast. Talking about how great you are all the time just leads to complacency. You work at a startup and shit is bound to hit the fan. That’s why having a somewhat cynical view of everything helps because it keeps you grounded. Staying grounded allows you to stay focused on shipping. Celebrating =/= shipping.
Shipping ain’t sexy, but it pays the bills.
Working for a startup is a wonderful thing. Amidst all the uncertainty, painful moments and late nights lies the understanding that succeeding means you are moving the needle on something that you enjoy doing. It’s hard work and your company needs your skills to bring it to the promised land. Don’t screw it up by being distracted by all the startup hype.