Create Your Own Meaning


Humans can't survive without meaning.

But finding meaning is overrated. Creating meaning is the real super power.

I used to take the rationalist approach to things like holidays, rituals, or special occasions. Why should any day have more value or good fortune than another? Seemed stupid to make some sun cycles more special than others and get all worked up about it.

Now I have a more useful approach. Special days and rituals do have meaning if I choose to give it to them. It's like a power boost in my back pocket. I can create meaning in days that others already find special, or brand new ones. Rather than deny or decry the power of special occasions, I can use them playfully to have a better life.

Whether or not it's a necessary or objective part of reality, humans think in cycles and seasons, and narratize these to give some more meaning than others. There's a rhythm to it. On days, off days, and training days. We can let the meaning be imposed on us, or we can choose our own rhythmic calendar. We can work with or against the forces of nature. Both can be useful.

Rather than trying to discover where you are in someone else's story, you can decide where you want to be in your own. This is powerful stuff.

Today, I'm starting a new notepad. The other one got full and I scanned it for anything I wanted to keep, then threw it away. Today, I crack the blank pages of a new place to sketch ideas and to-dos. I think I'm going to choose to make today a momentous day; the beginning of a new season of life. A new notebook will mark a new level.

A created this post to mark the occasion.

(See how it works! It's fun!)

Counter-Scheduling for Better Quality Work Time


When people think about working a ton of hours, they tend to assume the benefit is that you get a higher raw number of productive hours. I think one of the bigger benefits is that you get to work when other people are not. It's not just the quantity of hours, it's also when they occur.

An hour of work in the middle of normal working hours is less valuable than an hour of work outside hours where everyone else is also working.

This is why I love working on minor holidays (which I consider to be any holiday other than Christmas). There's something magical that happens to my thinking and productivity when the world is silent. Few emails or Slack messages coming in. No latent feeling of the need to be available. No sense that my work is more just me floating downstream with everyone else. It's clearly, quietly, just me and my focus. And it's glorious.

Most of the time, I don't like to work tons of hours. I'd rather have some of those hours with my family. But I still want the benefit of working when others aren't. The best way is often to just get up a few hours before most work starts for most people. And to work a few early hours on weekends and holidays. Right now I'm on the west coast, which makes this almost impossible. Even if I get up a five AM, half the working world is already at it, and so is my inbox and peace of mind. Out here, I feel like I have to start early not to get ahead, but to prevent getting behind.

But counter-scheduling works here too. At six PM, most of the rest of the world is watching Netflix and winding down. The late afternoon and evening hours out here are so much quieter. Pushing my work further on the other end brings big benefits. I prefer morning solo work, but I can adapt.

I try to set up my week so that at least one third of my productive time happens counter to the work time of others. I probably get two thirds of my work done in that time; if not in quantity then in quality.

Some Random Crash Whiteboard Brainstorm Stuff


It's kinda fun to document various phases of thinking and brainstorming along the way as we build a product and company.

A few pics I found on my phone. Some from almost a year ago when Crash was an idea, some from a few months ago as we dialed in the beta, some from last week.

Find Your Idiot Sponge and Use Them


It's important to be unafraid of looking like an idiot. It's also important to minimize the cost of looking like an idiot.

The higher the cost, the greater the fear, which strangles innovation and learning. It's easy to focus on the "don't be afraid to look like an idiot" part and forget about the lowering the cost component. True, you don't want to shut yourself down to avoid looking dumb, but you might harm yourself without even knowing it by being dumb in high cost environments.

It helps to pick a padded room where you can be an idiot without hurting yourself.

In my case, I use people.

I get a lot of ideas that feel super awesome. I'm very action biased so I want to go do all of them immediately. Unfortunately, the majority of the ideas turn out to be dumb. Before I go talking about or acting on them, I've learned to test them in an environment where the cost of stupidity is very low.

I call my brother Levi or my friend TK.

They are both great idiot sponges. I've heard Secret Service agents called "bullet sponges", since their job is to jump in front of a bullet to protect their client if need be. These guy absorb my stupid ideas before they have a chance to harm anyone. They provide the padded room I can be reckless in without harming myself too much.

Most of my big ideas now get filtered through one or both of them before I take any other action. They allow me to have the best of both worlds. Fearlessness about my reputation or looking dumb, and near-costlessness for when I do.

I can't tell you how many times they've saved me from my own stupidity.

Find an idiot sponge and use them.

What to Not Do is the Toughest Decision


Building the Crash career launch platform is a lot of fun. It's also super hard.

The hardest part isn't so much figuring out what to build to solve users pain points and help them launch careers, though that is a challenge. The hardest part isn't building the things we come up with either (especially for me, since the engineering team does most of that;-).

The hardest part is committing to NOT build a whole bunch of awesome fun stuff we want to make and that some customers would probably really like.

Choosing those "not yet" items, and sticking to the stuff we know we need more is way harder than you'd think. None of the trade-offs are clear cut. Lack of a super slick and sexy new feature might not impede customers from accomplishing their goals, while a really boring and tiny bug might. And in most cases, you won't know if either do or don't!

Sure, you try to be informed by the data, but early on, data is fairly thin, and choosing what to measure, how to measure, and to put in the time to create the ability to measure is not a data based decision, but a point of view, philosophy, gut decision. Plus data is useless without a theoretical lens through which to interpret it.

So you have to do a lot of thinking. Then clinch your teeth and say no to all the awesome stuff you want (and may even need...but who knows?)

I don't imagine this gets any easier with more resources. It just levels up the awesomeness of the stuff you have to say no to.

Scarcity is a pain in the ass. It's also the sole source of creative innovation, so there's that.

Minimum Mess Threshold


I need a minimum level of disorganized mess to get meaningful results.

It's hard to type that. I don't want it to be true. I hate messes, disorganization, tons of balls in the air. I like minimal, clean, organized, prioritized, listed, ranked stuff. "Delete, Shred, Destroy" is one of my mottoes.

The problem with my compulsive organization and integration habits is they kill progress if they go too far. When I have a flurry of ideas, it builds up productive pressure that seeks an outlet. If I immediately record, organize, de-duplicate, list, schedule, and assign every idea, the pressure is relieved. It's necessary to translate the ideas into something more legible and actionable, but if I do it too well there's no pressure left to push me to dive in. Making a list can become a substitute for completing the items on it.

I'm trying to reign in my drive to organize every impulse. I need some ideas not written down. Some processes not documented. Some conflicting hypothesis unresolved. I need to create the space for my subconscious to do some of its magic, and not let my lists suck all the juice from the creative act.

I can only tolerate a very small amount of messiness. But I need at least some minimum level to keep the pressure high enough to produce.

My maximum mess threshold is near zero (this very moment, I'm adjusting my phone on my desk to be exactly parallel to my laptop because the chaos of it being askew was clouding my ability to write peacefully). But my minimum mess threshold is greater than zero.

Time to Be Iron Man


https://medium.com/@isaacmorehouse/your-own-personal-iron-man-suit-f4eb7d080cc?source=friends_link&sk=44e53dc423db855b37d94a61b620de30

 

Personal Product-Market Fit


In startups, product-market fit (PMF) means you are in a good market with a product that can satisfy it. Early companies are mostly searching for PMF, adjusting both their product and the market they attempt to serve to find it. Once found, it's all about pouring on growth gasoline, but until you do, investing in growth activities is futile.

It's easy to think about finding a good product but easy to overlook identifying a good market. Your solution may be highly valued and easy to sell in one market, while the exact same solution may be worthless in another.

The concept of PMF can be applied to your early career development too. You are your own startup. It's easy to think about investing in professional growth, but unless you have PMF this will mostly be a waste of resources. You've got to do some testing and exploration, learn the problems various markets have, and work on you (the product) to find out how to solve them.

A great product can only be maximized in a great market. So if you are amazing at detailed analytics and data visualization (good product), but working in a sandwich shop or trying to get hired to do landscaping, you don't have PMF. You're in a market that's too small or not a fit for your product. And when you don't have PMF you don't really grow.

This is why moving to a new city or exploring unknown industries is so important early on. This is why getting out of the classroom and discovering what kinds of markets for your skills exist is so crucial. Most young people have nothing resembling a clue as to what markets exist or what skills are valued to what degree in each.

What's crazy is that right now, this very day, there is almost assuredly somewhere someone who values the skills you already have. Things you think not that professionally useful are highly sought somewhere. Sure, the product you have can always be improved, but even as is there is a market for it. The introduction to and exploration of the markets out there is totally absent in the education system. Most people spend the first two decades of their life completely outside of any useful info about markets.

Just as with a startup, finding PMF is a process of test and iterate. You can't just think about it and then emerge with perfect PMF. You don't need to know exactly what skills you should invest in and which market to focus on right away. You just need a rough starting point and a process of trial-error-feedback-adjustment to dial it in.

Not all skills are equally valued in every market. Not all markets are equally valuable. Where your PMF is, there will be your growth.

Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the CEO of Crash, the career launch platform, and the founder of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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Create Your Own Meaning


Humans can't survive without meaning.

But finding meaning is overrated. Creating meaning is the real super power.

I used to take the rationalist approach to things like holidays, rituals, or special occasions. Why should any day have more value or good fortune than another? Seemed stupid to make some sun cycles more special than others and get all worked up about it.

Now I have a more useful approach. Special days and rituals do have meaning if I choose to give it to them. It's like a power boost in my back pocket. I can create meaning in days that others already find special, or brand new ones. Rather than deny or decry the power of special occasions, I can use them playfully to have a better life.

Whether or not it's a necessary or objective part of reality, humans think in cycles and seasons, and narratize these to give some more meaning than others. There's a rhythm to it. On days, off days, and training days. We can let the meaning be imposed on us, or we can choose our own rhythmic calendar. We can work with or against the forces of nature. Both can be useful.

Rather than trying to discover where you are in someone else's story, you can decide where you want to be in your own. This is powerful stuff.

Today, I'm starting a new notepad. The other one got full and I scanned it for anything I wanted to keep, then threw it away. Today, I crack the blank pages of a new place to sketch ideas and to-dos. I think I'm going to choose to make today a momentous day; the beginning of a new season of life. A new notebook will mark a new level.

A created this post to mark the occasion.

(See how it works! It's fun!)

Counter-Scheduling for Better Quality Work Time


When people think about working a ton of hours, they tend to assume the benefit is that you get a higher raw number of productive hours. I think one of the bigger benefits is that you get to work when other people are not. It's not just the quantity of hours, it's also when they occur.

An hour of work in the middle of normal working hours is less valuable than an hour of work outside hours where everyone else is also working.

This is why I love working on minor holidays (which I consider to be any holiday other than Christmas). There's something magical that happens to my thinking and productivity when the world is silent. Few emails or Slack messages coming in. No latent feeling of the need to be available. No sense that my work is more just me floating downstream with everyone else. It's clearly, quietly, just me and my focus. And it's glorious.

Most of the time, I don't like to work tons of hours. I'd rather have some of those hours with my family. But I still want the benefit of working when others aren't. The best way is often to just get up a few hours before most work starts for most people. And to work a few early hours on weekends and holidays. Right now I'm on the west coast, which makes this almost impossible. Even if I get up a five AM, half the working world is already at it, and so is my inbox and peace of mind. Out here, I feel like I have to start early not to get ahead, but to prevent getting behind.

But counter-scheduling works here too. At six PM, most of the rest of the world is watching Netflix and winding down. The late afternoon and evening hours out here are so much quieter. Pushing my work further on the other end brings big benefits. I prefer morning solo work, but I can adapt.

I try to set up my week so that at least one third of my productive time happens counter to the work time of others. I probably get two thirds of my work done in that time; if not in quantity then in quality.

Some Random Crash Whiteboard Brainstorm Stuff


It's kinda fun to document various phases of thinking and brainstorming along the way as we build a product and company.

A few pics I found on my phone. Some from almost a year ago when Crash was an idea, some from a few months ago as we dialed in the beta, some from last week.

Find Your Idiot Sponge and Use Them


It's important to be unafraid of looking like an idiot. It's also important to minimize the cost of looking like an idiot.

The higher the cost, the greater the fear, which strangles innovation and learning. It's easy to focus on the "don't be afraid to look like an idiot" part and forget about the lowering the cost component. True, you don't want to shut yourself down to avoid looking dumb, but you might harm yourself without even knowing it by being dumb in high cost environments.

It helps to pick a padded room where you can be an idiot without hurting yourself.

In my case, I use people.

I get a lot of ideas that feel super awesome. I'm very action biased so I want to go do all of them immediately. Unfortunately, the majority of the ideas turn out to be dumb. Before I go talking about or acting on them, I've learned to test them in an environment where the cost of stupidity is very low.

I call my brother Levi or my friend TK.

They are both great idiot sponges. I've heard Secret Service agents called "bullet sponges", since their job is to jump in front of a bullet to protect their client if need be. These guy absorb my stupid ideas before they have a chance to harm anyone. They provide the padded room I can be reckless in without harming myself too much.

Most of my big ideas now get filtered through one or both of them before I take any other action. They allow me to have the best of both worlds. Fearlessness about my reputation or looking dumb, and near-costlessness for when I do.

I can't tell you how many times they've saved me from my own stupidity.

Find an idiot sponge and use them.

What to Not Do is the Toughest Decision


Building the Crash career launch platform is a lot of fun. It's also super hard.

The hardest part isn't so much figuring out what to build to solve users pain points and help them launch careers, though that is a challenge. The hardest part isn't building the things we come up with either (especially for me, since the engineering team does most of that;-).

The hardest part is committing to NOT build a whole bunch of awesome fun stuff we want to make and that some customers would probably really like.

Choosing those "not yet" items, and sticking to the stuff we know we need more is way harder than you'd think. None of the trade-offs are clear cut. Lack of a super slick and sexy new feature might not impede customers from accomplishing their goals, while a really boring and tiny bug might. And in most cases, you won't know if either do or don't!

Sure, you try to be informed by the data, but early on, data is fairly thin, and choosing what to measure, how to measure, and to put in the time to create the ability to measure is not a data based decision, but a point of view, philosophy, gut decision. Plus data is useless without a theoretical lens through which to interpret it.

So you have to do a lot of thinking. Then clinch your teeth and say no to all the awesome stuff you want (and may even need...but who knows?)

I don't imagine this gets any easier with more resources. It just levels up the awesomeness of the stuff you have to say no to.

Scarcity is a pain in the ass. It's also the sole source of creative innovation, so there's that.

Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program making degrees irrelevant for careers. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

Featured on -

Occasional Email Updates

Looking for something?


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