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.

It’s Not for Them, It’s for You


Someone asked me if they should still bust their butt and go beyond the call of duty at their job. It was their last week and they were never going to work with these people or in this industry again. What's the point?

I told them I thought they had it backwards. You don't go above and beyond to invest in the people around you, hoping it brings a return. You go above and beyond to invest in yourself, knowing it will.

Boogie Cousins got picked up by the Golden State Warriors on a one-year deal at a bargain price. He'd suffered a bad injury, so this was his year to rehab and show the market he's still got value. It's pretty clear he won't be back at Golden State after this year, and nobody expected he would going in. Boogie missed half the regular season rehabbing, then got injured again and is currently sitting out in the playoffs. His future depends entirely on his body getting healthy and his ability to prove it on the court. It would be easy for him to check out on the team on focus on his individual future. He gave them the minutes they expected and played well.

But instead, he's cheerleading, he's hyping, he's standing by his team and fully engaging in the huddle, locker room, and off the court. He's being a great teammate. The business return to him for this is negligible. But you can see the difference in a guy who takes personal pride in making a team better, whether he's on the court or not, and one who checks out. They do better. They have more fun. He's investing in himself.

When you join a company, team, or project, you don't owe them anything but the minimum you agreed to. But you owe yourself the best investment of your time and energy. Building social capital isn't just about returns from others. It's also about returns from within.

Try busting butt and being the best person in the world to work with. Then tell me you don't feel more awesome, confident, and content. Tell me you gain more from doing the minimum. I won't believe you because I know it's not true.

Don't go out of your way to help others out of altruism. There's never enough of that to muster. Do it as an investment in your own personal pride and self-respect.

Some people think they're getting ripped off if they do more work than required. I think you're ripping yourself off if you don't.

Don’t Start a Movement, Move the World


I used to believe that making a big impact on the world required a movement. I thought you had to get a bunch of people to believe certain things, and get those people to get more people and so on.

I don't like movements anymore. In fact, I like the opposite of movements.

Think about the iPhone, or Apple in general. No movement existed or was needed to make them change the way the world interacts with technology. Sure, there are pockets of True Believer Apple fans, but what actually moves the market isn't a Movement, but a great product. They just solve a problem and create value for individual customers. Really well.

Wal-Mart's an even better example. There are no fanboys or fangirls. In fact, there are many movements that exist for the sole purpose of disparaging or destroying Wal-Mart. Yet Wal-Mart is here, and has done more to raise the standard of living across America than every movement combined. They just solve a problem and create value for individual customers. Really well.

Movements are exhausting, and inevitably degrade to inward-looking, ingrown, inbred, inner-circle posturing and purging. They are self-righteous and generally annoying.

Things that actually move the world in a positive direction relentlessly focus on making something that makes someone's life better every day, offering it to them to accept or refuse, and adjusting to what people choose.

I want to create products and experiences that make people's lives better, as evidenced by the fact that they willingly part with their resources to obtain it, whether or not they know what they are a part of philosophically.

Adam Smith's great insight was that we didn't get our meat from the benevolence of the butcher, but by his regard to his self-interest. Yet lover and haters of Smith alike spend so much time appealing to benevolence, instead of creating stuff that makes it in our self-interest to engage.

I don't want fans. I want customers. I want to make total stranger's lives better, not just rally a mob.

I don't want a movement, I want to move the world.

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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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

 

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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