How to do great work
Make something people want
Paul Graham is a Silicon Valley icon. He co-founded Y Combinator which invested in and supported the early development of AirBnb, DropBox and Reddit. Paul has a wealth of tech startup experience which he freely shares in his original and insightful essays. Whenever Paul publishes something new, I get excited. Here’s is a summary of his essay How to do Great Work.
The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. - Steve Jobs
Key principles that are common to all great work, regardless of the field, include:
Focus on our strengths. Don't try to be good at everything. Instead, focus on the things we’re naturally good at and we enjoy.
Work on things that matter. Don't waste time on projects that don't have any real value. Instead, focus on projects that we believe in and think will make a difference. Good Problems for our Apps to Address outlines seven characteristics I look for.
Be persistent. Great work takes time and effort. We should not give up if we don't see results immediately. I use techniques to establish Creative Momentum, including finding time and space to think.
Take risks. Great work often requires taking risks. Don't be afraid to try new things and to step outside of our comfort zone.
Get feedback from users. The best way to improve our product is to get feedback from the people who are using it. Talk to our users and find out what they like and dislike about our product.
Tech industry specific principles
I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. - Thomas Edison
Specific principles relating to the tech industry are:
Start small. Don't try to build the next big thing right away. Start by building something small and simple that we can complete in a short amount of time. Making a Minimum Viable Product outlines my approach.
Iterate and improve. Once we have a working product, we should be prepared to change and improve it. The best products are the ones that are always evolving.
Don't be afraid to fail. We all fail at some point. The important thing is to learn from our failures and keep trying. Show Me Your Bad Ideas is my own reminder.
Paul Graham Startup Essays post by Phil Martin
How to Start a Startup lecture by Paul Graham
My Top 5 Startup Teachers post by Phil Martin
I’ll let Steve Jobs have the final word. We’re here to put a dent in the universe.