Long hours are BS

Squaring tech’s penchant for long hours with elite athletic training

Lots of people in tech are obsessed with putting in long hours. Elon Musk once said that “nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week” and suggested that the correct number was between 80-100 hours. Freelance marketplace Fiverr, with venture funding to the tune of $111 million, came under fire for an ad campaign that described an aspirational lifestyle where lunch is coffee and sleep deprivation is “your drug of choice.”

Or there was the time when the cofounder of Coursera launched a machine learning company called DeepLearning.ai and in a job post suggested that the team … Read the rest

Book Notes on the Fuzzy and the Techie

A rebuttal to tech’s “STEM or die” mentality

I just finished Scott Hartley’s new book The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World. It is an inspiring read full of compelling stories and ideas about the rapidly evolving world around us.

The central thesis of the book is that instead pushing every last student to major in a STEM field, we need to recognize that the liberal arts provide a crucial human perspective in a world increasingly governed by machine algorithms.

As a venture capitalist who has served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow (we were part of the same round) and … Read the rest

Ridejoy: Lessons Learned

On April 24th, 2011, I sat down with my friends Kalvin and Randy for an intense 10 minute interview with Paul Graham, Sam Altman, Jessica Livingston and several other partners at Y Combinator (YC). We were hoping to convince the world’s most powerful startup accelerator to accept our Reloveit, our idea for “a Mint.com for photo books”, into their Summer 2011 batch of startups.

YC prides itself on making a day-of decision about whether to accept a startup, so that evening, I found myself pacing back and forth at an outside patio by Kalvin’s childhood home. I was 24 years … Read the rest

Beyond the 10,000 Hour Rule

What Anders Ericsson has to say about developing mastery

We’re all familiar with the 10,000 hour rule, which was made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2010 bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success. In it, Gladwell makes the argument that 10,000 hours of practice is a critical number that separates the great from the truly extraordinary. One of the bodies of work Gladwell relied on to support his thesis were from research by Florida State University Psychology Professor K. Anders Ericsson, the granddaddy of research on how people developing expertise.

Ericsson studied violinists from the West Berlin Music Academy: the highest performing students did not differ significantly from average … Read the rest

The New Napster

How Sci-Hub is Blowing Up the Academic Publishing Industry

There has been an explosive new development in how scientific research is read and distributed. It’s name is Sci-Hub.

Founded in 2011 by Alexandra Elbakyan (who was, at the time, a 22 year-old graduate student based in Kazakhstan), the site has seen a major uptick in the last year. In February 2016, 6M+ scientific papers were downloaded from Sci-Hub, including articles from major journals like Nature and Science, to more niche titles across many fields, by hundreds of thousands of researchers all across the globe [1]. Simply by punching in a paper title or a DOI (document object … Read the rest

Naming Your Company

Choosing a name for your startup or product is a crucial task because it defines the initial expectations and preconceived notions people will have about your thing. It’s easy to pick a bland name, but really try hard to think up a lot of name options and pick something weird, differentiated, and memorable. I’ve turned back to this book again and again for inspiration and reminders on how to develop good names.

About the Author: Eli Altman is the Creative Director of a naming company called A Hundred Monkeys (good name right?) which has worked with startups and Fortune 50 … Read the rest

Why Practice Actually Makes Perfect

The neuroscience of deliberate practice

This originally appeared on the Buffer blog. Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

Growing up, we all heard the expression “practice makes perfect” from our high school coach/music teacher. Then Malcolm Gladwell went on to popularize the research that expertise developed over “10,000 hours” of deliberate practice. But how does that really work?

In this post, I’ll share what science knows about learning and how special type of brain tissue called myelin, plays a key role in helping us acquire and master skills.

Get more clicks on Twitter by scheduling your posts for the ideal time. Get started for Read the rest

Earning Co-Founder Trust

GET ON THE INSIDE STUMBLE! The Story of How a Business Guy Earned the Opportunity to Co-Found a Tech Startup

I recently heard the story of how my friend met his cofounder and had to share it. I think there are some great lessons here for business folks looking to team up with smart technical people. I changed the names and am vague about certain details because they don’t really need the attention from this story, but it’s all true.

Chris’s First Startup

I met Chris at Stanford: really smart guy who studied CS and has a great eye for design. He cofounded a company right out of college, a collaborative editing/viewing tool, raised a round of funding, grew the … Read the rest

Listen to everyone, then make up your own mind

Lessons learned from Ridejoy’s seed round

“Don’t take too much advice. Most people generalize whatever they did and say that was the strategy that made it work.”

Ben Silbermann, cofounder of Pinterest

When we raised our seed round for Ridejoy, we got lots of great advice from many smart, experienced people. This was wonderful except that much of the advice was contradictory:

Read the rest

Eleven Compelling Startup Pitch Archetypes

With examples from Y Combinator companies

Over the past few weeks, I’ve helped a handful of startups work on their YC applications and interviews. I spent much of the time brainstorming with the founders on the best way to explain their business in the most clear and compelling way possible. These founders knew a lot about the market and had spent months if not years developing their ideas, but that often meant they would be all over the place when talking about what they were doing. This caused their pitch to sound weak and not be as compelling as it could be.

Paul Graham is, among … Read the rest