What I’ve learned, past month or so, part 2

  • This XKCD comic about productivity is very funny and visualizes something I can see happening to a lot of people that talk about productivity. I have stopped trying to show off by blogging about productive techniques I use. I probably haven't stuck with any of them.
  • For me the most effective to do list is my brain, followed by the Notes app on my iPod, the most effective list size is "three" and the most effective time range is "right after class ends." Everything else works until I blog about it (about a week) and then I stop using it. I use Google Calendar for events and birthdays and news. I forget about 100% of events that I don't put in there.
  • I've stopped writing for the Forum. Most of the stuff I had to say fell into the category of "intelligently defend an unpopular position, and/or show off my way of looking at the world." The goal is probably to show other CMCers how wrong they are, and I've realized I don't really want to do that.
  • I was one of four students invited to talk at Idea Night at the Ath. I spent most of the day thinking about the topic and what I should say, and got really nervous about it. But I totally misread which part of the talk would be hard. I was worried about saying intelligent things for 12 minutes, but I should have worried more about entertaining the audience. I went in thinking "I am speaking at the Athenaeum, so like most Ath speakers I'll mimic an academic person." I gave a really academic sounding talk about financial models. But what I should have thought was "I am speaking to other students so I should be funny." Instead I gave a really boring talk and finished in last place. I also violated my Forum no-writing rule and picked a unpopular position - bashing the finance industry when there are a ton of students from CMC that go into finance. The winner totally understood the audience and gave a talk about how the US should invade Canada. The lesson is to place less importance on the venue and more importance on the audience.
  • Last month my dad wanted me to take a chance on something and he vigorously encouraged me to do it. The value of the thing was obvious to me even without the encouragement, but I never got around to doing it. I think it has to do with who owns the credit if it turns out well. When you want to motivate someone to do something, if you can let them own the idea, they're probably more likely to do it. Otherwise what's their incentive? If they do it and it turns out well you take all the credit. On the other hand they might not put two and two together, so you might have to wait a long time. So if I'm coaching this summer I'll try to experiment with different approaches to encouraging people to do things they haven't tried before, like dribble with their left hand.
  • In startups everyone says you want to build the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) - the smallest possible complete product - to start getting feedback from users, and to avoid building a perfect product which no one wants. When people say this I've nodded my head vigorously, but now I have a product that I've been making ridiculous excuses to not launch - "it'll cost me money, I need feature X and feature Y, etc." When Good Morning CMC started it looked like this: So I need to just launch it.
  • I need some sort of MVP rule for emails. Sometimes I get caught up in "I need to send this person the perfect email," and I never send it. I need some sort of rule like "whatever's in your drafts folder at 5pm will automatically be sent to the recipient" to force me to actually send the damn email. This is in line with my semester goal of taking more low-cost, high-value opportunities. A lot of times the biggest obstacle to pursuing those is myself.
  • I've started charging money for ads on top of Good Morning CMC. The minute after I got my first $5 payment in Google Checkout I said "duh, why haven't I done this since day 1?" So that's something to keep in mind for the future - I'm likely to regret not charging for something, and in addition I'll make more money and possibly earn more respect with a paid product than a free one.

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