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Silicon Valley

A topic by Tony Ennis
  • "The habits that prevent us from starting for fear of making something lame ... are not very deeply rooted."
  • "In the past we didn't need customs for dealing with new ideas, because there were very few new ideas."
  • On being dismissed by others

    • "We don't have enough experience with early versions of ambitious projects to know how to respond to them".
    • People dismiss new ideas because of zero-sum status psychology - "They worry that if you succeed, it will put you above them."
    • The right way to deal with new ideas is to switch polarity, from listing the reasons they won't work to trying to think of ways it could."
    • Silicon Valley is the exception in this regard - people have learned how dangerous it is to dismiss something that looks like a toy.
    • In the Valley, the psychology was closer to "A rising tide lifts all boats.", and has since become a force of habit.
    • "Silicon Valley shows that dismissing new ideas is not so deeply rooted that it can't be unlearnt."
  • On dismissing your own ideas

    • Judging your own work too harshly will kill it too. Learning how to ignore that is a key skill.
    • Some strategies for this:
    • Being overconfident, even temporarily, can allow you to reach escape velocity - "if you look at something that's 20% of the way to a goal worth 100 and conclude that it's 10% of the way to a goal worth 200, your estimate of its expected value is correct even though both components are wrong."
    • Surrounding yourself with the right people. - "The people best able to do this are those working on similar projects of their own, which is why university departments and research labs work so well."
    • Discipline may work, but is the least reliable.
    • "Focus less on where you are and more on the rate of change."
    • Change the frame of a new project - "Start a new piece of software saying that it's just a quick hack"
    • Use your curiosity - tell yourself you're trying things "just to see how they'll turn out".
    • Study the history of people who've done great work.
  • Other quotes

    • Realize that our attitudes toward early work are themselves early work.
    • This is smart and unintuitive -> "in a field where the new ideas are risky those who dismiss them are more likely to be right. Just not when their predictions are weighted by outcome."
    • I like this -> "Good work is not done by "humble" men. It is one of the first duties of a professor to exaggerate a little both the importance of his subject and his importance in it."
about 1 month ago