A Mentor’s Experience

March 4, 2018

A “mentor’s experience” can mean two things.

It can be the experience that a mentor has with various mentees. It can also refer to the qualifying experience that a mentor has, that enables them to be a mentor. Today, we’re talking about the latter.

A young woman I know has recently begun an entrepreneur mentorship program, which I have a few problems with. First of all, she has no experience with small-medium companies. Secondly, she has never been with a company while it was scaling. Finally, she has limited knowledge of how businesses leverage technology. As a result, her mentees will not receive wisdom from someone with deep domain knowledge. While it’s important to have mentors, it’s more important that they have the right experience.

How can you receive training from someone who has none themselves? I’m reminded of Tim Ferriss, who skipped getting an MBA to learn from people who had done what he wanted to do. As a result, his show has become a knowledge base for entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.

Thinking back to your life’s teachers, ask yourself what their experience was. Has your marketing mentor rolled out a large campaign? Has your technology mentor rolled out an enterprise-level software solution? Realistically, what knowledge can your mentors share with you?

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I Don’t Believe in Telling People to Give Up

January 4, 2018

Not even as a joke.

We humans are capricious creatures. We experiment with new things, and give them up quickly. It’s not because we don’t believe we can create amazing art – it’s because we don’t want to put in the effort.

A friend’s dissuasion can mean a lot, even if it’s a joke in passing. Don’t be that “friend” – be someone that everyone wants to share with. Pushing through challenges leads to success, but discouragement is different than a challenge. Discouragement feeds the voice that says “stop”.

“You should probably give up while you’re ahead” carries so many meanings. It means that you won’t get better. It means that you should quit now. The recipient of this “advice” has two options – quit, or ignore you. Do you want to be a friend who tells people to quit? Do you want to be a friend who gets ignored?

I didn’t think so. Encourage yourself, and encourage others, without jokes.

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Who Can You Count On?

January 3, 2018

Who can you count on when times are rough or when things need doing? Who can you count on when things seem too hard, or when you can’t get out of bed?

Maybe it’s a friend, or maybe it’s a loved one. A person who you know has your back. If you have such a person, that’s great – there’s no weakness or shame in having people in your life who you can depend on. But unfortunately, you won’t be able to count on these people forever. Friends come and go, and families fall apart. One day, you’ll need to take care of yourself.

This message is one I need to hear myself. Adults grab their lives by the horns. Getting yourself out of bed is your job. Find people you can count on, but make sure you’re always there for yourself. You are your own responsibility, no matter who you are. Your body and life are what you make of them because no one can live your life except for you. You must do everything in your power to make sure you stay fit, healthy, and gainfully employed.

Building your muscles means you have to exercise. Writing that song or poem means you need to practise, and put pen to paper. Succeeding where you failed means that you have to get back on the horse when you fail. And the only person you can count on to do those things is yourself.

“If you truly want to be respected by people you love, you must prove to them that you can survive without them.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

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On Technology Writing

December 12, 2017

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been doing much technology writing lately.

I’m a startup employee, and startup employees wear many hats. My most familiar hat was “lead technologist”, and I handled the creation of a team and a product. However, A few weeks ago, we finished what we were working on (for the time being), and my role has shifted. Instead of technology work, I now mostly write well-being content for educators and parents.

I can feel the tech skill decay already – I was writing some CSS and have already forgotten my tricks! So, what good is it for me to write about technology, a field I no longer keep up with? Contributing to an already overstuffed sea of blog posts isn’t doing anyone any good. I hope instead to turn this blog into a testing ground for my written content – maybe something like Seth Godin’s blog. He frequently makes short posts about self-development and positivity, which I think I can do.

So, that’s it – no more technology writing, lots of educational writing. I hope that if you know any parents or educators, you’ll send them my way! Our company a lot of good primary research on youth, so we’ll be able to produce valuable content.

One final note – I’ll also be dropping my series on building a startup without doing any work. The product has taken a little bit of a different shape than I thought, and I’d rather not spoil the details at this point. 😉

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What’s Your Action Story?

December 5, 2017

Let’s say you’re reading or watching an action story, maybe a movie or a novel. The protagonist has to fight a villain, and maybe they has a love interest.

Where does the suspense come from – whether or not your hero is going to win?

Well, no! You know that your hero is going to win. The question is – how?

Unfortunately, in life, your success isn’t inevitable. Think about your vision for success – have you been writing just the happy ending?

If so, maybe it’s time to shift your focus. It’s time to stop focussing on whether or not you’re going to win – but on how you’re going to win.

And if you write a good story, the ending should write itself! 🙂

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“Treating” Friends Right

November 30, 2017

Treating people can be delicate – everyone wants to be treated differently.

Maybe a friend has gone through a painful breakup, or maybe a child had (or is having) a difficult day at school.

What do you do? How do you make them feel better?

A preoccupation with fixing things is a common problem. Not that it’s a bad preoccupation to have! Just make sure it doesn’t stop you from finding out how to fix the problem.

The why is there – your heart’s in the right place. Don’t let a lack of knowledge regarding the how stop you from trying.

It’s that easy. Next time someone you care about needs support, don’t just jump in or skirt around the subject. Try starting with – “how can I help?”

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From Spark to Headlight

November 29, 2017

Do you live in a city with a big freeway?
One day, go there – go and observe the cars passing by at night

Hundreds of headlights stream in either direction, like a river. But each headlight is more than just illumination – they represent years and years of innovation.

One day, a tiny spark… one day, a harvested, focussed beam of light.

What sparks have you cultivated?

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Big Changes

November 27, 2017

Hi all,

Writing has been something I’ve found myself doing more often.

Just not on my blog!

At work, I’ve been doing a lot of creative work – and less programming/technology.

In the coming days, I’ll be shifting my focus here to be more of a stomping grounds for the content I write at work.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Cancelled Orders and other Youth Problems

October 17, 2017

This post is part of a series on building a business with no effort. Check out part one here

The question “What problems do people aged 18-25 face” is apparently a problem itself.

I contacted a freelancer on Fiverr who said she’d be able to look into my research assignment, which is the next piece of my business puzzle. We know that middle-class 18-25 year olds will be a good target demographic because of their phone habits. I would have thought that figuring out their problems would be easy; hell, I could riff a few off the top of my head. People face problems with loneliness, finances, and their relationships, and everything seems more important when you’re young. There’s a sense of immediacy.

Apparently, though, making good on research on the topic is a bit trickier than I thought. Out of 3 elancers I tried to connect with, all 3 cancelled the gig, saying they couldn’t complete it. Huh.

Always look for ways to improve your communication

Maybe the problem is what I wrote to start the gig:

I am creating a business for young people (age 18-25) in mostly middle-class wealth brackets. I would like some market research – what pains or troubles do they experience in their day-to-day lives? For instance, do they frequently find themselves lost? Do they have trouble waking up in the morning? Do they want to look at their smartphones for pictures of dogs to avoid bring bored? Anything goes!

To be honest, I think that what I wrote is clear enough. I think I’ll try one more seller before rewording – after all, fourth time’s the charm.

I’m going to avoid naming and shaming sellers who didn’t deliver. In this case, all 3 were quick and respectful. We’ll see about freelancers we talk to in the future… but until then, let’s refocus on our goal.

We’re going to make a business. And we’re going to do it without doing any work. So let’s put this out of our brains for now and focus on more important things.


Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear what you think, give me a shout in the comments or on twitter!

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Finding a Demographic that will Pay for Your App – Part 2

October 8, 2017

This post is part of a series on building a business with no effort. Check out part one here!

Apologies for the delay – I was dealing with security issues, server migrations, and some other life craziness. However, the project continued during the hiatus, and there’s a lot to share

In the last post, we wondered: which demographic is most likely to pay for an app? Well, thanks to Fiverr seller wilddaniela88, we now know. And the answer is:

“Young, middle-class people are the most avid smartphone users, with 93% of them accessing their phone at least once a day to avoid being bored.” 

Next step: zeroing in on our target demographic

Now that we know who to build an app for, we need to know what the demographic would want to use a mobile app for. The best technology companies are usually those that solve people’s real problems. For example, Uber exists to remedy transportation woes, Google helps people find what they’re looking for on the web, and Wikipedia brings free knowledge to the world. So, our new startup should be one that solves the problems of young people in the middle class!

Our next step will be finding a researcher to determine these problems. After some thinking, I’ve decided to specify an age range of 18-25. This is because there are many laws in different companies limiting the data that companies can store of minors, such as COPPA in the United States and PIPEDA in Canada. Enforcing a user age of 18+ means we don’t have to worry about those restrictions. Youth online privacy isn’t something to take lightly, both for ethical and business reasons. Even Disney is in the crosshairs for violations of such codes!

So, our next step is to contact a research to ask them what problems are faced by people in the middle class between the ages of 18-25. I’m looking forward to seeing what they say!

PS: Wilddaniela88’s work was impressive and thorough. Her turnaround time was quick, and she included a large report on mobile phone usage. Hopefully we have as much luck with every seller!


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think, give me a shout in the comments or on twitter!

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