Build what you want! Have you heard that one before?
Minecraft began as an idea in the mind of Markus “Notch” Persson. He released an early version of it in May 2009 after creating it in his spare time from home. They’ve sold 54 million copies since! In September 2014, Mojang – Minecraft’s current owner sold out to Microsoft for $2Bn.
Minecraft’s a unique story that highlights two promises of our age – the ability for anyone to write software and instantly ship it to users at scale. If you’ve got the ingredients right, the sky is the limit.
The build cycle starts out with toying with several ideas, good and bad. The one that’s interesting is the one that gets built. As the very first user of what’s being built, the creator enjoys the advantage of the shortest possible feedback loop before users were to even get involved.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of thought over this bit of the loop. I’ve come to realize that attempting to give away the responsibility of this bit loses the entire point of the cycle. Communication is inherently lossy! Pleasant, unintended side effects of doing it oneself- keeping in only those features that are absolutely necessary and depriving naysayers altogether.
Sharp build skills have another amplifying side-effect. When you notice a workaround or a gap, you’re less likelier to turn to a lesser solution. Instead, you’re likelier to think “… that’s interesting, I can build that tonight.”
It’s also the only sure way that I know of dropping the many biases we carry. And yes, you’re going to get some ideas that suck.
This is to wish Markus well! His faith in ‘Build what you want’ is inspiring.
How do you convey a deep sense excitement for what lies ahead? How do you share a sense of reward after huge effort? Here’s three outstanding letters from Marissa Mayer, Jack Dorsey and Jeff Bezos that apply the written word well in conveying passion and direction.
Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos announcing the Kindle Paperwhite. His letter was front and center on the Amazon home page (pdf screenshot) marking the final turn away from ‘gold box’ offers and cluttered Amazon home page of the early 2000’s. Read the letter as reprinted on Kindle Chronicles.
Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer on renewing the Yahoo Logo “Geeking out on the Yahoo Logo“.
Square CEO, Jack Dorsey on signing up Starbucks “Onward“.
I added this one from CEO GoDaddy, Blake Irving (png) a little after publishing the post.
Hope you enjoy reading these as much as I have!
Have you ever heard the argument that life in India brings you closer to our original nature thanks to the extremes in our society? I’ve lived here for the better part of my life and I think I can safely say that the first part just isn’t true. Yes, we do have extremes. Problems that really can rip right through the fabric of what makes us human. But a consistent exposure to those extremes grows our insensitivity. It becomes routine to ignore what’s broken and refuse to outgrow what we’ve been good at in the hope that the other problems will solve themselves. It is in this very struggle that we rediscover our original nature and show ourselves.
This post is about two short stories of a passion like none other.
Life is hardest here for our poor. When they’re sick, they won’t find options for better treatment. Not because of the lack of money, but because they lack the ability to read and write. All Indian private hospitals have provisions and perhaps the compassion for the economically challenged. However, getting past the admissions process is daunting, requires forms to be filled and explanations to be made. I imagine if you’re sick you’ll want to simply avoid the stress and accept the state-sponsored care you can get by default.
Ravi Saxena of Ghazipur on the other hand has found a way to fix this. As a tea vendor, he makes Rs. 8,000 working for 20 days in a month. The remaining 10 days Ravi invests in helping the poor get past the admissions process in private hospitals and claim the benefits. Ravi says that his family and friends encourage him to concentrate on his business but he prefers to put the poor first. I learned about Ravi’s story first in the Times of India*.
The next story is about Myshkin Ingawale and about his invention that makes it possible to test for anemia in the field. As Myshkin explains in this talk, anemia is a solvable condition that goes largely undiagnosed. An anemic expecting mother is at very high risk at childbirth, especially if her condition is unknown to those attending on her. Myshkin was inspired by one such case he learned of through a friend and doctor who attended on a mother who died at childbirth. Myshkin aims to equip health workers with his invention at scale making it possible for next steps in treatment.
Ravi and Myshkin are integrating our country in their own ways. Their stories deserve to be a part of our collective consciousness. Their daily effort grants them a freedom that has always been uniquely Indian – to be yourself. A freedom that comes from the self-knowledge that we all can listen to. The knowledge that we’re doing our bit.
Wish you all a Happy Independence Day 2013!
“We are willing to plant seeds that take five to seven years to grow into reasonable things,” he said in an interview. “You can’t do big, clean-sheet invention unless you are willing to invest for long periods of time.”
– Jeff Bezos, “Amid the gloom an e-commerce war“, New York Times.
For every brand and for every person, yesterday is irretrievably gone and tomorrow is worth a great deal.
– Seth Godin, on sunk cost and your personal brand.
Entrepreneurs are good at keeping their dream when everything about them is changing.
Happy New Year, I wish you a great 2008!
These pieces of art work are driving several out there to become Entrepreneurs.
Pink Floyd – the album Dark Side of the Moon.
Jerry Maguire the movie.
Anyone else would have left you by now, but I’m sticking with you. And if I have to ride your ass like Zorro, you’re gonna show me the money. – Rod Tidwell
The Key to this (any) business is personal relationships. – Dicky Fox
I’m finished, I’m f**ked. Twenty four hours ago, man, I was hot! Now… I’m a cautionary tale. You see this jacket I’m wearing, you like it? Because I don’t really need it. Because I’m cloaked in failure! I lost the number one draft picked the night before the draft! Why? Let’s recap: Because a hockey player’s kid made me feel like a superficial jerk. I ate two slices of bad pizza, went to bed and grew a concience! – Jerry Maguire
Railroad Tycoon II – a game by Gathering of Developers.
What are your influences?
While scanning the papers today, I came across some excellent quotes from the current generation of Indian entrepreneurs.
One needs to be “obsessively passionate”, as passion can vary, but obsession can’t. It’s the distinguishing factor. One must be restless all the time to do what one wants to do.
Dilip Chhabria, Promoter – Dilip Chhabria Design. Dilip turned down a lucrative offer from GM, USA to satisfy his desire to design cars. He has worked relentlessly for an entire decade to establish his design studio. I remember seeing his early concepts in auto-shows back in the late ’90’s.
How can one confirm that spark of passion in entrepreneurs? Last night at a family get-together, a close relative of mine explained in the following inexact words,
I want to see if he is passionate about his immediate family. Experience teaches me that a deep sense of passion and attachment towards family is a very positive indicator of passion, commitment and therefore success in other areas of life, including business.
Unlike academics, where you know you have a fixed time window to acheive success in the form of a degree – life offers you a misleadingly long window; you have only your own lifetime to succeed. Indeed, commitment is crucial.
Finally, better believe it – your TIME is now! Doesn’t matter who or where you are.
“Don’t let the method distract you from your message.” – A mentor in the past, he may have been talking about e-mail ;-). But I heard what I wanted to hear.
“No one told the young guys it couldn’t be done, so they went ahead and did it anyway.” – Another mentor, at an Udupi restaurant, before I left for Pune.
“Don’t let the competition or difficulty bother you, stay focused on solving one problem and solve it well.” – Founder of 2 respected startups and also in a mentorship role.
“Far better it is to dare mighty things to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered with failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that know not victory or defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt. Thanks to – WorkHappy.net.
“They are not going to look at how hard you fall – they are going to look at how well you can get back up.”
– Vivek Makhija, my class-mate and fellow team (debate) member in Bishop’s (1994), needless to say we won.