by • August 31, 2011 • Founders, Talking about your startupComments (1)125

Congratulations. Good luck! Hmm.

(Note: this post is not actionable. Sorry!)

I’ve described my professional activities in many ways. During the transitional periods, I’ll often be congratulated and wished good luck. This has always bothered me and today I realised why.

First, it implies that the activities are discrete, which isn’t the case. Countless types of changes exist within the startup world.. you can switch companies and ideas, or between freelancing and founding, or between VC and bootstrapping, or from coding to sales. But those are all relatively superficial changes. Even in the most extreme case (which is tanking a company and switching roles/careers), all the important stuff stays the same: your network, your reputation, your skills. Being congratulated suggests a big leap, a new life path, but it’s really just the next leg of the same road.

There’s a bit in Siddhartha where he is being a bit uppity to his merchant boss Kamaswami, who shouts, “I taught you everything you know!” Siddhartha replies, “You taught me prices and interest rates, but not how to think.” Likewise, the talents of real value to a startup guy will stay with you between gigs. Domain knowledge is certainly important, but in most cases it’s readily available and quick to acquire.

Second, “good luck” hints at a terrible risk. If you’re young and/or comfortable freelancing, there’s literally zero downside to starting (and tanking) a company. The downside is probably negative, since even in the worst case, you’re accumulating the aforementioned assets.

[The writer Trollope] “woke in darkness and wrote from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., with his watch in front of him. He required of himself two hundred and fifty words every quarter of an hour. If he finished one novel before eight-thirty, he took out a fresh piece of paper and started the next.” The New Yorker, June 04

In place of books to write, we have companies to build. You work at it every day, and when you finish one due to either good or bad circumstances, you continue on with the next. The putting down of one and picking up of another requires neither consolation nor congratulation.

Trollope wasn’t writing one book. He was a writer.

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One Response to Congratulations. Good luck! Hmm.

  1. Kedarnath says:

    0-2 years Java required , then I get recteejd because I’m overqualified .Node.js hype and banksters stealing trillions of dollars are two closely related ideas. Watch American Greed on the Communism Channel (CNBC), and watch the personality type of the people running Ponzi scams. The people who love Rails and node.js have the same personality type. I avoid working for scum. Therefore, I don’t mind avoiding node.js and Rails jobs.My favorite is when an interview prescreen demands you solve a puzzle or programming assignment. Most of the time, I do the assignment, I know I aced it, and I don’t even get an interview. I should refuse out of principle, but I’ve got nothing better to do, and maybe there really are a lot of unqualified losers out there.Another favorite is the multiple-choice prescreening test with errors. I know that C++ doesn’t have closures, but this multiple choice question assumes that C++ does, and WTF? C++ doesn’t have closures! isn’t one of the choices. The person who wrote the question is obviously clueless, and I have to guess which error they made. I also love the questions on multiple inheritance and template specialization, which I never would use and would look it up if I did need it.I have more than 10 years of experience, a CS degree from a highly ranked University, and every job screening asks me basic skills questions. Is your stupid programming assignment going to measure more than my 4 year CS degree and 10 years of experience?The trolls on this post will say I’m not having career success because I’m a pathetic loser. I know I’m on the top end of the ability scale. We live in a society of inverted values. I’m really intelligent and honest and not a wimp. That’s a liability and not an asset. No manager wants a highly skilled subordinate, because he’s insecure about his own job. My long-term goal is to get my own business going. In the meantime, I’m sticking with the wage slave track.The leaders are criminally insane. Intelligent and hardworking people struggle to find any job at all. That’s the reason the economy is collapsing.

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