Saturday, February 22, 2014

Doing startup in parallel with your job

Are you thinking of working on your startup in parallel to your job? Here is the news: It won’t happen.

Startup is tough. Startup is demanding. Startup is a roller coaster. You can’t do it while doing something else. You might be able to (very convincingly) fool yourself that you are doing your best while doing it in parallel but startup is 24*7 deal, you can’t do it part time. You'll work (it'll be more of trying-to-work) late nights or on weekends and feel good about yourself that you are working hard on your way to startup but feeling good is not same as delivering the product.

Why doing startup in parallel is a bad idea?

You won’t have sufficient time: If you wish to extract a few hours everyday for your idea execution then it won't be easy. Your job will keep you occupied. Your work will have phony deadlines, meetings for the sake of meeting, you'll have to deliver something howsoever useless that stuff is, your office water cooler gang will keep you busy, may be your have hordes of time in office but you need to pretend to onlookers that you’re very busy, may be you’ve to mandatorily spend 9 hours in office due to some shit office rule. Something or other will keep you away from your startup work in office. And if you manage to find some time to work on your stuff then: What if someone will look, what if someone will find out, what if your friend will ask you what are you doing, what if, what if and what if…… You’ll spend more time finding answers to what ifs than doing something constructive. Few days you might be able to devote more than 10 hours/day for your startup but otherwise it will be weeks when you’ll average less than 2-3 hours a days for your real work. Who has more success probability? The one who is focused and continuously slogging for 12 hours a day, day-after-day or the one who is somehow managing 2-3 hours a day that too with dissipated focus and energy?

Incremental Progress: If you are doing startup in parallel then because of smaller number of invested hours into startup you will not see incremental progress every day, every week. If you get stuck on some problem (and you’ll face a lot of them) then if you are working solely on startup then you’ve entire day, day-after-day, to solve the problem. But if you are solving something part time then you’ll take a few hours to get back to the problem, few hours to get into the groove and by then that day’s quota of limited hours would have been over. We work harder and with more passion when we see things are taking shape, when we see can see fruits of our hard work. If things are not taking shape or if they are not getting solved at expected pace then we lose heart, howsoever small dismay that may be. Incremental progress is the fuel to your dreams.

You will give up: Startup has lots of dark phases. There will be time - many a times - when nothing will seem to work and no solution seems to be in sight. Then you think of leaving. At the very least, you start to explore other options. When you have things going in parallel then you will have plenty of things to care for and plenty of second choices, so you unwillingly unknowingly give up during dark phases and move on to try other options. You might peace yourself with, “ I have given my best”. But with startup as the only option, you don’t have any other choice, you don’t have any other option. Either you fail or you succeed. So you will have to find some solution, some workaround to the problem. And there is always a solution a problem if you stay with it long enough and not give up. 

Reasons you are running things in parallel:


You are not convinced: If you are not doing startup full time then in simple terms you are not convinced. Either not convinced about your idea or not convinced of your capability. Both the cases are fatal. Stop wasting your time and go figure why you are not convinced.


If you are worried about your idea, then stop worrying. There is never a good idea. All ideas initially seem small, may-not-work-types. If you’ve done your homework and your gut tells that it’s kinda ok idea then get going.
If you are worried about your capabilities then give me one example when Superman founded a great company? None. People doing a startup do something because they really want to solve a problem, not because they can solve a problem. If you want then you’ll find ways to how you can.


I can’t start because of xyz reason excuse: Don’t have enough money to support yourself or your family? Need some backup money before you take the plunge? You want to gain some more experience in this field before you are ready? You are too young to start a startup or too old? You intend to start after 2 years? These are just excuses. There is never a founder who has enough money or enough experience or insanely great team before starting up. Everything gets done on the way, on the job. Trust your gut and startup.


You want to save your face: Startups fail. Oh yeah, majority of startups fail. If you are working on something in parallel then you have lots of excuses if your startup won’t succeed. “I didn’t have time”, “I was working on that other higher priority thing”, “this wasn’t a full time project it was just on trial basis”, “come on at least I tried” etc etc. But when you are working on startup full time then either you succeed or you fail. Nothing in between. No excuses.


Courage: You don’t have courage. Courage to think big, courage to take the leap, courage to execute, courage to stop giving excuses and stop fooling yourself, courage to stand up to your near and dear ones, courage to start. Finally it all boils down to courage. To start a startup you need courage, nothing else. Not money, Not being highly technically competent, not great team, no support of family or friends but ….Courage. Startup is so stacked up against odds that without courage you can’t beat the odds. By various means (education, reasoning, technology), you may be able to silence a few doubts, you may be able to sideline few obstacles, you may to able to beat few odds but to start despite ALL the odds needs Courage. If you don’t have courage to wholeheartedly dedicate yourself on the altar of startup then there is not much hope.


Job is a quagmire, especially if you don’t love it. Sometime you’ll cling to job for some promotion, sometime for next salary because you need that money for some important event, sometime you can’t leave because what will you tell your girlfriend, sometime you won’t leave because you’ll prove yourself irresponsible once again in your parents’ eye, sometime you need to get married so you can’t leave job, then you can’t leave because you’re married and need to run house, then who will have to pay fees of your kid and then….In short, You are screwed. Everyone wants to do a startup but how many of us finds time and dedicate that time for startup? The-job-you-don't-love kills your passion to conquer the world and s.l.o.w.l.y makes you from Alexander the great to yet another average guy.

Stop wasting time fooling yourself. Find courage to pursue your dream. That’s real you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Confusing symbols for Shift, Control and Option keyboard keys

If you use MacBook you might have seen utterly confusing shortcuts like:
confusing shortcuts on MacBook
If you are recent convert to MacBook, just like me, then you will go crazy remembering these shortcuts. You don't see ⌥, ^ or ⇧ keys anywhere but still they are so prominent in each and every shortcut. You don't see them, so you can't relate to them hence they are so difficult to remember.

I did some googling around and found out that old keyboards used to have these symbols (icons or figures) on keyboards:

Now world, even Apple, has moved on but shortcuts are still veteran ones. 

@Apple: You are amongst the most user friendly company on this planet and if you ignore dust like this in some of your alcoves then it's not good. Let's find user friendly and easy to remember shortcuts, Please.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Deciding factor

Life is full of choices and we have to decide. Yes, there are choices even when you fool yourself into believing that you don't have any choice. Sometimes choices are for trivial stuff, other times decisions of life.
Shall I do what is norm or do what I think is right?
Shall I bide time (and count miserable days) with people I don't like or go searching for something better?
Shall I say it or swallow it?
Shall I start my company or keep this well-paying job?
... and so on, questions never stop. So how do you decide?

It's very simple, Choose the path that makes you happy.

If people around you have accepted rat race quagmire life and are carrying on the way it is then decide whether that is making you happy or not. If not, people’s opinion is waste.
If people around you are succeeding by being servile or by falling in line but if that doesn't sound like you. Then decide what makes you happy.
World will push you to some mould and expects you to fit in there. Do you fit in or are you discontent there, decide based on your happiness. But even after spending years inside the mould if you feel you don’t really belong there then it is the time to search for happiness.
Sometime people says that its just short term pain but I’ll happy one day. That one day is today. Tomorrow never comes.
Struggle doesn't means unhappiness. Struggle can be road to freedom, path to happiness. If you've chosen your struggle and it's not enforced on you, then you'll feel happiness even in struggle.
Expectations from family, society, job, friends is just mirage. Once you've decided something then people and environment will mould themselves accordingly. Whatever you decide, you may wonder if that is right and wrong; there is no right or wrongWill you do it if money is not a criterion or if you don’t have to please anyone? Any money, place, person that makes you miserable is Not worth it. 

Choose Happiness.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why not?


Do I need to change my job? Shall I wait for another 3 months?
Do i need to start a startup?
Why should I be the one who stand up for this cause?

Every question you ask yourself you are putting yourself in defense. Reasoning with self is good but asking "do I need to stand up for this?" at the start of reasoning means that subconsciously we've already told our mind that we should not do it. We are reinforcing fear and dissuading courageMetaphorically this is like you telling yourself that you can’t even run 1 km and then try to persuade yourself to run a Marathon.

Why not put ourselves in doer’s shoes and start reasoning/introspection by asking ourselves 'why not?' There are chances that you’ll think from totally  different angle. 
Why not change the company?
Why not start a startup?
Why not I stand up for this?

Why, how, are the words for people finding excuses. 'Why not' is for doers. Why not frees you from shackles of doubt. Doubt is always there, even Mark Zuckerberg was skeptical of Facebook as a company when he started it. In fact every entrepreneur has been. But why not startup? Let’s start up.

When you need to ask yourself any question start with: Why not?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Design considerations for Codecademy

Codecademy is a great website for learning programming. It is helping thousands (may be millions) of people learn how to code. Content wise Codecademy rocks however there are few design areas where Codecademy can improve on. Before I want to start on I want to state it categorically that am not a professional designer. I am just a grateful user who wants to give my feedback to a very useful website that is giving so much to users. Here I go:
(Note: please click on blog images for bigger, better and clear images)

Codecademy header needs to be visible. Always.
Codecademy header


Header contains a company’s brand identity (logo) and the most important links. Moving header outside visible page (like in image below) when user scrolls down is not a good option. Always flaunt who you are.

Codecademy header not visible





Other moving and fixed parts:
Editor area and Result area should always remain fixed on web page independent of scroll (unless when user scrolls to the bottom of the page for footer). Even now Editor and Result areas are somewhat fixed but slightly moves up and down as user scrolls up or down. There is no need for them to move. While writing a line of code user is generally focused on a particular line in editor area and simultaneously going through lesson's instructions. When user scrolls up/down the lesson instruction pane, Editor area also wavers up/down because of which user need to refocus/find her line of code again. Lessons' instructions should move up and down independent of right hand side Editor and Result area. 

Run, Reset and Save options:

Run, Reset and Save buttons/info is getting duplicated on screen hence eating a lot of precious web space. Info from both the highlighted areas (in image above) can be clubbed in a single horizontal row. Something like: 
Green Run button (Ctrl+enter) then Red Reset button (Alt+R) then Grey Save button (Ctrl+S).
This will also free up some space for increasing height of result area so that users can see more lines of result in result area. Exercises where result is displayed in various lines will be better and fully displayed in that case.

Movement from one section to other:
When one section is finished in a course then link to next section is shown in result area. If we click on that link then next section instruction set appears but it is never completely visible on web page. Some part of the lesson is always hidden at the top. A user has to scroll up the instruction panel to see start of new section’s instruction set.

Wrapping text in Editor as well as Result area:

If some error message is longer than width of the result area then result area doesn't auto-wrap the message. It just goes beyond the console area and is not visible.

Codecademy track>>course>>section alignment:


Course hierarchy seems to be displayed in disorderly fashion on web page. Track>>Course (for ex JavaScript>>Getting Started with Programming?) is on right hand side while section name (“Why learn programming” in this case) is on left hand side. If all three of them can come neatly on left hand side (may be like: JavaScript>>Getting Started with Programming>>Why learn programming?) then hierarchy will be more clear and some precious web space can be spared for Editor/Result area.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Would I love to work this on my deathbed?


This might seem a bit extreme criteria to evaluate what you really want to work on but answer to this will tell you whether the job that you are doing now is meant for you or not. Whatever you would love to work on your deathbed you should be doing that now. Earning livelihood by doing some job will make you like so many people who want to just do their job, earn, retire early so that they can enjoy their life -- metaphorically it's like saving up sex for old age. Why would you want to retire if you love what you are doing? If you don’t love your work then nothing great will ever be created by you.

There are hordes of stories of people working unbelievable number of hours everyday, people working very hard despite very unfavorable conditions. You can't make those people work like that just for livelihood, they work for their love. People working on job wait for 5 pm.

Mathematician Euler lost one of his eyes in his twenties but that didn't handicap his love for math. In fact he went on to say that "I’ll have less of distraction". He kept working and lost vision in his second eye at age of 70. Even complete blindness couldn't stop him working on solving mathematical problems. He proved to be even more productive in his blindness and worked for 17 years in total blindness.

This is not madness for mathematics. This is epitome of love for the job/love.

Find your love.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Give me the estimate

If you are managing people who are doing work that has not been your forte then estimation can be deluding process for you. You can't estimate yourself in this case so first you ask for estimates and then try to validate them. The moment you ask for estimate from a person you are asking for his commitment, asking for his word. No one in this world wants to be proven wrong, even to himself. No one wants to go back on their words. So the moment estimate is asked that person start to estimate by including all risks, all possible disasters that may happen, all possible subjective worries. When estimate is done after factoring in all these fears no doubt estimate will be inflated. 

You can get estimates reviewed by peers or specialist within/outside team but most probably you won't find any deviation. People within an organization have a healthy fear or healthy respect or social/professional dependency with each other so until something is not glaringly wrong it won’t be pointed out.
Validating estimate by established estimation standards never work. Standards are too general whereas estimate has to be specific. So standards can act as guideline but they can never validate estimate.
Getting estimate from a person and then boss him to cut it down 20% and then continuously sit on the top of his head to finish it even faster never helps.

So how work can be get done in more efficient manner?  

By placing your faith in the person. Tell him not to worry about missing deadlines, not to worry about repercussions, not to worry at all. Request him to work, just work and give his best. By faith all the buffer estimates (read fears) evaporates. Once the assurance is given to the person, keep faith in him. Don’t start moaning the moment something goes out of the line. Keeping faith doesn't mean that you forget about him. Do keep track of the progress at mutually comfortable level. Keep judging the person. If at any point you feel your faith is being misused, act.

There are circumstances when estimation will be mandatorily required so only faith won't serve the need. But whenever possible give faith a chance.

Faith will give you positive surprises. In today’s world people are not treated with faith and that’s why world is so cynical, cautious and inefficient. You give a person your faith and there will be occasions when you will be pleasantly surprised. There will be times when you’ll find gem of a person.