This post is inspired by and a response to Tynan's Creators and Assemblers article:
For a long time I thought creating came from construction - the physical application of materials to form an object of value. I thought that in order for me to consider myself a creative individual, I would have to learn carpentry, electronics, coding… Because the way I saw it, there’s only three careers a person can have.
First is to perform a service. Like a lawyer who shares his legal advice, or a dentist who cleans teeth. It takes a long time to develop the skills to become professional, and I don’t have time to look that far in advance. So this leaves only two options: building a product, or to buy and resell products.
Buying and reselling is a great way to make money. Resellers find things low in price and people willing to pay a higher price. Basically, he is the connection between the buyer and the seller. I wouldn’t mind doing this - its a legitimate way to make money, but I can’t shake the thought that the buyers and sellers don’t actually need middlemen if they can find each other.
I know that I want to identify myself as a creator.
A person who builds a product is what everyone considers a creator or assembler. This requires envisioning the final product, and crafting it to perfection. Society however, focuses too much on the technical aspect - the crafting…the coding, the engineering, the wiring, the hammering and nailing. But the entire technical aspect of this is only a small portion of what it means to create. Being a creator has everything to do with having a vision, and executing that vision. It doesn’t matter who-what-when-where-how the creator chooses to executes his vision as long as the final product is what he intended it to be.
I don’t have to be the one to personally craft the product, as long as the product was my vision, I’m the creator.
"It doesn’t matter who-what-when-where-how the creator chooses to executes his vision as long as the final product is what he intended it to be. "
Take a company like Skype. They weren't the first voice over IP company. Not even within the first 10. They just did the who-what-when-where-how better than their competitors. When it comes to big ideas, there are usually a lot of people who have the idea and the one who's best at executing it wins.
Ideas are a dime a dozen.
"I don’t have to be the one to personally craft the product, as long as the product was my vision, I’m the creator."
Famous words of the Winklevoss twins when they hired Mark Zuckerberg.
If you tell someone who is into personal improvement that you compare yourself with others, his kneejerk reaction will be to tell you not to. This advice comes with no contemplation, and is offered because it sounds so noble that no one argues with it-- except for me. I think that it's valuable to compare yourself with others, if it's done habitually and strategically.
On a daily basis I internally compare myself to people less fortunate than myself as a way of remembering how incredibly lucky I am. I'd like to think that I'm responsible for the good in my life, but at the same time I know that if I was born in Liberia when it was caught in civil war, my life would have been far worse. While some comparisons may serve to pat myself on the back, mostly I gain appreciation for the opportunities that have been presented to me, and am reminded how important it is to seize them.
This is the only way in which I compare myself to those I don't envy. I don't rest on my laurels because I feel as though I've exceeded some people's accomplishments in some areas. I filter out those comparisons, and only derive gratitude.
I ran across a fantastic PDF on HackerNews by Henrik Kniberg that pulls back the covers on How Spotify Builds Products. It's such a good article -- and so different how many companies actually execute on building products -- that I wanted to highlight a few of the best parts.
Firstly, Spotify starts with a a strong, concise vision (with a singular focus): "Spotify’s vision is to bring you the right music for every moment." This has proven to be a fantastic guide as they iterate on their platform. In a similar way to Dropbox, which I described recently, everything Spotify does furthers that singular vision -- every new feature, every performance enhancement. "Starting as a music player a few years ago, their products are now evolving into a ubiquitous platform for discovering new music and connecting artists with their fans directly." This allows Spotify to expend all its energy on optimizing for product/market fit around that vision, and that's what creates tremendous shareholder value in product companies.
The article sets up, in simple terms, the product prioritization dilemma that trips many companies:
"Here’s the paradox though: Successful companies like Spotify only want to deliver products that people love. But they don’t know if people love it until they’ve delivered it. So how do they do it?"