When we first started building SETT, I'd sometimes get asked what I was working on. Saying it was a new blogging platform was easy, but when pressed for details on what made it different, I had a tougher time.
It's not that it wasn't different, or that I didn't know how it was different. I'd get too much into the particulars one time, and then the next time, careful not to get too detailed, I'd give a really vague explanation that didn't make much sense.
This sounds like a minor thing, but it was uncomfortable for me. We had this idea that I thought was really great, and I thought we were doing a good job implementing it, but my explanation always came out jumbled.
I was terrible at pitching, and I desperately wanted not to be terrible.
If you really don't want to go West, you can drive East. But if you really don't want to be terrible at something, you have to go directly towards being terrible first. Only then can you get through it and get far away.
I sort of realized this, so I took every opportunity to explain SETT to people. I was terrible at first, and I'm still not very good at it now, but slogging through being terrible for so long helped me get better.
Now I try to embrace being terrible. It's hard to push aside an ego big enough to think wearing a chain of one's own name is a good idea, but repeating the process enough has created a link in my brain between being being terrible and eventually not becoming terrible.
The latest thing I've been trying to learn is ballet. I have very little grace, worse balance than I thought, and do not typically "express myself with my body". In other words, I'm really terrible at ballet.
But I try to lean into it. I stand in the front of the class, try to go first whenever we're broken down into groups, and practice the moves during lulls in class when the teacher is changing music or something. I know I'm terrible and that I look ridiculous, but a small part of me also knows that only through embracing being terrible will I ever get good.
I saw this a lot when I taught pickup. Pickup is a direct assault on the ego, forcing you to give up all pretense that you'd be good with girls if you "just tried". Coming to grips with your own deficiencies is difficult.
Some students would deal with it really well-- much better than I was able to. They knew they sucked, but they'd live with it and go approach anyway. They'd do terribly and then go try again somewhere else. It's like they instinctively knew that they couldn't be terrible forever, so they may as well get it out of the way.
I remember one student I had who was just totally unwilling to be terrible. He bragged about his high standards that prohibited him from approaching just anyone. A failed approach meant that the girl was a bitch. I don't know the guy anymore, but I bet he never got good. If you're not willing to take the first step on the journey, you won't get very far.
This all sounds obvious, but I find it helpful to remind myself. The ego can be a powerful opponent, but reframing the terrible phase as a necessary step towards decency, or even greatness, helps.
Photo is the SF skyline. I am running critically low on blog photos. Must travel or at least walk around SF with a camera soon!
I suggest decreasing the article text font size.
I second that motion. It's too big, try going down a few font sizes.
Ctrl-Minus in your browser. Or Cmd-Minus if you have a Mac.
But I have to admit, that the font is a bit big. This blog gives me a feeling of nervousness and makes me uncomfortable. It's a bit hard to grasp, but the top menu bar is pushing very heavily on the content. I'd make it sticky, because that information isn't important anyways while I read and I'm here for the content, right?
Also, the Read Next box is too big and pops up too soon for my taste. Annoys me every time and I ALWAYS hide it. Although I found some interesting articles through it. I'd like it smaller.
A revolutionary blogging platform, created to excel in the two most essential areas - exponential subscriber growth and seamless functionality.
SETT is a responsive, user-friendly tool that empowers your blog's community structure, so that your creative juices are free to flow into your content.
If that helps, feel free to use it any way you like. :)
Love your work, Tynan.
I think this is one idea that I've had internalised for a long time. Whenever I start something new I accept that I'm going to be sh!t, but I know at least then I can definitely see real progress and hopefully find some humour in my terribleness along the way.
Speaking of fear and being terrible. I've run into several situations where I've been paralyzed in the face of fear. I signed up at SF Comedy College once. It was fine while we were in class laughing at other people's stories. It was slightly uncomfortable seeing others flail on stage. When it came time to seize the opportunity to jump up on stage and fail my way past terrible. I just couldn't do it. I failed. Now, reading about your ballet and the inevitable likeliness of improving - gives hope. Thanks.
Agree. 9 years ago i read a book "the artist's way" that made the same point: to get good at something, start badly and get better over time. so i started a webcomic, and it's still bad, and still has few/ statistically no/readers, but i still do it for me. www.stripcreator.com/comic/arbi . a better example of a webcomic that started off badly drawn and got better and is now a daily read for me is "questionable content".
I agree. You must being willing to throw your ego to the side whenever you approach anything new. That's why I started blogging a little over a year ago. I knew I was never going to get better I didn't just start being terrible. The quality and quantity of my posts have increased and I just feel myself growing. The first step is the most important. Thinking and doing are two different things.
I love the content, as usual. You're very introspective which I find interesting particularly in this day and age. It's often hard to do so but seems so very effective at providing a solution to problems. The fact that the solution requires work is the habit I find myself skipping past. To sum the post up, "practice makes perfect" (with all the important additional details I've come to expect from your posts).
I'm viewing your blog in landscape mode on my iPad; the layout including font size in the article is perfect. In portrait it appears to run edge to edge, with no left and right margins (only the gap on the right from justification).
Great job on SETT too, sticking with it and continuing to improve.
I had just spent the weekend at Real Social Dynamics' Hot Seat 2, which, frankly, is an amazing program. Tyler comes in with nine hours of hidden camera footage, and plays it for the audience while pausing to explain what's going on.
I learned a ton and was properly inspired, but Tyler's approach is definitely not the easy way out. Instead of rolling up to a girl with an indirect opener, you walk up, make eye contact, and say hi. This sounds easy, but in practice it's scary because you're putting your ego on the line every time, making it trivially easy to be rejected.
So on Monday I went out to the mall to try it. It was the first time I'd been out in the day (for pickup) in a solid month, since we'd been going out at night instead. I did one approach, and then kicked myself for the next hour and a half and did nothing. My brain was looking for, and found, every single reason not to do it. She's too attractive-- start off easier. She's not attractive enough-- you don't want it to go well. She's walking-- she wouldn't stop anyway. She's standing still-- it looks too obvious.
I'd like to use this blog post to argue for incoming mayor Gray and the DC Council to make DC the most entrepreneur-friendly place in the US. That means tax breaks, access to government contracts, support for innovation zones, aggressive access to angel funding, but mostly it just means convincing high profile entrepreneurs from other areas to make the DC area their home. It shouldn't be that hard -- many SF-based entrepreneurs are from the DC area originally and have family here. You just have to give them good reasons to come back to DC.
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I'm looking forward to coming back to DC for a few weeks. I'll be working out of PointAbout's DC offices. My brother Sam is already back in DC for a bit, working out of Facebook's DC office (he joked with me yesterday that PointAbout's presence in DC is bigger than Facebook's! I told him we'll hold on to that title for as long as we can ;)
I'd like to use this blog post to argue for incoming mayor Gray and the DC Council to make DC the most entrepreneur-friendly place in the US. That means tax breaks, access to government contracts, support for innovation zones, aggressive access to angel funding, but mostly it just means convincing high profile entrepreneurs from other areas to make the DC area their home. It shouldn't be that hard -- many SF-based entrepreneurs are from the DC area originally and have family here. You just have to give them good reasons to come back to DC. * * * * * * * * * * I'm looking forward to coming back to DC for a few weeks. I'll be working out of PointAbout's DC offices. My brother Sam is already back in DC for a bit, working out of Facebook's DC office (he joked with me yesterday that PointAbout's presence in DC is bigger than Facebook's! I told him we'll hold on to that title for as long as we can ;) The response from people I've told I'll be coming back to DC is amazing. Several people have told me I'm missed here in DC. Thanks guys for the show of support, and I had no idea anyone would even notice I was gone! Several awesome things have happened in DC since I left over the summer. One is the continued growth and prominence of Elias' blog, AwesomeDC. Elias' blog is, well, awesome. If you're an entrepreneur in DC, it's a great blog to subscribe to. And the other great entrepreneurial resource is Proudly Made in DC, by Michael Mayernick and crew, which already has bios of 75+ DC-based companies, and Michael says he has dozens more that have submitted for inclusion. I'm super jazzed about this highlighting of entrepreneurial activity in DC. I've long fought for entrepreneurship in DC, from as far back as the Netpreneur days. I recently moved to San Francisco to open an SF office for AppMakr, which is a app-creation platform made by PointAbout, a DC-based company, and I'm not shy about comparing DC to SF. In fact, there's just no comparison - being an entrepreneur in SF is easy, while being one in DC is hard. Especially if you want to get funding. And here in DC, we have to be honest with ourselves. The entrepreneurial community is nascent compared to SF. In SF you can go to an event like this one and be literally hanging out with Ev Williams, the CEO of Twitter, or this one, with the GM of mobile for Groupon, or this one, with Nicholas Negroponte, or this one with Matt Cohler, or this one, with Adeo Ressi, Drew Houston and Dave McClure, or this one with Jason Calacanis... you get the idea. And those were just a drop in the bucket; a few events I was able to attend and capture; there are literally dozens of events like this every night in SF. So that's why I say it's hard to be an entrepreneur in DC. You can't just get an office in a space that's also housing Mashable, Rapportive, VentureHacks, CoTweet, and dozens of other hot startups. Don't get me wrong, it's not like nothing entrepreneurial happens in DC, just that it's like pushing a piece of rope uphill, and honestly if you're 100% focused on the success of your business, and making it be as big as it possibly can be, then you have to admit to yourself that you're handicapping yourself by not moving to SF. Having said that, and since I'm from DC, I'd really like to see the DC entrepreneurial and startup culture grow in DC. And so it's great seeing AwesomeDC and ProudlyMadeInDC succeed, and props to Peter Corbett and iStrategy Labs as well as well-known DC-based companies like Living Social, Clearspring, Webs.com and others, for keeping the startup dream alive and kicking in DC. I hope the folks over at NVTC and other stodgy DC-based business institutions see this innovation and can get past themselves enough to encourage it. I mean truly encourage it. With funding to bring high profile speakers to DC. With people whose jobs are solely to make DC more entrepreneur-friendly. Let's face reality for what it is -- being an entrepreneur in DC is challenging -- and let's work to make DC an attractive place for entrepreneurs that plays on DC's strengths. I challenge Mayor Fenty and Mayor-elect Gray to make DC the most entreprenuer and startup-friendly zone in the US. Make DC attractive for angel investors to take chances on DC-based companies. Has anyone in the "DC office for fostering innovation" (which doesn't even exist, to my knowledge) ever reached out to the top entrepreneurs and funders in Silicon Valley to ask them what they'd need to see for DC to be relevant for them? The mayor needs to spend less time traveling on international trade missions and try a 'trade mission' out to Silicon Valley for a change. I can provide a list of 100 people that should be visited on that trip. People that, if DC can get them to care, will be able to influence and shape the entrepreneurial experience we all have in DC. People that will bring more startup funding to DC. And that would be good for everyone in DC, not just the entrepreneurs. Just let me know when you're ready for the list, Mr. Mayor.