Sunday, September 29, 2019

Product-Founder Fit

I was listing to Mubs on the IndieHackers podcast today and he brought up an interesting point about Product-Founder fit being more important than product market fit in his case. Courtland then agreed in a way by saying he always took Product-Founder fit was the default and then from there, look for the things that might gain an audience or make money. Mubs does do a lot of projects without even considering how to monetize first.

In my indie developer journey, I've started with the same Product-Founder fit first approach by scratching my own itch. However, I did take a detour from that recently and it didn't end well. Since I can work from anywhere, my friend said he could host me in Toronto. Neat! I'd be able to explore Toronto and we could work on a project together. He suggested a fitness app. I'm into fitness so I said sure why not. I spent the next month working on the project. He would help too but it was difficult for him to dedicate real hours due to a tough work schedule. I wasn't really into the project but I just figured if I get the ball rolling, then the momentum would kick in. At the end of the month I knew it was not going to work. I could keep going but it wasn't something I really wanted to work on. The amount of effort it takes, the waking up early to work on it, the thought put in after hours is just not worth it if you aren't committed. One month of work wasted. Well not completely, we still had a lot of fun and I left time to explore a new city.

But lesson learned, make sure there is Product-Founder fit because even if you end up not finding Product-Market fit, at least you will have worked on (and hopefully shipped) something you love.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lead Your Own Nature

I remember one time I was driving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Santa Barbara, where I was attending university at the time. I had a packed car full of colleagues. Many of us would carpool together to visit our families over school breaks. It was my turn to drive.

On the way I was cut off randomly by another car. Nothing bad happened. No accident. I may have swerved or braked a bit. But what I remember vividly is the reactions of my passengers. They were angry. Yelling at the other car. “You idiot, you could have killed us!”  Everyone was pretty heated. Except for me... and that’s why I remember this. Because not only was I not angry about it, I was actually embarrassed that I didn’t have the same reaction as the others. I wanted to fit in but I don’t think I could have faked it if I tried. That could have been the end of my life, why wasn’t I angry?

There’s a story I heard recently (sorry forget the source) about a man who joins a group meditation. He starts getting into a good mind space but is interrupted when he hears the guy two rows over is making some funny sounds. They guy is making some awkward clicking sounds as if gnashing his teeth. And it doesn’t seem like he is just adjusting himself but doing it randomly. Is he doing this on purpose? Maybe he is just trying to mess with the class? And if it was a medical condition, he should know not to join a meditation class! The nerve. After it continues for a while the guy is thoroughly annoyed. He’s had enough of it and decides to confront the guy making the noises. When he gets close he realizes that the sound was not coming from the other man but rather from the water heater next to him.

This changes everything. Even though the sound was still there, the man calmed down instantly. It’s a bit silly to be angry at the water heater. But if we think about it, maybe we should be treating other humans like the water heater. We give special privilege to other humans to affect our own moods because we believe they have control of their actions and those actions should be what we expect. When it’s not, we get sad or angry. But in some sense humans aren’t really different than the broken water heater.

You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. - Marcus Aurelius

And that’s one of the core principles of stoicism: you can’t change things out of your control. But you can change yourself. And to go even further with it Marcus stresses that it's within their nature to lie, cheat, drive poorly. "They can't help it". Rather "look straight ahead, follow your own nature, through your own actions."

Sunday, September 22, 2019

We are Lemmings

Sometimes it helps to see ourselves not as brilliant magnificent beings who have perfect discipline and motivation but rather lazy, easily distracted,  and weak minded. We aren't always like this and most of us are somewhere in between, and sure it depends on the day, but seeing ourselves as the latter will help us set up helpful systems. Because if we can get ourselves to do what we need to do on our worst days, then we can do it for our best days too.

I keep track of my weight other fitness measurements like body fat percentage, resting heart rate and blood pressure and try to measure it every month. It helps keep me in check; if I notice I put on some weight then I know I need to adjust my diet. I have it on my calendar to do this, but when the time comes I often forget to do it at all. And I'll keep forgetting to do it multiple days in a row. To fix the problem, I had to lower my view of myself. Instead I left clues for myself by putting all the equipment I needed in front of my computer the night before. That way when I checked my computer out of habit first thing in the morning I'd be alerted.

This is similar to the idea of wearing your gym shorts to sleep if you want to start running in the morning or putting your guitar down next to your couch if you want to learn to play the guitar. You have to lower the amount of friction and prime yourself. Lower your ego and think of yourself as a dumb automaton that just goes through the motions (habits) most of the time. That means, when you are in the right state of mind, you need to prep the environment, set down some habit triggers ahead of time for your lazy automaton to execute.

Have you played the game Lemmings? It's kind of like that. If you don't put down a bridge (plan) ahead of time your future lemming self will just fall into the water and die (binge watch Netflix or grab fast food)