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M&Ms 57: Shore Up Weakness, Discrepancy, and Bad HR Systems
A friend quit her job to chase her entrepreneurial dreams.
She asked me if there were any weaknesses that I thought she could shore up. My gut response was, "it's too late to shore up weaknesses now."
As I said that to her, in the back of my mind ricocheted a Nipsey Hussle quote, "It's too late to run to Christ once you're caught up in this life."
To backtrack a little bit, I worked closely with this person in the past. I know her strengths and weaknesses. But being out here as an "entrepreneur" for the last few months, I have figured out that going from having a boss to fending for yourself means some of your weaknesses as an employee are your strengths as an entrepreneur.
I told my friend that all of her weaknesses that I had observed while we worked together in a big company could go on to become her assets. For example, I told her that there were times when she was stubborn—pushing hard for something when she believed in it. Once, she pushed so hard that a colleague complained to her boss about it. And that ended up on her annual review. But that "weakness" of not being able to "work well with someone else," as her boss put it in the review, is a strength in entrepreneurship.
It's counterintuitive, but a little stubbornness in the entrepreneurial world is the difference between shutting something down too soon and keeping it going long enough to get lucky.
Similarly, I told her that I had witnessed a naivete at times about how much effort something would take. In that world of employment, where many bosses only measure things by how "on time" and "on budget" they are, exact timings can beat out everything, including how much value was added. Rewarding less important things more than the added value happens because companies have politics, and even if no one is brave enough to admit it, I have seen it happen.
But in entrepreneurship, a little bit of naivete can be a strength. Because if you know exactly how hard something will be, you might not even start; you wouldn't even try. If you knew how much was out of your control, you might not even take a stab at it.
These are just a few of the "weaknesses" that I felt strongly could go on to become her strengths now.
Tim Ferris and Dan Carlin say we should copyright our weaknesses and not always try to fix them.
On the Tim Ferris show, Dan Carlin said that he was a radio host before he had a hit podcast. Dan says it's really good to have a deep and soothing voice on the radio, but his voice was everywhere. He would get so animated that sometimes he would yell, and other times he would whisper. That behavior drove the sound people crazy. Instead of fixing this weakness, though, Dan decided to lean into it.
Dan had the show's announcers change how they announced him on the show; instead of the traditional radio show entry they had before, they now announced him with "He shouts! He Whispers! Here is Dan Carlin" The intro people caveated his entry so that he didn't have to change his style. This became a huge asset for Dan. And it became a unique style on radio that anyone using it was effectively copying Dan Carlin.
That's why Dan told Tim Ferris, "copyright your weaknesses."
Of course, there may be times when you want to address weaknesses, but when you first start as an entrepreneur, that's the time to look for strengths.
The Best Three Tweets I ran into this week:
This tweet by Shane Parrish sums up another massive discrepancy in the reward structures of the employee world. Bad bosses, and sometimes bad politics, will lead to bad outcomes even if you are right and are doing the right thing.
I found the ideas in this thread to be excellent. I especially like Mike's simplistic approach to starting a business.
Two Memes I Loved This Week:
An HR training system saying that a ping-pong table is more important than raises. I am not sure Vivian meant it as a meme, but for good reasons its become that.
I loved this meme because it's happened to me many times, and I am sure it's happened to many other senior devs.
Some quick updates from me:
The 10th episode of The Engineering Advice You Didn't Ask For podcast is out.
This one is all about evaluating offers and negotiating salaries. On it we discuss:
A framework for deciding between multiple offers
Negotiating offers in this environment
Things to consider besides money
Startups vs Big Tech
It's was a very fun episode to record and also the last one of our 10 episode season. We will evaluate the numbers next week and decide if we are going to re-new the podcast for a season 2. It would mean a lot to us if you subscribed to the podcast YouTube channel, and help with the YouTube algorithm and reach.
Daniel Vassallo is closing up enrollment for the next cohort of the Small Bets community and course. As you may know, I am a huge fan of the community and the lessons he teaches.
If you want to sign up you can do so here.
By the way, that is not an affiliate link and Daniel has not asked me to promote this in any way. I simply love the community and if you want to pick up some modern day entrepreneurial skills, this is the place to do it.
Thank you for reading. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
P.S. you can respond directly to this email and I will do my best to reply. I'd love to hear from you.