No Water, No Moon

Arman Suleimenov: daily essays on startups, life hacking and happiness.

March 30, 2014 at 3:39pm

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How do you find time to read?

Finding the time to read [0] is essential on the path of continuous learning. Create a habit of finding one hour for reading at the same time (say, at 9:00pm before night walk and sleep) every day. Here’s what Warren Buffett has to say on his long-time partner Charlie Munger:

"Charlie, as a very young lawyer, was probably getting $20 an hour. He thought to himself, ‘Who’s my most valuable client?’ And he decided it was himself. So he decided to sell himself an hour each day. He did it early in the morning, working on these construction projects and real estate deals. Everybody should do this, be the client, and then work for other people, too, and sell yourself an hour a day”.

Notes
[0] Not passively obviously. Grabbing ideas from the books, reading critically is as essential. 

March 23, 2014 at 9:31pm

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How to give brutally honest feedback without offending anyone

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These days more often than not the idea to start a startup precedes the startup idea. That’s unfortunate and often leads to completely artificial creations which look like combinations of random features of the most successful products of our era. It leads to tech- or non-technological solutions which are looking for the problems to be solved. 

So here you are in a group of 3-4 friends trying to come up with the next startup idea. Everyone talks about the things s/he is excited about. Often the interests turn out to be different. Someone wants to build an enterprise SaaS, someone is passionate about productivity services or education, someone is into social news. So after failing to converge on a single idea as a team, you decide that each person writes down the list of ideas one is passionate about. The hope is that then you find the intersection set and get the ball rolling.

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8:01pm

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Bill Gates on one thing that sets him apart from Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs

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- You mentioned Mark Zuckerberg. When you look at what he’s done, do you see some of yourself in him?

- Oh, sure. We’re both Harvard dropouts, we both had strong, stubborn views of what software could do. I give him more credit for shaping the user interface of his product. He’s more of a product manager than I was. I’m more of a coder, down in the bowels and the architecture, than he is. But, you know, that’s not that major of a difference. I start with architecture, and Mark starts with products, and Steve Jobs started with aesthetics. 

Source: The Rolling Stone

March 15, 2014 at 3:35pm

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The secret of Flappy Bird’s success: easy to learn and difficult to master

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Can you come up with any other mobile games which utilize the Nolan Bushnell’s not forgotten mantra of game design?

Nguyen had already made and released a mobile game, Shuriken Block, earlier that month. The object was to stop a cascade of ninja stars from impaling five little men on the screen. This seemed simple enough – the one-word instruction read TAP. Tap the falling star at the right moment, and it would bounce away. But Nguyen understood the mantra of game design that Nolan Bushnell, creator of Pong and founder of Atari, described as "easy to learn and difficult to master". More recently, indie game makers had taken this to speed-metal extremes with the so-called masocore genre – games that are masochistically hard. Shuriken Block was deceptively ruthless. Even the nimblest player would have trouble lasting a minute before the men were spurting pixelated blood. Nguyen was pleased with the results, but the game languished in the iOS store.

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12:38am

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Stop giving interviews and focus on perfecting your craft

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In the last 9 months for the better or worse I gave numerous interviews to magazines, blogs and other online publications. What I found out early on is the fact that when you opt to save time and agree to oral interviews, the transcript produced by the interviewer reflects his/her views on topics, not yours [0]. The end result is an interview where you say shallow things you’ve neither meant nor said. 

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March 12, 2014 at 2:53pm

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Have you worked at Google?

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‘Have you worked at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, [0], etc.?’, they ask. ‘Nope’, I reply. ‘Hmmmmm’, they murmur with a clear irony.

I don’t want to sound apologetic, but sometimes people want to make you feel inferior based on some arbitrary criteria they find valuable and important. Is the experience working at a big tech company valuable? Absolutely. Is it one of the most important signals to measure one’s qualification? I doubt.

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March 11, 2014 at 8:10am

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You idiot. You’ve been listening to me for 20 minutes, and I’ve been working on this for 5 years!

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Discuss on Reddit

'There is this theory in venture capital that you want to back coachable entrepreneurs. But the entrepreneurs who have really radical ideas are not only not coachable, but they generally react with hostility to being coached. One of the things we test for is - we say, “Have you thought about doing this the other way?” What we are not looking for is them say, “Oh, that’s a great idea!” What we are looking for is a stare, “You idiot. You moron. You’ve been sitting here, listening to me for 20 minutes and I’ve been working on this for 5 years and you think you understand this so well that you can make me a suggestion. And not only you’re an idiot for thinking you can do that, but now I explain you in detail why you’re that big of an idiot”. We love those! Those are fantastic!' -Marc Andreessen

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March 10, 2014 at 11:23am

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The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second. This means blocking off a large chunk of time every day for creative work on your own priorities, with the phone and e-mail off.

— Mark McGuinness, ‘Manage Your Day-to-Day’

February 24, 2014 at 5:57pm

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Inner peace or outer success?

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I was tired of going to bed at 4am to wake up at noon the same day. ‘Working from home’ rarely has to be treated literally. Not being attached to an office gives lots of freedom, but it comes with a few caveats. Ideally you have 2-3 favorite coffee shops in your neighborhood (but not too close to each other). Before going to bed, you separate all the tasks you have for the next day in 2-3 distinct groups [0] (one per cafe) so that each group takes an approximately equal amount of time. Once you cleared the last item in your first group of to-dos, you pack and walk for around 30 minutes to get to the next coffee shop. Having a clear finish line brings so much focus and you end up accomplishing way more than in those fuzzy days with no clear-cut goals. Plus, you are ideally done by 7pm and can do more relaxing things in the evening.

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February 3, 2014 at 5:49pm

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Why I want to build Lyft for Kazakhstan and why it can fail

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Expected read-time: 7-10 minutes

Update: Having torn a page from the lean playbook, we just launched [-1] an MVP for the taxi service described. No surprise here - WE are the drivers!

Part I: Peace

On January 14, I came back to my hometown of Astana, Kazakhstan after an awesome month long vacation in the US. One service I unexpectedly fell in love with while there was Lyft. After 4 days in New York City and 4 days in San Francisco Bay Area, we arrived in San Diego International Airport where we got picked up by our Airbnb host. She mentioned coupons from Sidecar and Lyft - a little unassuming event which led me down the cab catching ‘rabbit hole’ as the last time I used Uber was a year ago - back in December 2012. The distributed city of San Diego is very conducive for taking cabs. I gave everyone an equal chance, from Christmas to New Year’s Eve having cumulatively spent $133 (7 rides, 53 miles, 115 minutes) on UberX, 43 bucks on two rides on Sidecar and $198 (13 rides, 81 miles, 181 minutes) on Lyft. Well, almost equal - Sidecar and a few cars it had in San Diego didn’t hold up to the fierce competition. Lyft won my heart over and the next year - from January 7 [0] to January 12 (the day we flew out from SFO), I spent $243 (10 rides, 77 miles, 178 minutes) solely on Lyft rides [1].

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