Friday, July 20, 2012

Time to Stop Acting as the Content Filter

I remember the early days of Techcrunch, I tried to read everything. Before long, I wasn't keeping up, then I quit trying. It didn't help that Mike Arrington bashed my startup, CalendarHub, at the Under The Radar Conference. But after I stopped trying to read everything, I foolishly promised myself that I would eventually go back and read ALL Techcrunch articles. Silly, I know. But, I wanted to absorb as much good information as I could. I wanted to become a tech-startup dictionary.

I certainly don't feel that way anymore about Techcrunch. I haven't for a long time. The articles stopped being relevant to me sometime in 2007, quite a while after they had shifted from covering startups. But, I still have that feeling like I need to do a deep-dive like that. I have had the same thought about Hacker News. What if I just started from comment #1 and started reading? That's so unrealistic because of the number of comments, but it also poses the same problem. I don't want to have to read too much garbage just to extract a few good ideas.

Then, there's what Daniel Tenner said about brainwashing yourself by what you read. I think there is some merit there. If I'm going to do a deep-dive, I need to find a place where I can absorb everything and not be afraid that I'll come out with the wrong ideas about entrepreneurship or how startups should work.

So, then I thought, why not pick a startup founder/blogger who knows his stuff and literally read everything he's ever written? Surely this would finally rid me of this strong, long-held desire to deep-dive into startups and software entrepreneurship. It would also help me understand strategy and perhaps learn some new tactics that only a true deep-dive can uncover. So, my criteria seemed to be:

  • Someone I've heard about who has impacted my thinking on startups.
  • Has been writing about this stuff for a while.
  • Doesn't write too many empty, fluff articles.
  • Doesn't self-promote to the point that it's a distraction
  • Someone who has actually built a successful startup.
That's a tall-order to be sure. Honestly I don't know of anyone who fits this description other than Rob Walling and Patrick McKenzie, though the former is almost disqualified by the amount of self-promotion he does, the latter is certainly disqualified by the lack of writing (but not by quality).

So, I guess what I'm saying is that I'm tired of acting as the primary filter to a storm of articles that want to infect my brain with their sales pitch. So I'm going to tie my wagon to someone for a while. Probably Rob Walling. My regimen will be to consume nothing but Rob's content until I've covered all his writings and videos. That means no HN, no CNN, and no Reddit until I come back up for air. Like the Twinkie Diet, this may be incredibly unhealthy, but I think it will have some positive results.

Granted, I'll still be meeting with founders, and will still occasionally watch the stray TV show, but I want as much isolation as possible so the ideas can soak in. A bit like the guru goes to the mountain to meditate. So, like a seminary student studies the ancient texts, so I will study Rob and his companies. It'll be like a one-way apprenticeship.

I'll let you know how this turns out.

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