The other day I encountered this blog post in which an entrepreneur accidentally meets Russell Kirsch, computing pioneer and inventor of the first digital photo.
Kirsch, at the wise age of 81, informs the author of two principles he follows.
Do things that have never been done before
Nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do.
Russell Kirsch’s advice to work with determination and courage seems quaintly romantic. It surprises me that his words seem foreign to me, an entrepreneur living in the Silicon Valley. If anything, the principle of “Making Great Things” should be my personal religion. But as I read these blog posts, I could feel that I was not living that way.
Day to day, I find myself thinking of users as people I need to monetize. I no longer try to “do things that have never been done.” I do things to get to achieve the mythical goals of Growth and Traction. I judge my work by a yardstick that measures how rich I make other people. So if “nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do,” why am I spending all my time conceiving to do things I don’t even care about?
These principles are not why I got into startups. So from today, I’ve decided to distance myself from this “Silicon Valley way of thinking”. Hacker News and Lean Startup be damned.
I’m a maker, dammit. I’m going to go make great things.