I’m obsessed with work. Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) that means I’m a workaholic, for better or worse. When you get to the heart of the matter though, I’m driven by a sense of my ‘life’s work’. As in, what will I make with other people, over the course of my lifetime, which will elevate other human lives? How do I know what to work on? How do I maximize time spent working on the right thing?
In my career so far, I’ve thrown myself into some very different parts of the world. Consumer startups, enterprise software, and open source are some prime examples. The people who reside in each of those sectors don’t usually sit down and have real conversations with one another. While jumping between silos has sometimes been a shock to the system, and has occasionally been very lonely, it has given me the opportunity to understand the experiences and motivations of disparate groups of people who usually would never cross paths. Standing at the crossroads of these tribes and playing in the ambiguous space in between them has allowed me to stress test many of my own assumptions, and has afforded me a much bigger picture of reality.
Based on my learnings, there are two classes of problems that I would like to spend the next 10+ years of my life’s work focused on. This is an early attempt to articulate the two different problem sets that I find most compelling. They may change, but its a start.
1) Peer to peer empowerment via large networks.
How do we help individuals create things, make themselves useful to one another, and live better lives because of it? Since the financial crash of 2008 many of the economic paradigms that we’d come to take for granted, like employment and the value of a college degree, have largely stopped working. This is slowly breeding a generation of micro-entrepreneurs and DIY-ers, and a trend towards sharing and collaboration so that resources can be used effectively. Current examples are the Etsy’s, the Shapeways’, and the Kickstarter’s of the world, but what comes next? There are certainly a multitude of ways to help people lift themselves up at scale in the current landscape which have yet to be implemented. Helping people adapt to and thrive within this new climate is one of the things I would most like to do with my time.
2) The global technology community
I recently read a post called After Your Job is Gone. Check it out, I highly recommend it. It helped me to understand how very lucky I am, as is every other person employed in tech, to be in this sector. We’re in a great place while the divide is deepening between us and much of the rest of the world. It’s easy for us to slip into thinking that our bubble is the world. This loss of perspective can lead us to waste our remarkable abilities on non-problems, or much worse, waste each other’s time on destructive in-fighting. The question here is, how can we, as this privileged part of the global population be the best versions of ourselves? This is something I’d like to spend considerable time devising solutions for.
I hope that by sharing this, I’ll have an easier time aligning my small daily decisions with big these priorities.
If you’re trying to figure out where you’d like to contribute, perhaps we should talk.