The Art of Strategic Laziness

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David Heinemeier Hansson ("DHH")

David Heinemeier Hansson (“DHH”)

The following is a guest post by Shane Snow, a frequent contributor to Wired and Fast Company.  Last year, he wrote about his two-week Soylent experiment, which went viral and racked up 500+ comments.

This post is adapted from his new book, SMARTCUTSand it will teach you a few things:

  • How to use strategic “laziness” to dramatically accelerate progress
  • How “DHH” became a world-class car racer in record time, and how he revolutionized programming (they’re related)
  • A basic intro to computer programming abstraction

Note: the technical aspects of programming have been simplified for a lay audience.  If you’d like to point out clarifications or subtleties, please share your thoughts in the comments!   I’d love to read them, as I’m thinking of experimenting with programming soon.

Enter Shane Snow

The team was in third place by the time David Heinemeier Hansson leapt into the cockpit of the black-and-pink Le Mans Prototype 2 and accelerated to 120 miles per hour. A dozen drivers jostled for position at his tail. The lead car was pulling away from the pack—a full lap ahead.

This was the 6 Hours of Silverstone, a six-hour timed race held each year in Northamptonshire, UK, part of the World Endurance Championship. Heinemeier Hansson’s team, Oak Racing, hoped to place well enough here to keep them competitive in the standings for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Tour de France of automobile racing.

Heinemeier Hansson was the least experienced driver among his teammates, but the Oak team had placed a third of this important race in his hands.

Determined to close the gap left by his teammate, Heinemeier Hansson put pedal to floor, hugging the curves of the 3.7-mile track that would be his singular focus for the next two hours. But as three g’s of acceleration slammed into his body, he began to slide around the open cockpit. Left, then right, then left. Something was wrong with his seat.

In endurance racing, a first place car can win a six- or 12-hour race by five seconds or less. Winning comes down to two factors: the equipment and the driver. However, rules are established to ensure that every car is relatively matched, which means outcomes are determined almost entirely by the drivers’ ability to focus and optimize thousands of tiny decisions.

Shifting attention from the road to, say, a maladjusted driver’s seat for even a second could give another car the opportunity to pass. But at 120 miles per hour, a wrong move might mean worse than losing the trophy.  As Heinemeier Hansson put it, “Either you think about the task at hand or you die.”

Turn by turn, he fought centrifugal force, attempting to keep from flying out while creeping up on the ADR-Delta car in front of him.

And then it started to rain… Read More

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What Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and Bob Dylan Have In Common

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Dr. Peter H. Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, and co-Founder and Chairman of the Singularity University, a Silicon Valley-based institution partnered with NASA, Google, Autodesk and Nokia. Dr. Diamandis attended MIT, where he received his degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering, as well as Harvard Medical School where he received his M.D.

He’s no underachiever.

I’ve known Peter for many years, both as a friend and as advising faculty at Singularity University. He is known for being incredibly resourceful, but it’s his ability to teach and catalyze resourcefulness that impresses me most.

Here is a short essay from Peter on exactly this.  Enjoy… Read More

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How to Gather 100,000 Emails in One Week (Includes Successful Templates, Code, Everything You Need)

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This story is about the launch of Harry’s, a new men’s grooming brand.

Specifically, it will explain how they gathered nearly 100,000 email addresses in one week (!).  This post includes all the email templates, open-source code, and insider tricks that you can use to replicate their success.  It’s similar in depth to my previous how-to post, Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days.

This post is of great personal interest to me, as I’ll be doing a ton of fun stuff with email soon.  For a sneak peek, click here.  Now, on to Harry’s…

Harry’s started small and grew quickly.  They now have 40 domestic employees, an online store, a barbershop in New York, and a thriving online magazine called Five O’Clock. Harry’s also recently raised 100+ million dollars to buy the 94-year-old German factory that makes it blades.  By doing so, they added 427 people to their team. Today, you can find Harry’s products on harrys.com, in select J Crew stores, and at more than 65 men’s boutiques and hotels across the country.

This is piece was written by Jeff Raider, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Harry’s, with input from key members of the Harry’s team.

Prior to Harry’s, Jeff co-founded Warby Parker, a brand offering designer-like eyewear at lower prices, which also helped pioneer the “buy one, give one” model.

Enjoy!… Read More

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Preventing Burnout: A Cautionary Tale

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My first in-person meeting with Charlie Hoehn. Zion National Park, 2009.

Charlie Hoehn first reached out to me in 2008 through Ramit Sethi.

Shortly thereafter, I hired him as a part-time intern. Eventually, he became a full-time employee.

For three years, we worked together on a number of projects, most notably the The 4-Hour Body and the Opening the Kimono event. Charlie’s responsibilities ranged from “professional” tasks (planning VIP parties, assembling scandalous guest posts, coordinating logistics for 15,000 orders during the Land Rush campaign, etc.) to productive tomfoolery (epic grocery shopping spreesediting vajayjay photos, photographing giraffe make outs, persuading me to swallow 25 pills at once).

It was one hell of a ride.  We had a lot of fun, and we had some huge successes.

From day one, Charlie expressed a constant desire to become a hyper-efficient and effective entrepreneur. His role expanded as he requested more responsibilities (“What else can I do to help?” he’d ask me repeatedly), and we often found ourselves juggling several projects at once.

Most of the time, we handled it well. And as Charlie’s comfort zone stretched, his confidence increased, his communication and abilities improved, and our day-to-day operations were generally strife-free. We worked well together.

Then — in the middle of making The 4-Hour Chef – he suddenly quit.   It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Finding work-life balance (or work-life “separation,” as I prefer) in a connected world is challenging.  Speaking personally, I’m either 100% ON (for book launches, creative deadlines, etc.) or 100% OFF (such as my recent excursion to Bali). This ability to hit the shut-off switch helps me remain sane, separate work from pleasure, and it usually prevents me from burning out.

In this post, Charlie will share his story: what it was like to work with me for three years, and what led up to his burnout.

For all Type-A driven readers — especially those who struggle with the shut-off switch — this one is for you… Read More

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How to Dominate Any Tradeshow, and Why Even Solo Entrepreneurs Should Try

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Lance Kalish and Ido Leffler Yes To Carrots
Lance Kalish and Ido Leffler of Yes To Carrots

Intro by Tim

How do you build a multi-million dollar global business?

Well, you might start by visiting Israel and negotiating the rights to an unknown brand (Yes To Carrots)…found in 16 stores. Then, you might use cold calling artistry and Jedi mind tricks to get carried by Walgreen’s in its 7,000+ stores. Next, you might get your product into 25,000+ stories internationally and smile when you see Rosario Dawson using your goods publicly. Now, as the happy ending (of sorts), every 6 seconds in the US, someone buys a Yes To product!

But that’s leaving out the details, isn’t it? I hate business articles and books that do that.

I’ve known Ido Leffler, Yes To’s co-founder, for ages. I met him at a Summit Series event in Miami. His trademark hug was the first thing that caught my attention: inexplicably slow-motion and super gentle, as if he were cradling a baby panda. Of course, there’s his subtle Australian accent and persuasive (and deliberately less subtle) Israeli chutzpah. Who the hell was this guy? I’ve come to love him, but perhaps more important to you, I’ve come to love his methods. He deconstructs problems like Sherlock Holmes with a twist of Richard Branson… Read More

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Marc Ecko's 10 Rules for Getting "Influencer" Attention

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marc_ecko_-_Google_Search

The dream is simple: get your product in the hands of celebrities or “influencers,” and they create a ripple effect that skyrockets you to fame and fortune.

What if Kim Kardashian tweets about you?
What if Hugh Jackman wears your custom shirts on the red carpet?
What if a top blogger includes you in a top-10 list?
What if you got a mention on The Office or another primetime show?

Sadly, sampling to “stars” seldom works out.

People who move the needle get a TON of stuff sent to them. The pic below is just part of my mail, and I’m not even a real celeb! Blurb and blog promotion requests received in one day, with the exception of one book:

One day's blurb and blog requests

So…how do YOU break through the noise?

This guest post will teach you. It’s written by Marc Ecko, founder of Marc Ecko Enterprises, a global fashion and lifestyle company. I wanted Marc to write this post because — in my opinion — he’s an expert at selling yourself without selling out. As CNBC put it, “Marc is living proof that you can be a marketing and business whiz and still be a true artist.”

Once a graffiti artist with no connections, Marc left the safety net of pharmacy school to start his own clothing company. Using hustle and creativity, he turned a $5,000 bag of cash into a global corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

He created a lot of this success by repeatedly getting his products to impossible-to-reach icons (e.g. Spike Lee, Chuck D) and planning elaborate PR stunts (e.g. Air Force One graffiti hoax; buying Barry Bonds’ homerun record baseball and letting online votes determine its fate).

This post will explain his 10 rules — the do’s and don’ts — of his unique “swag bomb” approach to getting influencer attention. I agree with all of them.

Enjoy, replicate, and prosper… Read More

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You'd Like to Be an Angel Investor? Here's How You Can Invest In My Deals…

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tim_ferriss_smile_-_Google_Search

Most deals get done in informal settings. Now, I’m inviting you to join me. (Photo: Russell Yip)

 

Please note that my syndicate investing in Shyp has now closed. You can still back me on AngelList to gain priority access to future deals. More updates will be posted here later in the round.

 

On September 23, 2013 (that’s today), the world of startup financing changes forever. It’s a truly historic moment.

Previously, I couldn’t publicly share deals with you. Now, thanks to an unprecedented legal change, I can offer a portion of my start-up investments to any of you who qualify as “accredited investors.”

  • Previously, you had to be part of a small club to see such deals. Not any more.
  • Previously, you might even need to be in Silicon Valley, drinking wine and having coffees around the clock, to see good deals before they filled up. No longer.

Starting today, I’ll share some of my favorite deals with you, beginning with a start-up called Shyp.

Notable companies I’ve advised include Uber (pre-Series-A), Evernote, Automattic (WordPress.com), Shopify, and TaskRabbit, among others. Early investments include Twitter, Facebook, Reputation.com, etc.

In this case, I used a “Spearhead Capital” blog post to my ~1.4M monthly blog readers to find promising startups. Nearly 400 companies applied, many of which are producing millions in revenue. Out of all of them, and with the help of Naval Ravikant (CEO/co-founder of AngelList) to interview finalists, I chose Shyp.

Shyp is the fastest and easiest way to ship packages. More on that shortly.

Investing alongside me–and potentially you–in this round are:

  • David Marcus (President of PayPal)
  • Brian McClendon (Founder of Google Earth)
  • Daymond John (Founder of FUBU, Shark on ABC’s “Shark Tank”)
  • Joshua Schachter (Founder of Delicious, Tasty Labs)
  • Aaron Batalion (Co-founder of LivingSocial)
  • Homebrew (Hunter Walk and Satya Patel)
  • Naval Ravikant (CEO/co-founder of AngelList)
  • Scott Belsky (Founder and CEO of Behance)
  • Sherpa Ventures (Scott Stanford & Shervin Pishevar)
  • Antonio J. Gracias (Board Member at Tesla and SolarCity)
  • XG Ventures (Andrea Zurek and Pietro Dova)
  • Osama Bedier (Former head of Google Wallet)

…and more

So, how can you join us?

Before I tell you, remember:

  1.  Startups are speculative, and this is gambling. You shouldn’t invest anything you’re not comfortable kissing goodbye. Treat it as casino money.
  2.  If you are going to invest in startups despite this high risk, plan on building a portfolio of dozens, very slowly and carefully. This should be just one of many. Read more on approach here.

The Short Version

If you’d like to invest in Shyp, simply click here.  A description of the company is in “The Longer Version” below.

You’ll need to set up an AngelList profile (free), and the minimum investment is $2,500. We’re only able to accept $250,000 from everyone.

For more on the team and concept of Shyp, click here.

If you miss this one, not to worry–you can automatically join my deals in the future, which puts you first in line next time.

Can’t invest right now? No worries. If relevant, I’d love for your to consider any of the below actions. Shyp and I would really appreciate it!

- Apply to be a Shyp Hero (Heroes are Shyp’s drivers). Click here.

- Apply for a job on Shyp’s core team. Click here.

- Interview the co-founders of Shyp: Kevin, Josh, and Jack. They’re clever gents. Just email: founders at shyp dot com.

- Tell Shyp which city you live in so they can launch there before others!

The Longer Version

I’m putting my name and network behind Shyp and personally investing $25,000. I’ll also be providing oversight and advising the company on product/conversion optimization, national launch strategy, etc.

I’m using a new AngelList feature called “Syndicates” to share my $250,000 allocation of Shyp.

Unlike venture capitalists (VCs), I am charging zero management fees. If you don’t win, I don’t make a dime. If you invest alongside me, the only expense is a 20% “carry” (roughly 20% of the profits) if there’s a good outcome.

DESCRIPTION OF SHYP

Shyp is the fastest and easiest way to ship packages.

Through the Shyp iPhone app, you take a photo of what you want to send, specifying destination and pick-up time. You’re done.

A “Shyp Hero” (driver) arrives at your home or office at the specified time, takes your unpackaged item away to be packaged, then sends it on its way via the optimal carrier (i.e., Fedex, UPS, etc.). Shyp automatically optimizes for speed and cost, and Shyp charges no more than Post Office prices, plus a $5 pickup fee for sending solo items. If you send more than one item, the company waives the $5 pickup fee.

More on how this works below the video.

I have confidence in the team, and here’s why I love the model:

- Recurring revenue. It has a frequent use case, just like Uber and Evernote (again, both of which I’ve advised). Millions of people can use Shyp on a weekly or daily basis.

- It’s simple and solves a real problem. Do you enjoy going to the post office or UPS store? Scheduling pickups that require you to be available for 3-6 hours? Of course not. Shyp makes fixing all that as easy as snapping a picture. And they package everything for you. No more wasted afternoons.

- It has unusually high margins. Shyp matches USPS retail prices, but by taking a volume discount from carriers and utilizing regional couriers (that end-users cannot), Shyp can maintain high profit margins. Using OnTrac, as one example, is 75% cheaper than USPS.

- It’s tackling the “first mile” problem, not the “last mile” problem. Lots of companies are focused on same-day delivery from retailers to consumers: the last mile. It’s a crowded battlefield of a market. But what about the burden of packaging up shipments from homes and offices? This “first mile” problem is enormous, and the market is neglected. Shyp aims to own it.

How to Get In First

Would you like first access to my future deals, right alongside my close friends?

To see things before I post them on the blog, you can automatically back me on AngelList, as Naval (CEO of AngelList) and others are doing. Click here for more details. This will ensure you don’t miss anything.

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DISCLAIMERS — DON’T SKIP:
Startups make big plans a lot, and most don’t follow them. Shyp might run out of money; customers might not like using a third party to ship things; UPS, Fedex, or some upstart could start competing; or the team could simply fall apart tomorrow. Any statements about their future plans, margins, etc., are pure speculation on my part. That’s why startup investing is very risky, so again: don’t invest anything you aren’t prepared to write off 100%. Last but not least, I’m not necessarily planning on sending frequent updates or notices of Shyp’s change in plans (if any), as startups change on a weekly or daily basis.

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