Paul Jarvis on When & Why to Make Your Own Product

It’s strange how many of us get caught up in the technicalities of making something that we overlook nailing down the basics:

How do you solve a problem for someone (which is what a product does) when you don’t know who that “someone” is? How can you write sales copy when you don’t know who you’re writing for, or why? How can you create something so useful someone can’t live without it, if you aren’t sure what use it’d serve?

One well-tested approach to making products is spending a lot of time with the customers before you’ve made the product:

if you haven’t identified your audience or how you can definitively serve them, doing client work makes more sense than building products, especially at the beginning.

Click here to to Jarvis’s full post. It’s well worth a read for anyone who’s interested in making useful things.

Traits to Shoot For

Another great video from The Schools of Life YouTube channel. However, while the video comments the 10 commandments, I believe that Islam’s teachings are not bound by time, and should never be replaced. I just felt the need to point that out to not be mistaken for believing that old religious teachings (Islam, specifically) should be replaced. I agree with all the points mentioned in the video, and I think we should strive to have them in addition to the old teachings, not as replacement.

Do What You’re Good At, Not What You’re “Supposed To”

For most of us, our career journey looks like this:

  • Go to school for about 12 years.
  • Choose what to study in university:
  • This is one of the most important decisions in your life, but no pressure!
  • Better be sure about what you choose. How? That’s your problem.
  • Study for years & graduate from university.
  • Get a job in the field you studied.

For a lot of people, that works just fine and they do great. I wasn’t one of those people. That whole process was broken for me from the start: I had no idea what I wanted to study in university after high school. I ended up majoring in Software Engineering (5-year program). Why? I liked computers. So… I guess it wouldn’t be too bad to study computer-y stuff? Fast forward 5 years and I graduated then got a job as a web developer. And yeah it wasn’t too bad. But…

All this while, I didn’t know if this is what I wanted! Seriously, I was still as unsure about my decision after a year of working as a web developer as I was 6 years ago before choosing to major in Software Engineering.

Then I had a chance at my company to try a different role, something that required technical knowledge as well presentation and sales skills. I was really intrigued by the idea and jumped on it. I’m really much happier doing this now than in my time as a web developer. And whereas I was ok in my previous role, I think I can be great in this.

This got me thinking… what else am I good at that I have been ignoring because I was limiting myself by looking at jobs that I was “supposed to” be considering (i.e. jobs related to what I studied)? Through inspiration from close friends of mine, I tried listing the things that I was good at and could get a job doing. This has really changed the way I look at my career. Now I’m working on improving the things I’m already good at, which means, I naturally enjoy them.

If you’re good at something that other people value, then you have a better chance of excelling at it and making good money from it than if you were to continue at a job you’re not so good at just because that’s what you studied in university and so that’s what you’re “supposed to” be doing for a living. Get a pen and paper, list what you’re good at, don’t be modest, get better at them, make money from them all!