Writers and designers are afraid of ChatGPT and other AI services popping up all over the place. They shouldn’t be. It won’t leave you out of work unless you do one thing: keep moving.
TV didn’t kill theater. The internet didn’t kill TV. Remote work didn’t kill offices. Those things changed the game, but didn’t kill prior technologies. They just kept going. Nobody likes change, but it’s not death.
AI is yet another tool to your arsenal. It won’t replace you, because it can’t feel and reflect. It runs algorithms designed by… humans. It was designed to replicate and repeat ideas invented by humans. And most of the work today can’t be trusted to AI. Not without a human supervision.
ChatGPT can write a good summary, give some ideas, and spur your imagination. But it can’t create new meanings. Humans exceed AI in innovation. And I don’t think AI will ever come any close to what we are capable of when it comes to creating new paradigms, concepts, and ideas.
Don’t panic. It’s a long-term run. A marathon, not a sprint. Keep your pace and stay in the game as long as you can by bringing new meanings and ideas to the people you serve. It never goes out of fashion.
I ran into this thread by Andrew Nalband where he shares a technique of marking text bold and color highlights to make it easier to scan the draft. Good point, but he does it the wrong way.
Take a look at Andrew’s draft. You can see words, but they make no sense without a context. What does mean “content” in the middle of the first sentence? How is that related to “presentation” and other words marked bold below? You have to read the whole sentence to understand this text.
Here’s another example. I excerpted a few paragraphs from El Pais article and marked their random parts bold. If you read only the bold text, you won’t get a shit of what’s going on here.
Bold text in the middle of a paragraph is a bad idea. It doesn’t help a reader get to the main idea faster and doesn’t make it easier to skim through. On the contrary, it creates additional visual noise and thus hinders reading.
In the end, a reader has to do the double work: read the whole text and fight the distraction. You wanted to draw their attention to some important fact, but instead you made them read the whole thing.
Fortunately, it’s easily fixable. Mark text bold only in the beginning of a paragraph. In this case, your text will look like my post about failures:
This way you don’t have to jump over the text, all you need to do is to scan the beginnings of the paragraphs. It’s way faster and easier to do.
It’s also more convenient for a reader to digest a piece structured this way. Even if people won’t read the whole piece, they’ll be able to catch the core idea of my post and get what they’ve come for.
For the past three years I’ve worked with and for various product and SaaS teams. They were from different industries. But all of them had one common problem—bad focus.
I can’t count how many times I’ve seen small teams and products initially aimed at a certain audience transformed in the minds of their founders into humongous, rigid structures. Simply because founders lost their focus.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard these words: “We need to get attention of everyone on our product. Our product should be universal. Our goal is to corner the market and beat those big guys!”
Really? I believe your starting plan was to create a better user experience for a certain segment of the market, rather than corner it. But appetite comes with eating. This rising appetite blinds people and makes them lose the way.
Knowing your focus and saying no to other things is the most important lesson I’ve ever learned.
The lack of focus erodes ability to flex and accomplish your initial goals. In 99% of the cases the focus shifts to money, and here’s why.
Startups are hungry and it’s a good thing. Business should stay hungry. Hunger keeps the mind clear and the focus precise. However, you have to control your hunger and not let it become a starvation. Have a bite once in a while. Starving businesses lose their focus easily.
It’s not long before they start eating anything that comes their way, just to beat this sick feeling at the pit of a stomach. Side projects, little opportunities to make some money on the side, new feature that your customers want to see, a darn dark theme, or a mobile app. That’s how it always starts. The end is never that fun though.
You probably wouldn’t like the idea of feeding your body with crap like chips and coke. To stay healthy, efficient and strong you have to eat proteins, slow carbons, greens, and drink a lot of water, not soda. The same goes for business. You should be cautious about what you’re feeding your product with. The businesses feed with ideas, hypothesis and guesses you take. Take one and go with it. Don’t squander.
Control your hunger and know your focus. Otherwise you’ll end up creating a product that has no market, no demand, and no unfair advantage. All of that is simply because of a bad focus.
I took these photos a month ago on my winter holidays in Astara, Azerbaijan. I wanted to catch live moments of those sunny days—joyful, sad, peaceful, and exciting at the same time. With this intention I took camera and shoot.
I know that when you wish for something without expecting anything back, it always comes your way. Maybe not when you want it and not the way you want it, but it’ll find the path. That’s how it works. My goal was to show how these people live, what they think, what they care about. I hope now you can see it, too.
Çayiçi. In Azerbaijani it literally means “a man who brews tea”
Asaf is reading the Quran during the memorial service.
Mountains' view. I got lucky to catch a few sunny days in a row which is a rare thing in January here.
Hasan bala(az. balá — child, kid).
Hasan bala is teasing me.
Anam(az. ana — mother).
I regret I didn’t take a proper portrait of that elderly woman.
Tahir, a driver of the cab, is being curious about me. He also writes poetry. After we get to know each other he read us some of his verses.
Tahir’s cab is an old Renault. He took us to the graveyard.
Graveyard is always quiet.
Nuretdin dayı with his granddaughters came by for tea(az. dayı — uncle).
Let me share two principles that help me write consistently and be abundant: write everything down and keep it simple. Let’s look at them closer.
Write everything down. It’s a fundamental principle of my writing process. I guess nothing gave such a boost to my writing as building a habit of taking notes. There are three reasons for doing that:
Taking notes frees up the space for new ideas in your head. Since I’d begun writing down all the ideas that crossed my mind, the more new thoughts started coming in. My wife often observe me rushing to my desk from the bed to write down the idea that arose in my head before sleep.
Writing ideas down helps to structure the knowledge and experience you’ve gained. Writing and deconstructing things I’ve learned was the easiest way to understand them much deeper and turn them into simple but efficient management principles. No video or audio can do so. Writing is the only creative process that implies analysis.
Writing is the fastest and cheapest way to share your knowledge with others. Videos and podcasts require many additional skills and postproduction, while writing doesn’t take much time and energy to convey a message. Also reading is a natural way to get the idea, while a video or a podcast doesn’t allow you to skip a part of it without losing the context or some important details.
Keep it simple. I’m talking about note-taking, of course. I know that some of you may have a tendency to hunt for a new super powerful all-in-one perfect application that would empower you to start taking notes. I’ve been down that road. That’s a self-deception.
Dump this idea. Don’t wait for the perfect tool. It won’t make a difference to the world, but your writing may.
You already have a note app on your phone. It already has hashtags, folders, headings, bullet points, etc. You don’t need a list of unique features to make a grocery list, same goes for ideas. All you need is to start writing them down.
The simpler your note-taking process is, the better. I use standard Notes by Apple to jot down my thoughts. It’s enough to capture the idea that came to me and make the first draft so I could forget about it and move on. Any app that has autosave, folders, hashtags, and cloud sync will work.
To sum up:
Write down all ideas that cross your mind
Take notes so you could forget and get back later to edit them
Keep your note-taking system simple
Use a standard app that is aimed at getting the job done
Use hashtags for topics and folders for projects
The next time you’re going to write something on social media, open you notes, pick one topic and simply edit this. No need to write from scratch anymore, you will always have a list of ideas to go with.
Before making an appointment, I ask myself a few questions. Is it possible to do what I’m going to do without a meeting? Is it possible to solve this without another Zoom call? How else can I accomplish this task?
In half of the cases, I figure out that a meeting can be replaced with a letter, a scheduled message, a screencast, a voice message, or an old-fashioned phone call.
❌ Situations when meetings are not necessary:
to get an unambiguous “yes” or “no” answer
to update the status of ongoing tasks
to request information
to ask for or give feedback on a design layout
to make edits and suggestions to a draft
to make onboarding for a new admin panel of a website
✅ Situations when meetings are necessary:
to hold the initial meeting of the project
to present a logo, a website, or other deliverables from the contract
to resolve a personal conflict among parties of the project
to share knowledge and experience: one-on-one meetings, team training
to discuss issues that require a lot of clarification: briefing, cost estimate, agreement
This principle helps to understand whether a meeting is needed or not. If my email does more harm than good, a meeting will be a better option. For example, if there is increasing friction in the project, you should not dispute via email. Discuss disagreements face to face, this way it will be much easier for you to calm the interlocutor and resolve the conflict.
Though if the text allows you to solve the problem without putting the project and the relationship with a client at risk, you may cancel a meeting and find another way to get the job done. For example, it is more productive to comment on a new design layout in Figma and then hold a call on demand to discuss the feedback you gave rather than stare at the layout you’ve never seen before.
The main secret to making more time is to reduce the number of meetings. Half of the meetings people have are fucking pointless and unnecessary.
One of the biggest truths about life is that we don’t own most of the things we think belong to us. Sounds crazy, but keep reading, and you’ll get there.
The money in your bank account doesn’t belong to you. They belong to the bank. If tomorrow it goes bankrupt, you’ll have no money. The lease car you’re driving doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to a leasing company. The money you invested in stocks or real estate doesn’t belong to you. They belong to the company you’ve entrusted them to.
Neither cool things nor expensive toys you buy belong to you. They are simply tools that provide comfort for you and your family. But they don’t belong to you. They are not a part of you. Even the clothes you wear, and the food you eat don’t belong to you. Those are just things you buy with money.
Money is the biggest illusion of power and stability.
Politicians own your money, and they screw up every goddamn day. One poor decision of theirs and you have less money than you had last morning. Trying to be in control and believing you’re in control of the things you own is probably the biggest self-deception in the world. Don’t fall into this trap.
Your real possessions are the money you’ve already spent and the experiences and skills you’ve acquired with that money. Choose wisely, spend more easily, and get richer.