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.
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 their 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.
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.
It’s been three days since my wife and I returned home from a short trip to Ufa, the capital city of Bashkortostan. It was our first trip together in six months, so we were expecting it like never before.
We did all we could to make this trip joyful and pleasant: booked a good four-star hotel, asked our friends to recommend us good restaurants and cafes, and made a list of places to visit and local food we should try. However, everything that could go wrong went wrong on that trip.
The mishaps started right after we arrived. We planned this short vacation a month ago to get to the concert of Pompeya, a Russian indie-rock band that sings in English. The organization was so bad that there was a cram. As the gig started, soon my wife and I were squeezed between two flows of people like rye in the windmill. So, we had to leave and listened the rest of the show from the distance.
For the next two days, bad luck followed us. Everywhere we went we encountered indifference from waiters and baristas, rudeness from people in the street, and prying eyes of random passersby. In all the restaurants we’ve been to the food was unsavory or cooked in some weird way. For example, in one place we were served an Italian pizza with dill, and in other cafe—a waiter brought eggs Benedict that were watery.
The city of Ufa is a nice place from an urbanist perspective: there are many parks and green cozy alleys, breathtaking landscapes, lots of old merchant houses, and unique local wooden architecture. But we didn’t have a chance to enjoy the city, because we didn’t feel welcomed there.
Even though I can’t say our trip was a pleasant experience, we accepted it and tried our best to enjoy it anyway. As soon as we realized things weren’t going the way we wanted, we made up our minds to accept anything that would happen and live every moment as is, not trying to control the consequences of our choices.
We can’t control the outcomes
The only two things you can control in life are your perception of events and your attitude to the impact they have on your life. You have the power to make conclusions and decisions you think are best for you. But you can’t control the outcomes.
You can design a great process, tweak your mind to the right tune, thoroughly manage your daily routine, and still get the wrong result. It’s insane, but it happens every day. And when it does, it’s crucial to focus on the next attempt rather than the outcome you are aiming for.
There’s no 100% working solution that will lead you to success. There are no magic pills. The previous experience that worked in the past can become a letdown or another pitfall in the present. The only reliable tactic is to keep trying and not be afraid of failure.
Failures always come with stress, and it’s a good thing. Stress kept our ancestors looking for a better place to settle. Stress and hunger kept them seeking an easier and more reliable way to get food—that's how livestock and crop production emerged.
Stress and failures are the essences of life, without them, we’d be extinct. So if you’re feeling stressed right now, that’s OK. You can’t completely remove stress from your life, but you can change your attitude toward it. Legalize failures, let them be.
Babies are best at failing, and they don’t give a shit about it!
Think of a baby boy who learns to stand and walk. He doesn’t care if he falls a thousand times before he can stand holding onto the edge of his bed. He doesn’t give a shit! He keeps trying, and, in the end, he gets there. We are no different from them!
Another great example is people who run marathons. Marathoners don’t run a marathon on their first attempt. First, they run 1 km, then 2, someday they run 5. Then they run 10, 20, and only after years of training—a marathon. They don’t care much about failures, because it’s OK not to be capable of running 42 km from scratch.
Legalizing failures is the healthiest way to handle stress. By changing your attitude to setbacks you can greatly reduce the amount of stress in life. This will release more time for new attempts and ideas, and allow you to see solutions that were unavailable to you before.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. The same goes for failures and stress.
Accept failure when it comes your way. Never think you’d fail, but also never regret it when you do. Go forward, do your best, and never look back. Then it’ll be easy for you to start over as if nothing bad happened at all. That’s the best way to master the game. Any game.
Yesterday I woke up at 5 a.m. and couldn’t sleep. Trying to fall asleep again, I caught myself ruminating the following words in my head: “Failures are our best teachers”. Suddenly the whole story started to unfold in my mind, so I jumped up, took my laptop and started typing it until I lost my train of thought.
Half an hour later, I had a draft about the benefits that failures and mistakes bring us. Thus was born this post and Twitter thread for Timestripe.
Failures are the best teachers. Here are eight reasons why:
Mistakes increase importance of wins. Failures teach us so much more than any success could ever teach. If it weren’t for our failures we wouldn’t value our wins and achievements, because there wouldn’t be anything to measure or compare them by.
Continuous success blinds us with illusions. Successful projects and positive outcomes are necessary, but they don’t teach us much. Instead, they make us get along with the idea that if it worked this time it will always work in the future. But it won’t. That’s a cognitive bias we get trapped into. Failures, on the other hand, teach us that if something didn’t work it didn’t work only here and now in this very conditions, in this context, on this project. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible or it won’t work some other time in some other place.
Failures teach us patience. Having failed doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Failing at something teaches us to be patient and persistent about our approach. We learn to make projects and achieve results with a small steps strategy, not by making one perfect decision.
Failing shows it’s OK to be wrong. It’s not the end of the world. Everyone makes mistakes. Even the great minds did. Why should we be perfect? There’s no need for that, no one expects that from us. We’re only expected to fulfill the commitments we’ve made. Nothing else.
Mistakes encourage us to enhance our process. Failures help us discover the hidden power of limitations: time, money, and our physical capabilities. Any project has a limited amount of money and a deadline. Nor can we be productive six-eight hours in a row. Limitations help us find a solution within our available sources.
Failures teach us to value the way, not the goals. Failures and limitations teach us to be flexible and not to put all our money and time on one great idea that will do all the work. Instead, we become more committed to consistency and methodicality rather than an occasional success. They matter more in the long run.
Having failed doesn’t equal being bad at something. In the end, failures don’t define us as bad workers and contractors, or as being bad at our craft. They only mean that we chose the wrong way to solve the problem, and now we’re going to find another one until we find the right solution.
To learn and improve you should be ready to fail. Writing this thread I recalled a good dialogue from “Game of thrones” that happened between Jon Snow and sir Davos Seaworth after Jon’s resurrection:
Jon: I did what I thought was right. And I got murdered for it. And now I’m back. Why?
Sir Davos: I don’t know. Maybe we’ll never know. What does it matter? You go on. You fight for as long as you can. You clean up as much of the shit as you can.
Jon: I don’t know how to do that. I thought I did, but… I failed.
Sir Davos: Good. Now go fail again.
If you’ve failed recently, don’t panic. Don’t stop dreaming, and don’t stop moving forward. Just go fail again.
There were times when I loved doing several things simultaneously. I could make a soup and at the same time discuss another website layout, write a newsletter and watch a TV show. Over time I’ve realized that multitasking almost always sucks, and here’s why.
Only few people in this world can multitask and deliver great results. There’re almost none.
The desire to complete two different things at one is a pathetic attempt to buy some time. Both are likely to be done badly.
Multitasking is often used in the wrong places. It leads to mistakes, sometimes fatal.
To figure out when it’s okay to multitask and when it’s not, I follow a simple method.
If the task doesn’t require thinking and analyzing new information—cleaning, washing dishes, walking through the park—it can be combined with another activity. For example, I make half of my calls and team meetings on the go, because I can move my legs without thinking about it.
However, if the task requires you to immerse yourself into the topic, to constantly assess the situation, to watch for safety—meeting with a new client, playing basketball, or driving a car—you'd better put everything else on hold and focus. Otherwise, you might miss a crucial idea of the talk or get hit in the face with a ball. And if you’re checking your phone while driving or crossing the street, you may die eventually.
I’m not a fan of multitasking, and I hate it when it is mispresented as a criterion for success. But at the same time, I love variety. I enjoy running several projects at once, meeting new people every day, and visiting different cities. The variety is in the spice of life! It inspires me and gives me food for thought. But doing several tasks at once — fuck this. It’s highly likely to turn out to be bullshit.
We tend to plan everything, foresee all possible options, calculate all risks, to think about ways to retreat in advance. Most often in vain. This strategy is ineffective, 'cause most of our fears never come true. But there will always be something we couldn’t anticipate.
Our brain constantly wants certainty, otherwise, it begins to think we are in danger. But visualizing the future in detail is too costly for the brain. And when our expectations don’t match reality, it’s also painful for the psyche. Instead of trying to predict our future, we should focus on the next step. It’s a gentler approach, with no pressure and stress.
The most important step in your life is the next step. Not the one from five years ago, not the one you’ll take a year from now. Just the next step of yours.
If you have a big goal or task in front of you and you have no idea where to start, or how to approach it, try not to think of it as a big goal. Instead, think of what your next step might be and take it. This little trick will help you overcome the numbness and begin to act.
It’s hard to think clearly in difficult times. Fear paralyzes, impotence suppresses the mind, you feel dropped out.
The main principle that helps me keep my mind clear and sound is: “Continue going your way and don’t lose heart. Never lose heart.”
Not to lose your way, manage your focus and keep moving towards the goal when the world is on fire is an invaluable skill and strength. To remember that difficult times are not forever is a sign of incredible resilience.
Be strong and resilent. Continue on your way. Never be daunted.