Patrick McKenzie+ Your Authors @patio11 I work for the Internet, at @stripe, mostly on accelerating startups. Opinions here are my own. Sep. 11, 2020 2 min read + Your Authors

Some brief thoughts on keeping what some people call "beginner's eyes", which I think is partially an orientation, partly a extremely useful skill, and partially a mode of operation:

Vary the spectrum of the sources you read and people you interact with, both with respect to what genres you're hitting and where on the sophistication spectrum your conversations are.

It's helpful to always be a beginner at something; you'll viscerally know what it feels like.

Remember that teachers will go their entire career introducing people to a topic far below their pay grade and it's often substantially the same material (and substantially the same mistakes) every single time.

Partially you just have to make peace with that.

Listen attentively and develop a fascination for people's models of the world. (Being able to summon them up and play with them is a fun variant of this.)

Often folks newer to a subject are wrong about X but how they got to Y is a *very interesting* lens on how X actually works.

Be willing to repeat yourself far more than comes natural. Where you find yourself doing it, sometimes creating a canonical doc/etc to point people to is useful (or a catchphrase pointing to a body of work).

A tradeoff: forcing friction is a source of growth for you, too.

I don't know whether this is helpful, but "Self-modify to be more fascinated with how things work, how people behave, how decisions are made, how systems interact, etc etc."

An ongoing discussion with my kids is deleting the feeling of boredom. How can you be bored when the world has so much fascinating detail in it, with a fractal anywhere you look? If it seems exactly like something you've seen before then put on another lens and change angle.

(This assumes you have a deep desire for novelty, which is something I would diagnose myself with. If I have to fill in a spreadsheet I zone out by row 8, but I have probably had the same conversation about SaaS pricing 3,000 times and would happily have it at lunch today.)

Forcing yourself to explain things at many levels of abstraction is a good way to both improve your ability to see those levels in superposition and improves your understanding of the system.

Some of the best founders I know are truly, truly formidable at this.

You can follow @patio11.


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