Writing It Down
I had dinner with my daughter Jessica last night. We got to talking about creativity. She's a photographer. I asked her how she thinks Pieter Hugo comes up with his ideas for photos. She said "I bet he reads a lot about the topics he is interested in and then writes his own thoughts down and from that comes the ideas for the work".
That led to a long discussion about the value of reading and writing, with a particular emphasis on writing. I told her that I toiled in the VC business for close to twenty years before I hit my stride and the reason I found my stride was my adoption of blogging.
As all of you know, I write every day. It is my discpline, my practice, my thing. It forces me to think, articulate, and question. And I get feedback from it. When I hit publish, I get a rush. Every time. Just like the first time. It is incredibly powerful.
And it is permanent. There is a long and winding record of my thinking out there on the public Internet. Google "mobile app deep linking" and you find my post first. At the top. That's because I have been thinking about mobile app deep linking and I wrote my thoughts down.
A journalist is doing a profile of me. I told him that I don't like profiles of VCs. I suggested that he should focus on the entrepreneurs who are doing the real work in startupland. But that didn't get him to back off. He replied
I understand your reticence, though think it would be instructive to hear how you’ve come to some decisions. (What struck you about Twitter, for instance? Many people would have shaken their heads.)
What struck me about Twitter? That's here. I wrote it down.
How do you get an idea for a post every day?
I read a lot of blogs and also think about stuff that I am seeing and doing and from that comes the post
Daily blogging becomes a drug and an urge. And that collection is an incredible record.What happened to the index idea about your topics? You’re definitely on top of Google searches, but that idea of a more visible index/toc inside AVC was a good one I think.
I have to build it or move to WP
WP is one giant blogging platform. Rising all the time. I met Matt Mullenweg when he came to South Africa. Super smart guy. Pushing WP fwd all the time.
Best free product on the web, maybe anywhere.I marvel at it each time I use it which is every day.
no signs of slowing down.
where’s the money come from–if you have a good link to understanding their model, I’m interested.
WP VIP product costs 1000s per month
Need to check what it does Jim. For all my uses, free does everything I need and more. Same with Disqus as well!
Glad to hear re Disqus, which is always free.WP VIP offers a level of higher service (availability, servers, personnel response time, etc) as far as I know. It’s not so much a set of extra features, as much as it is a level of service that larger publishing enterprises require (expect). That’s my take.
Re: Disqus and free.I would pay for features BTW. You have this new one (I think) where guest authors on a site can get their own notifications to follow up the comment string. Super simple. Absolutely necessary. Happy that free is the price. I would have paid for it.
You have to read the new book about the culture of WordPress by Scott Berkun. Great, quick weekend read.
thanks for the recommendation.
can’t answer that in detail now.But Auttomatic is a large part of that Moneyhttp://www.crunchbase.com/c…WP took series A $50 mil this yearhttp://www.crunchbase.com/c…Matt is also a very prominent investorhttp://www.crunchbase.com/p…
its gotten way bigger than blogging and has turned into a general cms for a number of people. it isn’t great for just writing
@awaldstein:disqus @JimHirshfield:disqus okay so not to self promote but in terms of e-commerce I am in love with Magento but decided to build our most recent e-commerce site on WP. Went quite smooth ala http://stribalcafe.com/Still needs lots of work and loading on loads more products but was interesting to try WP instead of Magento. This WP push into e-commerce is quite recent as it was tough to build an e-commerce store on WP a couple years ago.Magento is still the most robust E-commerce CMS imo. But WP has a strong community supporting it by making great plugins and features etc.
Interesting. Wise for WP to focus on ecommerce. Keep us posted!
will do. think was the community and users who made that choice.
Thanks…Transactions for the WP system? I’m a Stripe fan and user on a number of projects.
there are some lightweight stuff out there that will allow you to use markdown…
Move to Medium instead
and give his blog away to whoever owns medium? gotta kick it open source style, stay in control that way. so either stay vintage with movable type or whatever this is or hop on the WP bandwagon. or live large and go drupal! but that is probably too much of a headache, in spite of the awesomeness it would unleash
Medium = Ev Williams. So I don’t think Fred has a problem with Ev.
he probably does. would he let ev own his bank account? friends are cool and all, but some things are personal.
Medium has value for someone starting out who has no following or someone with a following who wants to draw more attention to what they are doing.That said the whole thing annoys me. Particularly the “we don’t know what it is” that the press has picked up and amplified. The press is so easily played. I’ve done it. But it still annoys me. I guess I’m jealous. Ok that’s it.
I would never blog on someone else’s domain.
“I would never belong to a country club that would have me as a member” (or something like that) – Groucho Marks
I know it’s going to be a good day when someone I know quotes a Marx Brother 🙂
“Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don’t anymore. I realized it was killing conversation. When you’re always trying for a topper you aren’t really listening. It ruins communication.” – Groucho
I once had a girlfriend who was and belonged to a family that was very social and very friendly.What I noticed was they sat around and just told stories. And the people who got the most attention would simply grab a word or thought from what others said and totally take over the conversation. Try getting a word in edgewise. You couldn’t.So if one member of the family or group was talking about the fact that they were just in Paris, someone else would then, when they paused, “take over” the conversation and talk about either a trip they took elsewhere or something related to Paris. When I was younger this was a huge revelation to me. I realized that to be social like that you had to be rude and be willing to hijack the conversation so that you always stayed as the center of attention. That’s why they were so social and talkative. (Goes against Carnegie principle which works with one on one interaction.)You also had to have the skills to stretch the truth about what you were talking about. Because if you didn’t stretch you wouldn’t say something interesting enough to hold the groups attention. Exaggeration for them was key.The point being that these people weren’t really listening or interested in what others were saying they were just looking for an opportunity to jump on something to bring attention to themselves.
I was in Paris once, and let me tell you all about…oh, wait, never mind. ;-)Talkers be talkin’
Being your own bitch is another recurring theme
Medium should take this as a note to allow private domains (which you gotta assume is on their roadmap, no?). If anyone can push them there faster, its probably you, seeing as how they’re your old Twitter buddies.Domain hiccup aside, I appreciate a blog platform that’s actually centered around long from reading, and where unknowns with smart things to say are easily discovered. That’s not happening anywhere else that I know of.
Agree 1000% on that one.
there were some proposals that built a TOC from this blog in that other post when you asked for it. did they fall short?
Your weekend read: the short and snappy book about WordPress’ culture by Scott Berkun, former project manager at Microsoft. The behind-the-scenes look at how it the platform is built will drive you to convert, I’d wager!
All I can say is ‘Thanks’.Besides the community and the platform for discovering info and interests, my biggest takeaway from hanging out for a bit as it relates to my own work and writing, is that the more you focus on what you think not what you know, the more thoughts come and the more natural communication happens.
yup. sometimes over-thinking it becomes a block for writing.
Fred or anyone else, do you carry around a notebook, taking notes by pen?Or is it all now in digital form, phone, tablet etc?
I can’t write by hand. It’s an issue I’ve had since childhood. The keyboard is a godsend for me
tablet/ipad with touchpad keyboard or keyboard cover thingy?
I blog mostly on an iMac sometimes on my android
Try a Lamy Safari. Only pen I can write with. You’ll want 90gsm paper — I like Clairefontaine.
I have horrible handwriting as well – the pen needs to be heavier than the safari – provides a counterweight to forming letters 😀
Mine is worse than any MD’s. But, standing in a trading pit fighting for position while you write will do that to you.
You and I both. Learning to type was the most liberating class I took in junior high school.Dating myself i know.
Not alone … learnt typing during my 10-grade.(passed the junior test 30-words/minute) … didn’t join the higher classes …left it thinking ” I am no going to be a typist in my life” …. came in very handy later in late 80’s until just i type these sentences….
;)As soon as I starting typing I started writing.
do you have any thoughts on digital pens (i know you don’t use them but as something that could catch on or lead to interesting businesses). they have all sorts of usability issues because barriers to adoption (gotta buy paper that matches the pen) but i’m starting to be a believer. i still see too many office workers use pens and pads, and not out of a resistance to tablets, but simply because it’s the fastest. young people in their early 20s too. and then they go back to their computer and type it all in. lame.i might get a digital pen and paper as an experiment to see if it can live up to its sales pitch.
The problem is that it’s an attempt at mapping an older technology (pen) to a new technology (digital)…at best that leads to a good product during a transition phase.The bigger/better thing is to focus on the real problem (using advanced tech how can we make note taking easier/more efficient?)…in this case, to me something like google glass (with better record/edit/delete functionality) feels more like the brighter future…
I’m with dictation. Sometime spoken and written voice differ, but not a bad thing.
Yes! The thing that really needs invented is something that passively digitizes your thoughts…glass can archive the actual event, and this ‘other thing’ can log your interpretation…now *that* would be interesting!
or we just need better organization of our minds with better self awareness.i’m working on the mind structuring thing. making your thoughts available like dewey decimal system. that level organization is freeing for the creative part to follow
This is true for me as well. If I try to write long form text with a pen, it’s a mess.I write handwritten notes to many customers and partners, and usually end up typing them out on my screen and then copying them down on the card.
I do exactly that, as well.
Same. Totally. It’s funny because what was almost a handicap when I was younger forced me to learn how to type (took 3 weeks from a book) that became super useful and helpful. Remember talking the college instructor into allow me to bring a manual typewriter in to type an essay. Also got me to use the Dec 10 and the word processing center at school where I got a leg up by doing any essays that way.
Shame on you,Fred.. I was expecting you talk about the glory in handwriting 🙂
Yes they do all the time in research … from notebook and pen only comes to computer next.
For me, if its important, its in the notebook that’s usually found in my back pocket. But in pencil; I hate the permanency of ink.
if i’m in a meeting or doing an interview — basically, events where speed is of the essence but i may not have the ability to type with two hands in front of a computer — i’ll use pen and paper. in my current life this means i’m using pen and paper daily. i think i am going to try a digital pen because everything still needs to go digital for communication and archiving purposes.there is a gap that needs to be bridged. perhaps stylus’ can get good enough some day, but we are still a ways off. when i use a stylus i have to write slower because my normal penmanship is incredibly sloppy and computers have trouble interpreting it. plus, it is just not as smooth of an experience as pen and paper, which also slows me down.
would be great to find that bridge. I have tried voice memos as well. loving https://quip.com/ lately.Michael Moritz spoke recently that having a notepad and tablet are both great for him.Watched in a Woody Allen docy that he takes notes all the times on bits of paper.Point is that is seems to be an ‘each to his own’ choice.Once you find what works 100% for you then I guess you stick to it. Still looking for that on my side…
After a lot of struggle, I found a beautiful solution for this.I found a Cambridge notebook that I love. It’s mid sized, spiral bound so it can carry a pen and the entire page is writeable, and every page is perforated.I use it in meetings and for jotting down ideas. In the top right corner, I jot the date and number the pages for that date (each day restarts at 1 to make it simple).Every few days, I tear out the pages, go through them for tasks. Then my assistant scans them into Evernote one day at a time into a special notebook called “Journal.”It’s a thing of beauty. If I need my notes from that meeting, I can usually remember the date and easily find it.But the other day, I just searched Evernote for someone’s name and up popped that page. My assistant was blown away. “It can read YOUR handwriting? I can’t even do that!”
I was going to suggest Evernote also. My handnotes are terrible and most times I simply discard them, but if I need to keep them I just take a photo, no need to scan. And having it read my handwriting is amazing, but I must admit that it doesn’t always work.
I’m just surprised it worked at all!
1) Thanks for doing what you do. I get a lot out of it.2) Jessica’s work is great. She should consider setting the IPTC metadata on her exported images so that when they inevitably end up on tumblr and are seen by some creative director they know who to contact for a license (and have no excuse not to do so).
The permanent access to comments is an interesting VC-archaeological exercise as well. This is a comment on the Twitter post:”Twitter is interesting, but not groundbreaking, and not market-spanning. I’m not exactly sure how Twitter’s appeal will jump from the technical audience to the non-technical audience, aka, from the .01% it currently enjoys to the 99.99% it doesn’t, and then how it’s going to scale from a $0 revenue business to a 7-8-9 figure revenue business. Not to mention the lack of a barrier to entry (Pownce) indicating that Facebook or Myspace could spend a week and blow Twitter’s house in.”Oh well!
You said that?
Thankfully not my quote
hindsight has proven I’m an idiot more often than not.Going back and experiencing some of that is one of the fun and powerful things I like to do with gawk.it …it reminds me to be open-minded to how horrible I really am at predicting the future…
no-body is an idiot … some of our thoughts are idiotic…great geniuses also had many idiotic thoughts … luckily the few that made them popular are not those ‘ones’.
I was kidding. Didn’t really think you did.
:-)Sent from my iPad
Ridicule is highly correlated with success
remembering Gandhi’s quote?
That’s a recurring theme on this blog
so is bitterness.
what a timing on ‘write it down’ fred.I was remembering my senior and started writing down again just 5-days back…Writing it down is one of the first thing my senior taught me and insisted on doing when i started my research.The thing he told me was … “this is a long haul … u will be working on this problem(s) for next few years or may be a decade … u will forget what you thought right and wrong today …. again u will be looking into similar or same problem after 2-year … so write-it down. if you want to be in research field write down every day what you did and thought of doing …”If you are into long haul on anything…write-it-down…
creativelive.com is doing great work in the creativity world and in photography world .. lots of free stuff for your daughter to tune in to
I also get that rush when I hit publish. Thanks for pushing the importance of writing…
Some of the comments from your original Twitter post linked above add color your ‘Return and Ridicule’ post.
Totally agree, I get a rush when I hit Publish, too…some of it is fear and nerves, but mostly it’s excitement.I’ve always had all these thoughts in my head, what better way to get em all out than to blog?
Commenting here helps (some of) us as much as writing the post helps you.As long as you’re not afraid of sounding stupid or being proven wrong, you can get a lot of great feedback here. I feel like if I start a business that ends up worth something, I’d owe the general AVC community an advisor credit and some equity!
actually, I get the same feeling, and I wouldn’t mind doing a fund of funds for charity of communities of startups…
MOOC by blog
There should be a word for that- Blogiography , to replace Bibliography.
-graphy as an english suffix comes from latin and means “writing” or “field of study”.Maybe Bloggraphy
Yes. To me sounds very 17-18 C though.
pronounced like geography
that sounds good.
I sometimes wonder who is more addicted,- Fred for writing, or us for commenting.
It’s like Cheers, right? The bartender needs his patrons, and the patrons need him to serve drinks. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
And the patrons need the other patrons. That’s key.
On another note, I’ve totally just realized AVC is my coffee.I don’t drink coffee, but I guess I don’t need to when I have AVC (and a couple other blogs) to get my brain going in the morninig. I’m not sure I’d be functional before noon without my daily dose.
I wonder if you’d get a headache if you don’t comment…like blog withdrawal symptom? just kidding 🙂
I don’t think you are kidding…
Mine too. It’s one of the few morning rituals I try to keep to no matter what time-zone I’m in. Wake up, come to AVC 🙂
I was on the west coast a couple weeks ago, sometimes waking up a couple hours after posts went up and comments were added. Kinda feels like you arrived a wee bit too late to a party where you really wanted to talk to people, but they’re on their way out the door now.
No worries — this is an asynchronous party 🙂
Welcome to my world every day.
On your phone while still in bed?
yup. first thing i do in the morning. okay, well 2nd thing (checking email is first)
yup. I subscribe to the emails and so it’s in my morning email feed. I can’t escape his posts (intentionally). For some reason, the earlier the post, the more engaged I tend to be. sometimes there is no post by 9am NY Time and my day has started up and hard for me to come back and focus. If i suck up the post half awake it sits there all morning and festers.
But then do you get the feedblitz email with the new post?
no, i subscribe via rss. but since fred frequently has a post up by the time i’m up (since i’m on central time zone), and since i comment here, i usually just go straight to avc.com.
Likewise…It’s crazy to think that visiting AVC.com directly FIRST thing in the morning — is normal for this community.But for most anyone else on the entire web, getting someone to go to your website every morning would be the most amazing thing ever.Once again, you can’t use AVC as a model to emulate for every community…because Fred isn’t scaleable.
The first coffee I have in the morning is coffee :-)I read AVC at night or late evening because of the time zone difference (US vs. India). But I make it a point to read it daily, and if I sometimes miss one, I catch it the next day.
Sometimes caffeine in the morning is too much, and so I avoid AVC until I get the work done requiring more focus …
Definitely you William. No contest. 😉
Does addiction count if it’s a good one?”Too much of a good thing…is not such a bad thing.”
Haha.That’s your logical rider rationalizing your emotional elephant’s behavior.
Why not 🙂
I have to admit that some mornings Fred posts later. I go to my RSS feed and nothing there. So I go to the website and refresh every ten-fifteen minutes until the post shows up. And then I sit and wonder about myself.
There have been days when I’ve done that, too. #youarenotalone
If you think that is bad. Some nights when I’ve been up very, very late, I think — why not wait for Fred to post before I go to bed.#youarenotalone
That’s called being up waaayyy too late. 🙂
#Confesssions of an AVC addict.
Does anyone else hate it when they show up late? I live in the Midwest, so often the conversation is an hour old before I join in…Maybe someone on the west coast can host the after party.
I’m on PST time, and very seldom show up in time for the real time conversation. But throughout the day, there are often pockets of people commenting consistently for periods of time.
Totally hate it! I live in Europe, for me problem is that he posts during my day, so if it’s a busy one or I can’t stay in for lunch I’m late.
It takes a bit longer to get a full picture, but you also have an opportunity to say something unique that others haven’t.Early birds get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
Agreed. I started reading AVC in 2007, after my prior startup failed. I took a job that felt like “exile” many days. I think I started commenting around 2009.And it was the sheer optimism and vibrancy of this community that played a key role in making me go for it again. I’ve learned a great deal reading Fred and all of you “writing it down.”#Grateful
I landed here in 2009. I began a quest that involved learning as much as I could about VC and startups and found something Fred had written. I remember thinking “Who IS this guy?” He really stood out from the crowd.Then of course I found the AVC community shortly afterward and thought “Who ARE these people?”Finding AVC was a defining moment.
Indeed. We may have to start labeling our career timelines “BAVC” and “AAVC.”
“Indeed” another last laugh from the USV portfolio. 🙂
Fred still stands out from the crowd.
I love these “when I got to AVC” stories. Smells of documentary…
Agreed. It’s our bartender’s humility that prevents one. Other VCs I know would already have produced glossy testimonial videos to themselves. 😉
“It’s our bartender’s humility that prevents one.”I’m not sure it’s entirely a humility thing though.And to say that might perhaps also infer that someone who would allow a profile (or documentary) is not humble or that everyone should be humble (as if “humble” is some Ben Franklin quality that stands on it’s own and that we should all strive for). Early to rise, a good person gives to charity, a good person is this or that.As mentioned I was watching “Hank” about Hank Paulson on Netflix a new documentary where he talks for an hour and a half. (Excellent watch it.) While he gave his reasons for doing the documentary I see nothing wrong at all that he tells his story even if he is tooting his own horn. Nothing wrong with that and I think it’s a bad idea to tell people that they always need to be humble. The world does not always beat a path to your door. It’s all a balance.I think Fred might come from a place of “I don’t like attention”. I can fully understand that (if I am correct that is). That is separate from humility.I don’t like attention either. I don’t like everyone in my grill I can’t stand when places that I go to on a regular basis recognize me. I’d rather be anonymous. That has nothing to do with humility though.
There is a great difference between allowing or participating in a documentary, and actually making one about yourself.Fred does lots of video, interviews and stories about his work. I’m on record that “talking your book” is a darned good thing.There’s a big difference between talking your own book and being proud of what you do vs. being arrogant and full of yourself.Fred is the former, imo. And I’ll be blunt — that’s rare in VC circles.
“and actually making one about yourself.”Are there examples of VC’s who have done this and the results that they have had?In terms of evaluating whether it’s a good business idea or not you really need at least some data on the results vs. what the VC is trying to achieve for their personal brand.Better to be the “tool” that people know than the tool that nobody knows.Better to have Trumps hair and be made fun of than some schlump in Staten Island with the same hair that nobody cares about.Lastly remember it’s about the party in your brain. To some people it might be a stupid idea (and not get them more business) but if they think it makes them look great (they don’t recognize they look like a tool) then by my theory there is a benefit to that. The same benefit wouldn’t exist for the person who has a negative party from the exact same behavior.
“the party in your brain” love that LE, quite brilliant
I think you’re right about Fred (I’m curious if he’d agree, but he’ll probably stay out of this one). I’d go even further and say that Fred does like attention… if he’s in control of it. Otherwise he wouldn’t bog. He’s also used this blog to master the art of the humble brag, chiefly when posting about a recent success, but I digress.In other news, I took our horn tooting convo from Joanne’s blog to heart. I’ve started by dropping the http://www.localsandvoyeurs.com link in more comments when I’m talking about something relevant to it. Some very good things have already come my way just from that!
I think talking one’s book — when it’s relevant and adds to the conversation — is never a bad thing. Community comes from actually knowing people and what they do.The difference between being proud of what you’ve done, and being arrogant, is one that is easy to see over time.There are a ton of VCs I’ve unfollowed and can’t stand reading because they are SO full of themselves. They are just God’s gift to entrepreneurs, and they want to make sure you know it.My take on Fred is that he knows who he is, he knows his strengths and weaknesses and where he adds value, and he doesn’t have to brag about it to feel good about himself.
Knowing yourself inside and out is one of the most important traits needed to succeed, IMHO.
The website is gorgeous! Is that Bootstrap or homegrown?
That splash page isn’t even half as gorgeous as the full marketplace will be. :-)I’ve personally designed every pixel, and I’ve got the most talented developer I know building it out. The front end dev work is custom. The backend is a mixture of Shopify, 3rd party e-comm apps, and a lot of hacked together solutions and manual labor to make everything function like a marketplace (which is not native to Shopify, but can be done with some gumption and elbow grease).
I thought so as well. @Brandon_Burns:disqus is walking his talk.
Wow, that is a gorgeous site @Brandon_Burns:disqus. “I’ve personally designed every pixel.” The TLC really shows.
Someday… I don’t know when or how… this must happen. The material is just too rich. But the time may not yet be ripe.
After Foursquare IPOs at a $10bil valuation, then the Fred Wilson documentary “Another Last Laugh” will finally be created. 😀
AVC has been my daily classroom for the past 3 years – a sounding board or even just facilitating the process of thinking and writing things out – and within a specific context that I can have, allow, my brain to associate with.
Piling onto Brandon’s comment, what I really found interesting was reading the comments to Fred’s post about his twitter investment 6 years ago. http://www.usv.com/2007/07/… Some people I know in that comment thread laying out what they liked and did not like about twitter. Some pretty sound thinking, both positive and negative. That’s what a great community does…take the initial thinking and breaks it down for better and for worse. That’s what AVC does, too.
“I feel like if I start a business that ends up worth something, I’d owe the general AVC community an advisor credit and some equity!”I 2nd that. I’ve gotten so much knowledge from this community…it’s not even [email protected]:disqus You know what an awesome feature to this blog would be? Everyone knows there are all these amazing people in this community. Without a doubt, it’s the best community on the web. Some people need feedback on a product tweak or strategic decision they are thinking about making, or expertise in a specific skillset. Or an introduction to a person at company X, or vertical Y. And there are people in the community who can, and likely would, offer that help. IF they knew who to help, at the right time. Connect those two needs/haves of knowledge & connections.Fun Friday, Feature Friday, Video of the Week, MBA Mondays….”Help AVCer Tuesday”?
This post reminds me of my application to college, ahhh,, good timesBut seriously, there are two things I know1) If you want to be creative, play more – playing apparently makes you more creative2)No one is really sure where ideas come from.
Play more anyways. It opens the mind.
Completely agree with point 1. I’d expand it to say that the more “randomness” you are exposed to (which playing does), you are likely to be more creative. Routine can be the death of creativity.In regards to point 2, Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on “creative genius” is rather insightful on the topic, albeit tangentially. http://www.ted.com/talks/el…
Nice! I enjoy writing every morning too. Hopefully I’ll get the roaring community part nailed soon. Few years more to become the overnight sensation.. 😉
The practice — the discipline of it — is essentially the same, but I think there’s a huge value in writing for yourself alone, rather than for public consumption.I don’t blog every day, but I do take a few minutes to write for myself every day. It doesn’t matter whether it’s notes about something I’d like to build/do, a few random thoughts, or an observation from the day, but the pause that comes from stopping to write it down is hugely valuable.
I totally agree and advised Jessica to do that last night. Public or private. They are different but both are powerful tools
I wish you made those daily notes public…I would benefit greatly from a daily dose of your mind!Also – I hope that you are at least keeping them somewhere safe…your kids will absolutely cherish the ability to dig into your current mind/thoughts/experiences when they are older.
I am amazed and impressed at your output. Blogging takes time and discipline. You have so many other things to do. No question daily writing, be it blogging, journaling, jotting, however you get your thoughts out of your brain and onto the paper or tablet or whatever, gives your life a context and an archive and it creates a habit of paying attention to the daily details that is hard to break.Sometimes things don’t feel real to me until I write them down.I think people spend too much time worrying about what others will think. Or they feel there are too many blogs, or people will hate them.One of my favorite take-aways from you is “Haters will hate” I go back to it all the time.WIth your blog you give people a great place to hang out and exchange ideas in a non-judemental setting. I for one thank you for that.
The connection with people via the blogging and commenting is incredible and strong. You get to know the person by what they say/write. We reveal ourselves by that.
I think, like Seth Godin says, if you don’t have haters you aren’t doing anything interesting. A healthy hater cohort means you’re doing something right.
What’s amazing, though, is how few haters post here. In general, this is an amazingly accepting group of people commenting and participating. That’s not to say that people always agree, but instead this group tends to be a more mature audience who doesn’t make the disagreements personal and generally tries to understand each other’s perspectives. It also is a group that seems to care more about what you contribute than who you are and how long you have been around. Much better than some other places I tried to hang out if the past.
What’s amazing, though, is how few haters post here.I think the psychological principle involved is similar to “graffiti breeds more graffiti” and why things not nipped in the bud will escalate rapidly to a larger problem. The balance is such on a blog like this that there is no priming that causes people who might be borderline haters to hate or to write in a manner that will bring down the community that comments. And most importantly the amount of high quality comments overwhelms any low quality comments or defects. That balance is really really important.
Agreed. I also wonder how much the moderators weed out.
If I understand what you are saying that would imply that they somehow approve things before they are posted. That is obviously not the case just from casual observation. The only thing that gets deleted seems to be clear spam and get rich quick things which slip through.
Good point. I’ve never seen something that then was deleted either. (Thanks, too, William, for clarifying.)
None.We focus on the occasional spam that seeps thru only.
I totally agree. I feel I can be a total blonde in here and no one will judge me. Or if they do, they won’t make it known.I have been the recipient of some really nasty comments online so I am aware of it. That is one of the reasons I like Fred’s take on haters.There are people who show up online just to take jabs. Nothing you can do about them.
Nasty comments because you are blond?! Really? Man, what a weird world we live in.
“That is one of the reasons I like Fred’s take on haters. There are people who show up online just to take jabs. Nothing you can do about them.”Haters. Ugh. Sadly, I think Fred is right on this.Was just talking, and writing, about this exact topic.. http://geekestateblog.com/y…
Yes writing is so valuable and I need to kick myself in the ass to start writing more. I actually. I remember listening to Clay Johnson talk about his book “information diet” and one of his tips is that he starts every day by ‘writing’ first before ‘consuming’ information. I think he is spot on because once the emails get checked then for most it signals the start of a long winded process! Here is a link to the book (I have not read it yet but the author was a good speaker) http://www.informationdiet….
The joy and pain of the web.Your post is the best explanation of Twitter, ever.I vist AVC everyday.I never new it was there until you pointed me to it.
This reminds me…I once commented on the blog post of a VC who was ranting about how few folks pitch him properly. I told him that there are many variations of the pitch, and many VCs who prefer many different types, so it would be best for him to tell folks upfront how he wants to be pitched. Someone else commented that “this post *is* him telling people.” But with so many posts, how on earth can it be expected that every person who comes to pitch you who actually did their due diligence and took the time to research, actually found that one specific post?! Is that not a ridiculous expectation?!!I believe my comment is still the most voted up comment on said VCs blog. He never said anything to me, but instead patted the backs of the few who disagreed with me and protected him. Said VC is also pretty well known and respected, but I immediately lost all respect for him and his firm. A smart investor he very well may be but, in this instance, he proved to be a douche; intelligence doesn’t overcome douchebaggery.Thank goodness not everyone is like that. Fred is probably successful in growing the community here precisely because he’s not a douche. No one wants to converse with an ass.
Someone I have a lot of respect for has a saying:”When forced to choose between judgement & intelligence, choose judgement.”’nuff said?
Fred’s transparent and gracious interaction is at the foundation. Even when he’s a tad bit snitty that is part of the charm because it is authentic but rare.
That happens to an extent with respect to Paul Graham on hacker news. Just try saying something negative about Paul (or a YC company or “legacy”) that isn’t cloaked in all sorts of respect or that hasn’t been researched and supported to the nth degree. The disciples and the sycophants will be all over you. Hardly worth the effort.In the end the community suffers because there is a retardation of thought and ideas.Much of what happens on HN (compared to AVC) is parental.You know in the way where if a kid says something stupid the parents can either jump all over them and tell them they are an idiot and a moron (or back in the day “retarded”) in which case they will fail to open their mouth and learn. Or the parent can calmly and in a nice intelligent way explain why they are wrong and they will learn from the experience.
AVC has its fair share of blind disciples. I’m not shy about telling Fred when I think he’s off, and some AVC visitors certainly have not been shy to tell me I’m some sort of idiot asshole.But Fred will general acknowledge a disagreement, and either admit fault or explain why he thinks he’s right. That’s respectable.I don’t comment on HN, but if PG is letting nonsense fly there, catering to his fan boys instead of mediating judiciously, then he and the HN community can go to hell, too.
Mediating? In one recent thread Paul (I’m not kidding) said in a reply that “now all of you should just get back to work” . As if he was talking to a group of school children who were playing games and he was the teacher. Can’t find the exact words but it was close to that for sure.
Sometimes, I regret what I write; but, I continue to do so, anyway…http://carl-rahn-griffith.t…Your blog, Fred, is in no small part my inspiration in forcing myself to write, at least once a week: even if what I sometimes (often?) drone on about is nothing more than a cathartic rant 😉
How does Jessica write to then take pictures? She should write for sure, for clarity, but pouring that idea into a picture/s is a hefty task.I love reading a regular blog, one which has become a habit. About to start a weekly thing. My first topic is very apropos of this question, your daughter as a visual artist, and writing.I have been designing a system based on visual observation, which then links to concept, which then finds language to describe it. I believe ideas can live between the visual and verbal in the abstract or conceptual. The question then is how does the idea become expressed. I have lived in visual and verbal worlds. I seek to help translate what we see into concept and language, then back to visual, since we are desperately visually undereducated for the image based world we live in.It is a fascinating dynamic 2 way funnel, a muscle needing constant use.
“How does Jessica write to then take pictures?”As someone who takes pictures and has done so for a very long time that actually surprises me. Taking pictures to me has always been you see something that moves you and you immediately go for the camera and shoot it. It’s effortless and just happens.Was recently in Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. I found way more interesting things to take pictures of that moved me in Las Vegas (even in the actual casinos) than I did the Grand Canyon. Hoover dam had some interesting things but it was hard to take pictures that didn’t look like pictures that you had already seen somewhere of the hoover dam.Small separate example, I have a whole series of pictures that I have taken over time of my feet standing in line at Starbucks and elsewhere that I might stitch together one day. And other themes that just seem to move me. Nobody will ever see these pictures but they mean something to me.To have to write in advance to come up with creative picture ideas, well, I don’t ever have to do it. I spent 3 or 4 hours just walking through Epcot taking pictures of product displays and packaging in the various retail stores (as opposed to taking pictures of the fake villages). I didn’t plan that in advance the idea just hit me when I walked into the first store in a village.
My childhood friend had a great backyard.Plenty of space for a lot of things.Long enough for football.Wide enough for baseball.Accessible to many.Surrounded by a caring community.A fun place to hang out.Available even on those days he couldn’t play.We appreciate your space. Thanks.
+1 and wow for the poetry.
Kind of you to say that, Kasi. Thanks. I enjoy many of yourpoetic comments as well….although your avatar concerns me 🙂
ha…ha…That is my hand X-ray image I took on a prototype detector I developed 6-years back…. The product did not see the life yet.
Great post. I would be interested in a post on your writing process. Do you maintain a list of topics or do you just free form it? Do you ever work on posts that you don’t blog that day? How much time a day do you spend? What was the biggest obstacle to getting started?
There’s another way to Google your blog that’s quite revealing. Just type site:avc.com and you get 13,200 results (it includes Tag pages). That says a lot.
cool, did that and got 10,200
on avc.com? Weird. Google gives different results?
I am farther away from Googlehttps://www.evernote.com/sh…
I’ve been blogging for 7 years, but more actively for the last 2. It’s helped me hone my thinking, find my voice, and better understand my customers. Some posts succeed while others flop. Well written content that drives hordes of people to your door sends you a message loud and clear.Now that I’m an active blogger, I quickly pick up on other bloggers, consultants or yes vcs who I admire for their own blogging & successes. Thx Fred for being a great role model. Thinking out loud is a great way to improve everyday.My 5 favorite startup & scalability blogs this week:http://www.iheavy.com/2013/…
Fred, it is funny you wrote this today. Yesterday, I read a great story about a guy who types stories out for tourists at the Highline.http://www.theawl.com/2013/…I thought this story was really, really good. And when I was reading it I thought about the bloggers I read, and you. Anyway, thanks for writing!
That was really interesting. Thanks for sharing it 🙂
The ending…”secure in the knowledge that I am doing something that matters to me.”Nailed it..
Yeah, so I have tweeted that @rovingtypist several times to tell him how much i liked the piece he wrote. Glad you liked it too!
When you started blogging, you became a teacher. Teaching teaches the teachers. And over time your research and teaching have cross-pollinated, each practice adding ever-greater benefits to the other.
The number of words you think in a minute 650-1000The number of words you speak in a minute 60-100The number of words you write in a minute 6-10Writting is distillation.
Exactly. It’s also wonderful to be able to take a peek at how you used to think about and perceive things – case in point is Fred’s old post on Twitter here.
awesome! thanks for that
Great stuff – totally true.
Yes, distilled analytic-reduction that clarifies the fundamental elements and their possible interactions.Once those substrata cards are laid out on the table in a clear summary form they become a feast for our collective imaginations, for greasing the skids of creative re-synthisis.Fred’s 2007 twitter post is such a powerful example of that thought organizing process !
on the flip side that’s why we need to work on telepathy…..it’s like we’re on dial-up, telepathy is fiber
>Writing is distillationTrue. And ancient Indian writers (in Sanskrit) distilled it quite well – partly because they had to – they wrote on palm leaves (some of which are still preserved). They often wrote in shlokas (a form of verse), which have a high signal-to-word ratio.One such quote that I like is from the introduction to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:It starts with just two words:”atha yogaanushaasanam”translated:”Thus the discipline of Yoga”.http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…
Awesome, ill check out his work.
I agree. I started blogging because I was ticked off about a couple of things in the financial services industry. Then, I started blogging about whatever I felt. It can be cathartic sometimes.It’s easy to get ideas for posts. The problem is internal. If you don’t like to write, it will become a chore.I also find blogging helps me remember. I am learning all the time. Today, I give a talk at a CTA Expo about social media. I put my slides on my blog and hoped people would comment on them-both good and bad. Put them on Facebook, Twitter etc. too.Blogging isn’t one way. You have developed a good community here and there is some value in that. I noticed Fred took away his “bartender” designation. I think that is a good frame of mind for a blogger.
.You and several of the AVC.com regulars shamed me into blogging — http://www.themusingsofthebigredca... — and I have enjoyed it immensely but I had been writing for years and years before.My life can be chronicled in about 8 feet of Moleskine notebooks. That is where my writing really started.I love to go back and look at something I noted 20 years ago. Who was THAT guy?Writing is the other side of the mirror from reading and they both inform each other. I read much more critically after I have read something interesting.I am currently re-reading two books on the Battle of the Bulge — The Bitter Woods and the McDonald tome. I am however reading them from the perspective not of the battle itself but the style and effectiveness of the leadership and management of the combat commanders.They were truly entrepreneurs in their thinking, planning and execution. Both sides of the battle really.I have always held DDE in great esteem but re-reading these books makes me appreciate him even more. Absolutely brilliant combat commander who got the best out of his subordinates without taking on any of the trappings of ego.You, Fred, are the exemplar of the committed professional who has cracked open the Ark of the VC Covenant and let the secrets fly while exposing more than a bit of vulnerability by sharing your good and bad thoughts while writing in ink.That is very brave and enviable.I really can’t think of another business person who has risen to that height. I am not a generous person when it comes to praise, so that is the highest compliment I am capable of giving.Well played, Freddie. I like your style. Thanks.JLM.
Battle of the Bulge. Have met some people from there. Very scary stuff. Had lunch with a 92 yr old Tank destroyer commander last Friday. It was an amazing battle-we were lucky the weather cleared. Losing would have changed the course of the war and lead to a negotiated settlement.
i just went back and read that twitter post from 7 years ago. WOW! go read some of the comments.I was very skeptical of twitter back then and the AVC community would fiercely debate the topic.But i remember you posting something about telling your son…..on a plane…..that you had just made possibly your greatest investment………Funny what we remember!
I remember us talking about it – Twitter – in 2008, in Sheffield. It’s been a joy to see it become so significant.
There’s a fascinating Radiolab podcast on language (http://www.radiolab.org/sto… – listen to it, you will LOVE it) and how “thinking” can be understood as your brain internally trying to make sense of the information it already has using natural language. It means that the “programming language” for our brain is nothing else but the words and phrases we use every day. Without our words and phrases, we can’t even think effectively if solving a problem has to involve various regions of our brain (cause our brain seems to communicate within itself using the same words we teach it).There are fascinating studies on how rats, children under the age of 6 (!) and people deprived of language are actually not able to connect mental concepts of spatial orientation and color (localizing things “left of the blue wall”). When we’re missing vocabulary for a phenomenon, we’re literally unable to make sense of it cause our brain needs its classes and methods to run it’s magic. I’m seeing this a lot those days ;)So – using language is not just rhetorically the best way to organize your thoughts but it’s also literally the way for you to connect various areas of your brain so yo can solve more complicated riddles and perform more demanding tasks.I’m oversimplifying and don’t want to spoil it for you, so just listen to the podcast. Tl; dr – keep on writing Fred, it makes you smarter on levels that you might not even be aware of.
WORDS ARE PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE OF BRAIN.SOCIETY IS OPERATING SYSTEM.
Politics is social engineering. When we reach peak employment, the majority of people will be used ad servers / computing power.
Brilliant as usual.
internet make you pay per word? )
Is that post on Twitter one of the longest you’ve written? A really great read especially in retrospect.
That was cool. A powerful reminder to start doing [X] right now. The only reason we have this instantly accessible record of what was really said and thought about Twitter at the beginning is because 10 years ago you decided to blog now.Makes me think of all the things (not just writing) I wish I’d done consistently for the last 10 years, and what I would have now if I had.
Writing reenforces and strengthens neural pathways.Interconnecting thoughts helps with this, and leads to the creation of themes which contain rules and constraints; “Large networks of engaged users”Themes exist and evolve from patterns.Knowledge – from life experiences, exposures – when being reviewed or rather thought about, will then have the active themes, patterns that are set in motion to be constantly monitored for, become triggered or highlighted – making you aware this theme or pattern exists in whatever knowledge (or experience, scenario) you’re thinking about.The more experiences you discover, and the more you think about them or are involved with them – and that trigger themes firing – the more the theme will be reenforced, and the stronger and more valuable it will be in influencing your thinking and patterns you see.Certain themes (patterns) need to exist before other themes can exist – the foundation needs to be laid.This is why working on a problem longer allows for finding and understanding and seeing nuances.So who all is going to the AVC meetup on the 23rd? I’ll be there. I won’t look like any of my profile pictures though – I just got another haircut! My smile’s the same though, so hopefully someone here from the AVC community is funny. 😉
.Writing is both processing information and cataloging it.When we write we teach ourselves.JLM.
+100 “When we write we teach ourselves” #truth
.I constantly negotiate with myself through writing. Sometimes, I talk myself down off the ledge.JLM.
Indeed, processing is directing your resources / attention to opening up your diagnostic tools, and then allowing you to sort it.
clear thinking = clear writing
Sorted out all pieces that are pulling for your attention. 🙂
What struck me about Twitter? That’s here. I wrote it down. Ironic because what the journalist wants is the short version about what struck you about twitter in a small sound bite that will fit well into a profile.The closest that I could come up with from the post you linked to was:Twitter provides a platform for banter that blogging doesn’t and it’s available in so many places via IM, mobile text messaging, or the Web that it induces a different sort of behavior. But unfortunately that’s not a good sound bite at all. And I think that I would have a hard time distilling what is in that post down to something that would go over well in a profile.It’s a reasonable idea to assist a journalist that will be writing a profile so that they can do their job (they don’t have unlimited time and they do have deadlines). Otherwise what you will find is that rather than misquoting you 3 times they will have 15 errors in the profile.Here is the bite that I would go with:Wilson had blogged for many years before twitter came around. He knew how difficult it was and the effort that it took. When he saw twitter he immediately knew that it was something that would allow a much larger group of people to communicate in a new form. It was almost like blogging was “the shit” and twitter was “the fart”, that is, a simplified version of evacuation and relief.(Last sentence put in just to see if anyone is paying attention.)
oh man. i happened to be paying attention. i like the cut of your jib although it doesn’t need to be in such high quality HD.
Have you seen “The aristocrats”?http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…
I haven’t seen the film. I’ve heard versions of the joke in the past, but not for a while now. your above post was the reciprocal of that joke in a way.
This is a good example of why Dave Winer suggests Sources Go Direct – to avoid being mis-quoted and mis-summarized.
I’m curious how you will feel if Jessica wants to travel to some of those dangerous places that Peter and other photographers go to to take pictures. Stuff like that would scare me if my daughter wanted to do it.
the internet never forgetsyour blog is consistently thoughtful and the community you have built is an awesome place to hangbartender, i’ll have another, pleasethank you
its interesting – a journalist could do a fairly complete profile of your public-self by spending a week deep-reading your blog posts __and__ your responses in the comments section (there are 38089 of them as of this minute).actually – holy crap moment – thats sort of amazing – we could create Fred Wilson bot and probably seed it with 10000 of your responses!edit: @falicon:disqus , @shanac:disqus – lets add FredBot to our sunday afternoon convo 🙂
The more I write, the more I feel compelled to read and comprehend.Writing is the gift that keeps on giving.
So true, so helpful and so right, ‘and it’s permanent.’Agree! And thank you for saying it out loud, as that helps to (re)affirm.I think it’s a remarkable leap. To say you are going To Write (at whatever interval) for the rest of your life. And AVC helped show me that is worth doing.Thank you, Chris
yup…I’ll be writing the rest of my life too.
I love the fact that we can really find out why you liked twitter by looking at what you said when it happened. . .instead of asking you to recall why > too often the memory gets clouded and the stories get distorted. You have created yourself and the whole community an amazing source of research info. Thanks.
Two quickie thoughts on this. One is that the value of “writing it down” is that the very act establishes a position, and positions can be iterated and re-shaped, whereas thoughts are just amorphous.Two, is that writing it down is all about narrative, and once you’ve started down the road of narrative, a whole universe of potentiality, scenarios and assertions begin to breathe within it.I always encourage people that if they have an idea to codify it on the premise that it’s better to be wrong than confused (or ignorant).
It isn’t just that you wrote it down it’s that you shared it and thereby tested it. Socratic dialogue is invaluable.
The comments on your post about Twitter are fun to read now, 6 years later. I wonder if some of those commenters might be regretting their assessment.
For years to come, founders will be able to write: “Fred Wilson WROTE it so that’s how we DID it.”
The comments from the original post about twitter are great.
I hate, hate to be negative Fred but the Disqus experience on mobile/tablet is seriously hindering the ability to give feedback. I read every day on tablet but just find it too difficult to comment. They have had more than enough time to get this sorted. Honestly its a shit experience and I am not seeing any improvement. 2 browsers and 10 minutes to leave a comment is not acceptable.
i am using their new mobile stuff as a beta tester. it is much better. you will have it soon.
Even private writing is important.Eric Barker has lots of essay that hit on the importance of a keeping a Notebook.https://www.google.com/sear…
Your daily writings inspired me to start writing daily as well. Thank you for everyday that you take the time to write something. I aspire to be able to write something daily, even if nobody reads it, but just to improve my writing skills, if that is even possible at 43 years of age. Thank you again for your daily writings. JJD – Wishin’ he could do the same…
Good point. Reading why you liked Twitter thensounds reasonable now, but that may be partly 20/20hindsight more difficult as foresight!Recently I had some questions and have been writingdown my thoughts, just for myself. It’s beenhelping. I now have a small book on some thoughtsof the form ‘what I wish I’d known earlier and,maybe, what I wish Dad had told me.’ And I can do akeyword search on a thought and there findagreement, disagreement, other ideas, or justnothing at all as if no one else was thinking thatway.Why write, including just for oneself? One reasonis that the writing is so easy to store for yearsand retrieve and review. But maybe a bigger reasonis to let the thoughts leave the brain, go to thewriting and be very explicit, and then reenter thebrain to be more easily evaluated, corrected, andimproved. Left just inside the brain, the thoughtsare less explicit and awash in possibly confusing,poorly considered, ephemeral notions.If my company grows, then I will be tempted to leanto having serious contributions written down, maybemuch like a blog, instead of just spouted out orallyin a frantic meeting. Supposedly Jeff Bezos prefersideas written down. There are recent stories thatback at Google Marissa Mayer talked faster andlonger than anyone else. For anything important myreaction would be to have her write it down!
Just went back to some of those comments on that post… “Twitter is interesting, but not groundbreaking, and not market-spanning. I’m not exactly sure how Twitter’s appeal will jump from the technical audience to the non-technical audience, aka, from the .01% it currently enjoys to the 99.99% it doesn’t, “Sometimes, the best ones look like group texting services that have already been done in the late 90’s. 😉
the permanancy of online conversations will make for lots of interesting things like this
Agree. I’ve been writing a post a day for 5 years. Best way to find out what you think. When I get a good question, I open a doc and let it percolate, it’s a great learning plan.
MAKE IDEA IN BRAIN EASY.MAKE IDEA OUT WHERE EVERYONE ELSE CAN UNDERSTAND IT HARD.
What struck me about Twitter? That’s here. I wrote it down.Exactly! Some people just don’t get it.
I have a hard time putting my thoughts down. I am a scientist by education and tech startup chic by trade – so I have primarily written rigid, well-researched, data-based treatises. Or mission statements and the like. I get self-conscious just riffing in print; I prefer to knock ideas around in person.That is why I like Tumblr. It allows me to express my thoughts and feelings through a mix of the contributions of others as well as my own. It lives and breathes as much as any print blog.But my handicap cannot be overcome with pretty pictures, music, videos, and quotes. Any advice on how to bolster confidence in business environment blogging?
start with short posts