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MakingMyself's Mission - Uncertainty Strikes Back



It's seems like yesterday when I decided to leave my short chased career in Investment Banking. But actually, almost 7 years have past since I tried to be one of those corporate yellow-less minions in seek for glory and reaches by transforming spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations in cold hearted cash. Not without having spent not less than 60 to 90 hours per week in shaping financial projections.

Further from the truth, six months in the industry, in Singapore, far away from my European home in Barcelona, the question my manager's manager had for me, had a very obvious answer:

"Hey boy, you did a great work for us. Do you want make it permanent?"

If you remember, the final scene of the movie "The pursuit of Happiness" (spoiler alert) when Will Smith's character, Chris Gardner, leaves the office in happy tears for having offered a position in a firm to become a broker. My situation then described something similar although with a different outcome. I said “No, thanks” to the permanent position, and the happy tears were flowing from the feeling of freedom from a money making machine that had no obvious reason to exist from the employee's perspectives.

Which takes us to the following concept, having a Mission, despite being such a powerful concept, corporations have used it so many times that we forgot and trivialized the true meaning of it. But what was my mission then? My Mission...So far and so close, at least I knew what I didn't want to do the rest of my life, and that's a good thing.

Certainly my skill-set and education would open doors in very interesting fields -- I'm so glad I didn't quit my engineer degree the second year -- fast forward the last strong financial crisis, especially severe in the south of Europe, and a few projects that passed to a better life made me better shape my yet unknown Mission. I wanted to create products, I love having customers and users enjoy the products I'm designing/developing for them. That's the ultimate goal of -for lack of a better description- a Product driven person.

That’s still far from a specific Mission, still too broad. In any startup environment everyone knows the value of focus, there’s no time to mess around, focus is required to put pressure where is needed, and the teams need to have a strong grasp of the little certainty they can get. As the reader may know if familiarised with the startup world is that certainty is not very common. Startups have short life span, there’s normally cash to maintain a team for a year. That’s a couple of mistakes, no more. So focus on the right thing and the venture will see its life span extended, that might be in the form of new customers paying for the product or new rounds of capital coming from loyal (or not) investors that want to see the startup succeed as much as they want their investment being multiplied by 10x.

 So i wanted to test my current Mission in this post, the dear reader is more than welcome to share feedback, I actually encourage to do so if that’s something being contemplated ;)

MakingMyself.com Mission:
“Offer customized crowdsourced content the users need when they need it”. All this content is for personal growth for the user and the user’s inner circle and never can be any conflict of interests due to advertisement or commercial reasons.”

And that’s my mission with makingmyself.com. There are many things wrong with digital products nowadays, most of the digital industry is measuring success in terms of engagement when we should be measuring success in terms of positive outcome.

Unfortunately, both are not correlated. High levels of engagement drive anti-social behaviour and addiction. What if users could have instead what they need when they need it, and this content is customised for them. The way some people understand the world might be different from others. People learn and digest information in different ways, there’s visual people, others are more abstract, there are different levels of introverts and extroverts, and the list goes on and on. Having a platform that crowdsources the best way on how to present this information to the users will reduce the time they spent learning, and synthesizing the topics they want to learn. They will have what they want simplified and presented better than ever before.

I know! That’s a really complex and ambitious mission. But i can assure you, we won’t get bored trying.

And for the sharp readers out there, you may ask - Why this is not a thing already?

Internet is driven by advertising today and this should change, this is the reason people are using the engagement metrics without having to measure the real and hard to track outcomes of the interactions with the products their make. To put it in simple words, the more time you spent talking and messaging through FB pages, the most likely you are to come up with and ad that will strike you as interesting, and that’s where the giant Internet juggernauts are making their bucks today. The challenge of the change being: How Do we make people pay for the information they can get for free today?

That might not be a simple challenge but more sounds like a miracle. What if the information is customised to the sophisticated users - Would they pay for it? That would allow the company to focus solely in the user's interests and not the advertisers but again, this vision it’s still to be proven. How much value do we need to present in customised crowdsourced information so users will be so delightfully happy to pay for it?

We’ll need to explore the answers for these questions - and make the miracle happen. In the startup world uncertainty strikes back, but that’s normal here remember? I guess that trying to enhance people’s lives with the information they need, through different customised and crowdsourced guides and topics while reducing the levels of addiction and depression. It’ll be worth out time. (thanks for reading) 

 

Comments

  1. As you very well say in this entry, 'people learn and digest information in different ways'. If I think on my experience, working with data and evidence in an academic-oriented way requires me to process (if such mechanical or technological word can be applied to human beings!) information I expose to in a critical way i.e. to look for inconsistency when looking at statistics, or to detect lack of reliability or lack of validity when examining a theory, for example. However, a colleague of mine would look at the same pieces of information and, being critical as I was and based on his or her previous knowledge or creativity, he or she will draw different conclusions and pictures. What does this fact tell us on differences of learning and digesting content/theory/information or whatever the word used in every context? I would say it tells us two things: first, the type of information we are consuming or working with will shape our experience (the need or not to be critical, for instance) no matter what purpose we have in mind. And this leads us to the second thing, what we expect to do with that information will also effect how we learn it.

    I posed here my example, but my argument is easily illustrated in every social media space. Let's take for instance this tweet that popped up in my timeline:

    https://twitter.com/ClintSmithIII/status/965338129942138885

    In it, the author makes fun of the existence of a living organism capable of generating itself, apparently, endlessly. However, when I was reading through the tweet I was expecting some scientific finding on how to apply this characteristic to human beings. What this example brings us is that every interaction generates knowledge and experiences through the exchange of information and this not necessarily only happens through reading and writing, but also by watching and listening.

    What I would propose? We already have Quora as a platform for those whose voices are heard with more attention to provide what I would call 'inside' knowledge (I'm referring to the kind of posts where someone asks 'how is it to share office with Elon Musk or Zuckerberg or Bezos) and some former employer shares his experience). There is already TEDx where innovative ideas on a wide range of topics are presented or YouTube where debates, lectures, seminars, or tutorials are posted and, more or less in a civilised way, discussed. There are trillions of podcasts all over the Internet, and Twitter links pretty well any interesting account you want to follow. There are many other channels of sharing knowledge and making it available almost freely, so what I would find appealing is a way to organise it by which the end user gets all types of communication covered (video, radio/music, text, pictures, diagrams, etc), haven't you got different feelings after watching a movie the novel it was based on you had already read? I would suggest, then, providing several ways to engage with information to make it richer.

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