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Life Learning, Failure and Mentors

I’d argue that the tech and design industries both suffer from being ‘new disciplines’ in that there is no real system for such things as getting mentors, discussing failures, or asking for help. (Feel free to argue against this in the comments).

Ayelet Baron is a former Cisco strategist who ‘divorced her job’. Her blog has a lot on this, but one that came onto my radar was her post about asking for help. (In this context, it’s more about being in a situation to be generally helped e.g. in terms of getting work, though the issue of depression in the tech industry is starting to get attention due to the number of tragic suicides in the last few years). Similarly, a little of asking can go a long way).

There’s often criticism in the UX and design industry that we encourage people to fail forward but never actually talk about these failures. So Tom Moor and Leo Widrich’s candid discussion of things they did wrong (but fixed) in Buffer is refreshing and informative.

More pragmatically, 100 Tools Tips and Tricks To Work More Efficiently Online does what it says on the tin. Most I’ve heard of, many I’ve used and agree should be on the list.

I’ve come to love some of the discussions on Quora, particularly those ones that move beyond the typical StackOverflow questions and move into more qualitative ones. For example, the thread “I am in my late 20s, and feel I have wasted a lot of time. Is it too late?” is a wonderful kick up the pants (with illustrations!) A related blog post “25 Things I’ve Learned About Life” is perhaps a little more useful. Or not. (One of the learnings includes drinking beer and wine, so YMMV).

Finally, you know that 80/20 rule? In product development, it’s usually that the last 20% of features will take 80% of time. However, it sounds as if it also applies to what you spend your time on and the results: namely, that 80% of your results in a product/sales etc will comes from 20% your customers and so on. With his in mind, Richard Koch suggests you ‘find your horse’ (in other words, figure out your focus and stick to it).