Advice on Work

Paul Graham:

The best place to work, if you want to start a startup, is probably a startup. In addition to being the right sort of experience, one way or another it will be over quickly. You’ll either end up rich, in which case problem solved, or the startup will get bought, in which case it it will start to suck to work there and it will be easy to leave, or most likely, the thing will blow up and you’ll be free again.

It’s mostly focused on advice for graduating college students, but I especially like the focus of a job as a temporary condition. Another nugget:

Professors will tend to judge you by the distance between the starting point and where you are now. If someone has achieved a lot, they should get a good grade. But customers will judge you from the other direction: the distance remaining between where you are now and the features they need. The market doesn’t give a shit how hard you worked. Users just want your software to do what they need, and you get a zero otherwise. That is one of the most distinctive differences between school and the real world: there is no reward for putting in a good effort. In fact, the whole concept of a “good effort” is a fake idea adults invented to encourage kids. It is not found in nature.

If you’re self-employed you learn this fast, or you find yourself a job PDQ. More:

You know from an early age that you’ll have some sort of job, because everyone asks what you’re going to “be” when you grow up. What they don’t tell you is that as a kid you’re sitting on the shoulders of someone else who’s treading water, and that starting working means you get thrown into the water on your own, and have to start treading water yourself or sink. “Being” something is incidental; the immediate problem is not to drown.

As usual, the whole essay is a good read.