Two months ago, I applied and was accepted to a master’s program at a prestigious business school (ranked #2), HEC Paris. The degree is title Master of Science in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE). It has 10 normal courses, 10 practical project-based courses and one large team project. The master’s program lasts about one year and a half. Thus the program ends in 2020. However the graduation will be in 2021, because HEC has only one graduation ceremony which is held in its beautiful Paris campus.
It’s kind of depressing. Take a look at this page. Nodejitsu, which was one of the first Node PaaS solutions, says it joins GoDaddy which is just an hiring of the team. They refer to Modulus which you think is another PaaS, but it’s not. It’s a very poorly-done website for what looks like some consulting company in the trading space or like some scam a 14-year old kid put together to get money for video games. The link to the blog post announcing Nodejitsu closure is 404 Not Found.
Every market goes through cycles. First there’s an expansion with various offerings and then there’s a retraction with just a few major players dominating. It’s a winner takes all economy. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM are serving major cloud services now. Startups are hard and most of them don’t know how execute. VCs are pushing for startups to spend more to acquire marketshare. The big companies have more leverage and more room for mistakes. They can just buy the best startup in the end.
Is it still worth trying to start your tech startup in 2018? Probably not unless it’s something completely new. You can’t drive forward while looking in a rear view mirror.
I recorded my conference presentations last week. The conference was All Things Open and had 3200 attendees. Huge!
Watch my serverless talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HMuTVOmX_U.
And watch my State of JS at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay7SlPkENeA.
Also, I brought 50 books of React Quickly and gave them all away. The line of people to get a free copy was huge. I met a few of my fans there. Fun stuff.
One of The Foundation members asked in forum, “How do I find a good developer?”. I was glad to help, but then I thought that others might benefit from this advice so I answered it via a post.
The best thing is to work on something small first. This way you’ll test the waters before putting a major project under risk. This might include a test or a real, but small task, (preferably outside of the main project) like writing a bookmarklet or a scrapper.
Last year, at about this same time, I discovered The Foundation podcast. I was vacationing in Mexico and stumbled on it via Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income—a hyper-popular online infopreneur. I downloaded and listened to many similar podcasts on online business, but The Foundation surprised me in the magnitude of its guests’ success stories. These weren’t the product of a few niche blogs, life coaching and ebooks, but six figures per month (and up) marketing and SaaS companies.
Node Program is the fastest and most engaging way to get started with Node.js, MongoDB and Express.js. It’s an intensive weekend-long live course taught in the Bay Area by skilled experts who have run Node.js in production for years!
Node Program is the ultimate way to get up and running with the foundations of Node.js, by learning the required foundational skills to use Node.js! Learn more about our approach and curriculum.
The nastiest little secret about software engineering job search, in any time and geolocation that I’ve seen: virtually everybody wants senior developers. So there’s very little chase to get into the industry. One theory this catch 22 happens is because senior software engineers are 10-20x more productive with only 10-30% more pay. Or at least that’s what most of the companies think. I’m not sure this is true 100% of the time. Therefore, if you are a junior developer—fake it till you make it. Most of us have been there. Become an expert in one field, and make a name for yourself. Then the companies will fight for you. Networking also helps. You need to be considered for the job before the job opening has been posted to the company’s website.
After watching The Foundation video it struck me that an intellect can be an impediment to successful marketing and selling. I’ve heard some variation of this before but the aforementioned video was an aha moment when it all came together.
Have you ever heard about the curse of knowledge? Or cognitive bias? Basically, if a person knows something he/she assumes that everybody else also know that. This leads to omissions, assumptions and messages that don’t reach target audience. And it’s not because the average audience is stupider in general, they’re just not so fluent in this particular narrow topic and your language (The Secret Language Of Millionaires in the video). I have to fight myself tooth and nail with this bias when I’m writing my programming books!
Sharing my musings on Twitter led me to Steve Jobs who no doubt was intelligent and very good at marketing:
@azat_co Except for people like Steve Jobs, right?
— Rodrigo Medeiros (@somerodrigo) May 21, 2014
I think smart people have to work extremely hard to “dumb” down their marketing messages. A good example is the original Apple iPod ad that used X number of songs instead of Y number of Megabytes.
Another revelation was that all this time many people that I know (startupers) and I were doing it all wrong. Almost always we start with products instead of starting with problems. In the best case, we pick out our own problems to solve (some do it successfully, like Evernote founders). But where are the guarantees that our problems are not just emotionally exaggerated and the market for them is big enough? Instead we should identify the pain points first and try to pre-sell. Yes, pre-selling (before building) can solve this dilemma. Let consumers vote with their wallets (actually debit/credit cards). What if we can’t sell our service or product without it being ready, or without all the fluff like a catchy domain name, fabulous design, beautiful logo and half-a-dozen social media profiles? Then, the problem is not too big for us to work on it anyway. Not all ideas should be executed and not all problems are worth solving. :-)
Last night, I did exactly that. I created a Gumroad page for Introduction to Express.js video course. It took me half an hour, and it already has sales! The conclusion is to go lean early or suffer later.
Growth hacking is such an interesting term. When I first heard of it, either at one of the meetings organized by 500 Startups or on the Jason Calacanis’s show, it made a lot of sense to me. Growth is vital for startups, and hacking is all about finding clever solutions (which are usually temporary but efficient).
When I became a growth hacking team lead at DocuSign, I started reading more about growth hacking. Soon I found out that there’s a ton of confusion on the Internet around the meaning of this phrase.
Some folks, especially ones who’s been doing new media and online marketing for a long time, think that it’s just a fancy trend for good old tools and techniques like:
- A/B testing
- Email marketing
- Referral marketing
- Social media marketing
- Viral marketing
- Content and SEO
It’s true that these kinds of online marketing have been around for the last 5—15 years! What these adepts usually miss is the difference in how growth hacking approaches product by directly influencing and oftentimes even developing it!
Note: Being a programmer hacker is not required to be a growth hacker.
On the contrary, there is little to no input from marketers on product decisions in traditional marketing. For example, imagine, there are a car manufacturer and its marketing department. Most likely, the marketers will have little to no input into the car’s engineering and design.
Another example, a pure marketer might organize an email campaign, but because the funnel hasn’t been optimized, the conversion rate turns out to be dismal. On the other hand, a typical growth hacker will first test the funnel, and only after optimizing it, they launch full-blown campaigns reaping better conversion rates!
In software, and info products (and maybe in services?), the relative low cost of prototyping — vs. increasing cost of advertising and other traditional strategies — lead to the emergence of a hybrid: growth hacking. The distinct boundaries between marketing and product departments become blurred.
The best growth hacking will involve some sort of product engineering, user experience and design work, gathering and analyzing of metrics and events.
Usually there are only two tactics for growth hacking:
Push tactics often involve finding temporary “loopholes” and getting a competitive advantage by using them. These are examples we often hear/read about: AirBnB posting on Craigslist, Dropbox using free space for referrals, etc.
That’s all good, but as in our example with an email campaign, if the product is not selling itself — that’s where the most ROI is for a growth hacker: pull tactics. They involve working on a funnel, and making product better to use / easier to know about expired CCs, etc. In the next post, I’ll show how my team and I growth hacked The New DocuSign Experience.
To sum it all up, there is a good quote from TNW post by GAGAN BIYANI:
Growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to traditional marketing, i.e., utilizing social media and viral marketing instead of buying advertising through more traditional media such as radio, newspaper, and television.
PS: I absolutely positively recommend this amazing free ebook The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking by Neil Patel and Bronson Taylor.
Right now, I’m lucky to work in a great team where everybody is a wonderful human being. However, during the years in software engineering, I’ve encountered a disproportionate number of assholes comparing to other fields or professions. Does coding affect someone’s personality negatively or it’s the other way around? Do computers attract certain asocial elements, so they can put on the headphones and not talk to people? Why there are more assholes in software engineering than in real estate or food&beverage?
Continue reading “Programmers Are Assholes?”
I have nothing against startups per se. I think they are great places for exceptionally bright individuals to work on ground breaking products. However, I think there are some misconceptions and myths about working at a startup, especially working in an early stage startup as a technical person, i.e., software engineer (or web developer, or coder, or programmer). Here is my list of reasons why someone should not work at a startup.
ExpressWorks is an automated Express.js/Node.js workshop.
TL;DR: ExpressWorks is an automated Express.js/Node.js workshop.
After weeks of writing and editing, Azat and his team are happy to announce the release of Express.js Guide: The Most Popular Node.js Framework Manual! The book is very approachable and suitable for beginners. If someone wants to save time searching the web and learn the best practices from the trenches, Express.js Guide is the book that has everything: Express.js API reference, quick start guides, 20+ meticulously explained examples and tutorials on over 270 pages with more than 60 illustrations.
Express.js is a de facto standard of Node.js development and the most popular NPM library as of today! However, as with any framework, sometimes the learning curve is steep. At HackReactor, I often asked the same questions about code organization, authentication, database connections and deployment.
Note: This tutorial is a part of Express.js Guide: The Comprehensive Book on Express.js.
In our Todo app, we’ll intentionally not use Backbone.js or Angular to demonstrate how to build traditional websites with the use of forms and redirects. In addition to that, we’ll explain how to plug-in CSRF and LESS.
Example: All the source code is in the github.com/azat-co/todo-express for your convenience.
The Startup School 2013 event organized by YCombinator and Paul Graham had an impressive list of speakers including Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Ron Conway, Phil Libin and others. Here are the notes if you weren’t at Flint center or missed live online translation:
All notes in MS Word
Archive of all notes in Markdown
All notes on GitHub
All notes on Google Docs
The Startup School 2013 event organized by YCombinator and Paul Graham had an impressive list of speakers including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of Twitter/Square, Ron Conway of SV Angles, Phil Libin of Evernote and others.
Here are the notes if yesterday you weren’t at Flint center or missed the live online translation:
Here are the notes from the talk by Jack Dorsey — Founder, Square, Twitter
Reading to us from books that have helped him along the way, adding his own thoughts.
TL;DR: Know and use Markdown because it’s fast and convenient.
“What is a Markdown?” my editor asked me the other day. She is an experienced content and copy editor and has worked for magazines and book publishers. However, she is not familiar with the powerful and convenient Markdown because it’s still a rather unknown approach to publishing except for an elite circle of early adopters and technology professionals. Even the so called re-invented web publishing experience Medium doesn’t support Markdown, but many other services and apps including my favorites (ByWord and LeanPub) build their whole flow around Markdown! In fact, I’m such a huge fan of Markdown that I’m writing my daily journals in it as well as this blog post.
For almost a year I’ve been helping social media curation tool Storify as a software engineer with their Node.js apps, Backbone.js front-end development as well as supporting Storify API, implementing Twitter API v1.1 intergration, writing blog posts and answering Storify API questions. We had some great moments and a few weeks ago I summed them up in a post.
Over the past eight months, I’ve been juggling extremely demanding startup work at Storify, exceptionally fulfilling teaching assignments at Hack Reactor, General Assembly and Marakana, and writing my books and webapplog posts. By applying Yerkes–Dodson law, stress helped me to boost my productivity and I was happier than ever. However, in the last few weeks I slightly overestimated my capacity to endure the fast-paced startup life. Happily, I was able to take two weeks off and to spend them in Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico.
A passive quiet leisure time seemed like a great way to reflect, and to fill up my mental tanks for the future. I opted for Los Cabos due to its proximity to the Bay Area, convenience and friendliness of the local people. Indeed, there are plenty of English-speaking staff and my favorite chain stores, like Starbucks, Ruth’s Steakhouse, OXXO, Mega, Walmart and of course (not so favorite but still familiar) McDonald’s, and Burger King.
By the end of the vacation, I’d read a few good books and stumbled upon some amazingly fantastic podcasts about entrepreneurship:
- Civilization: The West and the Rest
- Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup
- The Money Pillow Podcast
- Starting from Nothing – The Foundation Podcast
At the end of the break, I learned an important lesson that we need to be more realistic about our present (but unrealistic about our future), and step aside for a bit to take a look at a bigger picture. In addition, I pledged to myself to prioritize my life and the side-projects I undertake.
Perception about what being a software engineer means is probably one of the biggest challenges to overcome before joining a coding bootcamp.
Perception about what being a software engineer means is probably one of the biggest challenges to overcome before joining a coding bootcamp. For decades, software engineers were perceived as scientists that require extensive education and dedication to the field. They would work on huge mainframes, programmed using punch cards and had to read whole programming language manuals before writing their first lines of code.