Understand your users.

Paul Graham:

Having gotten it down to 13 sentences, I asked myself which I’d choose if I could only keep one.

Understand your users. That’s the key. The essential task in a startup is to create wealth; the dimension of wealth you have most control over is how much you improve users’ lives; and the hardest part of that is knowing what to make for them. Once you know what to make, it’s mere effort to make it, and most decent hackers are capable of that.

Understanding your users is part of half the principles in this list. That’s the reason to launch early, to understand your users. Evolving your idea is the embodiment of understanding your users. Understanding your users well will tend to push you toward making something that makes a few people deeply happy. The most important reason for having surprisingly good customer service is that it helps you understand your users. And understanding your users will even ensure your morale, because when everything else is collapsing around you, having just ten users who love you will keep you going.

Also::

It’s better, initially, to make a small number of users really love you than a large number kind of like you.

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You make what you measure.

Paul Graham:

Merely measuring something has an uncanny tendency to improve it. If you want to make your user numbers go up, put a big piece of paper on your wall and every day plot the number of users. You’ll be delighted when it goes up and disappointed when it goes down. Pretty soon you’ll start noticing what makes the number go up, and you’ll start to do more of that. Corollary: be careful what you measure.

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Steve Jobs on Intelligence

Steve Jobs:

A lot of [what it means to be smart] is the ability to zoom out, like you’re in a city and you could look at the whole thing from the 80th floor down at the city. And while other people are trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B reading these stupid little maps, you could just see it in front of you. You can see the whole thing.

And:

You have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else does, or else you’re gonna make the same connections and you won’t be innovative. […] You might want to think about going to Paris and being a poet for a few years. Or you might want to go to a third-world country — I’d highly advise that. Falling in love with two people at once. Walt Disney took LSD, do you know that?

Alan Trapulionis:

Some time ago, I did an exercise where I tried to recall the key turning points in my life. After a while, I realized that it was never a “genius idea” or “an amazing realization” that shaped my path — but people.

I’d meet someone. I’d have my core assumptions challenged. We’d do something together that I’d never think of doing on my own. In the end, I’d be left with experiences and lessons that I never would’ve been able to get just by my own intellectual effort.

Leonardo da Vinci:

To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.

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Confusion is a Choice

Steve Pavlina:

Confusion is a choice – really the default choice for many people because they haven’t voiced the desire for something better. If you’re stuck in confusion, it’s because you’ve haven’t chosen and declared your intention for a lifestream that glides from one clear decision to the next. You could intend to have a graceful flow of clarity.

Note that declaring your intention to make a choice between two partial matches is not remotely the same as what I’ve been sharing about the higher level intention to enjoy a life rich in clarity. Instead of dwelling on one either-or decision at a time (and repeating ad infinitum for the rest of your life), why not set the intention to solve this either-or problem permanently? Why not intend to graduate from the land of partial matches? How many more of these confusing decisions do you really need to face before you declare that whole mode of confused living to be utterly boring and pointless, and you finally demand more from life in terms of perpetual clarity and flow? You can make this choice in any moment. Do you want it or not?

When someone faces an either-or decision, and I ask them what they want, at best they will usually say they want clarity about that specific decision. They want to make an intelligent choice. They want help considering and evaluating the options. Fair enough. But how often do they express the intention to solve this type of problem permanently or to graduate to an experience of perpetual clarity as they gracefully flow from one decision to the next (or something generally in that ballpark)? Pretty much never.

And so reality brings them what they affirm, which is more of the same – more confusing either-or decisions about partial matches.

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Set Intentions Daily

Steve Pavlina:

You can never set too many intentions. Even speaking your intentions aloud 100+ times per day, updating them moment by moment as you go, isn’t too much.

It’s very likely that you’re under-intending. I’d say a good minimum is to set at least 5 fresh intentions every day, and that really just gets you in the door.

Once you get enough practice, it should take you just a few seconds to set an intention. It’s as simple as asking, “What do I want for dinner?” But do this for every part of your day too, such as by asking, “What kind of experience do I want to have while performing this next task?” Then just speak your answer aloud.

When I go running, I clarify what kind of run I want to have. When I start my workday, I set an intention for the type of workday I want to have. Then I update my intention many times throughout the day. This is pretty automatic for me now.

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Decide what you want; assume you have it

Neville Goddard:

You need no intermediary between you and yourself, who is God. Don’t run from this city to another in the hope of finding something better, because the one person you are going to take with you is yourself; so, resolve your problems here. Do not compromise. Decide exactly what you want and assume you have it.

If your world would change, determine what it would look like; then construct a scene which would imply you are there. If your mental construction comes close to your fulfilled desire, your little daydream will become a fact! And when it does, will it matter what others think about your principle? Having proved itself in performance, share your experience with another that they may share theirs.

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Mental Diet

Neville Goddard:

Become a drinker and an eater of the ideals you wish to realize. Have a set, definite aim or your mind will wander, and wandering it eats every negative suggestion. If you live right mentally, everything else will be right. By a change of mental diet, you can alter the course of observed events. But unless there is a change of mental diet, your personal history remains the same. You illuminate or darken your life by the ideas to which you consent. Nothing is more important to you than the ideas on which you feed. And you feed on the ideas from which you think. If you find the world unchanged, it is a sure sign that you are wanting in fidelity to the new mental diet, which you neglect in order to condemn your environment. You are in need of a new and sustained attitude. You can be anything you please if you will make the conception habitual, for any idea which excludes all others from the field of attention discharges in action. The ideas and moods to which you constantly return define the state with which you are fused. Therefore train yourself to occupy more frequently the feeling of your wish fulfilled. This is creative magic. It is the way to work toward fusion with the desired state.

If you would assume the feeling of your wish fulfilled more frequently, you would be master of your fate, but unfortunately you shut out your assumption for all but the occasional hour. Practice making real to yourself the feeling of the wish fulfilled. After you have assumed the feeling of the wish fulfilled, do not close the experience as you would a book, but carry it around like a fragrant odor. Instead of being completely forgotten, let it remain in the atmosphere communicating its influence automatically to your actions and reactions. A mood, often repeated, gains a momentum that is hard to break or check. So be careful of the feelings you entertain. Habitual moods reveal the state with which you are fused.

It is always possible to pass from thinking of the end you desire to realize, to thinking from the end. But the crucial matter is thinking from the end, for thinking from means unification or fusion with the idea: whereas in thinking of the end, there is always subject and object the thinking individual and the thing thought. You must imagine yourself into the state of your wish fulfilled, in your love for that state, and in so doing, live and think from it and no more of it. You pass from thinking of to thinking from by centering your imagination in the feeling of the wish fulfilled.

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Hold every hour in your grasp

Seneca:

Hold every hour in your grasp. Lay hold of today’s task, and you will not need to depend so much upon tomorrow’s. While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing is ours, except time. We were entrusted by nature with the ownership of this single thing, so fleeting and slippery that anyone who will can oust us from possession. What fools these mortals be! They allow the cheapest and most useless things, which can easily be replaced, to be charged in the reckoning, after they have acquired them; but they never regard themselves as in debt when they have received some of that precious commodity—time! And yet time is the one loan which even a grateful recipient cannot repay.

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The Pleasure of the Universe

Hugh Jackman:

One of my favorite movies of all time and definitely my favorite quote from a movie of all time is from Chariots of Fire, which I loved as a kid. And Eric Liddell, who’s the religious runner who decides not to run on the Sabbath during the Olympics.

So there’s this great scene. He’s meant to be going off after the Olympics to do missionary work in China, handing out Bibles or something, and his sister’s talking to him, and he goes… She’s like, “You’ve got to throw away this silly running thing. We have really important work, God’s work, to do. Why are you doing this and spending time on this?” You know, basically, kind of accusing him of not following God’s will. And he just says—he looks at her and he says, “But I feel his pleasure when I run.” And I’ve always—somehow that line, it always makes me tear up just saying it. That’s what I feel onstage. There’s a kind of natural energy.

And what I keep saying to my kids actually: Don’t settle. Find that thing that resonates with you in that way, where you feel some kind of the pleasure of the universe, of consciousness. Like, there’s some joy where you feel you can do it longer. And in that way, it’s not such a Herculean effort.

And:

That whatever that decision was, whatever that moment of clarity becomes, whatever gets you to that feeling of Eric Liddell on Chariots of Fire, “I feel His pleasure when I run,” for me, that was always, and I carry it today. Even though my feelings about religion are different than what they were when I was younger, the essence is the same, that there is some calling. As Joseph Campbell would talk about, “Follow your bliss.” There is some calling that is beyond the conscious brain’s strategizing of how to be happy and successful or meaningful in life. There’s something elemental and instinctual. And honing that, the people I admire the most really hone that ability in big decisions in their life and in… to small, day-to-day decisions.

And:

And then I fall still and remind myself that this is all in service of something. I say a little—I say, “Om paramatmane namah,” which means, “I dedicate this show, or whatever it is, to the service of The Absolute”—there is something beyond the show, some reason we’re doing this. Same for your show. You know. There’s got to be a reason beyond just what the immediate thing is there, and that just connects me to that.

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