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Learning to Appreciate The Crawl in a Hacking World

Ken Chen

Ken Chen

August 12, 2014

12 thoughts on “Learning to Appreciate The Crawl in a Hacking World”

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Ken.

    The Silicon Valley way of speeding through tasks, rushing things out in order to start working on the next thing could stand a break. Or at least a slow-down.

    There is so much talent and intelligence in this town, but age and experience shows us old-timers that it pays to ease up from time to time.

    Thanks for providing me the time to stop, read your blog, watch the clip and add this comment – but if you’ll excuse me, I have a million things to get done!! ; )

  2. I had the opportunity to consult with a person who held the title “growth hacker” which seems to be quite au courant. This person (and company) were so focused on finding shortcuts to success that they were unable to see the forest for the trees. Any program that didn’t get results within a few weeks was doomed; they’d pivot to something else. They ended up with high employee churn and a muddled mess of website and a bunch of half-baked programs.

    There’s a lot to be said for being nimble and failing fast, but you have to find a balance between doing that and building for the long term at the same time. Anyone who’s been around for a few years knows that there are no real “hacks” to building something of lasting value. You might get lucky from time to time, but that’s only because you’ve prepared and done the hard work.

  3. Brilliant post Ken– valuable wisdom for anyone looking to build something of value or achieve success. Another undertone of “hacking” seems to be that “sloppy but in the market” is somehow better than “well planned and executed”.

    Indeed for all the talk about “dojos”, “Zen”, and building “beautiful software” here in the Valley…there’s something missing. At the very heart of Zen, and practicing in a dojo, are the patience and persistence of completing a task and working with thoughtfulness… and precisely not taking shortcuts and scurrying.

    Thanks for sharing this great post.

  4. This is a great reminder, and one I need often. Thanks for slowing me down a bit, Ken. I often feel lost on my path, wondering where I’m headed and why I’m not there already. It’s good to recall that the journey — as winding, convoluted, and confusing as it may be at times — is what’s important to focus on.

    It calls to mind one of my favorite quotes of all time, courtesy of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

  5. Great post Ken. Nothing in work or life just happens without hard work and to add to the video (well worth watching BTW) it’s the people you surround yourself with that make those successes even more amazing.

  6. Great feedback above. And I wholeheartedly agree. Often I find that potential clients want a “wow” factor on a piece of content, but they are not willing to wait through the development time necessary to create success.

    And, to Ken’s point, I think there is a whole new era of reinvention for those of us “over forty.” My self-renewal is simply accepting the fact that I’ve worked hard to be a good writer. And I am.

    Imagine that? Thanks, Ken!

  7. Probably a sign of age, but I agree with you Ken. I came to the valley at the tail of the first tech boom. I thought that people had learned the hard way then that a company or product built to last cannot be developed on just a whim. How quickly our collective memory fades. The media glorifies the frat like culture of hacking whatever. In reality, products that last are rarely hacked. Even in startups, once a prototype serves its purpose, it is mostly scrapped, and a more scalable product is built. There is a purpose for each funding round: angel, seed, A, B, and so on.

    Growth hacking inappropriately borrows this concept in order to show early investors impressive numbers only for the sole purpose of getting funded. But companies that are built-to-last will focus on acquiring real customers painstakingly and retaining them.

  8. I’m definitely guilty of running around and trying to do too many things at once. When a project ends, I just fill it in with something else.

    But I have at least gotten better about taking a break every now and again, being present during non-work (ie, not thinking about work too much, not checking email), and enjoying whatever I’m doing (work or play).

  9. Yah, one of the best things I learned in physics graduate school was to sit my butt down in a chair and work on a really difficult problem that seemed impossible for a good 12 hours straight while making no discernable progress. What was happening while I struggled? My brain was growing a greater understanding of the problem I was working on, and this eventually led to a breakthrough, and sometimes enlightenment. This taught me not to give up, and I acquired the ability of DISCIPLINE, which I strongly believe is the #1 most important ingredient for success (aside from luck!).

    Struggle. Learn. Grow.

  10. Great insight, Ken, thanks for posting this! This is especially true in today’s world in which social media has played its dominant part, where people are rushing to do the next big thing and become successful by others’ measures. In addition to your points, appreciating the crawl also compels folks to “smell the roses” along their journey.

  11. Just came across this related article that mentions to stop and smell the roses. Here’s an excerpt: “We hear stories of incredible success, with fantastic people starting businesses at the age of 15 – and selling their third venture before 30. We don’t all have to be like this. We also don’t need to feel bad about not being like this. Some people stay in one role their whole life. Is this wrong? Of course not, there is a high chance that they probably love it! Take time to live life in the moment, not always looking 10 years down the track.”


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