Adam Smith

A Manifesto

December, 2007

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Life just hasn’t been the same since getting real users. I feel like blogging is kind of like deep sleep – it helps you organize your thoughts and recent things you’ve learned. Since launching at TechCrunch40, though, I’ve been facing all kinds of new challenges. Some of that terrain is behind me now, so I have a long list of great things to write about.

I was thinking recently about my grand strategies for life. How do I make really important decisions? What principles do I want to inspire my actions?

First, I want to kick ass. I want to be effective, and that means hitting hard.

I still remember Xobni’s first summer. I worked until about 6am when the sun came up. That forced me to go to sleep. Then I rolled out of bed and started writing code in my boxers. We took a few hours off a week to be social, and we read new Paul Graham essays as they came out, but that was it. That was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked for such a long stretch, and it was really tough. Really tough. But we produced. We laid the ground work for Xobni, and learned a lot about our market, customers, etc. It’s the best and most personal example I have of kicking ass.

Kicking ass is about being effective. The other two principles relate to what I want to kick ass at.

Second, I want to always learn. Most people who join Xobni do so because it’s an amazing learning opportunity. Matt left grad school because he’d learn more starting a company. Gabor left Google because he wanted to escape the politics and big company environment. Etc. It’s a great principle because all of these guys are now better equipped to kick ass.

Finally, I want to be a missionary. Spread the word about what’s good and true. If a new grad is considering two career options, I’d love to offer whatever experience I have to help them make a good decision. If someone is raising money, I want them set up for success.

These are small examples. They get bigger. Look to Bill Gates’ latest philanthropic efforts for an example of a missionary. He has conviction that the world needs to change, and he’s up in arms. That’s an awesome example.

Paul Graham thinks that more young hackers should start startups, so he started Y Combinator. You can tell that he legitimately wants to improve the state of things. It’s just evident to anyone paying attention. He’s not interested in money. He’s interested in spreading what’s good.

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